Help with Turntable/arm/cart decision

Hello Audiogoners please help me with a NEW turntable purchase. System is McIntosh C2200 pre with MC352 amp. Speakers are Dynaudio Contour 3.0's. OK, looking for a complete new turntable with tonearm and a cartridge for under $5,000. So far I am looking at: Clearaudio Performance DC w/verify tonearm, Pro-Ject Xtension 10 w/10cc EVO arm. I would like to be able to use my MM phono input through the C2200, I would consider an external phono pre if needed. I really like MC carts over MM's not sure why.....maybe mc seems to me to be more accurate and dynamic?? Or maybe I haven't heard a great MM. Tables I have had in the past are....Thornes TD160 w/TP16 tonearm with Grado Prestige woodbody, I think. Also, Rega P3 w/RB301 tonearm and a Dynavector 10X5. Help, I want something up a level or 2 from these, if possible?
Matt, I would look for a used Basis with Vector tonearm or a used SME 10 including Model 10 tonearm (under $5K on the SME would be a great deal). Either of those would be a huge step up for you, even if you continued to use your current cartridge.

Best Regards,

Jim Perry
Take a look at PTP Audio (idler drive) and Transfi Audio's site (rim drive). I had a Rega P3, VPI TNT, and currently use a Lenco with a PTP top plate from PTP Audio. My current Lenco is vastly superior to the former (I use a VPI 12.5 tone arm and Denon DL-S1 through a modified Jasmine LP2.0).

Also, read up on Lenco's turntables at Lenco Heaven. Note: The designers of the Transfi and PTP are members of Lenco Heaven.

If you want to hear a digital music file of my deck, send me a private email.
Your lucky day. Be bold, adventuresome and go for a U-Turn Audio table, available only on the Net. I know, how could something so inexpensive be so good? Little risk since you can send it back. Worst it will make you feel better that you spent mega bucks. Enjoy. Hey, I have been at this hobby for over fifty years and great sound does not mean spending mega bucks.
I'm going to suggest a review of your priorities.

As between turntables, tonearms and cartridges, most owners and manufacturers of high end systems agree that the priority when funds are limited should be table first, tonearm second, cartridge very much third (fourth, if one includes the phono stage).

My own experience with multiple setups confirms this. An expensive cartridge on a cheaper table or arm often sounds like dreck. OTOH, a capable table and arm will help many inexpensive cartridges play and sing well above their price point. I own a $200 MM that outplays any $1,000 MC and most $2,000 MCs... but only if it's mounted on my main rig ($6K table, $5K arm). On my cheap ($1K) rig it sounds totally blah. IMO, this is why you haven't fully enjoyed those MMs you've tried. You've never heard what they can do on a really good rig. I guarantee that if you heard them on a rig like Jim Perry's, mine or some other's here, they'd shatter your preconceptions.

Test every recommendation you receive against these priorities. For example, Jim Perry's recommmendations (while not "new" equipment) meet these priorities perfectly. His suggestions were sound and I agree with them wholeheartedly (with a personal preference for the Basis).

Additionally, with a really good table and arm, you could easily buy half a dozen MMs and swap between them.

Note: I am not dissing MCs. I own a couple, including an $8K LOMC that's easily the best cartridge I've heard. But if I put that cartridge on my cheap rig, it reveals all the weaknesses and the combination sounds like crap. To play up to their potential, highly revealing and dynamic MCs require highly capable tables, tonearms and phono stages. Your stated budget won't accommodate all that. Buy a good table and arm now and enjoy them for many years. Cartridges can come and go.

Happy hunting!
You also have the option for a HOMC cartridge which should work in your MM input.Their are some out there. The Sumiko Blackbird HOMC received excellent reviews from Absolute Sound and Fremer.You can find them on the used market between 800 and a grand.
I use HOMC and love it although mine is an 89 model.
Give consideration to Sota, as well. Nice tables, well isolated and reasonably priced. A refurbished Sapphire can be as little as $1700, which leaves a lot left over for arm and cartridge. Make sure you get an arm with easily adjustable VTA - it makes a world of difference. Auditions would be best if you can arrange them. Good luck & happy listening!
I went with a basic Basis with Benz cart. If you can find a Basis used with vector arm and a Dynavector cart, you have a winner. AJ's support is also great.
Thanks all for the responses. Doug, I agree that I have never had the experience of hearing a proper MM/turntable combo so hear is what I did. OK, Pulled the trigger on dumping the Thornes TD 160 to the used market. I ordered a Pro-ject Xtension 10 with a Clearaudio Maestro V2 ebony MM cart. This way I don't have to buy a external phono preamp ..YET. I am very interested to see how this combo sounds. My priorities when ordering this was to simplify and enhance the quality of vinyl playback. Also, to bring up the level of the analogue source to be more in line with the other components in the system. More to come later.
For a MM cartridge, that's a nice one. Musical and very smooth.
My priorities when ordering this was to simplify and enhance the quality of vinyl playback. Also, to bring up the level of the analogue source to be more in line with the other components in the system. More to come later.
Good plan, although for many of us, improving vinyl playback is anything but simple, lol.

