Upgraded turntable - is my current setup sufficient?


After some research on table upgrades from my denon dp300 with the sumiko rainier I pulled the trigger on the Marantz TT15-S1 with included clearaudio virtuoso. Based on some threads on this forum and some others it seems that any table under $1000 wouldn't yield the kind of audible jump I wanted.

Currently I have an adcom gtp500 for the phono stage running into a rotel 1066 pre-pro and the rotel 1080 amp. Those are driving a set of cambridge soundworks tower 1 speakers.

I am hoping to hear an appreciable difference with the new marantz and virtuoso running through my current setup.

Does anyone think otherwise?

If so let me know any suggested changes and what order they should be made. I've checked the specs - the adcom amp should have no problems with the virtuoso cart. Having said that, is there a better phono stage upgrade I can make for under $500 that would be noticeable difference?

I picked up the tower 1 speakers last year for $150 bucks and I've been super happy with them. Im hoping the marantz won't underperform due to the speakers or anything else, and will provide me with the appreciable difference I am hoping for.

Thanks!
jsnath
There will be a huge improvement, for sure. Whether you hear it or not.... ;

The Marantz weighs in at 19.6lbs. You want to know that because one of the best things you can do next is put it on springs, and springs need to be tuned to the weight of the component.

With a new table, before throwing money at anything else I would be doing all the really cost-effective little things to get the most out of that table. For $500 you could get a nice heavy solid shelf, Synergistic PHT, and Nobsound springs. All together these will make about as much improvement as any phono stage you could buy with that same budget.

One of the great things about analog is that unlike digital the gear has a very long life. Most guys will chip away at it, $500 phono stage, $1000 phono stage, $1500 phono stage, like that. Baby steps. Each step costing you money in depreciation every time you buy and sell.

What I do instead is look around for stuff that is really high value. The best does tend to cost more. So? Work on other stuff while saving up for a Grail that is worth it.

For example- and not saying do this just giving one example- https://www.decware.com/newsite/ZP3.htm Insanely good and everyone will say way above your pay grade but look- lifetime warranty. Freaking good sound. As long as you are careful to use a MM or higher output MC you won’t need a SUT. Kind of thing it will be a good long time, if ever, that you outgrow it. Cross the phono stage off your list. Might take a while to save up but one and done vs baby steps.

I know this works great by the way because its exactly what I did. Saved and stretched to buy a ARC PH3SE some 20+ years ago. Lasted me all the way until 2 years ago upgraded to Herron VTPH2A. None of them cheap but imagine if I took the baby steps approach, would’ve spent 3x and still not be there.

Again, just one example. Don’t get caught up too much in the balanced system approach. Don’t be afraid to think big, and long term. Slow and steady. 20, 30 years ago I was right about where you are now. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367
Thanks for the reply. You have a beautiful setup there. well done.

We seem to be on the same page - slow and steady is how i've been building and always an eye out for cost effective deals. In fact this table is the first item i've purchased new. Everything else has been used or a hand-me-down.

My table is currently sitting on a pangea rack sitting about 4 feet from my right front channel. My floors are hardwood so it probably makes sense to look into some isolation gear. 

One silver lining with this virus... plenty of money to burn. 

Oh one more question. Any recommendations for a dust cover? I've seen some out there for around $180 bucks but wanted to make sure i wasn't missing any other options.
just to confirm, your denon is vintage dp 3000? or a typo, is it the current dp300?

either one, you are changing from direct drive to belt drive, I prefer DD, quartz locked (on, instant and maintained speed); but if you didn't/don't hear any problem, don't have power variations, after motor warm up, speed of belt drive should be stable.

IOW, I don't think the table itself will make a difference, and I think other things done correctly, more expensive tables will also not be as important as the arm, cartridge, phono stage. 

If vintage dp 3000, you didn't mention current arm. 

cartridge, the new clearaudio will definitely sound different, and should also be an obvious improvement.

However, it is an elliptical stylus shape, so even if better, a future upgrade to advanced stylus shape, Microlinear, Fineline, SAS will be a definitely audible further step up.

It has much tighter channel balance .4db existing is 1.5db. that will definitely tighten the center resulting in improved imaging. channel separation specs are very similar 25/26 db.

Signal strength: new clearaudio is lower 3.6mV signal; existing is 5.0 mv. You will definitely need more juice out of your preamp/amp for same volume as existing cartridge. If it remains quiet, no concern. If tubes, you will be driving them harder. Great results, who cares. 

Cartridge change n the future, I would consider higher signal strength, lighter tracking force, wider separation, keep tight channel balance.


I would assume your turntable is dp300f.
The Marantz turntable dwarfs rest of your components. I think the biggest bottleneck is the phono pre. Then, your speakers, and preamp, and then amp.
Your turntable and cartridge deserve at least $300 phono preamp. Your Rotel amp and Adcom preamp will be OK for a while, but you would not get 100% out of the turntable.
My suggestion is, seriously looking for better phono pre ASAP, and then save $$$$ for next speakers and amps.
Yes - dp300f. No typos - also it is belt driven. Stock arm and upgraded to sumiko rainier cart. 

Any suggestions on a phono-pre that pairs well with the clearaudio cart? 

I don't see myself upgrading the rotel amps or speakers for at least a couple years... Though you never know should a good deal come around. 

