I am enjoying my analog system, but what can I do to improve?

I currently have Technics 1200G turntable with Dynavector 17XD cartridge playing through Kitsune LCR 1 MK5 phono pre and Allnic L7000 preamp. My amps are Pass X350.5 and Benchmark AHB2 driving Sound Lab ESL speakers. My system sounds great, but I am wondering how I can take my system to another level. What do you think?

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I have “presence” but I want more. More realism- as if I am there.


@noromance, what phono would you recommend?

It seems like it should be pretty nice as is.

I would suggest you buy more albums and just enjoy it for now.

Get these two products from LAST! Stylus cleaner and Stylast. Keep your stylus   clean and use Stylast to extend it's life!

Starting at turntable:

Tonearm upgrade. Triplanar, Schroder CB. Depends how many armboard options can he found. Cart upgrade when time comes.

Phono preamp. Big Allnic? Audiospecials Phonolab? Lamm? Used Klyne 7?

New cartridge will thrill you, not because there’s anything wrong with the 17DX but because of our nature as humans.

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My music room is essentially a small box (10 x 10 ft) and I have fair amount of treatment in it: sound absorbers and diffusers.

@noromance, I only need one phono input. In terms of budget, I would say <7k. But I would like to be slightly under the proverbial point of diminishing returns.

New cartridge will thrill you, not because there’s anything wrong with the 17DX but because of our nature as humans.

This my usual suggestion for people in your situation. 

My music room is essentially a small box (10 x 10 ft) 

That room is a killer but I've been there myself and you can get good results, pull the speakers out a little more if you are near the wall and put your seat all the way back.  

I would venture to say you have hit the limit of what you can achieve in that room. Changing out components won't get you any closer to the level of realism you want. I would look at appropriating another room in your house.





Dear @chungjh : You need to degrade the cartridge signal a lot lower than the coupled Allnic transformer does, for me this is the weak link in your audio system when we are talking of any audio signal but especially with cartridges.


You have a very good PS that makes a really good job with the cartridge signal buit then that signal goes inside that transfomer and everything comes down.


You need that through the system electronics the cartridge signal suffers the less degradation. You can mate extremely well your PS and amplifier with Pass Labs preamps as the XP 22 or the XP12. These preamps will makes that you find out what you are looking for .

After that you could think to improve the sound quality level with one of the Dynavector top models. In the other side and for what you posted  seems to me that your room treatment works just fine.


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


@rauliruegas  Are you talking about Allnic preamp or phono preamp(which I do not have)? I am using Kitsune phono stage and I can control amplification on it. I have it around 65 db.

@rauliruegas I still don't understand. Wouldn't decreasing the gain on the Kitsune do the same degradation? 

Before I think about doing anything drastic like removing a wall, is there a way to quantify/measure the room deficiency? 

What do you think about the tone arm (on 1200G) or Kitsune phono stage?

I’ve seen Ralph mention that the weak links of the Technics (for MC) are their tonearm and record mat. I couldn’t agree more!

There are a few options from the UK for armboards from such places as SoundSupports & Ammonite Audio. As far as record mats are concerned, I have had much success using the current Luxman mat on Technics including your “G”.

Also for what it’s worth, the short cantilever of your Dynavector gave me a huge education on the importance of zenith (yaw). After setting an earlier example of a 17D into an SME 309 years ago for an industry friend, it just revealed an overall lack of pace & dynamic involvement. A very slight twisting in the non-slotted headshell towards the direction of less detail was able to produce nirvana. With the timing of its Micro-Ridge stylus finally “in the window” for proper channel timing, the Pace, Rhythm and Timing (PRaT) was now evident in spades.


A Kuzma 4 - Point tonearm would be a significant upgrade over the stock Technics arm. But rather expensive!

Harmonics don't stop at 20kHz and it's been shown that they can have a direct impact what we hear. Supertweeters do add the edge you are are wanting and would be well worth considering particularly if you are analog and the source extends higher than human hearing.

MillerCarbon might have been doing a hard sell for Townshend Maximum Supertweeters but a lot of what he said is pertinent.

Check any music frequency chart. There is no music up there to hear if one even could and the gear is capable. Just noise most likely. Waste of time and money but if you’ve already conquered what does exist and can be heard then there has to be something else to obsess about. So the whole you need a supertweeter to hear what’s not even there argument is shooting blanks.  If you use a supertweeter to tip up your subtle top end for more air than otherwise, different story. 

Look into an Ultrasonic Cleaner...

Used as a primary conditioning tool for your vinyl and in conjuntion with other brushes and cleaners periodically thereafter, you can enjoy your records more.