Let us know how it goes!
Matt, I have heard the Pro-ject Xtension 10 and 12 turntables many times. I think they are great price performers and will be a very nice improvement over your current setup.

I would like to know your thoughts on your new v. old setup after you have time to let everything settle in.

Good Listening,

Jim Perry
I heard the Xtension 10 with a Shelter cart. at a guys house
and was very impressed with its performance on choral and chamber music .
TTW Audio is coming out with a new table soon for around $3500. I have one of his tables they are built like a truck and sound great
The thing is the OP isn't spending that much on his table/cart set up. I'm sure the TTW table will be good. Most in that range are pretty good. The nice thing is that we have many new options at all price ranges. Thanks for sharing about the TTW table. Look forward to checking it out when it happens.
The C2200's phono stage provides 40dB of gain. The phono sensitivity is given as 4.4mV for 2.5V output at 1kHz.

The DV 10X5 would be a perfect match (Output Voltage 2.5mV at 1KHz, 5cm/sec.) for the C2200 phono stage as it should sound very neutral. The DV 20X2 ( 2.8mV at 1KHz, 5cm/sec.) should also work very well and is a much better cart than the 10X5.

You could go with either the Clearaudio Performance DC w/verify tonearm or the Pro-Ject Xtension 10 w/10cc EVO arm, both excellent TTs. That said, DV carts pair very well with VPI turntables.

VPI Prime ($3,500.00) and the DV20X2 ($900.00) would fit your budget.

No bias here as I don't own VPI nor DV.
Thanks everyone for the posts...I will follow up after I get the turntable setup on my system. It my not be until the 10th of july or so...

Matt M
So the Turntable (Project Xtension 10) arrived 3 days ago, and from the moment I placed the needle down on the record I realized that this was a couple levels up from what I was used to. First the sound is flying out of my speakers like never before! Also, there is more everything. This table Rocks on Led Zeppelin Song remains the same album, the song "No Quarter" Has immense weight and force, Jimmy Pages guitar is like a well sharpened knife slicing away while Plants voice is rich, full, powerful and detailed. I have been spinning everything from 80's pop to 50's jazz and One thing I was really aware of was the way it presented the event very forcefully with great tone and weight, ultra detail, dead solid speed control, over my REGA P3/24 w/Dynavector 10X5 (very good combo). I'm still going thru break in and so far I am blown away with the beautiful dynamic and detailed sound from the Clear Audio Maestro Ebony v2. This MM (if the midrange ever opens up) is one of the best cartridges I've heard MC or MM. I still love Low output MC's don't get me wrong. more to come later. Ill post pics in my system soon. This thing is GORGEOUS in piano black laquer finish too.
After 2 days of listening to the Xtension 10 with Clear Audio Maestro Ebony v2 , I was noticing major woofer pumping on several records that I like to play. I told Needle Doctor and they are unaware of any issuie with this Tone arm cartridge combo. They told me it was my records and said that the unit worked fine at there store....So after trying to be careful, NOW MY REL IS BLOWN!! I am going to purchase a KAB rumble filter because I am very upset that this happened. I even saw it occurring and dismissed it! I am ashamed at myself for not realizing this would happen. I think its not a good cartridge for the 10cc EVO ARM. (bad woofer pumping to me indicates a bad cartridge arm match). What do you guys think? Anyone have experience with this cartridge ??
Never had that problem. I run a Basis with the Basis 300 (Rega arm) and a Benz Glider. I get plenty of bass if it't recorded and it tracks like a pro. Sucks that you blew your sub. Is there something wrong with the set up possibly?
Matt, go to and input the information on the arm and cartridge. It will calculate the resonant frequency for you. The Cartridge Resonance Evaluator is located in the tools tab. I did this and looks like compliance of 14 - 24 would be suitable. I could not find a compliance specification for your cartridge. Sorry about your REL.

