Thoughts on moving from a 1200G to Sota Saphire or above
Two different animals, I know. I’ve read some pretty decent reviews on the Sota’s with the vacuum option and intrigued. We’re always looking for that little extra something, something. I’m interested in retrieving a bit more detail and upping the sound stage. Maybe this would be a lateral move? Maybe I should change my cart? Something else? Be happy and spin vinyl? Thanks for your feedback. Gear: Technics 1200G Ortofon Cadenza Black Herron VTPH-2A phono preamp Audible Illusions L2 Line Stage Levinson 532-H B&W 803 D2 speakers AQ McKenzie interconnects for phono
Everyone knows I am a big Sota fan. I was just informed yesterday that after nine months of being PATIENT my Cosmos passed final inspection and is being shipped today.
The question is will a Nova Vacuum ( I do not think the Sapphire is available with vacuum.) make an improvement in sound quality over a Technics 1200G?
You have the addition of several features with the Nova. It has a well designed suspension which will isolate the record from everything but an earthquake or a three year old. The background will be darker. If you have footfall problems they will disappear. Vacuum clamping assures that the entire record is at the level of the mat. Even small elevation changes can result in pitch changes. You have a choice of tonearms within the confines of the design. Tonearms such as the Kuzma 4 Point 9 and the Schroder CB are significantly superior to the arm on the Technics. The result will be steadier pitch, better tracking and less distortion.
I believe the overall quality of your system is good enough that you will notice a significant improvement. But it is a $10,000.00 investment. On the other hand it will be the last turntable you will ever need to buy.
“Steadier pitch”, if and only if the basic speed constancy of the SOTA is as good as that of the 1200G, which isn’t likely. Also, does $10,000 pay for either one of the recommended tonearms plus a SOTA Nova w vacuum?
my guess is you will hear belt drive vs direct drive differences. you may like it better, its different. at first when i put my belt drive table it seems like revelation, however, after a couple of hours of listening, i am hearing what I am missing and the 1200g goes back to the main table. Ive tried this so many times that I do not anymore. the 1200G is my table until I here something drastically better.
I’m targeting a Sapphire III with a vacuum. Also has a SME V arm. I can check it out in person and not have to risk shipping. I can see that it works properly but can’t listen to it cause a cart is not installed.
I have a SOTA Cosmos with vac hold down done up to VI specs with the mag platter, roadrunner and condor. I also have a JVC QLY5F with an Ort Bronze. I use a Ort Kontrapunkt B with bob's devices on the SOTA.
As you would expect the SOTA clearly has more definition and comes from a pitch black background. Your components are first class you should be able to easily hear the differences.
The JVC is extremely good and has been trouble free since upgraded caps done by a cool cat Ed in the West who borrowed it. It is a fine spinner and if I had to I could easily live with it as my only player. Not as refined as the SOTA, not as deep a background but easily lets out detail and you can deduce bad and good pressings with no problem.
The Technics is a fine spinner but depending on your tastes and inclination I believe the SOTA would be all that in your system.
1) If you want another turntable in your listening room - it’s fine, I have 6 turntables, but I only use 2 of them and they are identical (Luxman PD-444)
2) But if you’re not happy with the sound and looking for something else you’d better start buying different cartridges, not turntables!
You can also change Technics tonearm on your SL1200G, Reed tonearm would be nice (definitely better than stock Technics tonearm).
I really doubt you will be able to hear the difference between MOTORS, what you will hear is the difference between tonearms.
You can see many different cartridges, tonearms, turntables in my SYSTEM ONE and in my SYSTEM TWO here on audiogon in virtual system galleries. My next stop after several Technics turntables was Luxman PD-444, then Victor TT-101, then Denon DP-80 ...
My experience has been that upgrades beyond that of an SL1200G or in my case GAE are possible, but the increments are disproportionate to cost. I have a VPI HW-40, and yes it sounds better but only a little bit better. Hard to justify the cost delta. I am sure the same would be true for the Sota. I agree with those who have suggested better cartridges and better arms. Start with cartridges.
Arm and Cartridge needs changed if want to keep the DD table, I replaced my 1200G twice with Garrard 301 and/or Thorens TD124. The Technics is a easy table to live with but switching over to the Idler drive tables was instant increase in dynamics and musicality. To answer your question on the Sota it is and will sound better than the Technics with that stock arm.
