Phono stage
Jan 28, 2005 at 6:13 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

Puddleglum

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I'm looking at getting a pretty nice turntable in the next couple of months. I was thinking at the lowest a SOTA Moonbeam but I'm really aiming at a VPI Hw-19 Jr. with rega RB300 over at todds website. Thing is, I have this Fisher 400 that's supposed to have a pretty good phono stage, but I don't know that it matches up well to the likes of the VPI. If that is true, what price range phono stage would be a good match for such a turntable?
 
Jan 28, 2005 at 6:49 PM Post #2 of 14

CD44hi

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Puddleglum
I'm looking at getting a pretty nice turntable in the next couple of months. I was thinking at the lowest a SOTA Moonbeam but I'm really aiming at a VPI Hw-19 Jr. with rega RB300 over at todds website. Thing is, I have this Fisher 400 that's supposed to have a pretty good phono stage, but I don't know that it matches up well to the likes of the VPI. If that is true, what price range phono stage would be a good match for such a turntable?


I'll bite...

First, you need to incorporate a cartridge into your equation. It is nice to think about matching a phono stage to your table, but in all honesty, one needs to select more carefully to match a cartridge (MM or MC) to the proper phono stage.

Let us know if we can help you more once you thought about cartridges...
 
Jan 28, 2005 at 7:11 PM Post #3 of 14

Puddleglum

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As for a cartridge, which is the more important decision, I was thinking of something in the $500 dollar range, like the Grado Sonata. If you have any better Ideas I'm all ears, because I know very little.
 
Jan 28, 2005 at 7:53 PM Post #4 of 14

CD44hi

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I have heard an older version of this Dynavector on a Scout, I really like its sound. However this VPI used the JMW-9 arm. Yet I think the RB300 should be a good match for the Dynavector, as I use a Dynavector 10X5 on a RB900 without any issues. You may just need to buy a couple of spacers for the RB300 to adjust VTA. Actually, the Dynavector 10X5 is not a bad cartridge and it is a bit cheaper than the one I pictured here. These two are moving coil (MC) cartridges.
The Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood can be obtained on audiogon for about $500. I understand it is quite good. However I have no personal experience with this one. This is moving magnet (MM)

There are phono stages that allow for both MM/MC cartridges.

Don't be shy to search the Vinyl branch of audio asylum. I am sure you'll find more than what you ever wanted to know about phono stages and cartridges for the VPI. BTW, I vote for this TT!
 
Jan 28, 2005 at 8:59 PM Post #5 of 14

Gopher

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I agree with CD44hi's advice about that Dynavector in your price point. Though I'm unfamilair with the RB300 tone arm, I'm using the DV-20L on my VPI Scout right now and it's a kickass rig! Tracks much better then the Grado Platinium I previously had, and has a cleaner, faster, more detailed sound without being analytical.

As for phonostages, I'm using a Dynavector P-75 in phono enhance mode. The rave this stage was getting is desrved in my opinion. I've been using this combo for about 8 months without the desire to upgrade (that part of the rig) which says a lot.

If you're buying on the used market, you can probably get the stage and cart for ~$700. Definitely look into it.
 
Jan 28, 2005 at 9:55 PM Post #6 of 14

kentamcolin

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I have a Fisher 400 and use it with my Scout/Grado Reference. The phono stage in the Fisher is very good. I doubt you'll improve on the sound with a phono stage withourt spending serious $$$. The gain in the Fisher phono stage was originally designed for cartridges with 10mv output. You won't find that today, but 4-5mv MC cartridges work well. Some of the "High output" MC's are 2.5mv which is really marginal and you'll notice the volume is much lower than with your CD player. I think the Grado Sonata mentioned would be very nice. Just make sure you get the high output 5.0mv version, not the 0.5mv one. If you want to upgrade your vinyl package, rather than trying to add a phono stage, spend the money on the table. Adding $500 to the HW19jr/Rega combo for instance, can probably get you into HW19mk3 territory, which would be a better investment. Be sure also connect to the phono "low" inputs on your Fisher. Vinyl played through these receivers sounds very sweet indeed!
 
Jan 29, 2005 at 1:24 AM Post #7 of 14

dsavitsk

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Puddleglum
As for a cartridge, which is the more important decision, I was thinking of something in the $500 dollar range, like the Grado Sonata. If you have any better Ideas I'm all ears, because I know very little.


In this price range, I would look at either a dynavector high output MC (if you like detailed precise sound) or clearaudio MM (if you like less detailed but warmer sound.) The Grado cartridges do not really compare on a performance per price basis to either of these.
 
Jan 29, 2005 at 1:42 AM Post #8 of 14

darkclouds

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Actually, I like the Sonata on my Ingcognito RB250 arm (on Basis 1400). There's plenty of detail, but the magic is in it's midrange. The Clearaudio Beta S is also a nice cart, but isn't as warm and lush. It's more neutral and has a nice kick to it, especially in the bass region (tight, impactful bass, at least tighter than the Sonata). I prefer the Grado.
 
