Spend entire budget on MM or split between MC and Phonostage

Spend entire budget on MM or split between MC and Phonostage

Postby mdp0430 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:49 am

I'm looking to get into vinyl and have a budget of $6,000. Being in NJ, VPI and Soundsmith seemed like good local options but not many are available to audition. I was thinking of either pairing a VPI Prime with a Soundsmith Aida cartridge direct into my Plinius integrated. Or, possibly, sticking with the Prime and going with a $1,000 MC cartridge and also an $1,000 dedicated phono stage.

Does anyone happen to have any opinions that they would be able to share? Should I be considering something else? My gut tells me that simpler is better and to go with the Prime/Aida combination and in a year or two maybe upgrade to a dedicated MM phono stage. But I would really like to hear your thoughts as I would hate to make a $6,000 mistake! I'm a total novice when it comes to vinyl.

I tend to go for natural/lifelike sound - which is something that my digital front end is ok at, but not great (Cary CD Player). While I have nearly 3,000 CD's, I have amassed a small collection of some of my favorites on vinyl - including some from Analogue Productions and MoFi. My music taste ranges from Elvis/Fab4/Stones/Fleetwood Mac/Neil Young to 80's Talking Heads/Police/Pixies. I can go from hard rock like Kiss and Metallica, but also enjoy jazz greats such as Coltrane and Miles as well as the Guaraldi Charlie Brown which I just acquired on 200g. So, that's where I'm coming from in terms of music style. Oh, I also don't mind cranking the stereo at times... Same thing with my guitar amps.
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Re: Spend entire budget on MM or split between MC and Phonos

Postby 10ovr » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:14 am

A Prime and a VAS NOVA cart (MC) is a great combo ,,Harry has a great deal on the VAS NOVA for $1200 bucks if he still has some left,,Being that your in NJ I would hook up a time with Mat or Harry to go to the VPI House and see what they can do for ya,,,Would be well worth the time,,,
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Re: Spend entire budget on MM or split between MC and Phonos

Postby mdp0430 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:20 am

10ovr wrote:A Prime and a VAS NOVA cart (MC) is a great combo ,,Harry has a great deal on the VAS NOVA for $1200 bucks if he still has some left,,


Hi, thanks for your quick response! That would leave $800 for an MC phono stage since my integrated is not configured for MC... Any ideas?
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Re: Spend entire budget on MM or split between MC and Phonos

Postby mdp0430 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:39 am

I should also note that I'd like to purchase the turntable and cartridge from the same place. That way, the dealer can deal with setup. Maybe purchasing the tools and gadgets will come later on; but right now, as a novice I'd like to avoid dealing with cartridge setup.
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Re: Spend entire budget on MM or split between MC and Phonos

Postby Brf » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:53 am

mdp0430 wrote:
10ovr wrote:A Prime and a VAS NOVA cart (MC) is a great combo ,,Harry has a great deal on the VAS NOVA for $1200 bucks if he still has some left,,


Hi, thanks for your quick response! That would leave $800 for an MC phono stage since my integrated is not configured for MC... Any ideas?


Contact Bob at Bob's Devices https://www.bobsdevices.com/ to discuss a compatible step up transformer to be used with your current MM phono input.
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Re: Spend entire budget on MM or split between MC and Phonos

Postby Dorian » Wed Oct 31, 2018 10:05 am

Brf wrote:
mdp0430 wrote:
10ovr wrote:A Prime and a VAS NOVA cart (MC) is a great combo ,,Harry has a great deal on the VAS NOVA for $1200 bucks if he still has some left,,


Hi, thanks for your quick response! That would leave $800 for an MC phono stage since my integrated is not configured for MC... Any ideas?


Contact Bob at Bob's Devices https://www.bobsdevices.com/ to discuss a compatible step up transformer to be used with your current MM phono input.

That was going to be my suggestion too. Prime + MC cart + step-up transformer. If you can get a gently used Prime then that allows more budget for cart, a worthwhile investment IMO. I run a SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC Star ($1,500 at Elusive Disc) on my Prime; it sounds great.
VPI Prime #959 & Outer Ring| SoundSmith MIMC Star | Herron VTPH-2A | Primaluna DiaLogue Premium HP Integrated | KEF LS-50s | Phoenix Eagle & Roadrunner | Audio Sensibility Cables | Symposium Ultra | AQ Niagara 1000 | Stillpoints LPI | Focal Clear
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Re: Spend entire budget on MM or split between MC and Phonos

Postby mdp0430 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:05 am

Interesting! It seems like the consensus is that a less expensive MC/phonostage combination is being recommended over a "high end" MM. I would not have surmised that based on my very limited research. Thanks!
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Re: Spend entire budget on MM or split between MC and Phonos

Postby Brf » Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:24 am

mdp0430 wrote:Interesting! It seems like the consensus is that a less expensive MC/phonostage combination is being recommended over a "high end" MM. I would not have surmised that based on my very limited research. Thanks!


Not necessarily so, but my "current" experience with MM cartridges is limited.
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Re: Spend entire budget on MM or split between MC and Phonos

Postby jmcox » Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:53 am

+1 on visiting the VPI house. They can certainly bounce some good ideas around with you. They're a tremendous resource. And heck, it would be a real treat to listen some of their gear.
VPI Avenger/Transfiguration Proteus, VAS Nova Gold .25, VAS .30 MONO/Ring Clamp/SDS/EAR MC4 SUT/Manley Chinook SE phono/Primaluna Dialogue Premium preamp/McIntosh MC 40 mono blocks/Ampsandsound Cornscallas/Kimber Select all cables, Furman Reference 15i
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Re: Spend entire budget on MM or split between MC and Phonos

Postby Dorian » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:19 pm

mdp0430 wrote:Interesting! It seems like the consensus is that a less expensive MC/phonostage combination is being recommended over a "high end" MM. I would not have surmised that based on my very limited research. Thanks!

I can tell you that I've directly compared SoundSmith high output (Zephyr Mk II) and low output (Zephyr MIMC Star) carts in my system, the only system difference between the two being that my Herron phono preamp has different inputs for high vs low output carts. Hands down, the low output MIMC Star sounds much better. Greater transparency, detail and especially greater subtlety, which allows the music to sound more lifelike (one of your stated aims).
VPI Prime #959 & Outer Ring| SoundSmith MIMC Star | Herron VTPH-2A | Primaluna DiaLogue Premium HP Integrated | KEF LS-50s | Phoenix Eagle & Roadrunner | Audio Sensibility Cables | Symposium Ultra | AQ Niagara 1000 | Stillpoints LPI | Focal Clear
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