Next upgrade

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Aug 10, 2019
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This isn't going to happen immediately but I would welcome opinions on my next TT related upgrade. The turntable itself and my amp/speakers will all be with me for some time, so my view is that I have three choices for upgrading:

1 A separate phono stage - the suggestion from a well known dealer on this site was that I would need to spend around £500-600 on a worthwhile upgrade (based on new prices). I would be happy to go second hand for this and option 2.

2 A new tonearm. This is the area I know least about, what would I need to spend to upgrade?

3 A new cartridge/stylus. This would wait until my current stylus wears out and I think a 2m black would be obvious option.

I'd be really interested in which of these options would be likely to give me the biggest upgrade (I accept it is always going to be difficult to predict exactly without knowledge of my kit) and also some specific recommendations for phono stages and tonearms in particular. I like a sound that is slightly on the warm side but still with plenty of detail and punch (partly due to my room layout which is hard wood floors and tends to accentuate brightness).

The floor is open!

Ian
 

nopiano

Well-known member
I would go 2, 3, 1 in that order.

A better arm will improve everything. The Inspire folks probably have access to used Ekos and Ittok arms, which are relatively popular though not cheap. Looking around, I see others report a very good Ittok is about £450, an Ekos around £850, and a brand new Akito £995.

A new cartridge will alter the sound more, especially if you move away from Ortofon. With a Linn arm an Adikt might be worth an audition. If you move to a MC, then a new pre-amp will be needed too for best results (can't recall if the Yammy has an MC input). The 2M Black is a popular and relatively safe choice for a higher-end MM.

All I can say about phono pre-amps is you get very strongly held views, but few have actually heard more than a couple. You might want to surf a specialist forum like Vinyl Engine nearer the time. When I was looking around a couple of months ago I thought the Graham Slee models looked pretty fine - but have never heard one. I'm using a Rega fono mini with my modest cartridge.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Thanks for your input. The yamaha does have an MC input so that option is available from the start. I am really happy with the 2M blue so an upgraded version with the same characteristics would be great. Anyone know how ortofon's MC cartridges compare to the 2M black?
 
The CR1000 does indeed have a MC input but I'm not certain of the specifications for it.

To be on the safe side I would stear clear of Low Output moving coil cartridges if you intend to go down that route.

Otherwise agree points 2-3-1 in that order.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
You have just accidentally spotted an error in my sig, I have a CT-1010 not a CR-1000 and it my CA-1000 which contains the phono stage. There is a full spec up on the vintage knob, what should I be looking for to see if a low output MC cartridge can be used?
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
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Where the TT itself is concerned, there are bigger gains from an arm than a cartridge. I like the suggestion of the Ittok, as this is what I had back when I owned a Sondek (1980s)...fantastic arm.

I can't comment on phono stages, as when I used vinyl, all amps had them build in; but I do remember prefering MC cartridges. I ended up with an Asak.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I'm going to throw my two penneth in for what its worth, I'd go 1 2 3 for upgrades. I recently changed from a Tube Box II SE (very warm and relaxed) to Lehmann Black Cube SE (lightning fast, highly detailed) and the difference was the biggest step forward. I figured why get a good cartridge and wear the stylus if I'm not going to hear it at its best, which I didn't feel I was not getting with the Project. Although the switch from AT95 to Lyra was a huge leap the underlining character of the phono stage still remained and still bothered me. Get this part of the system sorted first and hearing inprovements from your arm and cartridge later will be easy. In my system the most significant upgrade to the sound quality was the phono stage and definately the choke point, both frequency extremes and dynamics were being diminished holding the rest of the Turntable back.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Spectre said:
I'm going to throw my two penneth in for what its worth, I'd go 1 2 3 for upgrades. I recently changed from a Tube Box II SE (very warm and relaxed) to Lehmann Black Cube SE (lightning fast, highly detailed) and the difference was the biggest step forward. I figured why get a good cartridge and wear the stylus if I'm not going to hear it at its best, which I didn't feel I was not getting with the Project. Although the switch from AT95 to Lyra was a huge leap the underlining character of the phono stage still remained and still bothered me. Get this part of the system sorted first and hearing inprovements from your arm and cartridge later will be easy. In my system the most significant upgrade to the sound quality was the phono stage and definately the choke point, both frequency extremes and dynamics were being diminished holding the rest of the Turntable back.
I'd completely agree with your system. But you have a state-of-the-art arm, unlike the OP.

So, in effect, you already made the arm beyond improvement. So, in terms of getting a great arm, you are agreeing with me (and Cno). :grin:
 
daskeg said:
You have just accidentally spotted an error in my sig, I have a CT-1010 not a CR-1000 and it my CA-1000 which contains the phono stage. There is a full spec up on the vintage knob, what should I be looking for to see if a low output MC cartridge can be used?
You would need to consult the manual if you have it. You would be better off looking at hi output moving coils cartridges anyway if you intend heading down this route.

If you intend looking at low output moving coils then I believe you would be better off with a modern phono pre-amp.
 

altruistic.lemon

New member
Jul 25, 2011
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Bung a better cartridge in the arm, mate, the Akito is a decent arm. Something like the Benz Micro Ace or the Dynavector DV20 x2 and you'll be right.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
nopiano said:
Spectre said:
I'm going to throw my two penneth in for what its worth, I'd go 1 2 3 for upgrades. I recently changed from a Tube Box II SE (very warm and relaxed) to Lehmann Black Cube SE (lightning fast, highly detailed) and the difference was the biggest step forward. I figured why get a good cartridge and wear the stylus if I'm not going to hear it at its best, which I didn't feel I was not getting with the Project. Although the switch from AT95 to Lyra was a huge leap the underlining character of the phono stage still remained and still bothered me. Get this part of the system sorted first and hearing inprovements from your arm and cartridge later will be easy. In my system the most significant upgrade to the sound quality was the phono stage and definately the choke point, both frequency extremes and dynamics were being diminished holding the rest of the Turntable back.
I'd completely agree with your system. But you have a state-of-the-art arm, unlike the OP.

So, in effect, you already made the arm beyond improvement. So, in terms of getting a great arm, you are agreeing with me (and Cno). :grin:
I was actually thinking in the wider context of the many Turntable upgrades I've made over the years starting with a Systemdeck IIX 900 20 years ago, the various arms an cartridges I've owned and used. The recent change in phono stage has been the best thing I've bought in many years freeing up the sound more other changes I've made.

:)
 

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