Phono cable and preamp for soundsmith Carmen mk2


A year ago I decided to update my stereo system and soon after also thought I should be able to play my vinyls (not played in 15-20 years).
I started of with a modest turntable, a used project 2Xperience SB(~1500$), supplied with original turntable cable (PRO-JECT CONNECT-IT E for ~50$). Cable has low capitance but is porly shielded.
Didn’t have a clue about what pickup to choose. After a recommendation I purchased a Soundsmith Carmen Mk2, a moving iron cartridge. I believe it can be used with an improved setup.

For preamp I bought a project Phono Box DS2 USB(~500$), I thought it would be nice to be able to record some of my old albums. I did set it up with a optic cable towards my amplifier. Something was missing, I learned that it was a mistake to use optic cable, the sound was clear but not analog. Now I use a Pangea Premier Interconnect (RCA) between phono preamp and amplifier.

This weekend I have evaluated better turtable cable, a Oyaide PH-01RR RCA-RCA (170$) with total capacitance:160pF (cable 100pF/m ). It was an improvement, mostly due to shielding I belive.
It is said to be designed for MM, but to my knowledge has rather high capitance: http://www.canyonaudio.si/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/PH-01RR_release-ENG-PDF.pdfWhat
I have now learned that MM cartridges should be used with cables of low capitance, I assume that is valid for MI as well. One of the recomended, at my current price range and knowledge, is Furutech AG-12 R4(~500$). Do not know if the furutech is the best for MI/MM.

- Any suggestion regarding turntable cable (2rca->2rca+ground)?
- What are the parameters I should look into?
- Should I go for a silver cable? Shielding and contacts?

Considering updating phono preamp to Soundsmith MMP3 mk2 Phono Preamp, should match the Carmen. Can’t find many reviews. Max phono preamp cost perhaps 1500$.
The aim is that the preamp could be used with a better turntable, perhaps a VPI scout. Will turntable cable caracteristics have impact on the MMP3 settings and finally sound properties/quality?

I’m not a true audiophile but I appriciate ”good” sound quallities!
I do not have possibillty to try to many types of cables due availabillity and distance to shops.

Regards 
Hakan

Ps Sorry about the poor english, I from Sweden :-)

hook68
Herron Audio VTHP-2A phono stage. Herron Audio interconnects. Just use 18 - 20 gauge insulated wire for a ground wire.
Herron Audio VTHP-2A phono stage look very nice, but is a bit over the 
1500$. :-)
Gold Note PH10 it's very flexible with lot's of flexibility and should fit your budget.
Classic mistake of spending too much on cables.

”Classic mistake of spending too much on cables.”
I know those Furutech are expensive, that’s why I ask the question.

What kind of cables do you suggest? And why please.


For tonearm DIN connector, LPGear makes several well priced low cap cables. For RCA output jacks, Blue Jean cable (their standard offering) is as low cap as one can get in reasonable size.
I run a Carmen mk.II on a VPI Prime with a Parasound JC3+ and use Purist Audio Design, the Venustas (<sp?) family for the phono cable. I got my cable used.

Sounds dynamic mic and natural.

Highly recommend cable and phono pre.

by the way The Cable Company will let you audition as many cables as you want, then when you decide what you like, you order through them. I did that. Loved the experience. 
What is the output voltage of your pickup? If it’s a couple of mV’s or more, you need only the 42-44dB gain provided by the mm version of the Herron VTPH-1 or -2. Keith Herron sometimes has a used VTPH-1 that was traded in on a TVPH-2. I bought a VTPH-1mm from Keith at a great price, and he went through the phono amp, upgrading some parts and installing new tubes. Can’t be beat for the price (less than $1500).
@hook68 - Look for used.  A Herron Audio VTPH-1 is an outstanding phono stage and probably could be found in your price range.  Like @bdp24 wote, Keith Herron takes trades.  He might be a good source for a deal on a used unit.  Email is your friend with that 7 hour time difference.
Dear @hook68: MI cartridges are different than MM ones and are lmost non sensitive to capacitance at the same level than MM designs, so don't worry about the IC cable capacitance.

In the other side you can take the very good advise other gentleman already gave you for a better phono stage: Parasound. You can try too Ayre or Simsaudio, all 3 outperforms any phono stage that comes with tubes inside.

