Cartridge fun and phono preamp switching [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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06-29-2014, 10:55 AM
I was spinning vinyl when I decided I had not heard the Benz MC Gold in too long a time. I had tweaked the table with the new motor and braces since last it was mounted. All mounted and properly aligned and VTA set in an interesting way. I had the 2mm spacer under the arm but it was a little too much for the AT F7 and Gold cartridges. So I decided to place the supplied washer from the 24V upgrade under the bearing well which raises the platter up a little less than 1mm. Works for both cartridges and a cheap way of adjusting.

The table was still plugged into the Moon 110LP phono preamp. Highs were a little emphasized and I remembered how the AT F7 sounded bad through the Graham Slee Fanfare 3. It had a really ringing high end but tamed right down with the 110LP. The input impedance of the 110LP was 100 ohms while the Fanfare 3 was 470 ohms. I originally bought the Fanfare for the Gold since it should be loaded with greater than 200 ohms. The Gold and Fanfare 3 are an incredible match.

I have to say the Gold with the Fanfare trumps the Grado Sonata and the AT F7. More detail and color but not as warm as the Grado. A nice balance between the other cartridges strengths. My other phono preamps the Cambridge Audio 640P and Rotel RQ 970BX do not have enough gain. Rage Against the Machine is sounding good right now.

Both Moon 110LP and Fanfare 3 have upgraded power supplies. I was going to try the Ortofon OM20 next but it will be a long next since the Gold and Fanfare are playing so well together. Now that I am happy with my speakers it is time to pay attention to the other transducer.

06-29-2014, 05:26 PM
Here are my choices in cartridges.

Mr Peabody
06-29-2014, 06:54 PM
Nice skills and sounds like you were having fun

06-30-2014, 09:04 AM
Nice skills and sounds like you were having fun

Thanks and yes it has been fun. When I look at my cartridges I am glad some of the ones I owned have found other homes. The Grado Red and Blue Point have moved on to other arms. I do know the Blue's suspension wire failed.

Cartridges I miss were my ADC XLM MkII, Dynavector 10x2, Sonus Blue, Accutex, Micro Acoustic, and of course my first Shures the M91ED and M95. Many fun audio memmories.

My phono preamps are the Rotel RQ 970BX, Cambridge Audio 640P, Graham Slee Fanfare3, and the Simaudio Moon 110LP. The Blue Point and Rotel are incredible together. Deepest and detailed soundstage. The Ortofon worked well with the CA 640P and I have not had it mounted in a long time so I have yet to hear it through the Moon 110LP.

06-30-2014, 11:43 AM
I discovered my end stub had worked loose. I was doing some fine adjustment on VTF when I realized it. The counterweight is designed to lock onto the carriage that contains the micrometer style adjustment and once weight is set the carriage is locked to the end stub with another set screw. This makes for a rigid assembly. Now with the tightened end stub all is sounding good again.

07-13-2014, 05:26 PM
I switched to the Rega glass and Ringmat mat. The combo is a nice addition to the Benz and Fanfare3.

10-13-2014, 12:37 PM
The Benz Gold is still singing sweetly but I am back to the Moon 110LP. I have it set as I did for the Grado Statement Sonata with 60db of gain and loaded with 47k. The combo is sounding very nice. The Fanfare 3 could sound bright at times and now extended and smooth.

Oddly while listening to Jennifer Warne's "Famous Blue Raincoat" I thought I heard sounds of stylus wear or inner groove distortion. I am pleased to report it was neither. I had not adjusted the antiskate settings since I switched cartridges. I reduced the amount of antiskating force and the choir in the last minutes of "Joan Of Arc" were singing sweetly and high above the singer and musicians.

10-20-2014, 12:53 PM
Well I switched to the Ortofon OM20 today. I have always liked the low mass of the induced magnet generating system. I was missing some detail that I do not think budget MC cartridges can deliver. The Ortofon OM20's cantilever is suspended mid point through a circular magnet with a nude stylus. There are no suspension wires, coils at the end or magnets or iron to move. I think it tracks better judging by ear and not a test record.

10-21-2014, 07:11 AM
Glad to hear you like the Ortofon. That was on my list when I decided to buy the Nagaoka.

10-23-2014, 08:59 AM
I was thinking that the OM20 had not sounded so good in the past and then I realized that I had not played a record with it for several tweaks. Since the last time I had it on the arm I replaced the motor, added the top and bottom braces and I am not sure if I had the lowered counterweight at the time. The Moon 110LP is also a very good phono preamp. As the table has improved in sound quality so has the sound of the OM20.

I think I may have the VTA set better than before. I have the 2mm spacer under the arm and a spacer under the lip of the bearing well. The spacer under the bearing well was supplied for the 24V motor upgrade. I think now the arm is raised between 1-1.5mm due to the slight elevation of the platter.

Of course as I discovered about myself if something sounds good I wonder what I can get to make it sound better. I began looking at the 2M Blue but the OM20 is more compliant, tracks lighter and has lower tip mass. I do like the idea of a user replaceable stylus which in the days before cd players and all listening was vinyl I would replace the stylus routinely.

05-05-2015, 08:17 AM
Since my hearing has improved with the absence of aspartame I have finalized my vinyl playback. The best combination is the Audio Technica F7 cartridge into the Moon 110LP phono preamp. The FunkFirm Achroplat platter along with the record weight sound best with the greatest number of records.

The AT F7 is neutral and detailed but the Grado Sonata Statement excels at soundstaging. I have decided for me neutrality and detail is more important than warmth and soundstaging. A more expensive cartridge would probably give me both but I am enjoying what I already own.

Back to the table.

05-05-2015, 11:55 AM
I am enjoying the table so much I thought I would take a picture showing many of the tweaks. You can see the wires from the Incognito rewire, the FunkFirm Achroplat, machined subplatter and record weight, the Michael Lim top brace and lastly the Michell Technoweight. Mounted is the Audio Technica F7 cartridge.

JoeE SP9
05-05-2015, 02:16 PM
MMMm doggie, that must sound good!

05-21-2015, 08:46 AM
Starting to have an itch to install the Grado Statement Sonata. Of all my cartridges it has the best depth of soundstaging and separation of instruments. More space between instruments in a wider soundstage. Now that I am trusting my ears it is time to relisten to the Grado. Absolutely pleased with everything else in my system from speakers to cables. Now I just need to decide on cartridge. I will rate the AT F7 over the OM 20 and the Benz Gold may need a retip due to hours and age to make a fair comparison. I wish I could swap cartridges as easily as I did in my younger days.