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

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

Postby Orchids1 » Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:32 am

I'm very pleased with my Sutherland 20/20, and have never considered it a weak link in a pretty solid signal chain. It was rated as Class A for years, and has been favorably reviewed by everybody. In my view, there's not a lot of benefit to be gained from adding a more expensive phono preamp to your system.

On the other hand, as I've mentioned here before, I think the Prime, and most other VPI tables, are so fundamentally good as to warrant the use of just about any cartridge, regardless of price. I think the addition of a cartridge in the $3k to $4k range, which seems to be a tipping point, would make a noticeable difference in over-all sound quality.

As an aside, I think the Soundsmith cartridges in that price range are pretty special. However, there are a bunch of threads on cartridge recommendations in the Forum. Rich
Avenger, SS Paua cart, Phoenix Eagle psu and tach, Sutherland 20/20 phono, Audionet Pre 1 G3 pre, Benchmark AHB2 monos, YG Carmel 2 spkrs, Nordost/Audio Sensibilty ic, Kubla-Sonsa spkr cable; Auralic Aries renderer, Auralic Vega dac.
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby WeatherB » Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:25 pm

Thank you, everyone, for your replies. You make some compelling points. Later this year, I'll let you know what happens.
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby WntrMute » Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:13 am

For an excellent phono stage try the K&K Maxxed-Out phono stage. Tube based with transformer coupling. Able to handle the lowest MC to MM with a wide array of capacitance settings. I love mine. Unfortunately my older version doesn't have a mono switch but the latest version does. Very quiet even at very high listening levels. Plus is Kevin's perfect customer support!
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby Advanced101 » Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:57 pm

WntrMute wrote:For an excellent phono stage try the K&K Maxxed-Out phono stage. Tube based with transformer coupling. Able to handle the lowest MC to MM with a wide array of capacitance settings. I love mine. Unfortunately my older version doesn't have a mono switch but the latest version does. Very quiet even at very high listening levels. Plus is Kevin's perfect customer support!


Ill second that recommendation.
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby scotlynn » Thu May 11, 2017 7:38 pm

I'm in the same boat as some on this thread - very helpful read. I have had a Classic 1 for a few years. Tried a SS Zephyr for the first year or so but was never entirely happy despite the frequent rave reviews of this combination. I'm running the Classic through a Tavish Design Adagio phone pre into my Emotive Audio Sira peramp and then to my Carver Cherry 180's. But the Zephyr always sounded lacking in dynamics - perhaps I never had it set up exactly right, but tried all kinds of settings. About a year ago I grabbed a Denon 103R, nuded it and stuck it in a hard wood body and it gave me everything I was missing with the Zephyr for a 1/3 of the price.

But I'm picking up my Classic Signature directly from VPI tomorrow (yay!) and thinking about moving up in the cartridge line. I was going to give the Zephyr another shot (still have it) on the 3D arm and if it's still not doing it for me perhaps have the SS folks take a look at it, maybe retip though it doesn't have that many hours on it. But was also leaning towards grabbing a Cadenza Bronze or a Lyra Delos. This thread is the first I'm hearing of the VAS, and now I'm thinking about that as an option.
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby Lewisranchmike » Fri May 12, 2017 7:00 pm

scotlynn wrote:I'm in the same boat as some on this thread - very helpful read. I have had a Classic 1 for a few years. Tried a SS Zephyr for the first year or so but was never entirely happy despite the frequent rave reviews of this combination. I'm running the Classic through a Tavish Design Adagio phone pre into my Emotive Audio Sira peramp and then to my Carver Cherry 180's. But the Zephyr always sounded lacking in dynamics - perhaps I never had it set up exactly right, but tried all kinds of settings. About a year ago I grabbed a Denon 103R, nuded it and stuck it in a hard wood body and it gave me everything I was missing with the Zephyr for a 1/3 of the price.

