Advice Would be Appreciated

Im fairly new to Hifi and have just managed my first decent set up.
I am based in Australia. I dont have any friends into audio and would very much appreciate any comments from you all here. I enjoy the sound but often wonder what may be a "weak link" or mismatch preventing the system from improved performance, perhaps i have been lucky and synergy is ok.
Kind Regards Rob

Linn LP12 upgraded but with MM cart (modified AT95e)
Audio Reserch PH1
Audio Research LS26
Bryston 14BSST2
Wilson Audio Sasha 1
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That AT95e would be the only weak link that I can see!
You don't have a "weak link"

But, it is time for room treatments.  Don't overdo it...
Nice system, sounds like you are happy.  I would ask about your room, size, treatments?  A good space can maximize your systems performance.  Address that before spending $$ on different components.   

Nice system. I would be curious how my wilsons would sound with the Bryson power behind them... I looked into your amp choice at one point myself!   Your cartridge is a very obvious weak link.  The two most important components are the source and the speaker.  Your speakers retail for a price about 500 times more than the cartridge.  I would recommend lowering that disparity in value.  I'm not suggesting that price be the motovator here, just that you choose a cartridge that will not hold back such a fine system. I use a Lyra Delos which I really like.  It is a very fine example of a MC cartridge that is a hair below $2k (USD). Koetsu Rosewood is also worth a look...
I would agree with poster above... try a MC cartridge... a lower end well-reputed MC unit, maybe bought used to reduce the cost of experimentation ... your system is nice/resolving but I think the sound may be on the brighter/harder side of neutral ... try a cartridge with more body/fluidity... Audio Technica’s are also known to be bright
Nice! Room acoustics will be big!

You can experiment cheaply with drapes, curtains, and pillows. :)


Hi All
I very much appreciate the replies, very encouraging.

I have done some room treatment, which helped a lot, I will experiment further here.

I will investigate MC carts (including Lyra Delos and Koetsu Rosewood).

This will lead me to a search for a phono stage with MC output (PH1 is MM only, may handle High O/P MC).

Any starting points on MC phono stage that will sit with the rest of the components?

Thanks again
Regards Rob
If you don’t have much experience with analogue setups and want to save on the cost of a new phonostage, you can move up the chain of Moving Magnet carts.
Grado and Denon make a very nice MM that you could try for a few hundred dollars instead of a thousand or more.
These carts produce warm, full-bodied sonics.

The tonearm on the LP12 may be an Aikito, Ekos, or Ittok which I believe are all low mass arms (meaning lightweight). The mass of the arm helps determine what cartridge can be mounted.
Low mass arms work best with hi compliance cartridges.
I agree with the above posts. You have an entry level cartridge ($70) on a nice system. You should look at the higher end mm cartridges so you can use the phonostage you have. A Grado wood body (5 mv output) will fit the bill with the Linn arm!
Thanks again ! I will be sure to research these options.

Phono Preamp: Consider a Mcintosh C22 reissue. Nice warm tube sound and tone controls for tweeking-to-taste. Will accommodate MC/MM. I have one on order for this purpose. Note: I’m not saying the Mac should replace your ARC LS26. I’ll be using mine ONLY for phono duty. P.S. Nice system!
Good suggestions, sounds like you have addressed your room.  There are many options with a cartridge upgrade, in addition to the ones mentioned above I have had great luck with both Ortofon and Transfiguration MC's.  Ortofon bronze is used at a lot of shows by numerous exhibitors that I have visited.  Always sounded great.

Its the phono preamp  try different ones to hear what the differences are.

Happy Listening.
I would move up to an Ortofon Bronze or Black MM Cartridge.  You can also go with a high output Moving Coil Cartridge which will work with your MM preamp.
I am researching all the options mentioned.
Thanks again to everyone, it is helpful and pleasant to see the responses.
I am based in Australia. I dont have any friends.

The funny thing is, that's how I read it the first time.
Its true ! haha
Actually my friends enjoy listening to the system, often bring along a record and hear it in a way they haven't before, good fun
*S* Well, rob67, you've just met and have some new friends now. ;)

Enjoy your music, don't get too caught up in the esoteria...

another option would be to buy a Step Up transformer. the Silk SUT's from Thailand are very good price to performance SUT

I suggest one that switches from 1:10 and 1:20 to give you some flexibility for gain and loading. the Silk SUTS are very good value. of course there is others out there but I think you'd have to spend much more to get better and Thailand is close to you.  

