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Please Recommend one of these Phono Pre's

 

New member
Username: Blarson

Post Number: 1
Registered: Mar-05
This is my first post to this board.

I have just purchased a VPI scout/JMW 9 TT & tonearm combo. It is coming to me factory-installed with a Dynavector 10x5 MC cart. Now I must get a phono stage and having spent all my cash on the above setup, am limited in my choices.
The 3 I am considering are:
Parasound Zphono
ProJect Phono Box
Nad PP2

I have read conflicting things about all three and would greatly appreciate impressions of any of these by those that have had experience with them. Thank you.
As a subquestion- what ought I upgrade to when I get the chance?
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 394
Registered: Sep-04
I know the Project and it is a very good little machine indeed considering the price. There is also a Project PhonoBox SE which is 2.5 times the price and also very good value indeed.

I haven't heard the VPi but it has a good reputation. I know the Dynavector cartridge and it's as sweet as a nut - excellent transducer. With such a good front end it's a pity you can't go for a better phono stage such as Dynavector's own P75. The P75 is a cracking phono stage only beaten by stages about double the price.

Regards,
Frank.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 395
Registered: Sep-04
Just noticed your last question at the bottom - you could upgrade the cartridge first to an MC. If you like the Dynavector, you could go to something like the 17D2 which is great value and opens things up considerably. The Project PhonoBox has MM/MC switching, so it can cope with the change. Then after that I'd go to the Dynavector P75 phono stage.

If you don't get on with the Dynavector cartridge, I'd consider the Ortofon Kontrapunkt B which has excellent timing, but reveals poor phono stages ruthlessly. You'd want to upgrade from the Project/NAD/whatever to a decent stage such as the Dynavector or a Tom Evans Microgroove+ or Groove (what I use) to let the cartridge do its thing.

Regards,
Frank.
 

New member
Username: Blarson

Post Number: 2
Registered: Mar-05
Thanks for the feedback. I didn't know that Dynavector made a phono stage. I haven't seen it listed in any of the catalogue retailers here in the US. I'll definitely look into it.
There's also an ebay auction I've got my eye on for something that could be better than what I'm planning on for only a bit more money.

You said
"Just noticed your last question at the bottom - you could upgrade the cartridge first to an MC."

So far as I know the Dynavector 10x5 cart is a high output MC.
What I meant to say was "what phono preamp?" I am looking at a black cube as the next move but that may take a little while. I really appreciate the response, as well as the civility I have read on this board. Glad I found it!
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 396
Registered: Sep-04
Brandon

You're welcome. I played with the Black Cube a few years back. I wasn't that impressed with it, feeling it simply didn't connect, not very engaging. Clear and quite open, probably better than the Project...I think.

The P75 blew onto the scene last year. It's excellent value for money, and it is flexible too since it allows you to change loading for various cartridges. It also has a special circuit which is particularly effective on the low output moving coils by Dynavector. When I said MC I meant low output MC. you're right, of course, that the 10x5 is a High Output MC and this is what makes it such a fine choice.

Regards,
Frank.
 

New member
Username: Blarson

Post Number: 3
Registered: Mar-05
Well, I checked out the Dynavector P75. Unfortunately it's retailing here in the US for $600, well over what I can spend right now. And at that price point there are a host of other phono pre's to consider as well. Perhaps the secondary market...
It seems like they go from $150 right up to $450 without any inbetween. Likely I will go for the Pro-Ject and when $ allows I will move up. I am intending to have the Scout for a very long time, so there's definitely time for upgrades....
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 399
Registered: Sep-04
Brandon,

that's right. there is little to choose between $150 and $400 or so. I'm sorry I didn't mention the price of the Dynavector. - I didn't know what price would be quoted on your side of the pond.

Have fun with that project - it's a great little box.

Regards,
Frank.
 

New member
Username: Blarson

Post Number: 4
Registered: Mar-05
Much appreciated Frank. I'll check in again when I've got the setup in place and have had time to give everything a thorough listen.
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 487
Registered: Feb-04
Brandon,

I'd be interested in what you get and how it sounds. Have you looked at the Antique Sound Labs phono stage? If you're into tube gear, this is an affordable way to go. I think it retails for less than $300.