“Not everyone has an extraordinary hearing ability, especially at certain age.” I can relate to that Chakster. I do like my table Dionisofun but just wondering if I can up the game. Getting another arm and cart might be an option but that would probably cost me $5k. Need consider if I want to invest that much in the 1200G. One comment I’ve heard more than once with the Sota on this thread is the black background. That sounds interesting. Do other 1200G/GAE owners feel their tables do the same?
I would put my money on the Sota. 1)The vacuum hold down insures a decrease in wow and intimate record contact with the platter. 2) The Sota suspension will give you insurance airborne and mechanical shock. 3) The Technics will sound incisive and dynamic at first listen, but those are actually distortions of the direct drive system micro-doubling the record groove information. It is fatiguing to listen to after awhile. 4) The Sota’s suspension will cause your tonearm and cartridge of choice to work hard extracting information from your records.
bfoura There is no doubt that you can improve your turntable by changing the tonearm. I replaced the arm on my Technics 1200G with a Glanz and the improvements were notable. This modification, however, only made sense because: a) the Glanz is an exceptionally superior tonearm; b) my old Ortofon Cadenza Bronze was replaced by a My Sonic Lab Ultra Eminent cartridge, considerably better.
I honestly don’t know if you’ll get real benefits just by changing it tonearm without replacing it with a superior cartridge.
Now the main point: was it worth investing so much in my Technics 1200G? Yes! I would do it again without hesitation!
There is no doubt that you can improve your turntable by changing the tonearm. I replaced the arm on my Technics 1200G with a Glanz and the improvements were notable.
Did you try any Glanz cartridges? @dionisofun
Thanks for reminding about GLANZ, I enjoyed Glanz MF cartridges for a long time, but never tried their tonearms, Glanz is back in business, so let me posts some additional information from my old notes:
Glanz is a brand that has been producing Cartridges and Tonearms masterpieces for many years, and has been adored by audio lovers for a very long time.
Mr. Masataka Hamada who was the developer of “GLANZ” at Mitachi Acoustics, has resurrected “GLANZ” within his own company, Hamada Electric. A legendary brand is reborn! New Glanz tonearms appeared in the market recently. The head office is located in Numazu City, Shizuoka, JAPAN.
Glanz tonearms are manufactured by Hamada Electric and exported by Sibatech Inc.
Mitachi Acoustics for whom Mr. Hamada developed various analog products and was founded in 1951 under the brand name Glanz and closed in 2003. In 1980 Hamada-San established Hamada Electric and secured the Glanz brand license from the Mitachi family in 2008.
Quote from the advertising literature:
"Beyond time Glanz’s legend has been revived. Many long-established audio manufacturers have vanished since analog audio entered its glacial epoch with the advent of digital. Against this tide Glanz issued products such as tone arms and phono cartridges favored by audiophiles to survive with its ingenious technology. The birth of an ultimate tone arm—the Glanz — proves the real advantage of analog audio and talks of its regeneration."
"After engaging in the development of Mitachi Onkyo, I spent many years doing jobs such as repairing Ortofon’s SPU series cartridges. During this period, I learned a great deal from the audio fans, who talked about their dissatisfaction, and made suggestions concerning the various tonearms that were being sold around the world. Armed with this information, THE GLANZ tonearm was designed and manufactured to faithfully reproduce “sound”. My policy is to pursue “original pure sound”. Our company’s products are aiming for the top. “Original pure sound” is the pinnacle! The sound produced by the current electronics industry is far removed from “original pure sound”, but when I air my opinion about this, I am considered ‘eccentric’! I am therefore keen to get to know other people who agree, even a little bit, with my ideas." - Hamada-San (Glanz).
It’s time to spread the light (AGAIN) on some of the very best Moving Flux cartridges made by Mitachi Corporation in Japan. This cartridge is the Glanz MFG-61 with Boron Cantilever and special design "PH" stylus tip. This is not a typical vintage MM/MI or MC, the patent for unique Moving Flux technology belongs to Mr Tsugikuma Minamizono (Japan). Mitachi Corporation made some very nice MF cartridges in the 70s/80s for US/Canadian brand Astatic, for French Jamo and for Italian Azzurra. But for the domestic Japanese brand, technical engineers of Mitachi Corporation designed the ultimate Moving Flux model in 1982. The Glanz MFG-61 is stand alone cartridge, the most prestige model among Glanz MF cartridges, employs BORON cantilever in order to achieve maximum efficiency at the electro-magnetic mechanism, where characterized most advanced feature of MF cartridge, when the energy is converted from mechanical vibration system to electric vibration system. BORON is considered as an ideal material of cantilever in its character that transmits sound as fast as 7 times than Aluminum, due to its large young rate and small specific gravity. With use of Boron cantilever, the signal picked up from disc to specially designed PH stylus tip is faithfully transferred to the conversion system, and hi-fidelity sound reproduced. The rest of the MF cartridges made by Mitachi for other brands do not have such cantilever and diamond. This fact makes my Glanz MFG-61 highly collectible. This is the best sounding Moving Flux cartridge. Find one in my virtual system.
