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You'll likely get as many answers as there are turntables, so keeping with that spirit, I love my Origin Live Sovereign paired with the Origin Live Conquerer tone arm. The combination produces a great solid yet open and crisp sound in a small footprint. Very interesting and simple mechanical design. Good luck.
The new Grand Prix Monaco Turntable is really something very special. I owned a Basis Debut for many years and recently changed to the SME 20/2. The SME 20 was a very big improvement over my second generation Basis. I changed from the SME 20 to the Grand Prix and WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! This table is on a whole other level over my SME. I am just about as impressed with the Grand Prix as I was with the demo of the top of the line $90,000 Clairborne. Vinyl is soooosoooo quiet with black backgrounds and the sound is so pure, natural, resolving, with you are there imaging. One of the most impressive components I have experienced in my 30 years of audio.
It looks very simple but is very cutting edge in design. The secret to the sound is in the amazing accurate speed stability (direct drive), brialliant and innovetive bearing and overall design.
What, no Lenco, no Garrard :-)?!? Time will tell (is already telling), the sands of time are running....You want PRESENCE, excitement, the sort of PALPABILITY which hits you in the stomach and leaves you gasping for breath, try a properly set-up idler-wheel drive. Good luck in your search for musical excitement!
I now own the big Kuzma XL with Airline, but if I had to recommend something for cost effectiveness, the Kuzma Reference with a Triplanar. I had this combo before I upgraded and WOW. The nice thing about the Reference (which is a smaller table than the XL) is that its isolation system is very effective and it is still light enough, unlike the XL, to be mounted on a wall shelf. Is it the 'best'? Who cares? The XL/Airline is 'better,' but at much greater cost and far more trouble to isolate, deal with airpump, etc.
There are some excellent turntables out there? One of the things that I have learned is that the difference between the great ones and the not so grate ones is how much of the complete package they are. I remember the Simon Yorke. A truly great table provided you add the Walker Motor Drive and the Vibraplane. One for speed the other for isolation. If any is not working the whole thing collapses. In that point the Kuzma thread above is 100% on target and easily predictable. I believe someo of the mega $ turntables benefit from extensive isolations systems that are built into racks / platters etc to add the extra level of refinement. In that regard, I would suggest that many great turntables can be upgraded quite significantly with a speed controller / wall shelf / isolation stand to come close to many other turntables if the fundamentals are right.
I can't argue with what you heard. I can say I used it with a Music Reference pre and and later a Supratek Syrah pre. A Nottingham cartridge and a Myabi Standard. Good enough? I think so. Even a cartridge as superb as the Myabi couldn't help that thing. The music eminates froma gray back ground, not much detail, and a consticted soundatage. And don't even talk to me about the tonearm. What a joke! I picked up an Alphason HR 100mcs for $400.00 after I sold the Yorke. It kills the Yorke arm. The price of the Yorke combo? What's it over $15,000 now?
When I had it a local guy here called me to hear it, said he wanted to but one. He brought over his Rega P9 to see how much better the Yorke was. Now his 'table's cartridge at the time was a Benz wood body, better than my Nottingham MM. Still, the P9 destroyed the Yorke. he just left and said nothing. That's all that needed to be said. I lost respect for Fremmers' reviews after owning the Yorke. Also made me very skeptical of the whole industry. Team the 'table with a pair of Thiel speakers and some awful solid state equipment and you got a good torture device.
Ira2000 I've owned several tables, including the P9 you mentioned above. Now own the Yorke S7 which has destroyed all previous tables, including an SME20.2 and even a Basis Debut, admittingly the Basis threw a blacker background BUT the Yorke had PACE that no other table has come close. I'd never sell the Yorke for any other table. BTW I use it with a 47 Labs cartridge.
To quote Johnnantais
[blockquote]You want PRESENCE, excitement, the sort of PALPABILITY which hits you in the stomach and leaves you gasping for breath...[/blockquote]
I know... idlerwheels are supposed to have it...
On the other, I had the pleasure to visit Thom from Galibier sound and listen to the Galibier Gavia with Stelvio platter - that one seems to have that in spades - amazing that a high mass design can have presence, rhythmic drive, and great dynamics, without sacrificing black backgrounds and detail retrieval.
I would highly recommend looking at the Galibier tables from the Gavia with Gavia platter to the higher end Stelvio.
Another satisfied Galibier owner here. I totally agree with Flyingred and Restock. They did a good job of describing what makes the Galibier such a great sounding table. Excellent detail and dynamics both micro and macro, a quiet black background, and a surefooted rhythmic quality that gives up little if anything to an idler. Mine is a Gavia with Gavia platter and Triplanar on a Stelvio armboard. The Galibier and TP make a great combination.
I'll disagree - I think $300 will get you a great cartridge IF it's mounted on a table/arm up to the task. I'd spend the most on a table, then the arm, and place the cart after the horse...say 55-65% table, 10% on a cart and the rest on the arm. Personally, I run a Galibier Gavia, with a Triplanar VII, and a Denon 103R - purely, magically musical, with a decent enough dose of "hi-fi" thrown in not to get in the way. YMMV.
