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Upgrading from a vintage tt?


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I’ve had a Kenwood KD-750 direct drive turntable for a bit over a year. With its basic cartridge it came with it was a big upgrade compared to my old Project, more detail and better timing. 
 

Since then it’s gained a Nagaoka MP-150 cartridge, a better tonearm cable and a refresh. It sounds better than ever. It’s been complemented by other system upgrades and it gets enjoyed daily with music ranging from pop to post punk to prog and electronic. 
 

However, I am curious about how a modern high-end table would compare. Has anyone compared something like my Kenwood to Rega RPs, Funk LSD or similar?

 

Keen to hear your insights. 

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Not sure a modern TT < 3k would better your Kenwood. My experience of a vintage heavy Japanese TT was a 10kg Pioneer PL518. Also had a Kenwood KD2033.  I made many sideways moves over time. I then went to the Thorens TD160 and TD321 which (in order) improved resolution and warmth somewhat but were both a bit softer in the bass. Wish I kept the Pioneer.  I’ve then had Pro-Ject 1expression, Rega 3, modern Thorens and none of the newer decks stood up to the older Pioneer. The expensive  Acoustic Solid Wood was better sounding than anything in terms of resolution , stage and bass, after I upgraded from the Rega 303 tonearm it came with. However that was when the Technics SP10mk2 came along that I really knew what vinyl could do. 
 

So I would suggest - you may get more value from a cart upgrade unless willing to spend 3k+ on a newer TT. 
 

 

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17 minutes ago, Mr Thorens said:

So I would suggest - you may get more value from a cart upgrade unless willing to spend 3k+ on a newer TT. 

A good suggestion. Why not explore going MC? There’s a whole new world of audio magic right there...

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Thanks all.

 

I had been considering going for an MC cartridge and I've read of a few people who have gone for better than stock tonearms with good results.

 

However, there are some great reviews of the Funk LSD and one coming up for sale here relatively cheaply got me thinking. But I think I'll pass, seems like this table is up there with the very good stuff.

 

Time for me to do some research into MC carts and have a go with something better. Suggestions for something suitable for the tonearm and table are more than welcome.

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On 02/04/2021 at 7:07 PM, ntj377 said:

Thanks all.

 

I had been considering going for an MC cartridge and I've read of a few people who have gone for better than stock tonearms with good results.

 

However, there are some great reviews of the Funk LSD and one coming up for sale here relatively cheaply got me thinking. But I think I'll pass, seems like this table is up there with the very good stuff.

 

Time for me to do some research into MC carts and have a go with something better. Suggestions for something suitable for the tonearm and table are more than welcome.

Most reviews are written by the same mag that advertises the product...

I would not by any turntable that the maker keeps the wow and flutter and rumble a secret, there is only one reason not to publish this information..

Chris

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You haven't mentioned what phono stage you are using. That would be my first choice of upgrade.

Regards,

Kffern

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I'm in similar situation with an old Hitachi direct drive TT, although that Kenwood has a few more features (including solid looks) Research n advice suggests $2k+ to get similar performance from new TT. 

 

Unless parts thats can't be readily changed out are past their use by date (the feet on mine are degrading now) I'd keep it n invest in other parts of the chain. As suggested look at a flashier cart, a separate phono stage if you dont have one already. Also consider updating interconnects. you may open it up n easily swap the output cable for something better for delicate phono signals. There's the option to change platter mat, etc. 

 

If you tinker, you may find info on mods n hacks done back in the day, like dampening the platter or adding mass to plith. 

 

Otherwise - enjoy! 

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If it were me, I would upgrade the phono stage.

 

There are not a hell of a lot of improvements you can do to the TT.   I think the cart you have is good enough and a much higher priced cart may be too much for the capability of the arm itself.

 

I have a vintage Pioneer PL 50 and although I have not heard it side by side with other TTs, I very much doubt that anything this side of $4K+ would better it, but about 12 months back I purchased a new Dynavector P75 MK 4 phono stage and it is probably one of the best investments I have made, so IMO there is a huge amount to be gained by upgrading to a really good phono stage.

 

Together, the cart and phono stage took the performance to a new level to a point where I am 100% satisfied ( in terms of what I can realistically afford)

Edited by rantan
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There's a big thread on VE about old v new. The fact is that the best of the Japanese D/Ds many over 45 years ago were the pinnacle of T/T design.  The Japanese engineers started from  zero, asking the question - what should a T/T do - it should spin at a constant speed (some included speed variation control) without rumble or noise. They even thought about designing feet that included some basic insulation from vibration. On a forum that had a pro who provided a list of some of the best of the Japanese 'superdecks', I considered his argument and bought a Kenwood KD 990 (I now have 2).  The bearing assembly is something else, every 2 years remove and clean the bearing spindle and apply new oil and it will, unlike Adolph's boast last a thousand years, that's how good the engineering is.