Yes, if you can do it silver IC cables always makes a difference for the better and if you can a tonearm internal rewire is mandatory too.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Thanks every body! 

Any thoughts about Parasound JC3 JR?

Never crazy about the original JC3 but love the Gold Note PH10

@hook68 was just going to recommend the JC3 JR I have one that I replaced a 3K phono stage with it also beat the Project RS and it was as good the PH10. I went with tubes so I am using a Rogue Ares Magnun and have the new Modwright 9.0 on the way both around 3K. The Parasonund really is awesome and I will be selling mine soon. If you need a din to rca cable the audioquest leopard is awesome I have one I will be selling also. PM if interested
I’m a beginner at phono preamps. I have not compared any yet.
Is there a difference if one listen to differnt kinds of music? I mostly listen to Santana, Joe Cocker and other classic rock.
I have realised that my old KISS albums does not sound good on vinyl (so far), bad recordings I guess. A newly recorded 180gram America album (1971) sounds great even though remastered. 


Regarding the Gold Note PH10. 

About the adjustment curves:
- what happens with changes of curves?
-Advantage when?
@hook68 there's 1/2 dozen reviews on the PH10 3 alone are in Positive Feedback they liked it that much. I really don't use the 6 EQ curves just leave it on the standard RIAA and enjoy.
Your English is not poor at all.
Phono stage should be matched with preamp, both electrically and musically. Impedance match is important. Could you tell us more about your system and the kind of sound you would like to achieve?
Carmen is a good cartridge and yes, tonearm cable is very important. There are many phono stages that should work well.
Some here always recommend Herron or Parasound as if they didn't know any other brands.
I picked up a Carmen mk2 several months ago and I've been very happy with it. In my system and to my ears it out performed a Dynavector 20xh and an Ortofon 2m bronze.About two months ago I picked up the Soundsmith MMP3 phono stage from the Cable Co.with a 30 day in home trial and I ended up keeping it. I compared the MMP3 to a Graham Slee Reflex M,Audio Vista Phono 1 and the Van Alstine phono stage and I preferred the Soundsmith with the Carmen.
Update
So I went to a couple of dealers to borrow phono preamps and phono cables for a evaluation.

The biggest surprise for me was how big a deal an improved cable has on sound compared with original unshielded cable.

Cables tested:
- Furutech AG-12 R4 500$
- Sonus Concordia - Mars 500$
- QED SIGNATURE Audio 40 300$

I listened to the furutech for the better part of a weekend and I was quite pleased with it. Finally iI compared it with the others.
All cables where good, but the Sonus Concordia - Mars stood out. I bought it.

Phono preamps tested:
- Soundsmith MMP3 mk2 800$
- ASR Mini Basis mk3 1500$
- CYRUS AUDIO Phono Signature 1500$

I bought the ASR an I really liked it!

The ASR together with the Sonus Concordia delivered pleasant separation between instruments, I clould feel that there was ”air” or openess between the different instruments. At the same time as they delivered a natural sound as well as the music sounded bigger. The ASR sounded very dynamic with a very powerful and controlled bass. The sound image of precise spatiality is combined with a very good detail resolution. Previously I used a subwoofer (Velodyne SPL-1200 Ultra) to get more bass and volume for some vinyls. I do not feel the need for that now, in fact it does not bring any good sound qualities just more bass.
The MMP3 came on second place, but was probably a winner regarding to price. A dissadvantage is that it cannot be used for MC pickups.

Cables were evaluated with the ASR.
Phono preamp were evaluated with the Sonus Concordia.

I’m a music listener still learning the art of understanding how good sound reproduction should sound. When getting more high end equipment I have tended to look for better recordings outside of my normal music area. I reallise that there are just bad recordings as well as well as that some music perhaps is not right for modern speakers.
In the beginning I could hear that some musik did not sound right, but I could not put my finger on what was wrong. In the evaluation I have learned by recording music from the speakers with an iphone, then comparing (same song with different equipment) and discussing with experienced friend. We were very surprised how much influence cables make. Recordings with iphone does not provide good sound but can be used for comparison, it gives you an idea what to focus on in the listening. 

