TT Upgrade...Opinions?

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  • 04-29-2009, 01:04 PM
    mijs
    TT Upgrade...Opinions?
    I've got an old Technics SL-1800 DD TT with a Sumiko Blue Point Cartridge. It all works fine, but quite frankly, my CD player (Marantz SA-8001) absolutely kicks the TT's azz in every way imaginable. The TT sounds 2-dimensional and lifeless while the CDP is engaging, spatial, and fatigue free.

    My question...

    If I upgrade my TT, how much will it cost to get a TT and cartridge that will compete with the SA-8001 (or comparable) CD player?

    Product recommendations?


    Thanks!


    System:
    Cayin A-50T
    SA-8001
    Technice SL-1800 w/Sumiko Blue Point
    Bellare phono preamp
    Design my own speaks
  • 04-29-2009, 01:47 PM
    emaidel
    I don't think there's any easy answer to your question. I too own an SA-8001, and I also feel it outperforms my turntable/cartridge combo, especially when playing well mastered SACD's. There's also the fact that the sound from either a CD or an SACD played on the 8001 is decidedly different than that from almost any analog source, and you may wind up spending a lot of money on a really good turntable/cartridge combo, and still prefer the sound from your 8001.

    Aside from that caveat, many members of AR are great fans of Rega turntables, but there doesn't appear to be much concensus on any specific cartridge, though many prefer the sound of a moving coil cartidge, which will also require you to purchase a step-up transformer, adding to the overall cost of a purchase.

    Then again, it's possible that if you buy a good turntable (for around $500), as well as a good cartridge (also close to $500) as well as a quailty step up transformer, you may wind up preferring vinyl to your CD/SACD player. I don't think that's likely, but it is possible!
  • 04-29-2009, 02:16 PM
    dean_martin
    If you have the Bellari VP-129 (or 130), you might want to see if you can audition another phono preamp in your system. I suggest this only because I recently added a new Jolida JD-9A to my system for more gain and in comparison the Jolida/table/cart combo is more open and spacious. But, I'm still playing around with both preamps in my system. The Bellari is driven by a Technics SL-1210 mk2 w/Grado Red cart and the Jolida is driven by a Pro-Ject 1.2 w/Ortofon MC-3 Turbo cart. I haven't tried switching preamps yet for a legitimate head-to-head comparison. But before I picked up the Technics, I ran the Bellari with the Ortofon and Pro-Ject and seem to remember a more life-like presentation than what I'm getting with the Technics and Grado. This could be attributable to the differences between the Grado and Ortofon or between belt-drive and direct drive. As I said, I'm still experimenting. I think the Bellari is great for the price and I may find that the cause of the flat and lifeless presentation in my system is the Grado cart.

    Otherwise, you could be looking at an investment of $1500 to 2000 for a table and cart and you still may need to upgrade your phono preamp. For example, Clearaudio's CMB Emotion/Satisfy/Maestro combo looks interesting at $2000. Clearaudio makes a table for Marantz that comes with a cartridge for just under $1200. A Rega table (P-24) and cart from Dynavector (10X5) or Benz Micro (Ace S) might set you back $1250 to 1500.

    For a cheaper belt-drive table that might be an improvement over your Technics, look at the Rega P-2, Pro-Ject Xpression or Music Hall MMF5.1. You'll probably need to shoot higher than the entry-level Rega P-1, Pro-Ject Debut III and Music Hall 2.1.

    Finally, I'm not sure how old your Sumiko Blue Point is and I've never heard one, but I've read a lot of comments from dissatisfied users of the earlier versions online. But take that for what it's worth.
  • 04-29-2009, 04:50 PM
    02audionoob
    I have a Music Hall MMF-5 with a Goldring GL2200 cartridge running through a Pro-Ject Tube Box. My modded Music Hall CD-25 might not be quite as good as your Marantz...don't really know...but I know the turntable setup can play music as nicely as the CD if provided with clean vinyl. I also have a Technics linear turntable with an Ortofon N120 cartridge and it cannot play at the same quality level.
  • 04-29-2009, 05:26 PM
    mijs
    Thanks...
    Thanks, that's all good info. I know it's a multi-faceted question.
    The irony is that I always preferred my TT to CD in the '80s and '90s, but I really think CD players got good (and affordable) in the early 2000s. The Sumiko BP is old too, but it sure out-performed other cartridges I had before it. Maybe I'll check into a new cart first.

    Emaidel - Since you also have an 8001, what's your TT/cart set-up?

    Dean - Yes, I have a Bellari VP129 but my older amp has a phono input and it sounds more or less the same with or w/o the Bellari. Thanks for the equipment suggestions.

