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rob_981's picture
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New (old) record player - no idea what I'm doing

I have just acquired my father's old turntable - a Technics SL-120 with a SME 3009 S2 'improved' tone arm, and I want to make sure I'm getting the best from it. It is working perfectly, but after 15 years sitting in a cupboard, I'm thinking it might be worthwhile fitting a new cartridge. How do I go about choosing which one to get?

From what I've read (a lof of which isn't making much sense to me yet), the 'improved' arm would benefit from a high compliance Moving Magnet cartridge, due to the mass? Is that correct? Will any MM cartridge fit, or are they different sizes? Where is the best place to go for one - preferably online, although I am in Glasgow if anyone knows any good places to go to here?

Would I also benefit from getting a new phono cable?

Sorry for all the questions - any help gratefully received.

Thanks

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RE: New (old) record player - no idea what I'm doing

I recently serviced one of these with the very same tonearm fitted. By service I mean the pre-set pitch adjusters for 33 and 45 needed a bit of switch cleaner in them to cure a bit of speed instability, understandable considering its age. The SME 3009/S2 was originally intended for use with medium to high compliance magnetic cartridges that tracked between 1 - 2 grammes. The customer chose one of the Ortofon 2M cartridges, the Bronze. These work very well and are a good mechanical match to the arm, whether it has the fixed or detatchable headshell. In fact most modern magnetics should suit the arm. You mention the arm cable. Does it have phono plugs at each end or a rectangluar 4 pin plug at the arm base end going to phono plugs at the amp end ? If it's the former cable experimentation is easier. The cable MUST be a shielded type or you will get hum pickup, and a separate wire for arm grounding, usually from a screw terminal on the arm base. The SME cable supplied is high quality anyway, but the plugs will need a clean with isopropyl alcohol and cotton buds to get all the oxide layer off and give a good contact. When properly set up these decks are easily comparable to ones costing up £1000 today.

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RE: New (old) record player - no idea what I'm doing

Thanks for getting back to me. Unfortunately the Ortofon 2M Bronze is a bit out of my price range at the moment. I went for the Shure M97XE after reading a number of reviews. I will bear the Ortofon in mind for any future upgrades however. I also didn't want to spend too much in case I have difficulty installing the cartridge, as I have never done this before. Wouldn't want to break something too expensive! But it is something I'd be willing to invest in over the coming years if I find myself listening to vinyl more than cds.

The cable is the one with the 4 pin plug at the end. It seems to be in perfectly good condition, so probably no need to get a new one. I will give it a clean however. Thanks for the suggestion.

Looking forward to getting the cartridge installed and getting it set up properly.

The amplifier I'm feeding the signal into is also a fair age and was fairly cheap at the time - a Kenwood KAF-1010. It has a phono input, but I have no doubt that I would hear improvements, with cds as well as my turntable, if I upgraded (which I'm thinking of doing for my birthday in a couple of months). Would the Marantz PM6004 be an amp worth auditioning in this setup? Speakers are B&W DM601s.

Many thanks

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