Better external phono amp than integrated Marantz PM8005 ?

AntAxon

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Currently I have a Pro-ject 2Xperience SB Dc turntable fitted with a Ortofon 2M Silver cartridge and I’m using the built in phono stage of a Marantz PM8005 and the pre-out to connect to my AVI DM10 speakers and subwoofer.

As I don’t really need the amplifier as the speakers are active I was wondering the sound would be improved if I was to get a dedicated phono preamp. And indeed how much would I need to spend to improve upon the integrated Marantz phono stage. I don’t think I’m ever going to move to moving coil cartridges but may upgrade the 2M Silver at some point.

I’ve considered the Schiit Mani at around £140 and was also wondering about Graham Slee preamps such as the Gran Amp 2 Communicator or Gran Amp 2 Special edition are they much better than the Marantz? If not I’m quite happy to save a bit longer for a Reflex M or even a Trichord Dino MK3 if they are considerably better. I’m aware that Graham Slee do offer a try before you buy scheme but don’t really know which model I should try to get the improvement I’m after.

I’ve often found with the exception of the AVI DM10s sometimes the benefits of upgrading are so small it’s not really worth the expense.
 
AntAxon said:
Currently I have a Pro-ject 2Xperience SB Dc turntable fitted with a Ortofon 2M Silver cartridge and I’m using the built in phono stage of a Marantz PM8005 and the pre-out to connect to my AVI DM10 speakers and subwoofer.

As I don’t really need the amplifier as the speakers are active I was wondering the sound would be improved if I was to get a dedicated phono preamp. And indeed how much would I need to spend to improve upon the integrated Marantz phono stage. I don’t think I’m ever going to move to moving coil cartridges but may upgrade the 2M Silver at some point.

I’ve considered the Schiit Mani at around £140 and was also wondering about Graham Slee preamps such as the Gran Amp 2 Communicator or Gran Amp 2 Special edition are they much better than the Marantz? If not I’m quite happy to save a bit longer for a Reflex M or even a Trichord Dino MK3 if they are considerably better. I’m aware that Graham Slee do offer a try before you buy scheme but don’t really know which model I should try to get the improvement I’m after.

I’ve often found with the exception of the AVI DM10s sometimes the benefits of upgrading are so small it’s not really worth the expense.

Tricky.... the phono stages in Marantz amps are usually very good so you'll need to spend a bit more to better them. Having said that you are trying to improve the sound from the 2M Silver.....

Spend the money on a better cartridge would be my advice.

If you are looking to get rid of the amp at some point then get a better cartridge and a second-hand trichord dino or better a Tom Evans Audio Microgroove. However, not sure about your set-up.... where is the volume control if amp goes?
 

AntAxon

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Hi Al, thanks for your input I do value you opinion greatly. The speakers have built in amps and DACs and the volume can be conrolled via the remote.

I did think about changing the cartridge but again I'm not really sure how much I would need to spend to get a significant improvement. I know the Nagoaka cartridges are good but they are a silly price now. I don't mind spending a couple of hundred or so on a cartridge but did not know if it was better to do that or the change to a dedicated phono amp. Also I'm not too sure how I would get on fitting a new cartridge.

I think you are right the phono stage in the Marantz does seem pretty good but often people who know far more than me about HiFi say that the phono stage in integrated amps are of poor quality. Hence my interest.
 

AntAxon

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Jan 9, 2015
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That is intersting I did not think they would loan more than one phono amp at a time.
 

ifor

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Dec 3, 2002
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AntAxon said:
That is intersting I did not think they would loan more than one phono amp at a time.

If you want to go cheapest, after you've had a listen up the range, there is the option to build your own DAK Genera. I've just built my second (for my daughter) and it's definitely better that the inbuilt one in my Roksan Kandy.
 

AntAxon

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ifor said:
AntAxon said:
That is intersting I did not think they would loan more than one phono amp at a time.

If you want to go cheapest, after you've had a listen up the range, there is the option to build your own DAK Genera. I've just built my second (for my daughter) and it's definitely better that the inbuilt one in my Roksan Kandy.

I don't really think I'm that good with a soldering iron. My brother however is a electronics engineer....
 
AntAxon said:
ifor said:
AntAxon said:
That is intersting I did not think they would loan more than one phono amp at a time.

If you want to go cheapest, after you've had a listen up the range, there is the option to build your own DAK Genera. I've just built my second (for my daughter) and it's definitely better that the inbuilt one in my Roksan Kandy.

I don't really think I'm that good with a soldering iron. My brother however is a electronics engineer....

Buy brother a pint...... job done.. :)
 

ifor

Well-known member
Dec 3, 2002
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... is a good idea. I had no experience of soldering, but was pointed in the direction of some very good YouTube videos, which gave me the confidence to give it a go, and whilst not the prettiest soldering (or soddering as the Americans in the videos call it) it was good enough. Of course there is the cost of a soldering iron etc. to factor in, unless you can borrow one (for the price of a pint).
 
D

Deleted member 108165

Guest
Al ears said:
Tricky.... the phono stages in Marantz amps are usually very good so you'll need to spend a bit more to better them. Having said that you are trying to improve the sound from the 2M Silver.....

