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Upgrading the Music Hall MMF-2.2

 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 690
Registered: Dec-06
Hey guys, just wanted some feedback here. I'm considering upgrading my MH 2.2, though I probably won't do it until winter. Does it make sense to upgrade this table? I'm guessing the answer will be yes, up to a point.

I'd like to upgrade the platter. The platter that comes with the 2.2 is very prone to picking up static electricity, and it's also very resonant. Well, I guess it's the mat that picks up the static. Anyway, I'd like to replace this with an acrylic platter. I know Art didn't have much luck with the Pro-Ject acrylic platter, but perhaps I'll like it. It doesn't hurt to try.

Then I'd also like to upgrade the cart, to an Ortofon Blue or something in that range. These two upgrades work out to about $400, which is significantly less than buying a new table.

I would also want to upgrade the tonearm. That would be another $300, and I'm thinking that now it's starting to make a lot less sense. I could take the $700, add in $200 for a 2.2 trade-in, and that would be $900 that I could put towards a new table. Or, would the platter and cart upgrade be a big enough improvement to the table? Heck, if I spent the $700, how far up in class does that move the 2.2?

Another interesting option would be trading in the 2.2 for a Pro-Ject RPM 1.3. The isolated motor and belt around the platter is something you'd normally see on more expensive tables. This change would cost $300.

I can't say I'm dissatisfied at all with the 2.2. It sounds great. I'm not going to make a change anytime soon, but it's always fun to plan. The most I'd be willing to spend on a new table is $1,500. I guess that would allow me to buy a Clearaudio Concept, Rega P3-24, Music Hall MMF-7.1, or Pro-Ject 2 Xperience Classic.
 

Gold Member
Username: Soundgame

Pickering, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 1166
Registered: Jun-08
I'd pick up a used acrylic platter, hold off on the cartridge until it's seriously worn, forget the tonearm as the bearing and table is probably not worth the change. I'd expect for any new parts you add in the table you would still do better to trade up. It's like dropping a V8 in an old Datsun 510 - never will get you there.
If you really like vinyl, and you're ready to commit, I wouldn't invest any more than half the value of the table new in upgrades. Past that you might as well trade-in the table and just go for something that will carry you through for sometime and your tweaks can focus on the cartridge, mats, phono stage and the like. My two cents, anyways.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 691
Registered: Dec-06
Sounds like a good idea George (i.e. to just change the platter). I think it's probably the most logical upgrade to make. I might just get the new platter this year and then keep the 2.2 for a year or two. No need to rush into purchasing a new table when this one sounds pretty darn good as it is.

One question. How does a person generally know when the stylus is worn? I would guess a worn stylus doesn't track the grooves as accurately, but I'm not sure how what would manifest itself in the sound.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 12874
Registered: Feb-05
The Acryl-It platter represented an upgrade just not as much of one as I'd anticipated.

BTW the Rega equivalent to the Clearaudio Concept is the P5 not the P3-24.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 692
Registered: Dec-06
So it is. When I saw the price of a P3-24 it was just $100 less than the Concept, so I assumed they were about on par. But I see now that that included the optional Rega power supply.

Thanks for clarifying, Art. Nice to hear the acrylic platter helped. I'm leaning towards geting the Acryl-It and Speedbox and that's it. I'll stick with that for a while.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 14942
Registered: May-04
.

The generally accepted heirarchy of tables places the table itself as the most important part of the sysyem. If the table is not doing its job properly, nothing else really matters in terms of the music. It makes little sense in most cases to upgrade an arm before you upgrade the platform it rides on as a superior arm can easily downgrade a table not prepared to deal with the energy an arm can dump into the plinth. Most people tend to find arm upgrades to be the most difficult to tag if you're not changing the table or cartidge along with the arm. If you're doing either of the other two, tying changes down to the arm becomes ever more difficult.

Changing the cartidge is similar to changing your speakers, they are both transducers and therefore both have the same overall benefits and faults. The significant difference here is a better cartridge can provide more information for your speakers while the inverse is not the case. That's not to say you couldn't improve on a stock cartridge but it is to say you could easily buy too much cartridge for the tonearm and table and the rest of the system.


All of your "tweaks" come back to the old saw of everything being a trade off of some sorts. Swapping one platter for a different platter will bring the sound of the new platter with all of its benefits and flaws. I would not be looking at what is found on higher priced tables to see what fits your table. As has been pointed out a V8 in a subcompact brings multiple headaches not found in other modifications. Balance is what you're after not a Frankenstein of various ideas. The table you own is now well balanced and you can probably find forum entries that track some improvements made by doing so and so to the table. For the most part people like what they spend money on until they reach the point they want something new, then they begin to find fault or hear deficiencies. So "I bought ... it's great" stories aren't very good proof what they like now will be what you will like in the future.


I would guess you can make some improvements to the overall performance of your system without spending large chunks of cash but, in reality, your plan would not be my plan.

.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3857
Registered: May-05
I think the 2.2 has the Pro-Ject carbon fiber tonearm. Its a very good and under rated tonearm. If it doesn't, ignore this advice...

I'd skip the tonearm, platter and new cart, and go for a Dynavector 10x5. It works very well with what my Pro-Ject Xpression, which is a very similar table and arm as the 2.2. It goes for about $430 now, which isn't much more than the cart you mentioned and the acrylic platter.

The 10x5 is a high output MC, but it'll work pretty well with most MM phono stages. My B60's internal MM stage has no difficulties with it. I have to turn the volume knob up a little more than I did with my previous MM, but not much.

