Skeptics believe:cartridge makes a HUGE difference


I was hesitant to upgrade my tonearm and cartridge. I thought, my system (verity parsifol, MC275, and c2300 with sota tt) already sounded great. Could a new tonearm and cartridge really make a difference? Yesterday, I upgraded to a Graham 2.2 with Transfiguration Orpheous L cart. WOW! What a difference. The records I have heard 100 times are new (and better) all over again. I love this equipment that allows fans of music to unpack more of the music's beauty.
elegal
Congratulations Elegal, I got the same quantum leap when I upgraded my tonearm on my Basis table to the Vector 4. I was shocked.
"Skeptics believe:cartridge makes a HUGE difference"

I never heard that one before. Usually, the skeptics are focused on things that make a more subtle difference, like cables and certain tweaks. Changing a phono cartridge is more like changing a pair of speakers. Its a very noticeable upgrade.
I'm sure there are skeptics for everything out there.

I'm sure there is a fairly large consensus view out there that carts and tonearms and extent of how set up properly makes all the difference in how good a vinyl setup sounds. So not much room for dispute there. Also many acknowledged technical experts who can explain exactly WHY this is so

Not so for many other more "radical" for lack of a better term or perhaps borderline concepts that some may report as well, but theoretical support for how or why is greatly lacking.

There is a big difference between a technical solution with little science or proven engineering to substantiate it and one that is well understood by many, including "experts".

The argument that science and engineering is limited so anything is possible is often used to justify. That may be true, but in of itself basically means the odds of success are limited, so proceed accordingly.
Elegal, Can you share what was replaced?
"The argument that science and engineering is limited so anything is possible is often used to justify. That may be true, but in of itself basically means the odds of success are limited, so proceed accordingly."

I don't get what you are saying. If science and engineering is limited, I don't see how that can that can be used to justify a claim. I think I'm just not reading your post in the way you meant it.
Of course the cartridge makes a huge difference. This is where the interface from physical to electrical takes place in vinyl playback begins. This is the source component. Of course it makes a difference.
Zd542 - don't worry, I don't get it either.
Congrats Elegal!

I also enjoyed a very noticeable upgrade when I replaced the DV 10XGold L/RB303 with the Delos/RB808. I am hoping that the upcoming Graham Slee Reflex C, soon to replace the DV P-75, will make a signinficant upgrade as well.

As Czarivey pointed out, I am also curious to know what was replaced.

Happy listening!
Zd,

What I meant to say and did not very clearly perhaps is that the fact that science and engineering is limited is not sufficient to justify trying things that cannot be explained because the odds of success applying engineering principles and techniques that are well supported scientifically are fairly high while the odds of success applying those that cannot are orders of magnitude less.

So the only rational approach is to first make sure one addresses principles thoroughly first. That alone can be quite an undertaking!

I always question anyone who dwells or is biased towards merits of highly unsubstantiated claims. That should be maybe 10% or less of the overall conversation, not the whole story itself.
Your point is very clear and a good one. Personally, I feel that a lot of the mystery that lies in between what we can currently measure and what we can only hear, should be dealt with using well conducted listening tests. I get a lot resistance with that one, though.
I think most believe the cartridge makes a significant difference. Although what Pops said, "I got the same quantum leap when I upgraded my tonearm on my Basis table to the Vector 4. I was shocked." would involve more skepticism from others.

I also changed tonearms from a Rega to A Basis Vector and the difference was shocking in that I did not believe a tonearm could make such a significant difference.
"Zd542 - don't worry, I don't get it either."

Well, no surprise there with Mr. Machina Dynamica, I must say.

"Your point is very clear and a good one. Personally, I feel that a lot of the mystery that lies in between what we can currently measure and what we can only hear, should be dealt with using well conducted listening tests. I get a lot resistance with that one, though. "

That's really the only practical way, though as is often pointed out, one must be careful about drawing cause and effect conclusions whenever something different is heard.

FOr example, I recently replaced some damaged standard issue power cords with other more costly ones from Pangea. I am pretty certain I heard differences immediately after each switch in terms of lower distortion levels, but they are subtle and I have to say that sometimes I am not certain, in that things sounded pretty good in this regard to start with. But they seemed to work well as designed and are well made products, so I have little reason to look back. I would probably do the same thing again for the same reasons if I had to.
"07-11-14: Geoffkait
Zd542 - don't worry, I don't get it either."

Just to be clear, I wasn't finding fault. My comment was meant to be a literal one. I just didn't fully understand Mapman's comment the way he worded it. Nothing more than that.
Congrats Elegal! Transfiguration cartridge and Verity speakers should make beautiful music together!! Enjoy the music!
Everything in the audio chain makes a difference. But not everything makes the same difference.