    '02noob - Your MusicHall CDP is probably on par with mine, so your recommendation of the MMF-5 is worth looking into.
  • 04-29-2009, 07:03 PM
    02audionoob
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mijs
    '02noob - Your MusicHall CDP is probably on par with mine, so your recommendation of the MMF-5 is worth looking into.

    Although it's a pretty good setup, I didn't really mean to recommend my components. I have experienced some quirks with the MMF-5. It runs a smidge fast. I can't find a good anti-skating setting with only three options. It has an issue with certain cartridges, most notably Grado.

    But the whole setup does come together and play nicely. I'm happy enough with it. Perhaps it seems like high praise to say the TT setup can play as nicely as the CD, but to me it's really just what I expect of it. I'd say it actually sounds better than my older CD players, which have a bit of a fatiguing edge to them.
  • 05-01-2009, 05:29 AM
    whell
    Have you had your Sumiko BPS checked by a reputable dealer? It might still be OK, but it might be time to look at a new cartridge. I don't disagree with the thoughts about the Bellari, either. Its quite good for what it is, but I suspect that you might hear the difference with a phono pre upgrade.

    I'd start with the cartridge, however. Also, a local, reputable dealer might let you audition a phono pre in your home, with your current gear, so let you assess whether you hear any impact.
  • 05-01-2009, 09:50 AM
    I'm using a Music Hall MMF7 TT with Goldring Cart and Phonomena phono-pre. Compared to most CD and SACD players I've had in my home, it outperformed them all. Well, outperform may be a bit overzealous, but the combination does seem to come together very well and brings more air, spaciousness, and life to the music. I have not heard the Marantz, though and from everything I've read it's quite a performer.

    I will concur with 02audionoob that the anti-skating (as well as several other adjustments) are not very precise on even the MMF7. I've also been drooling over that Clearaudio Emotion combo (almost picked it up when they had a special for $1899). I previously had the Clearaudio Wood cartridge in my TT and I can say that is one beautiful-sounding cartridge.

    Long story short, a lot of how a system performs has to do with synergy, so the step-by-step approach in your case is probably good advise. Let us know what you find out.
  • 05-25-2009, 10:07 AM
    hifitommy
    its probably the BP cart
    the top and bottom of it arent the best, but the imaging was always good. a quick snag of an AT440MLa would likely push you forward a lot. the 8001 is a pretty good item but vinyl should still exceed its ultimate sound capability.

    otherwise, maybe an ortofon 2m of one color or another might be up your alley. theyve been well spoken of on audioasylum.com. audiocubessII:

    http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-S...4Pa38Ta38Pbhr0

    careful selection of a used tt/arm on audiogon might take you where you need to go but i would try a new cartridge first. otherwise a new tt could be in order:

    http://www.needledoctor.com/Denon-DP...2&category=348

    the bellari is just fine, i love mine and agree with fremer's assessment. you could always try a different tube there, thats been successful for many users although i never felt i needed to do that.

    if you go to a mc, i suggest an atOC9 or denon 103, both of which are affordable but you still need a stepup like the denon from audiocubesII:

    http://www.audiocubes2.com/product/D...ng_Trance.html

    of course these are only examples of what you can find, ebay may reveal many more choices.

    but really, you sholdnt have a hard time making your vinyl sound better than the digital. sacd and dvda may be the exception but software choices are fewer. and yes, i have a marantz--a 6001 but still, it sounds very good on rbcd, and my sony ns500v does slightly better in that regard.

    good luck.
  • 05-25-2009, 10:30 AM
    hifitommy
    its probably the BP cart
    the top and bottom of it arent the best, but the imaging was always good. a quick snag of an AT440MLa would likely push you forward a lot. the 8001 is a pretty good item but vinyl should still exceed its ultimate sound capability.

    otherwise, maybe an ortofon 2m of one color or another might be up your alley. theyve been well spoken of on audioasylum.com. audiocubessII:

    http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-S...4Pa38Ta38Pbhr0

    careful selection of a used tt/arm on audiogon might take you where you need to go but i would try a new cartridge first. otherwise a new tt could be in order:

    http://www.needledoctor.com/Denon-DP...2&category=348

    the bellari is just fine, i love mine and agree with fremer's assessment. you could always try a different tube there, thats been successful for many users although i never felt i needed to do that.

    if you go to a mc, i suggest an atOC9 or denon 103, both of which are affordable but you still need a stepup like the denon from audiocubesII:

    http://www.audiocubes2.com/product/D...ng_Trance.html

    of course these are only examples of what you can find, ebay may reveal many more choices.

    but really, you sholdnt have a hard time making your vinyl sound better than the digital. sacd and dvda may be the exception but software choices are fewer. and yes, i have a marantz--a 6001 but still, it sounds very good on rbcd, and my sony ns500v does slightly better in that regard.

    good luck.