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floydiohead's picture
Last seen: 6 years 2 months ago
Joined: Jul 19 2011 - 7:52am
Advice for a Newbie on TT's

Hi all!

This is my first post on here (although I have been lurking for a while!). I hope I can get some good advice on my audio issue. I've recently bought quite a nice system (CD, Amp and speakers) and now want to get a TT to go with it.

I actually bought a turntable a few weeks ago, but I ended up taking it back because I was so unhappy with the sound. I bought a Rega RP1 (with Bias 2 cartridge) and Rega Fono MM stage. When I played the TT, I got a tinny, distorted sound which lacked any real detail. I checked (and double checked) that everything was set up correctly (e.g. alignment etc.) and it was. Despite all its good reviews, I couldn't find anything to like about the TT at all, and I did in fact wonder whether the TT or Fono stage was actually faulty.

My friend lent me (which I will now be buying) a Cambridge Audio 640p to try with the RP1. It made a big improvement, but the sound was still not good enough.

Next weekend, I am going to be demoing an RP3 with Elys 2, and P5 with Dynavector 10x5, both with the CA 640p sound stage. I have been recommended, as a really good starting cartridge, the Denon DL-110, but I haven't been able to find anywhere near me that has a deck with one set up. Any views on that cartridge?

I guess I'm looking to spend (on TT and cartridge - phono stage will have to wait for the min) around £850 - which would get me the P5 and denon DL-110, but I just don't really know where to start with it all!

So, are these the right kind of decks, cartridges to be thinking about? Any advice much appreciated!!

In case certain TT's/stages are better with or without certain gear, the TT/stage will be going into a Cyrus 6XP amp.

octaneTom's picture
Last seen: 6 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Apr 5 2011 - 1:10pm
Denon DL-110

I recently picked up the Denon DL-110 from a seller online for $115 USD - it's a really fantastic cartridge. I installed it on my Pro-Ject Xpression III turntable and I couldn't believe the difference in sound it produced vs. the shitty stock Sumiko Oyster cartridge: bigger/wider soundstage, deeper, richer bass, a huge improvement in the treble/upper range and it eliminated both the sibilance and inner groove distortion that I was experiencing with the Oyster. It's a really excellent high-output MC cartridge, especially for the money. And here's the kicker - I'm done with upgradeitis since I picked up this cartridge. I no longer wonder if I should have sprung for a P3 or prowl Audiogon for cartridge deals...I'm just kicking back and really, truly enjoying all the vinyl I've been scoring. 

I'm using the Rega Brio 3's built in MM phono stage and am getting great results - I'm not sure if the Fono MM stage is the same as the one in the Brio? If it is, it should be a pretty nice little phono preamp.

And, unless you're hell bent on dropping a good amount of cash for the TT, I'd also recommend demoing/looking into the Xpression table, I've been really happy with it as well and the price falls right in between the RP1 and RP3 - around $700 USD. It's a very nice quality table that I'll be sticking with for quite some time. 

With this combo, my analog output sounds a lot better then the digital output from my CD player.

Good luck in your set up!

JIMV's picture
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Jan 31 2008 - 1:46pm
I had a similar problem

I called it 'thiness'...there was no body to my Thorens 170/Zphono combo through my Onkyo receiver...I added a Grant Fidelity tubed buffer (simply because I had it) and it was like listeing to a new system. It made a bigger change than replacing the receiver with Emotiva monoblocks...

At under $200, it is hard to go wrong here...

floydiohead's picture
Last seen: 6 years 2 months ago
Joined: Jul 19 2011 - 7:52am
Thanks for the helpful

Thanks for the helpful responses, guys.

SO many people have recommended the Denon DL-110 to me, I think I might take a chance on it and get one without having heard it.

The demo at the weekend I think is going to be more about trying to work out the differences between the RP3 and the P5. I'll ask the dealer to let me hear them both with the same cartridge so that I can hear the tonearm/motor etc. at work.

dbowker's picture
Last seen: 3 years 3 months ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
I thinks it's the Phono Stage

You didn't mention your other components, but take a read below of a review of the Rega stage (emphasis added by me):

"The Rega Phono MC prefers classical music to pop or jazz. In the Beaux Arts magnificent set of Haydn's Piano Trios [Philips 6767 415] the violin tone is small but sweet and bright and the definition on the piano is superior, with faster transients than the other units. It locates the instruments more precisely and had superior heft in the bass. Electric bass comes out clear and strong, but Thelma Houston sounds too strident, and the percussion is too aggressive for comfort, while surface noise is emphasized on quiet recordings. The all-important midrange is a little recessed with this cartridge. Overall the soundstage is shallower and narrower than its peers. The dynamic range is quite impressive at this price, but it does not convey the warmth and sense of ease of the Tube Box."

The full review of a bunch of entry level phono stages can be found at: They didn't hate it by any means, but they definitely pointed out a few aspects that could be major factors depending on your sytem.

This says to me that if your system is already more on the neutral or analtical side at all, the Rega phono stage is going to make that a lot worse and sound exactly as you thought. Plus, you should have had a much bigger change in sound when you switched TTs and cartridges IMO. This is the variable that didn't change, correct? See if you can borrow another phono pre-amp and then decide on TTs and the like.

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