Re-kindling my Vinyl interest from the 70s - some help requested

Mar 12, 2020
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I'm seeking advice, here is what I have at the moment:
High End Powered Speakers - ADR Eona 103 (Meyer equivalent) . I paid about $3k each when I was a DJ. They are now in my home (on low) , i'm more than happy with these for my digital setup but its analog I'm adding, hence the post

I have an IPAD into bluetooth 5 Topping 50 DAC , into Mackie 802 VLZ 3 small band Mixer (also from my DJ days) . As mentioned, I'm happy, the digital sound is great.

I have a Turntable that I know needs replacing, its a Numark TT 1625, I recently added an Ortofon Concorde MK2 Club cartridge, $180. I also recently bought a Graham Slee Gram Amp 2 SE Phono pre-amp., this replaced a dj denon phono preamp before. I must say, the new cart & phone pre-amp has made a big difference so were moving in the right direction.

The question what to do next, while i've already improved my vinyl sound, I do feel I can do better. (I am cleaning, dusting, etc the vinyl, most was bought used, 60s, 70s, 80s)

I could look at the mackie pre-amp mixer and replace it. I've been looking at passive pre-amps like Tisbury audio Mini Passive Preamplifier II £149, also the Axiom II Passive Preamp RCA $195, also the Axiom II Passive Preamp Walker Mod RCA $499 . The Axium guys are recommending the Walker Mod if switching between 2 inputs. they prefer a single input setup , but offer both.

* One question is if I like the DAC into the Mackie sound does this mean I should be satisfied with the Mackie with Gram Amp / vinyl into it ? or, is it possible the Mackie works well for Digital input but less so for Vinyl. I suspect the latter.

I could replace the Turntable & Cart. I see the Marantz TT 15 S1 $1500 has the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood cart "Virtuoso cartridge V1", and I believe the cart & tone arm (Clearaudio Satisfy) individually cost $2k if bought separately. I could invest $1500 if I felt I was going to get a decent appreciable bump in sound quality. I'm open to other ideas.

I am recognizing that some albums, on my current set up , sound a lot better than others. Roxy Music - The Atlantic Years 1972 to 1980, its a "promotion Only" copy. It sounds great. I do realize the quality of the original process is a factor. As mentioned, all my current vinyl is used and while I try to clean them I do realize this might be part of the problem.

Open to all ideas. I could probably return the Gram Amp.
 

DougK

Well-known member
Dec 8, 2013
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Can't comment on your set-up I'm afraid but can comment on the Marantz TT15S1 as I own one.

My journey in turntables started with a Project DC, a fine table indeed, fancied a direct drive so went for a Pioneer PLX1000, this sounded better than the Project but it's just a re-badged Hanpin so build quality was not brilliant... Upgraded again to the Marantz and haven't looked back and have no wish to change, to me it is a superb table for the price with its bundled cartridge. It's basically a Clearaudio with a Marantz badge on it which is no bad thing, superb engineering and very clever implementation. What you pay in the states for one of these is a no brainer as the cost in the UK was £1500!

I have never used the bundled cart as I have a crush on the Nagoaka sound so fitted an MP300/500 to it. Invest in a decent record cleaning machine and just enjoy the music.
 

Al ears

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Nov 23, 2008
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I'd agree with DougK, expect a big improvement from a Marantz deck.
Perhaps some of your vinyl issues might stem from the quality of the actual vinyl used as it was poor, and often very thin, during the years of the oil embargoes.
 
Mar 12, 2020
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I'd agree with DougK, expect a big improvement from a Marantz deck.
Perhaps some of your vinyl issues might stem from the quality of the actual vinyl used as it was poor, and often very thin, during the years of the oil embargoes.
Thank you. there is no doubt, a few of my records sound really good, almost to the point I'm happy with the sound, close to my digital, but most are "average" and a few (60s) are terrible. I suspect the 60s was due to technology of the day. I'll be upset if it is indeed my 2nd hand vinyl is the issue as I have about 400 albums and just spend $350 on shipping them. Is there a solution if it is indeed the vinyl quality ? ( I am cleaning them with a KnoxGear cleaning system)
 

Al ears

Moderator
Nov 23, 2008
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Thank you. there is no doubt, a few of my records sound really good, almost to the point I'm happy with the sound, close to my digital, but most are "average" and a few (60s) are terrible. I suspect the 60s was due to technology of the day. I'll be upset if it is indeed my 2nd hand vinyl is the issue as I have about 400 albums and just spend $350 on shipping them. Is there a solution if it is indeed the vinyl quality ? ( I am cleaning them with a KnoxGear cleaning system)
Unfortunately a poorly recorded album on cheap vinyl is going to remain just that regardless of how often you clean them. Warping was a major concern back then requiring a certain arm / cartridge combination to help alleviate this.
 
