I Need Some Opinions...


I have a modest turntable setup consisting of a Pro-Ject RM 5.1SE with the stock 9cc carbon arm. I use it through a Project Phono Box II SE and use a Pro-Ject Speed Box II SE. The preamp is connected to my Krell 400xi integrated driving Hales Revelation 3 speakers. I am still using the Sumiko Blue Point No.2 which came with the table.

My thought is I could likely improve the performance of this setup by changing cartridges; looking for more detail I THINK a LOMC might be a good idea. Is this a correct thought?


I am considering a Goldring Eroica LX for this setup. Any ideas if this will get me what I’m after? 

Would I be able to reap more benefits from a much better (i.e. more expensive) LOMC or would my current system make such a purchase meaningless?


Thanks for any input.
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Hi dmac67,

Please take a look at my system and read the description to be assured of the quality of the following advice. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367 Starting with a Technics table way below your Pro-Ject we have gained experience to where we were able to build the Miller Carbon Turntable- and then continue to tweak ever more performance from it. Same as great performance was tweaked out of the earlier tables.

If you are looking for improved detail then long before spending $400 on a new cartridge try fo.Q tape for 1/10 as much. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367 This amazing tape has piezoelectric properties that dissipate vibrational energy as heat. In other words high tech damping, removing micro vibrations you never even knew were there. If you stop and think about it, there’s two ways to improve detail. Detail is essentially dynamics so one way is to improve dynamics. But another is to remove micro vibrational noise that obscures detail. This is what happens with fo.Q.

The improvement is not subtle. One little piece 1/4" x 1" on my arm base was easy to hear. There’s about a hundred times that on the 2 sheets. Its beautiful tape too, very high quality, with the best adhesive ever it sticks easily and well yet is removable without any residue.

In order to preserve the attractive factory look mine is one strip on the under side of the arm tube, with smaller pieces hidden under and around the base and counterweight area. Also around the outside edge of the record clamp, and on the platter around the spindle area. So the record is effectively clamped between this vibration damping tape. You could probably put quite a bit under your platter, or on the plinth (top or bottom, or both) or under the footers- or all of these and more. It would be easy to do more on my table and more is on order but a lot went to replace the speaker driver gaskets and with strips on the basket, the frame that holds the driver and magnet together. Huge improvement. Tremendous value for the money.

Another choice also a lot more value than the cartridge is Synergistic Research PHT. https://highend-electronics.com/products/synergistic-research-pht-phono-transducer?_pos=246&_sid... The two are very similar in that they open up and expand the sound stage in depth, width, and focus, with improved dynamics and tremendous improvement in clarity. Green Dream is a bit more liquid, Black Widow a bit more neutral, and they work great together. Look close at my pics, there’s a BW and GD on the Koetsu and another GD on the arm.

Also Synergisitic ECT. While these are sold as "electronic" circuit transducers notice two on the arm and one on the turntable motor. Very similar imaging, liquidity and detail improvements to PHT.

Please read the recent system comment from one who came and heard and knows. Its easy to look at this system and say well of course look at those speakers/amp/whatever. Wrong. Take away the tweaks and its just another stereo. Its the details that make the system. You just have to be willing to get off the component upgrade merry-go-round and try to know.

The beauty of this approach, in addition to the fact it gets you more for the money right now, these are all things that last forever and can be used again and again as your system changes over time. Compared to a cartridge that inevitably depreciates to zero.

Choose wisely and happy listening.
Thank you for taking the time to reply.  It is appreciated.  I will reread your advise  in the morning.  You’ve given me new things to consider which is always valuable.  Thanks again.
dmac, I am not familiar with the Goldring but I can highly recommend the Lyra Delos which should work marvelously in your table. Millercarbon tends to bury himself in complexity. I prefer simplicity. Most of us have to approach this hobby in a step wise fashion as we can not blow a lot of money at once. So we try to make meaningful changes one at a time. The Delos will be a meaningful change. A lot of us blow money on silly mostly cosmetic changes. The industry reinforces this activity to the chagrin of many of us.  
Consider a Denon DL-301 MKII or a Hana SL.  Or a turntable upgrade.  As you said, you have a modest turntable and you'll only get so much out of a cartridge upgrade, less than you'll get if you put the same cartridge (or even a lesser one) on a better table.  I have no experience with the cartridge you have or the Eroica, so can't comment on the degree of difference it would make.  I wouldn't put a really expensive cartridge on that table though.  
My thought is I could likely improve the performance of this setup by changing cartridges; looking for more detail I THINK a LOMC might be a good idea. Is this a correct thought?

