Should I upgrade my ADC XLM mkiii cartridge for hifi?

dupree

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2021
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Hey everyone!

New to the forum and just getting into the world of HiFi. I recently upgraded my turntable from an early 80's Hitachi direct drive to a Thorens td 145 in mint condition I found in a local store that deals in vintage audio equipment. The difference in sound quality between the two was pretty incredible. I didn't know there would be such a difference! Anyways, I'm loving the new turntable :)
I checked the cartridge that it's equipped with and it's an ADC XLM mkiii cartridge. It sounds pretty good, and from a little bit of research it seems to get good reviews, but just wondering if I could get more out of my vinyl with a new cartridge? I've read about the Ortofon quintet blue and the Pro ject pick-it DS 2 and wondering if these would be a significant upgrade from what I have already? Or if someone else has a suggestion for a good cartridge for a Thorens in the $1000 or under range?

Thanks!
 

Paul Clarke

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2007
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18,670
Hello Dupree.

I'm sure others will be along but would like to kick off with a few comments.
Firstly, it's great that you're so happy with you sound already.
There's a lot to be said for that in hifi world!!!
You mention you have a potential budget of $1000. That's a very handsome sum!
You are completely spoilt for choice at that budget.
It would be useful to know what other kit you're using to understand where you might want to invest. It might be that you could purchase a lower budget cartridge and put the savings into other areas of your set up.
Whilst undoubtedly a new cartridge will have a positive effect, no one here would advise you to throw all you eggs into one basket.
I'm sure you'll get some great advice here.
 
The cartridge you are currently using is around 25 years old so yes I would say it needs replacing......
The Quintet Blue you mentioned is a fairly low output moving coil design so best avoided unless you have an external phono preamp that can handle it, and so is the DS2.
Best stick to moving magnet designs in my opinion.
The ADC is a moving magnet type so I assume you do not have equipment that will handle a losing output moving coil.
What amplification do you current use?
if it only has a moving magnet input then I would suggest you look at the Nagaoka or Audio Technica range.
 
Last edited:

dupree

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2021
58
16
45
Hello Dupree.

I'm sure others will be along but would like to kick off with a few comments.
Firstly, it's great that you're so happy with you sound already.
There's a lot to be said for that in hifi world!!!
You mention you have a potential budget of $1000. That's a very handsome sum!
You are completely spoilt for choice at that budget.
It would be useful to know what other kit you're using to understand where you might want to invest. It might be that you could purchase a lower budget cartridge and put the savings into other areas of your set up.
Whilst undoubtedly a new cartridge will have a positive effect, no one here would advise you to throw all you eggs into one basket.
I'm sure you'll get some great advice here.
Thanks for the reply! Yeah I could notice a big sound difference immediately! It was great haha. However, a lot of my stuff is pretty "vintage" that I bought used off Facebook or from a local antique store that also specializes in vintage audio equipment.
I'm pretty new to all of this, so please forgive me if I'm not sure what you mean by certain things haha. From what I've read on different sites, people seem to say that the cartridge is an important upgrade and it can make all the difference, so I thought that might be something to spend a little more on?? However, I am here to learn and am open to all suggestions!

Here is my current setup:

-Thorens td145 turntable with aforementioned cartridge
-Early 80's Sanyo (not sure of model number, will need to check when I get home) amplifier/receiver (is there a difference between these 2 things?)
-Sears Professional series speakers (I'm guessing also early 80's vintage)
- I also have a LDC cassette deck that I received for free lol

It sounds pretty good as is, but I slowly want to upgrade to get into the HiFi realm. I'm open to suggestions as what to upgrade first, then go from there.
 

dupree

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2021
58
16
45
The cartridge you are currently using is around 25 years old so yes I would say it needs replacing......
The Quintet Blue you mentioned is a fairly low output moving coil design so best avoided unless you have an external phono preamp that can handle it, and so is the DS2.
Best stick to moving magnet designs in my opinion.
The ADC is a moving magnet type so I assume you do not have equipment that will handle a losing output moving coil.
What amplification do you current use?
if it only has a moving magnet input then I would suggest you look at the Nagaoka or Audio Technica range.
Thanks for your feedback! I wasn't aware that those cartridges might not be compatible with my system.

Here is my current setup:

-Thorens td145 turntable with aforementioned cartridge
-Early 80's Sanyo (not sure of model number, will need to check when I get home) amplifier/receiver (is there a difference between these 2 things?)
-Sears Professional series speakers (I'm guessing also early 80's vintage)

All my stuff I got off Facebook marketplace or vintage audio stores. When I upgraded to the Thorens from my Hitachi, I couldn't believe the difference. Now I want to upgrade everything, but one bit at a time as money allows haha.

I'll get more info on the amp when I get home. I'm not exactly sure what to look for to make sure the cartridge is compatible. Would you suggest upgrading the amp first?
 
If your amps is an amp and not a receiver (an amplifier with built in radio tuner section) then it is unlikely to have a Moving Coil cartridge facility. In fact I am certain it will not.
You can continue using it but will be restricted to using Moving Magnet type cartridges.
Even modern amplifiers do not have the ability, in the main, to handle low output moving coil cartridges like those you mentioned previously.
Moving Coil cartridges also do not have the ability to swap stylii if you happen to damage one, you have to replace the whole cartridge if this happens......
Stick with moving magnet.
 
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dupree

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2021
58
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45
If your amps is an amp and not a receiver (an amplifier with built in radio tuner section) then it is unlikely to have a Moving Coil cartridge facility. In fact I am certain it will not.
You can continue using it but will be restricted to using Moving Magnet type cartridges.
Even modern amplifiers do not have the ability, in the main, to handle low output moving coil cartridges like those you mentioned previously.
Moving Coil cartridges also do not have the ability to swap stylii if you happen to damage one, you have to replace the whole cartridge if this happens......
Stick with moving magnet.
Oh mine does have radio. Should I still stick with moving magnet or consider the moving coil as well?
 

