You left out the phono cable.
20 responses Add your response
I've never looked at my audio purchases like that, especially my analog rig. I use a KAB modded Technics SL-1200MKII. In terms of money it's not much but its technology to price ratio is BIG.
I suggest you look at system goals, if you have any. If not, now it's a good time to think about goals. If budget is tight, then consider a sensible upgrade path and stick to it. Three thousand will get great sound if spent wisely. That would cover what I have and have some $$$ left: TT, two cartridges, Monolithic Sound phono stage, Ridge Street Audio cabling. I have no need to upgrade, just a couple more mods and I'm set. As good or better as any $7-8K rig...
If you intend to keep the sound them Cary amps and CD give you ( and I'm familiar with them ) then your phono set up should orbit around a phono pre that will be complementary to what you already like. Dan Wright has a new hybrid phono stage which is killer and you'd be happy to keep.
PS >>>> For those who doubt my KAB modded Stanton DJ cartridge has the midrange of a $1500 MC but without the artificial HF artifacts/soundstage bloom. Trackability & bass are kick ass.
don't buy new...and don't buy piece meal. lots of great table/arm/cartridge combos for i.5 to 2k used.....get a goldring or grado(or other) under 500 phonostage to start, and spend the rest of your budget on new or used vinyl. many of the expensive phno stages don't sound that different unless you brake the bank on a table, and even that is not THAT different.
Get a Dynavector P 75 phono stage (used $400, new $600 , i.e. %13-%20 of your budget). I agree with others you simply don't need more phono stage than this unless you have much more invested in your analog gear. The P 75 is much better than other things I've heard in its price range, and has great flexibility with cartridges.
Other than that, Jaybo probably has the right idea buying a table/arm together on the used market ($1500 to 2000 range). Then spend the rest on the cartridge. Buying used cartridges is a very dicey proposition, and in my book probably best not to do unless the seller has an impeccable reputation or is willing to sell via escrow.
From a sound perspective, I believe that the components should go in this order (from most important to least) in the analogue chain of events, IMO. Given the percentage breakdown, the turntable (*) is generally the most expensive component in your average setup so take away the turntable and concentrate on the remaining three.
40% $800 - Tonearm
35% $700 - Phono stage
25% $500 - Cartridge
(*) $1000 - Turntable
Opinions, comments anyone??
Steveaudio; I haven't thought about anything yet. That's actually what I'm just starting to do. Another way to ask my question is, which link in the chain has the least and most impact. Whatever the most important was I would direct the majority of the funds towards, the least, well...
And, I'm surprised to hear that the phono stage has relatively small impact on sound. I'm glad I asked.
So, it sounds like I'm saying, make sure I have a good table and arm up front. Then upgrade the cartridge and phonostage as funds become available. Right? Thanx
Jaybo suggests a used "package deal". I'd say the same is true of new "packages". Many 'tables are pre-packed with OEM Rega RB arms, while Clearaudio and VPI "pre-pack" their 'tables with their own arms. For your purposes, these packages run from $1K (Clearaudio Emotion) to app. $2.1K (Acoustic Signature Challenger) with many in between. Add a cartidge and phono section and you're out $3K.
You may also want to consider cartridge inclusive packages from Acoustic Solid (see musicalsounds.com for pricing) or Blue Note ($2.4K at needledoctor.com).
Essentially, this will leave a third to one half your budget for a cartridge and phono stage which seems to me to be a reasonable ballpark.
FWIW, on a recent hunt for similarly priced analogue (I wanted to spend less, but I didn't need the phono stage) I unded up with a discontinued Transrotor Sirius at $1.5K inclusive of a modified RB 250. A Clearaudio Wood rounded the package up to $2K.
Good luck on your search.
And cleaning solution, protractor for cart alignment, etc, etc. It all adds up. That's even before you buy replacement outer jackets and inner sleeves. Oh, I forgot the record cleaning brushes and some sort of brush (likely carbon fibre) to dust the vinyl between plays.
As for the original question, it's my opinion (and everyone has one) that the phono stage and the turntable have some pretty hard jobs to do (more so than the cartidge itself).