I have been dealing with TT upgradis for may years I had a G that I put a Triplanar top 10" model on and yes it is better I didn't like the anti skate on the TP so I sold it went to a high end belt drive table and it is just different the DD table seems to me to have better timing or PRAT as they say any way I now have the SL1200GAE and the SL1210GAE I am getting ready to move my Thales Simplicity II tonearm onto the 1210GAE to see what improvements that brings, I have always liked linear tracking arms best...stay tuned I guess but I have it will be my end all table
There is some compelling info shared here on both options. I’ve learned of some good options of tonearms I’ve never heard before. Searches for 1200 tone arm replacements have yielded so-so results. But, all these tone arms look to be around $5K? $3K or less is where I would be right now. One benefit from a tonearm upgrade is my wife wouldn’t notice a new turntable, like with a Sota on the rack, lol. On the Sota side, there are some strong opinions that it would out perform a 1200 in my system so lots to consider before I check out the Sapphire III next week.
You’d better try it yourself in your system (if you can compare both), but, again, if you want a better sound you just need a different cartridge for your G, not a different turntable. For quite modest price you can completely change the sound and the whole impression of your Technics turntable will change, believe me (I did it many times).
If you want a different look of your turntable then it’s another story.
About 10-11g if I remember correct (you can change it a bit with different headshells), $3k is a lot for a cartridge, you can buy amazing cartridges within $3k budget (including some killer NOS), just don’t buy a low compliance carts for this tonearm! And don’t afraid to look for MM and MI (there are some decent carts under $1.5k)
@bfoura, Use a resonance calculator to be sure, but I think you're safe there.
IMHO, you've hit the sweet spot in the Ortofon line for high performance relative to cost vs their super carts. A little bit of conjecture but I would argue a cart change would require either a strong desire to an extreme flavor (e.g. a warm Koetsu) or a big price jump to a best in class contender to justify the cart change vs the arm or table. IOW, don't spend $3K to go sideways. Cheers, Spencer
Don’t overestimate the problem, nearly all modern cartridges are made for modern tonearm. Carts are mid compliance and tonearms are mid mass. Most of high compliance carts are high-end vintage MM and MI, most of low compliance carts are vintage MC. Very few new carts are low compliance (SPU for example), but they are definitely not for Technics mid mass tonearm. This arm is amazing for mid and high compliance MM and MI, and modern mid compliance MC.
But cartridges are different and for your ears one specific cart can be much better than others. If you did not compare many then your Ortofon can be not the best for your ears (theoretically).
@lewm , $10,000 is for a Nova vacuum and a Schroder CB. Package price. My own belief is that even with the Nova's standard AC synchronous drive the difference in speed accuracy will be inaudible but that is a belief not a fact. Perhaps someday you and I can get together and run that study. I also forgot to mention the Nova's magnetic bearing will also lead to less rumble and blacker backgrounds.
bfoura, that is a fine combo and down the line you can have it upgraded to the new drive and bearing as well as change tonearms if you get the urge. A new tonearm board is always two weeks away.
The one thing that instantly endears people to the Sota is it's near total insensitivity to anything going on around it. Sing, dance, jump up and down, set off an M80. It could care less. For those who are tired of tip toeing around their turntable it is a blessing.
For you, but not for me, nearly all Japanese tonearms have a removable headshell (or even removable armtube with integrated headshell), it’s an amazing feature to swap cartridges for those who have many cartridges.
It’s much more difficult on my Reed 3p for example (check my system)
The audio establishment sold us the idea that headshells were inherently unstable mounted at the end of an arm wand, so now we’ve got a lot of expensive tonearms with fixed headshells. Around the same time they sold us the idea that bass and treble controls and loudness controls were mucking up the sound quality of our music, so they’ve been deleted. Rightly or wrongly these “innovations” that were near to universally adopted have certainly reduced the cost of manufacture, while prices have gone skyward.