DougK

Well-known member
Dec 8, 2013
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Are there issues with the MC cartridges?
None that I'm aware of. I was just agreeing with Al's post, (#8), he's generally spot-on when it comes to cartridges and I've always listened to his voice of experience. A decent MM is where I'd start looking, but it's your money so the choice is yours my friend :)
 
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Are there issues with the MC cartridges?
looking at your Sanyo I don't think it will take a moving coil unless it's a high output type which I wouldn't recommend. If you want one of the moving solid you have already mentioned then you are going to need to buy an external phono preamp.
Stick with moving magnet.
 
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Gray

Well-known member
It's a Sanyo DCX 1970K. Here are a few pics of the front and rear. Hope these help!
Nice blue tuning dial and meter.
It would be a good idea to tidy up your speaker connections - to ensure that none of the wire strands are exposed.
If you haven't got the message :)...stick with a good moving magnet (MM) cartridge.
 
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dupree

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2021
58
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45
looking at your Sanyo I don't think it will take a moving coil unless it's a high output type which I wouldn't recommend. If you want one of the moving solid you have already mentioned then you are going to need to buy an external phono preamp.
Stick with moving magnet.
Thanks for your input, much appreciated! Which MM cartridge would you recommend? Also, should I upgrade my receiver eventually or will it suffice? I want to eventually upgrade the speakers to a good quality bookshelf type of speaker.
 

dupree

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2021
58
16
45
Nice blue tuning dial and meter.
It would be a good idea to tidy up your speaker connections - to ensure that none of the wire strands are exposed.
If you haven't got the message :)...stick with a good moving magnet (MM) cartridge.
Thanks for the advice, yeah it's a bit of a mess back there lol. I'll look for a good quality MM cartridge. Any suggestions?
 
Thanks for your input, much appreciated! Which MM cartridge would you recommend? Also, should I upgrade my receiver eventually or will it suffice? I want to eventually upgrade the speakers to a good quality bookshelf type of speaker.
If the receiver is still going strong then I wouldn't rush to replace it.
New bookshelf speakers would have to be pretty efficient otherwise you might need to replace it at that point.
you don't need to spend a fortune to upgrade your cartridge but if you can stretch to a Goldring GL1042 you will not be going far wrong. More money then look at Nahaoka MP300.
Can you fix and re-align a new cartridge yourself? If not do you have a dealer that can set it up for you?
Just saying because of it isn't set up properly the benefit of upgrading will be lost.
 

dupree

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2021
58
16
45
If the receiver is still going strong then I wouldn't rush to replace it.
New bookshelf speakers would have to be pretty efficient otherwise you might need to replace it at that point.
you don't need to spend a fortune to upgrade your cartridge but if you can stretch to a Goldring GL1042 you will not be going far wrong. More money then look at Nahaoka MP300.
Can you fix and re-align a new cartridge yourself? If not do you have a dealer that can set it up for you?
Just saying because of it isn't set up properly the benefit of upgrading will be lost.
Thanks for all the info! I would have no idea how to do it haha, but there's someone locally who I can go to.
 

Paul Clarke

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2007
162
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18,670
Thanks for the advice, yeah it's a bit of a mess back there lol. I'll look for a good quality MM cartridge. Any suggestions?
You mentioned previously you had a budget of approx $1k.
That's a lot to spend in your system and is possibly too much for your cartridge.
I'm not really familiar with your gear, so hard for me to suggest a budget bracket.
You won't go far wrong with Audio Technica.
They have a huge range.
As a start, perhaps look at something like this, thought it isn't cheap and I'm not sure what the availability is in USD.


There are so many others available though.
 
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Paul Clarke

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2007
162
65
18,670
If the receiver is still going strong then I wouldn't rush to replace it.
New bookshelf speakers would have to be pretty efficient otherwise you might need to replace it at that point.
you don't need to spend a fortune to upgrade your cartridge but if you can stretch to a Goldring GL1042 you will not be going far wrong. More money then look at Nahaoka MP300.
Can you fix and re-align a new cartridge yourself? If not do you have a dealer that can set it up for you?
Just saying because of it isn't set up properly the benefit of upgrading will be lost.

 

dupree

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2021
58
16
45
I would guess that, even with a budget in dollars, you might be in Canada.
If you are can you tell us what local dealers can get hold of in the way of cartridges?
You are correct. Sorry, should have stated that before.
There's a specialty hifi store where I live called Pulsworks audio arts. They sell rega turntables and really high end speakers and receivers.
We have best buy and the typical big box stores, although I'm not sure they deal in this stuff.
Audio warehouse is another place that does high end audio here.
I found this hifi store based out of somewhere in Ontario which has a huge selection of high end cartridges, turntables, speakers and amps. Plus they ship for free and have payment plans.
www.vinylsound.ca
 

Gray

Well-known member
I'll look for a good quality MM cartridge. Any suggestions?
Well I've got a Thorens (TD160S) turntable with the very modest VM95E cartridge.
It sounds great, but I'm the last person in the world to be advising you.
That's because there's more chance of me being the first person to set foot on Mars than there is of me ever spending $1000 on a cartridge.

I reckon the VM740ML that Paul recommends in post #21, could be good - and it's the most I would be spending in your position (even with $1000 going completely spare).
In fact, I have to wonder whether your receiver would allow you to fully appreciate the difference (such that it may be) between that and a VM95ML.
 
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