Back in the day we bought this turntable new. It’s an Akai AP-Q41C. The C variant just meant that the turntable included a matched Ortofon cartridge — which if you look at the photo closely, you’ll see is still attached.
I gave the turntable and cart a test spin a few months ago and was pleased that the table was rock solid, and disappointed that the cart was muddy 🙁 To be expected I guess.
So this stack is going to get freshened and set up in a small part of my home-office.
A new cartridge is on order — a Grado Prestiege Green should suit.
And I’m thinking I’ll try out one of those ‘record of the month’ club / subscription things to see what’s up with modern vinyl.
But what to play while rebuilding the collection? The records that did survive the purge are cool and all, but not really a challenge for the cartridge.
So let’s see what the AI thinks. Here’s a list that ChatGPT suggested for turntable/cart evaluation — and yeah, can’t argue with it, it’s a pretty good list for any music library:
1. Pink Floyd — “The Dark Side of the Moon” (Progressive rock):
— This album is known for its meticulous production, intricate soundscapes, and wide dynamic range. It features a variety of instruments, spatial effects, and subtle details that can test the imaging capabilities and tonal accuracy of a turntable and cartridge. Listen for the deep bass lines, soaring guitar solos, and the panning effects in songs like “Money” and “Time.”
2. Miles Davis — “Kind of Blue” (Jazz):
— As a timeless jazz classic, this album is an excellent choice for testing turntables and cartridges due to its acoustic nature and emphasis on instrumental textures. Pay attention to the delicate trumpet solos, the cymbal crashes, and the overall soundstage. The goal is to assess the reproduction of natural timbres, instrument separation, and the ability to convey the subtleties of the performances.
3. Fleetwood Mac — “Rumours” (Rock):
— This iconic rock album offers a mix of energetic tracks and intimate ballads, providing a good range of sonic elements to evaluate. Listen for the rich vocal harmonies, the punchy basslines, and the intricate guitar work. It’s a great opportunity to assess the clarity, imaging, and dynamics of your setup.
4. Daft Punk — “Random Access Memories” (Electronic):
— Known for its lush production and attention to detail, this album incorporates a blend of electronic and live instrumentation. It features a variety of synthetic and organic sounds that can test the tonal accuracy, separation, and imaging capabilities of your equipment. Listen for the intricate bass lines, layered synthesizers, and the spaciousness of the mix.
5. Radiohead — “OK Computer” (Alternative rock):
— This critically acclaimed album is characterized by its complex arrangements, atmospheric soundscapes, and emotional depth. It combines rock elements with electronic influences, providing a diverse sonic landscape to assess your turntable and cartridge. Pay attention to the intricate guitar textures, the nuanced vocals, and the overall balance and cohesiveness of the mix.
6. Bob Dylan — “Blood on the Tracks” (Folk rock):
— Dylan’s introspective and lyrically rich album is a great choice for testing the ability of a turntable and cartridge to convey the intimacy and emotional nuances of acoustic music. Listen for the clarity of Dylan’s voice, the delicate guitar strums, and the transient response of instruments like harmonica or piano. Focus on capturing the subtle details and nuances in the recording.
7. Led Zeppelin — “IV” (Hard rock):
— This classic rock album is known for its powerful and dynamic sound. It features heavy guitar riffs, thunderous drums, and soaring vocals, making it an ideal choice for testing the ability of a turntable and cartridge to handle high-energy music. Listen for the impact and tightness of the bass, the crispness of the drums, and the overall clarity and separation of the instruments.
8. Stevie Wonder — “Songs in the Key of Life” (Soul/R&B):
— Stevie Wonder’s magnum opus offers a diverse mix of soul, R&B, and funk. It showcases Wonder’s incredible vocals, rich arrangements, and a wide variety of instruments. Pay attention to the depth and texture of Wonder’s voice, the punchy basslines, and the intricate horn and string arrangements. This album can help evaluate the ability of a turntable and cartridge to reproduce the warmth and energy of soulful music.
9. Nirvana — “Nevermind” (Grunge/Alternative rock):
— This influential grunge album is characterized by its raw energy and aggressive sound. It can be used to test the ability of a turntable and cartridge to handle loud, distorted guitars, and powerful drumming. Listen for the punch and impact of the drums, the clarity and definition of the guitar chords, and the overall sense of energy and intensity.
10. The Beatles — “Abbey Road” (Rock/Pop):
— Considered one of The Beatles’ best albums, “Abbey Road” showcases the band’s songwriting prowess, vocal harmonies, and intricate studio production. It offers a mix of different musical styles and production techniques, allowing you to assess the imaging, tonal accuracy, and overall fidelity of your turntable and cartridge. Listen for the rich vocal harmonies, the detailed instrument separation, and the smooth transitions between songs.