Best Regards,

Jim Perry
After spending more time with this it seems that the cartridge and tone arm are a great match as I am getting awesome sound. As for the REL it started making scraping sounds and I'm not sure If they are even related. I might still buy a KAB rumble filter though, because I don't like seeing my Dynaudio drivers moving in and out so much you can hear them fluttering sometimes.
It's strange to me, but I'm no expert. Did the Rel give you problems using other sources? I'm sure there are some expert TT guys who may be able to help you out before you have to start with filters. That may be the way, but I wonder how many are using a filter. I haven't even seen one or heard about them in a few years and I've been to many dealers and listened to countless set ups from 300,000 down to Rega 1s. Very interesting situation and I'm sorry you are going through this.
The Well Tempered Amadeus/equivalent includes a phenomenal tonearm and costs in the low to mid $3K range. (Certainly I am hooked as I have three of them in various systems!) That leaves you with a significant amount of money to spend on many excellent cartridge options.

Good Luck!
After using the Cartridge Resonance Evaluator I determined that I am at 10hz. My tone arm is 8.5g and the cartridge compliance is 15 that puts me in the 10hz zone which shows more than acceptable. So all I know is that my system has a heartbeat, 4 beats exactly, and it seems to get faster if I play the big 45rpm records. I can sit real close and hear and see my main speakers and the REL 4 very quick pumps then it goes away then 4 very quick pumps and so on....It happens on everything I play. I put digital on and everything seems to be rock solid there.
I was able to replace the 10" woofer by calling Dave @ Rel in Berkley CA. I received the replacement driver very quickly. So, Now I am waiting on a new phono pre amp (Manley labs Chinook). I have had bad luck with my last 2 phono stages. I really am looking forward to getting my system back up and running properly again. It has been a real downward spiral ever since I received the new Turn Table. One thing after another... electrical noise, woofer pumping, buzzing, blanketed sound, I am experiencing a little of everything right now. More later.

As I posted on your Woofer Pumping thread ten days ago, it's obvious from the symptoms that tonearm/cartridge compliance is not the cause. Your test confirmed this.

Have you performed the diagnostics I suggested on 7/21?

This problem is unlikely to fix itself. The most likely cause is a defective turntable drive system component - either belt, bearing or motor. The sooner you file a plausible report with the dealer/manufacturer, the more likely you'll get a satisfactory remedy under the warranty. The longer you wait, the easier it is for them to claim owner error or abuse and disclaim liability.
Matt, I just read this thread from top to bottom. I also saw the "woofer pumping" thread, but did not read it in its entirety. However, I have to ask an obvious question: where is your tt located with respect to your speakers? (I am sure this question was asked and answered on the other thread, because Doug would have also been asking about it here if that were not the case.) Anyway, on the off chance that you have not considered this, acoustic feedback from the speaker to the tt can certainly cause this sort of misbehavior. And even if the two components are not in obvious proximity, you might consider re-positioning either the tt or the speakers empirically, because quirky room acoustics can result in feedback even when there is no obvious reason for it. Further I would advise you to figure out your basic problem before installing your new REL woofer, lest you blow another one. You mention that the driver pumping has some sort of periodicity to it. I assume that by now it is established that the pumping only is observed when you're playing LPs, not with other music sources. Have you listened carefully to your new tt, to determine whether it is making a periodic mechanical noise of some sort? (This is what Doug was getting at.) One worthwhile experiment would be to install a different tt/tonearm and observe whether you still have the issue. That would indicate a problem with our new tt. Perhaps you still have your old Thorens or you can borrow a tt from a friend.
You already verified that the table is the problem. What makes you think a new phono preamp will fix it?
No , I never verified the new table was the problem. Not yet anyway. More to come on this soon. Lewm you are right on track with whats going through my mind as well. I really think I have more than one problem happening here. I will know a lot more here soon. I will say the table has a very heavy dust cover that I can take off. With the cover on I would think that would help a lot with any air born resonances wouldn't it? My system is rather close together. I am going to move some stuff around as you suggest. Regards,

How have you been playing LPs? Cover on or cover off? If cover has been on, take it off. If cover has been off, try with cover on, but I usually find that overall I like the sound best when the tt is naked, no cover. Others don't always agree, however. First of all, do change the position of the tt in the room OR move the speakers. I, like Yogiboy, do think that the info you've provided exonerates the phono stage, unless there is some unusual electrical oscillation going on. This could be the case, if the RIAA correction circuit relies upon negative feedback, but the possibility is very remote. I have a hunch the solution to your problem will prove to be simple.
Thanks Lewm, I hope so. Cover on cover off...Im not sure really if there is much of a difference. I will say I tend to agree with you lew, off is best.I know for a fact that my phono preamp is aweful!! So, I'm changing that this weekend. Laters.

