Cartridge, Preamp advice: Bottlehead Seduction?


I've been having a ball upgrading my mid-1980's system for the first time in over 20 years!

I now have a pair of Totem Arro's, a Unison Unico hybrid, integrated amp that was a "steal" here on Audiogon, a Music Hall CD 25.2 CD player for digital, and my dear, old SOTA Sapphire will soon be back from SOTA with a new bearing, belt and suspension springs. I'll soon be back in analogue business! :-)

The Sapphire has a Linn Basik tonearm on it, along with a very ancient Audioquest cartridge that will obviously need to be replaced. The tonearm will have to stay for the foreseeable future... by the time I buy a phono stage and interconnects and a new cartridge, my budget will be thoroughly maxed out for awhile.

It turns out that you can buy the phono card for the Unico and install it retroactively, but a Unison dealer told me that it's only "okay," on the level of, say, a Pro-Ject Phono Box (SS), and that for the $250 they were asking I could do better.

I've been thinking seriously of buying and building a Bottlehead Seduction phono stage and pairing it with one of the better MM cartridges out there (maybe Shure or Ortofon) and I was wondering what people more knowledgeable then I (that would be all of you) think of that, along with how it might mesh with the rest of my system.

P.S. — I understand that the Seduction would limit me to MM cartridges, since it doesn't really have the gain for MC.
I think you'll be very happy with the Seduction. If you go to the main page at AudioAsylum you'll find a Bottlehead Forum, unless you've already found it. Search or post the question over there and you'll get many recommendations for cartridges. And, remember, you can always add an outboard step up transformer if you want to run MC cartridges.
Thanks for the information, Dan_ed. I'm a little concerned whether my soldering skills are up to the task of building this kit, but my dexterity is good and the company and user community seems to be very strong on support, so I may give it a try.
I LOVE my Seduction! Probably one of my favorites pieces of gear that I have ever bought. You will be limited to a "higher" output MM cartridge. I tried about 5 or 6 different cartridges and finally settled on the Linn Adikt. Make sure you swap out the caps on the outputs. I used the Auricaps. I hear the V caps are quite wonderful, but VERY expensive.

Cool! How hard is it to build for somebody who hasn't tried to solder anything in a long, long time? ;-)
If you're the least bit handy I think you'll pick up the soldering pretty quick. Here are four suggestions:

1) Get a GOOD soldering station. One with temp control. You can find Wellers on Ebay for pretty good prices. Expect to pay $150 or so. It is worth it. And, get a few sizes of tips for it. From very small to about 3/16.

2) Use good quality solder. I like the Cardas, which I bought from Michael Percy several years ago and I'm still using it.

3) Get a good 5x diopter so you can see what you're doing.

4) Get an anti-static mat.

Other than that, have fun!

It's a pretty basic and straightforward build. These do come up from time to time on Audiogon and would already be built. You can always mod them after the fact. The Bottlehead website has alot of info.
Dan_ed, these are excellent suggestions for someone planning to build several DIY projects, but IMO, it's overkill for a single project. I completely agree that a good soldering iron *and good solder* makes the difference between struggling and having fun. However, I don't think a one-time builder needs a $150 Weller. I've been happy with a $20 Weller I bought at the local hardware store. Just my two cents.
Okay, this will fully reveal my ignorance: what precisely IS a soldering "station?"
Well,anyway, I took the plunge and ordered the Seduction kit today... spoke to Doc, who was very nice and very enthusiastic. I'll keep you posted! :-)
I'm sure others know more about soldering than I do, but from what I understand, a soldering station usually has a temp controlled soldering iron. A stand-alone soldering iron usually has a fixed temp and a fixed watt rating. I use a 25 watt Weller and it works very well. I started with a 40 watt Radio Shack iron and found that it couldn't keep a consistent temperature. I hate to call it garbage b/c it got me through my first few projects, but it's pretty damn close to garbage.

You'll want a wet sponge nearby to clean your tip in between solders. You'll find some good practices here:

The Basic Electronics Soldering & Desoldering Guide

If you hunt through the forums, you'll find plenty of opinions on what people like for solder. I've only used Cardas Quad-Eutectic solder, but I've heard a lot of good things about Wonder and WBT.