A Thought Exercise: Consolidating Analog To One Table and Two Cartridges

So this is a thought exercise only at this time. The idea has been bouncing around in the back of my head for a couple of weeks, and have discussed it with a friend but really can't come to a defninitve choice. 

By nature, my stereo system is a product of consolidation. I buy and try, sometimes get a few pieces here, eventually sell and buy the next level up until I am satisfied. In regards to my current system this has led me to a pair of Classe Omega amplifiers and a Trinnov Audio Amethyst pre-amplifier. These are long term keepers for me.

Speakers may get an upgrade in the future or not. Pair of JBL 4365 with a pair of Velodyne HGS12 subwoofers just augmenting the bottom end a little. Room is a typical living room of 16'x20'x8' that the onboard DSP of the Trinnov and some room treatments helps smooth out. 


The first plan is to keep two cartridges, Ortofon Verismo and Transfiguration Audio Proteus. That way I have one to listen to when the other is out for service. Keep a Schroder CB 1L tone arm. Keep a BMC MCI Signature ULN phono stage. Theoretically everything else goes to make a pile of money. 

What goes? Ideally both tables. the SOTA cannot be used with this arm. But as an alternate plan I could keep the SOTA Cosmos Eclipse and put a higher quality arm on it and have it be the only table. 


Scenerio #1 What Goes

SOTA Cosmos Eclipse

Scheu Audio Las Laufwerk No 2 

SME V (older generation)

Dynavector DV 505

Esoteric E-03 phono stage

Ortofon MC 2000 all OEM 

Ortofon MC2000 with boron cantilever

Ortofon MC5000

Ortofon MC3000 II

Ortofon T2000

Ortofon T5000


In theory i could raise between $16 and $18K. Much depends on selling prices of the tables. 


What could I buy? This catches the eye, although how I would get it here would be a logistics problem. 


TW Acustic Raven Black Night (REDUCED) For Sale | Audiogon


I do believe I can get the Schroder arm on it. 


Option #2 

Would be keeping the SOTA Cosmos Eclipse and obtaining a better tonearm for it. Keeping the Verismo and the Proteus as planned. If the other equipment was sold then it could go to a speaker fund. Perhaps sell the JBL and make a speaker upgrade. 


The real question becomes this I guess. The next tier of turntable, does it really have meaningful improvements to offer? I think I can climb one last tier of the ladder and then I max out. But is it worth it to go through the effort? When I listen to the gear I have, the Verismo and the BMC phono stage really do lead the pack. I loved the MC2000 before this combo came around and I optimized it. I find different "sound" interesting to hear, but for me I am content to listen to my best and have limited interest in my lower tier gear. So I could just envision myself listening to these two cartridges. I don't rotate gear, or speakers, and don't have multiple systems. 


Any thoughts? Like I said at the moment this is a thought exercise, not sure if I would want to go down this path or not. I do enjoy the MC2000s and they are difficult to obtain, so that gives me pause. But if an improvement is within reach, that is always my goal. 


@neonknight Please note: I was not at the Demo' of the Schue.

The point I am trying to get across, is that the owners of the Scheu and Soulines are dedicated to Belt Drive TT's and have owned much more expensive Models from Brands that are seen as got to choices. The thoughts shared on the lesser value priced TT's is that they have proved very satisfying and are not offering anything noticeably lesser that the more expensive options.

It is the idea that either owners along with other attendees, whilst present at the demo', taking place between the Belt Drive TT's, on a very well known system, were unable to decide a outright preferred TT, inclusive of the Heavily Modified LP12.

As said earlier, I t might prove difficult to find noticeably better than a already owned TT, if limiting the idea of a exchange taking place without having a Prior Experience of the device before a purchase is made.  


@pindac Well essentially that points to standing where I am as both tables in my possession are quite respectable.  In a way that is how I got to this point. When buying the SOTA Cosmos I bought an earlier generation Star Sapphire to determine if I liked the philosophy of a SOTA table. I did, and the purchased Cosmos was significantly better in all aspects, but the overarching philosophy of a SOTA design remains.

In terms of buying the Sceu Audio Das Laufwerk No2, I have owned a Teres and Galibier table in the past. They are both high mass unsuspended designs that were based on one of the earlier Scheu tables. Once again basic philosophy holds true with the design. 

