recommendation for a high end analog system


I never had an analog system until last month. I bought a 1989 SOTA TT with vacuum/Sumiko MMT arm/Dennon 103R retyped with elliptical/sapphire cantilever. My phono is Kitsune MK5 WBT that is amplified by Don Sach 2 tube preamp and Pass X350.5. My speaker are Sound Lab M545 ESL. The TT has been very   well maintained despite its age. It sounded very good until I heard my friend's system which has the same TT but with Lyra Skala cartridge and first generation Triplanar arm (Spectral pre/amp). His sounded noticeably clearer and fuller. What is the best way to get a noticeable improvement in my system without breaking the bank (or before I have to squint to hear the improvement). I would love to hear some wisdom from analog-philes.
chungjh
You don’t need any lubricants for any records, this is snakeoil! The market is crazy crazy for useless stuff.

Even 40 y.o. used records are fine, all you need is decent stylus profile like MicroRidge if you want the lowest possible record wear factor and the longest life-span of the stylus itself (2000-3000hrs).


You have to avoid any liquid stylus cleaning if you don't want your stylus tip fell-off one day. 
@chungjh

@bkesk, What tonearm and cartridge are you using on your SOTA

When I bought my table, I wanted to use a tone arm that fit the board that came with it, as it is a SOTA premium arm board. It had a 214mm pivot to spindle cut-out. Thus, I finally picked a new Jelco TK850S MKII. A very good arm for the money, but unfortunately hard to find now as Jelco is out of business. It cost about $1,300 if I remember correctly. Easy to install, and a simple arm to use. My cartridge is a Soundsmith Zephyr MKIII ES. I love my Soundsmith. It is a hi output (2.4 mV) low compliance (10) MI design, and think I would have to spend significantly more on an MC cart to match it. So, for both, it was about $2,800. To be honest, after getting back into vinyl after a 35+ year hiatus, never thought I would spend that much on a turntable rig, but believe me, it has been worth it, and really pretty inexpensive when you look at other potential combos.

If I were you, I would probably look at a Origin Live arm. I’ve heard great things about those arms, and it would not break the bank.

I also looked at VPI tables when I made the jump, but VPI’s have their own issues too, and I backed away from them. Bottom line, I am very happy I chose the SOTA. I’m now a big fan of their overall design. It may be my last table, and has been mentioned, you can send it to SOTA to have a partial or complete overhaul and update in the future to bring it up to current specs.
Look into older MM cartridges.  You may be surprised as to how close they can come to MC cartridges.  Try the older Pickering or Stanton MM cartridges.  If you are looking for a fuller sound they may have what you are looking for and may be surprising close to what you hear in the Lyra, for a lot less money.  Its not going to be a Lyra but MM cartridges have their own virtues.
@bkeske, How old is your SOTA? Dit you get it refurbished?
Look into older MM cartridges.  You may be surprised as to how close they can come to MC cartridges.  Try the older Pickering or Stanton MM cartridges.  If you are looking for a fuller sound they may have what you are looking for and may be surprising close to what you hear in the Lyra, for a lot less money.  Its not going to be a Lyra but MM cartridges have their own virtues.


agree wholeheartedly w this - love my timeless grace f9's and with peter l's modern shibata tips they give both the luscious warmth and the 'see-thru' resolution and brilliance so valued nowadays