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Tubularbells

Advice on upgrade - cart or phono stage?

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Need some advice guys, beginning to plan the next upgrade and would like to hear your thoughts on what way to go.

Tossing up between a cart or perhaps a dedicated phono stage.

Currently I'm using the built in phono on my Luxman 507U which is driving my Ortofon Cadenza Red (mounted on an Audio Origami PU7 arm playing on an Acoustic Signature Challenger turntable)

In your opinion what would yield the bigger difference either spend $2k - $3k on a cart upgrade or spend the same on a dedicated phono stage?

Edited by Tubularbells

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Spend $2k - $3k on a cart upgrade.Before you do have a small GTG and demo other members  dedicated phono stage.I was given that advice from someone with clearaudio phono and cart upgrades.

Stump

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your at a crossroads IMO.  2-3K on your set up will bring benefits for sure but not that great....the law of diminishing returns!!!

 

Better to save your pennies, and in the meantime go and audition some gear.

 

Tase.

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Trial some standalone phono stages before changing cartridge would be my thoughts.

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Been thinking about my post and realising how open ended it was as with everything 'it depends'

I suppose another way of putting it is what is the current weak link in my chain?

To flesh it out further I'm listening via a pair of Harbeth HL5 speakers, interconnect came with the arm so not sure what it is, speaker wire is VDH CS-122 and power is a Isotek Evo3 & Polaris power board (both arriving tomorrow) so all pretty much entry level stuff.

Thanks all.

Edited by Tubularbells

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Guest gmdb

The PU7 cable used is probably the same as on mine.  It's a twisted pair of wires made of silver and copper strands insulated in teflon and a full braid shield around cotton fibre and rice paper insulation.  It's a very well designed cable.

 

I second ophool's thoughts and suggest trialling some standalone phono stages. They can make a huge difference to sound quality. If you do you'll need to make the choice between a dedicated MC phono amp for the Cadenza, one that can switch between an MM, and MC or an MM phono amp plus an SUT.

 

Soundwise I have found a dedicated MC phono amp or an MM phono amp plus SUT to be the best options. See if you can borrow some of the Graham Slee gear. Is Keith still running the Slee loaner program?

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With a Cadenza cart already, the phono stage would be my priority.

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If you do decide to trial a GSP stage from cheekyboy, I might suggest that you also trial the Spatia speaker cables and the Lautus IC with it.

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With a Cadenza cart already, the phono stage would be my priority.

 

+1

 

Ive recently upgraded to a stand alone phono stage, a huge difference in sound, although my cart is not as good as yours

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With a Cadenza cart already, the phono stage would be my priority.

 

I share Mr T's thoughts

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I share Mr T's thoughts

+ 1.

In the current market you ought to be able to secure something pretty good for that budget, especially if you consider secondhand options.

A phono stage should last indefinitely, a cart won't.

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The Luxman 507U integrated amp you have is a cracker ... a little bit of research on the web indicates that the built in MM and MC Phono Section on this unit are excellent.

 

So I would go the other way and suggest that you upgrade your cartridge instead.

 

The Cadenza Red that you have sits at the bottom of the Cadenza line ... if you were to upgrade to the top of the line Cadenza Black you should notice a substantial difference.

And your Audio Origami PU7 is a great arm that will get the very best out of the Black.

 

If the Luxman had an ordinary phono stage I would go the other way but it looks like the built in one is pretty good so why not use it.

Also the Cadenza Black is very unfussy with loading so whatever the default loading of the MC setting of the Luxman should be fine.

 

Cheers,

 

Alan.

 

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Hi Tubularbells,

 

Happy to have you take part in the Slee Loaner Program here....................just let me know what phono stage you would like to trial?

 

What part of VIC/Melbourne are you in?

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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Out of interest which of the graham slee phono amps is suitable for low output m/c. I had a look at the decibel site but it didn't seem the like my android tablet much??

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I can recommend GA Reference phono and Duc/Peter could make you a SUT matched for your cart.......and given that you are in Melbourne, Duc might give you a home demo if you ask him nicely...... ;)

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Out of interest which of the graham slee phono amps is suitable for low output m/c. I had a look at the decibel site but it didn't seem the like my android tablet much??

 

For LOMC Slee has the Fanfare, Reflex C or the Reflex M / Elevator EXP combination. If you want to take part in the Slee Loaner Program or if you want pricing or any other information on Slee products, just drop me a PM here on StereoNET.

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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Thanks all, Although the internal phono stage of the Lux sounds good it seems like its a touch low in gain for the Cadenza cart resulting in increased noise floor which is why I want to give something else a go (or perhaps move to a cart with higher gain).

 

At this stage the Manley Chinook is looking like it might be a good contender but will also definitely check out the Slee gear especially with the nice loaner program.

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I thought my internal amp phono stage, and then a Camridge Audio, were good enough...until I heard the Electrocompaniet ECP-1. Magical. Layered details, open and spacious, deep and wide soundstage, substantial scale, clean and extended top end, deep and low bass,

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With a cartridge of the level of a Cadenza, I would definitely be using a dedicated phono stage. The gains to be had are significant. Low level phono signals need to be nursed.

 

I second Mr T's suggestion of the Electrocompaniet ECP-1. Fantastic phono for the money. Can be picked up used for about $1k, and good enough for cartridges costing several times that.

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At (around) that price range I'd look at the golden age audio reference and SUT (for MC).

I did, and dam glad I did.

 

THEN when the bank account recovers, look at upgrading the cart.

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Thanks all, Although the internal phono stage of the Lux sounds good it seems like its a touch low in gain for the Cadenza cart resulting in increased noise floor which is why I want to give something else a go (or perhaps move to a cart with higher gain).

 

At this stage the Manley Chinook is looking like it might be a good contender but will also definitely check out the Slee gear especially with the nice loaner program.

 

Ah ... I don't think you mentioned that the phono stage didn't have enough gain for the Cadenza in your original post ... then yes ... opt for a more suitable phono stage first then.

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Thanks to Cheeky im currently running a loaner Slee Elevator/Reflex M combo for the next few weeks. Right off the bat it blew me away with a level of transparency I have never had before definitely highlighting the weakness of my Luxman's internal phono stage. Did some more listening last night as was even more impressed (seems to really benefit being left on for sometime) so am looking to spending more time with this combo on the w/e. Got me thinking though whether a Reflex C would maybe suit me better seeing as I have the Elevator set to 100 ohms with my Cadenza Red cart.

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Guest gmdb

Yes, the Slee gear is excellent  I've have the Reflex C and the Reflex M.  The Reflex C  loads at 100 Ohms.  It's very good but I've found (without doling any strict A/B testing) that the Reflex M plus an SUT has a bit more grunt to it.  Although I have only matched the Reflex M with passive SUTs and haven't tried it with the Elevator. 

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Got me thinking though whether a Reflex C would maybe suit me better seeing as I have the Elevator set to 100 ohms with my Cadenza Red cart.

The Cadenza Red is happy with a loading of 50 to 500 ohm so having it set to 100 ohm should be fine.

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