Low output MC to match my phono stage


I am in the market for a new cartridge and am considering trying out a low output MC. However, I don't know what output level I should look for so as to match my current phono stage.

I am currently using the phono stage on my Plinius 8200 MkII, and I am not interested in replacing it. The low gain setting is 1.5 mV RMS. The high gain setting is 0.75 mV RMS. The input impedance is 47kOhms.

To date, I have only used MM cartridges and a Dynavector 10x5 (high output MC). I am considering a Benz ACE, a Denon 103R, and another Dynavector. Do I absolutely need a step-up transformer if I go with the Denon? (If so, I can't afford more than the entry-level Denon.) Would I be better off with the medium output ACE?

I would be using the cartridge with my Rega P5. Presence and musicality are extremely important to me, yet I am on limited funds.
Shouldn't this read:

The low gain setting is (FOR) 1.5 mV RMS (OUTPUT CARTRIDGES). The high gain setting is (FOR) 0.75 mV RMS (OUTPUT CARTRIDGES)?

I ask because "gain" is usually expressed in dB (decibels).

Anyway, .75mV output would be considered a medium output moving coil cartridge (low output would be .2mV - .4mV) Set to hi gain, your phono preamp section would probably handle a van den Hul Frog (.6mV) or Frog Gold (.85mV) and probably many other brands in that output range. You can look up specs at: www.cartridgedb.com

You will also have to add additional load resistors in parallel to the 47K ohm default impedance of your preamp's phono stage, in order to reduce it to the proper load for a moving coil cartridge (usually somewhere between 100 ohms and 2000 ohms) Your Plinius probably has a place inside the chassis where you can add these resistors. Check with the manufacturer.
I believe the Plinius has internal dip switches for adjusting phono input impedance. Check your manual.

Also, double check the sensitivity/gain language that Nsgarch questioned. No point giving advice until we're sure what your Plinius is capable of.
Thanks for the help thus far. Nsgarch, I believe you are right. This is how I should make sense of it. The manual states:

"INPUT SENSITIVITY: 300 mV RMS for rated output at 1kHz. 1.5 mV RMS on Phono low gain setting. 0.75 mV RMS on Phono high gain setting."

That is it. Nothing in the manual mentions user-adjustable phono input impedance. Just that I can switch it from high gain to low gain. I'll send off an email to see what the impedance is on the low gain setting.

Thanks again for the help thus far.
Episteme -- for the LO gain (MM) setting, the built-in load is most likely 47K. What you really want to know is what the default load is for the HI gain setting (it might also be 47K) and you want to know how to modify it.
Nsgarch -- Right, thanks. Got that mixed up. I actually posed the question correctly (!) to Plinius. We'll see what they say...
Below is the response I got from the US Plinius distributor. In short, the impedance is set for 47kOhms on both the "high" and "low" setting.

"If you change the phono gain of the 8200 MK II, it will not affect the cartridge loading of the phono section. This is possible to change by changing the hard-wired loading resistor on the phono board, but as you have been using a Hi-output MC cart and all you are doing is switching for a Low-Output MC cart, you should not have to worry over the loading, as it will sound just fine. It is not a gain issue with loading, but one of philosophy when using MC carts. Some feel that they should have a lower input loading, while others, such as myself, feel that 47 Kohm is the right choice in the majority of cases. I think you will find that you are fine."

I am clearly just learning here, but this has to be, at the least, controversial. I won't be doing any modifications to the amp, as I just am not going to get into it. Not sure where all of this leaves me, but at least I have learned a bunch....
Well, I have to inform you that cartridge loading is not a matter of taste. Nor is it "controversial" or arbitrary. And the person who replied to your inquiry is rather less than knowledgable (to say the least!) There are many threads on Agon that go into this subject in detail. After you decide on a new cartridge, you'll want a more extensive explanation I'm sure.

Suffice to say that I've never heard or heard of, a normal (meaning not a "high output") moving coil cartridge that performed optimally at 47K ohms.

Many of the high output moving coil cartridges do work with 47K ohms, because they were specifically designed to do so. This is partly for convenience, since most people buy them to use with dedicated MM phonostages, and generally, they do not come with loading options because MM cartridges don't require them.
Hmm, I think Nsgarch (Neil) will agree that Plinius is sort of telling a mistruth here in that 47K will be suitable for all MC Cartridges, as it won't.

A shame that so many manufacturers seem to overlook a variety of both gain, and loading with their products, and have the "Ron Popeil" philosophy of "Set it, and forget it".

As Neil, and others in the know have advised me, MC Cartridges that have an output over 1Mv might be quite happy at 47K (Like my hi-output Glider), as they then sort of act like an MM, but those that have lower output might not favor 47k loading. Mark
Thanks for the quick responses, Nsgarch and Markd51. I suspected that what you say here is true, as I have been reading a bit of stuff over at Audio Asylum. I'll check out some threads here, too.

At the time being, I am thinking of just trying out a Denon DL103 (not the 'R' version) with the $100 Denon step-up transfomer (1:10). If I am understanding things, this should lower the impedance appropriately and also boost the signal enough to work with the regular MM setting on my amp.

I can get this at the same price as another Dynavector 10x5 (which I liked), and I am curious to get some more experience with different kinds of cartridges.

Anyhow, I appreciate all of your help. It has been A LOT of help.
I had a conversation with Keith Herron at RMAF and he was also against cartridge loading feeling 47k ohm was fine for MC. I myself do not agree and while I respect his opinion I decided to buy another phonostage.

That being said, if you don't want to mess with swapping the resistor internally (although in my opinion this is what I would do as it should be very simple to accomplish), then another option is to run the phonostage in MM mode and use a step-up transformer such as the K&K Audio which allows you to easily plug in different resistor values to alter the load. For example, if you use 47k ohm in the step-up, combined with the 47k ohm in the phonostage you will net a 940 ohm load (don't worry, there is a spreadsheet on the Galibier Design website that has these calculations all figured out for you, its what I use). Again, I'd do this directly in the unit, but options are always nice to have.
The Plinius agent gave you misleading information, which is contrary to what the factory told me. The gain is indeed too low for low-output mc cartridges. I ended up buying a Plinius Jarrah phonostage which has (i) higher gain (ii) user-adjustable loading (important with my AT OC9 II ML) and (iii) a sweeter sound. The problem is that the Jarrah has recently vanished from the Plinius website and I wonder if production has ceased. Pity if it has.
Well, that's interesting. Plinius tells the owner of an integrated that impedance doesn't matter, yet includes it on their more expensive models. (I also know for certain that some Plinius phono sections have dip switches.) You have to admire such blatant condescension.

I am continually amazed by the ignorance or arrogance of so many manufacturers of high-priced (not necessarily high-performance) phono stages. Plinius isn't alone. The Audion Quattro is just as bad, the Lamm is worse and the support they offer their owners is just as useless.

To state that impedance loading doesn't matter for LO vs. HO MC's betrays a profound ignorance of how MC's work. The only philosophy involved is the philosophy of being too lazy to care.

Look for posts by John Elison on VA for a cheap/easy way to use Y-connectors to experiment with loading resistors, without ripping open your preamp. Once you settle on a good value you can decide whether or not to solder.
Doug (now that I've stopped laughing!) would you be kind enough to post a link to that (John Elison) article. I'd like to try it. Thanx.
Go ahead, make my day!

Here's John's idea, complete with photos:

Doug, well that's pretty straightforward isn't it! And I just happen to have a few of those Monster Y-connectors laying around somewhere . . . . .