Best way to warm up the sound

I have a MF 5.1 turntable and the 2.2 phono stage , also from MF with the stock Ortofon cartridge. I would like to warm up the sound and don't know what would be the best way to proceed .
My dealer has suggested replacing the cartridge with a Grado unit .
I have not been able to find much on phono stages and would prefer a tubed unit .
I am new to turntable mods and don't know how much change can be done with these methods . I am familiar with tube rolling in my amp and know how much change is possible there . I have an integrated amp and it does not have the ability to use a separate pre amp .
So , should I change the cartridge , possibly to a Grado ?
Or should I look for a tubed phono stage ?

Thank You
I hope this thread doesn't go the direction of "buy $10k or more worth of cables"
Vintage tube equipment will do the trick. Some of the modern stuff will, but a lot of it isn't quite as warm as the older pieces. Vintage is priced all over the place, depending on your budget.

Be sure it is already checked out and in top condition by someone who KNOWS what he is doing BEFORE you spend your money.
I would have thought the cartridge would be the clearest and perhaps, cheapest way to change the sound. I don't want to generalise as I have'nt had many, but I find Ortofon on the brighter side of neutral, excepting the SPU range. So another range like Grado or even the cheaper Koetsu's, may be the way to go.
To answer your questions...

I am getting a very neutral and clear sound , a really nice change from the digital world of CD's . But I would like a warmer sound something like an EL-34 tube sound .

I am using a Primaluna Prologue II integrated amp which I have rolled the input tubes and changed out the KT-88's in favor of EL-34's for a warmer overall flavor .

If anyone is familiar with my Granite 657 CDP , this is the degree of warmth , from the tube side , that I am seeking .

Thanks for the submissions , please keep them coming .
Something's not right here. I don't doubt what you are saying at all, but before you go out and buy more gear, I can't help but to think you may have a setup issue, or something similar. The first thing I have to ask is how much time do you have on your cart.? A new phono cart is like no other piece of gear when it comes to break in. They sound defective when they are new. For the first 20-30 hours, you can usually hear a change from record to record. I would say to put at least 100 hrs on it before you actually judge it.

After that, look at all of your setup details and make sure everything is within the specs for the gear you have.

If your phono preamp allows for different settings, you may want to try some of them and see if that helps.

If you have a way to check how fast your TT is spinning, you definitely want to check that. It could be running a little fast.
Does "MF" refer to Musical Fidelity, or to the Music Hall MMF series, or to something else? And is the Ortofon cartridge a moving magnet type?

I second the comments by Zd542. I would add that if the cartridge is a moving magnet type, in addition to breaking it in before reaching any conclusions I would suggest that you experiment with different load capacitances. Load capacitance will profoundly affect the tonal balance of moving magnet cartridges in the treble region, and reducing brightness in that region may very conceivably result in a perceived increase in warmth.

If you can provide links to specifications of the cartridge and the phono stage, and indicate the length and type of the phono cable, it may help us to determine what should be done to optimize load capacitance.

-- Al
Ok , let me try to get this right .
It is a MMF5.1 turntable by Music Hall Audio . The phono stage is also by Music Hall and the correct model # is pa1.2 .
I have played >80 complete albums , some with multiple records .
The manufacturer told me that the cartridge was made by Ortofon . He did not elude to what particular model .
Here are links to the manufacturers web site for these products .

Thank you
Check your turntable speed. My pro-ject Xpression III ran quite fast. Something I didn't realize until I replaced the table. Both pro-ject and music hall are from the same manufacturer. I also had a speed box. LPs can sound bright when running fast.
Thanks for providing the additional info. Strangely, although the Music Hall web page on the turntable states that "The mmf-5.1 comes complete with music hall magic 3 cartridge mounted. The magic 3 is specially built by Ortofon for music hall," the turntable's manual that is linked to on that page states in six different places that the cartridge is a Goldring. The Goldring model number is indicated as 1012GX, and the recommended load capacitance for it is stated on page 13 of the manual as being 150 to 200 pf (picofarads).

The phono stage has a specified input capacitance of 120 pf. The capacitance of the phono cable, the internal wiring in the tonearm and turntable, and the connectors on the turntable and cable will all add to that, and I suspect would bring the total to significantly more than 200 pf. Given that it is a moving magnet cartridge having high inductance (570 mH per the manual), reducing the total capacitance will most likely reduce brightness, and thereby very conceivably increase perceived warmth.