As some say the MM carts you can move up to better, but to be honest if your going to stay in Vinyl you should go to a MC specially with your system. I know there will be some arguments but in my experience dollar for dollar the MC cart will out perform the MM cart. keep your Phono stage get a SUT and descent MC cart and enjoy.

better home page link

Where is mention of quality cables,or power cords?  I owned a Hifi store in the
U.K  and cables by a Large margin were the most overlooked, and still can have 
a Profound impact on the sound. Line conditioning, or even better a power
Regenerator.  No Digital   digital currently in some ways is as good and better then 
Analog much quieter noise floor, dynamic range,Bass ,.Records only  12bits capable only. Digital run wav or flac files  run your whole library from a tablet like my Aurender player . and Many Very good dacs in the $6 k and under  range.

I agree, nice system.
I would try to answer your question by coming from a different direction.
Do you have dedicated AC power?
Are you using some type of an audiophile outlet rather than an inexpensive outlet that homes are built with?
I would buy an Audio Research CD player and put in the mix just for grins. Might be surprised as to how good it would sound through your system.
Regards Cables:
I have XLO Electrics Signature cables (came with the wilsons).
I also have some Clear Day double shotgun cables which are silver, I read about them on this site. (I have yet to A/B the speaker cables). I have Clear Day Silver XLR interconnect from Pre to Amp (balanced).

I dont have dedicated AC supply.
I assume if you run one from the power box it will "common" up with the others? Power cables are low cost standard IEC leads. Linn has Hercules power supply but still a standard IEC i believe.

I have a Rega Apollo CD player, but ive never compared it to other players. I havent really given my CDs a good listen to on this system, must do that ! I think i have some of the same albums on Vinyl and CD, that would be interesting to A/B.

Another aspect is the linn currently has a heavily modified RB202.
Perhaps another arm could help, seems nice though.

I have an EAR834P too, I havent A/B that with the PH1 yet either.

Ortofon Black MM sounds interesting but so does the jump into MC.

Thank you to asvjerry for your kind words !

I also wondered if something like Pass Labs 250.5 would be MUCH better than the 14BSST2.

I am curious what amp you have with your wilsons?
Or ARC Ref 75 even
Wow, this is a great thread, thought we are bouncing around quite a bit. I would focus any and all budget into the source at this point and leave power and cables for later.  Source and speakers first! Your speakers are absolutely killer and your cartridge is entry level at best.

I tried a few different Phono preamps with my system. I started with a PS audio GCPH, switched to a ARC PH3SE, and finally a Whest PS .30r which I use now.  One of the reasons was synergy with my ARC preamp, the LS 25. I wanted to be able to use the balanced input on the ARC pre to be able to access a slightly higher gain that is possible with balanced cables and not single ended with my preamp. That and the fact that the Whest gives me lots of options for gain and loading, and just sounds excellent led me to stop searching on that front.  

I dont know know a ton about different cartridges, but when I switched from a super basic Ortofon MM cart to the Dynavector 10x5 MC, I was very happy. I kept that cartridge when I upgraded my table, and then eventually upgraded the cartridge to my current one, the Lyra Delos.  A friend has the Koetsu Rosewood Signature. Awesome.  There are plenty of great cartridges to choose from of course...

by the way, one reason I left the ARC PH3SE for the Whest was because my speakers at the time were very low sensitivity, and I had to squeeze out every bit of gain I could before the power amp tried to drive the super low sensitivity speakers I had at the time.  That ARC phono pre sounded great, and the price is really affordable. They go for about $1k or so.  Since you have a lot of power in your amps and good sensitivity in your speakers, the ARC PH3 SE or similar is worth a try with a MC cart.

