Attention Onkyo A-9555 Owners/Users

If you're using this amp with high output cartridge plugged into an entry-level outboard phono stage, such as an NAD, Parasound ZPhono, or Cambridge 540P or 640P plugged into a line level input on the Onkyo, you need to try plugging directly into the Onkyo. In fact, if you're thinking of mating an LOMC with this Onkyo, I suggest you get a step up transformer instead of an active outboard phono stage. It's that good.

I had a 640P before I got the Onkyo, so I always used the 640P between my turntable and the Onkyo for the past six months until tonight. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to plug directly into the Onkyo's phono inputs. It's a Technics SL1210 M5G (has improved tonearm wiring) and the KAB fluid damper. Cartridge is an Audio Technica AT150MLX mounted on an LPGear ZuPreme headshell.

I thought the Onkyo might sound *almost* as good as the Cambridge, but that wasn't the case at all. It was better in every way. Specifically, there is much better low level detail retrieval in all its forms--room ambience, instrumental bloom and resonance, and more of the edges of the notes forming and fading, whether voice, wind instrument, percussion, piano, whatever.

Also gone is midrange harshness and glare I was getting before, now replaced by a natural, relaxed presentation. I used to attribute the glare to direct drive, or maybe the Audio Technica cart, or maybe Class D amplification, but it was none of the above. It was the Cambridge unit. You wouldn't think a DD turntable plugged into a class D amp could sound this relaxed and organic.

I suppose the bypass may have lowered capacitance a bit, but it's hard to believe that would be the main difference, as I was using some AudioQuest PSC+ (that's single crystal six-nines copper in AQ marketspeak) interconnect. There shouldn't have been more than 60pF difference in capacitance between the two.

To say I was surprised is an understatement. I made the swap about 3 hours ago and have been trotting out LP after LP to "rediscover" them. The rest of the family has gone to bed and I'm still spinning platters. I'm definitely looking forward to getting up tomorrow.
>> I'm definitely looking forward to getting up tomorrow. <<

I'd say that's true for ALL of us [smile]!!

Glad to hear of your discovery, what a great hobby, huh?

02-20-09: Rlwainwright
Glad to hear of your discovery, what a great hobby, huh?

The irony of this discovery is that the Cambridge 640 kicked off massive upgrade fever last year:

- In April I started by adding the 640P to my stack of pawnshop electronics and heard more ambience and detail.
- The next month I upgraded the cartridge from a Denon DL-160 to an Audio Technica AT150MLX.
- Two months after that I replaced the sub/satellite speakers with some much more expensive floorstanding speakers.
- Two months after that I replaced the electronics with the Onkyo A-9555. I didn't even consider using the Onkyo's built-in phono stage at that point.
- Last night I bypassed the 640P. The only thing remaining from my system 10 months ago is the turntable. This bypass reveals that the turntable was just fine, so it's staying.

Yes it is fun. Now I'm not sure what to do with the 640P--sell it or keep it around if I ever go to an LOMC. Of course, I *could* get an SUT and still use the Onkyo's phono stage; that may be smarter.