Am I really smart or really stupid?

I would like your feedback on this theory. The glory days of vinyl to me, as far as high end hi-fi is concerned, were the late ‘60s, ‘70s and early ‘80s, before the dreaded CD made it’s appearance. Back then vinyl was all you had to work with, and the high end folks really needed to get it right.

My thinking is:

1. A phono section basically supplies RIAA equalization (unless there is boost for a low output cartridge). This is basically boosting the bass and cutting the treble to compensate for making the grooves relatively the same width to cut them on the vinyl.

2. This ain’t that big of a deal. It should not cost $3000.00 to do this. These people are trying to put their hand in my pocket.

3. Why not buy a high end preamp from that era, run your TT into it, come out of the Tape Out as a line stage into your preamp input.

4. I bought a Yamaha C-2 for 100 bucks, run my Linn into it and run it into my tube preamp and it “seems” fine.

Am I stupid or enlightened?

Thanks for your input.

Not a bad theory, but you might be missing important points.

The phono preamp needs to amplify the small signal from the cartridge. The quality of the amplification circuits should not be taken for granted. I have seen 'philes comment that these circuits have been improved over the years, just as preamps and power amps have improved (arguable, but generally accepted) over the years. After getting right the reproduction of the frequency range, there are things like macrodynamics, microdynamics, imaging, etc.

I don't know how much this should cost. Obviously, a high volume product could provide a better value.

Other factors that enhance modern phono preamp offerings include load and capacitance matching, a la the Manley Steelhead (as well as numerous other units). Of course, this adds to the cost, as well as the attractiveness, of the phono preamp.

Your proposed setup with the Yamaha might sound just fine. If you like it, then you're done. However, you might consider auditioning a more expensive modern phono preamp in your system just to make sure you're not missing something.

To answer your question, please forgive me for saying that I don't think you are really smart. I also don't think you are stupid, just a little ignorant at this stage of your audio development. More importantly, I hope you are lucky with your Yamaha and you have a good match.
The part about it shouldn't cost $3000 is well taken. I don't know how to put it...designers of circuits who throw more and more money at them to make them better are not innovaters at all. If you have the money to buy really expensive gear, that's great. The Sutherland PHD phono preamp, which I have never heard and never will, boasts about its circuit that looks for a signal every 30 minutes and turns itself off if it doesn't find. I think it's a great concept. But the ads say how it preserves battery life and they're only a buck apiece (times 18) to replace. As though the person who has the 3k to spend on it would care. I realize that this post does not have much coherence to it.
Nothing new here. Been doing it for many years as I'm sure have many others. The quality of the phono stages does vary wildly and your Yamaha's is highly average. Some killer phono stages in older preamps on the cheap are the NAD 1020, Apt Holman preamp, B&K Pro 10, Adcom GFP565 to name a few. These will all stomp your Yamaha.
I can agree with Jake, I am running a old Phase Linear 4000 preamp for the phono only and it has adjustments for cartridge loading. I tried other outboard phono stages only with little success the 4000 was a fraction of the cost. I use it with a VPI HW19 mk3 and shure V15 cartridge.
Nothing wrong with doing as you suggest. However, it must be noted that on those old preamps, they probably need some refurbishing, and at least re-capping, to sound anywhere near like they did when they were new. Some of the internal components degrade with age and use, and need to be replaced to approximate original performance.

