Turntable consultation

Hello friends, and thank you for help.

I would like to have your opinion regarding improving the SQ of my turntable. Since I haven't listen to other brands except mine, which is Pro-Ject RPM 9.1 with class A cartridge and Tube Box phono, I know its very good turntable & arm, but is it class A ?

And if I upgrade the tonearm to a better one like 9cc Evo or other models will improve SQ very much and no need spend on higher level turntable ?

Or if I upgrade to higher level turntable like Signature 10, or other brands like VPI Classic 3 . How much improvement will be ?

My main goal is: resolution, musical, neutrality, and no coloration.

I'm trying to understand what best way and is it worth to spend more money.

Thank you
You should be specific about your cartridge if you want on point answers to your question.

Without knowing your cartridge, I would say the weakest link in your analog system is the Tube box.
It doesnt really get better at this point ...it will just be different. If you like what your hearing now...I would just improve on Isolating the turntable with some better feet or a wooden platform base . (like mapleshade sells) You can spend lots of $$ and still be a little dissappointed.
Change your power wall outlets to Maestro.....does what you want.
Thank you all for answers. Cartridge im using is Shelter 9000 .
I think you can take a couple of paths here. You can do some tweaking like a maple platform, tonearm cable, etc and make some change, also improvement to your system.

You could also take a path with larger steps. You do not say what your budget is, so this path may not work for you.

I think changing to a used SME 10 or Basis turntable would cause a quantum leap in the performance of your system. I changed from a Rega to a Basis tonearm on my Basis turntable with a Shelter 901 cartridge, and the change was a revelation to me. You have an excellent cartridge (Shelter 9000) which IMO is the highest performing component in your analog system.

Good luck in your search for performance.
I would agree with Jperry, your Shelter 9000 should benefit from a better phono pre bringing it to a whole new level of resolution and musicality.
My budget can go high. I assume the most critical parts for sound in turntables are: Cart, tonearm, and phono preamp. I can improve the resonance and damping by platforms and isolators. If this is the case then this will leave me only to tonearm and preamp.

Any opinion on Ortofon TA-110 and is it better than 9cc Evo ?
Also, Can SME models 309 and IV fit Pro-Ject RPM 9.1 ?

And any better tonearm recommendation will be appreciated.

Thank you.
I am not that familiar with your tonearm and turntable, but I did a little research. From looking at a picture of your turntable, it is not the type where you can have a different mounting board made. The Pro-ject website indicated the following specifications for your tonearm

Headshell 0,5" (12,7mm) standard
Mounting distance 212mm (Linn standard)
Supplied counterweight cartridge weight 6 - 10g
Effective length 9" (230mm)
Effective mass 8,5g
Overhang 18mm

The Pro-ject website says 212 (Linn standard), but when you look up Linn on Vinyl engine it says 211 mm mounting distance.I took a quick look at Vinylengine.com (free website, but you need to register) and Kuzma, Moerch and Ortofon have the a 212 mm mounting distance.

SME tonearms require a SME mounting hole so a SME arm would not work on your turntable and because of the mounting distance Basis and Rega arms would not work either.

If you want to change tonearms you will need to see if the tonearm you are interested in will fit. In addition to mounting distance you need to check the size of the mounting hole and the screw pattern for the mounting screws. Hopefully the information above will provide some guidance and assistance.

You could also consider a different turntable. If you like the pod style turntable like your current Pro-ject you could look for a SME 10, and sell your Pro-ject. It may be less hassle than putting a different tonearm on your Pro-ject. There is one for sale on Audiogon now with a IV tonearm (no relationship with seller).
Hi, Knight7m. Thanks for your question.
I assume the most critical parts for sound in turntables are: Cart, tonearm, and phono preamp.
There are FOUR critical components in a vinyl front end: turntable, tonearm, phono stage and cartridge. The only one where you can (sometimes) get top class sound while staying on a low budget is the cartridge. The other three components are more critical... much more.

Having a high end cartridge is great. I use one too. But if the table, arm AND phono stage aren't of equal or better capability, you've put resources into a component that you'll never hear the full capabilities of.

This has been demonstrated many times, and is consistent with Linn's recommendations going back decades. When upgrading or allocating resources, look to the table, tonearm and phono stage first (in no particular order, each of them is vital). Look to the cartridge last (unless it's a known weakness of course).

Example from my systems, which include the following:
$8,000 LOMC, $200 MM
$6,000 TT, $500 TT
$5,000 arm, $500 arm
$12,000 preamp w phono, $800 preamp w phono

I've mixed and matched these in various combinations. Without any question, the worst sound is when I put the high end LOMC on the inexpensive TT/arm. The cartridge is so sensitive and revealing that it spotlights all the weaknesses of the rig supporting it.