Over the years I have developed the following mantra, in order of importance in the audio chain (analog): speakers, cartridge, tonearm, phono stage, turntable, preamp and then everything else.

Bill
Czarivey: i had an origin live (silver) and grade reference series (Sonota)
Congrats Elegal. The Orpheus L is a superb cart. Did you get a new cart ? I had one for many years and this is no simple tweak but a huge upgrade. Am now plying a Proteus and this maybe a better cart than the Orpheus L.
Cheers
The next cartridge is always better and when it is even more expensive, then it is automatically MUCH better ....
Elegal, any information lost or distorted the instant that little piece of rock
hits the vinyl (amazing in this age of uber-tech; isn't it?) cannot be retrieved
or restored further down the chain. That is the most important stage of the
whole process. Congrats on your new arm/cart.

Mapman, Zd and others: of course there will be differences heard. Any
change whatsoever to the playback chain will result in a difference in
sound; that is the nature of music and it's complexity and fragility. Wether
that change is judged to be significant by a particular listener or wether it is
even audible to a particular listener is a different matter altogether. We
don't all have the same hearing acuity, nor are we all subject to the
inevitable biases, influences and expectations to the same degree. We
keep coming back to the issue of what is verifiable by use of existing
technical testing means or by subjective listening when there will always be
disagreement between the adherents to one of the two differing
philosophical approaches to the question. The only answer, for anyone
who really wants the true answer, lies in the obvious: get to know the sound
of live music on a more intimate level; and not by just one concert
attendance a year or two. The more we listen to the sound of live the
easier it becomes, when judging electronic gear, to determine wether that
piece of gear gets you closer to that sound or not. The detractors will say:
too many variables, too much this or that, yada yada. Nonsense! It's really
the only way; otherwise we are just spinning our wheels with the argument.
Thanks for the info. I'm in the same bowl having currently Technoarm which is also another version of RB250. Thinking about HUGE upgrade to Dynavector DV505, but still have to come up with budget. I believe that regardless of turntable and I think that mine is completely worthy (Michel Gyro SE) of such upgrade.
You may wish to go back and mount your old cartridge in the Graham arm. I was shocked by the improvement with NOT changing to a new cartridge. Most people will have a hard time believing an arm could make so much difference. BTW I was using a Cardas rewired Alphason which I still believe to be a good arm. Much of this improvement can only be achieved by optimization of all the adjustments that are available with this arm.
Syntax
"The next cartridge is always better and when it is even more expensive, then it is automatically MUCH better ...."
Obviously , every Audiophool knows that...
Cheers
I follow this chain of difference higherarchy:
Turntable -- 50%
Arm -- 35%
Cartridge -- 15%
I had a Transfiguration Orpheus that sounded wonderful in my Triplanar. One day one channel was dead for no reason so I had to send it back. In the meantime I had no tunes.

Jonesing, I realized that I had a brand-new Grado Green (a $35.00 cartridge) sitting in a box. 'Why not try it?' I thought... the Triplanar is very adjustable and I knew that effective mass is a big deal with Grados (which is why they don't work in the Graham 2.2 which I had for quite a while...). So I went through the setup procedure and to my surprise the cartridge tracked everything I threw at it effortlessly.

The only issue I ran into was that it needed loading, after some experimentation I loaded it at about 10K ohms, after which the only way I could tell it from the Transfiguration was due to the fact that the Grado had higher output.

The lesson was that getting the cartridge to track correctly is far more important than what cartridge it actually is. If your amp has any marginalities in accomplishing that task with your cartridge you are going to hear differences (and the results will be all over the map). So I place the tone arm as number 1 in the hierarchy, the turntable number 2 and the cartridge last.
The lesson was that getting the cartridge to track correctly is far more important than what cartridge it actually is

That is BULL'S EYE!
Agree with Atmasphere, for similar reasons.

I've compared my $150 MM with LOMCs priced from $500 to $10,000 (also on a TriPlanar, on a $6K TT and playing through an $8K Doshi Alaap phono stage).

In this setup, the MM at least matches the performance of any LOMC that retails for less than $1K, maybe $2K. Some $3K+ LOMCs outplay it and my favorite $8K cartridge buries it, but this MM holds its own against any cartridge that costs less than TEN TIMES its price.

OTOH, whenever I mount a really good LOMC on a cheap TT or tonearm, the sonics are intolerable. Super-revealing cartridges expose any flaws or weaknesses in the equipment that supports them.

Upgrading a TT, tonearm or phono stage rarely disappoints. Upgrading a cartridge often can, as when it reveals the limitations of related equipment.