I'm getting the same set up as yours, except the cartridge is the Dynavector 20xh and the phono stage is the Dynavector P-75. I've talked to a couple of knowledgeable analog enthusiasts and they both said the same thing that Frank stated in his post--that the P-75 outperforms any phono stage up to double its price. It should also match well with Dynavector cartridges. There's a mint P-75 on Audiogon for sale for $450. My personal recommendation is to stretch your budget a bit now (if you're able) and get a decent, versatile phono stage so you can get the most out of your VPI/Dynavector rig right away.
 

Scout Also
Unregistered guest
Interesting question, I ordered a Scout/JMW9 and am looking at the Grado Platinum/Sonata due to my Musical Fidelity X-150's internal MM stage with only 2.5 mv and am struggling with whether I should upgrade to the Musical Fidelity XLVPs and a low output MC. My concern is whether I will notice an improvement over the Platinum or Sonata
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 489
Registered: Feb-04
Scout Also--That's a tough call. If I were in your shoes, I'd probably go with the Grados or a high output MC cartridge (there are plenty of choices) that works with your MM stage since you already have the phono stage. You can always upgrade the phono stage and/or cartridge later. I hope you post your impressions of your analog set up also. Looks like we could get a Scout thread going.
 

New member
Username: Blarson

Post Number: 5
Registered: Mar-05
2 Cents-
I'll look into the ASL phono stage. The only ASL dealer I know of is Audio Advisor and they don't list the phono stage on their website. Got any leads? I would like to go tube. There's a "Kailin" tube stage on Audiogon & Ebay, but I can't find any coroborating info on that name, so they're out for now.
There are a number of promising deals on Audiogon, but I seem to be coming in on the tail end of the best of them...
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 490
Registered: Feb-04
Brandon,

I'm not sure where you are, but you can contact the ASL distributor http://www.divertech.com/antiquesl.html to locate a dealer. The Mini phono stage used to sell for around $250, but they came out with a new Mini II version that retails for $350. You might still be able to find the older version new. Also, used ones come up on Audiogon once in awhile. ASL also makes a more expensive model, but it sounds like you're trying to stay within a budget. I haven't actually listened to any of the ASL phono stages, but am familiar with their amps, which are all well-built and offer a lot for the money.
 

New member
Username: Blarson

Post Number: 7
Registered: Mar-05
Well, owing to less than stellar luck on several auctions and trying to keep within my budget, I purchased the NAD PP2 from a local retailer who had it for a very reasonable price. Another factor was that the retailer will let me trade it in within 90 days for a Musical Fidelity XLP3, which I should be able to afford by then. All in all a nice solution, and after hooking it up yesterday, the NAD made a marked improvement in LP playback.
But I am getting a hum at higher volumes. I suspect it's a grounding issue. But I'm unclear on how to deal with it on the Scout.
On my old TT (a vintage B&O), the ground wire simply came out of the back, next to the RCA outs. On the Scout, the ground wire comes out of the tonearm box & is bolted underneath the TT. The manual doesn't mention anything about the ground. Anybody familiar with this layout?

On a side note let me say that my wife & I LOVE the Scout. Alice Coltrane sounds like she's coming straight from heaven on it. I second the motion for a Scout thread.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 417
Registered: Sep-04
Brandon,

Please remember that most phono stages are more prone to hum since they are amplifying such small signals in the first place, the signal to noise ratio isn't so hot. Things you can do include the following tips:

1. Attach the ground wire to the earthing post on the PP2. (There should be one!)

2. No effect above? Well, try attaching the ground wire to the ground post on the amplifier, if there is one. If there isn't one, undo one of the screws of the amplifier casing and attach the ground wire there instead.

3. Still no effect? Get an extra length of wire. Attach the ground wire to the PP2. Attach the new wire between the PP2's earth point and the amp's earth point (see above if no earthpoint on the amp).

