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With the cavaet that I have not heard your table, I'd give some thought to the following:
1) upgrade your ZYX to a 4D. Mehran at Sorasound may have a trade-up option that you can take advantage of.
2) take a look at a Townshend Rock 7 if you go the the turntable route. I moved from an Amadeus to the Rock 7 with a Rega 301, and even with that modest arm, it was an upgrade.
3) audition, audition, audition. In your home, this may only be possible with a phono stage.
And lastly, knowing what you listen to, or what characteristics of music are important to you will help. For example, one reason I went with the Rock was bass. Very important for me that it is well-reproduced. But others may not have that as a major priority.
I'd ask Keith Herron if I could try out as VTPH-2. That would leave plenty left to get a good isolation transformer.
Note that all the signal carrying equipment must be on the same single isolation transformer. Keep that in mind as you look because you will need to find a transformer with the capacity for all your equipment (except the turntable motor).
Thanks for the responses. I have a dedicated circuit with 6 GA wire and an upgraded outlet. I also have a BPT transformer but have found that with my current and previous amplifiers that the sound is better coming straight from the wall. I do put my K&K phono through the BPT however.
Rosco, the Rock 7 is an interesting option, I have been reading up on it, one review seemed to say it was close to WT Amadeus but you seem to think it was a big step ahead. I have heard that the ZYX Universe and 4D do really take it to another level, something I have been considering. My room is pretty big and it would be good to have a bit more good solid bass.
If you are referring to reviews of the Rock 7 with the Rega 301 arm, note that this is a quite modest arm. The Rock certainly benefits from a better arm which distances it further from the Amadeus. And arm switching gives you a further upgrade path with this table. For better, for worse. I heard satisfying and worthwhile improvements with an Audiomods and the Moerch DP-6 and now DP-8.
Yes! Listen to one of the WT tables. I think you'll be surprised at how different and pleasing the presentation is compared to your Clearaudio. I went from an Amazon turntable to just a Simplex and was WAY happier. Music sounds like people playing instruments. It's all very tactile. Never get that from the Champions that I've heard. Accurate and dynamic but not music you can reach out and touch.
I did end up getting a well tempered amadeus II, a EMT TSD15 which is being run through an Auditorium SUT (DL103 version) into MM phono on Shindo Auriges Pre-Amp. It is definitely a different presentation, much quieter background, more dynamic than the clearaudio. The ZYX Airy 3 (which I also ran on this table) seems to have better detail but the EMT is better in mids and bass and more enjoyable overall. I would love to try the higher ZYX carts but I think that this price point is as high as I go on the cartridge side.
I hadn't kept up with the new WT Royale, looks very intriguing. The likely upgrades that I will consider is going up in the shindo chain, massetto, and likely get the new Auditorium SUT built specifically for the EMT TSD15.
You might want to consider cleaning your records with an ultrasonic record cleaner. I built my own, for less than $5k, around an 80KHz German commercial unit (Elmasonic). Cleaning records at 50C and multiple rinses get me as much more music as a major component upgrade. And it's not exactly bad for the stylus, either (pay for itself? perhaps). Look up the ultrasonic thread on DIYAUDIO.
Now that you have the Well Tempered table, do yourself a BIG favor and upgrade the belt with a custom belt from:
It transforms the WT tables. I've had my original WT table since they first came out. I've added lots of mods to it over the years, but the best one was that originlive belt.