Spend the money on a better cartridge would be my advice.

If you are looking to get rid of the amp at some point then get a better cartridge and a second-hand trichord dino or better a Tom Evans Audio Microgroove. However, not sure about your set-up.... where is the volume control if amp goes?

I would second everything that Al has said.

Been there, done that with my Marantz amp and my personal opinion is that you would need to spend in excess of £400 to better the stage in the amp. If you intend to stay with MM then spend the cash on a new cart rather than a phono-stage. Nagaoka are superb, but a little pricey nowadays. If you like the Ortofon sound then maybe look at the 2M Bronze, (I consider this to be the sweetspot in the 2M range). AT and Goldring have some excellent MM offerings too.

The phono-stage I purchased was a £225 Pro-ject model... it was returned.
 
DougK said:
Al ears said:
Tricky.... the phono stages in Marantz amps are usually very good so you'll need to spend a bit more to better them. Having said that you are trying to improve the sound from the 2M Silver.....

Spend the money on a better cartridge would be my advice.

If you are looking to get rid of the amp at some point then get a better cartridge and a second-hand trichord dino or better a Tom Evans Audio Microgroove. However, not sure about your set-up.... where is the volume control if amp goes?

I would second everything that Al has said.

Been there, done that with my Marantz amp and my personal opinion is that you would need to spend in excess of £400 to better the stage in the amp. If you intend to stay with MM then spend the cash on a new cart rather than a phono-stage. Nagaoka are superb, but a little pricey nowadays. If you like the Ortofon sound then maybe look at the 2M Bronze, (I consider this to be the sweetspot in the 2M range). AT and Goldring have some excellent MM offerings too.

The phono-stage I purchased was a £225 Pro-ject model... it was returned.

I learnt through a long, bitter, and somewhat expensive experimental period that phono preamps are not going to make a poor cartridge sound brilliant however expensive they were. If you're sticking with moving magnet then, more often than not, the one in an integrated amp is more than sufficient. I only started to pump money into phono stages since moving over to reasonably expensive moving coil cartridges.
 

AntAxon

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I think from what you have said I will look at a cartridge upgrade. Not sure what would be best to get though. An Ortofon Bronze looks interesting but a Nagoaka MP 200 may be better. It is a bit difficult to audition cartridges!

Thanks for all your help and advice guys, much appreciated.

Tony
 
AntAxon said:
I think from what you have said I will look at a cartridge upgrade. Not sure what would be best to get though. An Ortofon Bronze looks interesting but a Nagoaka MP 200 may be better. It is a bit difficult to audition cartridges!

Thanks for all your help and advice guys, much appreciated.

Tony

It is indeed one of the most tricky bits of equipment to audition, often impossible, so you sometimes have to take a dive-in and value others experiences.

If you can afford the Nag, best imported direct from Japan, it's the one to go for as an all-rounder although the Bronze is no slouch and about the lowest I would actually consider in the Ortofon range.
 
D

Deleted member 108165

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AntAxon said:
I think from what you have said I will look at a cartridge upgrade. Not sure what would be best to get though. An Ortofon Bronze looks interesting but a Nagoaka MP 200 may be better. It is a bit difficult to audition cartridges!

Thanks for all your help and advice guys, much appreciated.

Tony

Tony, if you like the Ortofon sound then stick with it. The Bronze stylus will fit your current cartridge but will only give you about 85% of its true performance. Nagaoka's are not as forward as Ortofon and suit my ears better.

Whereabouts in the UK are you as I could loan you a Blue and Black styli. I also deal with a nice Japanese lady for Nagaoka so could drop her a line and ask how much she wants for an MP200.
 

AntAxon

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DougK said:
AntAxon said:
I think from what you have said I will look at a cartridge upgrade. Not sure what would be best to get though. An Ortofon Bronze looks interesting but a Nagoaka MP 200 may be better. It is a bit difficult to audition cartridges!

Thanks for all your help and advice guys, much appreciated.

Tony

Tony, if you like the Ortofon sound then stick with it. The Bronze stylus will fit your current cartridge but will only give you about 85% of its true performance. Nagaoka's are not as forward as Ortofon and suit my ears better.

Whereabouts in the UK are you as I could loan you a Blue and Black styli. I also deal with a nice Japanese lady for Nagaoka so could drop her a line and ask how much she wants for an MP200.

Hi Doug, that is very kind of you. My understanding is that the 2M Silver is the same as the red but it has a coil made from silver rather than copper. If that is the case I believe the blue stylus will fit but the black stylus fits onto a different cartridge. I may be talking complete rubbish of course.

It would be interesting to know how much a MP200 would be but I must admit I would be a little apprehensive about fitting it never having done it.
 
D

Deleted member 108165

Guest
AntAxon said:
Hi Doug, that is very kind of you. My understanding is that the 2M Silver is the same as the red but it has a coil made from silver rather than copper. If that is the case I believe the blue stylus will fit but the black stylus fits onto a different cartridge. I may be talking complete rubbish of course.

It would be interesting to know how much a MP200 would be but I must admit I would be a little apprehensive about fitting it never having done it.

