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bobedaone
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Cartridge vs. Turntable

Alright, guys. This is a LONG way off, but I'm thinking about how I will invest my money in analog when I do finally have the means. I'm already set on Rega, so no TT recommendations, if you please, but I'd like to know what you think is more important; Is it the turntable/tonearm or the cartridge?

I'll share with you my specific thoughts, and you can let me know what you think.

Option 1:

Rega P2 ($495), glass platter ($70), Dynavector 10x5 ($380)

Total: $945
(Note: I've not included the negligible price of a Rega VTA shim)

Option 2:

Rega P3-24/Elys ($1045)

I've heard the P2 with a Bias and the P3 with an Elys, and think both are great, the P3 edging out its little brother slightly. My dealer sells Rega and Grado cartridges, but not Dynavector.

Question time!

I've heard a MC cartridge before, but only on the LP12 in the "big room", as played through Linn reference electronics and 5-figure speakers, which, quite obviously, is unrealistic for me (but gobs of jaw-dropping fun!).

Is a high-output moving coil like the 10x5 a worthwhile upgrade versus a decent moving magnet (the Elys), even at the cost of downgrading the table from P3 to P2?

Has anyone heard the P3 with the TT-PSU? Is it worth getting the P3 just to have the 24V motor and a reasonable upgrade path?

Should I just decide on the P2/Bias2, shut up, and be done with it?

I know, I know, I should get the P3 AND the Dynavector. I don't think so, friends.

I'll do an analysis of the leader in each category.

--Perceived quality/pride of ownership: P3-24, Dynavector 10x5

--Resistance to "upgradeitis": See above

--Budget champ: P2/Bias2

--Upgrade path: P3-24

--Arm/bearing/counterweight/wiring/motor: P3-24

--Cartridge: I can't say for sure because I haven't heard them all, but I'm inclined to give the nod to Dynavector

--Combo least likely to convince my friends that I should be committed: P2/Bias2

If you think I can do better than the Dynavector for less or equal expenditure, make your voice heard.

Now, some pertinent information about me.

Vinyl collection: ~150 (would resume regular purchasing post-turntable)

Primary intended record type: LP, gently used

Musical leanings: jazz ca. 1945-1970 (trombone of utmost importance), classical (with special emphasis on cello), classic rock (acoustic guitar and vocals)

Floor: pad/carpet over concrete

Associated equipment:

Rega Brio3 (49W, very good MM phono board included)

Paradigm 7se Mk. III (92 dB efficiency, 6 ohms nominal, 34Hz LFE up to 20 kHz frequency response)

Furman PST-8D power conditioner

considering spiked Ikea Lack or Rega wall bracket as equipment support

Thanks for your input, everyone! I look forward to hearing what you think.

Cheers,

CECE
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

nah, don't do it.

bobedaone
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

hahaha

How did I know?

I can make an argument for vinyl independent of sound quality. And away we go...

1. There is a great deal of music that I would like to have that is obscure and/or expensive on CD, and nonexistent on SACD/DVD-A.

2. For the most part, used records continue to be more affordable than digital media

3. While digital technology is very dynamic, leading to obsolescence rapidly, analog playback is more constant, and therefore a "safer" investment. A good turntable is a good turntable many years into the future, whereas a good CD player will likely be bettered by less expensive models in only a couple of years (or less).

4. Turntables are mechanical and easy to repair. A CD player with a dead laser becomes a very expensive paperweight/doorstop/bookend/work of industrial art.

5. Vinyl records remind me to slow down and appreciate music albums as single artistic creations. With the inability to skip, search, repeat, or what have you, I tend to listen to albums from beginning to end. Well, okay, not really; I still have to get up halfway through, but I could stand to lose a few pounds, anyway.

6. I like album artwork and liner notes, and LP sleeves are large and attractive.

7. For much of the music I enjoy, vinyl was the only game in town when it was originally produced. It therefore feels more authentic to me. I even have a friend who can't wait for me to get a turntable because he wants to hear Coltrane "as he was originally intended to be heard".

8. I like the special care required with vinyl. Carefully guiding a record out of its sleeve and into my open palm before gently setting it on the platter, then swinging the tonearm over and watching it slowly fall adds to my appreciation of the music. When I'm actively engaged with something, I enjoy it more. I also like standard-shift cars; They're just more fun.

