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6and8's picture
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How can you compare tone arms, cartridges and phono stages?
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After a thorough service my old Pink Triangle LPT turntable is set up and running. It’s performing (almost) like new and the vinyl end of my system is sounding pretty good. But I’m in the mood to tinker. Most of my gear was bought 20 years ago and some of it was second-hand even then. I’m wondering if advances in design and technology over the last 20 years mean that upgrades will bring significant improvements in sound quality.

For example, the turntable is fitted with an RB300, a benchmark tone arm at this level when I bought it. I’m happy with the sound but can I make it better? Is there a tone arm out there that will work with the LPT and offer a noticeable improvement in sound quality? The current cartridge, a Nagaoka TS11, is still in good condition but will need replacing at some point. When that time comes which cartridges should I consider? I’m using a Moth 30 two block phono stage, again excellent in its day but have advances in audio technology left it behind? Will one of the newer phono stages outperform it or if I upgrade my trusty old Pioneer A400, still going strong, will a higher end amplifier provide a phono input that does away with the need for a separate phono stage?

It’s all a question of what’s worth doing if the LPT is the basis of the set up. I read the magazine reviews to glean information but am not sure how, before splashing my hard-earned, I can compare what I’ve already got in terms of tone arm, cartridge and phono stage with what’s on the market now.  So I’m hoping that the wisdom and experience of other contributors will help.

nopiano's picture
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RE: How can you compare tone arms, cartridges and phono stages?
I've been around long enough to remember PT tables. So here are a few thoughts. I'd stick with the arm and tt as they are, as long as nothing is damaged. Check the phono plugs are clean and secure though.  These days it is much harder to compare cartridges. In the 80s I would have been able to play you at least half a dozen different ones in the audio shop where I worked.  Assuming you are up to changing cartridges then a new Nagaoka or Ortofon might be worth a spin. It is possible the wires have become brittle, so take your time! As you can see from my sig I used a Grado, and those are also a great range, and I have a Shure I've not yet tried - a M97 xe, which you can get for under a ton, or less by mail order from the USA.  Setting everything up as best you can will be time well spent, tho don't fret about VTA. And you might find the vinyl engine forum worth a peruse too. Good luck!

Krell CD and amp, Michell/Rega/Grado record player, Hitachi and Sony tuners, Nakamichi cassette, SBT streamer, Sonus faber spkrs.  Sony and Samsung BDP & TVs. Qobuz > iPad > AudioPro Allroom Air One

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RE: How can you compare tone arms, cartridges and phono stages?

6and8 wrote:

 

RB300 ... but can I make it better? Is there a tone arm out there that will work with the LPT and offer a noticeable improvement in sound quality?

Sure there is, it's called Roksan Nima.

It would be hard to auditon one against some Rega models, but not impossible.

Finding answers to your other questions should be much easier - except for cartridge demos. Nagaokas are favorites on this forum, especialy when used with Rega phono stages. Carts that work well with phono stages from Naim, Lehmann or Lejonklou are Linn Adikt, DV 10x5 or AT carts - I think we should never talk about cartridges on their own but always of cart-phono stage combos.

The first thing you should do and perhaps also the last thing you should do is get a demo of Rega Brio R against your Pioneer/Moth. That shouldn't be too hard.

ATB

 

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RE: How can you compare tone arms, cartridges and phono stages?

I would recommend any of the Origin Live tonearms.

 

Motto: Never pay full price for anything, there is always room to haggle!

Tom Evans Audio Design amplification / Acoustic Zen speakers.

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