What is the best setup for my system?


Hello,

This is my first post, so please be gentle with me if I screw it up since I have many questions. I have recently upgraded my cartridge, phono preamp, pream and amp and need help setting it up to its best possible.

Let me start first with what I am working with:

  • Pro-Ject Debut III turntable
  • Ortofon 2M Bronze cartridge
  • Pro-Ject Acryl-it turntable platter
  • Pro-Ject tube box s2 phono preamp
  • McIntosh C28 preamp
  • McIntosh MC 2505-2 power amplifier
  • McIntosh SCR2 speaker control relay
  • Legacy Focus speakers

My first question would be regarding my arm's counterweight. I am using the counterweight that came stock with my Pro-Ject Debut III that worked well with my old Ortofon OM5E. Now that I have the M3 Bronze, I was able to get the tracking force right on my tonearm, however, the counterweight is almost falling off the back of the tonearm and if I want to close the cover of the turntable, it hits the counterweight. Also, even when the tracking force is correct on my scale, I was never able to balance the tonearm on its own. Does anyone know what counterweight should I be using instead so it doesn't hang so far out of the tonearm?

My second question is regarding the settings for capacitance and impedance of my Pro-Ject tube box s2 phono preamp. I don't have enough experience to be confident I set it up to its best capacity. It sounds great as far as I can tell, but I don't want to miss out on the best possible quality. The M3 Bronze is rated for 150-300pF capacitance so I went and turned on the pin for 220pF instead of the 100pF recommended by Pro-Ject for the M3 Red. Again, it sounds great but I want to make sure I am utilizing my equipment to the max of its possibilities.

The third question is regarding impedance on the Pro-Ject tube box s2 phono preamp. The cartridge's specs say its impedance is 1.2 kohms, so I tried it with the 1kohms pin #5 turned on and it didn't sound good so I turned it off. I have read that MM cartridges don't need pins on for impedance, is this the case or am I missing out on the right setting for impedance for my cartridge?

The fourth question is regarding the Pro-Ject tube box s2 phono preamp's gain settings. The preamp has gain settings for 40, 43, 50, 53, 60 and 63dbs. Is there a rule of thumb of what to use? Should I use a low, medium, or high gain on my preamp? What works best form my entire setup?

My fifth question is regarding the Pro-Ject tube box s2 phono preamp subsonic button. Do you recommend it off or on?

My sixth question is regarding whether I should use the Pro-Ject tube box s2 phono preamp or not. My McIntosh C28 has low-level phono RCA inputs and its own gain and bass trim adjustments. I have read that some people highly recommend improving the source quality, and using the external tube box is best. Again I just want to make sure I am not duplicating unnecessary processes or missing out on the quality of McIntosh's preamp. Right now I have my turntable plugged to the Pro-Ject phono preamp and I am running it into the high-level input for the tape on my McIntosh C28 preamp. 

And last but not least, my seventh question is about the gain settings on my McIntosh MC 2505-2 power amplifier. Based on my setup described above, what would you recommend for my gain settings, is there a rule of thumb of what to use? Should I use a low, medium, or high gain on my power amplifier? What works best form my entire setup? My speakers are rated to work with 30-700 watts at 4 ohms so I am not sure if I am feeding enough juice by staying in the mid-gain setting of the amplifier or if I should increase it to the max. I want to make sure I am sending enough power without sacrificing quality. What I understand is that the MC2505-2 has a maximum power output of 100 watts RMS continuous, 50 watts per channel operating simultaneously, into 4 ohm, 8 ohm, or 16 ohm loads. Harmonic distortion is less than 0.25% at rated power output from 20Hz to 20,000Hz.

I know this is a mouthful with so many questions but I will really appreciate your comments and recommendations for my specific situation.
orangesky
1. You need a 75g counterweight.

http://tools.project-audio.com/counterweights.aspx?ttline=11&tt=123&tonearm=587

2,3 & 4. Before answering those questions, need to know what cartridge?  Ortofon 2M Bronze, M3 Bronze or M3 Red???
Let me start first with what I am working with:

  • Pro-Ject Debut III turntable
  • Ortofon 2M Bronze cartridge
  • Pro-Ject Acryl-it turntable platter
My second question is regarding the settings for capacitance and impedance of my Pro-Ject tube box s2 phono preamp. I don't have enough experience to be confident I set it up to its best capacity. It sounds great as far as I can tell, but I don't want to miss out on the best possible quality. The M3 Bronze is rated for 150-300pF capacitance so I went and turned on the pin for 220pF instead of the 100pF recommended by Pro-Ject for the M3 Red.
5. If you don't have woofer pumping problem, turn it off.

6. Since you have both phono stages, try both and what sounded best to your own ear is the only thing which is important! 

7. Set the gain setting that allow the C28 preamp volume control around 11-1 o'clock for normal listening level.



Thank you for your help. My cartridge is the Ortofon 2M Bronze.
I would follow the recommendations already given, but, as I also had a Carbon, and also needed the alternative counterweight, (not easy to find, and usually only available by overseas suppliers if in the USA), but never purchased one. My solution? I simply reverse the weight on the arm, this put the weight scale pointing towards the rear, not the front, but worked, as it put more weight where it was necessary. Now, I use a scale to set my tracking force, not the manual ‘balance the arm and set the counterweight scale setting at ‘0’ setting’, so could care less where the scale on the counterweight was. I didn’t use it.

If you have a scale, you might try that. Not sure it will work for your case, but worth a try.
I was able to find it and already ordered it on turntable.com. In the meantime, I do have a scale and the tracking weight was right on the heaviest side of the range since I couldn't pull my counterweight farther out. What do you recommend for the best sound, going heavy or lighter?
bkeske, great idea! A stylus scale is more accurate and cheaper too, definitely worth a try if heavy counterweight is not available.
The cartridge’s specs say its impedance is 1.2 kohms, so I tried it with the 1kohms pin #5 turned on and it didn’t sound good so I turned it off. I have read that MM cartridges don’t need pins on for impedance, is this the case or am I missing out on the right setting for impedance for my cartridge?
For the Ortofon 2M Bronze, recommended load resistance is 47 kΩ and you’re correct that MM cartridges don’t need pins switch on for impedance. For capacitance you can use any setting which sounded best.
The fourth question is regarding the Pro-Ject tube box s2 phono preamp’s gain settings. The preamp has gain settings for 40, 43, 50, 53, 60 and 63dbs. Is there a rule of thumb of what to use? Should I use a low, medium, or high gain on my preamp? What works best form my entire setup?
For the Ortofon 2M Bronze, I recommend using the lowest gain setting of 40dB. Usually, lower gain setting will give you lower noise.