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Question Pioneer PL990 TT upgrade

Arsenio Erico

Well-known member
Jun 28, 2020
37
7
45
Hi! I was actually looking for a pair of speakers upgrade to my QA 3020i and after reading what everyone suggested, I ended up considering upgrading my TT before.
I have a very cheap Pioneer PL990 going into a Cambridge Audio CXA61. TBH When streaming some well recorded songs, they sound better than my LPs! and that doesn't make any sense at all. Some Nirvana, Pearl Jam, SRV, Coltrane, sound better from a silly iPhone connected via bluetooth than my LPs!
My budget is tight, don't want to go above 700$ and have been looking at these options:
Rega Planar 2 ,(780$ plus a phono preamp which I don't know its price range), Pro ject debut carbon (670$ plus phono preamp) and Pro ject essential III (520$ plus phono preamp). These prices include shipping to my country ( I'm not in the US nor Europe).

As for the Phono Preamp, I have NO idea where to start! Don't know about price range for a decent one, brands, etc. Any suggestions on which ones to consider?

Any thoughts about it that could help me decide what to do? I'm also open to other brands of course!

Please, shall thou spill the light of knowledge over this clueless servant! :ROFLMAO:
tks in advance!!!
 
Last edited:

JukeLad

Active member
Jun 21, 2020
3
4
25
Hi

Ok, let's take this in order:

1. You say that streaming from your silly iphone sounds better than your LPs, and that it doesn't make sense.

In order to make sense of that, have you considered and checked:

1.1 Has the sound from your TT deteriorated or was it always this way?
1.2 Have you cleaned the stylus recently?
1.3 Do you clean your LPs prior to playing?
1.4 Is the cartridge connected correctly?
1.5 Have you looked at alternative cartridge options?

2. Turntable choices
2.1 I can only speak from direct experience of the ProJect Debut Carbon (Esprit) which I owned. Great sound - no doubt about that, and easy to set up.
2.2 HOWEVER - your current TT is fully automatic. Have you considered that your TT choices are all fully manual? Do you ever put an LP on and go out of the room if you get a phone call or get distracted and forget you had something playing?.......well you get the picture. For me after a couple of years of the benefits of a fully automatic turntable outweighed the perceived audiophile/purism of a high end fully manual TT - so I changed to a fully automatic TT (purists look away). Of course you could add a tonearm lifter to make it semi-automatic but try finding something reliable, easy to install that looks the part.......
2.3 Of course you could go semi-automatic (eg. I looked at the Technics SL1500 -but the solution seems a bit kloogy, plus it is probably out of your price range)
2.4 Not just that tonearm life, but some of the high end turntables won't even have a speed change selector.

3. Pre-amp.
3.1 I was faced with same issue and simply matched the brand of my turntable, so I got a Project Phonobox PreAmp for £69 which was fine to my ears.
3.2 However, the need for another pre-amp was another reason I ditched the Pro-Ject TT - it was another item, more cables etc...

Those are my thoughts, I am sure others may have different views!

Best wishes, D
 

Arsenio Erico

Well-known member
Jun 28, 2020
37
7
45
Hi

Ok, let's take this in order:

1. You say that streaming from your silly iphone sounds better than your LPs, and that it doesn't make sense.

In order to make sense of that, have you considered and checked:

1.1 Has the sound from your TT deteriorated or was it always this way?
1.2 Have you cleaned the stylus recently?
1.3 Do you clean your LPs prior to playing?
1.4 Is the cartridge connected correctly?
1.5 Have you looked at alternative cartridge options?

2. Turntable choices
2.1 I can only speak from direct experience of the ProJect Debut Carbon (Esprit) which I owned. Great sound - no doubt about that, and easy to set up.
2.2 HOWEVER - your current TT is fully automatic. Have you considered that your TT choices are all fully manual? Do you ever put an LP on and go out of the room if you get a phone call or get distracted and forget you had something playing?.......well you get the picture. For me after a couple of years of the benefits of a fully automatic turntable outweighed the perceived audiophile/purism of a high end fully manual TT - so I changed to a fully automatic TT (purists look away). Of course you could add a tonearm lifter to make it semi-automatic but try finding something reliable, easy to install that looks the part.......
2.3 Of course you could go semi-automatic (eg. I looked at the Technics SL1500 -but the solution seems a bit kloogy, plus it is probably out of your price range)
2.4 Not just that tonearm life, but some of the high end turntables won't even have a speed change selector.

3. Pre-amp.
3.1 I was faced with same issue and simply matched the brand of my turntable, so I got a Project Phonobox PreAmp for £69 which was fine to my ears.
3.2 However, the need for another pre-amp was another reason I ditched the Pro-Ject TT - it was another item, more cables etc...

Those are my thoughts, I am sure others may have different views!

Best wishes, D
Thank you very much for taking your time for such a detailed reply! =)
1. LPs are clean, I always keep the stylus clean as well. I didn't mean the PL990 is a mess, a good record sounds well, with a vinyl feel to it, it's got a bit of warmth but just won't do the job for me anymore. I am expecting there to be a noticeable difference between a good record on vinyl and a bluetooth streamed version of the same song. Sometimes that is not the case with my TT. In Utero by Nirvana is way better from Spotify than my LP version.
2. When I listen to records, all I do is sit on the sofa and listen. Doing it all manually is no hassle at all.
3. I found a Pro ject Phono Box 2 for 199$ and someone suggested the Schiit Mani 149$.
Sounds like a need to do a whole new research on Phono Preamps now cos I have no idea what the difference would be!o_O
 

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