But I'm picking up my Classic Signature directly from VPI tomorrow (yay!) and thinking about moving up in the cartridge line. I was going to give the Zephyr another shot (still have it) on the 3D arm and if it's still not doing it for me perhaps have the SS folks take a look at it, maybe retip though it doesn't have that many hours on it. But was also leaning towards grabbing a Cadenza Bronze or a Lyra Delos. This thread is the first I'm hearing of the VAS, and now I'm thinking about that as an option.


I had the Lyra Delos and Kleos and for me the VAS Nova .4mv bested them. So much so I now have a VAS Nova Gold (.25mV).
For Phono Stage I have had a few but for the price I might recommend a used Manley Chinook.

Best,

Mike in Austin
VPI PRIME #58
VAS Nova Gold
Symposium inserts
Symposium Seque Iso
VPI Periphery Ring
Eagle PSU, Roadrunner Tach
Audio Research Reference Phono 2 SE
Audio Research Reference 5SE
McIntosh MC252
Vandersteen 3A Signature
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby Orchids1 » Fri May 12, 2017 7:29 pm

I have a Soundsmith Paua cartridge which plays beautifully with my Avenger and 12" 3D tonearm. It sounds better than uber cartridges I've heard, and you can't beat Soundsmith's repair policy. Make sure your Vincent pho pre has a gain setting close to 60db and a resistance setting of 1,000 or 2,000, which is what the Paua calls for. The Paua retails for about $3,900, but there are other very good Soundsmith carts for less.

I also love my Sutherland 20/20, which works well with a Paua. Just about everyone has given ithe 20/20 and, for that matter, the Paua, top reviews. I agree. Rich

P.S. Just noticed that I have a very similar reply in this thread, posted about seven months ago, which I had forgotten. Good to know that my opinions on the Sutherland 20/20 and Soundsmith cartridges haven't changed.
Avenger, SS Paua cart, Phoenix Eagle psu and tach, Sutherland 20/20 phono, Audionet Pre 1 G3 pre, Benchmark AHB2 monos, YG Carmel 2 spkrs, Nordost/Audio Sensibilty ic, Kubla-Sonsa spkr cable; Auralic Aries renderer, Auralic Vega dac.
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby pvannest » Sat May 13, 2017 1:24 pm

I am a bit concerned with their policy. I have a Boheme which was just recently discontinued. When I purchased the cartridge, it had a repair price of $250.00. On the website today it lists a price of $299.00 and then brags about their 20% price to repair. If you go deeper and look at the specs you can still see the $250.00 price. I sent a note to Soundsmith earlier in the week asking them what gives and so far I have not received a response. My gut tells me it is just an error that needs to be corrected. Has anyone else ever seen this with them?
VPI Classic 2 with Classic 3 arm
Soundsmith Boheme
Project RPM 1.3 with Acrilic platter and speedbox
Sumiko EVO III
Bottlehead Eros with Mundorf output caps
Bottlehead BePree
Two mismatched 12" subs
Emotiva SPA2
Cambridge Topaz CD10
Magnepan 3.7i
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby Orchids1 » Sat May 13, 2017 1:49 pm

Nope. Service has been great. Prices have been accurate.
Avenger, SS Paua cart, Phoenix Eagle psu and tach, Sutherland 20/20 phono, Audionet Pre 1 G3 pre, Benchmark AHB2 monos, YG Carmel 2 spkrs, Nordost/Audio Sensibilty ic, Kubla-Sonsa spkr cable; Auralic Aries renderer, Auralic Vega dac.
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Re: Question for all: upgrading phono cart and/or phon stage

Postby soundwatts » Sun May 14, 2017 3:14 pm

Get a Manley Chinook. Lots of loading options for your cartridge journey.

Cartridges will come and go but a great phono stage facilitates all.
New Prime Scout 2017
Koetsu Black Goldline
Conrad Johnson PV9a
Conrad Johnson MV55
Manley Chinook Phono Stage
JM Lab Daline 3.1
CAL Icon Mk2 CD Player (no longer used after purchasing new Scout)
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