I have gotten to the point of where I am based on previous experiences, but this is where the trail ends. To move past this I have no road map, it is uncharted terrirtory.  

Well essentially that points to standing where I am as both tables in my possession are quite respectable. In a way that is how I got to this point. When buying the SOTA Cosmos I bought an earlier generation Star Sapphire to determine if I liked the philosophy of a SOTA table. I did, and the purchased Cosmos was significantly better in all aspects, but the overarching philosophy of a SOTA design remains.

This is truly the agony of being an analog enthusiast. In addition to a SOTA Nova V vacuum (just before the VI and Eclipse advancements), my main table is a Clearaudio Master Innovation. Very different table philosophies! I love the ability to easily (once arm boards are acquired) setup & swap out multiple arms, though I do find 3 unwieldy - 2 is the right # for me. No suspension to fidget with and re-balance. I’ve swapped many cartridges out on both tables but I keep a FR64fx (I have 2) on the SOTA because it’s just far easier that way. I’ve played with a few arms and phono stages, at least.

True to its name, the Clearaudio table (and this holds for its smaller sibling Innovation Wood and Compact) sounds clearer and cleaner - with more clarity, transparency, and a notably lower noise floor. The SOTA has more warmth and body in the midrange through bass (really great bass impact) with amazing PRaT. More of a "fun" and romantic sound versus the Clearaudio’s pristine sound. Honestly I’d swap these tables out in the main rig more often, if it wasn’t such a pain to tear down and move the huge Master.

The magnitude of these tables’ sonic differences? I’d say it’s maaaybe close to that of swapping arms / carts / phono stages, but a tad more subtle. I use a ring clamp on the Clearaudios because I’m a big believer in whole-record clamping. The Stillpoints LPI is my favorite center weight. The SOTA vacuum or ring clamp - both work well. I suppose the vacuum is easier, but might contribute to the higher noise floor (or is that the difference in bearing which might not apply to newer SOTA)?

What I run into periodically, is that the Clearaudio decks either need serious isolation, or you need to be on concrete slab. You can run them in a bad spot and they may sound fine at first, but problems will emerge especially if you listen loud (like I do). Stillpoints etc won’t do it - you need low frequency isolation / filtering. If that 8 - 12 Hz cartridge + tonearm resonance gets excited and is not damped enough, it's game over (amps don't like reproducing this at high levels). Coming from the SOTA (my first table) - this was kind of a shock (and still is). The SOTA will excel ANYWHERE. Stuff like the Symposium ISO Segue has springs too, but isn’t in the same ballpark of effectiveness as SOTA’s springs. Their 4-point suspension is amazingly effective. I get away with the Clearaudio in my main rig because of a 20K Maxxum rack, and the fact that my suspended wood floor there is much more rigid than that of modern residences (old world industrial construction). On a normal suspended wood floor, and/or with a cheap rack - lots of problems.

@mulveling Had a chat with Donna this morning. Arm length that is possible is typically 9 to 9.5 inches. They say they have done one 10" arm, a Jelco of some sort. Also states that the arm needs to be no more than two pounds and a couple of ounces. When they drill for the Origin Live Illustrious they have to do a custom arm board to lose enough weight to accommodate that arm. 

A Kuzma 4Point can be put on it, but the dust cover has to be cut to accommodate the arm. Apparently a Reed has issues as they have yet to cut a board for one. Perhaps its the weight issue as that pivot assembly is quite chunky. 

Not as easy a solution as one would think. 

Well, you have enjoyed a lot of gear….. and a brave soul for reaching out….

I sold a LOT of SOTA tables into old houses in the midwest, as @mulveling astutely says the suspension is well executed, especially for the $. Eclipse addressed the long standing speed / pitch stability issues.

Having said all that a solid unsuspended table plus a Minus K or similar can certainly take you far…. Had you run the Denon or Brinkmann on significant isolation …perhaps .? or maybe you did ?.

Disclosure : I have 2 x 75’s and a Bardo on HRS isolation.  I have also owned SOTA, other than your issue no complaints….

I get the headshell…I also have a 505.

Pushed into a corner i would say keep your favored 2 carts, get best Kuzma TT you can swing, get a Minus K and call it good. At the level you are at IMO we are trading flavors…. 

BTW  i heard a verissmo on a Safir on a Dohmann w integral minus K…. it was able to keep up w the Kuzma….

Best to you on your musical journey….