Initially, clean your records with the ultrasonic, use a vacuum cleaner (VPI, etc...) or manual bath machine (Spin Clean) to rinse and dry and a (Carbon Fibre) brush for every day use. Plastic sleeves for the albums and Mobile Fidelity Inner Sleeves (or the like) for the discs. The improved sonics of a clean record are an under valued asset.

Once you know how the records actually sound, you can begin to hear any changes to Arm, Cartridge or Wires.

Hanging around an ultrasonic RCM may require use of super tweeters!

Ray Kimber of Kimber Kable had a frequency spectrum analyzer app on his smart phone at one of the Audio Shows which revealed the incredible high frequency (ultrasonic) noise those excellent machines can produce. Caution is in order!

refresh my memory, you had a Brinkman, Sota, etc thread going awhile back ?

a dipole in a ten by ten box, surely…not…

Is there dishonour in considering headphones @tomic601 ?

In a room that size, have you considered selling the massive amp and going SET with high sensitive speakers? Decware for example but there are many of course.

Yikes! Here’s one where that has me scratching my head—you have a very obvious and significant limitation that folks are suggesting you address with tweaks and lateral component swaps. Your room is very small and square and you have chosen large panel speakers—not gonna get where you want to go!

Yikes! Here’s one where that has me scratching my head—you have a very obvious and significant limitation that folks are suggesting you address with tweaks and lateral component swaps. Your room is very small and square and you have chosen large panel speakers—not gonna get where you want to go!

Exactly what I pointed out above.....

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I would look into what you can do about your room.  Rooms make a huge difference.

chungjh, as others have already pointed out here, a 10'X10' square sound room, with or without furniture, is a challenging listening environment, especially with regard to the amplification you are using (way more horsepower than needed)! How high is the ceiling and what is it made of? Are the walls sheetrock or something else? Any windows in the room? Why those 2 amps? Those are very different from one another. You don't have them bridged, do you? Do you alternate using one and then the other? Also, how large are your speakers and where & how do you have them placed in the room? Where is your sweet spot or listening position (i.e. distance from speakers)? Sorry for all the questions but, as others have pointed out, that 10'X10' room is a challenge. Speakers, their room placement, your listening position and the acoustics of any sound room are critically important factors and variables. If moving your system to another, larger, more acoustically compatible listening room is not an option then the recommendation(s) about experimenting with speaker placement is sound advice (no pun intended).

I've never been a fan of electrostatic speakers and have never heard any, at any price point, that I've preferred over more conventional designs of similar or even lower price points, but that's just my bias. Speakers are probably the most personal choice of any audiophile component. If you like 'em, stick with 'em. I say this only as food for thought. With your sound room, you might want to consider high-end stand-mounters and a good sub as an alternative. If you are going to stick with that 10'X10' room, however, I would stay away from speakers designed with AMT type tweeters. Some reviewers of speakers like this have pointed out the importance of having plenty of empty space (e.g. 6' and preferably more) behind the listening position. This certainly jives with my experience in serious seat-time demos. As for beryllium tweeters, I can't say from personal experience.  However, given the sound room constraint you present, I'd want to do serious seat-time with those to judge possible high frequency reflection effects and listener fatigue. Good high-end headphones aren't a bad idea, either.

Jasonbourne52's and Ticat's recommendations for stylus care and record cleaning are great advice, especially investment in a good ultrasonic record cleaner and/or cleaning system. Keeping your stylus clean is critical. However, I would recommend you check with your cartridge manufacturer before using any liquid stylus cleaner or treatment to see what they recommend. I also subscribe to the use of a good carbon fiber brush before and after every play of every side (e.g. Audioquest), good anti-static poly sleeves (Mobile Fidelity), etc.

Are you using a record clamp or weight? If not, you'd be surprised at how much of a difference this will make. I prefer a good quality reflex clamp (e.g. Michell), as opposed to weights or record pucks, because I don't see the sense in adding more weight to a turntable's bearings and platter, even if they are designed to accommodate this. This would be a relatively inexpensive experiment, if you aren't already using something like this, as opposed to going off and spending mucho dinero on hardware replacement or upgrades that may or, likely, will not achieve the desired result(s).

Happy Hunting and please keep us posted on what you eventually decide to do.

Anytime I need my system to sound better by a factor of 2

I simply move things out to my covered patio, set up

with the speakers facing to the open sides and listen.

The change from a 10' x 10' room to the outdoor experience

might be enough to weaken your bladder.

I live in Arizona where this can be done pretty much year around.

Perhaps you should move here?


Dear @chungjh  : "" What do you think about the tone arm (on 1200G) or Kitsune phono stage? ""

You have " short memory " because I already gave you my advise about in a thread you started. Here it's:




Small ESLs work fine in a small room, so long as you don't expect deep and thunderous bass notes.  The M545 is medium size, as Sound Lab speakers go. And really, what does the amplifier have to do with it, except where one might say that a very powerful amplifier is not needed?  Yes, it may not be needed, but it is not THE problem.