9. I've never been one to follow the crowd, and I like that being a vinyl enthusiast (at least in my general age group, if perhaps not in the audiophile community) makes me somewhat unique. In Ann Arbor, where iPods seem to be issued like meal plans and tuition bills, it's weird to be thinking "Rega P1 > new iPod". It's likewise a point of pride for me that my television is older than I am. When I was at my dealer on Saturday, buying my Furman, the salesman said I could plug my TV into one of the digital outlets for improved picture. I chuckled and explained that my TV was analog and that for $1k (my chosen floor of what would be a worthwhile TV upgrade) I'd much rather have a P3-24! I'm all about sound.

10. I just plain think turntables are neat-o. Just as you're into pro gear, big watts, high SPLs and DSD, I'm a vinyl guy. Analog fires me up and keeps me in the hobby.

So, there you have it. Those are my key non-sonic reasons for wanting to get a turntable of my own.

I almost forgot my favorite reason of all: I like the way they sound!

59mga
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

Erik,

I applaud your enthusiasm for vinyl and admire your diligence in researching the best equipment you can afford.

That said, I would go with the P3 TT (I've been comparing the P2 & P3 myself) along with whatever cartridge you can afford at the time and upgrade the cartridge when economics allowed.

Let us know...

bobedaone
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

Thanks, Mike!

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

The accepted heiarchy in order of importance is; turntable, tonearm then cartridge. This is generally based on the function each has in relation to the other in terms of energy storage and damping. The basic Rega arm, however, throws a curve ball at the batter since it is capable of much better performance on much higher priced tables than any Rega produce. The RB300 can support the entry level Dynavector but you would be in better shape in most instances to find a better table before investing in that cartridge. I notice you seem to consider a MC an automatic upgrade over a MM. This might not be the case and I would do some research on the advantage/disadvantage of both types of cartridge. You are picking the cartridge for its sound quality and not necessarily for its type. The Dynavector works in the Rega but pushes the limits of the table. The Grado works well in the Rega arm but the wooden body Grados might have hum problems on the Rega table. The new $199 Benz has attracted a lot of attention lately. The best advice is to audition each as you would a speaker. Being a transducer, cartridges are similar to speakers in having large effects on the overall tone of your system.

bobedaone
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

Great advice, Jan - Thanks!

The most difficult part for me will be auditioning cartridges. Since I already know how the Rega carts sound (and like them), I'm becoming inclined to go for either of the package deals from Rega; P2/Bias2 or P3-24/Elys2.

The only other brand my dealer stocks is Grado and I've heard that that there are hum problems (?). I have never heard a Grado on a Rega, however, because every Rega in the shop has a Rega cart on it. Hmm....

Those combo deals are definitely starting to look attractive.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

Your dealer should be able to advise you on the compatibility issues of various Grados with the Rega tables. For the most part, there shouldn't be a problem with a new Rega. Any dealer who can't tell you for certain which cartridge works with various tables should at least provide an audition period. Installing a cartridge for audition is not that difficult if the client is serious about the purchase.

bobedaone
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

I have a rapport with the sales staff at my dealer. They know I don't have much money, but that I'm serious and do make purchases periodically. I think there's also an understanding that I give them my business exclusively. I know that dealers stock what they feel are the best products, and I trust their judgment.

So, I agree that they likely would be quite willing to swap cartridges, adjust tables, and so forth. They also have a pre-purchase audition period that allows - without payment or deposit - the customer to listen to the component in question at home for a generous amount of time. These guys are my kind of people!

The salesman with whom I worked most closely and became friends recently moved out-of-state, so the dynamic has changed slightly, but I know the others can carry his torch.

James Howard, if you Google yourself, this is one happy listener giving you a firm cyber-handshake!

*This post is dedicated to James and all audio salespeople who rock as hard, or aspire to.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

Good going, JH!

Buddha
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

I must have been asleep to have missed all the fun on this thread!

I'll add another vote for the P-3.

One of my cardinal rules of audio buying is "buy as few times as possible."

If you go with the lesser table, you'll eventually end up replacing everything.

With the P-3, the plinth is pretty good, and the motor is a big upgrade from the P-2 (if I recall correctly.)

Also, the P-3 has a MUCH better arm.

You would not need to upgrade much with the P-3, which is money saved in the long haul as your ears continue to want more.

You already have an MM phono section, so there's more money saved by going with a good MM cartridge.

The P-3 is good enough that if you ever decide to spend money on an MC pre you can spend future money for that and none now.

