Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Looking for cartridge and phono stage to compliment the Rega P5
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Looking for cartridge and phono stage to compliment the Rega P5

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I am getting back into vinyl after being away from it for about 27 years. I have a small collection of about 100 LPs of new audiophile vinyl re-issues (180 and 200g pressings), mostly of 60s and 70s rock era bands and a lot of Bluenote Jazz artists such as Art Blakey and Lee Morgan. I also have about 75 vintage OOP vinyl LPs in NM condition that have not been reissued, and a mixed bag of about 150 albums that were taken as part of a lot and have not been graded yet. Point is, that I have enough of a collection now to invest in a turntable, cart, and phono stage.

I don't have any particular genre preferences. I am a music lover and listen to rock (of all kinds), blues, jazz (mostly hard bop and avant garde), country, and classical. I will admit to a passion for electric and acoustic guitar, and also for tenor and alto sax.

I've been thinking about this move for a while. I have a pair of 300B monoblocks being custom made by Woo Audio and will have them in about two months. I think the time is also right to move on a turntable setup now. I am fairly certain the turntable will be a Rega P5. I like the company's design philosophy, and I have been reading a lot of glowing reviews about the P5 and P7. The RB700 arm is a big plus in my book, as is the optional external power supply upgrade. I thought about the P7 briefly, but it's price alone exceeds my budget for an entire setup, so I quickly put that out of my mind.

Now I am trying to pick out a cart and phono stage that has some synergy with the Rega P5. My total budget for the entire shebang (including the table) is about $2K (perhaps a wee bit more). From what I can tell, the Dynavector 10X5 seems to be a good match, as does Benz Micro Ace. The Rega Exact 2 also seems to be fairly popular among P5 owners.

I haven't weighed my options on phono stages very deeply. I have been thinking mostly about the Pro-ject Phono Box SE or the Tube Box SE.

I spoke to someone at Needledoctor.com yesterday for about 45 minutes. It was a nice, informative discussion. He gave me a quote for $2K shipped with the cart installed and aligned for the Rega P5, Ortofon Rondo Red MC cart, and Pro-ject Tube Box II. The Rondo Red was recently reviewed in Stereophile, but that was with a Pro-ject table. I need to think about my choice a bit more. I may pick a different cart or phono stage, but I am pretty sure I am going to stick with with the P5 and will order it from Needledoctor.

Any other recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.

post #2 of 22

Good to have you back in the vinyl club


You have some good choices there. I had the Dynavector mounted on a Rega P3...nice combination. The P5 is a nice table, but, if your budget can stretch another $500 (yeah, I know that is a lot), the Dynavector 17D3 is probably the best <$1000 MC cartridge going. You would have to spend a LOT more money to get better sound.

I have not heard the Tube box so i can't say much there. Good reputation, though.

Have fun and keep the vinyl spinning!

P.S. At the first possible moment, your first "upgrade" should be a vacuum record cleaner (VPI 16.5 or such). Clean records sound MUCH better and wet vacuum cleaning helps remove much of the noise, ticks, and pops.

P.P.S. The NeedleDoctor is a very good company (went there many times when I lived in Minneapolis), but TTVJ is also terrific. You may want to give Todd Green a call and get his opinion before lying down the long green. Cheers!
post #3 of 22
I have been happy with my Dynavector DV20XH and have read a lot of good about the 10X5. I have heard both on a Nottingham TT with a Rega arm and was impressed. Don't forget Acoustic Sounds and do a bit of browsing at the vinyl asylum. I am of the opinion that you will get the most result for your money with the arm and cartridge. You might look for a nice used phono stage which might save you some cash to put into a better cartridge. I bought a used Anthem Pre1P. Any of the choices you have though will sound great with the P5. Enjoy your shopping!
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys.

I've been spending a lot of time at the Vinyl Asylum, but you get information overload pretty quickly on that board. Still, there's a lot of good info to take in.

A record cleaning machine is on my list of required acquisitions.

