You'll need to upgrade your turntable if you want to get into better cartridges. The MMF2.2's arm is simply not up to the task. I know, I owned a 2.1.
If you want to keep your table, the $99 Ortofon 2M Red would be a fabulous upgrade. Since it has a basic eliptical stylus, alignment isn't super-super-critical. A basic alignment tool like yours should more than suffice. That's about as far as I would go. Truth be told, you probably won't even be able to wring the full potential out of the 2M Red.
Before pumping more money into your 2.2, when it's obvious you want to step up, why not sell it and pick up a Rega P2 or, better still, P3. Great arms for the money, good decks and motors, and plenty of upgrade potential that you can do a little at a time. For instance, you can buy a P3 now and add the external PSU later. Maybe an upgraded subplatter. Then possibly rewire the tonearm and add a new counterweight.
Your investment now in a turntable with an upgrade path will save you money in the long run.
Not sure if Pro-Ject/Music Hall still puts a steel platter on the mmf-2.x turntables but you want to be careful about using a moving coil cartridge with a strong magnetic pull on a ferrous platter. It'll collapse the cantilever.
Ekobesky and Tketcham are both correct, as I also owned an MMF 2.1. The tonearm is the weak link, and doesn't warrant much more than the Goldring it came with. I liked it with the Shure M97, but when I upgraded to the V15Vxmr the arm just couldn't keep up. I also tried a Denon 103R and sure enough, it stuck right to the platter. It was the first turntable I ever set up on my own, so it was a learning experience.
Best to stick to MM cartridges while you have the MMF; I haven't heard the Ortofon, but the 2M line seems to get great reviews.
Upgrade your table; you're wasting time and money otherwise.
Thanks for your replys. Now I'm kinda bummed.
I have a 20year old Linn Axis with a Grado Gold on it. The cueing arm is bad and the cost to replace it is $240. I thought I was getting a good table with the 2.2. I found a Rega P2 with a glassplatter that I could have had for what I paid for the MusicHall. I guess I made the wrong decision.
I bought the 2.2 thru LP Gear and I did get a stylus upgrade for the Tracker. It sounds pretty good. I did get the Speed control box and a TT weight and they both made a huge improvement. Maybe I'll try the Grado with this table.
Again thanks all for the input.
Yikes. It would be more than worth $240 to get a Linn Axis running again, especially if it has the Akito arm but the Basik was decent enough. Any Linn dealer would be happy to service it for you.
It's pretty easy to find a used Basik or Akito tonearm and not all that difficult to replace the entire arm yourself. The Akito arm performed acceptably well with moving coils up to $400 or so. The Basik was a little shaky with MCs but I would certainly consider a $300 moving magnet with the Basik -- a Linn Adikt would be a natural choice, but so would the Ortofon 2M Bronze, Goldring 1042 or Audio Technica AT150MLx.
Here's my final answer: sell the Music Hall and spend the proceeds on getting the Linn fixed. Then enjoy it for another 20 years. There is no new table you can buy for $240 that will equal its performance.
My Axis has the Basik arm on it.
I guess I'll see what I can get for the 2.2 and put my $ into the Axis.
You are a professional reviewer and of all people should be aware that one of the changes made in going from the Music Hall 2.1 to the 2.2 was the tone arm. The new arm has a one piece Headshell and arm formed from a larger diameter aluminum alloy tube also stainless/sapphire pivot bearings and rudimentary VTA adjustment capability. No it's not an SME but is not bad at all and certainly can accommodate and show the advantages of a moderately priced moving coil cartridge. In fact it works quite well with my Denon DL160 and my older Audio Technica AT30 HE. Jazzhowell already did the right thing by adding the speedbox and he can also add an acrylic platter as a further worthwhile upgrade without spending a lot of money. I also own a Linn LP12 that currently has a Sumiko Premier MMT arm, Hercules speed regulator board and a a Sony XL44s LOMC. Is it better? Yes, but it costs 6 times as much and has it's own set of issues with such problems as footfalls and isolation.