Perhaps, @lewm , but while we don't want to go down the headshell stability rabbithole here, I'd argue IF integrated headshells are generally equal or better than removable, it comes down to whether or not someone's personal best investment is in multiple carts or just one better one. If you have many mono LPs, and want to swap regularly a mono cart and a stereo cart...that makes sense. But many of us would benefit more getting the best cart we can and using it all the time. Personally, I've had some fun doing quick swap shootouts with friends for sh*ts & giggles, but that's generally all it amounted to for me. Different horses...Cheers, Spencer
I have a sapphire w some upgrades, modified Sumiko FT-3 ( CF arm tube, ridged lock VTA tower / wiring ) Hana ML and your same Herron phono. I also have in a different system Brinkmann Bardo / Triplaner / Lyra.
I think you should spend $ on Fire Level or better IC out of table and phono, different cartridge and isolation for table. Maybe not in that order….
sbank, Crazily, I admit, I have multiple turntables up and running and just as many tonearms. I use two with fixed headshells, Reed and Triplanar, and three with removable headshells. When I want to experiment with different cartridges, I am drawn to the simplicity of removable headshells. This feature offers the additional not insignificant advantage of experimenting with different headshells, if for no other reason than to establish a good effective mass vs compliance ratio to suit a particular cartridge. For 10-20 years, I had swallowed the notion that fixed headshells were the purist and purest way to go, but my experiences over the last 10-12 years tell me I hear no problems related to flexing at the joint between headshell and tonearm. The other consideration is that adding a headshell:arm wand interface adds another physical connector between cartridge and phono stage. To me, that would be more of an issue with removable headshells than structural instability. Hence, I tend to mount my lowest output LOMC cartridges in either the Triplanar or the Reed. But I have broken even that rule of thumb with no discernible problems, I must admit, although I do continue to believe in direct-est connection to the phono stage; the fewer the interfaces, the better. One caveat: all headshells do not securely fit all tonearm wands. You have to check the quality of the fit in each case.
If you have many mono LPs, and want to swap regularly a mono cart and a stereo cart...that makes sense. But many of us would benefit more getting the best cart we can and using it all the time.
This is so stuid idea for people with many mono records, all they need is a dedicated tonearm for mono!
There is no such thing as “the best cart” and this is a big problem, without trying many cartridges peole have no idea which one is the best in their systems. For many people the most expensive and “the best” is the same thing.
Additional headshell pins and even a DIN connector on a tonearm will not change the sound of a great tonearm/cartridge.
Chakster, I must say I am impressed by your level of certainty, at times. You wrote, "Additional headshell pins and even a DIN connector on a tonearm will not change the sound of a great tonearm/cartridge." How can you, or anyone, know this for all the different combinations that are possible? I think the odds are that the connections are less audible with high output cartridges vs very low output MC cartridges, where I would worry more. Since you are drawn to MM and MI cartridges with output voltages way higher than 1mV, that may account for your personal experience. I can think of many cases where replacing a physical contact interface in the signal chain with a hard-wired connection did make an audible improvement in SQ.
I really love the Kuzma 4 point headshell solution. You can swab cartridges fast and still have a clip to RCA continuity. As stated above, the 4 point 9 is not too heavy for the Sota's suspension system.
I like tone controls on the integrated subs in the Vandersteen Quatro/Kento/Seven.
Since you are drawn to MM and MI cartridges with output voltages way higher than 1mV, that may account for your personal experience.
I’m not drawn to MM or MI at all, I have/had some amazing LOMC, such as: Miyabi Standard, Miyajima Kansui, Shelter 5000, EMT 75th Anniversary, Miyabi MCA, ZYX Premium 4D, ZYX Airy-3, Fidelity-Research FR-7fz, Victor MCL10, Grace Asakura-One, KLIPSCH MCZ-10, Ortofon SPU Spirit amd Royal G mk2, Supex, Ortofon MC2000 … is that enough? I have more MC cartridges in my collection and I like them a lot!