No necessary, but your new cartridge must be perfectly matched with your tonearm (you must know and learn about calculation of resonance frequency according to cartridge compliance and tonearm effective mass). And you have to think what you are willing to improve, what was wrong with Sumiko and its presentation ?

You can easily buy more expensive LOMC cartridge that in fact will be inferior in comparison to the best MM or MI available for lower price (especially vintage top models).

Looking at any LOMC cartridge you have to check GAIN of your phono stage and loading options (if there are any).

Also you have to check for stylus and cantilever of the LOMC you’re after, never buy conical or elliptical if you want the best quality and long life span, cantilever is also important and aluminum is the cheapest, the best today is probably boron (or ruby, sapphire). Here is why it is important (also for MM).

The life span of the MC cartridge is mainly the life span of the stylus tip, because you can’t replace it by yourself. If the manufacturer can’t replace the whole cartridge for you when it’s worn then you can only ask retippers (bad idea).

With MM or MI cartridges you can simply buy spare stylus even for some rare discontinued cartridges. And those styli often comes with the best profiles and best cantilevers. I have a great luck finding them for my needs in NOS like this, and for practical reason i like MM and MI as much as i like some of the best LOMC in my big collection of cartridges.

One of the best cartridge in my collection with dosen of different original replacement styli (nos) is Grace LEVEL II and Grace F14, it’s so much fun, because the manufacturer made nearly all possible variations from very cheap aluminum with best diamonds (Luminal Trace, Line Contact, Micro Ridge, Utility-4 Shibata) to very expensive and exotic (Boron/MicroRidge, Beryllium, Sapphire, Ruby, Ceramic...) and even the compliance is different. Grace made MC cartridges too, this is the rarest Grace MC in my collection.

If you think MC is equal to the word "improvement" then you’re wrong.
You have to be very careful when you’re choosing MC cartridge.
Same with MM, because most of the modern MM just sucks (with some exceptions).

Another favorite is Stanton SC-100 WOS signature model with sapphire coated cantilever and Stereohedron tip, absolutely killer MM (collector’s series 100)


Modern MM cartridges are limited to few few brands, unfortunately.


Would I be able to reap more benefits from a much better (i.e. more expensive) LOMC or would my current system make such a purchase meaningless?



Modern MC are too expensive and most of them are not better than vintage MM

Hope it will help :))



What ever you do, don't put a $2k Lyra Delos  on your table.
$5-700 max, will get an appropriate cart. Audio Tehnica and Hana would be on my radar.After that, questionable value/performance based on your table/phonostage.

Keep the speakers, they were quite good when introduced.
Although I don’t necessarily agree with every aspect of Chakster’s rationale, I do agree that you can improve your system by dumping the sumiko cartridge in favor of some select MM and MI types. LOMC is not necessarily better per se than other types. Also as Chak says you need to tell us the gain of your phono section. You may not have enough gain for an LOMC.

millercarbon, “Piezoelectric” describes an object that gives off electricity when subjected to physical pressure. Your tape seems to cancel resonance by a damping effect. That’s not piezoelectric. Similarly those products that SR like to call “transducers” are not transducers.
Thanks to everyone who replied.  All input is appreciated.  
My phono preamp’s MC setting has 60db gain and it’s MM setting has 40db gain.
It also has jumpers for setting impedance and load resistance. In its era, the Phono Box SE II got some very favorable reviews in its price point (only $500}.

If it helps with pertinent information, here is a link to my system:

https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/7425

To throw in a twist, I think a VPI Prime Scout might be a huge upgrade in tables. Thinking I could pull that trigger and retire my current table. I would also likely need to upgrade my phono preamp. Opinions on this idea would also be appreciated.

I have lots of things to consider and, thanks to. Covid 19, lots of time to consider them while working from home.

Thanks to all
" think a VPI Prime Scout might be a huge upgrade in tables. Thinking I could pull that trigger and retire my current table."

You'll get plenty of suggestions on what to get. If you chose the VPI Scout, look at this
https://upscaleaudio.com/products/vpi-super-prime-scout

You will also get plenty of "expert" advice why not to consider VPI.

"I would also likely need to upgrade my phono preamp."
https://upscaleaudio.com/products/manley-labs-chinook?_pos=1&_sid=9ccf0f075&_ss=r
The suggested Lyra Delos will now be served.