I might say that an old Yamaha C2 is not giving you anywhere near what is possible today with phono preamps. But it will do the job well enough for you to have some listening enjoyment until you discover what else can do better for you.
I agree with you Jake. I think some of the Yamaha gear is highly underrated. A lot of audiophiles thumb there nose at it because of its midfi reputation. While some of that is deserved they also have some excellent pieces. Think about it this way; here is a company with virtualy unlimited resources, and a staff of some of the best engineers money can buy. When they set out to make a statement piece, which they did, with the CX-1000, CX-2000, MX-1000 and the fabeled MX-10000 they can do it. I recently purchased a CX-1000 just to have a back up while my much more expensive tube pre-amp was being checked out and re-tubed. I was stunned! Best pre I have ever heard period and the phono stage is excellent. I would put it up against anything I have heard. I now have my beautiful "Jean Built" Lenco TT hooked up to it and it makes my $30K speakers sing!
Oops sorry meant the Yamaha MX-2000 not the MX-1000.
Hi Jake: I don´t think that the high-end manufacturers want
" put their hands on my pocket " ( as you told ). Companies, like Yamaha, Pioneer, NAD, etc...., sold thousands of units every month and the high-end companies sold hundreds of units for year ( some less than that ) This is why the high-end prices are higher.
Another fact is what Twl told you and there are others issues like: today new designs and better components like: resistors, transistors, capacitors,....that has a higher prices than in the 80?s.
Best regards and always enjoy the music.
Neither smart nor stupid, just cheap.
You can get some great phono pre's for $200 to $400.
But if it is working for you, go for it.
It's not that simple. Granted it *should* be that simple to just make a phono stage. You know some RIAA eq and some gain. But in reality it doesn't seem to pan out that way. Just look at the available phono stages and full fuction preamps. It seems to great care (and often great $$$) to make a good phono pre. It may have to do with the very low level signals that output from a phono cartridge. It is not trivial to amplify these. If it was, we would see giant killer phono stages for cheap. And alas we do not.

When you think about it, amplification in general appears to have been an extreme disappointment of the twentieth century. You'd think amplification would have been a "solved" problem by now. But no. :-(
Dear Jake42: In the 70's and early 80's ( like you say ) there was many high-end manufacturers with exelent products, your Yamaha was not one of that products.
Examples: Audio research, Beveridge, Eidolon Research, Mcintosh, Threshold, etc... and many more. In that time these was the products that the music lover/audiophile have at their home audio systems ( high-end ).
BTW, I agree in every single word of the Aroc answer.
Now, wich are the level of your music standard ?, if the Yamaha or what ever you have is your standard, it is ok, good for you.
Regards and always enjoy the music.

I vote for enlightened. Designing a phono preamp is not rocket science. I know a high school kid who's done it.
Hi Bomarc: That is not the point. Example: any one can build a car but not any one can build a Ferrari or a Porche.
Enjoy the music.
You would notice the difference between the Yamaha C2 and the C2A preamplifier. The C2A was a major improvement over the C2 and is reflected in used prices. This old stuff sounds great with one caveat: it is approaching 30 years old and you have to assume that service is required on all of this old stuff. I have been there and done that and it is not cheap unless YOU do the work yourself.

There are so many excellent values on the used market made within the past ten years that a piece that is 25 years old has to be rather exceptional to be of interest (think McIntosh MC225, Bedini 25/25).

A new Antique Sound Lab tubed phono section at less than 300 new with some basic mods can sound very good is what people in these forums have reported. Used preamps such as an Audible Illusions Modulus 3 (say 700, 650) or an Audio Note M2 Phono (around 900 used) are good values and very, very good.
Did you forget about enclosures that should preferably be marble or chrome face he..he..? That costs money.
How'bout adding some weight so that the consumer will feel its weight and understand that it's truely well-engineered product ...?
If there are any audio truths that I have learned over the years is that blanket statements like all of x's products suck...and all of x's products are great are asinine.
re:Bin. I have used x's products through the years because they are so cheap. But they all suck. I never can learn my lesson.
I guess I kinda oversimplified what I was trying to say. In response to some of your points, I would offer:

First off, vinyl is by no means a MAJOR consideration to me. I probably have 250-300 albums that I have kept. I might listen to vinyl 2-3 days a month. I don’t plan to put a lot of money into new ones.

I know I can get better stuff today but in playing with hifi for the last 40 years or so, I firmly believe, in my increasingly feeble mind, that you hit a point of diminishing returns fairly quickly. Then you have to spend a hell of a lot of money for precious little sonic improvement.

Most of you out there have known Yamaha after it’s decent into mediocrity. Back then, while it was not the pinnacle of hifi, they made some pretty good stuff. I have a friend that still has a B-2, C-2 T-2 into a pair of Acoustats and it ain’t bad, even by today’s standards. As far as that goes, a Sherwood S-5000 integrated amp into a pair of AR-3s (my Daddy’s system in ’58, and what got me started) would stand up pretty well, as long as you were just listening to the music.

