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Old 7th October 2006, 10:36 AM   #1
kaban is offline kaban  Australia
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Default Suggestions for upgrade

Hi there!

I am an audiophile on a tight budget... (aren't most of us?) and I want to upgrade my system!

This is what I have:

I was wondering what sort of upgrade I could perform on this setup.

As the charlize and EJ Jordan speakers are terrific, at this stage I was thinking of upgrading the cartridge or phono pre-amp stage, or even the whole deck.

If I was to upgrade the phono preamp stage, I have a choice of a budget line preamp made by Project or a Gram GA1- GSP or something.. http://www.decibelhifi.com.au/prod234.htm or I could build my own valve based preamp.

The other thing is I am using pretty average powersupplies for the amp and preamp, so maybe I could upgrade them, and also the interconnects to the amp.

Anyway.. I am still wondering what I should do to upgrade. Any suggestions would be terrific!
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Old 8th October 2006, 05:53 PM   #2
phn is offline phn  Sweden
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Stick with the turntable. Should you run into a nice used deck with a nice arm at an even nice price, then you could think about it.

I would get this phono stage: Phonoclone. I would probably ditch C3 and R7.

Now you will need a MC cart. They aren't cheap, but you will have lots to choose from in the $200-400 range. There's little use going higher than that. Just make sure it's high- to mid-compliant to match your arm.

The next logical step, since you have a tube pre, is to go tube phono.
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Old 9th October 2006, 07:51 AM   #3
kaban is offline kaban  Australia
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Great suggestions, thanks!

I actually read about the phonoclones before, so thankyou for reminding me about them. A neat design and project.... I think it would be an excellent DIY addition! Not too difficult too.

I was thinking if I went MC, it would probably be something like the Ortophon Salsa entry level MC cartridge or maybe even a Goldring.
Any other suggestions are welcome though.

I know that music reproduction is only as good as its source. Improving the cart/phono stage seems to me to be a logical step in improving my setup.

Some sort of valve preamp for the phono stage would be a great project to tackle later on up the path. I am a little afraid of valve projects due to the voltages involved, but I am sure if I was careful I would be ok. Seems there are a lot of valve based kit projects available these days too!

Thanks again,
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Old 9th October 2006, 09:19 AM   #4
EC8010 is offline EC8010  United Kingdom
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You have loudspeakers worthy of a valve phono stage. Even if built with really cheap components, a valve phono stage with passive RIAA will give you a better return on your money than spending it on cables and the like. High voltages are alarming, and you're right to be nervous, but with a little care, you needn't be frightened off.
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Old 9th October 2006, 10:02 AM   #5
sreten is offline sreten  United Kingdom
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Hi,

IMO the cartridge definetely needs upgrading followed by the
turntable. A decent power supply for the MM stage is cheap.

/sreten.
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Old 9th October 2006, 08:17 PM   #6
phn is offline phn  Sweden
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MC carts tend to last a very long time. Nobody knows yet how long an Ortofon SPU will last, and they have been around for half a century! So unless you upgrade and ditch a perfectly working cart, you are going to live with whatever you buy for a very long time.

That doesn't mean you should pay through your nose. My point of little use going higher than $200-400 (basically entry level) is that there tend to be little gain getting a cart between, say, $400 and $1,000. There are exceptions (there always are), but generally you should stay below $400 or above $1,000.

I snatched this dialogue from the Vinyl Engine:

"hallo,
with your very high class kit, why are you using a Denon cartridge? for only a bit more, you can have a much better one and much better sound! try a Dynavector, or Shelter, or Benz Micro......"

"Hi there,
Simple answer... I've tried all of the above, and the 103R blows them all away. More specifically I've owned Shelter 501 and 901, Dyna 10x4 and Benz L2... in every important way the Denon is far more musical to me."

So who uses >$1,000 carts? I wouldn't know. Direct-heated triode guru Susumu Sakuma certainly doesn't. He uses a $250 Denon DL-102.

I know nothing about the Ortofon Salsa. But Ortofon's track record is second to none. Their most expensive carts cost a fraction of the more expensive carts out there. The Denon DL-103II looks like an interesting alternative. That's pretty much all I have. Almost everything else out there is very expensive.
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Old 9th October 2006, 08:57 PM   #7
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Over on the Vinyl Asylum there are a few carts that get praised on a regular basis. For low output; Denon DL-103/103R and Audio Technica OC9. For high output; Dynavector 10x5 and Benz Micro Ace.
The Benz Ace is the only one that falls outside of your pirice range.
The Dyna and Benz could be used with your existing phono while you build something better, (hint, hint).

Jeff
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Old 9th October 2006, 11:26 PM   #8
kaban is offline kaban  Australia
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Thanks again for the suggestions.

I am glad that even with my limited funds, modest setup and lack of audiophile knowledge, people take my quest for good sound seriously I am sure that a few DIY'ers fit in that category. There is only one way to learn - to plunge in and trust your hunches!

One thing I should of told you is how much money I am prepared to spend. I was thinking around the $500 mark... but I could save some more!

Quote:
You have loudspeakers worthy of a valve phono stage. Even if built with really cheap components, a valve phono stage with passive RIAA will give you a better return on your money than spending it on cables and the like. High voltages are alarming, and you're right to be nervous, but with a little care, you needn't be frightened off.
Yes. I am soon going to take the valve plunge. I really love the sound of valve setups and as I said there are plenty of decent looking kits out there. Are there any good for first timer valve MC/MM phono preamp kits you would recommend? I remember a little while ago I was reading up on the Bottlehead Seduction - this looks like an ideal starting place and it looks straight forward enough to make.

Quote:
The Dyna and Benz could be used with your existing phono while you build something better, (hint, hint)
Are you suggesting that my first goal should be to improve my turntable? I do agree... Would it be more satisfactory to get a decent MC cart, build a good valve preamp and then, say next year, purchase or build up a better turntable from parts?

I always thought if I start somewhere I can upgrade as I get more money and also learn about how different parts all work together without initially blowing heaps of cash. I believe it is a journey that will be very rewarding! I also believe I don't need to go absolutely crazy (just yet! ) and that I am sure I can get really impressive (for me) results on a limited supply of funds. Reading many posts on this and other forums, it gives me hope because I can see it is possible to get fantastic sound on a budget. I also like how it develops your creativity.

I think at this stage I should:

1. Think about upgrading the cart to a good-performing MC cart.
2. Build a good MC valve preamp
3. Upgrade the whole turntable (later)
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Old 10th October 2006, 05:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by kaban

Would it be more satisfactory to get a decent MC cart, build a good valve preamp and then, say next year, purchase or build up a better turntable from parts?
Sorry, what I meant was to build a better phono stage first, and deal with the turntable later. If you go ahead with the Seduction, be aware that it only has 36dB gain. This means that the cartridge you buy has to have at least 2.5mV output (MC or MM), unless you also include a step-up device for more gain (low output MC).
Either way I think you are on the right track.

Jeff
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Old 10th October 2006, 10:11 AM   #10
EC8010 is offline EC8010  United Kingdom
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If you're really short of money, you may find it cheaper not to buy a kit but to build something from scratch. A baking tray makes a cheap chassis. Obviously, it's harder work sourcing the right components and building from scratch...
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