11. Bob Marley & The Wailers — “Legend” (Reggae):
— This compilation album features some of Bob Marley’s most iconic reggae tracks. It is an excellent choice for testing the ability of a turntable and cartridge to reproduce the infectious rhythms, tight basslines, and Marley’s distinct vocals. Listen for the deep bass, the intricate guitar skanks, and the overall groove and rhythm of the music.
12. Michael Jackson — “Thriller” (Pop/R&B):
— “Thriller” is one of the best-selling albums of all time, known for its pop, R&B, and funk influences. It offers a mix of catchy melodies, elaborate production, and precise instrumentation. Pay attention to the clarity of Michael Jackson’s vocals, the punch and tightness of the basslines, and the overall balance and cohesiveness of the soundstage.
13. Pink Floyd — “Wish You Were Here” (Progressive rock):
— Another classic from Pink Floyd, this album is renowned for its immersive soundscapes and intricate musical arrangements. It provides an opportunity to test the depth and imaging capabilities of your setup. Listen for the ethereal guitar solos, the atmospheric sound effects, and the seamless transitions between tracks.
14. Nina Simone — “I Put a Spell on You” (Jazz/Blues):
— This album showcases Nina Simone’s powerful voice and her unique blend of jazz, blues, and soul. It is an excellent choice for testing the ability of a turntable and cartridge to reproduce vocals with intimacy and emotion. Pay attention to Simone’s vocal nuances, the dynamics of her piano playing, and the overall tonal accuracy and realism.
15. Radiohead — “Kid A” (Alternative rock/Electronic):
— “Kid A” marked a shift in Radiohead’s sound, incorporating electronic elements into their alternative rock style. It offers a mix of experimental textures, layered production, and haunting melodies. Listen for the intricate electronic beats, the atmospheric synthesizers, and the overall spatial effects to assess the clarity, separation, and imaging capabilities of your setup.
16. Miles Davis — “Bitches Brew” (Jazz/Fusion):
— This landmark jazz fusion album is known for its improvisational nature, complex arrangements, and layered instrumentation. It provides an opportunity to test the resolution, detail retrieval, and instrument separation of a turntable and cartridge. Pay attention to the interplay between the instruments, the intricate drumming, and the overall sense of energy and improvisation.
17. David Bowie — “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (Rock):
— Bowie’s concept album offers a mix of glam rock, art rock, and theatricality. It showcases Bowie’s charismatic vocals, innovative songwriting, and diverse musical styles. Listen for the intricate guitar work, the theatrical arrangements, and the overall sonic presentation to evaluate the ability of your setup to capture the essence and artistry of Bowie’s music.
18. John Coltrane — “A Love Supreme” (Jazz):
— This influential jazz album is a testament to Coltrane’s virtuosity and spiritual expression. It features powerful saxophone solos, dynamic rhythm sections, and complex improvisations. Pay attention to the tonal accuracy of the saxophone, the interaction between the instruments, and the overall sense of passion and intensity in the performances.
19. Steely Dan — “Aja” (Jazz rock/Fusion):
— “Aja” is an album known for its meticulous production, jazz-influenced arrangements, and intricate compositions. It offers a mix of smooth grooves, intricate guitar solos, and complex harmonies. Listen for the tightness of the rhythm section, the clarity of the intricate guitar and keyboard parts, and the overall fidelity and balance of the mix.
20. Beastie Boys — “Paul’s Boutique” (Hip hop):
— This critically acclaimed hip hop album is renowned for its dense production, sample-based approach, and clever wordplay. It provides an opportunity to test the turntable and cartridge’s ability to handle dynamic beats, intricate samples, and the rhythmic flow of the vocals. Listen for the punchiness of the drums, the clarity and separation of the samples, and the overall sense of rhythm and groove.
21. Telarc — “1812 Overture” (Classical):
— This specific Telarc pressing of the “1812 Overture” is often used to challenge the tracking capabilities of cartridges due to its famously powerful cannon shots. The explosive dynamics and low-frequency energy generated by the cannons can put a strain on the tracking ability of cartridges. Testing your turntable and cartridge with this recording can help assess their ability to handle demanding and dynamic passages, particularly the cannon shots, while maintaining clarity and accurate tracking of the musical elements throughout the performance.
This particular recording of the “1812 Overture” by Telarc is renowned for its sonic impact and fidelity, making it a popular choice for evaluating the tracking performance of cartridges and the overall dynamic capabilities of turntables.
Now to find the least expensive way to acquire this collection. Should be fun!