Turntable Reviews

Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

If you talk to the analog community, vinyl never went away. Yet it's hard to ignore that new music was almost exclusively put out by the record companies on compact disc, not LP, over the last 20 years. Further, record stores were closing left and right and the CD pushed used vinyl into obscure little shops that could only be found via word of mouth. They were around, but we needed to search for them.

Not many did search, however, for the CD promised convenience, portability, indestructibility, and lack of pops and skips. It seduced us with the promise of higher fidelity and razor sharp detail in the digital domain. The CD player market boomed with Philips' and Sony's new music format, and Japan, by the early 1990's, sold millions of players world-wide with hundreds of million CDs to go with them.

Some irony . . . .

Specifications

  • Design: Belt-Driven, Arm and Cartridge Included
  • Speeds: 33-1/3 RPM and 45 RPM
  • Platter: Acrylic, 25mm Thick
  • Cartridge: MM, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, S/N=80 dB, 3.6 mv Output, Tracking Force=2.5 gm, 47 kOhms Impedance, 6 gm Weight
  • Dimensions: 5.4" H x 16.5" W x 14.2" D
  • Weight: 19.4 Pounds
  • MSRP: $1,599 USA
  • Marantz

The early CD releases were almost exclusively classical music - typically the very group of music lovers who clung to vinyl and yet were being lured to the new format. And the length of recording capable on the CD was arrived at by the length of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. A 120 mm diameter, 16 bit audio, 44.1 kHz sampling rate, 74 minute "Red Book" CD was invented. (Redbook refers to the bound manual specification.)

Now it is 25 or so years later, and music sharing and downloads have severely hurt CD sales. The disc format still flourishes with computer CD-ROM and the huge DVD market, and now the next generation Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Yet music has lagged, severely. Why?

This brings me to a discussion about vinyl, or the recent interest in the "classic" format: why has vinyl popularity resurged such that new music is once again released on LP? In fact, I'm told there are many artists who now have written into their record contracts that their music must be released on LP as well as CD. If you search the big box store Circuit City website, you'll discover a huge LP selection.

It is not my intention to discuss the sound quality of CDs vs. LPs – we all know the issue of compression and loudness - some studio engineering that leaves most of the dynamics from the original recordings off the commercial versions. Or how the newer high resolution audio formats, SACD and DVD-Audio never took hold in the typical consumer market. But, as the resurgence of the vinyl LP is a big thing now, Secrets has prepared a recent discourse on the subject (Vinyl vs. CD), and today, we begin reviewing turntables.

To be fair, vinyl can sound dull and flat if played on a poor quality turntable or if it's improperly set up.

Draw your own conclusions, but for me, it's the tactile and emotional attachment we've lacked in the cold CD. That the world slows down just a bit when we spin an LP album and we sit back and listen while we admire the LP cover art. There is nothing more "manual" than setting up a turntable, or removing an LP from its sleeve, dusting it off and clamping it down to lift the tonearm and set the needle into the first groove - the perceived warmth and character vinyl is known for, while we consider minor noise and pop acceptable byproducts.

Historically, Marantz is a company that has never compromised on its belief that sound quality is placed first and foremost. If you look at their current reference line of two-channel equipment, you'll appreciate the effort made to not only preserve the legacy but to promote that belief. The Marantz TT-15S1 turntable is such a piece.