Get a nice tube amp, your DONE!





For cartridges, MM ones such as Clearaudio Virtuoso (lightly used), Cartridge Man Music maker III (lightly used) would be near the top sound wise for around $500-550.  I'd second the Hana SL, or Denon 103R for LOMC if your phono preamp has enough gain.  If you're patient, you can land a very good MC for around $700 used.  I've been able to buy a couple $2700-3000 cartridges for under $750 lightly used.  I'd agree that your analog setup is not going to extract the best from such an expensive cartridge.  I personally loved the Virtuoso in my system and I had a good overall system.  I'd still be tempted to try one again and my system is now really good.

If you wanted to upgrade your phono pre, the Allnic H-1200 is out of production but still a good sounding phono pre.  Should be able to get used for about $750-850.  It would be a significant upgrade to what you have.  You already have a good integrated, but if you wanted an excellent sounding preamp WITH an even better phono section built in, the Audible Illusions 2C or 2D would be great.  I had a 2D that kept me happy for about 17 years until I upgraded to an Audible Illusions 3A w/ John Curl MC phono section.  Absolutely hard to beat or even equal in its price range.  The 2D is about $700-800 used and the 3A w/ MM phono is about $1000-1100 used.  These pieces last a long time and the sound is way better than the price.  The AI stuff is one of the all time best buys in stereo equipment.

Bob 
Bob, thanks for the reply.  I’ve gotten a lot of advice which I need to ponder.  I guess I need to determine what I truly want from my analog system.  Do I tweek what I have, change cartridges or start over from scratch and go big lol.  I have a lot to think about.  I appreciate all the input and am learning a lot.
dorkwad has it right about the Audible Illusions equipment. The only reason for parting with the Modulus 3A was the lack of a remote control. Great equipment at a great price.
I don't know your tonearm but if it's low mass you probably can't go better than a Grado MI. 
Instead of farting around with tweaks ( not saying you cannot do that later) get right to the chase, just replace blue point with the Hana EL. I had the blue point and replaced it with the EL and it was a world of difference. The Hana is $475. Go and read the review at positivefeedback....the guy replaced the bluepoint on the project classic sb with the hana and it was night and day. Hooked up to the musical surroundings phenomena 11+ and it’s a dream. Don’t get me wrong, that bluepoint is quite nice, but it is a high output moving coil. I’m still using my hana el and I’ve no need to upgrade to anything else. It produces a sublime sound to me, and well, others with far more trained ears agree, Herb Reichert for one! Yea, you can spend almost twice as much for the SL with shibata stylus, but prepare to be bogged down with trying to align it, and honestly will only provide a small improvement. All my own opinion 😁
delos is an overkill for any project table. Try a nagaoka mp200 mm and you cannot go wrong
An Ortofon Bronze or aforementioned Hana is as high as I would go on your current table.?

iF the magic tweak tape is affordable, treat it as a critical listening experiment and a future filter IF it does not prove revelatory..

I have a Delos on a Brinkmann Bardo with a Triplaner / HRS base and I am not totally convinced I have extracted all that CartrIdge has to offer. I have heard it extensively on a few other tables including the VPI. There are of course many other in that $2k price range...

finally do try to weather the storm and go hear some gear when things break free - a great analog dealer is IMO a must...

enjoy the journey

and the music

Jim


As for cartridge, advanced stylus shape is a primary consideration, combined with tools and skills to align it. Personally I stick with MM, higher output a consideration. Stylus I can replace.
.........................................

I agree, wait, research, hold off till you can go to one or two analog dealers. Think long, meaning time, let future considerations influence current choice.

I just upgraded my entire Phono setup, beyond where I started, couldn’t be happier, essentially set for ever now (hah). It never occurred to me to do this, it came together bit by bit, with help from members here. I am so happy I didn’t just upgrade 1 part out of context of the whole.

Large Plinth; Two Arms; 9" arm with Mono Cartridge; 12" arm with Stereo Cartridge; Both arms with VTA adjustment while playing; method of selecting which arm.

High Output MM Mono Cartridge with Elliptical Stylus for mono arm; High Output MM Stereo Cartridge with Advanced Stylus shape for long stereo arm: Micro Ridge, Micro Line, Shibata, I went with SAS, (any advanced shape giving improved contact surface with the groove). Stereo tip cantilever material? I went with Boron, more advanced materials are too brittle for my liking.

