Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby WeatherB » Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:35 pm

Hi, all:

I own the Prime with a Ortofon Black 2M cart. Sounds better than I hoped when I purchased it in January. But being an audiophile often means upgrading. I'm curious what kind of cartridge you think would be a SIGNIFICANT leap forward for, say, $2K to $3K. How much $$ is too much before it becomes overkill for the Prime (or Prime Signature ;)) ?

For a phono stage, this always meant to be a stop gap unit, is a Vincent Audio PHO-7 (now discontinued). Also looking to upgrade in the same $2K to $3K price range. Thinking Sutherland 20/20 or something from LVK...Anything else? Would a "better" phono stage such as the ARC REF 2 (used) or similar be a good match or is that overkill for the Prime (Signature) ?

Last one: If I can only upgrade one piece of the puzzle, should it be the cartridge or phono stage? Which do you think should come first?

Thank you!!
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby 930turbo » Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:43 pm

Hi ,

Lyra Kleos the normal output version w/c I'm currently using their $3000. According my sister , but I've not heard / audition yet but she said it was a massive leap in performance compared to her Benz Micro Glider is the VAS NOVA Signature , it's made in NJ , VPI's next door neighbor. I think it cost $1500 , not sure of the model w/ Boron Cantilever . I could recommend my Benz Micro Gullwing SLR as well , but if your using a VPI Periphery Ring you might encounter some problem .

Hope this helps ,

930
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby JohnCh » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:40 am

I just went through a similar process. Bought a Classic 1 in the Spring with 2M Black. The cartridge was nice, but I was never entirely happy with it as it was a little too clinical in my system. I then upgraded to a Classic Signature w/ 3D arm in the Summer. This was a big improvement, but after a while, I started to further question the 2M Black. This is not a slam on that cartridge, which is great for the money, but I am a relapsed audioholic, so it's what I do. Based on the various reviews and the comments here, I narrowed down my choices to a few of the SoundStage cartridges and the VAS Nova. I love the SS policy of only charging 20% of the cartridge price for a retip, but the glowing reviews of the VAS swayed me to that side and an order was placed for the 0.8Mv version. I'm hoping the VAS and the Mint LP (another recent purchase) arrive late next week.

-John
VPI Classic Signature, VAS Nova Signature, Lehmann Black Cube SE II, Oppo BDP-105, VTL 2.5 w/NOS tubes, Channel Islands Audio E200S, Magnepan 1.7 w/Mye stands, REL Strata III, Audio Sensibility Impact SE & Clear Day Double Shotgun cables
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby WeatherB » Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:18 pm

Thanks, guys.

I appreciate the feedback on carts.

Which would have a bigger impact on the sound, new cartridge or phono stage?
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby thegage » Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:42 am

I'm of the "buy a quality phono stage first" school, as it will allow you to get the absolute most out of a lower-cost cartridge, and then richly reward you over and over as you climb the cartridge ladder.

John K.
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby mreeter » Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:35 am

JohnCh wrote:I just went through a similar process. Bought a Classic 1 in the Spring with 2M Black. The cartridge was nice, but I was never entirely happy with it as it was a little too clinical in my system. I then upgraded to a Classic Signature w/ 3D arm in the Summer. This was a big improvement, but after a while, I started to further question the 2M Black. This is not a slam on that cartridge, which is great for the money, but I am a relapsed audioholic, so it's what I do. Based on the various reviews and the comments here, I narrowed down my choices to a few of the SoundStage cartridges and the VAS Nova. I love the SS policy of only charging 20% of the cartridge price for a retip, but the glowing reviews of the VAS swayed me to that side and an order was placed for the 0.8Mv version. I'm hoping the VAS and the Mint LP (another recent purchase) arrive late next week.

-John


John, I have the same table/arm. Please report back with your findings after the new VAS has had time to settle.

btw, I just received back my Original SoundSmith VPI Zephyr (three+years old, over 1100 hours) that SS re-tipped, it was rebuilt and brought up to current specs @ 20% the cost of a new one.

The Zephyr sounds better now than it ever did before, I couldn't be happier.
Last edited by mreeter on Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby adeep42 » Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:35 am

Went through the same process when I upgraded to a Prime with 3D arm from Scout. Moved my 2M Black to the new arm. Almost from the beginning I knew the arm and table combo need better. After a recommendation from Harry plus some additional research, bought an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze and got a VPI SUT from Bob at Bob's Devices. Combination is excellent, My system never sounded as good. I know it's not a subjective reflex response to upgrading. Family and friends actually want to come over and listen to music.
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby JohnCh » Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:51 am

mreeter wrote:John, I have the same table/arm. Please report back with your findings after the new VAS has had time to settle.


Will do. I came very close to buying a SS cartridge, but Steve offered me a great deal on the VAS and given that some of the comments posted about the cartridge mirrored what I was seeking in a replacement, I went in that direction. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the 2M Black; fix the pulley on my Merrill modified AR, refinish the plinth (the veneer is peeling), and put that in my office system, or sell it off.

-John
VPI Classic Signature, VAS Nova Signature, Lehmann Black Cube SE II, Oppo BDP-105, VTL 2.5 w/NOS tubes, Channel Islands Audio E200S, Magnepan 1.7 w/Mye stands, REL Strata III, Audio Sensibility Impact SE & Clear Day Double Shotgun cables
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby macster » Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:59 am

thegage wrote:I'm of the "buy a quality phono stage first" school, as it will allow you to get the absolute most out of a lower-cost cartridge, and then richly reward you over and over as you climb the cartridge ladder.

John K.



THIS!

M~
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby TomD » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:26 pm

Of the four cartridges I have put significant time on with either my Scout, Classic or Prime:

1) VAS Nova Signature (.4Mv version). The best of the cartridges I have tried. Amazing tracker. Rejects a lot of noise other cartridges pick up, very detailed and realistic but still "smooth" and fun to listen to.
2) Ortofon Cadenza Bronze - Close second, but doesn't track as well as the NOVA and is more obviously colored to the warm side.
3) Soundsmith Zephyr (and retip which made it even better) - Really a great cartridge for the money. It is fun to listen to, but not as detailed as the VAS Nova. Great match for the Classic or Scout with the metal arm, but I didn't like it as much with the 3D arm which led me to look for an upgrade after I got my Prime.
4) Dynavector 20X2L - Great tracker and seems really well built. Neutral sound with good detail. Just didn't draw me in as much as the others.

YMMV etc.

Good luck!

Tom
VPI Prime Signature w/SDS, VAS Nova Sig., Parasound JC3 Phono, Parasound P7 Pre, Pass Labs XA30.8 Amplifier, Salk Exotica Monitors, 2X Salk 15" Subwoofers
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