Advice on Equipment Upgrade

I need some help on what is making my system sound a little dull in the midbass snares toms ect. My system is in a 10.5 x 12 ft room open on the long end. I have Dynaudio Contour 3.0's with a REL B2 sub connected to a McIntosh MC352 solid state amp using a Prima Luna ProLogue Three Tube Preamp. My Source is now a Upgraded REGA P3/24 with a Nagaoka MP200 Cartridge MM. I'm using a Tiny Riaa Phono Input that was incuded on the Prima Luna. My Cables are Nordost SPM skr wire and a upgraded cable for the REL by Signal Cable. And 1 unbalanced 1 meter cable from Morrow audio (MA-3). SO my question is Where are the Drums ??? Do I need a Dynavetor cartridge? Is the Primaluna phono the culpret? Should I invest in a quality Phono Preamp and get a low output MC cartridge? I just want my kick back in my system Its too Warm. Note: I was listing to Digital but I really like the Vinyl sound better for the Jazz and Classic rock.I know these speakers and they can sound much better and its not my amp.Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Hello Matt, I'm going to assume the digital was not to warm for you, so the problem is in your phono chain. The first thing I would do is get some way to adjust VTA and see if this solves your problem. The Rega uses shims for adjusting, but an after market product like the Pete Riggles vta adjuster would be better, IMO.

Others can help you more on your Prima Luna phono stage and Nagaoka as I have not heard them, but would get the VTA correct before changing anything.

Also get help if you need it, from a dealer or another audiophile. There is a lot you can get wrong on your own.
I had the primaluna phono stage on my PL2. It was okay but bettered easily by a number of other stages.

i tried these in order

parasound zphono
project tube box SE
Bottlehead seduction
Wright WPP 200C
Hagerman Cornet II

the last three were very good but the Cornet had it all.
Invest in a good phono stage and you will see a big difference
Something that concerns me is the impedance match of preamp and power amp, 2.8k to 20k. I've always read that the power amp should be at least 10 times greater than the preamp. I did have a combination in the past that was less than 10 times, and I always thought it sounded dull. Maybe someone else will respond on this.
Midbass, snares and toms covers quite a range. Usually the problem is reversed between digital and analogue since vinyl has better top end compared to CDs mostly due to the RIAA in my opinion. First of all your system does not match your room. You have a 10x12 room with a 3 way floor standing speaker AND a subwoofer? Come on! You would get better sound with a mini-monitor and no amount of room treatment will cure the problem. You can blame it on cables, phono stages, cartridges or whatever, but the truth is your room is too small. Anyone who encourages you with this system in this room is not doing you a favor.
I missed the room size for sure, and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Rrog is correct.
It might be something simple make sure all connections are correct you might have one out of phase. Good Luck.
Yeah, you have a small room, but I think your phono preamp is a weak link...Upgrade. As far as the small size of the room, why not turn off the subwoofer for a while and see how things sound. I think the sub should be out of the system while you're tuning your room.
Your room is, "open on the long wall end." You're not questioning boomy bass so IMO, with proper speaker setup and subwoofer adjustment you should be fine. Typically high level subwoofer connection can have a very slight supportive affect on mid bass but I don't think that is what you're hearing.

I would begin by inspecting your stylist with a magnifying glass for dirt or damage. Then completely recheck your cartridge and tonearm adjustments. Raise or lower the arms vertical tracking for best sound.