Mar 12, 2020
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Would upgrading my preamp and or turntable improve the sound if indeed the vinyl quality was originally poor. I’m not asking for a miracle, but would better gear improve poor vinyl ( or worsen it by accentuating the negatives )
 

Al ears

Moderator
Nov 23, 2008
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Would upgrading my preamp and or turntable improve the sound if indeed the vinyl quality was originally poor. I’m not asking for a miracle, but would better gear improve poor vinyl ( or worsen it by accentuating the negatives )
It could do both but, in my exp, older vinyl is best played back with a stylus type that was available back in the day,
i.e. elliptical.
 

DougK

Well-known member
Dec 8, 2013
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Difficult to really say as the old adage springs to mind cr*p in = cr*p out. I've got original LPs from the 70's and I think they sound better with each turntable upgrade I've done. Investment in analogue front end is always expensive but once you've done it it will hopefully last you a lifetime. If you want hi-fi reproduction then move away from DJ cartridges and get a decent hi-fi cart, also your current turntable is not built for accuracy, it's a very general low-spec player, (no disrespect intended). If you do go for the Marantz please note that is does not come with a lid!

It's your cash so your choice... only you can make this decision.

Slee amps are highly regarded by their users so no weakness there. Your KnoxGear cleaning system is okay, on par with the basic Knosti Disco Antistat, but I've never used the bundled cleaning solution as reports say it's cr*p. I much prefer making my own solution and have had excellent results with it. Cleaning won't miraculously make a bad pressing sound better but it might not be a bad pressing, could be your kit...
 
Mar 12, 2020
7
0
20
Difficult to really say as the old adage springs to mind cr*p in = cr*p out. I've got original LPs from the 70's and I think they sound better with each turntable upgrade I've done. Investment in analogue front end is always expensive but once you've done it it will hopefully last you a lifetime. If you want hi-fi reproduction then move away from DJ cartridges and get a decent hi-fi cart, also your current turntable is not built for accuracy, it's a very general low-spec player, (no disrespect intended). If you do go for the Marantz please note that is does not come with a lid!

It's your cash so your choice... only you can make this decision.

Slee amps are highly regarded by their users so no weakness there. Your KnoxGear cleaning system is okay, on par with the basic Knosti Disco Antistat, but I've never used the bundled cleaning solution as reports say it's cr*p. I much prefer making my own solution and have had excellent results with it. Cleaning won't miraculously make a bad pressing sound better but it might not be a bad pressing, could be your kit...
Thank you. I do understand the Numark needs replacing. Would you say the Maranz is indeed HI FI level ? All reviews seem good . Any guidance on options at the $1500 level
 

DougK

Well-known member
Dec 8, 2013
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Thank you. I do understand the Numark needs replacing. Would you say the Maranz is indeed HI FI level ? All reviews seem good . Any guidance on options at the $1500 level
Without doubt the Marantz is hi-fi level as it sits squarely in their premium/signature range of products. You can always pay more to get better if you want. As you are in the US there are multiple manufacturers there, one that springs to mind is VPI, maybe check-out some home-grown fodder.
 
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Mar 12, 2020
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What continues to frustrate me is that many of my vinyl sounds great with current setup to the extent I am happy with my equipment t, but a lot of vinyl doesn't, the sound is not full, sometimes too bright . This implies the vinyl is at fault , the question remains would a better turn turntable improve the sound of the currently poor vinyl.
 

DougK

Well-known member
Dec 8, 2013
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Your money, your decision mate. No one here can tell you to bite the bullet. Why don't you try a different cartridge first, don't buy anything too expensive though as your turntable/tonearm will not do it justice.

Your current cart has an output of 8mV, why not try something like a 2M Red as a cheap hi-fi cart comparison (5.5mV)... no guarantees from me. You'll need to mount it and dial it in yourself if this is within your expertise, if not then get someone knowledgeable to do it for you. (As a note I'm not a fan of Ortofon, it's just a suggestion as I'm not sure what is available to you).
 
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