I would approach your problems with the idea that it's there to help you learn something(hard to do). What opportunity does this present to you? If you just repeat(in your head)"I have bad luck.", that doesn't help you.
You have already stated that you only have the problem when you use the turntable. You should address that or you will be spinnin' your wheels till the cows come home!
I always wondered, where do cows go, before they come home, and why would they ever come home?
Matt, I finally went and read a few of the most recent posts on your other "woofer pumping" thread. I think Rodman9999 et al have a good point; the periodicity of the woofer pumping, plus your statement that the problem is not the same when you revert to using your older tt (which you have not mentioned here), absolutely points to a defect in your new turntable. I don't know why it is so difficult for you to face that fact, but the remedy should be to return it for repair or replacement, since you bought it new from a dealer, apparently. Also, if you are going to run two separate threads about the same problem, it is wise to keep the respondents to one thread informed regarding what is posted on the other thread.
Lewm,here you go!
Possibly from the fact that cows may be expected to return for milking in the morning; thus, for example, a party that goes on "until the cows come home" is a very long one.
Alternatively, assuming a Scottish origin, from the fact that cows in the highlands are put out on the common grazing until the end of summer, when they will find their way back home to be let in for feeding. Grass on the hill (common) is plentiful, so cows may stay out for months before scarcity of food brings them home in the autumn.

Reportedly, the first attestation is from the [London] Times:[1]

1829, The Times,
UPDATE: SO, this is a fairly new table according to needle doctor. Anyway, I mention that only because that's what they told me. The Project Xtension10 uses a 5pin din connector on the TT side and RCA on the other. The DIN connection is hidden deep inside a hole underneath the plinth. This connection must have wiggled itself loose over the last week until it was barely connected! I didn't realize this was happening until I started to move the table to place the granite slab underneath it. WOW! I feel like such a dumb*&^% for not checking this right off the bat. But the table is super heavy and the connection is super hard to get to. In fact its so far down the hole that my fingers are useless and I need a long needle pliers to push it on firmly. That's why my sound gradually got worse over time. O boy. ONE problem solved!
That is good news Matt. Before returning the turntable, assuming you are still having the woofer pumping problem, I would replace the belt. If that does not resolve the problem, I think you should return the turntable for repair/replacement.

I have heard this model on many occasions in different systems and have not seen this problem, and based on the periodicity of it, I think the problem is in the turntable you received.

I don't blame you for not wanting to replace something that sounds much better than your old Rega, however you might have received a defective example.

Best of luck in finding a solution
"I have heard this model on many occasions in different systems and have not seen this problem"

Then why are we assuming its the table? Its brand new!

I am not convinced, yet.

More later.
Hello all, I want to thank everyone...jperry,lewm,yogiboy,dougdecon,ctsooner and all the rest for trying to help me figure out what was happening with my system. Last night I was able to listen to music again. I placed a nice piece of granite under the TT and hooked up the new phono pre amp. The music is amazing and I feel a lot better about the system now. Thanks again all,

Matt, Glad you're happy now, or at least happier. In fact, you need not thank most of us, because it seems you took none of our advice (re-position the tt and/or speakers; examine the tt, especially the bearing, for flaws, etc). This is perfectly OK. In the end, you know better than anyone what you are hearing in your system. If our collected ideas had much merit, a slab of granite would not have had much of a curative effect.
so happy for you. I have found a few companies that help a ton with resonance control. Harmonic Resonance Systems is one of the best I've ever heard. Also worth a spin for any gear.
Hey lew cut the bullshit I solved my problems you can quit posting .thanks.
Good job, Mattmiller. Also, I'd like to do a shoutout to Yogiboy for his logic.
You try to help a guy, and this is what you get... Sheesh!
Well, we certainly can't quit posting now. If we can't have logic, at least we can have fun!
I'm all for fun; logic...maybe ;-)
Audiophiles rely on logic when all else fails.
Mmakshak,Thanks much !
Logic is the hobgoblin of the audiophile mind.