Need a cartridge and phono preamp reccomendation

I am seriously considering an upgrade to my current vinyl system
I have a grado gold cartridge and a bellari vp129 tube preamp, the table is a Rega P25 I would like to to find a moving coil cartridge and a different phono preamp as the Bellari wont work with a MC.

I have a budget of about 500-600 to play with perhaps a litle more, thru a friend of mine I can get a decent deal on sumiko product and pro-ject phono preamps.

I was wondering if the Sumiko blue point special EVO can work with my current bellari since its a high output?

would this be a good match or should I upgrade the bellari for a project box preamp?

any suggestions greatly appreciated


For what its worth I have martin logans CL2's and adcom GFP-710 preamp and adcom power amp and sub.
Good questions.

1. No go on the vp129 + EVO

Your Bellari doesn't have enough gain. Use the preamp gain computer at for output/gain matching of cartridges and phono preamps.

2. Forget HOMC's

HOMC's are generally a poor choice IME and IMO. The whole point of the MC design is to reduce mass on the cantilever, which makes a cartridge faster, more responsive to low level details and more dynamic.

Unfortunately, to increase output from LOMC to HOMC levels requires additional turns of the coils on the cantilever, which undoes the whole concept. My favorite cartridge is a $4,500 LOMC with .24mv output. There's a "high" output version with .48mv output and it sucks. I wouldn't pay $500 for one, the performance falloff is that huge. I can only imagine how sluggish it would sound if they tried to push output to 2.4 or 4.8mv.

3. Forget LOMC's

They exceed your budget and require much costlier phono stages too. You'd need at least 10X your stated budget. :-(

4. Dont worry, you're not doomed!

Not going to MC does not mean settling for unsatisfying sound. It means reordering your system priorities. As a rule, the cartridge should be the LAST component in the vinyl chain that you upgrade. TT, phono stage and tonearm are all more important, MUCH more important. Allow me an example based on my own system (listed).

I currently have two cartridges in active use, a $125 MM and my favorite $4,500 LOMC. The MM can't match this LOMC, but it DOES match or beat every LOMC we've heard for under $1500 (!). It beats every HOMC I've heard at any price.

This is possible because my system seriously honors the upgrade order noted above. The $125 MM is paired with a $4,500 tonearm + $6,000 TT + $12,000 preamp. The numbers may exceed yours but they illustrate the principle.

When I defy this principle by trying my LOMC on entry level arms, tables or preamps, the results range from boring to terrible. If you want to hear all the flaws in a system, slap a highly resolving catridge on it. Great for diagnostics, not so much for music.

5. So, what to do with your $500-600?

Upgrade your phono stage. It's clearly your weakest link. A vintage tube preamp w/ phono from c-j or ARC (for example) will play rings around a Bellari + Adcom. My old c-j PV-11 embarasses Adcom gear and those can be found used for $700 or less.

For a cartridge change I recommend a good MM. The $125 MM Ortofon M20FL Super I'm enjoying can be found on ebay and would suit your tonearm just fine. A'gon member Rauliguegas could suggest others. Check out his MM vs. MC thread.

well Thanks a lot for the info this completly chages my approach, Pardon my ignoranvce but what brand is ARC?

will a CJ pv-10al be good enough of a preamp upgrade?

thanks again
ARC = Audio Research Corporation, one of the venerable names in high end audio.

The c-j PV10AL does not include a phono stage. In c-j speak any preamp with an "L" in the model # means line stage only. You'd want a PV10A or PV10B from that series to get a preamp with phono.

Note: the typical c-j phono stage has ~48db of gain vs. your Bellari's 30db. Less strain on the phono stage and it makes the line stage's and power amp's jobs easier too. It could even handle those HOMC's I dissed. ;-)

"Good enough?" FWIW the PV10 was a similar vintage to my PV11 but was priced at $995 vs. $1895 for the PV11 (1990 dollars). The circuits were similar (eg, zero feedback) but some PV10 components were less high end (eg, caps, resistors, connectors) to hit the price point. I haven't heard one so can't say how it'd compare to mine or yours.

You can see details of all c-j models, old and new, on their website.

When we bought our PV11 (in 1991) we A/B/C'd with an Adcom preamp and a Sonographe (entry level c-j, solid state). The Sonographe trounced the Adcom. The PV11 trounced the Sonographe. Of course my present preamp trounces the PV11 - it never ends!

There are other brands besides these two of course. It's not like they're gospel. Hopefully others will chime in, or you could start a thread on the preamp forum and get additional suggestions.

Totally agree with the PV11. It is the one component that I sold and regret doing so. Moved up the Premier 16 but for a second system...

I understand your regret. Our current preamp runs rings around a PV11, as it should for $12K, but that c-j made music we could always listen to. It just refused to do anything ugly. It's sitting on a shelf but we just can't bear to sell it. It was our first piece of high end gear. Sniff! ;-)

Heh. I slipped the PV11 into the system while my partner was at work, then spun up a familiar record while he was cooking dinner. He came flying out of the kitchen, "What did you do? That sounds incredible!" LOL.

The joke was on me though, I bought it for his birthday. :-)

Ok got a Conrad Johnson PV2A! (quick tests the kids were asleep)sounds very good!
I am seriously considering the AT-150MLX or the Nagaoka MP-50
Update! My dad Gave me a Monster cable Alpha 1 MC he had for a while I would need a steup transformer and would rather not go the MC route based on what I read, I might end up auctioning it off to offset the cost of my new cartridge

thanks again for pointing me to audio heaven, any additional advice is truly appreicated..
just to add more confusion to the mix, my audiophile friend insists that I get a Denon DL-160 as it works well on my Rega and save my money for more records

I am a little concern on how it will mate with my CJ based on the great info provided by Dougdeacon in particular floor noise I wish I had the money and time to test all these combinations... dont we all!
Check the link in answer #1 from my first response to see if your new phono will have enough gain for a DL-160.