Much depends on the cartridge’s output, and how much gain is required to satisfy your SPL cravings, from there. I wrestled with low output MC carts(.25 - .3mV), for a while, with my phono stage set to 68db gain. When I’d turn up the juice, could hear the 60Hz, picked up by the arm/cart/wiring, between tracks(low level, but there / no noise is good noise). When I switched from 86db/2.83V to 93db/2.83V speakers, that was more pronounced. With a Soundsmith Aida(2.2mV), and the ability to reduce the phono stage’s gain, the noise at my typically high listening settings(master volume), is now virtually nil(with ear at speaker). BUT- don’t burn that bridge, ’til you come to it(relax). Given you’re using an MM cart and have no noise issues now, you’ll probably be alright. You’re going to need much less twist on your volume control, to get the same SPLs, with those new speakers. If you do have noise, be certain it’s only related to the phono input, before taking steps. High sensitivity speakers will reveal noise from any source in your component chain. Happy listening!
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My speakers are 101db, why do you think about noise floor problem ?
Did you get the speakers or it is just in theory ?
It depends on your cartridge and cables, also the amp and phono stage.
I can’t remember any noise problem with my 101db (Zu Audio Druid) speakers unless it’s a cartridge with extremely low output (lower than 0.15 mV). All MM/MI are dead quiet on the home listening volume level.
I would recommend AT-ML150 OCC with Beryllium Cantilever and MicroLine stylus tip if you want the best for the bucks. Or the AT-ML170 if you want one of the best MM ever. Here is the article for you about some decent MM. Australian JLTi made amazing phono stage for MM/MC for very reasonable price, previous version without new PSU was exactly $750 new.
Agree with Chakster. There are too many variables. I have Devore O93's and tube gear every step of the way to the loudspeakers and I used to have a hum problem with my VPI table due to a grounding issue. My other deck, a hot-rodded TD124 with a Reed 3P had zero hum. I believe my hum problem had to do with VPI's inferior and sometimes problematic grounding scheme with their junction box. Reed (and several other great arm designs) incorporates a cartridge clips to RCA continuous wire (no breaks along the way). My belief is that this reduces the chances of hum greatly. Shielded IC's from the phono stage to the preamp and from the preamp to the amp also help. In my case, I run balanced-Cardas Clear Beyond-from my preamp to amp. So I got rid of my VPI Prime and replaced it with a hot-rodded Garrard 301 with another Reed 3P and though both decks sport low output MC cartridges, my system is dead quiet on most days. Sometimes when the power lines are noisy, I hear very slight hissing.
What may affect noise floor? The gain of the preamp and amp with regard to sensitivity of the speakers. It can reveal noise in the upstream components. May not be a problem with the right cartridge choice.
And of course, the amount of noise on the AC line coming into your house. Has this ever been noticeable before, and do you use any power conditioning?
good point, I do have a passive preamp (well in tube mode it has 1DB gain). My phono preamp does have adjustable gain settings. Right now I'm on the 48db setting, I suppose with the new speakers being efficient I could lower that to the 42db setting or even the 32 db setting (has the best SNR of all 4 settings). Keep forgetting my phono has those adjustable gain settings... This makes me feel better :)
The status quo for tonearm to phono stage cable’s is horribly flawed. You can help keep the signal free of interference by changing from “shielded” cables that use one of the signal-bearing conductors as “shield” to shielded twisted pair cable and XLR connectors. The shield on this cable is connected to the tonearm ground, and is grounded at your phono stage. This is your best opportunity for rejecting induced noise on a vinyl playing system.
Edit: lowrider57 said it more succinctly
I have very efficient speakers too (96 db/Watt), in a vinyl-only system, and have struggled with this. If your vinyl source is quiet with normal speakers, it will be equally quiet with efficient speakers - i.e. the efficiency of your speakers has no bearing on your perception of source noise. This is because you simply adjust your preamp’s volume control to get the signal level you need to achieve listening levels - and for efficient speakers, this will necessarily be a much lower volume setting, which rejects the source’s noise floor exactly in proportion to its signal (i.e. the signal and noise get equally attenuated, and then equally "amplified" by your sensitive downstream amp & speakers). Your vinyl source’s noise floor is a function of the quality of your phono stage combined with the output of your cartridge.
