As an owner of about 25,000 LP’s and a similar number of 45’s, along with all the digital stuff (MP3’s and CD’s), you can imagine this one tweaked my interest a bit.

ELP Laser Turntable: plays vinyl records without a needle

A Laser? For vinyl? Hmmm.
But there’s more; The sales thingie says:

“The LT’s beam of light can read the record’s groove in places that a conventional stylus cannot. This means that the LT performs high quality sound reproduction even on vinyl that has been worn by a needle. The Laser can also read below the depth of surface scratches, which improves playback.”

Now the turntable itself is a belt-driver, with wow/flutter rated at .07%, which, alas, is audible to me. More, one has to wonder a bit at the >55db weighted noise level which is nigh on 20db worse than a CD.  I also wonder what kind of rumble is induced by the table… and how the pickup reacts to it. I mean, other than the S/N ratio, the real trick of digital recording was to eliminate the influences of the room and the equipment. Sounds like they haven’t quite gotten that one down, yet, but certainly the technology holds that promise if they ever develop it. I can see, for example, a record being laser swept, even without playing it in real time, and processed to eliminate noise… that audio run through a D/A converter and streamed. Hey, looks to me like it could be done.

Now, the initial $11,000US price tag, plus the $400 shipping may be an issue….. but you know how those prices tend to fall once the technology catches on and grows. Consider, for example that $39 DVD player you saw at the store last week.

Here’s hoping.

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