Dear @chungjh : " I still don’t understand. Wouldn’t decreasing the gain on the Kitsune do the same degradation? "


Certainly you don’t understand the whole issue and why you are connecting the phono stage Kisune to your Allnic L7000 preamp .


Btw, normally and in general sense as lower gain we need to achieve the desired SPL ( volume ) in our system as lower degradation will be developed.


The sound degradation I talked about is generated/developed inside the L7000 preamp due that it’s a a designed preamp coupled through transformers and it’s inside those transformers where the cartridge signal coming from the Kisune " seen " incremented that signal degradation and that’s why I told you that a good " move " could be to change the L7000 for the Pass X22 or X12.


In the other side:  "" is there a way to quantify/measure the room deficiency? "" please let me know how you did it your room treatment . Only through your ears?




As Lewm mentioned, the Quad 57’s are a small electrostatic speaker that might work but it doesn’t provide a lot of low end.
Also, those jokes about electrostatic speakers being for audiophile masochists…. I just had my amp tech over today to clean my output relays and found that my right Quad was arcing and making a popping noises. So back to my speaker tech to replace a panel or two.

Synergistic Research has a new and expensive record mat. Anybody used or heard one of these compared to a Herbies or Funk Firm?

@chungjh for all I know the system /room are working fine but as noted above not the usual space for a dipole. If you are happy with how its working I would stand by my first post. Controlled directivity,   and corner or rear wall boundary speakers would seem more suited if you want to think about a speaker change. I happen to be scheduled to test, and if that goes well represent, a new and very interesting speaker for rear wall boundary placement, and of course there are vintage horn speakers that fit these requirements too...

Move to good quality digital. You will get less noise and at least another 12 - 15 db of dynamic headroom 😉

You will also get punchier bass, more precise treble and crackle free mids. 

The 1200G is a bit of a pig to change tonearms on - and there's very limited clearance for the arm pillar vis a vis the baseplate, especially since the platter is so low profile and the arm often needs to come down a long way to get the correct VTA. I did an SME IV swap on one recently (not my own deck) and it just about worked. Though, it certainly did improve the deck. However, I would just upgrade the entire turntable because it's bad value to end up with a redundant arm that doesn't really fit anything else, versus trading in the complete deck for an alternative - there's a myriad of choices.

As has been said, any of the Pass preamps would work well.

I suggest consideration of the Parasound JC3+ phono stage which is excellent value for money on a price/performance basis.

Simplify signal chain and go for unified voicing?

1. Given room size, sell the two amps and replace with Pass labs pure class A (XA30.8) [that seems like a definite]

2. Add Pass pre and phonostage [or phonostage to taste]; sell the other stuff

3. Not sure enough space for dipoles to breathe.  Try high efficiency on the smaller side - Coherent, Trenner & Friedel, Zu, whatever - you are at nearfield listening distance anyway

Could be breakeven if you buy used gear. Certainly much less than $7k

WIll be a simpler, higher efficiency system maybe better suited for room size.  Will certainly sound a lot different

Let us know what you decide!

Have a great day

@chungjh , You should consider this an evolutionary process. Your speakers can make use of the highest quality (not price) equipment and you have many weak links or links that could be stronger. I think first is your amps. If you like Pass you need to go to the XA200.8 but it is well known in the Sound Lab community that the best amps for driving them are the Parasound JC1+ and the Atma-Sphere MA2. Either amp will wake up the Sound Labs to an amazing degree like a breath of fresh air and they will be "final" amps. Then you can work on your front end. I would start by replacing the Technics. It's tonearm is not worthy of better cartridges and for the Sound Labs you are looking at at least $5000 for a moving coil cartridge and there are many that will sound fine. Finally the preamp and I would get one with bass management capabilities so you can add subwoofers down the line.

Get the Allnic matching phonostage. I did my own shootout on phonostages and their impact on the music was undeniable.

I suspect that if you upgraded your turntable/tonearm and cartridge it could give you a pretty good boost. I personally like the Clearaudio products. Check out the Performance DC turntable, the Satisfy carbon tonearm, and Stradivari II cartridge. It’s a pretty expensive cartridge but I like to “overspend” a bit on cartridges - it’s where the sound starts after all. 

This is something that every audiophile wants and looks for. If you enjoy what you're hearing - then enjoy your system. If you want to improve your enjoyed equipment, then you will always live with wanting to improve. I have been in that state of mind for years and now found my sounding good audio equipment and here is where I stop. My humble opinion is to enjoy what you have and save your money.