What is the reason for you to say that I’m drawn to MM or MI or anything at 1mv or higher (even if I like the usability and sound of MM) ??? I have all types of cartridges (phono stages, suts, headamps), many tonearms and turntables to compare them all in my system. I’ve been doing it weekly since 2011 (I even uploaded 100 images in my virtual system for the first time after my 11 years of membership on a’gon). Of course you will not find $10k cartridges, $15k tonearms and $30k turntables in my system.
In fact I bought my €5000 Reed 3p 12 inch (earlier version with fixed shell) a long time ago, before I discovered FR-66fx or EPA-100 mk2 and related vintage Japanese tonearms with removable headshells. I have MORE FUN using all those Japanese classics than modern Reed 3p.
Put FR-64s or FR-66fx (you don’t have this one) agaist any modern tonearm like Reed, TriPlanar … whatever and you will head that DIN and removable headshell have ZERO EFFECT on the quality of FR top of the line tonearms (if you have a good cartridge).
I’m sick when people repeat high-end propaganda. It’s not as simple as some people would like to represent it.
No point in our getting into a private back and forth here, but please do not take what I wrote as a criticism or an insult. Most of all, I would not insult your cartridge collection. I hope you would admit that you are a champion of MM and MI cartridges, by and large. That leads me to think you listen to them most often, compared to time spent with LOMC cartridges, regardless of how many you may own. I was just trying to understand why you feel so categorically that DIN connectors, headshell connectors, etc, etc, do not make any difference to SQ. In my own experience, those connectors in the phono signal chain do have little effect with high output cartridges, but not so with LOMCs. So I was projecting my own experience to yours.
I do own an FR64S with B60, by the way; I don't know why connectors would make more or less difference with an FR64fx vs an FR64S, but as you say, I don't own the latter. I would also say that the match of tonearm to cartridge seems more important than the number of connections. For example, my Koetsu Urushi sounds far better in my FR64S (using an Ortofon LH9000, 18gm headshell) than it did in my Triplanar, despite the fact that the Triplanar achieves direct connection from cartridge to phono inputs. So my generalization (that physical connectors DO make a difference with LOMCs) does not hold up 100% even in my experience. That's another reason why I was wondering about your level of certainty.
So my generalization (that physical connectors DO make a difference with LOMCs) does not hold up 100% even in my experience. That’s another reason why I was wondering about your level of certainty.
Here on audiogon people always ask simple questions about cartridges, tonearms, turntables. Reading some of the questions I found that most of the people may not have an exceptional hearing ability to detect any difference between direct soldering or a wire with several collectors on the signal path, they are not reviewers and not trained to act like a computer. I don’t think I have an exceptional hearing ability at my age (45), but I can’t detect the difference! If some reviewers can detect a big difference at the age of 60-70 then I think they are super humans, well at least they are trained to detect it. The majority of audiophiles just repeat what reviewers said and as a result we have some funny statements that have nothing to do with reality. If it’s important for trained ears of reviewers with million dollar system, it’s not important for everyone. Maybe people will say that FR-64s or FR-66s is amazing tonearm, for the price for 66s it must be amazing (I don’t have this one, but I have long 66fx with FR-7f and fz LOMC and it’s an amazing tonearm to my ears with a removable shell and with a connector).
OP is a Technics user, this brand made tonearms with removable headshells, the best is probably EPA-100 mk2 (I have this one), their new reference tonearm is different, but there is a removable headshell. Long time ago they made EPA-500 with removable arm tubes (great feature too).
They did not try to make a new tonearm with a fixed headshell in the 21st century for some reason even for SL1000R.
I’ve been playing my mono LP’s the last couple days by installing my dedicated mono cart (and headshell) to my Jelco 850 arm.
So it’s a benefit of a tonearm with removable headshell. But without this option of your Jelco on SOTA turntable (that can’t accommodate second tonearm) it will be a nighmare to swap a cartridge on a tonearm without removable headshell each time you want to play a MONO LP with dedicated mono cart.
@tomic601 i was thinking of upgrading my IC’s to phono preamp to amp. I just leaned about lower capacitance IC’s for TT’s, so they got me thinking if that could make an improvement. I have my 1200G on a Auralex isolation platforms for TT’s. Probably could upgrade that as their is a skip when I step too hard on this one section of my floor. Regarding cart @chakster, I appreciate the feedback. I’ve kind of built my system to accommodate the low output of the Cadenza Black and would like to stay in that performance range. To compare, I may order a cart from a place I can return if it doesn’t best the Cadenza.