Motor & Bearing or Cartridge upgrade?

Hi guys - If both upgrades cost the same bucks, which do you think will provide the greater sonic improvement?

1) Upgrading an Avid Volvare to a Sequel with a new outboard motor and bearing. Please consider ANY motor improvement. Lower noise floor and improved PRAT, or,

2) Upgrading from a Lyra Helicon to a Titan with all the great stuff a Titan will add.

I'm leaning to a cartridge upgrade. What do you think? Thanks. Richard
Dear Richard: I agree with you: cartridge. If you really like the Lyra sound stay with it: Titan i, but if you want something a little diferent you could try the Dynavector XV-1 a Transfiguration or an Allaerts.

Regards and enjoy the music.
The motor and bearing are essential. I am not familiar with your deck in particular, nor the upgrades, but in a general sense there is too much to gain if these upgrades are executed properly. These upgrades are what give your table the ability to hear the cartridge at its best. The Lyra Helikon is no slouch and you will glean much in the way of PRAT from bettering the TT. Any cartridge is ultimately limited by the TT you are mounting it to. Many audiophiles have gone down the path of using a cartridge beyond the ability of their deck, be careful. IMHO build the best table you can before looking for better and better cartridges is the way to go. In my experience with the Linn Sondek Lp12, replacing the bearing was a huge improvement and reduced my surface noise to nearly inaudible levels. The outboard power supply was another huge move in the right direction. My table is not designed for an outboard motor but I have admired the sound from many who have such a feature. I have heard many A/B comparisons with the Linn and its upgrades vs. better cartridges and overall the upgrades to the deck always win out, if that is any help to you. Lets see what people say who have experience with the same TT as you. Happy Listening!
I'd go for the cartridge upgrade. I can't really justify it, I'm just going from experience. It worked big time in my experience.

Hi all,

I continually wrestle with the question: when are you trying to put too much cartridge on your turntable? The old Linn hierarchy (turntable, then arm, then cartridge) is valid IMHO, but it is not an absolute one.

One thing is certain, that speed control counts for a lot, and you will hear it in ways that are far more subtle (and yet equally important) than merely gross characteristics like wow and flutter.

With each improvement we made to our drive system, we heard better top end extension, smoother highs (not a paradox), tighter, and yet more harmonically dense bass. This last attribute may seem a bit odd, but take this in conjunction with the extended highs, and it will make sense to you. Bass harmonics are after all, upper frequencies overlaying the fundamentals.

A while ago, there was a review of the Rockport Sirius turntable on International Audio Review ( If you can wade through Moncrief's wordiness and redundancies, his point will bring this concept home ... that minute speed instabilities will show themselves as FM distortion ... kind of like the analog equivalent of jitter. This is the reason that getting the speed right will smooth out and extend the highs.

Here is a provocative quote from that review:

"Moreover, the distortions due to turntable speed errors could actually be more pernicious than those due to cartridge imperfections. Cartridge distortions tend to be amplitude distortions, thus producing harmonic distortion (some of which is actually psychoacoustically benign) and amplitude modulation distortion (due to the fact that music, being complex, contains many frequencies at once). But turntable speed errors predominantly produce a different kind of modulation distortion, called frequency modulation distortion. Pioneering work by Paul Klipsch 50 years ago already found that this FM distortion is more pernicious than AM distortion, being more audible and more objectionable in smaller amounts."

Know that as I write this, I have stopped selling motor controllers separately ... it takes me too much time. I state this from the perspective of good sound, and not selling you a controller.

The question of course arises as to whether your manufacturer's drive system upgrade is a significant one. This is a question I cannot answer for you.

What I can state unequivocally is that a drive system UPGRADE will yield enormous returns. Coupled with the fact that your current cartridge is to your liking, I'd seriously investigate a drive system upgrade.

Thom @ Galibier
Dear Tom: I agree totally about the TT importance.

I know very well the Avid line ( the dealer here in Mexico is a friend of mine ) and in my opinion, other than the Acutus, a cartridge change can do a better improvement for Richard. But as I say this is only a single opinion, nothing more.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, Thom, etc. I've been asking around about the above question and so far it's straight down the middle with good arguements on both sides. Is it true that one must have a really superior table to bring out all the virtues of a great cartridge? Is a $4.5k table and a $4.5k cartridge a poor match? BTW, I have the Tri-Planar VII arm.
Dear Richard: +++++ " Is it true that one must have a really superior table to bring out all the virtues of a great cartridge? " +++++

It is true for any audio device not only the TT: tonearm, phonopreamp, cables, plataform, set-up, etc, etc. Btw, the phonopreamp do a dramatic/huge difference in the quality cartridge sound reproduction.

let me put the next stage:

in one side: the Helikon with the Sequel and in the other side the Titan with the Volvere.

Which one combination can give you a better quality sound reproduction?

I have no doubt that the Titan/Volvere is really better than the other one.
The issue here is that the Volvere is a very good entry level TT and that's why ( in your case ) in my opinion the cartridge will give you " more ".
Now, when you alredy have the Titan and with that performance level I'm sure that you will want to grow-up to the Sequel and you couild have a subtle but important improvement there, of course you could migrate to the Acutus and that improvement could be better yet.

Regards and enjoy the music.