I crank the volume up just past half way and there tends to be distortion. Below half way the sound is incredible. The records sound better than the corresponding CD or, of course, DAC streaming.
We're missing some important info. What is the cartridge, Cary Audio mono block main tube amp and speaker in your system?
Volume knob position means nothing! Could be the phono stage and preamp gain is too high overloaded the power amp input. You need to know the total gain of the whole system and the sensitivity of your speaker to see what cause the problem.
Sounds like.the turntable/cartridge is your issue. Cary slp-05 is good preamp and the musical fidelity is good. Getting good analog sound takes really good turntable/tonearm/cartridge. I would guess either cartridge is misaligned or cartridge problem. What is the cartridge? Who setup your table?
imhifiman: with volume halfway up on the SLP-05 using an Audia Flight CD player the volume is very high and no distortion. So, when I say volume halfway it is to my knowledge of the system which doesn't help you much. But at halfway with the TT the volume is 3/4 of the volume of the CD but with distortion. The mono blocks are the CAD805 Anniversary.
mckinneymike: Pro-Ject evolution carbon fiber, I think, which came with the TT and a low end (I am assuming) cartridge is a Legacy. The retailer set up the unit for me. I checked alignment and the weight, and they seem fine.
On a side note, I get fantastic results at lower volume. Strings and light cymbals or brushes on the drum sound amazing.... But I still suspect you are right.
If your system is capable of providing a satisfying SPL, with your CD/digital sources (typical output: around 2V), but: not with the output of your analog rig; the problem is obviously the lack of voltage from the phono stage.
Either seek a higher mV output cartridge or a phono stage with greater gain.
The Goldring Legacy (if that's the, "Legacy", to which you refer) is a LOMC (.25mV).
Is your phono stage designed for LOMCs (60dB of gain, or better)?
with volume halfway up on the SLP-05 using an Audia Flight CD player the volume is very high and no distortion. So, when I say volume halfway it is to my knowledge of the system which doesn't help you much. But at halfway with the TT the volume is 3/4 of the volume of the CD but with distortion. The mono blocks are the CAD805 Anniversary.
Since CD played louder with no distortion, we can rule out possibility of preamp overloaded the power amplifier, and speaker sensitivity isn't the issue.
Only thing left could be cartridge or phono stage.
300mV output from the phono stage seem fine.
I checked alignment and the weight, and they seem fine.
The MF M1 phono stage has an MC-mode gain of only 56 dB (you calculate that out from its listed 500 uV input to 300 mV output). That’s pretty low. I wouldn’t be comfortable using that with any cartridge below say 0.6 mV. If @rodman99999 is right and OP’s cart is the Goldring Legacy at 0.25mV, this is indeed a significant mismatch. The dealer shouldn’t have let this combo leave his shop. You HAVE TO match cartridge to phono stage gain, or all kinds of nasty problems can arise. For 0.25 mV I’d want at least 66 dB, likely more (72dB is good). Running 10dB below this range is asking for a bad time, and explains OP’s volume issue.
OP can also try a SUT of 20X - 30X in combination with his current phono stage in MM mode (NOT MC mode), and that should resolve the issue.
@mulvelinghas given the best advice. 56db is not enough gain for a LOMC IMO. This is especially true of 25mv cart which is very low output. I believe your phono pre is failing to keep pace with the rest of your system. Many people my self included believe the phono pre is as important as the TT itself. You TT far outclasses the phono preamp. Your cart is fine and is not the problem IMO. It falls in line with Origin Live’s heirarchy of Vinyl budget. I’d be looking at a phono pre that is an equivalent match with the TT.
BTW 60db gain for MC is the minimum you should have if you are going to run 25mv carts. There are many more LOMC which have these low outputs, IE Zyx is .24 and my Benz Ebony L was about .26 or so. Lots of the higher end carts can be below .30. So keep that in mind as you proceed.
It's your tube amps running out of power (clipping) and distorting! No wonder they sound better at lower SPL's! Nothing wrong with your phono stage. Get a powerful SS amp if you want to listen at louder SPL's! Bryston, Parasound, Krell ...
@ditusa: +1! At least I am not alone with speaking the truth! Tube amps are NOT low distortion devices - particularly when used to drive difficult speaker loads. Electric guitarists like them for their distortion!