Oh, and the Music Hall platter is non ferrous and not a problem with strong magnets in a cartridge (the Philips GA 212/312 were the last turntables I can remember that had a problem with moving coils due to a steel platter).
Thanks for adding some important information. I haven't seen the 2.2 myself but the arm does look like a decent Pro-Ject aluminum tonearm. It appears to be a big step up from the original arm on the 2.1, which I used for a while.
I mentioned the ferrous platter only as a warning; if the 2.2 has a non-ferrous platter then it's good to go with MC cartridges. And the acrylic platter sounds like a good upgrade.
If the upgrades from the 2.1 are as they appear, then the 2.2 seems like it's not a bad turntable for the money, especially considering it's new and low maintenance.
You are a professional reviewer and of all people should be aware that one of the changes made in going from the Music Hall 2.1 to the 2.2 was the tone arm. The new arm has a one piece Headshell and arm formed from a larger diameter aluminum alloy tube also stainless/sapphire pivot bearings and rudimentary VTA adjustment capability.
I don't care if they sprinkled fairy dust on it, too. I appreciate you brining the changes to my attention but all that was moot the second I heard that Jazzhowell has a Linn Axis sitting in his closet, and all it needed was $240 in repairs to get it going again.
Debating the merits of the Music Hall 2.1 versus the 2.2 is kinda like fighting over how much better the 2009 Hyundai Excel is compared to the 2002. I'm sure the new one is much improved but would you drive a 2009 Excel if you had a 2002 BMW 540i parked in the driveway that needed only a minor repair to get it going again? And, in the long run, which is going to hold up better and retain more of its resale value?
As good as the 2.2 arm may be now, I doubt it's a match for a Linn Basik, which was still a modest arm, but taken as a package with the Axis, which has a FAR superior motor, electronics, deck and platter, well, I know what I'd go with.
Having owned both a Linn Axis and Music Hall 2.1, they really would need to dip the Music Hall in magic juice to make it perform anywhere near an Axis. It's a throwaway. A surprisingly good throwaway for the money, but still a throwaway. Nobody in their right mind throws away a Linn or a Rega or even an old Dual.
And as far as being low maintenance, they would also have had to send the Lexus quality control team in there to fix the factory. My 2.1 fell to pieces in a matter of weeks. Music Direct, to their credit, took it back. What we're talking about here is a basic design that goes back to the Communist era in the Eastern bloc. It was designed to be a cheap, bare bones table for poor people. Granted, the 2.2 is a much improved animal, but still.
Now, if this was Jazzhowell's first and/or only table, I'd have more encouraging words. But he has a really nice table collecting dust. I say, let's get that bad boy running again! (Or ship it to me and I'll fix it for myself!)
I never suggested he should not repair the Linn. Absolutely it should be repaired but telling Jazzhowell that the MMF2.2 could not handle a DL160 and that he should sell a perfectly good turntable and take a loss because you had issues with a previous model is just wrong. You did not have a 2.2 you had a 2.1 they are not the same especially regarding the tone arms. Also saying that the Axis will sound better than the Music Hall is questionable as that would at least depend on how the suspension (which is quite similar to the MMF2.2 btw) has held up and whether his table has the (better) Akito or the not so great LVX tonearm. As far as the Music Hall being "a Thowaway" I listened to that same statement 30+ years ago about the AR XA with it's crappy clock motor that could not possibly last (I have 2 one of which is approaching it's 50th birthday and still functions fine)and I would be willing to bet the number of still functioning AR XA's is 10 times that of Duals of the same vintage.
My apologies,I just checked to be sure and I was wrong on the platter material. It is ferrous and quite magnetic. So you would have to upgrade to an acrylic platter to accommodate a moving coil. The difference from the 2.1 is that it appears to to have a coating of damping material on it. Again my error I should have looked for the original platter last night as mine has the acrylic installed at the moment so the DL160 is not a problem for me.
Also saying that the Axis will sound better than the Music Hall is questionable as that would at least depend on how the suspension (which is quite similar to the MMF2.2 btw) has held up and whether his table has the (better) Akito or the not so great LVX tonearm.