4. Still no effect? Try moving the PP2 away from the amplifier. You may be experiencing hum from the amplifier's mains transformer which the PP2 is picking up (all phono stages are susceptible to this, pretty much).

Do you have to go with an XLP3? MF stuff is so unmusical...(not a fan)

Regards,
Frank.
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 491
Registered: Feb-04
Brandon,

Glad to hear you're enjoying the Scout. From what I've read, there are two ways to ground the Scout. One is to run a ground wire from the tonearm box to the bolt underneath the TT as you've discovered and another is to run a ground from the tonearm box to the phono stage (don't know if the NAD has a grounding terminal). Some folks end up grounding it both ways.

I received my Scout last week, but the cartridge was damaged during shipment and I had to return it to the dealer. Am awaiting a replacement. I've been using an old Music Hall TT with a cheap Goldring cartridge through a new Dynavector P-75 phono stage. I'm surprised by how much the phono stage has improved the sound. It's a better investment than I imagined. Can't wait to try it with the Scout!

So, are you as freaked by the unipivot arm as I am? It's going to take some getting used to.
 

New member
Username: Blarson

Post Number: 8
Registered: Mar-05
Frank-
In re: to the MuFi XLPvs3, the store from which I bought the PP2 offers a general 90 day tradeup, so there may be others they have (or can get). The XLP is at a good price, but more research will ultimately determine what I end up with. Even still, the PP2 is a vast improvement from the built-in phono stage on my H/K receiver.

As for the hum, it seems to have disappeared now that I have taken out the receiver & hooked up the Perreaux EP preamp/ Parasound HCA1000 poweramp setup (both pieces were sent to us by my father in law when he got a new setup-- the Parasound has been in the shop).
Anyway, once everything was connected-- no more hum, and to be honest I'm not sure why. The PP2 does have a Ground terminal- but the ground wire is extremely short on the Scout- running just long enough to go from under the plinth to the tonearm box. In any case, I will probably get a 2nd wire & connect the two to be on the safe side.
I appreciate your very thorough advice.

So now the whole thing sounds just terrific. My frame of reference is somewhat limited, but this is easily the best sound I have ever had in my short life.

Two Cents-
Yes, the unipivot arm is very freaky. When my wife and I were installing the tonearm, we kept looking at the needle-sharp bearing thinking, "It balances on THIS???"
In fact it wasn't until I re-read Art Dudley's Stereophile review from a year or two ago that I calmed down about it a bit. Anything expensive & delicate makes me a bit nervous to begin with, since I am both a cheapskate and clumsy. It is definitely taking some practice to lower the tonearm. Often it pulls quickly across the LP's surface- and lowering the cartridge by hand creates some disturbing rocking on the counterbalance. But it seems to right itself pretty quickly.
All in all I am crazy about this machine though. Soon I will be less intimidated by it.
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 420
Registered: Sep-04
Brandon

If it's not humming, then leave well alone. Wiring up more earths *could* introduce an earth loop - and hum! :-) Sorry, but that's the way it is with earthing issues...

As for the unipivot arm, this is merely a question of getting used to it. One of the things that intimidates any people is the total freedom in the bearing. The very fact that you can move it in so many degrees of freedom scares the hell out of them. I use a Naim ARO regularly. Its so free of friction that new users have to be coaxed to use it. One typical 'cheat' is to pick up the headshell lift between thumb and forefinger as usual. Then, when cueing, trail your little finger on the turntable plinth. This steadies your hand and provides a little bit of friction which is reassuring. Eventually, you won't need to do this, but in the meantime you may find it soothes the nerves.

Regards,
Frank.
 

New member
Username: Len_bloom

Sarasota, Fl Usa

Post Number: 5
Registered: Jan-05
If you had a choice between installing a Rega Super Bias or Elys or the Dynavector 10x5 on a Rega P2 table, would you choose the former or the latter?
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 446
Registered: Sep-04
Wow, I've never tried the 10x5 on a P2. I must admit I wouldn't normally go that high a cartridge on a P2. In fact I think of the 10x5 as pretty much the top cartridge to put on the P3. However, I rate the 10x5 well above both Regas so if that was the choice, 10x5 it is! Don't forget that you need a Rega 2mm spacer under the arm to align the VTA correctly.

