JC3+ With Kleos SL?

Hey Folks,

I am considering trading in my Kleos for a Kleos SL.  Has anybody tried one of the SL versions of the Kleos, Etna, or Atlas with the Parasound JC3+?  As you may know the SL needs more gain and the rated 64DB gain of the JC3+ is below the 65DB gain recommended by Lyra and the US distributor Audioquest.

8ae791b4 930b 43c7 b000 cd8c6c8ed862robob
64dB is more than enough for the Kleos SL.......at 0.25mV output you need about 61-62dB of gain for optimal output. I suspect anything more and you risk introducing too much hiss.
Use the KAB Gain calculator for an idea......... 
I wouldn’t go that route, what minimal increases you are likely to gain with the lower output SL, you will almost certainly lose with pushing the phono stage into potential distortion. 
Probably depends on how much gain you enjoy listening at, but I always believe that the lowest output cartridges essentially throw away their gains with the losses at the phono stage. I’m no fan of these ultra low output cartridges for this reason.
I’m with Catcher. With 90%+ of the systems out there 64 dB will be plenty of gain for a .25 mV cartridge. You could drop to .2 mV and likely have no problem for lack of gain unless you’re running a system with a passive preamp or horribly inefficient speakers.

.25 mV would be considered low output, but hardly ultra low output. I'd reserve that for cartridges outputting less than .15 mV. Regardless, it is all about proper gain matching and 64 dB will be plenty, and most likely a bit more than necessary, not less.
Thanks Folks,

I think I am going to go with the SL. The JC3+ and the CP-500 it is connected to are both quiet. The Classe CP-500 has input level adjustments so I can even the levels of the connected sources.

daveyf, I believe the only way to drive a high quality phono pre into distortion is to overdrive it on the input side.

Much appreciate the responses,
Keep in mind that the rated output of a phono cartridge is only a representation of what it does at one particular stylus velocity (3.54 or 5.0 cm/sec). When you are playing actual music the stylus is moving faster than the standard velocity most of the time. Therefore the actual output of that cartridge while playing music is going to be greater than its rated output most of the time. And the difference between 64db and 65db is of course trivial. In other words, no problemo.
Good points lewm.

Lyra is using 5 cm/sec as stated here:

And again they mention rigid bearings.

Have both the Lyra Helikon and the Lyra Helikon SL, the SL is quite a bit better than the higher output standard model and yes 64 db of gain with your J3 should be fine, go for it.
@robbob, since you had already made up your mind, I'm not understanding the point of your OP??

If the phono stage is working too hard to amplify the signal, you will get distortion...unless you are going to be happy with a very low output from your system. I know this as I went through exactly the same problem with a very low output MC and my phono stage. Output was 0.25mv and the phono stage was good for 64db of gain. 
I had not made up my mind at the time of the original post.

Interesting you got distortion.  The gain of the phono stage is fixed so I would expect noise but not distortion.  A low input will give a lower output.  One's preamp may distort trying to make up the difference.  That is unlikely with the CP-500, particularly at the reasonable levels at which I listen.  Will give that issue some more thought.

Thanks for the replies,
Sorry, to be clear, I heard a lot more noise through the system as the gain was turned up...in my books that equates to distortion. As the system was asked to amplify the signal, the noise increased tremendously as it began to max out on the gain. Running the preamp gain control at such a high level, meant an increase in noise/ distortion. Far greater loss than what I had gained by going with the lower output cartridge and its supposedly greater abilities due to lower windings of the coil. YMMV.
Davey, You cannot be sure that your "gain" problem centers around the gain of your phono stage (65db per your report) and the output of your cartridge (0.25mV).  The subjective impression of gain also depends upon the input sensitivity and gain of your linestage (if you drive a linestage via your phono stage) and the input sensitivity of your amplifier(s), assuming other evidence that the amplifier/speaker match is copacetic.  On paper, a cartridge with a real output of 0.25mV driving a phono stage with 65db of gain should be fine.  I am currently using an Audio Technica ART7 (less than 0.2mV output) into a Manley Steelhead set at 65db for gain.  The Manley output stage adds no further gain, and there is absolutely no sense of strain or noise due to stress.  (The Manley drives a pair of Beveridge direct drive amplifiers which have a solid state input stage; I do not know the input sensitivity, but obviously it's adequate.)

By the way, for the purposes of discussion, at least, it's best to separate "distortion" from "noise", I think.  Your lumping of noise and distortion is not wrong but maybe a little confusing.  Noise of the kind you describe is accounted for by the "signal to noise ratio" specification, which is usually stated separately from harmonic or IM distortion measurements.
So let me quote Lyra and then I have a question.  They say, "Most users (and phono stages) will benefit from the regular Kleos with much higher output and considerably more energy; resulting in a much better signal-to-noise ratio."  

The energy part is interesting.  Are the lower output carts less dynamic?  The fact that they say higher output and more output in reference to the regular Kleos begs the question.

Enjoying the discussion:-)
@lewm. The interaction with my preamp and amp were not an issue, the preamp I utilized at the time had no problem with a cartridge that was spec’d at 0.35mv. I agree there are several issues that can crop up that affect the outcome of the pairing, but IME it isn’t wise to push the gear to the max, just because we can.
I think the warning, and that’s the way I read it, that Rob posts above from Lyra is there for a very good reason. I totally respect that they put that out there, as so many other ultra low output cartridge manufacturers, like Ortofon as an example, don’t bother.
Unfortunately, on paper is rarely going to tell you the whole story...on paper my 0.25 mV cartridge should have worked, which is why I bought it...in reality...not so much!