The P-3 is good enough to do serious justice to a good MC cartridge in the future, too!

So, the only money "lost" if you go P-3 is what you'll spend on an MM cartridge, which can be prorated over a few years of enjoyment.

I honestly think the P-3 is a no loose, no brainer decision!

Now, just for fun...go to Music Direct, Elusive Disc, or Acoustic Sounds and check out the Clearaudio Emotion/Satisfy and SOTA Comet turntables...the Clearaudio or Comet could be used with a very cheap Shure M97XE and sound terrific, giving you still more options for entering high end vinyl at peanut butter prices!

(I get pissed off at the Regas because they always run fast.)

bobedaone
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

Thanks for voting, Buddha! Sadly, I'm fresh out of stickers.

Your MC observations are helpful. I would only have considered a high-output model, though, so as not to require a new phono pre.

That Roy Gandy is a smart man; He designed a lowrider arm with no VTA adjustment and then proceeded to offer pretty much the only line of cartridges that would fit. The bottom line is, Regas work with Regas (which work especially well with Regas and Regas). If I just fried your brain, I was referring to cartridges, tonearms, amplifiers and speakers, respectively.

With the exception of the speakers, I'd have the full Gandy Special from cartridge to power amplifier. There's something to be said for that, as I'm a firm believer in synergy and "house sound". I'm lucky because I like the Rega sound a lot. They don't seem to run fast to me, although the P3-24 also benefits from the 24V motor of the P5 and P7, and hence compatibility with the TT-PSU. I like the idea of being able to upgrade my table down the road for a not-outrageous amount of money ($350).

I was at my dealer today, just hanging around as I often do. One of the guys was comparing the P7/RB700/Apheta to the LP12/Ekos/Akiva, the latter being tested with three different power supplies (a new Lingo, an older Lingo, and a Valhalla in a custom plexiglass enclosure).

Associated Equipment:
Linn Linto
Linn Klimax Kontrol
Linn Klimax 500 Twin
Sonus Faber Amati Homage Anniversario

(Alright, so I'm spoiled)

Much to my surprise, I preferred the P7 to the LP12! The Apheta hadn't even been broken in, either. The tides may shift in favor of the Linn another day, but, for now, I think the Rega duo is quieter, with tighter bass and a less fatiguing sound. Maybe I'm just a Rega guy. Oh, well. I guess there's no use fighting it.

I like the way you prefaced your turntable suggestions with "Now, just for fun..."
I'll let it slide...this time.

The Clearaudio is a handsome piece. The SOTA is dead ugly, but I'm sure it sounds nice. At this point, though, I'm a Regaholic. All there is left to do is a serious comparison between the P2 and P3. I'm calling the event "Sibling Rivalry '07". Who will win? My money is on the P3, but I'll just have to see. Actually, I don't need to see, just hear.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable


Quote:
That Roy Gandy is a smart man; He designed a lowrider arm with no VTA adjustment and then proceeded to offer pretty much the only line of cartridges that would fit.

Not exactly true. Many cartridges offer the same physical dimensions of the Rega cartridge when it comes to determining VTA. Certainly with the addition of spacers the Rega arm has much more flexibility for other cartridges. Additionally, there are multiple VTA adjusters available for the Rega arms.

Remember, VTA is a fluid specification that varies with almost every LP you play. Depending on the age of your disc collection there will be minor to major variations in cutter head settings between the majority of your discs and the resultant stylus rake angle you would need to "perfectly" replicate that cutter head's performance. Generally speaking there were no standardized stylus rake angles amongst the various record manufacturers. You could depend on all DG's from a specific plant (for a reasonably long time period) to have the same SRA but after that you were out in the woods with each disc having slightly less than perfect playback if VTA is your only concern. So, unless you provide for constant VTA adjustment you are really only aiming at the right ballpark with VTA. Kind of like driving to Yankee Stadium when leaving Dallas if you only know to head North. This, as much as anything, is Gandy's point when it comes to VTA adjustment.

Additionally, please consider the importance of VTA and SRA when using a 2X7 mill elliptical stylus. It is only when you move to the more exotic styuls shapes that VTA becomes a more significant issue.

bobedaone
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

As ever, the concrete prevails over the abstract. I yield to the voice of experience.

The wise one has spoken. *gonggg*

I kid.

Seriously, though, thanks for the input.

CECE
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Re: Cartridge vs. Turntable

Don't take that long drive without a GARMIN. just my 2 cents, which is worth much more.

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