Got myself an SL-10, now Help me choose a Phono Stage
Nov 7, 2008 at 4:36 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 21

IceClass

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After deciding to dip my toes back into the vinyl pool for the first time in over twenty years, I finally managed to get my hot sticky fingers on a sleek little Technics SL-10 turntable in very nice shape for not too much dough.

Now, I need a phono stage and find myself pretty much flummoxed as to choice.
Would anyone be able to recommend a decent phono stage that is commensurate in quality and price with the SL-10's capabilities?
There's not much point in shelling out super dough for a phono stage that is of waaay higher quality than the turntable is capable of but, similarly, it would be a shame to buy a dog out of ignorance.

So far, I've been looking at the Cambridge Audio 640P, the NAD PP2 and the Bellari VP129 based more on price point than on any knowledge of sound quality or compatibility with the SL-10.
Are these good choices or should I be looking a little higher up the ladder?
Is any one of them a stand-out winner or are there better choices on the market.

I would welcome informed suggestions as well as any advice on which P mount cartridge/stylus to get for this little beauty.
darthsmile.gif
 
Nov 7, 2008 at 8:30 PM Post #2 of 21

Nick 214

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Quote:

Originally Posted by IceClass /img/forum/go_quote.gif
After deciding to dip my toes back into the vinyl pool for the first time in over twenty years, I finally managed to get my hot sticky fingers on a sleek little Technics SL-10 turntable in very nice shape for not too much dough.

Now, I need a phono stage and find myself pretty much flummoxed as to choice.
Would anyone be able to recommend a decent phono stage that is commensurate in quality and price with the SL-10's capabilities?
There's not much point in shelling out super dough for a phono stage that is of waaay higher quality than the turntable is capable of but, similarly, it would be a shame to buy a dog out of ignorance.

So far, I've been looking at the Cambridge Audio 640P, the NAD PP2 and the Bellari VP129 based more on price point than on any knowledge of sound quality or compatibility with the SL-10.
Are these good choices or should I be looking a little higher up the ladder?
Is any one of them a stand-out winner or are there better choices on the market.

I would welcome informed suggestions as well as any advice on which P mount cartridge/stylus to get for this little beauty.
darthsmile.gif



First off, do you have any cartridges you'd like to try? Also, what are your musical tastes like? I know of a few good ideas, but let's get the conversation rolling!
biggrin.gif
 
Nov 7, 2008 at 11:19 PM Post #3 of 21

memepool

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Quote:

Originally Posted by IceClass /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I finally managed to get my hot sticky fingers on a sleek little Technics SL-10 turntable in very nice shape for not too much dough.


Congratulations, that's actually a really nice deck the best of that entire series and really well made, quite upto Rega P3 standards sonically anyway. Does it have the original cart? This is a rare Technics Moving coil, so if so you really got lucky. You can send it to the Soundsmith if it needs rebuilding and get something like an Ortofon meantime. I believe the deck has a built in phonostage as well. There is a switch on the back somewhere.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 5:32 AM Post #4 of 21

socrates63

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Rega P3 standards? Wow, I'll need to keep an eye out for one. I recently bought my second Pioneer PL-12D to use in my office.

There's a couple on ebay right now, and one listing has photos of the back of it where it shows the L/R outs with a push button to indicate MC or MM. So, indeed, it has a phono stage built-in.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 10:53 AM Post #5 of 21

searchenabler

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Quote:

Originally Posted by socrates63 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Rega P3 standards? Wow, I'll need to keep an eye out for one. I recently bought my second Pioneer PL-12D to use in my office.

There's a couple on ebay right now, and one listing has photos of the back of it where it shows the L/R outs with a push button to indicate MC or MM. So, indeed, it has a phono stage built-in.



The Rega P3 is a slab of chip board and an okay motor and very good quality arm. I am thinking the reply meant in regards to SQ, not build quality.... The SL-10 is a heavy cast aluminum chassis with a precision DD motor system with a linear tracking arm, of which I have no idea of the quality. The biggest negative with that SL-10 is it's requirement to use those P mount cartridges.

If one wants an outboard phono pre, I recommend highly the Music Hall Phono Pack. It's on sale for 80 dollars(regular price: $120) at musicdirect.com for a limited time. I measured this pre-amp and it has unusually low noise(superb SNR) and is very accurate, measured to be less then 0.2dB RIAA error from 20Hz-20,000Hz(This means that this is basically as flat of a response as one can expect). It has very low distortion, and it has superb channel separation(despite the low price, it's a true dual mono design internally; with completely separate circuitry for left and right channels). This device should not limit any class of turntable or cartridge unless you need an odd loading capacitance or load impedance for a cartridge with unusual requirements. However, the unit offers the most standard loads in MM and MC modes to work with the widest selection of cartridges.

-Chris
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 4:46 PM Post #6 of 21

IceClass

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Nick 214 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
First off, do you have any cartridges you'd like to try? Also, what are your musical tastes like? I know of a few good ideas, but let's get the conversation rolling!
biggrin.gif



I really have no idea as to cartridges; I couldn't tell one from another or a horse's rear.
Music wise, It's a seriously mixed bag with the exception of Country and Opera to which I'm culturally allergic.
That said, my vinyl purchasing is usually geared towards old and curious finds at flea markets and such. Most so far has been old Jazz, big Band and classical.

Quote:

Originally Posted by memepool /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Does it have the original cart? This is a rare Technics Moving coil, so if so you really got lucky. You can send it to the Soundsmith if it needs rebuilding and get something like an Ortofon meantime. I believe the deck has a built in phonostage as well. There is a switch on the back somewhere.


