Sony Noise Reduction review

Sony Noise Reduction consists of four professional DirectX sound restoration plug-ins that can clean up your vinyl recordings and tracks, eliminating noise that has been accidentally introduced or unwanted and annoying sound sources from otherwise good recordings. To use them effectively, however, you need to know what you are doing.


Great performance: Sony Noise Reduction includes Audio Restoration, Clipped Peak Restoration, Noise Reduction, and Click and Crackle Removal, all of which work as advertised.

Plug-in settings: You start with the default values and, if the result is not satisfactory, you can adjust many settings. Once you are happy with … Read more

How to make LPs sound better than ever

The vinyl boom isn't slowing. Here in NYC, Rough Trade opened a new 15,000-square-foot record store, and the display space is evenly split between LPs and CDs. Vinyl sales were up 18 percent in 2012, and that growth continued in 2013.

To get the best sound from an LP, you need a decent turntable, and the $179 U Turn Orbit I reviewed a few months ago would be a great place to start. The $449 Rega RP1 turntable will get you even closer to audiophile nirvana.

After you buy a nice 'table the next question will be, how … Read more

Mastering engineer says the LP is the most accessible high-resolution music format

The timing of my visit was perfect, I strolled into Alex DeTurk's studio at Masterdisk just as he was cutting an LP. DeTurk was moving to the music, totally engaged with the sound as the big record mastering lathe was literally cutting the groove into the disc. After the side was complete he examined the grooves with a microscope. DeTurk then said, "Vinyl is the most consumer-friendly high-resolution format around." Right, more people are buying LPs than true high-resolution 24 bit/192 kHz files, the ones that can sound better than CD-quality FLAC or Apple Lossless files. … Read more

Ultra-high-end turntable puts a new spin on CES 2014

Audioarts imports the Sperling Heavyweight Turntable L-1 from Germany, and even before you hear this incredible work of art your eyes tell you this is one serious machine. The Heavyweight Turntable L-1 can accommodate two tone arms, and that allows owners to instantly choose the sound they want for the LP they're going to play. With two arms they can enjoy two, very different-sounding phono cartridges, maybe a mellow Koetsu for 1950s jazz, and a state-of-the-art Lyra for the Black Keys. The Heavyweight Turntable L-1's flexibility makes this possible.

Ansgar Sperling, the company's founder, started out as … Read more

Want to get more out of music? Listen to LPs

Rega may have started out as an audiophile turntable company in 1973, but it now offers a full line of amplifiers, CD players, digital converters, phono cartridges, and speakers.

They're all good, but to me Rega has always set the standard for affordable turntables. Most companies venturing into that market owe a lot to Rega's aesthetics and simple-is-better, functional design ethic. Take a look at the new U-Turn Orbit turntable reviewed just a few weeks ago and you'll see what I mean. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a clone, but the Rega … Read more

Ex-IBM engineer builds innovative phono cartridges

Peter Ledermann is one of just a handful of highly skilled people on the planet who designs and hand-builds phono cartridges. These tiny electro-mechanical devices are usually machine made, but Ledermann builds world-class cartridges with his hands and a microscope. His company, Soundsmith, also manufactures speakers and amplifiers, and services vintage Bang & Olufsen and Tandberg products.

Ledermann's resume is impressive: He was the director of Engineering for Bozak, one of America's leading speaker manufacturers in the 1960s. And for 10 years, starting in 1980, he was an IBM senior research engineer and is credited as the primary … Read more

U-Turn Orbit: An audiophile-quality turntable for $179

Most cheap turntables sound cheap -- they're rumbly, thin and distorted -- but the U-Turn Orbit Basic suffers no such faults. Before the $179 Orbit's debut, audiophile turntable prices started at around $400. And while used turntables might be a way to get into vinyl for less, turntables are rather delicate devices, so used buys can be risky. If you're ready to take the plunge and explore new vinyl frontiers, you need a decent turntable to hear what the fuss is all about. The Orbit Basic will take you there.

I first heard about the Orbit when … Read more

An inconvenient truth: Why music sounds bad

CNN recently reported on the "death" of the home stereo system, and while that's an exaggeration, few people -- young or old -- have "stereos" anymore. CNN was asleep at the wheel on this one; precious few folks have had stereos for decades. Music is now almost always consumed in cars, and over phones and plastic computer or Bluetooth speakers. If there's an imminent "death" on the horizon, it will surely strike MP3 players and iPods. Phones have already taken over as the portable music players of choice. Do you know anyone … Read more

What consumer electronics product has been made for 40 years?

I bought a Linn LP-12 way back in 1978, and used Linn turntables until five years ago, when I bought a VPI Classic. Turntables last practically forever, which is one of my favorite things about high-end audio gear: the best products have incredibly long lives. As I recall, the LP-12's initial claim to fame was conceptual; Linn promoted the idea that the "front-end," aka the source -- a turntable, CD player, or cassette deck -- would make or break the overall sound of a music system. If the source's sound quality was poor to start with, … Read more

Bob Dylan, revisited

"Another Self-Portrait (1969-1971)" is the 10th Bob Dylan Bootleg Series release. I've been a big fan of the series since it started way back in 1991, and this new Bootleg is one of the very best.

The original "Self Portrait" wasn't a high point in the Dylan oeuvre, but over the years I've come to take it on its own terms. Arriving just a few years after Dylan was at his creative zenith as a songwriter, "Self Portrait" was mostly a collection of old and obscure cover tunes, with a smattering … Read more