Plinius M16 Phono vs. Plinius M14 Separate Phono

New to vinyl. Any benefits to going to a separate phono stage ?? Will the M14 make a significant difference in the musical reproduction of my records compared to the M16 pre w/built in phono stage ??

Associated equipment:
Plinius 250 MKIV
Plinius M16
Amazon Ref.TT
Tri-Planar Tonearm
ZYX UNIverse Cart
Totem Shaman Loudspeakers
XLO L.E.Speaker/Interconnects

Thx in advance,

If you're new to vinyl, the built in phono card can be a good start. It will allow you to spend your finances on turntable/arm/cartridge first and foremost. I started with a Clase CP-60 w/ built in phono stage, it served me nicely for a couple years. As you get further in, you may wish to go with seperates, as I eventually did. I see you already have seperate amp/preamp. Seperating the phono stage from the preamp should bring about equal sonic value as going with seperate preamp/amp, IMHO.

Hi Jmcgrogan2. My analogue rig is already pushing 20k, I don't think I will be upgrading those components anytime soon. Currently I'm having to turn the volume on my pre up past the 12:00 position to get any substantial sound out of the speakers ?? Will a separate phono stage remedy this problem ??

In my experience different quality phonostages make a big difference. I have the Plinius M14 today which works very nicely in my system with a LAMM LL2 preamp and was a substantial improvement over a previous system (Sonic Frontiers Signature phonstage and Conrad Johnson PV10 preamp) and an even bigger improvement over just using the phono stage in the PV10 preamp. It seems to me that you have an excellent analog front end, possibly beyond the ability of your phonostage to realize all its potential.
FWIW, I see nothing wrong with having to advance your volume control past 12 to get sufficent volume so long as when you get there, even if its at 3 o'clock your not getting to the noise threshold of your preamp. If the tone and dynamics are still holding up, and you are happy with the sound, why change? Lots of folks prefer, and manufacturers support the proposition, that a pre amp will usually sound best at about 10 to 2 o'clock, if for no other reasons that the gradiations in the volume control it self become smaller and more usable.
My mistake, I didn't read your system componants closely enough. I was thrown by the 'new to vinyl' first line. Forgive me. I guess your problem is you're not satisfied with the gain from your current setup. There are two ways to address this issue, either buy a phono stage that has more gain, or buy a cratridge with a higher output level.
I've checked the Plinius website, and they make no mention of how much gain the M-16's internal phono card or the M-14 has. So you'd have to e-mail Plinius and ask them this question. As a general rule though, you'll need at least 55 db of gain from a phono stage (internal or external) to drive a medium low output MC cartridge (0.5-1mV). From what information I've read on the ZYX cartridges, they seem to be very low output MC's (~0.25mV output). For cartridge with this low of an output you will probably need at least 65 db of gain from a phono preamp. So you could e-mail Plinius and find out how much gain you currently have in your M-16, and how much gain their M-14 supplies.

Bottom line, if you're not getting the sound levels you want you will need to get a higher output cartridge to mate with your current phono stage OR get a phono stage with more gain to support the ZYX UNIverse.

Think of it like the speaker efficiency/amplifier power rating combination. The less sensitive the speakers, the more amplifier power that is required to drive them.

Hopefully this is of a little more help.

Hi Jyprez,thx for your feedback. Did you audition any other phono stages before purchasing the M14 ?? If you don't mind....can you describe the sound characteristics of your M14.

Hi John,thx for reviewing your first response and thx for doing some research on my problem,I really appreciate it. What you mention makes alot of sense. So I did some digging in my file and found that the M14 has gain of 60db(high) and 54(low)as far as the M16 I found nothing,I will have to contact Plinius on the gain values for the M16. So...if following your guidelines as per your previous response the 60db of gain from the M14 may not be enough to drive the ZYX UNIverse ?? Any other phono stage suggestions ??

Thx again,
Hi John, my ZYX is a high output model(0.48mV) as per the literature attached with the the M14 will work.

Trevor, yes 60 db should be plenty of gain for a 0.48mV output.

Hi Tfjm, the Plinius, as a solid state amp, gave more detail and bass than the previous phonostages I mentioned. It has adjustable gain and loading. I use mostly low gain even though my cartridge is a Moving coil Shelter with .4mv output. This is not super low but I have the opposite problem from you in that if I use high gain I have very little play to use in the volume adjustment. I generally would only use one quarter adjustment but have more range to use with low gain.
Hi John,appreciate it !

Hi Jyprez,thx for your birds eye view on the sound qualities of M14 !