Experimenting with some different phono's seems like an easy enough exercise though. Thank you. 
The Schiit Mani has got to out-perforn the Adcom. I'd start there. You can also add a linear power supply for an uptick in SQ.


I think your question was whether you would be able to appreciate an improvement from your new Marantz rig, in the context of your present system, compared to the denon that you now own. My answer is a tentative yes. Beyond that I would take with a grain of salt the tons of conflicting advice that your post has elicited and will continue to elicit. In the end you have to make up your own mind. I would say that the very last thing I would do now if I were you is to tie up any money in a synergistic PHT thingy. Millercarbon seems to love them, but there are many among us who think they are totally worthless. It’s debatable. However, whether worthless or miraculous, making a tweak like that a priority is inappropriate at this stage.
I might add that on a gross level, I think your Adcom phono stage is a weak link, once you have installed the Marantz. There are innumerable excellent phono stages available these days for your MM cartridge that  cost under $500.
Trying a phono preamp, it is best if you can try/return.

I believe in versatility. Therefore, I suggest getting a Phono Stage for current MM and future MC.

Many with MM/MC (often a switch in the back) exist, however, they only have one predetermined/fixed internal load for an unknown MC signal strength/impedance. Not very versatile.

This one offers MM and 3 optional MC settings: MC High; MC Low; MC Very Low. Front indicator lights remind you of the rear switch setting.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Ifi-ZEN-Phono-MM-MC-Phono-Pre-amplifier/293825584950?hash=item44695e9f36%3A...

Ask seller if they take returns.

Anyone know this company? This unit?


Rega, MC only, very versatile via rear dip switches

No MM for you, just posting so others see it

https://www.rega.co.uk/products/fono-mc
Being retired, it is fun hopping about learning, thanks for the fun
Well..... at least I've confirmed which component to focus on. Sounds like the hard part will be choosing one. Ill try a good handful of them and see which one my ears appreciate the most. Seems like several outlets allow free returns. 

Update: the marantz arrived today at 10:30am while i was on a conference call. I don't think a work call has ever felt longer. I took my time setting it up... actually forgot to eat lunch i was just too excited.

Review (thus far). Roughly 6 albums in. An excellent and easily identified improvement in clarity and definition. Mids/highs/lows...  I know some people said it lacked some bass but i haven't noticed. At least compared to my old setup. Im coming from a sumiko rainier that I liked a lot for its warmth. I wouldn't say the virtuoso lacks that warmth but it didnt illicit as large a jump in that category as all the other areas i've noticed so far. Perhaps the new pre-amp can bring some added warmth? Is that something phono stages do?

Verdict: I am super jazzed up. Very happy with the purchase and looking forward to hearing what a different phono stage can do. 

Side note. Im a phish nerd. Before i got into vinyl i rarely listened to their studio albums... its just a different ballgame now... and they're great for testing out this new table. They bring it all... jazz, funk, rock..... bluegrass. (end shameless Phish plug)

Thanks all for the suggestions. Ill get to work. 

that ifi unit is available from Amazon, $150. delivered, easy returns

https://www.amazon.com/iFi-Preamp-Turntables-Record-Players/dp/B08H2GPD7F

I’m tempted to try it in my office, be set for future MC cartridge there.

If you try it, let us know!!!!

youtube review

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBAdLY3Upbo

in his video he mentions their iPhono3, extremely versatile, but $1,000.

https://www.amazon.com/iFi-Phonostage-Preamplifier-Compatible-Cartridges/dp/B088SSSTPD

Like I said, it's fun learning about stuff, evidently they have been around, check out their product line:

https://ifi-audio.com/products/zen-phono/




In this price stratum, the OP is better off with a good moving magnet cartridge, in my opinion. Moving coil cartridges, in this price range, tend to be the high output type, which in my experience are generally inferior to moving magnets at a similar price point or at any price point.
After that video review, I just ordered the iFi with MM/MC 3 load options, due here this Friday.

https://www.amazon.com/iFi-Preamp-Turntables-Record-Players/dp/B08H2GPD7F/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=1E0DU...=

I'll try it in the main system, both MM and MC, then up in my office, MM now, future MC.

Easy return


Update: I tried the iFi, monoprice pure tube (just to get a sense for a tube pre), the clearaudio nano, and the simaudio moon lp110. 

The ifi was actually pretty decent for $150 bucks.
The pure tube from monoprice wasnt bad on sale for $300 - definitely a warmer sound but not nearly as dynamic as the moon or nano (both around $400). Also has no ground wire screw and the hum really annoyed me.

Settled on the moon LP110 for now. Its super detailed and theres an openness and depth to it that the others did not compete with. 

Having said all that... I'd really like try a better quality tube pre-amp. Do i have options (used or new) in the $800-1000 ballpark that would be an improvement over the moon? 


I sent the iFi back.

It was good, and flexible, did it's job, but not involving, I think that video was too enthusiastic. 

OP, I think you are correct to try tubes, again, try something you can return.

Tube caveat: discuss with seller what exact tubes it comes with, or options, then, before buying do some research about the generally agreed sound quality. They definitely sound different. 

You don't want to need to do 'tube rolling' to start, it needs to be great out of the box (AFTER BURN IN)

Burn In: no input needed, just leave tubes on for around 60 hours, then listen.

Brent is a good source of tube info

https://www.audiotubes.com/