Matching Cartridge to Hovland Phono

Question: I have the Hovland HP-100 with the MC 63db step-up transformer. Looking at their specs (below) is a Dynavector 20xl a good 'match' to this phono? I have some difficulty understanding what to look for in getting an ideal match.

Specs for the DV 20xl:

Type High/Low output moving coil cartridge with flux damper and softened magnetism
Output Voltage 2.8mV / 0.3mV (at 1KHz, 5cm/sec.)
Channel Separation 25 dB (at 1KHz)
Channel balance 1.0 dB (at 1KHz)
Frequency response 20 - 20,000Hz (± 2dB)
Compliance 12 x 10-6 cm/dyn
Tracking force 1.8 - 2.2grams
DC resistance 150 ohms / 5 ohms
Recommended load
resistance > 1Kohms / > 30 ohms
Cantilever 6mm length, hard aluminium pipe
Stylus Micro-Ridge
Weight 8.6 grams

Hovland HP-100:
Phono Stage (46 dB gain)
Minimum input voltage: approx. 0.7 millivolt @ 1000 Hz
Input impedance: 1 meg ohm
Frequency response: ±0.15 dB, 25 Hz - 25 kHz
S/N ratio: 60 dB below 2 mv input wideband
75 dB below 2 mv input w/ 400 Hz high-pass filter

MC Phono Stage with MC-7 Transformer (63 dB gain)
Maximum input voltage: approx. 1.0 millivolt @ 1000 Hz
Input impedance: approx. 530 Ω (provision for reduced loading)
Need to know what your arm is. Arm/cart matching is more critical.
Using a Dynavector DV 507MKII
Arm/cart matching is certainly critical, but so is cart/phono matching. If you've ever heard a significant mismatch you'd know it, so Stickman asked a good question and his specs provide good examples.


The DV-20XL puts out 2.8mv. Your MC inputs specify a maximum input of just 1.0mv, so clearly you shouldn't use those. If you did you'd have far too much gain. This might overload your line stage and/or amp and/or endanger your tweeters - not to mention your ears.

Your MM stage, OTOH, is reasonably well suited for a DV-20XL. No surprise, since that's a HOMC specifically designed for use with MM phono stages. While the "ideal" gain for a 2.8mv cartridge is more like 41db (according to the KAB Preamp Gain Calculator), your Hovland's 46db is close enough. You'd have ample dynamics and you wouldn't be pushing the phono stage hard, so its noise level should stay low.

Assuming you like this cartridge and don't mind leaving your MC stepups idle, your Hovland should work fine with it. You might find the sound a little bright (or not, it's system dependent) due to the very high input impedance of your MM stage. That can be adusted by inserting resistors across the inputs, so it's not a bar to using this cartridge.
Yes; but I am using it with the MC step-up transformer, not the MM... you lost me...

So, you are saying that I am should not use the 20XL with the MC step up transformer? I'm not having any volume issues at all; I typically listen with the Hovland set at 1 to 2 o'clock range...
Wait a minute; I am using the 20XL, low that is .3mv output right?
Based on the specs you are showing, the match for cart. loading should be OK. I own the Hovland and I use a Benz Ruby 2 LO. The Hovland is designed to work well with just about any cart. out there providing low noise and excellent dynamics with a step-up transformer. If you want to be absolutely certain, call Hovland and talk to Alex Crespi who will tell you exactly what you want to know. If you want to load your cart. at a lower impedence, Hovland will change your fixed 530 ohms to around 200. Many cartridges load better at a lower impedence, but be aware that cart. loading is tricky with a step-up in the mix. Alex I believe will echo this if you talk to him. Don't be influenced by friends or threads here where people talk about various cart. loadings. They might be using preamps with active phono stages which react differently to cart. loads. BTW, depending on the age of your Hovland, there might be mods available from Hovland at a reasonable price. Mine is almost 5 years old and I had mods done by them last Dec. and they made the already outstandingly quiet phono section even quieter. Well worth the expense.
Thanks Elinor,

I do plan to call Alex; have talked him with several times over the last few years. I sent my Hovland back last year and got the latest upgrades; was well worth it, definitely lowered the noise floor. I am curious what tubes you are using in the phono? Last year I ordered some Mullard NOS from Upscale Audio. I haven't been that happy with them. They seem a little noiser than the stock Hovland tubes and lacking a little of the liveliness I had before... I may just order a stock set from Alex...
Let's get the story straight! ;-)

If you're using the .3mv version of the Dyna then, yes, you should be using the MC inputs. The gain structure is fine, which is why you're having no issues in that regard.

The only question is impedance. This is extremely sensitive when using a stepup transformer and no one can give you more than general guidance. Each system is unique and the adjustment when using an SUT is so touchy that trial and error is the only method for optimizing.

Good luck!
Thanks...I will raise the issue of impedance with Alex at Hovland...

thanks again
0,3 mV output should do, but you could very well go with a bit higher output (I have talk to Alex about this befor ordering my phonostage).

I am using the Hovland MM myself with an outboard step-up (26dB) for my XV-1s (0,3mV). In my opinion your combination (arm and phonostage) deserves a better cartridge than the one your planning to use. Hope you don't mind me saying so.

I'm using Telefunken tubes in both phono- and linestage. Not as bold sounding as some tubes, but the soundstage depth and dynamics are incredible.
Thanks for the feedback...I only used the 20XL since I previously had it on my Scout...I would agree, I should move to a better cartridge (as soon as funds permit)... I spoke to Hovland and they said that there should be no issues using the 20XL in conjunction with the HP-100... They did suggest that I get a 'better' cartridge at some point, but that for now I may want to look at other cables for the arm... I have heard good reports on the Hovland cable before, so I may try it soon...
I have tested quite a few cartridges on the DV507MKII through the last two years (Koetsu Urushi, DV Te Kaitora Rua, Shelter 90X, Denon DL103, DV XV-1s). Matching step-ups is of great importance with cartridges (far more important than with active units). In my opinion, and in my setup, the XV-1s is the better choice for this arm.

Personally I prefer the combination with a lighter headshell than the original Dynavector (gets to heavy in the bass).