 

Quite simply no matter how much you pay for a new T/T there has been no advance in all this time. My only worry with the Kenwood is if some of the i/cs used cannot be replaced. I have found a Russian site that bought up the last of Kenwood's supply when they scrapped the production line in 89. 

 

The British and American audio press slagged the Japanese D/Ds off when they appeared, I think we can assume this was from pressure from the outclassed western manufacturers who provided the audio press with their advertising revenues. These D/Ds are silent compared to idlers and belt drives, unnerving at first but I could never go back to any other type of deck. 

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34 minutes ago, Southerly said:

There's a big thread on VE about old v new. The fact is that the best of the Japanese D/Ds many over 45 years ago were the pinnacle of T/T design.  The Japanese engineers started from  zero, asking the question - what should a T/T do - it should spin at a constant speed (some included speed variation control) without rumble or noise. They even thought about designing feet that included some basic insulation from vibration. On a forum that had a pro who provided a list of some of the best of the Japanese 'superdecks', I considered his argument and bought a Kenwood KD 990 (I now have 2).  The bearing assembly is something else, every 2 years remove and clean the bearing spindle and apply new oil and it will, unlike Adolph's boast last a thousand years, that's how good the engineering is.

 

Quite simply no matter how much you pay for a new T/T there has been no advance in all this time. My only worry with the Kenwood is if some of the i/cs used cannot be replaced. I have found a Russian site that bought up the last of Kenwood's supply when they scrapped the production line in 89. 

 

The British and American audio press slagged the Japanese D/Ds off when they appeared, I think we can assume this was from pressure from the outclassed western manufacturers who provided the audio press with their advertising revenues. These D/Ds are silent compared to idlers and belt drives, unnerving at first but I could never go back to any other type of deck. 

Very true,

I have 8 turntables connected and 4 I am restoring and they are DD's. In 80's I believed the press about DD's spin on to now I wish I had discovered them years ago as it would have saved me a fortune. DD's are silent speed accurate and do what is needed with no fuss. Some of the belts today like the Rega RP8 have wow and flutter as high as 0.3%!!!!! This is cray bad for a turntable of this price. The sl1200mk2 has wow and flutter of 0.025% this is more than 10x less, rumble is also so much much much less on the Technics. It has been decades that hifi press have been supporting home grown crap and talking down turntables like the sl1200mk2. Now we have the GR and the G and finally the hifi press admit these sound amazing but I have the old and the new the difference is small.

It is kind of funny to read nonsense about cogging, I had a discussion with Fremer a while ago on VE, he said he had evidence of cogging on Technics I asked him to post his evidence and that was the least we saw of him. He is like all of us a passionate hifi person but he has the pen and what he writes people read and believe. I am sure round a table in a bar we would have a great evening and discussion but I disagree with a lot he writes much of which has no scientific basis.

Anyway it is bonkers when people accuse DD's of coggong when we cant measure it and they are happy with belt drives with massive wow and flutter (which partly is cogging!!)

Anyway sl1210mk2 modded spinning tonight with a Decca super gold sound fantastic so good I dont connect the G and cant be bothered disconnecting the RCA leads. 

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More comments talking me out of changing turntable, thank you.

My main phono preamp is a Schiit Mani with an AliExpress power unit that made a noticeable difference over the stock power supply. I'm also borrowing a Sonic Frontiers SFP-1 off a friend, it sounds better than the Mani in many ways.

 

I've also borrowing a Nordost tonearm cable which gives a fair bit more detail, but now the old Monster interconnects will be a weak link. Those go to a CXA81 amp and then Paradigm Studio 40 S2s which are very nice. 

 

This setup really isn't lacking, it sounds brilliant to me, but I'm always curious to see how much better it can get.

 

Tempted to try a Funk Achromat just for fun. Tonearms are another thing to get my head around.

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I agree with others here, that 750 is a very nice table, upgrade phono stage ect' instead.

 

Yes, replace that Monster cable with something nice that integrates with what you desire to achieve.

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1 hour ago, cafe latte said:

 

 

It is kind of funny to read nonsense about cogging, I had a discussion with Fremer a while ago on VE, he said he had evidence of cogging on Technics I asked him to post his evidence and that was the least we saw of him. He is like all of us a passionate hifi person but he has the pen and what he writes people read and believe. I am sure round a table in a bar we would have a great evening and discussion but I disagree with a lot he writes much of which has no scientific basis.