OTOH, the inexpensive MM on the high end rig sings its heart out, playing way above itself because it's been given a top class support system that frees it to play its best.

There are few absolutes in audio but this one comes as close as any: a $500 cartridge on a $5,000 rig will play circles around a $5,000 cartridge on a $500 rig.

The difference between the two preamps is enormous. While the inexpensive one is no slouch (used c-j PV11, notably better than the Tube Box), the costlier one (Doshi Alaap) makes a staggering improvement. I've had critics and editors from audio mags visit my system. They only left after I promised to put them in touch with the maker of this amazing preamp, which at least two of them ended up buying for their own systems.

So, I agree with Jperry and Kiko65. You've put the cart before the horse by upgrading your cartridge well above the other 3 components in your vinyl front end. Time to start upgrading those. Until you do, you'll never hear what the Shelter can really do.

Happy hunting!

P.S. Don't get caught up in arbitrary categories like "Class A" or whatever other nonsense Stereophile puts out. Listen to as much as you can, talk to people with experience who seem to share your listening priorities, educate your own ears and judgement. You'll end up knowing a great deal more about what matters to you than any list in some magazine.
Thank you all very much for reply, and Jperry and Dougdeacon, your informations very helpful.

I will buy new preamp with budget around $3000, probably Pass XP15 or Halo JC3, and start from there.

And Dougdeacon, i assume from your talk the arm (9cc) is much less compatiblity than Shelter 9000 ?

And what your recommendation for new turntable with budget around $6000 ?
As far as turntables go, I would look for a used Basis with a Basis Vector tonearm. A.J. Conti of Basis said the Basis tonearm was a good match for the Shelter 901 and my experience was that it worked very well for me. The compliance of the Shelter 901 is the same as the 9000 according to vinyl engine. The 9000 is 1.9 grams heavier.

Make sure your cartridge and arm match up. Vinyl engine can help you with this information.
I would look a second hand Basis Turntable with a rewired Rega (Incognito wire) Arm ...
the table and especially cart would breath new life if you stepped up your phono pre into the next level of retail/build quality 2k+.

I'm sure the Project tube box is fine for it's price point and perhaps a bit higher. I had a 1k SS phono and did an all tube that was the game changer. The 2k+ SS and tubed rigs IMO will also support your next serious table upgrade also.

You may be satisfied with just the phono stage upgrade?
The Rogue Audio Ares with Blue Cinemag option around $2,300.00 pairs well with the Shelter 9000. Just another option.

For $6,000.00 you will have tons of options; Sota, Clearaudio, Well Tempered, Acoustic Signature, Townshend, Basis, Avid, just to name a few.

I'm a big fan of Rega, for that money you may want to audition the RP10 with a retail price of $5,995.00. Killer table/arm/dedicated PSU!

Good luck!
At $6K there are many options. I've seen many fine tables (and some not-so-fine) but I don't know any of them well enough to recommend them over others. $6K is about the price of my Teres table, but it's not made any more so I won't recommend you try to buy one. ;-)

Try to see and play with as many tables as you can. A vinyl rig is a personal, hands-on device, not plug 'n' play at all. At this price point it's important that YOU understand the table's design philosophy and feel comfortable with it.

Read manufacturer's descriptions, online reviews and owner comments... but take them all with a grain of salt. You're not reading to find out which one is the "best" (they all are, obviously!). You're reading to find a table you understand and can be happy living with.

Some will recommend their own table because it's their own table and they love it (else they'd replace it). That doesn't mean you would.
I don't know if this will improve SQ but might worth asking, Is high quality speed controller will improve the sound of Pro-Ject RPM 9.1 instead the stock Speed Box SE ?
VPI have SDS controller .
Any thoughts or suggestions ?
A lot of folks seem to be enjoying the relatively new Phoenix Engineering controller - it's a fair bargain as well especially considering it is considerably more advanced than the SDS. K&K Audio also has a new controller out that looks intriguing as well.
My personal experience with an outboard speed controller is limited to my purchase of the Basis unit for a Basis Debut table. This is a quite expensive dual phase unit that required modification of the motor (two separate power feeds to the two-phase motor and removal of the phase splitting capacitor). The benefits of using this outboard supply is, to me, quite subtle. While the sound is better--a sense of a more "solid" sound--the improvement is not nearly as obvious as the much cheaper upgrade of buying the newer and better belt offered by Basis. The Basis table, being a premium unit with incredibly close tolerance machining, probably had reasonably good speed control so that only small improvements could be made anyway.

I would say that while a better power supply for the motor will probably improve sound, I would expect a low bang-for-the-buck return on such investment. The ability to change speeds without moving the belt is a convenience that could factor into the decision.
I would say your table is CLASS B. Spend your extra money on top models of the speaker brand you prefer. More advances in speakers in the last few years than tables