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Receiver for turntable

 

New member
Username: Aaronyc

Post Number: 1
Registered: Oct-12
I have recently begun to piece together my first home sound system, largely inspired by my desire to buy a turntable and begin listening to vinyl again. So far I have purchased the following:

Turntable: Dual CS 5000
Pre amp: Musical Fidelity V-LPS II
Speakers: Polk Audio RTI A1 Bookshelf Speakers

I am curious about recommendations for a receiver. I haven't yet decided if I want a home theater surround sound receiver or a basic stereo receiver. My budget is in the $300-400 range. I will mostly be listening to jazz, classical, and rock music. I currently have a cheap LCD TV that I will eventually upgrade, and maybe eventually I will will spring for more speakers, but I am mostly interested in listening to music for the time being.

Some receivers I am potentially interested in:
Yamaha RX-V571BL 7.1 Channel
Onkyo HT-RC360 7.2 Channel
Yamaha R-S500 BL Natural Sound
Onkyo TX-8050

First of all, I'm not hung up on Yamaha and Onkyo, these just happen to be the four that have caught my eye so far. The first two if I go the surround sound route and the second two if I decide on just a stereo. I'm still a novice and not sure about many aspects of putting together a decent system. First, am I going to blow my speakers if I buy the wrong receiver? Is that even a consideration? Also, since I am most concerned about listening to records, does that affect whether I go for a stereo vs. surround receiver? Will I lose something in the audio if I go the surround receiver route? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17473
Registered: May-04
.

You haven't mentioned the phono cartridge you are using on the Dual. If the cartridge came with the table, you'll probably want to replace it's "stylus assembly" since cartridges have rubber suspension components which will dry out and wear out over time. Additionally, don't trust the stylus on a used cartridge. If it is worn, it will degrade and damage the quality of your LP's with each play. Much of the damage done to vinyl will be caused by a worn stylus and this is damage which cannot be repaired. Once the vinyl has been damaged, the damage is forever. Any cartridge suitable for the Dual would have a user replaceable stylus assembly which would allow you to keep the parts of the cartridge which are not subject to wear and age but replace the parts which are. IMO you would do best to make this a first priority purchase.



Beyond that, it's rather difficult to suggest a product when the decision is still to be made as to which category of product is most suitable. I would sugegst that even for the casual listener wishing to become interested in the nuances of music reproduction, a good two channel amplifier will go much further toward satisfying those desires than would the average HT surround amplifier.

I don't know of a really good reason to have a radio (tuner) section in a home audio system today. There are so few high quality FM stations across the nation and too many other options for getting music into your system that tuners have become all but obsolete accessories. That is, unfortunately, how tuners have been treated by reciever manufacturers for decades - as an afterthought no one pays attention to. Which allows the receiver manufacturers to dismiss the quality of the included tuner to the point where its performance is so poor there is no reason to have a tuner at all.

Therefore, since you already own a decent phono pre amp in the MF piece, I would suggest you focus your two channel attention on an integrated amplifier rather than a receiver. An integrated has the same pre amp section as a receiver for switching functions and the same power amplifier section found in a receiver - just no tuner. Integrated amplifiers have long been considered the "better" option for someone interested in music since they are typically designed with fewer BS geegaws and do nothing features while being aimed at getting good reproduction of music into a reasonable price range. A high quality integrated amp can come close to the performance of high end separates costing far more when attention is paid to the details.

Right now a few of the leading brands retailing integrated amps in the price range suited to your system would be NAD, Marantz, Rotel, Cambridge, Arcam, Rega, Music Hall and a few others if you are interested in solid state (transistor) amplifiers. Jolida is a decent recommendation for a tube based amplifier. There are smaller web based sellers such as Odd Watt (diy [do it yourself] kits but available as assembled units for a small charge) which you might take a look at. The small Oddwatt integrated amp trades the (mostly useless) high wattage and BS buttons and knobs of the mass market lines such as Yamaha and Onkyo for truly excellent sound quality at an affordable price.

Literally, there are so many options in how to go about this, they cannot all be named. A small "T amp" such as the Dayton, Topping or Muse can be had for a very reasonable cost - as little as $30 on line - and still provide excellent sound quality. Take the T amps very seriously if you are on a budget as their performance is way out of bounds to their pricing and size.

The first thing you'll need to decide is how many inputs are you going to need in this system? Phono only means a simple T amp from Muse hooked up between your table and speakers and you would have very high quality potential. The singular drawback to the T amps is almost always the switching functions available for a system with multiple source players. It is possible to put together a more complex system with T amps - even to the extent you could have a full blown 7.1 surround using these amps - but that would tend to defeat the simplicity of the T amp design IMO. Best to keep the T amps to a simple form-follows-function system.