Anyway it is bonkers when people accuse DD's of coggong when we cant measure it and they are happy with belt drives with massive wow and flutter (which partly is cogging!!)

 

Not to mention the lathes that cut the lacquer are DD.

 

18 minutes ago, ntj377 said:

 

This setup really isn't lacking, it sounds brilliant to me, but I'm always curious to see how much better it can get.

 

Tempted to try a Funk Achromat just for fun. Tonearms are another thing to get my head around.

 

To improve a TT what you need to concentrate on is reducing micro vibrations in the mechanical payback chain, ie platter, plinth, tonearm. This will give you the biggest improvement.

 

Think about the process to produce sound from vinyl. The heaviest modulated groove is less than 80um and the fine detail in the groove way less than this. Any erroneous vibration will smear this fine detail. A line contact stylus helps here too.

 

I have modified an SP10mk2 with the goal of reducing vibrations, this has been extremely successful and my mk2 with EPA100 and Stanton 881s performs as well as anything I have heard including a Continuum/Cobra/Koetsu.

Edited by Warren Jones
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21 hours ago, ntj377 said:

More comments talking me out of changing turntable, thank you.

My main phono preamp is a Schiit Mani with an AliExpress power unit that made a noticeable difference over the stock power supply. I'm also borrowing a Sonic Frontiers SFP-1 off a friend, it sounds better than the Mani in many ways.

 

I've also borrowing a Nordost tonearm cable which gives a fair bit more detail, but now the old Monster interconnects will be a weak link. Those go to a CXA81 amp and then Paradigm Studio 40 S2s which are very nice. 

 

This setup really isn't lacking, it sounds brilliant to me, but I'm always curious to see how much better it can get.

 

Tempted to try a Funk Achromat just for fun. Tonearms are another thing to get my head around.

 Think about making your own speaker cables and i/connects. Take a look at TNT there are a few very good designs on there. I've used the UBYTE 2 for years, the basis of which is the co-ax CT-100 or the CT-125, available in Oz.  I'm now about to try a much simpler design using my go-to over sized dielectric FEP tubing x 4 conductors inside an even bigger gauge FEP. tubing. I only use solid core conductors, choose your material either copper or silver. 

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Last year I changed from a Pioneer PL-50L which was superb in every way to a far more expensive unit.

 

Using the exact same cartridge, the improvement was NOT subtle. Quite the opposite in fact.

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On 07/04/2021 at 8:00 PM, cafe latte said:

Some of the belts today like the Rega RP8 have wow and flutter as high as 0.3%!!!!! This is cray bad for a turntable of this price.

Depends on how they sound. Too many people push the main positive of DD's (Speed stability) and then can belt drives. I sold the original RP8's and for the music I like they sounded fantastic. That said, I commented earlier on this guy's dilemma.

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On 07/04/2021 at 9:01 PM, Warren Jones said:

To improve a TT what you need to concentrate on is reducing micro vibrations in the mechanical payback chain, ie platter, plinth, tonearm. This will give you the biggest improvement.

100%. Lower noise floor, greater dynamic range and more amp power. Still, there are excellent sounding turntables on both sides.

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7 minutes ago, Wimbo said:

Depends on how they sound. Too many people push the main positive of DD's (Speed stability) and then can belt drives. I sold the original RP8's and for the music I like they sounded fantastic. That said, I commented earlier on this guy's dilemma.

0.2% is audible so 0.3% is too high. I can hear way less than0.2% so for me speed stability is very important. When we judge a turntable belt DD or idler its ability to spin at the correct speed smoothly (wow and flutter) and quietly (rumble) is very important if a turntable is not doing these things right it is failing its basic design. To put this in perspective a Lenco idler drive has wow and flutter of 0.08% and most measure 0.05 or less this shows how bad 0.3% really is.  0.2% has long been the bar, my Commonwealth from 1956 managed 0.1% in specs but reality is much less, since new idler wheel it is closer to the 0.05%.

Chris

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1 hour ago, cafe latte said:

0.2% is audible so 0.3% is too high. I can hear way less than0.2% so for me speed stability is very important. When we judge a turntable belt DD or idler its ability to spin at the correct speed smoothly (wow and flutter) and quietly (rumble) is very important if a turntable is not doing these things right it is failing its basic design. To put this in perspective a Lenco idler drive has wow and flutter of 0.08% and most measure 0.05 or less this shows how bad 0.3% really is.  0.2% has long been the bar, my Commonwealth from 1956 managed 0.1% in specs but reality is much less, since new idler wheel it is closer to the 0.05%.

