Need a MC Cartridge recomendation...
I need a cartridge recommendation. Here’s my story…
I own an EAR MC-4 which I use with my Sonic Frontiers SFP-1 phono stage in MM mode. Bill Thalmann (former chief engineer at CJ) did a very comprehensive mod on the SFP-1 with Teflon V-Caps, rebuilt PS, re-wired with solid core Teflon Ag, new RCAs, new IEC input, NOS Mullards, etc., etc.. etc
Together, I can’t ask for more sonically – very pleased.
I use a Clearaudio Stradivari (0.7mV output, 50ohm internal impedance) on a Graham Phantom Mk II. My total gain I get from the combo is 57 dB – 20 from the MC-4 and 37 form the SFP-1 in MM Mode.
Given my line stage puts out 12dB SE, the total is just not enough when I listening at higher volume levels – there is surface noise from the record and it is not dust or dirt. Moving to different taps on the MC-4 provides more gain, but sucks some of the life out of the music because of the impedance mismatch – next tap is 12ohm and provide 25 dB gain.
At lower SPL levels, the system is dead quiet. Again, this combo is extremely musical – we are just talking noise at loud SPLs.
So…I have been thinking about replacing the MC-4/SFP-1 combo. I do have my eye on the Avid Pulsare. I have heard it a reference phono stage at a very high value price.
I contacted two dealers I had worked with before – both are dealers for EAR and AVID. After explaining the above, both dealers told me that the Pulsare is a lateral move at best from what I have – lots of respect for Bill Thalmann’s work and parts selection, as well as the MC-4 and the Pulsare. However, they both felt I would need to consider very high-end phono stages to actually make a material upgrade – mentioned Aesthetix IO, Einstein Turntables Choice, Allnic H3000, Steelhead, among others.
They both discouraged me from doing this.
The felt a better, more cost-effective approach is to replace my cartridge with a medium output, lower internal impedance MC that mated well with my MC-4. If I use the 6 ohm tap, the gain is 27.5dB out of the MC-4. When mated to the phono stage’s 37 dB, I am at 64.5 and good to go per my calculations.
What are some suggestions for a MC with an output of 0.5 – 0.7mV, is comfortable at 6 – 10 ohms and has a retail around $4,500 - $5,000?
I listen to jazz of all sorts – small acoustic combo, vocals, instrumental, large band, fusion, recent pressings, older pressings, etc. The balance is rock and small chamber classical.
I had a Benz-Micro before I installed the Stradivari. The Benz was too warm and slow for me – I like the attack, the pace, the detail of the Stradivari. My system is listed on A'Gon.