I've been at the German High End 2007, there are a few Demonstration Set Ups with Turntables (Raven, DPS, Continuum, Audiomeca ....) Honestly, when the Line Stage or Phono Stage is dead sounding (and there are loads of them out there), forget the analog Magic. The result is a dead, lifeless, dull Sound without an Airy, lifelike High Frequency Area. Discussions about Turntables is like rolling a Dice ....
I don't think anyone has done a real comparison of a Galibier to a Raven, at least a Raven One which is more in line price wise with a Gavia.
These mass loaded tables make it difficult to bring over to a buddies and set it up, let alone having the exact same arm, cart and wiring.
I heard a Galibier in a system I had never heard before, and it was a pretty meaningless audition. I heard a Raven AC in another unfamilar system and it told me little about how the table sounded.
I heard the Continum Criteron and Copperhead at the Hi fi show last week on a number of recordings, and on one cut I perhaps got a bit of the essence of how the table performed.
But ultimatley without a really well controlled shootout, a transducer at the head of a signal chain is so reliant on the rest of the chain that comparison other than side to side is made extremely difficult.
Why is it i feel hearing a speaker in an unfamilar room/electronics/front end tells me more about it's performance than a table? Maybe because it's the back end of the chain, or perhaps it's the speaker that give the system a much larger percentage of it's character?
I think many of us are stuck taking a stab at deciding on a table based on cost, size, and hype. I didn't even bother to hear the Raven One at Highwater sound before I ordered. I heard the AC briefly, and read the reviews of it and the One. I needed a compact table that was mass loaded but not too heavy - I realized 100+ lbs was out of the question for me, so I didn't go with Galibier, which was my original plan. Had I lived in a house and had more room, my choice may have been different.
Now once I get my Raven, if someone with a Galibier and a Phantom wants to bring their..... Nah, forget it. I'll save my back in live in ignorance with my blind choice of decks, as you Brits say.
I agree totally with Richard (Palasr). It may not be coincidental that he and I are using the exact same setup---Galibier Gavia, Triplanar VII and Denon 103R.
The phono hierarchy should be table first, then arm, then cartridge. Part of my reason for saying this is just practical experience. Table upgrades have provided me with the most improvement in musical pleasure. A better arm can sound better, a better cartridge can sound better, but these are mostly hi-fi artifacts---detail and imaging for example. A table upgrade can change your whole listening paradigm. I have used 4 tonearms on my Galibier---the Triplanar, a Moerch DP-6, VPI JMW-10 and AQ PT-6. They all sound quite different, but frankly I could be quite happy with any of them...provided it was on the Galibier table. So I would always advise focusing your phono budget on the table provided you have enough left over for a decent arm and decent cartridge.
This doesn't mean that any $300 cartridge would be equally satisfying. The Denon is truly the overachieving cartridge of both this century and the last. I am amused to read so-called reviews of the Denon on e-zines that conclude it is "good for the money" but can't compete with a Benz Glider or what have you. Such a comment only reveals that the "reviewer" hasn't heard the Denon under optimal conditions, and in my experience that means a Triplanar arm. My feelings toward the Denon were only so-so with my other arms (VPI JMW-10, Moerch DP-6 and AQ PT-6), but the Denon took a huge step forward in the Triplanar. The Denon is not a universal cartridge like most budget carts. It is very particular about tonearms, it has a low output and needs to be loaded properly. But if you are prepared to treat it like a $3000 cartridge and spend some time (and money) to operate it under optimal conditions, then it can sound terrific by any standard.
I tend to think it is all in the ear of the beholder, meaning absolutely relative anyway, but I'll make a brief response to your query. Indeed I have had considerably more expensive cartridges on my Galibier (in the $1-2K range), mated to several different phono stages/preamps, but I will be honest in saying I've yet to flirt with the likes of a Dynavector XV-1S, a ZYX Universe, a Lyra Titan or a top Allerts in my system. Since we are dealing with something that is going to wear out, I've always balked somewhat at the pricepoints of the top contenders. That said, I have indeed heard the Dyna, for example, on a similarly equipped Galibier and delighted in its holistic magic - all the fabulous stuff you want, but none of the hi-fi artifice so common in so much of today's gear (at any point in the reproduction chain, from source to speaker).
Salectric is absolutely correct in his statements about the Denon DL103R - having heard this cartridge numerous times over the years, I could never understand what all the fuss was about. While I always thought it was an adequate performer, it was only when mated to Galibier/Triplanar that I finally(!) understood what the big deal was. You know what, my Lyra which I was so happy about using on my fully loaded Linn LP12 now sits in its box, and the Denon does the work. While the Lyra gives me oodles of detail, soundstage extending to infinity in all three dimensions and great frequency extension - it fails to make sense musically - it is, as I said, artifice, without very much meaningful content. While the Denon doesn't do a couple of those wonderful hi-fi things as well as the Lyra, ultimately it makes me smile, cry, laugh and tap my foot like there's no tomorrow - it communicates the emotional intent of the artist and the gestalt of the performance brilliantly.