The Dynavector DV20X is a cart that I have been considering, though I don't think I can stretch my budget past that pricing level to the DV17D3. I have to draw a sensible line out of financial necessity. I'm doing a lot to my audio setup in a relatively short period of time (new audio rack, 300B monoblocks, turntable, cart, phono stage). I also intend to replace my Klipsch reference series floorstanding speakers fairly soon. They served me well for the last five years but it is time to move to the next level. So my entire setup is in the process of a major upgrade.

I'm going to take two or three weeks to mull over the phono setup options. There's no need for me to rush into a decision. I'll probably give Todd a call as suggested and hear him out.

I apprecaite the replies.

post #5 of 22
Rega P5 is a pretty nice deck but for 2K you should be spending the most of your budget on the deck itself then arm then cart then phonostage, in that order.
Instead of spending loads on an expensive moving coil cart you will get better results putting more of the buget into the deck and getting a cheaper cart like a Goldring MM.

Check out the Roksan Radius 5 or Michell Tecnodek or even better the Origin Live Aurora, VPI Scout or Michell Gyro SE which are in a different class altogther.
A Gyro SE with a basic AT440MLA and a decent budget phonostage like the NAD or Cambridge Audio would be a much better investment even if it means going over your budget by a few hundred dollars. You can always upgrade later to a more exotic cart like the Ortofon Rhondo which quite frankly would be wasted on a Rega.
Go to a dealer and have a listen if you can before you commit.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
I appreciate your opinion and the time you took to give it, but I'm not sure I agree with you. I want a system, not just a turntable.

My experience has been that the sound quality you get is no better than the weakest link in your system. So it makes no sense to me to spend $1,700 on a turntable and leave only 15% of my total budget to divide between a cartridge and phono stage. I want to avoid feeling like I need to go blow another thousand on these components in a few months because I compromised too much elsewhere in the system. I am looking for a balanced configuration with some synergies if I can find them. I don't want to be thinking about upgrading any analog components for at least a year or more.

I am also considering used setups as well, but mainly as means to spend less money for similar quality if I can. A used VPI Scout would be a possibility, but a new one just eats up too much of my budget.

post #7 of 22

Looking around the vinyl asylum for a while and you
see 2 carts almost constantly recommended denon 103
and the AT440MLA. There are always different opinions
but the recomendations are fairly constant and reviews
almost always good.

Given that you are building a system around 300b amps it
would seem logical to go with a tube-pre. If you have a bit of
a diy leaning the bottlehead seduction looks like a good deal.

From an esthetic point of view a wood bodied grado would
look sharp on that arm.
post #8 of 22
I once heard a Dynavector 20XL with the P-75 phono stage on a VPI Scoutmaster. Amazing sound! If you get 'em on audiogon you could have a used VPI Scout, used P-75, and a brand new 20XL for under $2K. The Benz Glider L2 also sounds awesome with the P-75 (you want a low output MC with the P-75), and I imagine the more affordable Ace (low-output red) would, too. Vintage tables with good arms can be an incredible value too - LOVE my SOTA Star Sapphire. Only problem with the used route is you'll need a local TT expert to set it all up for you.

If you must order it new and pre-setup, still consider a used P-75 for $350 with a new 20XL for $580 - that leaves $1K for your table/arm (damn, that P5 is a couple hundred too much - maybe save up a little longer? Vinyl is worth it ).

Yep, the P75 is the only phono I've heard at any length, but considering it beats the pants off any digital player I've had, it can't be too bad for the money

Also keep in mind the matching of your tonearm to the cart, but most modern moderate-compliance carts (Benz and Dynavector both are) should work well with a medium-mass arm like the Regas. My FR arm is on the high side of medium mass, but still reasonable enough to sound awesome with my Benz. A high mass arm should match with a low compliance cart, and vice-versa, but it's probably best to start in the middle for maximum flexibility.

^ Please keep in mind I'm still quite green when it comes to this analog stuff, but I'm incredibly pleased with how my first foray into it turned out (see sig).
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. I read through a number of your other posts about your experiences and I found them to be quite helpful.

