Friday, August 6, 2010

Vinyl will be around for a long time

Robert Suchy of Clearaudio showing off the
largest ever collection of turntables at the KLIAV.
Turntables and vinyl will still survive for another 200 years, declared Robert Suchy of Clearaudio.


"People who love music and are looking for quality will always use the turntable and spin records," he said.

I had asked him why turntables and vinyl did not die out even though it was widely speculated that they would spin the final groove when the Compact Disc (CD) was introduced in the US and European markets in 1983, and even today, when the CD format is on the decline, high-end turntables are still being launched.

The big players in the industry who had the technology to make the CDs and CD players wanted to kill off vinyl so that they could make plenty of money, said Robert, who is in charge of export and marketing.

They carried out a massive media campaign to promote the new medium - the CD - and said it was convenient, small, light, portable, affordable, indestructible and the music had no clicks and pops.

But they underestimated the turntable and vinyl.

"There are 500 billion records all over the world and people still want to play them," he said.

And also, vinyl is sonically unbeaten because CDs contain signals from only 20Hz to 22.05kHz (the CD player has a filter that cuts off everything above 20kHz) while the grooves of records contain signals from 16Hz to 28kHz.

"So you hear more frequencies and more information with vinyl. You hear more overtones that make music richer sounding," he said. Some overtones are above the limit of human hearing which, in theory, is 20kHz but they contribute to the timbre of the instrument.

For example, without overtones, a good violin may not sound like a good violin. The highest overtone of a violin, said Robert, is at a very high frequency way above human hearing, but adds to the timbre and tone of the instrument.

Clearaudio's Robert Suchy (right) with CMY Audio & Visual's boss
John Yew. CMY is the new distributor of Clearaudio's products.
The topic of discussion switched to hires files which are becoming increasingly popular these days.

"Hires files have information from 18Hz to 24kHz, but it is digital. In nature, everything is analogue. Sound is analogue. Music is analogue. Your ear is analogue.

"Do you know that the best DAC chip can convert accurately only up to around 7kHz?"

Robert was in town last weekend for the Kuala Lumpur International AV Show and he held demos on how to set up Clearaudio turntables at CMY Audio & Visual's main room.

Later, he talked about the silica acrylic used to make the heavy platters ("normal acrylic is too hard and rings"), the motors, the compressed plywood used for the skeletal plinths, the ceramic spindle and the magnetic bearing used for the Innovation series.

Of course, I tried to dig out information from him to figure out how the magnetic bearing works but with the limited knowledge that I have - despite some hints from Robert regarding the magnetic properties of mu-metal - I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea how it functions.

If I did, I would be designing Clearaudio's turntables and not Robert's father, Peter.

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