Alas, there is no easy way to verbaly describe the communicative nature of the Denon (or the Dyna XV-1S, or the ZYX Uni., et al). You know it when you hear it - you become immersed in the performance, and forget all about the the hi-fi stuff we all hold so near and dear. You don't think about the gear, only the music.
If I look back at the trends in hi fidelity equipment since the dawn of the digital age, I think that while digital has made great strides to sound more analog in nature - analog has tended to go in the opposite direction - to become more digital sounding; to allow for a convergence of sonic types. Unfortunately, I tend to think cartridge designs are the biggest culprits here. This in my opinion is wrong-headed, but it reflects an overall trend I'm having difficulty ignoring. Some folks want big, slamming bass notes; they want every last iota of detail; they want a sound that more closely approximates the sounds they are continually bombarded with every day (whether on TV, in line at the airport, or on the radio) -- the modern ear has effectively been "detuned" away from natural musical reproduction, toward a homogenous, compressed, sterile approximation of the actual event. I'm sorry, but if one doesn't regularly attend acoustical music concerts, or has never heard a correctly transcribed LP untouched by ANY digital artifact, then all hope is lost IMHO. You've essentially never heard what real music sounds like, only a mere approximation. This analysis also begs to answer the question of why so many folks are into vintage gear, from amplification to transducers - perhaps there is some intrinsic value in a small degree of euphony; perhaps everything shouldn't be so so clean; maybe a little distortion is OK; maybe some designs from 60 years ago, now long forgotten - had it absolutely correct.
Sorry for the rant and the length, and of course, take this all with a grain of salt - we all value different aspects of musical reproduction, and ultimately we all find our own path toward nirvana. Happy listening,
I concur with the praise of the Denon 103 and 103R, and nobody has heard it properly until they've heard it in an arm that can manage it properly. That said, I'm a bit surprised that the Tri-Planar is one of those arms. I would have thought high-mass, preferably 12 inches.
I've run both carts in the extremely heavy Ikeda IT-407 (12") arm with superb results. Now I'm running the 103 in the EMT 997 (also 12") arm and it's even better.
The 103s also performed well in the 9" Ortofon RS-212, and would probably do well in any other real Ortofon arm (which are all vintage - the current Ortofon arms out of Japan are actually OEM Jelco and just mimic the look of original Ortofon arms) - you're talking RMG 297, 309, RMA 297, 309 and RF 297 and 309... or the Shindo Meursault if you've got the bucks.
Another route would be the original steel knife-edge bearing SME 3012.
I agree with Partckamory, I have the same experience. My friend runs that one with this original SME 3012, another one uses the same heavy Ikeda Arm.
MUCH better than in a Triplanar, it works of course, but these Denons are better in Heavy Arms. I use them in a DaVinci.
Based on their low Price they are very often found in sub-optimal Set Ups.
I find it very difficult to make these apples and oranges comparisons, although as each of us makes them, we learn a bit more and triangulate better on "ultimate truth", such as it were.
The only high-mass arm I've run my DL-103R on is my 18g Ebony wand Schröder Reference.
I detected no improvement over the Triplanar that I could attribute to mass. Surely, both arms retained their characteristics, and both were very, very good. The Triplanar did not come off as being too light however.
I think the Denon's compatibility range is wider than many would predict. I have no doubts that it will shine with a 3012R or an Ikeda as it did with the Schröder and the Triplanar.
Without trying to sound too self-serving, perhaps my turntables make up for what many are perceiving as being a shortcoming (or incompatibility) in tonearms?
Now, the 'table in question most certainly needs to be considered when any of us report, because many individuals are considering an arm change and not a 'table change.
Whether they should be focusing on an arm change as opposed to a 'table upgrade remains open to debate.
As Dave (Salectric) said (better than I've been ever been able to articulate), the tt hierarchy (tt, then arm, then cartridge) should most certainly be followed.
When I look at the functioning of a turntable, I think of an old Fred Astaire routine where he danced with a hat rack.
You'd swear that the hat rack took dance lessons (and quite a few of them). It seemed alive and responsive to his movements.
In the same way, an outstanding turntable can make otherwise pedestrian arms and cartridges sound much better than they have any right to do.
Please note that I consider the DL-103R to be a very fine cartridge on an absolute basis - not pedestrian in any way.
It's for this reason that I qualify all of my arm and cartridge recommendations. I may well be hearing them having an unfair advantage ... riding shotgun on a Galibier.
Perhaps this is what Flyingred, Salectric, and Palasr are reporting. I can well guess that this doesn't trouble them in the least, however (grin).
Thom @ Galibier
FWIW, I've had a friend's 103R on my TriPlanar/Teres and the thing had a presence, tonal honesty and the ability to make you believe and boogie all out of proportion to its price point. (Or perhaps it's the other cartridges which don't do this that are out of proportion.)
Would I give up my UNIverse or an Olympos, XV-1S or Orpheus for a Denon? Well, no. But since I could buy ten or twenty 103R's for the price of one of those and be set for multiple lifetimes, I understand the decision of those who have.
Sadly, I don't expect to be playing music on vinyl for multiple lifetimes, so I indulge a bit during this one...