 I saw that you were talking about pass labs versus Bryston. I have a funny story about something similar!   My current amplifier is the audio research VT 100 Mark II and the preamp is the arc LS25 mk I.  I had a period of frustration with tube problems and other related issues with my amp and preamp. At one point I had the VT100 Mark II completely overhauled by audio research.  That was far from cheap! Cost more than I paid for the amp.  One day, I had the distortion sound like a noisy tube, not long after I had the overhaul!  I was at wit's end. I was about to throw in the towel with tubes altogether.  I calculated that my arc amp and preamp were worth roughly $5k on the used market, and I then bought the best Amp and preamp that I could get my hands on by Pass Labs for that budget.  I don't recall the exact models, but I got an amp and preamp for about $2500-$3000 each and I got good deals and awesome pass gear.

next came the testing.  My wife and i sat and listened to 3 or 4 known tracks on the pass gear. I then switched to the ARC gear to play the same selections. During the first half of the first track, Barbara turned to me and said, "you're crazy if you sell your tube gear for the non-tube. There's no comparison."

she was right of course, and I still have the ARC amp and preamp.  Her ears are excellent by the way, better than mine I think. She grew up with an audiophile mom (Wilson and Krell in their living room).  The tube issues I was having are over. Little annoyances, and problems solved. Haven't had a bad tube sound or bad cap in a couple of years.

i think the arc ref 75 is a good choice. So is the ref 150.  But really, tube vs solid state aside, you have a very good amplifier, so the thing to look at first is the source.  Garbage in, garbage out...

good luck!
- Mark
Regarding the Ortofon Black...
"Because its Shibata stylus is sensitive to rake angle, the 2M Black should be used only with tonearms that permit adjustments of VTA and SRA."

The Rega RB202 does not have VTA adjustment, unless you added it with a mod. 
IMO, the Black may not be the best fit for your system since it has extended highs and so do your Wilsons. It would be better to go with a warmer sonic signature.

I have an ARC PH-2, which is pretty much a balanced version of the PH-1.  These early ARC SS units can be brought up to current standards with a few simple modifications.  Replace the REL output coupling caps with better capacitors and the input and load resistors with Texas Components TX2575.  Then you'll have a fine MM phono stage. However, without a SUT, the PH-1 and PH-2 are marginally noisy with any MC cartridge with less than .5mV output.  For this piece I would rest easy with a good vintage or modern MM/MI  cartridge rather than pursue a high-output MC.  One great MM option would be a vintage Grace F9 body with a Soundsmith Ruby OCL stylus assembly.  That costs about $600 complete.     

Going from a $30 MM cartridge to a $2,000 MC in one step will give you the bends! No need to do that, yet.
May I suggest that you try a better MM and/or a high output MC first. Cartridges are like wines, you enjoy different ones with different entrees.
The Audio Technica AT150MLX is a very nice MM.
For a lot less you might try the Shure M97e. When the Linn was new many pundits wrote that the Shure V15 III was the perfect cartridge for it (different arm, though). With the Shure, you can try a few different styli to sculpt the sound quite a bit. The stock one it comes with for rock, then switch to a JICO SAS for bluegrass or classical. There are many other really good MMs out there; but the M97 is a real bargain.
For high output MCs, the Denon DL-110 is a safe starting point. I haven't heard the new Hana HOMC; but they look intriguing.

I think an intermediate step will help you focus on what turns you on in a cartridge so that you can be sure you're spending your next $2,000 on the right one.

If you listen to  rock/pop AT-95 is fine .
Acoustic Shure 97 with upgrade stylus or Grado Blue for more laid back sound .
Thank you all again.
Some great comments and information here.

marktomaras, thank you for taking the time to share your experience, it sounds like we have similar equipment/taste. Your source and speakers first comment has stuck in my head. I will look into some of the MM & MC options mentioned. Your SS - Tube comparison has led me to looking at switching the Bryston 14BSST2 for a ARC Ref150, ill keep you posted. Hopefully no further Tube problems for you, that can get dishartening !

I do want to keep progressing the system (in a balanced way), so while i am very interested in trying a better MM now, it is also tempting to jump a step and upgrade phono stage (possibly tone arm) and move to MC.

Phono stages from Whest, ARC PH3 SE  and K&K seem interesting.

Tone arm and Carts i have little idea about and appreciate those who have mentioned some. 2channel8 i follow your point about carts being like wine and understand part of the journey is to experience different equipment and combinations to arrive at what works for your taste & system. I will research the carts yourself and schubert mentioned.

dgarretson, the PH2 seems to get better reviews than the PH1, and balanced to my LS26 would be nice. Thank you for the mod advice, i will run it by my tech. Grace F9 body with a Soundsmith Ruby OCL stylus assembly sounds interesting too. As you say the PH1 & 2 dont accomodate low MCs.

In summary i am now thinking, a new tonearm, MC cart, phono stage & ARC Ref150 may work their way into my system at some stage in some order.. source first...