I’m sorry but I do believe there are a lot of wolf tickets out there. This whole hobby has gotten crazy. To go “high end” you spend $3500 for a table, $2500 for an arm, $2000 for a phono stage, $3500 for a cartridge and $1500 for a cable. Folks, that’s $13,000.00 for a record player!! Your friends may be impressed, but I’m not. And I also don’t think it’s 13 times better than a LP-12 and my old dilapidated C-2. (Ooops, you got me started)

An interesting aside, the C-2 is the same one I had from ’79 to ’82, when I jumped back into tubes. I sold it to a friend, who gave it to his son, who got into home theater. I bought it back for 100 bucks.

I’ll bet you can tell a hell of a lot more difference between a Saturn and a Porsche than you can between a NAD 320 integrated amp and Lamm separates.

I guess the bottom line is I know there is better stuff to buy. A lot of folks would not be happy with it but it seemed like a reasonable approach for me and I’m OK with it. It might sound “cheap” but it’s all part of my determination to listen to the music, not the equipment, and quit chasing the Holy Grail!

All in good fun,

Tarsando, how would you know they suck? What else have you owned that betters them? I am not saying they are the holy grail but that sometimes what we think are midfi components can offer good value. My system is by most standards ok. I have around 50K invested after many years in this business. What sense is there in perpetuating the fact that you have to spend mega dollars to get great sound? It simply isnt true. If you beleive differently then you are simply ignorant. Almost any turntable will sound better than the most exspensive cd player etc.. There are lots of great values out there.... Paradigm, Electronic Visionary Systems etc. etc.. The list goes on. Listen with your ears instaed of your eyes and you may learn something.
The bargain "hot" set-up from that era was to use the front end of an Advent 30 reciever as a preamp. Tom Hollman (sp?) of THX fame designed the phono stage in that reciever and it was excellent. It put to shame a lot of high-end stuff in its time. -JT
Any audiophile that is happy with their set-up is a genius as well as an artist, imo!

Stupid! (hey, your choice) The C-2 was a great piece. Their tuners from that era were fine too. However, it's 30 years old with dried out capacitors, oxidation, and dust in the pots. In addition, you are going through the phono section AND through the pre-amp section before you get to your gear. Buy an inexpensive high-end pre-pre such as the Lehman black cube or even the little Creek units. You may come out ahead financially after selling the antique, which is why it's stupid to keep it.
I'll vote for "really smart", subject only to the assumption that your equipment is not "dried out" and is working more or less in good repair.

The Yamaha C-2, although "high end" at the time, was nonetheless considered a "sleeper" -- even better than its reputation and price.

Its successor, the barely revised C2a had a near cult following and was drooled over by HP and the audiophile press, even compared to megabuck Audio Research etc. preamps.

I was in high school and working for a Yamaha dealer at the time, and took advantage of my trade price to buy a C2a with a Hafler DH-500, Magneplanar MG-IIa, and another Yamaha cult item -- the PX-2 linear tracking turntable with a Grado Signature cartridge.

My boss who ran the store came over and said "best system I have ever heard?!"

(This is someone who normally yelled at me for being late or hungover on Saturday mornings and was not inclined to paying compliments.)

This was also also in the context of our demo room which at the time had huge McIntosh amplifiers driving Dahlquist DQ-10s and subs, KEF 104s and 105s, and other much more expensive products.

I agree with your "wolf ticket" remark and often think that other than digital sources and material, much of the entire business has stood still or gone backwards in the last twenty years.

Enjoy your system.
RIAA ain't a big deal??? I think you are smug in assuming you can get something good at a price that precludes better components. As someone has already said, you are certainly not enlightened but probably not stupid. If you don't value realism in your music that is fine, enjoy the music, but don't feel smug about it.
CWLondon- the main problem I have with it is that the C-2 is not the pre-amp- he's tape looping it to another pre-amp. I'm sure it sounds fine, but you can get a good pre-pre now for $220. There's got to be a point that a goog pre-pre sounds better than c-2 pre-pre plus c-2 pre-amp section. I don't think it's 2 grand. It's probably a lot closer to 200. While GREAT in it's day, like the 104.2, there have been a lot of improvements in 30 years. Even with good old analog, there has been huge progress.