A Denon 103 or some other cartridge might be a better match for that arm.
I think Acman3 asked a key question. Does your digital source sound ok in the midbass and it's just analog that sounds weak there? Out of curiosity, how do you find the digital sound overall in your system (i.e. strengths/weaknesses) and what is your digital source (I don't see any mention of one)?
i MOVE A LOT AND i ALWAYS SEEM TO GET STUCK IN CRAPPY ROOMS..i HAVE TO LIVE WITH IT. I dont like my system on the 2nd floor its awful ...the first floor is the way to go. Yes the room is small. I have tried smaller speakers in hear like Epos Es22. The Sound is much better with the Dynaudios. If you know about the Rel it just gives me what the dyns dont deliver in the low end.And does a great job at this.If I take it out of the system I lose a lot of low end information. I dampin this room with screens in the rear and side walls and rear wall.I like to listen at a loud level. Rock and Jazz. I have no digital source right now. I was using a Mcintosh CD player hooked Directly to the Amplifier with a Nordost XLR cable. It sounded really Fast and a lot of balls all across the range but like most digital it is way too dynamic and I'm hooked on vinyl agian so thats what im trying to improve it. I think I'm going to play with the VTA and invest in a good Phono Preamp and see what that does. I wanna thank all of you for the great advice. Every one of you had great input. Thanks.
I don't disagree with any of the other comments, however I still think the pre/power impedance match is less than what is considered to be an acceptable minimum. Take a look at this thread, especially the first response by Almarg.
Mattmiller, The Epos es22 is another floor standing speaker costing 50% less. The Dynaudios should sound better. I'm not getting your point. One more thing that should be considered with large speakers in a small room is the cabinet is a large reflective surface that can contribute to additional problems with the sound.
Mattmiller, Did you hear the digital system in the current room?

We are always trying to keep our tonearm resonance between 8 and 12 Hz, is it possible your room is getting to this area, or the tonearm/cartridge resonance is out of this area? You can check it on the vinylengine database.

I normally would not mention the next suggestion, but you may need to check into a room correction devise. If my room changed a lot and I was going to try to use the same equipment in each situation, I would at least consider it.

Good Luck!
Assuming you run unbalanced ICs from pre-amp (which does not appear to support balanced connection) to the Mc, the low 20K input impedance of the Mc amp relative to the tube pre-amp output impedance could be an issue leading to softer less dynamic sound overall including mid bass in particular and more distortion. I would want 50-60kohm input impedance on the amp minimum with most tube pre-amps to help assure best results. I'd be willing to bet addressing this would make a noticeable difference.

Getting the sub to blend in well without any negative effects in a small room like that would also be a challenge generally I would think. I would get the sound right without the sub first then see what can be done to add the sub in a manner that is purely positive.

WHat kind of music do you find the sub helps with? THat is a very small room that might make adding a sub in effectively with no ill effects on the mid bass a particularly hard challenge I am thinking. That might help account for the dullness in that range as you describe.
Hey I see a lot is made of the room size. To clarify, the room is off a tiled entry way so the space is really larger. The room is small but opens up right away to a total size of 14'wide x 16' deep. Still not a great scenario I know.Also, The matter of the preamp out (2800) into the Mac Amp (unbal-20,000) is a concern.(more on that in a few days)I have a 4.0mv MM cart. I listen to Classic Rock and 50's 60's jazz. Music that is Simple sounds Awesome!Bass is deep and tight in the lower octaves(below 30hz).Very articulate and smooth ,velvet vocals,Sax,with very real sounding cymbals bells ect..BUT when I put on something with Balls like Billy Cobham -Spectrum Atlantic SD7268, it dosen't have that EDGE or driving Attack of the percussion that i have heard from this record. Do I really have to talk about Digital? Ok....I had this very system hooked up with a Mc201 and a Nordost Valkyrja Bal IC Directly to the MC352. WOW! is all I can say. The sound is Celing to the floor in dynamic range and Quick like lightning, Sure the 201 isnt the best sounding CD player.Compromise,compromise,but having control of the volume without a preamp added some real grunt into the system I had not heard while using a preamp,On Talking Heads Speaking in Tongues-Burning down the house sounds like my speakers are playing Instruments! Instead of boxes playing beautiful music.A lot of Impact and dynamics, very synergistic.Thanks to my brother I'm going to bring in a expensive McIntosh Tube Preamp with Tube Phono stage and do some listening over the weekend, I'll post again soon.

Everyone should be able to click on the SYSTEM button next to my name in this thread to see Pictures!! let me know if you can't.
Definitely worth your time to try the Mac preamp. Hopefully you're talking about a newer one, as it would be a perfect match for the 352. Also, here's some additional info I found. Prima Luna power amps have an input impedance of 100k, which results in a ratio of 35.7 with their preamps. Your MCD 201 directly to the 352 results in a ratio of 33.3. The Prima Luna preamp to the 352 ratio is 7.1.