Jan 29, 2005 at 1:30 PM Post #9 of 14

kentamcolin

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Why recommend something that won't work? I believe Dynavectors highest output is 2.5mv. Maximum volume would be something like 1/4 that of the CDP. I'm using 95db speakers, and a 2.5mv cart. was not sufficient. Swithing to 5.0mv allows a good listening level.
 
Jan 29, 2005 at 3:09 PM Post #10 of 14

CD44hi

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Quote:

Originally Posted by kentamcolin
Why recommend something that won't work? I believe Dynavectors highest output is 2.5mv. Maximum volume would be something like 1/4 that of the CDP. I'm using 95db speakers, and a 2.5mv cart. was not sufficient. Swithing to 5.0mv allows a good listening level.


If you read the title of the thread and his original post, he was originally looking for a phono stage suggestions for the VPI or Sota. The Fisher was not a consideration when making my suggestions. I recommended he should consider cartridges AND a phono stage combination, as I am sure you very well know, it is an important match to make. If he decides to use the Fisher's phono, then that is another ball game.
 
Jan 29, 2005 at 11:54 PM Post #11 of 14

kentamcolin

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He was wondering if the VPI or Sota would match with the Fisher. The table is not the issue, the cartridge is. My point is the the VPI will sound awesome through the Fisher, with the right cartridge. His suggestion that he is looking at a VPI Jr. suggests a desire for good analog sound, on a budget. Adding more components (and interconnects) means less can be spent on each component. He has a good phono stage already, why not try it first? You would have to spend a considerable sum to get a better phono stage than what is in the Fisher. It might be a better investment to spend the extra money on a better table than a VPI Jr. and fit a cartridge that works with the existing phono stage. Just look over the next few days for impressions of the Fisher 400 phono stage from today's Chicago meet!
 
Jan 30, 2005 at 4:13 AM Post #12 of 14

CD44hi

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Hey,I don't doubt the Fisher is a great option on a budget for a speaker set up or akg-k1000 cans. A friend has this set up for the k1000s and/or Epos ESL-3. It sounds quite good, albeit it runs with a digital and not an analog source. However, if the poster plans to use standard cans, the Fisher is a good, but not an excellent headphone amp. SO here we fall on a situation in which he may not get to hear the full potential of a VPI table because the rest of the system does not allow for it. I believe this is the underlying reason why so many people that go into vinyl are dissappointed, after they hear how wonderful analog is from others, however it is not in their system. Vinyl to sound it's full potential has to be correctly set up (not necessarily expensive).

Ultimately, this is something that the poster will have to decide, whether he should go deep into vinyl or not, and how much to spend. Whether to listen to speakers first. The most difficult issue for an inexperienced user is to know what to expect from a system at different budget levels. I sincerely think he can do better for a headphone system without expending extreme ammounts of money. By having a MC/MM phono that can accomodate different loads, one can have a bit more flexibility with cartridges. The Musical Fidelity X-LPS is a great option on a budget, for instance. IF he indeed wants to set up a speaker system, then, as I said before, it is a different ball game with the Fisher.

The way I see it, and the way I try to think about an analog headphone system is: Set up a budget, selected a table based on audition or conversation with peer listeners, and if either of these is not a possibility, read, read, read, internet forums can help get the gist. Then think about a cartridge that would work with the arm, then get a phono amp that matches that cartridge. In my case, table was approximatedly 65% of the budget, phono was about 20% and cartridge was around 15%. My table could be running a much better cartridge than the one it has right now, but I sacrificed a bit on it, to get a better table and phono stage. Cartridge is a lot easier to upgrade. It is not a foolproof procedure, but better than just picking a system based on price or looks.

Just as a final remark, my advice is not geared towards demeaning a true classic receiver as the Fisher. Yet, if I was asked for comments as to how to go about setting up a dedicated headphone vinyl rig, this is my opinion.

"Amicalement"
 
Jan 30, 2005 at 4:26 AM Post #13 of 14

kentamcolin

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Our opinions are not as far apart as you might think. You mentioned that you sacrificed a better cart to get a better table, since the cart is easy to upgrade. My point was to just use the Fisher phono stage now and get a better table, instead of the jr. (not easily upgradable). If you have enough money for a jr. and phono stage, skip the phono stage, for now, and get a better table. Add the phono stage at some later point if needed. HW19mk3 is a big step up from the jr, yet would cost the same as a jr. and a fairly modest phono stage.

Cheers.
 
Jan 30, 2005 at 6:57 PM Post #14 of 14

daycart1

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My two cents: The Fisher is fine to get started--perhaps to keep. But you'll want an MM cartridge with 5.0 output. To get a distinct upgrade from that, you'd probably have to spend over $500 for something used.

Since the Fisher is already warm sounding and the VPI is a little on the warm side, a Grado cartridge might be overkill unless you go for a very lush sound.


TEAM VPI
 

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