Chris

Horses for courses mate. You go with your amazing hearing and direct drive stability and I'll go with what I feel sounds good. Your position reminds me  of the Sony remaster of Marvin Gayes "Whats going on" back in the early 90's (I think) where they straightened out the ebb and flow of the music to give it an accurate pitch. My boss had a better ability then me to hear speed variation and always pointed it out. I couldnt hear it and didnt care if I did or not. If it sounded good, it sounded good.

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No idea what the specs are for my Rock (belt) and Luxman (DD), but the Rock is better than the Luxman, both of them from the 80s.

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Someone was talking about platter mats. The Kenwoods come with a very thick  composite rubber mat, providing effective insulation from any possible ringing from the die cast aluminium platter. I wouldn't dream of wasting money on trying alternatives. 

 

On the old WAD forum there appeared a 'gang' of Garrard Idler fanatics who attacked anyone who didn't follow 'their way'. They couldn't handle the fact that the best of the Japanese D/Ds were simply 'plug and play' it incensed them. Fast forward to today and I think everyone of these brownshirt types have quietly sold on their Garrards but havn't the grace to apologise for their collective 'mentality' all those years ago. Effectively they killed that forum chasing away those with open minds to leave a small pool of ageing backslappers.

 

 Yes Idlers can sound fine to many but that's after you've spent a shed load of money on them. Many paid thousands for the double slate decks, replacing the crude cup and ball bearing and then there is the Lenco forum where they make massive wooden bases to create more and more bass, hardly neutral.

 

I can only speak from my own experience but when I bought my first D/D it was for my wife and it was a s/hand Technics SL120 that came  with an SME 3009 fitted at the SME factory in Steyning. I had got rained off on an outside job one day , so decided to see how the Technics would sound.  I had fitted a wall shelf for a Rega 3. It was easy to set up and I put a side on and the first thing that struck me was - the lack of any noise, everything seemed clearer. I think it is the silence and clarity that unnerves so many, it's just not what they are used to - it's different. When I used my first Kenwood KD990 which comes with an excellent gimbal arm, sealed for life bearings and is an absolute doddle to set up it clearly bettered the Technics , it just sounded fuller and deeper not by a lot but it was there. The Rega went into storage, it just wasn't in the same league.

 

A suspended belt drive has an advantage over a D/D only if floor borne vibration is a key factor. When I lived in Rotterdam the old house Iived in would literally wobble if a lorry went past. The AR deck could handle this I'm not sure that the Kenwood arm wouldn't have started doing a Samba if subjected to the same wobble.

 

It cannot be stated often enough that a platform/rack that effectively deals with floor born vibration is a must for whatever type of deck you use. In fact this should be your first priority, apologies to those who know this but newbies might be swayed by how how it looks

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22 hours ago, Wimbo said:

Horses for courses mate. You go with your amazing hearing and direct drive stability and I'll go with what I feel sounds good. Your position reminds me  of the Sony remaster of Marvin Gayes "Whats going on" back in the early 90's (I think) where they straightened out the ebb and flow of the music to give it an accurate pitch. My boss had a better ability then me to hear speed variation and always pointed it out. I couldnt hear it and didnt care if I did or not. If it sounded good, it sounded good.

0.3% does not require any amazing hearing to hear, 0.2% is considered the line at which most cant, but more and people (most) start hearing wow. 

I am sensitive to both speed and wow issues, I hate wavering notes, but (possibly as I have been spoiled by direct drive) one time with my Technics sl1210mk2 I was listening to a record while I was working on my computer. I sat up and listened thinking that sounds fast. I go over and check everything and then I notice pitch fader light is off. What had happened in cleaning I had nudged slightly the pitch fader, so slightly fast, it was so minute that the strobe dots were hardly moving at all, but I could hear it. I need a turntable spinning at the right speed and with minimum wow.

Chris

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I think we need to acknowledge that there are individual differences in hearing ability.  Some people have ears that are more attuned to pitch, wow, flutter, distortion, etc. than others. 

 

Similar to visual acuity, I can pick differences in light colour temperature easily.  Whereas when I point it out or talk about it to many other people they have no idea what I'm talking about and therefore say those differences don't exist. 

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3 hours ago, audiofeline said:

 

Similar to visual acuity, I can pick differences in light colour temperature easily.  Whereas when I point it out or talk about it to many other people they have no idea what I'm talking about and therefore say those differences don't exist. 

 

 

Then again, af ... that may just mean that you are totally confoosed!  :lol:

 

Andy

 

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