The combination I had in the past was a tube preamp at 5k output hooked to a solid state amp with a 25k input, just no dynamics and dull, and this amp sounded great with a different preamp, very dynamic. Then I changed to an amp with a 100k input for the tube preamp, and even with less power, but sounded so much better, finally came alive.
Wow that puts it into wonder i'm scratching my head ..I was worried that the preamp was not a good match.So any Ideas? I could sell the Primaluna but for what replacement? I dont want to spend $3000-4500 on a McIntosh. Any Ideas for Under 2,000? I want tubes and dont care about remote.I just want it to mate with the Mac amp better.
FWIW I run an ARC sp-16 pre-amp with Bel Canto ref1000m monoblocks (1000kohm input impedance, unbalanced).

I was listening to this running my small Dynaudio Contour 1.3mkII monitors for hours last night (did not get much sleep). The sound is a magical combo of low fatigue, high detail, and excellent dynamics in the 12X12 office where they are located. I would strongly consider giving a good Class D Icepower amp designed to mate well with a tube pre-amp like any of the current BCs, or Wyred4Sound (65kohm input impedance ~ as I recall), an audition with any Dynaudio speakers.

These beefed up Icepower amps used with tube pre-amp are hard to beat IMHO. My system is very responsive to changes in ICs as well as a means of tweaking the sound. I like DNM Reson ICs for best overall performance including marvelous vocal detail that enables every word sung to be heard, but I also use less expensive MIT terminator ICs as an option for a less forward sound with more emphasis on the bass. Others would deliver other sonic variations effectively as well I am certain.

Stock Icepower amps are only 10Kohm, not a great match. BC, Wyred and perhaps others that target the high end home audio market add proprietary input stages to enable better performance with most tube pre-amps.
Rogue and Conrad Johnson preamps have low output impedance that might match well with your 20kOhm amp input. (Rogue has 450 Ohm output). You should also check on the specs of a BAT preamp.
I think I'm finally getting it -- I'm a drummer so it takes me a while. Sounds like you're getting the fullness and tone from elements like drum shells, but you're missing some of the transient snap and attack of the stick hitting the drum heads and perhaps a bit of crack from the snare, no? If that's the case I think before looking into swapping out equipment and because you seem happy with other aspects of the sound you're getting I might try a new interconnect (I'd think your speaker cables are probably fine). I'm not familiar with the Morrow ICs so this might be off base, but maybe trying a Nordost IC or a silver IC from another brand (others might have recommendations for that) might provide enough of that detail, snap, and drive you're seeking without resorting to flipping components. Just something else to think about, and best of luck.
Different ICs might help or make a difference.

I'd recommend DNM Reson ICs for this application. THey are extremely clean and coherent with fantastic transient dynamics in my rig. If they do not help in the areas of concern, then probably no IC alone will.
Why start experimenting with ICs when the pre and amp impedance are obviously not a match? Tls49 and others have directed you to the most likely problem.
OK, Thanks to EVERYONE who posted. I am a complete numbskull. I started spinning vinyl a year ago and it has been a real learning experience trying to find used original albums. Trying to rebuild my record collection I purchased what I thought was a good copy of a favorite record..Billy Cobham Spectrum ,Atlantic records 1973 Original issue. IT WASN'T. I was fortunate to attend the Austin Record Convention last weekend.I found an original 1973 copy of this record. When I played this all the great things I remember about this album were alive and well :-) This also occurred with a favorite Spyro Gyro album Morning Dance. Everything is beautiful and full,bells,congos, just AMAZING. Also, I have used a lot of cables in my system and the Morrow Audio IC is Amazing. Try it, I think you will agree. The AB with the Prima Luna and the MC2200......Sure the MC2200 is sweet, open ,airy,detailed.But,for $3,000 less the Prima Luna is very sweet indeed.Rich,velvet,luxurious,big,wide,tight. I am loving my sound ATM. And I'm Carefully buying vinyl from now on :-)