Regards and have fun,
Frank.
 

New member
Username: Len_bloom

Sarasota, Fl Usa

Post Number: 6
Registered: Jan-05
Thanks so much. Now, the $64K question is: if you were buying the P2 or the P3 for yourself, which cartridge(s) would you install on each table? I don't need to buy a more expensive cartridge. But honestly I need to "close the door" on this decision regarding a cart. that will mate well with the P2 or P3. Lastly, do you believe the P3 is worth the additional expense over the P2?

Warm regards,

Len
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 500
Registered: Feb-04
Len, don't be cheap. Get the P3 if you can afford it, even if you have to eat ramen noodles for a week. It's worth it in the long run. In addition to the 10x5, I'd consider the Clearaudio cartridges in the price range (although I admit I'm not sure exactly how well they match with the Rega arms). I've been using a Clearaudio Aurum Classic Wood (retails for $200) on my VPI Scout while my Dynavector 20XH is out for repair. The Clearaudio is a killer cartridge for the price.

Anyway, that's my $0.02. Hope it helps.
 

New member
Username: Len_bloom

Sarasota, Fl Usa

Post Number: 7
Registered: Jan-05
Many thanks Frank. I'll have to eat Ramen noodles for two weeks---but oh the sodium!!!! So you suggest stretching the P2 to the P3 and eliminate the Rega cartridges (Elys, Super Bias, etc.) from the equation? Also, in all good conscience, should I stick with an MM or a MC for the P3, but it cannot cost me the same as the P3--it must be less! Recommendations? You're a good man, really!!!!

Regards.

Len
 

New member
Username: Len_bloom

Sarasota, Fl Usa

Post Number: 8
Registered: Jan-05
Frank,

I have finally chosen the Rega P2 and the Clearaudio Arum Classic Wood cartridge. I hope I have made the right decision given my budget.

Many thanks.

Len
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 452
Registered: Sep-04
Len

So do I. It's a pity you couldn't stretch to the P3. It's quite a bit better than the P2, but such is life I guess. I don't know the Clearaudio Arum so I can't make any comment on that cartridge I'm afraid. The only thing I wil say is most Clearaudios are quite tall, so you'll probably need a spacer under the rega arm to set VTA correctly.

Regards,
Frank.
 

Unregistered guest
Frank,

The dealer said that he would exchange the P2 for the P3 without difficulty. However, since I have unfortunately vacillated so much re. carts., he wants me to make up my mind on a proper cartridge for the P3. Help, help! What do you suggest? I said I would drive over this weekend to pick up the audio equipment with a the best "affordable" cart. I ned your final opinion. Len
 

New member
Username: Len_bloom

Sarasota, Fl Usa

Post Number: 10
Registered: Jan-05
lastly, which would you choose for P3-- the Goldring Eroica or Goldring 1041 OR the Clearaudio Aurum Classic Wood (metal cart.?)
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 457
Registered: Sep-04
Sorry Len, been away on holiday. What did you choose in the end and are you happy with the choice?

Regards,
Frank.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Len_bloom

Sarasota, Fl Usa

Post Number: 11
Registered: Jan-05
Frank,

I hope you had a nice holiday. I have FINALLY chosen the Rega P3 but I am holding up my order because for the life of me I cannot, I repeat, I cannot decide on a cartridge. I've considered the Dyna 10x5, Aurum Classic, Elys, Goldring,etc. Can you help me with a FINAL CHOICE???
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 467
Registered: Sep-04
Easy. Dynavector 10x5. Brilliant cartridge at the price. very difficult to beat. Lovely smooth extended treble reminiscent of what you get with really good MCs and very good timing with it. Don't buy an Elys or Goldring. The Goldring and Rega cartridges generally are a bit noisy and relentless. The only benefit of Rega cartridges is that you don't need to adjust the height of the arm for VTA. The Dynavector needs a 2mm spacer.

There you go. The holiday was ok but no great shakes...

Regards,
Frank.
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