Approximately how long is the phono cable? (Cable capacitance is directly proportional to length). And are you using the cable that is supplied with the turntable? If not, what make and model cable are you using? And am I correct in interpreting from the manual that the connectors on the rear of the turntable are RCAs, so that you could readily change to a different cable that would be shorter and/or have lower capacitance per unit length? Finally, what is the shortest length that would be practicable for your setup?

On the other hand, if the manual is wrong or out of date and the cartridge is an Ortofon, there is no indication of recommended load capacitance. You might want to email Music Hall directly, and ask them to clarify.

-- Al
FYI, the Music Hall MMF-5.1 was originally provided with the Goldring 1012GX cartridge, but later the cartridge was changed to the Ortofon OEM Music Hall Magic 3.
Try a cheap Grado Black to see if the "Grado Sound" does it for you. A grado Red did it for me as a swap for a came with Ortofon.
I know many others will think me a philistine, but in my experience, if you want a truly meaningful, significant degree of change in tonal balance, go straight to the transducers: cartridge and/or speakers. Pay attention to room acoustics and speaker setup, too. Everything else is little more than a minus sign in your checkbook.
The cable from the TT to the phono stage is @ 46 inches long . It came from Music Hall .
I could easily go with a 12-14 inch cable for my present setup . The cables from the Phono stage to the integrated amp are copper by Tributaries .
The cartridge says Magic-3 in blue letters on the top and Ortofon on the front in black letters .
The CDP sounds as sweet as ever so I don't see a problem with the speaker or amp set up .
I have an email on the way to Music Hall concerning the load capacitance issue for the Ortofon cartridge .
This is the second reference concerning the transducers offering the biggest change ! hmmm .
100 to 400 pf is an unusually wide range for recommended loading of a moving magnet cartridge. My suspicion is that the tonal balance of the cartridge will vary significantly within that range.

As a rough guess, the capacitance of the 46 inch phono cable plus the 120 pf input capacitance of the phono stage plus the capacitance of the turntable's internal wiring and connectors is perhaps a bit more than 300 pf.

The lowest capacitance low cost decent quality cable I am aware of is Blue Jeans LC-1, at about 12 pf/foot, and $27.75 for a 1.5 foot stereo pair. Using that cable in that length would probably cut the total load capacitance almost in half, and would be a worthwhile experiment IMO. Even if it didn't solve the problem, having that cable would expand your options in the future if you ultimately decide to go to a different cartridge.

I am assuming, btw, that the connectors on the rear of the turntable are RCAs, as appears to be the case based on the illustration in the manual.

That cable, like most RCA cables that are available these days, does not include a separate ground wire. You could either use the ground wire of the existing cable for that purpose, while leaving the RCAs of the existing cable unconnected, or else use some plain old 18 or 20 gauge hookup wire, which is readily available at Radio Shack and elsewhere.

If you ultimately find yourself wanting to experiment with higher load capacitances, consider spending $49 on this kit, listed as part number DBP-6 here.

It's certainly possible that doing these things won't fully or even mostly resolve the issue, but even if that proves to be the case doing these experiments will minimize the likelihood that you end up compensating for one inaccuracy by introducing or increasing another one, which is usually not the best way to go.

-- Al
If you're satisfied with the sound from your CDP, then I would turn my attention to either the phono preamp or the cartridge. But before investing in another phono stage, I would check the cartridge's alignment. I can't speak for Ortofon, but I know the sound from my Grado varies with the VTA. Something like "heel up" and the sound is tinny, "heel down" and the sound is boomy (I might have that reversed, I don't remember). I had to vary the VTA (and overhang) till I got it "tuned in" to my liking.

My gut tells me you're eventually going to end up with a better phono preamp before you're satisfied. Right now I'm using a Jolida JD9, which has the gain of solid state with a cathode follower tube output stage. It has more than enough settings to accommodate most any cartridge or system, and is designed to be very upgradable. Op-amps, tubes and output capacitors are easy to swap, and the basic unit is very reasonable, around $499.

Check out "The official JD9" thread on AudioKarma for more information.