No, the SL-10 is coming with no cartridge which is one of the ways I got the price down to something marginally above obscenely low.
wink.gif


I was aware of the phono switch on the back but was under the impression that it is best left alone and bypassed with a stand alone phono stage.
Am I mistaken?

Quote:

Originally Posted by searchenabler /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The biggest negative with that SL-10 is it's requirement to use those P mount cartridges.

If one wants an outboard phono pre, I recommend highly the Music Hall Phono Pack.

-Chris



Yeah, I'd heard the P-mount system is the weak spot with these TTs which is why I'm asking for advice on choosing a cartridge.

Thanks for the Music Hall recommendation. I'll look into it; the price is certainly right.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 6:04 PM Post #8 of 21

sean3089

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The NAD PP2 looks like a reasonable choice -- I saw one for $105. The problem is, when you hook up a nice phono amp and cartridge (and plug in your 701's) you're going to see some of the flaws in the 'table, and want to upgrade.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 6:21 PM Post #9 of 21

searchenabler

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And if Sean is correct and you want to 'upgrade' from the SL-10, be sure to contact me, assuming the SL-10 is in excellent cosmetic condition and working functionally. If not asking much, I want one to add to my collection of unique late 70's and 80's era turn tables, so cosmetics are critical, but it must also work(even though I won't normally use collection equipment, I want full functionality available if I decided to hook it up for fun, etc..).

Frankly, for a really good quality hi-fi table on the cheap, I usually recommend choosing a vintage Technics, one of the unit with the cast aluminum chassis, Quartz DD and SL-1200II type pivot arm. This gets one a very fine quality turntable platter, superb motor and great chassis. Add a little bit of extra dampening(Dynamat for example) and change out the arm to something nice like a Jelco SA-250ST or Rega RB300, and for a total of about $500 when is all is said and done, you'll have a TT easily equal to decks in the $1000+ or above range. For regular mount cartridges, I recommend the Denon DL-110. It really is hard to improve upon for it's combination of natural sounding frequency response, distortion, channel seperation and tracking, even if you spend 10x as much. It's an unusually well engineered and made cartridge(hand made and quality controlled in Japan by Denon - using parts that are normally only found on far more expensive units such as the superb quality nude shanked elliptical stylus it uses), objectively; well beyond it's price would suggest.

-Chris
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 6:39 PM Post #10 of 21

IceClass

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Dude, there are LOTS of threads seeking recommendations for turntables.
I've already selected the SL-10 as per the thread title sooo, recommendations for other tables aren't much use in this thread but thanks anyways.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 6:40 PM Post #11 of 21

IceClass

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sean3089 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The NAD PP2 looks like a reasonable choice -- I saw one for $105. The problem is, when you hook up a nice phono amp and cartridge (and plug in your 701's) you're going to see some of the flaws in the 'table, and want to upgrade.


Really?
I would have thought at this stage that I'd be more likely to notice the flaws in the media, no?
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 6:53 PM Post #12 of 21

JadeEast

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How about some vintage stuff?
Kenwood basic c2 preamp is supposed to have a nice phono stage, I picked up a vintage APT Holman that's got a pretty nice phono stage from a local shop.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 7:12 PM Post #13 of 21

Uncle Erik

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I had the PP2 with my first deck and thought it was pretty good. Only sold it because I wanted one with tubes. Speaking of which, one of the least expensive ways into a tube phono stage (aside from DIY) is with an early Conrad-Johnson preamp. I found a PV-2 for about $300.

The nice thing about those is that collectors haven't driven up the prices yet. Conrad-Johnson started making tube gear in the late 1970s and were about the only hi-fi company using them. The nice thing about their stuff is they use fairly modern caps and resistors, unlike a 1950s or 1960s preamp. Most vintage gear needs a restoration if it's affordable. Everything else usually has a few hundred in a restoration added to it or is a cult item with inflated prices. That hasn't happened to Conrad-Johnson's old gear yet, so you can enjoy the depreciated prices and expect it to work. C-J is still around, supplies tube packages and services everything they've made, too.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 8:39 PM Post #14 of 21

IceClass

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Uncle Erik /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I had the PP2 with my first deck and thought it was pretty good. Only sold it because I wanted one with tubes. Speaking of which, one of the least expensive ways into a tube phono stage (aside from DIY) is with an early Conrad-Johnson preamp. I found a PV-2 for about $300.



Well, I really have no need for a preamp either tube or not.
I'll probably be running this SL-10 and phono stage through my SHA1 to the Nak620 SS Power Amp or just put it through my Fisher 500c.
At $300, your recommendation of a PV-2 comes in at twice the price of a Bellari tube phono stage.
Is this indicative of your love for CJ or is the Bellari really not worth the $150 they can be found for?
 
Nov 9, 2008 at 2:09 PM Post #15 of 21

memepool

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Quote:

Originally Posted by IceClass /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Well, I really have no need for a preamp either tube or not.


Doubley so given there is already a resonably good one built in ! A Cambridge Audio 640p is about as far as you need go with seaparate pre-amps i'd say.

Spend cash on the cart as this is where you'll get the most fidelity for your money.

I looked into decent P-Mount/TP4 for my Sony Biotracer deck a while back and they are still out there. Ortofon still make a few moving coils and the Shure V15VxMR is sometimes still obtainable if you really dig. You should also try and get hold of the original matching Technics cart.
 

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