Converting slides to digital, effectively upgrading a turntable

I’ve been quite focused on original content and some new sites I am developing, so I have been remiss in posting published columns on the site.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some columns that were in newspapers but have not been posted on the site yet.  Stay tuned for more, about two or three per week until we’re all caught up.

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich
Week 3, 2008

Q: I have seen a slide and negative to digital picture converter advertised in a circular. It sounds like exactly what I am looking for but I question merchandise found in this type of ad. Very suspect is that there is no mention of who manufactures this product, which is sold by Hammacher Schlemmer and the price is $99.95 with free shipping. Do you have any experience with this converter? Are you aware of any other product that converts slides to digital?

-Donna Swanstrom
Stillwater, MN

A: I looked up the product and as you stated, it does not have a name brand listed. Based on this alone I would not recommend it. You can get a name brand flatbed scanner with a backlit transparency adapter that will not only do a better job, but you get a full-sized scanner in the bargain and it costs less.

v200_sm.jpg

Epson Perfection V200

For example, the Epson Perfection V200 lists for $89.98 and can be found in most any electronics store, and you have the assurance of quality with the Epson name brand. Epson includes some great software for archiving old photographs, slides, and negatives. The software removes dust spots automatically and will restore colors in fade photographs. It’s a much more capable machine for less money, and a comprehensive solution for archiving old negatives, photographs and slides.

Q: Over the last year or so I have managed to build a nice “semi budget” home theater system for about $2000. I had bought several of the products you recommend prior to discovering your blog including an Onkyo SR605 receiver, an Oppo DVD player and Polk RM series speakers. Since finding you blog I have added a few embellishments to my system including the excellent Pro-ject Debut III turntable. I use an older TCC phono preamp with it. My question is how can I best spend the $200-$300 dollars I have left in my budget? I have thought about selling the SR605 and upgrading to the Onkyo SR805 to get improved digital converters for better audio, increased watts per channel and the built in phono stage. I have also considered upgrading my phono preamp to a tube system like the well-regarded Bellari VP129 for about $250. (I listen to a lot of vinyl but not exclusively.) Any advice on how to maximize the “pseudo-hifi” elements of my system? I was wondering if you have any experience with the Bellari?

Dan Elswick
Morgantown, WV

A: The receiver you have is a great one and based on your current setup I strongly doubt you would hear any difference by changing it. Your TCC budget phono stage is a weak link in your system though as the phono stage is critical for good sound from vinyl records.

Though I have not tried it, I’ve heard great things about the Bellari. I’ve used the Project Phono Box II and liked it very much, as well.

I’d look into upgrading the stylus on your turntable’s Ortofon OM-5E to a better model (the better stylus will extract more info from the record grooves) and get the Pro-ject Phono Box II for a 1-2 punch to improve your vinyl playback, rather than spend it all on the phono preamp. A good place to get them is The Needle Doctor, at www.needledoctor.com.

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