Help me rebirth my old turntable


I just “found” my Dual 604 turntable with a Acutek Red cartridge after more than 30 years in storage.  Plugged in the turntable and it actually turned which did surprise me.  Since I have less than 100 records which I purchased in the 1950’s-1980’s, I decided I would put very little money into getting the turntable to work.  I purchased an inexpensive phono preamplifier, the Hagerman Bugle 3.  I connected it to my amplifier ( Gryphon Diablo 300 connected to my Sonus Faber Amati Traditions).  The system does work, the noise level is low, but of course it does not have the soundstage, sparkle or high frequencies of my digital system (PS Audio Directstream Dac, memory player, and Bridge II).  
I realize that trying to compare my analog equipment to my digital equipment is totally unfair.  However, I was wondering if I could improve my analog sound by replacing my current cartridge and if so what cartridge would you recommend for my 604 turntable? I realize that unless I spend a lot more money, it is unlikely to equal the quality of my digital sound.
 Since I own very few records, I am uncertain as to whether or not I will upgrade the entire analog system in the future.  However, I really like the semi-automatic function of my Dual turntable.
Although cost is not a major concern, I am not looking to spend a lot of money at this time.
Thank you in advance for any suggestions you may have other then ditching the entire analog system and starting all over again(just kidding).



hemoncdoc
I realize that trying to compare my analog equipment to my digital equipment is totally unfair.
No- it isn’t. Typically LPs have more bandwidth than digital- going up to 35KHz is no problem for most cartridges and the LP mastering machines go up well past that.

I would try a Grado Gold- nice cartridge, works well in a lot of older arms like that.


If this is an idler machine, you can get the idler from Russell Industries on the east coast. http://russellind.com/

Atmasphere:  Thanks for your input.  It is a direct drive turntable
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You may want to consider moving up to a tubed phono preamp.

I switched from clearaudio's cheapest solid state preamp to a Jolida JD9 2 and the difference in soundstage, presence and "tubeness" was noticeable.
Viridian and drmemory62. Thank you both for your input.
I should have googled it! Dual made some very interesting direct drive machines. Their motors were quite nice.
Atmasphere: I have been playing with it for the past several days and I really do like the way it functions.  I purchased the 604 new decades ago.  I used it for a while and then switched to the CD format which was relatively new at the time.  I don’t remember the last time I used the 604,  but I am certain this is the first time I have tried it my current house which I moved into in 1987.  

Inspite of its long sleep,the turntable appears to function flawlessly.  The stroboscope shows constant speed.  I truly appreciate the semiautomatic function which quietly returns the tone arm to it’s off position. I don’t have to get up immediately after the record ends to turn the turntable off.

I did some research on the cartridge and found out it is a Acutex m312Iii STR flat nose cartridge.  This was supposed to be one of the better MM cartridges of its day.

i don’t understand why it doesn’t sound better unless it is not set up correctly or the needle is worn out.  I probably will need someone with more expertise in turntable setup to take a look at this and give me an idea of what my next step should be.

Thanks again for your input.
i don’t understand why it doesn’t sound better unless it is not set up correctly or the needle is worn out.  I probably will need someone with more expertise in turntable setup to take a look at this and give me an idea of what my next step should be.
@hemoncdoc
The suspension of the cantilever on any cartridge can perish after only a few years. This really screws up the sound!! I would just replace the cartridge- it will get a lot smoother, the bass will be better and it will track better. Get a protractor so the alignment can be set up right, but the bottom line is the cartridge in its present state won't do the job.
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Hemoncdoc, I’m a radoncdoc! Atmashere is entirely correct. The materials they use to use for cantilever suspensions dried out and even cracked. Guaranteed that is your problem. I second either the Grado Gold or the Ortofon Blue. You’re table is much better than you think. If you decide that you like vinyl again you should consider having your 604 mounted in a modern plinth. That done you would have to spend considerable money to better it. See if you can get your local Hi Fi shop to lend you a better phono amp. Just wave some money in front of them.
The first CD player was released in 1981, a Sony. Did not buy one as it sounded like.....
I did start buying CDs. 
Atmasphere:  thank you for your additional input.  How difficult is it to set up a new cartridge?  Thanks again you have been very helpful.

Viridian:   i did reset  the tracking force and anti skate.  Not certain how to set the tracking angle.  I am NOS when it comes to vinyl not having used it since the 1980’s.  Thanks for your help.

Mijostyn:  Believe me that I realize the 604 has both quality in the German engineering and parts of the turntable.  How many electro/mechanical components can sit on a shelf unused for more than 30 years and not behave like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz when it first wakes up!  

I am certain my local dealer would lend me a better phono preamp, but right now my system sounds a little better than my mid 1950’s Sony transistor radio (Sony’s first product imported into the US). Once I get better sound, I can consider a better phono preamp.  I am retired now so I have some time to experiment again with vinyl.  Thanks for you input.

One other question please.  I have read that the Grado cartridge may not be the best match for a direct drive TT.  Presumably it may develop hum from being so close to the motor.  Does you experience with Grado suggest that this to be a problem?

thank you all again for helping me through my journey.


Hi Hemoncdoc, Grado, even though fine cartridges, will most likely hum on your turntable, safe choices would be Nagaoka, Audio Technica, Goldring, Ortofon (consider more for ULM tonearm) . Plenty to choose and match to your tonearm. 
petg60.  Thanks. I thought the Dual 604 uses a conventional tonearm not a ULM tonearm.
Hi Hemondoc, you are right, my mistake still though is considered lightweight, your cartridge choices should target for higher compliance ones. 
Understand. Thanks again for your input
Atmasphere:  thank you for your additional input.  How difficult is it to set up a new cartridge?  Thanks again you have been very helpful.

I am certain my local dealer would lend me a better phono preamp, but right now my system sounds a little better than my mid 1950’s Sony transistor radio (Sony’s first product imported into the US). Once I get better sound, I can consider a better phono preamp.  I am retired now so I have some time to experiment again with vinyl.  Thanks for you input.

One other question please.  I have read that the Grado cartridge may not be the best match for a direct drive TT.  Presumably it may develop hum from being so close to the motor.  Does you experience with Grado suggest that this to be a problem?
Not at all. The Grado is known for doing this in Rega turntables because their motor is ungrounded. Its an entirely different matter with a direct drive and won't be any issue at all. The setup isn't hard if you have a decent protractor.


Atmasphere:  thanks again I am truly indebted to you for all your help.  Over the weekend I watched several videos on YouTube on how to set up a new cartridges.  It will likely take a lot of patience, but I should be able to accomplish the task.  Protractor and a second cartridge holder are on order. I will now order the Grado Gold.