The sound really starts with the table. Only about half of the music resides on the vinyl. The other have is the time element of the spinning record. The turntable's job is to spin the vinyl flat and true (speed) - a far harder job than it seems. One needs a good bearing and motor (among other things) to achieve this. There are also resonnance issues within the table to consider. This is all before the music is even picked up by the cartidge/arm combo.
Now on first glance the phono stage would appear to have the easier job, but it does not. Apparently these things are harder to build that linestages (which have volume knobs, and selector switches, etc). It probably has to do with handling the delicate (very) low-level signals from the cart and amplifying them an insane amount of times (100-1000x) while trying to apply RIAA equilization (or is that equilization in reverese?) to the signal.
Maybe budget things like this
$500-1000 for accessories,
..then with the remainder
But I do agree with the others that the analog system needs to be taken as a "whole." Some pieces perform very well from the cost. So actual pieces of gear need to be considered.
I agree with previous poster on Dynavector P75 being all you'll need, and a safe buy used.
After that it's down to listening preferences and matching. I would suggest you buy a used arm and turntable but a new cartridge.
So if we've spent $400 on a used P75 phono stage, find a used Michell Tecnodec with RB250 arm for around $1000 you could then almost afford a Dynavector XX2 ($1750) which is a very fine cartridge. Alternatively the 17D3 for $895 would leave you with cash in the bank. Dynavectors work particularly well with the P75.
Doug is right about a record cleaning maching in absolute terms, but I managed without for years and now use a diy machine that I built for less than $50 following Chris Brady's advice at http://www.teresaudio.com/haven/index.html
Part of the problem is--all of these components--TT, cartridge, phono stage, are very important. Saying that the phono stage isn't important, is like saying that your pre-amp isn't important.
Here's what I have, FWIW, that you could probably buy for 50-60% of your $3K budget: Rega P25 w/Benz Glider that I bought used. C-J EF-1 phono stage that I bought used (I suspect that the EF-1 is the best component of the 3). Again, you could probably buy all 3 now for.......$1500 maybe?
Also, IMO, there's absolutely nothing wrong with owning one component that is "better" than the others. FI, the phono stage--I could see shopping for a used C-J or ARC phono stage & spending $500-$1000 depending on the model. I spent a year (!) of research & shopping to get a great deal on my phono stage.
And don't forget a record cleaner, like a VPI, for maybe $350-$425 used.
Bottom line: There's no one right way to do this. Also, buy everything used, whether you buy a used Rega P3 with a Grado cartridge, or a slightly used P5 w/cartridge. (I'm a Rega fan).
My opinionated 2 cents, good luck!
*And, I'm surprised to hear that the phono stage has relatively small impact on sound.*
Flyingred is right, you don't "have" to spend big money for record cleaning. You can clean by hand with a GroovMaster (sic) and a modded shop vac or DIY a machine like Chris's for well under $100. You do have to clean however, and hand cleaning is very slow.
I agree with Steveaudio that having one component that's "better" than the rest usually isn't a problem, with one exception. A high level cartridge on a less adequate arm or (especially) table is an invitation to disappointment. Steve's idea to buy a used c-j or ARC phono or preamp w/ phono is excellent. You'll get great performance for the money and a time-tested design. You'll be limited to MM's and HOMC's, but on this budget that's what you should be looking at anyway.
On and on and on we go!.......
And, I'm surprised to hear that the phono stage has relatively small impact on sound. I'm glad I asked.Says who? Ask people who know, or find out for yourself!
Dejan Veselinovic, an European audio journalist/circuit designer will bluntly tell you that the phono stage is the most important. Why? Give it some thought...he's not denying anywhere that 50% of the info is on the time domain component provided by the turntable's motion. It's because the phono stage is amplifying/equalizing extremely delicate signals which are highly succeptible to noise pollution and phase smear (good to read Magnan's website for more info). Circuit topology has a lot to do with this. I chose the Monolithic PS-1 because its circuit topology is essentially that of a Klyne, with the exception that it uses op-amps in the output stage. It pays to do good research...