Where you can run into problems elsewhere in your setup is if your preamp and amp don’t have an adequate signal/noise ratio. That’s because these are your active stages downstream from your volume control - so any unused gain is going to contribute to your noise floor, with no chance to reject it via volume dial. This is going to be most egregiously demonstrated by tube preamps, especially ones with high gain. My tube amps are VERY sensitive amps (275 Watts / 1V input) so any residual noise from the preamp is going to be made extremely apparent. I’ve tried more than a few tube preamps, and the only one so far that’s been dead quiet in my setup is the Audio Research Ref 6 - very impressive! Stereophile posted some nice measurements of the REF 6 in their review, so I’d make sure to have a preamp at least matching its signal/noise.
In recap - use a preamp with as high a signal/noise ratio as possible, keep its gain on the lower side as much as possible, and if you can utilize amps with a lower input sensitivity (or add attenuators to the inputs if you have excess system gain to spare) then that will help too.
No efficient is not the key ,it is the quality of the drivers ,
the quality of the crossover, as well as the cabinet design .
i owneda Audio store and some of the most efficient we’re actually some of the worst when put under a complex load .
the sum of the total as is mentioned means the most .
for example a Accuton ceramic driver has lessmoving mass
then a paper cone and far less distortion , but because of its magnetic structure ,voice coil ,spider not as efficient to drive .
also much more expensive to make.
No efficient is not the key ,it is the quality of the drivers ,
crossover is not necessary, the best high efficient drivers are full range without crossover and Nelson Pass designed current source amps for such speakers. My Zu Druid MK4 (101bd) does not have an active crossover at all, just high pass filter (passive) for supertweeter.
After thinking about this a bit more I think I may need to clarify. I wasn't hearing any grounding issues or hum. I think what I was hearing more of was surface noise of the record. Where the surface noise (the pops/ticks/general sound of the diamond being dragged across the vinyl) in my system doesn't sound as pronounced as it was in the demo system. Since that sound is coming from the stylus itself, likely that is not considered noise in the SNR? It's considered part of the signal?
I assume in this case better make sure you have pristine vinyl and look for a quiet cart?
Yes, pops/ticks from the vinyl/stylus pickup is a different issue than residual noise floor from your active components, and ground hums. Indeed - cartridge quality (especially stylus profile), condition and grade of vinyl, phono stage, and overall vinyl/stylus hygiene quality will determine how annoying or innocuous these noises are. As Terry mentioned, Ralph of atmosphere has long posted some very interesting information on the subject of phono stages, and how some designs can greatly exacerbate the pops/ticks issue (I believe he mentions overload capability and recovery - i.e. you're not hearing the actual aberration on the vinyl so much as the amplifier's poor handling and recovery from it).
Speakers themselves should not directly affect the perception of pops/ticks, unless they have an emphasis in the frequency ranges of these unwanted noises - those may not be the best choice for a vinyl system..
I started out with a Benz Glider and the pops/ticks were there, but did not significantly detract from my enjoyment of vinyl. Then I got a Ortofon Kontrapunkt "c" (Fritz Gyger 80 stylus), and wow! The noise floor dropped, along with pops & ticks. Another year later, and I hear my first Koetsu - it was a revelation how quiet this cartridge was, not to mention the rest of the sound quality. I still run Koetsu as my favored cartridges, but I’ve also been particularly impressed by the top Shelters’ (Accord and Harmony) exceptionally low noise. And I use a Clearaudio Double Matrix Sonic pro for cleaning vinyl, and a Magic Eraser for the stylus. A good vinyl record is as close to a living performance as I care to imagine.