One more suggestion, Jazzhowell...
It's true that the Basik in any form wasn't the greatest arm, though as part of a turntable system it was very good.
Since the arm needs replacement anyway, a Rega RB250 or RB300 should work fine on the Axis. I've seen these mounted before. That would repair the arm problem and give you much more flexibility in terms of cartridge choice. Rega just came out with new versions of the 250 and 300 but some feel the old versions had superior mounting schemes. In any event, plenty of used ones are available. Britaucio.com might be a good place to ask.
Don't worry too much about the suspension. It's a simple system of rubber grommets. Any Linn dealer can pop new ones in as easy as changing a lightbulb. I did it myself on my table just as precautionary measure, though that was years ago. It was a very minor expense.
Geraldm121 and I may disagree on whether your old Axis as it stands is superior to your Music Hall. But I suspect he'd agree with me that an Axis with a new Rega RB300 arm and fresh rubber bits is superior in every respect. I would even go so far as to say that setup would be tough to beat in today's market for under $1000. Not a bad deal, considering it could be done for less than half that price and maybe much less with careful shopping.
You know, the one question all of us neglected to ask was whether you're enjoying your Music Hall? If you are, and all this sounds too complicated or not worth the bother, then ignore all of us, sell the Linn :-( and put the money toward some new records!
I want to thank all of you for the interesting and very knowledgeable info you are offerring me. I wish I had found this site before my purchase. I knew 20 years ago that the Axis was a very good TT. I did not get the impression that the MusicHall was such a slouch from what research I did do.
Claims of audiophile performance at a good price helped sway me. I figured after 20 years a newer, quality table would be a good choice. The technology for a TT is pretty much the same then as now and I should have realized that I did, still, have a jewel of a TT in the Axis.
The 2.2 is performing well. Especially with the speed control and the TT weight. I don't much care for the Tracker cartridge, hence the post for a better one'
I bought my entire system when I bought the Axis and although not Audiophile, at the time I was pretty impressed. Carver M500T amp with the C1 preamp,
Bose 901,originally a Nakamichi CD player, and I now have the Sony 595 SACD. I also purchased a Yaqin Hybrid Tube Buffer that has really helped with my sound. A large portion of my LP collection is German pressing ECM jazz and they would sound good on any system. I really want to upgrade my speakers to something like the Vandersteen 1C's.
Linn gave me the name of a dealer to contact for the Linn overhaul so I am going to see about that.
again, I appreciate all your help.
Ed, from reading your other posts I do appreciate what you have to say however blunt it might be. You know better than I.
"...Tracker cartridge, hence the post for a better one." If you decide to keep the mmf-2.2 (nothing wrong with having two turntables :-) then you might find a Goldring 10xx series cartridge for a reasonable price. I upgraded from the Tracker to a 1012GX (got a good deal) on my 2.1 and it was a good match and made a dramatic improvement. Also, I found that a good platter mat (I like the Herbie's Way Excellent mat) helped to reduce background/surface noise and improve definition, bass lines in particular.
In any case, have fun!
Thanks for your comments here. I was thinking of getting a Project Debut III but I think I'm going to look for a used P3 or a LP12. I'm patient so when the right deal comes along I'm going to hop on it.
Ed is correct your Linn with a Rega arm is an excellent combination and as Ed says equal to or better than anything under a $1,000.
kevmaster, a used Rega P3 is an good choice easy to setup,trouble free and excellent sound. The LP12 (and I use one as my main table)requires an investment in time and energy to setup correctly and if it needs parts or you want to modify it,it can get very expensive quickly. On the other hand mine is over 30 years old and still functioning well with great sound. Have fun with your choice in either case.
Just one suggestion before you start spending a lot of money. Try a Herbies mat on the Music Hall. When I got back into analog, my first tt was a Music Hall MMF5. The Herbies mat transformed it more than I could have imagined. When I decided to buy a high-end vinyl rig, I tried the Herbies mat on my Linn and much preferred the standard felt mat. Try a Herbies.