I asked about 12" arms here, (no idea where it would lead me). I read a thread here about the benefit of playing mono records with a true mono cartridge (definitely true). Two arms means no changing headshell/cartridge/re-calibration during a listening session, a wonderful thing. Thus the project became a dual arm deck.

I mixed vintage and new, kept the cost down fairly well I think, entire project including new alignment tools, manual lp cleaning unit, end of play safety lifter, quality phono cable, minor accessories: $4,270. Much more than my original thought, did all at once: but I could have had the whole project in mind, and proceeded piece by piece knowing the end goal. The key is to think long now which is why I am telling you (and members here who helped) all this.

Vintage JVC Dual Arm Large Plinth with two removable arm boards and it’s 7 layer plinth construction; a vintage JVC spinner TT81, a vintage 9" arm; new mono MM cartridge with elliptical stylus; new 12.5" arm; stylus SAS tip, boron shaft for existing Shure MM cartridge.

Oh yeah, Analog for Analog. I sold my Solid State preamp and amp and switched back to Tubes. Happily the vintage McIntosh tube tuner/preamp has 2 MM phono inputs, just turn the selector for mono or stereo arm. McIntosh also has separate trim controls for those inputs, so you can equalize the signal strength of the two phono outputs (I don’t bother, but a nice option some like).
.......................................

Which cartridge, such a simple question.
I think you should consider your sources while making your analog direction decision. Do you have a large number of lps in good condition to play? Or are you ready to buy more? Are you willing to learn how to properly set up a cartridge? Or do you listen to mostly digital? I have always been 90% or more an analog listener so when upgrading my analog setup (which I did in phases over a 2-3 year period) these decisions were easy. My system is posted here. Let me know if you have any specific questions about my analog journey. Have fun learning and researching! 
I’m mostly digital but I do own 700+ LP’s.  I started buying Albums in 1980, my first purchase being “Extended Play” by Pretenders.  Most of my records are in good shape, although my first 100 or so moved with me to college where they were sometimes abused by myself and others.  I have set up cartridges in the past but I wouldn’t call myself an expert by any means.  I am happy with my digital setup. Thanks for replying.
The whole cartridge setup is about connecting 4 wires and tightening 2 screws (better to do with MM/MI when stylus is removed), then you add the stylus and move/twist the cartridge in the headshell slots by loosing the screws, the stylus must be on the mark given by tonearm manufacturer on template. The cantilever must be in line with marks on template. Tracking force according to cartridge manufacturing recommendation, same position for antiskating. Tonearm parallel to the record then the needle is on the vinyl. That’s it. Very easy!

Manufacturers like Technics supply overhang gauge and all you have to to is to insert headshell into the gauge and alight the cartridge, there is a mark for stylus position. It is super easy!

Dr.Feickert designed universal protracktor for whatever tonearm and whatever turntable, if you have it you can align any cartridge in any tonearm on any turntable and it will be spot on. All you need is to choose Baerwald, Lofrgen or Stevenson aligned method prodived by Feickert on his protractor. Manual.






Another vote for the Hana cartridge here. I have the the Hana EH and it blew away the ortofon 2m blue I had before.
delos is an overkill for any project table
Utter nonsense.  Their Signature line and the better RPMs and Xtensions are excellent turntables which will do justice to any cartridge.  Especially when fitted with better arms than the originals.
My fault on the Hana model number.  It's one of the EL's I meant.  

Bob
I had the same table.  I noticed a big improvement in the SQ by replacing the Blue Point with a Dynavector 10x5.  I'm not saying you need that cart, but just answering your question that you will see improvement in that table with a better cartridge.  I think it would be good up to about $1k.

But, I'll also say that I don't have that table any longer.   I have a vintage JVC VL8 from the early 70s that my dad bought brand new in 73.  I compared the two tables next to each other, same system, same cartridge, after setting up both tables for the cart.  The JVC easily bested the ProJect.  I really wanted the ProJect to be better, but it wasn't so.  The JVC had better bass, richer fuller sound, and quieter.  I was surprised, but soon sold that ProJect, and now use the JVC for several years.

It's all about what you want to achieve.  I'm sure you'll find the right path.  My path was improve the table, step up to AT ART9, and then improve the Phono Preamp to Manley Chinook.  I did that over a few years, and found it to be a good path.  

Good luck!
You wrote, “I need some opinions.”
You obviously came to the right place.
I use both the Hanna EL and the Denon DL-301MKII.  Both perform well above their cost and are highly recommended by many in the community.