I repeat: Driving a phono stage capable of 65 dB of gain with a cartridge that puts out 0.25mV under standard conditions is not per se “stress”-ful. I don’t suggest that you didn’t hear what you heard. I do think maybe there was some unknown factor that affected your results. In general, I agree with you that ideally you want all components to operate within their comfort zone. Or maybe you were picking up RF, etc. There are many possibilities.
Ok, here’s my question for the OP and lewm.Why do you think that Lyra and the distributor both recommend a phono stage with at least 65db of gain, vs one that has 64db of gain? Could it be that they know something that lewm doesn’t? 
I think they are just being safe and don’t want folks unhappy and trying to return a handbuilt $4k cartridge. Not sure I mentioned it but they did say my setup should work fine. I do have other phono pres, including a tubed one with gobs of gain that I can use if necessary. I think my old PS Audio GCPH has switchable gain.

Called Lyra with a card number, they sent the RMA info so now I need to box it up and ship it.

Take it EZ,
 Of course, I would never pretend to challenge the knowledge level of anyone like Jonathan Carr, when it comes to this subject. However, please show me where Jonathan Carr ever wrote that 65 DB of gain was good but 64 dbof gain is not good. Thanks. 
65db of gain equates to 1778 times V. So 0.25mV of cartridge output becomes ~450mV.
64db of gain equates to ~1600 times V. The 0.25mV output is amplified to ~400mV.

Unless you’re using a passive linestage, you’re going to end up with ~4V of signal given 64 dB of phono gain, which is more than twice the signal voltage needed to drive any amplifier to full output .
Once again, it seems that the OP had made up his mind before starting this thread. Good for him, I’m off this thread now.

I said I had not made up my mind in advanced.  If most replies had said the JC3+ would not be suitable with the SL then I would have saved the money and just had the Kleos checked and rebuilt if necessary.  Based on the data and thinking in this thread,  I doubt my setup will have any problem with the SL and as I have stated, I have other phono pres that would suffice.

Some Humans have trouble admitting that their line of reasoning may be faulty.

Y'all hang in there,
Robob, if I read this correctly, you’re using a standard Kleos with JC3+ currently? I have a Kleos as well and want to get a new phono stage. If you do have the JC3+, what has been your overall assessment of it compatibility with the Kleos?
Also curious what table you have it on. 

Thank you

Well I sent the Kleos back to upgrade to the SL and am waiting.

The JC3+ works very well with the Kleos.  My only minor complaint is that it may be a touch forward compared to the other phono stages I have had in the system.  It does have depth to the soundstage so the slight forwardness may be due to the lack of coloration or the way many recordings are produced.  The clarity and extended response allows one to easily hear cable differences.  Also,  the build quality of my unit is very good. 

Hope that helps,
Robob, thank you for responding. I haven’t had a chance to hear one yet but the press almost puts it in a “no brainer” category. There isn’t a dealer in my area that has one for me to try. I have been using an old Linn Linto which works well, but better is always the quest, right. 
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.
You are most welcome.

And yeah,  the reviews have been all good.  I am betting the JC3+ is still the one to beat anywhere near it's price.

And on the original topic,  my Kleos SL is on it's way from Japan to Audioquest and may ship to me by the end of the week.


My backup system of a Dynevector 20xH on a VPI Scoutmaster is pretty good but can't match the detail and fullness of the Kleos/SME 309/SOTA Star (vacuum) combo.  And the elliptical stylus on the Dynevector picks up more noise.

Again let me remind folks that the newer Lyras are different from the older Helikon, etc.  They reproduce more body of an instrument without giving up detail.

Y'all take care
keep us posted, love my Delos but when I wear it out I am sure I will move North up the Lyra line. FWIW the Delos reacts well to a fine tonearm, I lucked into a Triplaner which seems magical...enjoy the music.

Hello Again,

To answer my original question,  the Kleos SL works very nicely into the JC3+.  Now on to the sound:

So I have the Kleos SL installed and roughly setup. I say roughly because the Shure stylus gauge is not good for two decimal places and I eyeballed the azimuth and VTA. The horizontal tracking angle did not change as the SL is the same body as the standard version, but I did check it.

As you might suspect, the sound is much the same as the Kleos. It is however more detailed both in transients and overtones. One would probably notice this on acoustic instruments as the plucking or hammer action is more distinct and there is more resonance as well. Also there is more texture which is probably another way of saying the above.

Unlike what an Absolute Sound reviewer said of the SL version of the Etna, the Kleos SL is more dynamic than it’s standard sibling.   Now my main setup is no longer less dynamic that the backup turntable rig. Both macro and micro dynamics have improved with the SL. Everything is more solid. The soundstage is perhaps a bit better and the individual instruments have more air or space around them. If you like the more homogenized sound of moving magnet cartridges, you won’t like the Kleos SL. It is also easier to notice when folks get carried away with reverb and slap echo.

I have a Clearaudio Weight Watcher stylus force gauge on order so I may have more to say after I experiment with different tracking force settings.

Y’all be cool,
I have a Kleos SL running into a K&K Audio Premium Maxxed-out phonostage with no problems. I have to agree with your assessments. It is a wonderful cartridge.

Thanks Joe for your thoughts. 

I was just listening to Birdcage from Sophia Pfister.  That LP is one of Fremer's recommendations.  The acoustic guitar on one of the cuts is quite wonderful,  the "it's in the room" sensation.  Overall the LP, which I believe is AAA, is wonderful on the Kleos SL and as I mentioned,  more dynamic than the Kleos with solid kick drum hits that resonate.

Hope you folks are doing well,