I'm not saying it's the last word in phono preamps, but the Jolida is very adaptable and clear sounding. I didn't realize how misaligned my cartridge (Low output Grado Statement Sonata1) was until I got my JD9, it is very revealing. A few changes here and there and my vinyl has never sounded so good.
Almarg ;
Does the Pro-Ject Tube box DS do the same thing as the DPB-6 ? How about the Jolida JD9 referenced above by Heyraz ?

Thank you
Yes, both the Tube Box DS and the JD9 provide four different input capacitance settings, the values being 47, 147, 267, and 367 pf for the Tube Box, and 47, 100, 150, and 220 pf for the JD9.

Either of those choices, in combination with the selection you will be able to make between the short cable having low capacitance and the longer stock cable having higher capacitance, should allow you to optimize the capacitive loading of just about any moving magnet cartridge.

Although I think there may be a few cartridges around for which 500 pf or so is optimal, which you probably wouldn't quite reach with the long cable and the 220 pf maximum setting of the JD9. I wouldn't let that be a factor, though, in deciding whether or not to purchase the JD9. If you go with the JD9, just avoid choosing a cartridge for which the minimum recommended load capacitance is higher than around 400 pf or so.

-- Al
The JD9 has dip switches for loading, capacitance and gain as well as two sets of outputs, high and low gain. Look for the chart concerning those settings and you'll see how customizable the unit is. It's not just MM/MC or Hi Gain/Lo gain, it's everything in between. Rather surprising to me for the price.
My line stage preamp has a tube phono stage and I have a Grado PH1 and a Hagerman Bugle, the Jolida is in another league.
This may sound odd but move your speakers 2 to 4 inches closer together. This should increase the mid bass and warm up your sound.
A follow up .
I installed the new 1.5 ft. LC-1 Blue Jeans cable , cold right out of the box .
A very noticeable change !. The tone is richer and warmer with a darker background and an increase in detail . This is as compared to the stock 46 in. cable that came with the turntable and phono stage . It did improve a bit more after about an hour of play . I am not sure how much of this change is due to the cord length and how much is due to the quality of the cord itself . Never the less , I am happy with the change . Thank you Almarg .
This cord has provided about 20% - 25% of the improvement that I am seeking and is taking me in the right direction .

Any suggestions on what to do next ? TT mat , cartridge , phono stage etc.

Thank you .
No , I don't have the ability to do that . I hope that , being brand new , it would be good .
I have ordered a mat from Herbies per a suggestion above . I'll see what that does too .

Happy Tunes
Buy the Cardas freq sweep and burn-in record. Has a speed strobe check lable and is a good test / burn-in record.
Suggest you re-terminate the AC power cables with Neotech NC-P311 and NC-P302 gold-plated UPOCC copper connectors. Make sure the plating is gold, not rhodium.

Very inexpensive during Sonicraft's close-out sale. FYI, I'm not affiliated with the seller.
I tried the Herbies Way Excellent II Mat - it does provide an improvement over the thin felt stock mat. There appears to be a bit more clarity and it seems to hit harder but no added warmth . Not nearly as much of an improvement as the above mentioned cable . But I'll keep it .

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and suggestions . I have learned a bit and improved the sound a bit !
Hi Saki70,
The photo on the Music Hall link for the table still shows the Goldring cartridge. Ortofon is currently manufacturing the 2M series of MM carts and your Magic is probably one of them. If you're only around 30% of the way toward the sound you want, there are 3 obvious solutions, but first you should check the TT speed as already suggested. If the table is running fast, fixing that could be the solution.

Changing the value of the phono stage input resistance, is the least expensive possible solution, but could be difficult or awkward to implement. I'd guess that most satisfying final value would be between 32 - 42Kohm. You can try different values with loading plugs used with Y adaptors. Once you have the desired value you can leave it as is or change the input resistance on your stage by soldering the resistors across the input jacks inside.
The value of the parallel resistors should be between 400K and 100K.

The other solutions are, replace the cartridge or phono stage or both. I don't know if Grados are a good match for your arm, but one of those might do the trick. Nagaoka carts are also highly recommended as a sound alternative. The MP500 and less expensive MP300, are highly recommended.
I'm more familiar with a couple of their previous models, but I think you'd be pleased, a rich and musical sound with good resolution.

I don't have a phono stage recommendation, but I'm intrigued with the Vista. This little wonder ($299 introductory) is said to bear everything from the Phenomena II, to the Graham Slee Era Gold. You can order it with any input capacitance desired and change resistance with plug-in resistors.