Can you live without a remote control? High end builders in the lower price ranges tend to forgo the froofroo of remotes for much higher quality parts inside the component. Trade offs abound in audio and, if you want something on the order of a full function remote, you'll either spend more or give up more music quality in the lower price ranges. That's not to say you can't have a simple remote and good sound, but remotes cost money and that money is typically devoted to quality inside the component when you're dealing with high end manufacturers.

Your Polk speakers are somewhat easy to drive and shouldn't require large wattage amplifiers or beefy amplifiers either. They will, however, benefit from solid speaker stands and good set up.

If you cannot afford high quality speaker stands at first, take a tip from Mapleshade Audio and place your speakers low to the floor on a solid piece of something - cutting boards, a small cement paver from Home Depot, etc. - and use another piece of solid material to tilt them backwards until the tweeters are lined up with your ears in a seated position. Seated listeners tend to have an ear height of about 36". Roughly you should place your speakers and your listening chair in an equilateral triangle with the speakers and your chair all equally distant from each other and you listening in the center at the peak of the triangle exactly centered between the distance of the speakers. If you have the high frequencies shooting over or below your ears or you are off center in your chair, the music quality will suffer. If you have no dedicated listening chair, place the speakers low to the floor as described above and plop a cushion on the floor at the tip of that triangle. The soundstage upon which you hear performers will be quite large and spread across your room extending well beyond the physical limits of your speakers. This is, in many ways, the essence of good music reproduction as accomplished in high end audio. It is also very difficult to get this same result from speakers mounted on anything other than high quality stands unless you do the low to the floor mounting.

When hooking up your speakers, you don't need expensive speaker cables to start. Go to Home Depot and buy one of their orange/black outdoor extension cables. Cut off the plugs on each end and strip the white and black conductor legs about 3/8". Discard the green leg - just cut it off - and use this as your speaker cable for now. Make very certain you have a good tight twist on the bare wire ends as one single strand of copper extending from the connectors can short out the system. Black wire goes to black connector on the amp/speaker and the white leg goes to the red connector. Make certain you have these colors matched at all locations or you'll have somewhat weird sound as the speakers will be operating "out of phase". When you have the connections correct, a centered vocalist should have an easily definable position between the two speakers, tightly focussed as if they are standing in front of you. When you have the connections reversed at one location, the vocalist will float in space with no distinct position between the speakers.

Don't spend big on interconnecting cables, just make sure you have spent on decent quality cables. AudioQuest and Kimber are good recommendations for a system of your level.

A cheap laser pointer is one of your best friends when it comes to correctly setting up speakers. Place "loudspeaker set up" in a search engine and read a bit about getting the best quality from a speaker such as the Polk. Visit the Mapleshade Audio site for more information on their method of placement - it really does work and doesn't immediately require the purchase of expensive stands. How and where the speakers exists in the room will be a major factor in the quality of music you will attain. Sloppy set up - putting the speakers where they fit without regard to the effects of the room - will typically result in less than great sound.

Building a simple, inexpensive two channel systen by paying attention to the many details of getting out what you've paid for going in will result in a less expensive, more modest system easily outpacing a higher cost system with less than stellar set up.


Since you have the two Polks right now, personally, I'd opt for the two channel system and use that for your video system also (if desired) until you've managed to put together a complete high quality stereo system. That will, IMO, be more satisfying than buying lesser quality components but buying more of everything as would be the necessity in a surround system. Put your monetary resources to their best effect and focus on getting two channel right before you think about adding more channels which are only relevant to video. If you're like most people interested in high quality music playback, you'll only play music on two channels and leave the others for movies.

Regarding how much power you'll need, that is an unanswerable question from afar. The type of music you prefer will influence the need for watts as will the desire for higher volume levels in a larger room.

I have moderately easy to drive speakers and I can get by with conversational level volumes using a five watt T amp or even my two watt tube amp. I also have a pair of forty watt tube amps which will take the volume levels somewhat higher. But not that much higher, power is a very expensive way to gain volume. Every time you double the power input to the speakers, you'll only gain an additional 3dB of peak headroom. Your baseline (average) levels will not change, just the peaks will remain cleaner. Therefore, going from five watts to ten watts or one hundred watts to two hundred watts will always equal that same 3dB increase in peak limits. With your Polks, I would say you could easily survive on a five to ten watt amp and twenty five to fifty would be sensible as any more would be wasteful. If you can't play loud enough with a high quality amp outputting twenty five to fifty watts, you're going to need to spend lots more on an amplifier to make very minimal gains. At that point it makes more sense to buy speakers which make more from each watt. The Polks are simply limited in their trade off of bass extension vs box size vs loudness potential.