Regardless of what tonearm you have, the Speed Box is a huge upgrade. It's turntable upgrade good IMO.

Funds should determine which you do first, but I'd probably go with the Speed Box. Not that its a bigger upgrade; its just a different kind of upgrade.

Make sure the deck is properly isolated and so on before hand. A properly set up deck will show every upgrade that much better.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 693
Registered: Dec-06
Interesting. I wouldn't have thought the table itself was the most important part. The 2.2 is really quiet, seems to play at a consistent speed, is very stable, and sounds great. And I didn't think the table really interfaced with the cartridge; rather that the cartridge (or stylus) merely tracked the grooves, and of course some do it better than others, or perhaps some do it differently than others, with various pros and cons to each cartridge type. But I guess the table includes the motor, and provides the base upon which everything rests. I know we discussed before just how important isolation is from everything that can affect playback. I'm sure once I listen to something nicer I'll be able to understand better the kinds of improvements that can be had.

I'll take yours and George's advice and not go crazy on upgrades. I've read various forums and it seems to be quite widely held that the Speedbox and acrylic platter are worthwhile upgrades. They aren't particularly costly either. I'll limit it to those. I may even be able to use them if I buy a more expensive Pro-Ject player down the line. I guess the next thing to do is focus on proper set up, so I'll do some research on that.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 694
Registered: Dec-06
Hey Stu, I'll look into that cart. But add in the cost of the Speedbox and it's getting up there, so I don't know. It would be no worry with the phono stage however, as I've got the Cambridge 640P that can accomodate both MM and MC. I was always curious about MC carts...it's a more detailed sound I gather.

Most people seem to agree about the Speedbox. It's not just about the ability to change speed (I've got a bunch of singles records, which are typically 45rpm, so this would be handy) but it supposedly really helps maintain a consistent speed too.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 695
Registered: Dec-06
Oops, forgot about your comment on the tonearm - the 2.2 doesn't have the carbon fiber arm. It's on the higher end Pro-Ject and Music Hall tables. I think your Xpression is at least a couple hundred bucks more expensive than the 2.2.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3863
Registered: May-05
Without the carbon arm, I wouldn't go that high on the cart either. Your tonearm is decent, but not good enough to justify a 10x5 IMO. My dealer said the same thing when I bought the 10x5. I think your arm is the same one as the Debut III. What cart is on your deck now? Is it one of the older Ortofons or a Goldring? If it's a Goldring, leave it alone IMO. If it's one of the Ortofon OMs, you'll get a good result with the Ortonfon you mentioned earlier.

I threw the 10x5 out there because you said something about $400 between the cart and platter. $430 and skipping the platter wasn't that much more money and would have made a bigger difference. But you don't have the carbon arm, so all that's irrelevant anyway.

The Speed Box is a big sonic upgrade. Even with my garbage Sumiko Oyster stock cart, the difference was dramatic. I unhooked it for about half a track after getting the Dynavector cart. It was like I downgraded the table.

With the Speed Box, the attack and decays are far sharper , in a good way. Bass lost a lot of flab and gained depth. It's not a tweak that'll benefit one or two aspects at the expense of something else; everything gets improved across the board.

It's easily the best $120 you can spend on that deck. I'd say the Speed Box and new cart if you don't have a Goldring, then the platter. Just my experience.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 14950
Registered: May-04
.

"If the table is not doing its job properly, nothing else really matters in terms of the music."

"The Speed Box is a big sonic upgrade. Even with my garbage Sumiko Oyster stock cart, the difference was dramatic. I unhooked it for about half a track after getting the Dynavector cart. It was like I downgraded the table."




Yep! I would say, however, this path only applies if you're really looking to upgrade the music and not just the sound. Improve the table first.


.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 696
Registered: Dec-06
Cool. I'm really just looking to get the most I can out of this table, as I don't plan on upgrading it for a few years. I'm still interested in vinyl after about six months of owning the 2.2, so that's good, but it's better not to rush into a big expense. Especially when this table sounds nice right out of the box and with my current gear, and CD is still my primary source and probably will remain that for the next 10+ years.

Stu, the cart is a Music Hall Tracker, apparently designed and built by Goldring. I guess it's worth keeping then. Most comments that I've read about it suggest it's a good cart for an entry level table. I'll let you guys know what I think of the Speed Box and acrylic platter, but I won't be buying either until later this year.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 12882
Registered: Feb-05
The arm on the 2.2 is better than the one on the Debut III and is the same as what was on the MH 5, before the current 5.1 model.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 15123
Registered: Dec-04
I am with Stu on the 10X5 cart and the upgrade path.
Art has done this route before, I think, and the Dyn cart was in there.

The 10X5 cart is a big next step when you are ready Dan.

Very VERY lively cart!
BIG fun!
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 697
Registered: Dec-06
Wow, how do I resist?

Still unsure about spending that much on a cart for this table, but I guess I can always use the cart on future tables too. I'll keep an eye out for the 10X5...maybe one day I can find one discounted.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3867
Registered: May-05
I highly doubt you'll find a discounted 10x5. Its actually gone up $40 since I bought it about 3 or 4 years ago (cost $390). Maybe when the 10x6 comes out, which may not happen for a few years. The 10x5 is honestly one of the very few, if any, blind recommendations in audio. Its that good IMO. When I auditioned it, it mopped the floor with everything else in its price range. That was done on my deck with my amp.

I didn't compare the Debut and 2.2's tonearms side by side. My mistake.

Art - Did you run the 10x5 on the 2.2? I know you ran a 10x5 on the Rega P5.
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