You are partially correct, the internals do differ and the outer cart body materials differ too but the actual stylus mounting is exactly the same across the 2M range. With the exception of the Silver I went through the entire 2M range before I found Nagaoka. Just upgraded from an MP300 to a 500... not sure about the 500 yet.

I'll drop my lady a tentative mail for a price on the MP200; she can be a little slow responding but has never let me down.

I'm in Essex and would have no problem travelling up to 50 miles to assist a fellow enthusiast fit a cart, if necessary. Alternatively a dealer would probably assist you for a fee; if you bought the cartridge from a dealer they may even throw in fitting for free.
 
Pro-ject tables generally respond well to better carts. Fitted to my Xpression 1 I had a ClearAudio Classic Wood which retailed at around £300. Now I use the ClearAudio Concept cart which is less than £200. Still sounds impressive given my table was only £200 when new.
 

brownz

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Apr 9, 2015
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AntAxon said:
DougK said:
AntAxon said:
I think from what you have said I will look at a cartridge upgrade. Not sure what would be best to get though. An Ortofon Bronze looks interesting but a Nagoaka MP 200 may be better. It is a bit difficult to audition cartridges!

Thanks for all your help and advice guys, much appreciated.

Tony

Tony, if you like the Ortofon sound then stick with it. The Bronze stylus will fit your current cartridge but will only give you about 85% of its true performance. Nagaoka's are not as forward as Ortofon and suit my ears better.

Whereabouts in the UK are you as I could loan you a Blue and Black styli. I also deal with a nice Japanese lady for Nagaoka so could drop her a line and ask how much she wants for an MP200.

Hi Doug, that is very kind of you. My understanding is that the 2M Silver is the same as the red but it has a coil made from silver rather than copper. If that is the case I believe the blue stylus will fit but the black stylus fits onto a different cartridge. I may be talking complete rubbish of course.

It would be interesting to know how much a MP200 would be but I must admit I would be a little apprehensive about fitting it never having done it.

2M Red and 2M Blue share the same cartridge body.
2M Bronze and 2M Black share the same cartridge body.
2M Silver is an OEM cartridge with silver coils as you mention.
Stylus attach is the same across the range.
You can mix and match but your mileage may vary ;-)
Rule of thumb is upgrade Red to Blue and Bronze to Black.
Any other mix may give varied perfomance.
Lot's of people recomend the Blue as a sweet spot, but I tend to favour the Bronze which I think sounds great (and I own a 2M Black!)
As Doug mentions the Nak give great price vs perfomance as well.
I must admit I upgraded my Phono stage when I bought the 2M Black and went for a Lehmann Black Cube SE which I think is the biggest improvement overall I've made, or the one that was most noticable. Lovely sound and closest I've heard to something costing three times as much that features valves.
 
brownz said:
AntAxon said:
DougK said:
AntAxon said:
I think from what you have said I will look at a cartridge upgrade. Not sure what would be best to get though. An Ortofon Bronze looks interesting but a Nagoaka MP 200 may be better. It is a bit difficult to audition cartridges!

Thanks for all your help and advice guys, much appreciated.

Tony

Tony, if you like the Ortofon sound then stick with it. The Bronze stylus will fit your current cartridge but will only give you about 85% of its true performance. Nagaoka's are not as forward as Ortofon and suit my ears better.

Whereabouts in the UK are you as I could loan you a Blue and Black styli. I also deal with a nice Japanese lady for Nagaoka so could drop her a line and ask how much she wants for an MP200.

Hi Doug, that is very kind of you. My understanding is that the 2M Silver is the same as the red but it has a coil made from silver rather than copper. If that is the case I believe the blue stylus will fit but the black stylus fits onto a different cartridge. I may be talking complete rubbish of course.

It would be interesting to know how much a MP200 would be but I must admit I would be a little apprehensive about fitting it never having done it.

2M Red and 2M Blue share the same cartridge body.2M Bronze and 2M Black share the same cartridge body.2M Silver is an OEM cartridge with silver coils as you mention.Stylus attach is the same across the range.You can mix and match but your mileage may vary ;-)Rule of thumb is upgrade Red to Blue and Bronze to Black.Any other mix may give varied perfomance.Lot's of people recomend the Blue as a sweet spot, but I tend to favour the Bronze which I think sounds great (and I own a 2M Black!)As Doug mentions the Nak give great price vs perfomance as well.I must admit I upgraded my Phono stage when I bought the 2M Black and went for a Lehmann Black Cube SE which I think is the biggest improvement overall I've made, or the one that was most noticable. Lovely sound and closest I've heard to something costing three times as much that features valves.

As mentioned the Silver is only a slightly modified Red so upgrading to a Blue might not be that much of an upgrade. Either head for a Bronze if wanting to stick with Ortofon or move away to another manufacturer like Nagaoka or Hana EH.
 

camcroft

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Jan 12, 2012
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Peter Larsen said:
This guy has tried most phono stages and loves the Schiit Mani.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TaARB28ZHkw
I bought mine after watching his video and other reviews I find it very good I sold my Rega mini a2d as the Mani sounded much better
 

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