There are loud vocal choruses on many tracks, and more often than not at their loudest they sound like they are either breaking up or threatening to do so. I always assumed it was compressor or board overload, which is easily heard on Down to You. On the best copies there is no breakup — the voices get loud and stay clean throughout.
This assumes that your equipment is up to the job. The loudest choruses are a tough test for any system.
If you have one of our hottest Hot Stampers, try adjusting your setup – VTA, Tracking Weight, Azimuth, Anti-Skate (especially! Audiophiles often overlook this one, at their peril) — and note how cleanly the loudest passages play using various combinations of settings.
Keep a yellow pad handy and write everything down step by step as you make your changes, along with what differences you hear in the sound.
You will learn more about sound from this exercise than you can from practically any other. Even shootouts won’t teach you what you can learn from variations in your table setup.
And once you have your setup dialed in better, you will find that your shootouts go a lot smoother than they used to. (more…)