Music on vinyl used i the evaluation:
1. The Pink Panther theme - Benny Goodman https://youtu.be/w7zsDKYYbF8
2. Give a little bit - Supertramp https://youtu.be/WA7JY1OoxnU
3. Visa från Utanmyra - Jan Johansson https://youtu.be/t2D5HlKLh34
4. No one to depend on - Santana https://youtu.be/mYc-zH0Ak6

Next step? Probably improved RCA cable to the amplifier (now Pangea) and power cord to phono preamp, probably the power cord first.
According to my dealer I would have to by a turntable in price range 3000-4000$ to really get an improved sound. The improvement would be better and more detailed sound. The pickup and preamp is well prepared for turntable upgrade!
@rauliruegas, Soundsmith MI carts are quite sensitve to capacitance. 
My favorite phono preamps are Parasound JC3+, Micromega MyGroov, and Parasound JC3 Jr., in that order.

The best tonearm cable (DIN to RCA) that I found after testing more cables than I can count, is the  Ortofon 6NX-TSW-1010 L.
@rauliruegas MI cartridges are very sensitive to capacitance. I know from experience from using Ortofon 2M Black, Nagaoka MP-500, Stanton, etc. 
Do yourself a favor ...
If you’re using MM or MI cartridges you need a phono stage with optional loading, yes it is. You need at leat 47- 100k Ohm range, not just fixed 47k! You can also go lower than 47k. In my opinion 100k Ohm is perfect, but it depends on the cartridge. The best phono stage for MM cartridge is JLTi mk5 with upgraded SPU, you can but it with shipping for under $1100 from Australia. I have many MM cartridges and this phono stage is a hust have. Soon i want to upgrade my mk4 version with that new SPU. The mk4 without special PSU was just $750! It’s silid state phno stage MM/MC.

You can ask the manufacturer to change internal resistors to 500k Ohm and then you will be able to use 100k Ohm for MM or anything you want. JLTi (like Herron) allow us to plug parallel load resitors (RCA plugs on the back side of the phono stage).

As for the cables: try Zu Audio Mission mkII with WBT here or look for Mission Phono mkI on ebay auction directly from the manufacturer (you can get amazing price at the end of auction). Top quality phono cables! 
@chakster I’m not sure why you’re again recommending 100K loading. Yes, it works for very few vintage MM cartridges, but most of the time it doesn’t. Especially for modern cartridges. Ever taken measurements?

100K loading creates a huge 5-10dB peak at around 10kHz (with normal cable/phono capacitance 200-250pF) and a very steep drop after that. Cable capacitance also becomes critical with 100K load. Large capacitance means the peak travels down the frequency range bellow 10kHz and sounds horrible. 

In order to push this peak up to over 15kHz, one will need a phono preamp which is stable with no input capacitance (so probably a compromised design elsewhere) and a cable so low in capacitance that it probably doesn’t exist. 

If this peak peak with a 100K load can be pushed to over 15kHz, then yes, the sound will have more “air.” But recommending this blindly to everyone means that 99.9% of MM/MI users will be hit with a severe peak at 10kHz and completely shunted high frequencies after that. This will and does sound very bad.
@invictus005 I do recommend a phono stage with optional loading for MM/MI cartridges, everyone can decide what's the best. Normally phono stage designers simply ignoring the fact that MM can be alternatively loaded. 

I do recommend it because all my favorite cartridges manufactured with recommendation of using 47-100k Ohm in the manual. Grace and Victor for example. 

With optional loading it will take 30 seconds to get back to 47k Ohm. 

What people normally do with MC most of us never tried with MM.


Dear @invictus005: The 2m Black is a MM not MI, the Nagaoka is an IM one ( a copy cat of the ADC ) and the usual Stanton’s were MM and only a few of its models were MI. In the past Ortofon had MI too:

https://www.ortofon.com/ortofon-2m-black-p-329-n-1579

The Soundsmith Carmen in theory is a MI but is weird that comes with very high inductance that’s the reason to been sensitive to capacitance but the range spec goes from 200-400pf. Tell me which phono IC cable comes with over 400pfs.

Btw, I’m not saying the MI are totally insensitive to capacitance but are lower sensitive to than MM that are high inductance designs but the AT24 with a so low inductance that’s even the MI ones.

R.