The Cary 805's only have about 15 watts at 1% distortion before the distortion goes way up quickly - 2%, 4%, 8%, 16% ... This distortion profile is typical of single-end amps - tube and SS. No wonder the 805's sound way better when they are only putting out a watt or less! They shouldn't be asked to drive a low sensitivity speaker like the Totems loudly!
Except for @ditusathe other posters have all provided the WRONG solution by focusing on the phono stage/cartridge instead of the amp/power requirements to drive a pair of Totem Winds! Can't be done with a 15 watt tube amp - the Cary 805's.
imhifiman: with volume halfway up on the SLP-05 using an Audia Flight CD player the volume is very high and no distortion... But at halfway with the TT the volume is 3/4 of the volume of the CD but with distortion. The mono blocks are the CAD805 Anniversary.
Has anyone suggested better isolation for the source? If not, there you go. I upgraded to a marble plank for better iso and I can jam much louder now with less distortion. Might be something to consider.
I own an M1ViNL and can concur that while I love it for MM cartridges, it lacks a bit of gain for low output MC cartridges. I think your experience with your CD front end proves the rest of your system is up to the task.
First, if you're sticking with the Legacy I would make sure it's properly aligned and that the stylus isn't worn. After checking that, I would look to a phono preamp with more gain so as to be a better match. For my MC carts (currently a Zyx Airy 3SB @ .24mv) I'm using an E.A.T E-Glo Petit which sounds great and has plenty of gain, but there are lots of options, including keeping your M1ViNL and getting a step-up as mulveling suggests.
Gregdude also has a great call out on making sure your TT has proper isolation. I'm fortunate to be on concrete in my basement, but I've used both granite and butcher block in situations where my floor wasn't as solid.
The Vincent PHO 701 is a tube phono pre amp its output is greater than the MF, also the wide dynamic range will assist. Gets very good reviews. Whilst not into vinyl, anymore, I have heard it perform very well with tube amplification.
"... with volume halfway up on the SLP-05 using an Audia Flight CD* player the volume is very high and no distortion."
From the previously cited M1** review:
"I just want to add that, while the gain for the MM stage is 40 dB, the classic one, for the MC is below 60 dB. This will require a deep attention to the level of the cartridge output and, chiefly, to the input sensitivity of the other components of the audio chain, which has to be progressive, otherwise the risk is that the system will not perform correctly, also with very expensive components. This is a universal rule. Keep it always in mind when you assemble your hi-fi system."
Could the issue be an ultrasonic peak of the Mc cartridge causing clipping at higher volumes? Think about cartridge loading. MC carts typically have increasing output as frequency increases, well into the ultrasonic range. Load resistors tamp this down.
If your phono stage does not have a way of adding load, you can load your cart output at the turntable output with a little bit of gerryrigging.
Lots of phono stages do not put out the same level as other components. So you have to turn up your amp to get the same loudness. Which is taxing on the amp. Sounds like you should try a more powerful amp.
Pretty Expensive speakers for a mid - level system with a low level turntable and a mini - mite Amplifier....Get a new amp (200 W minimum) and then upgrade your Music Hall....Then you can start to enjoy your new system.
My setup is a result of buying from "auctions" and assembling at half price retail. I did not do research beyond reviews. Is Cary Audio liked? Yes, so I went with it. Did Totem get good reviews? Yes, so I went with them.
But had I done real research I would not have the same system.
On a side note: I also have a pair of Totem Mani-two that are even harder to drive.
E-Glo max gain is 70 dB. For your 0.25mV Goldring, that gives an output of about 0.8 Volts (790 milliVolts). On paper, it’s a good choice. Your current M1 yields only 0.15 Volts (149 mV) for that same cartridge. It will be a massive difference. Your M1 phono stage’s MC mode is certainly targeted at medium output MC cartridges, not low outputs like 0.25mV.
Alternatively a Bob’s Devices Sky 30 SUT would add ~ 29dB (maybe a little less due to loading losses) to your M1’s 40 dB / 47K MM mode, and nets close to the same result as the E-Glo’s highest 70dB gain. But even 40dB is on the low side for an MM stage. Musical Fidelity isn't very generous with their dB's!
Others are very correct to point out the mismatch between amp & speakers, and potential TT isolation issues. However your current phono stage / cartridge match is DEFINITELY a problem; it’s just that you may be dealing with multiple issues here. I’d fix the phono stage first, since as you mentioned the system works well with digital sources (usually at least 2 Volts output).