As for the saving up longer suggestion. That's not really a sticking point. I could spend more, but I'm not going to do that. I set my budget at $2K because I believe for that sum of money I should be able to find an analog setup that I can enjoy and be happy with. I find that if I don't set a budget then it becomes too easy to simply dump all of my discretionary income into this hobby and I wind up paying a lot more for gear and not getting value that is commensurate with the cost. I'm sure there are people here who disagree and think that $3K for a turntable alone is probably barely adequate, and would not consider a cart that sells for less than $1K. I'm not them, and I doubt I think like they do when it comes to making equipment purchases. That's fine, since they don't have to live with my choices.

I really am trying to go used, mainly because there is a lot of value in it IF I can get the right setup at the right price. I am going to try to work out a deal for a used turntable and cart on Audiogon, but I haven't heard from the seller yet. Today is Sunday so I don't really expect a reply until tomrrow. I also put a PM into a Head-fier for his VPI Scout setup but have not heard from him either.

There's a lot of good used gear for sale out there right now and as I perceive things it really is a buyer's market. I can afford to wait for the right deal, but I won't wait forever and will go with new gear if necessary. I did some research last night and found that there is a dealer within 50 miles of me that sells both VPI and Rega and I will probably take a drive to that dealer after I call them (I want to be sure they can audition the tables before I make the trip).

post #10 of 22
Originally Posted by jsaliga View Post
My experience has been that the sound quality you get is no better than the weakest link in your system. So it makes no sense to me to spend $1,700 on a turntable and leave only 15% of my total budget to divide between a cartridge and phono stage.
You are quite right that a vinyl disc replay system can only be as good as it's weakest link in a way. But some parts of the chain are more equal than others .

In other words although it may sound sensible to apportion the budget evenly between the various bits this is in fact quite wrong.

The approach I am taking was proven to be the correct one by Linn in the 1970's and if you look at the upgrade path of a Linn LP12 you will find that the cheapest configuration includes a "basik" arm and cart and as you spend more money this goes first to the arm and then to the cart.

Years of experience of trying to build the best possible analogue front ends with limited budgets has lead me to agree that this is indeed the correct path to get the best results.

The reasoning is that the turntable motorboard must be of the highest quality especially with a belt driven system with regard to the main bearing. A substantial bearing, on a well designed isolated support, driven by a comparitively cheap motor and a rubber band, forms the basis for pretty much every modern belt driven turntable.

A Rega RB250 varient arm is pretty standard accross the board on turntables upto twice your budget (apart from those who have gone the unipivot route)
so the extra money you spend can generally be quite obviously seen to be spent on better engineered bearings and supsensions.

Whatever you spend on components downstream of this (including the other electronics ) the whole system will only be as good as this weakest link and therefore that is where it makes senses to allocate the lion's share of your budget for the best possible results.
post #11 of 22
I would pick up a used Scout and used Dynavector P75 phonostage and then budget in either the Dynavector 17D3 or 20X cartridge. The 17D3 with P75 setup is VERY, VERY good. Plus this table is a no fuss, no muss setup. Great sound that does not need to be tweaked constantly. I am using the Superscoutmaster with Dynavector cartridge now and love it. I have also had Scoutmaster/dynavector combos.
The P75 phonstage with matching cartridge is going to compete with phonostages that cost a whole lot more money. Good luck and happy vinyl hunting.
One more thing, a wet cleaner is a must for really quiet records.
post #12 of 22
There is a ScoutMaster with arm on audiogon right now for 1300.00. Looks good in the pictures. I am not connected in any way with the seller.
post #13 of 22
Check out www.hagtech.com for his units.
post #14 of 22
You could try a Lyra Dorian moving coil and a Plinus Jarrah phono preamp. They would fit nicely in your budget, and I have a buddy who has that setup (actually, a Rega 25, essentially the same turntable).
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by tom hankins View Post
There is a ScoutMaster with arm on audiogon right now for 1300.00. Looks good in the pictures. I am not connected in any way with the seller.
I saw that earlier this morning. The seller doesn't have much by the way of feedback so I am a little reluctant to do a deal with him.

Thinking about it...

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Looking for cartridge and phono stage to compliment the Rega P5