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17474
Registered: May-04
.

Check these sites for more information; Audio Advisor, Elusive Disc, Music Direct, Needle Doctor and Acoustic Sounds. If you want to explore (mostly) pre-owned gear, try Audiogon.

Also, check the archives of the forum for valuable threads; https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/668896.html

https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/672623.html#POST1937114


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New member
Username: Aaronyc

Post Number: 2
Registered: Oct-12
Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to give such a thorough response! I really appreciate it. It's going to take me awhile to process everything you wrote.

The turntable has a Grado XC cartridge. It's used, but not sure just how much it's been used. From what I've read people seem to like Ortofon MM-type cartridges on this Dual TT, I guess that's what it came with originally. However, I haven't had much luck finding an Ortofon 20 (not sure if that's the exact designation). Do you have any suggestions on how to get my hands on one of these cartridges and/or have suggestions for others that would be a good match? I'm willing to spend about $100-150, but would like to spend much less if it's possible to find something the still sounds good.

I like the idea of going the integrated amp route. If I do this, can I still connect my TV through the integrated amp? After just a brief search I found this Marantz PM5004. Is this one you'd recommend? Also, if I understand correctly, the integrated amps are more likely to have a phono input? If that is the case, do I still run my TT through the pre amp?

I am definitely going to follow your advice in regards to budget cables and floor mount the speakers (for now at least).
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17481
Registered: May-04
.

The Grado cartridge is fine. It's design, sonic character and performance are very similar to that of the Ortofon line. I would, as I said, buy a new stylus for the cartridge. Don't guess at the amount of wear on the stylus, just play it safe and buy a new assembly rather than risk your LP's to a damaged or worn stylus assembly. It won't cost that much but will provide assurance you are getting the best performance the cartridge can offer.

Do not try to adjust anything on the arm at this point. We'll assume the table has been set up properly and adjusting anything will more than likely be detrimental rather than beneficial. Lock the arm down in its rest and simply slip the old stylus assembly out and the new assembly in place. The stylus asembly will probably pull straight out from the front of the cartridge but might pull down also. I'm not familiar with that specific cartridge so you might want to ask for basic directions from whichever retailer you buy the stylus from.

The Orotofon cartridge which typically came pre-packaged with the CS5000 was an OM style which was a very low mass cartridge. It suits the 1980's Dual tone arm very well as the 5000 uses a low mass, high compliance arm common to that time. That particular style of arm design is largely out of favor today due to the compromises it makes in certain areas. Most high quality arms are now being designed to have medium mass and medium compliance which calls for a slightly different type of cartridge design. Low mass or medium mass, all arms make compromises and which you select is merely a choice of which trade offs you will accept. Don't be concerned about his for now, the Dual tables - at the time of their production - were always considered to be the budget choice for stepping into a high quality table/arm. Arm design is somewhat a fad of the times and the amount of mass has shifted through the years to now, today, settle on medium mass. In a few years time low mass might be back in style. The only thing to know is you need to stay with low to medium mass cartridges with relatively high compliance. The physical design of the Grados and the Ortofons make their products a suitable choice for the 5000's arm.

You might also want to replace the drive belt on the table. Like the suspension on the cartridge, the rubber belt will stretch and dry out over time. When this occurs to the belt, the speed stability of the table is compromised. Speed stability is essential to the performance of a table in a decent quality system. Look through the archives of this section of the forum for a reference to the Dual Table website. There should still be information there on ordering replacement parts.


You can connect your TV to an integrated amp if that's what has been designed into the integrated amp. What do you want to connect? The audio output of a cable box/satellite receiver? That's a simple line level connection to an AUX input. Make your video connection directly to the TV monitor and don't mess with video enhancement circuits on cheap HT surround receivers. Integrated amps are typically more concerned with audio quality than video flexibility.

The Marantz is fine though I see it contains a MM phono pre amp. Why duplicate what you already have? Integrated amps come with and without phono pre amps. Since you have the MF pre amp, I would say buy what you like but you might not want to have your money invested in an integrated amp that duplicates your own outboard phono pre amp. Put you money to use buying a (probably) higher quality amp where resources have not been invested in a part you don't need. But, if you like the Marantz, it would operate without problems with the rest of your system. If you buy the Marantz, you can switch between it's phono section and your MF to determine which you prefer.




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New member
Username: Aaronyc

Post Number: 3
Registered: Oct-12
Thanks again Jan!

I think I've just about decided on an integrated amplifier, the NAD C 316BEE, cheaper than the Marantz and with no redundant phono input.

Now just trying to track down a replacement stylus assembly for the Grado XC+ cartridge.

Almost there!
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