Pro-Ject NRS Box and Those Noisy Records

Bob Boyer

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#1
Some thoughts after having a few more sessions to listen to the new snap-crackle-pop deletion device. I think my original impressions (in this thread: https://forums.phxaudiotape.com/threads/what-are-you-listening-to.8/page-1137#post-346320) are still valid though maybe not quite as much. Listened to both Pink Floyd albums, which are pretty much pristine (DSOTM a little less so), a copy of Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume II I've had since the days of my AR turntable, and my copy of L.A. Getaway, which came from a Soul/R&B AM station in Greenville, SC, in my 1974 Furman days. With the exception of one needle-dropped scratch that came with the L.A. Getaway disc, the years have been kind to these discs but they have been played.

The NRS Box does make a difference and without much impact on the signal. I've pretty much kept the de-crackle knob set aggressively at 3 o'clock (max is at 4:30 or so) and the VNRS (anti-noise) filter on. A/B comparisons just highlight the amount of noise reduction that is going on. The highs remain seemingly untouched but then my ears are pushing 70, so there's that. I tried that ugly Kris Kristofferson album and while it helped, let's just say I paid too much for that condition. I'll move it along. The NRS Box helped some, but it's just not for badly worn or damaged records. For decent to good records, though, it does make listening more enjoyable. I'm one of those who sought out the quietest records before digital came along - and who went digital without looking back because of the complete lack of background noise. I still rate its capabilties at 75% of the Sugar Cube, based on my comparison of Nando's Sugar Cube-cleaned files from my copy of the Bangla Desh concert album to listening to them through the NRS Box.

Still, it represents really cool technology and is a great value at $400; I doubt I'll ever want the other $2100 worth of capability that's in the Sugar Cube. Still highly recommended after three weeks or so. They both make a difference, the Sugar Cube a bit more so.
 

BlazeES

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#3
Enjoyable read Bob.

The Bangladesh vinyl is such a good basis for comparison. There was never a clean run of pressings on that one.

With the questionable Sweet Vinyl organization behind the high pricing of their, essentially, hobby job -- alternative solutions at much lower price-points are going to continue to flourish... for those that want to improve listen-ability at a much more affordable level and with lesser results. When SV goes 'next level' and ultimately licenses & 'integrates' their IP into chip-sets that can be propagated on a large & wider scale... then the game will change and adoption will be big (relatively speaking...) for no other reason than simple Economies of Scale.

One thing I'll share now, with a fair amount of time under my belt owning a "Cube" is that the beauty of these boxes is that the Cube's not a digitizing process that completely wipes away the feel & experience of vinyl. These widgets are an exceptional 'attack & remove' clicks and popping without entirely hiding a slew of other vinyl anomalies - - even with the newer models and their incorporated noise reduction algorithm. I laugh at the pundits that say, if you want sterile, digitized sound, then just buy the damn CD! :D Sugar Cubes don't deliver anything close to clean CD sound.

Used Cubes can be obtained for a tad bit over $1000 and under $1000. It takes consistent monitoring to catch them when they pop-up but it happens.
At those prices levels, it's a worthy investment IMHO -- especially when working with really old LPs and a universe of 'dollar bin' finds.

For vinyl heads, the money saved on the vast opportunity of discs purchased at or near rock-bottom levels can seriously offset the cost of the Cube hardware, initial investment.
 
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Bob Boyer

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#4
Enjoyable read Bob.

The Bangladesh vinyl is such a good basis for comparison. There was never a clean run of pressings on that one....
LOL - and if the copy I bought a few years ago is any indication - they all got the hell played out of them.

I think you're spot on with that analysis, too.
 

J!m

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#5
I'd say if you exclusively listen to vinyl, the investment is worthwhile. It's frankly "cheap" for a decent phono preamp...

I won't invest that because my Vinyl focus is very sharp, and I listen to other media (predominantly CD) otherwise.
 

BlazeES

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LOL - and if the copy I bought a few years ago is any indication - they all got the hell played out of them.
New pressings of that set sounded worn from day one. So I can only imagine how bad a copy that was played with a more traditional tone arm/needle combo from back in the day -- for years -- could sound. About 12+ years ago I went on a mission to find a NM copy to ending up purchasing a few copies, in the pursuit to replace one particular disc in the set or in other words, find the best sound print. The reveal to me was how similar the noise characters/patterns were from one copy to another. It was almost like the stamps were produced & replicated in someone's garage.. and you know the rest of the story -- in terms of mass production. :oops:
 
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Elite-ist

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#7
Bob: I enjoyed reading your review of the Pro-Ject NRS Box, How about doing this to perhaps have even greater impact on vinyl noise reduction with your Box: Make one pass with the same original digital file at moderate/mid-level setting. Save that file and make another pass with that one-pass file once again through the Box at the same NR level setting. Compare files of the one-pass and two-pass to see if the effort is worth it.

Nando.
 

Bob Boyer

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Bob: I enjoyed reading your review of the Pro-Ject NRS Box, How about doing this to perhaps have even greater impact on vinyl noise reduction with your Box: Make one pass with the same original digital file at moderate/mid-level setting. Save that file and make another pass with that one-pass file once again through the Box at the same NR level setting. Compare files of the one-pass and two-pass to see if the effort is worth it.

Nando.
Now there's an idea. I'll report back when I get to it, hopefully this weekend sometime. I could run a couple of cuts from Bangla Desh to see how it works. Have you tried that with your Sugar Cube? If you have, hold on to your thoughts until I get a couple of files created. I'll let you know when i get the test run.
 

Bob Boyer

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Not had much time to pull off this test, but did get a short file of the first bars of the intro to Paco's Crazy Eyes, a song on a VG++ to Mint- album I've had for a long time. The intro is quiet enough to hear the crackles; they're certainly not enough to keep me from enjoying the album or the song but enough to benefit from the VNRS box. Instead of digitizing it, however, I recorded the first few bars to an SA-90 TDK cassette, using Dolby B. The album payed through the Pyxi preamp to the VNRS box and from there to the Nakamichi. I could tell the VNRS box was doing its thing, even with the setting at midpoint, though it wasn't as aggressive as my prefered listening position.

Plugging the Nakamichi output into the VNRS box, however, did yield some more improvement - the lesser crackles in the lead-in groove disappeared on that playback, without any loss of air around the instruments. It still didn't get everything but it's a good way to clean up the recording even more.

I need to find a switcher; recording VNRS-processed music onto the Nakamichi and then looping them back through the VNRS box a second time would be easy. And far less difficult than running back and forth through the computer for now. Just need to make it easy to switch between the turntable and the cassette deck outputs to the VNRS box.

Gonna start a new thread in the digital forum to discuss my next moves on the digital side of the system, as it impacts my thinking here. But thanks for the tip, Nando! It works nicely.
 
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Elite-ist

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#12
Thanks for your follow-up, Bob. I had never read of anyone else doing the two-pass NR reduction technique, so I thought I would try it.

Nando.
 
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