You are here

Log in or register to post comments
alexdingley's picture
Last seen: 3 years 1 week ago
Joined: Jan 23 2020 - 10:41am
Trying to decide on a phono cart & do I need a transformer?

Through some friends, I recently received a non-functioning record player. The speed select wouldn't budge, and that meant you couldn't get it to start playing. Also, it was missing a needle... seemingly a small thing.

What I ended up finding out is that I have a 1960's Thorens TD-124, with an Ortofon RMG212 tonearm on it. Turns out, that's a really nice combo! But still, it needed some work.

I found a tech who works on those, and he did a clean-up of some parts / re-mounted the motor on nicer springs / fixed the slumped counterweight on the tonearm. But he let me know that I needed a new transducer for that tonearm. The AudioTechnica MS10 Headshell, with the Shure V15 Type IV was too light to properly balance, so I should consider a heavier Headshell/cartridge. Turns out "proper" Headshells for the RMG212 tonearm are NOT cheap! For context: My current TT setup has been a MusicHall MMF2.2, with a Pro-Ject arm, and I went (what I thought was) nuts... and I bought an Ortofon 2M Bronze for that.. I felt a little wild spending 300-400 on that cartridge. So I feel both super-lucky that I got this (potentially) amazing turntable... and A little out of my league with this fancy-ass TT. Part of me thinks I'm totally screwed, because this is likely going to be a moderate obsession, that rivals my gear-lust in the recording studio hobby that I already sink tons of cash into, each year.

I've been investing in my TT setup for years, but it seems that this new machine is a huge step up in build-quality and tone-potential. I want to do it right (without going crazy for every snake-oil solution out there).

I already own a decent phono preamp: Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL — which has capability to operate with MC and MM carts + it has different loading / settings to help you match up to different carts.

The next step seems to be buying a decent low-compliance headshell/cart. I'm fairly set on an Ortofon SPU (probably the 1e for budgetary reasons). I do see some notations that MC carts are classically going to be lower-output, so many people use Step-Up Transformers to boost signal to higher outputs. My curiosity is; with a variable resistance Photo-Stage like the M1 ViNL — do I really need a transformer? Is this a "give it a try, and if you're not satisfied with the level, then get one." situation? Or is a transformer also supposedly imparting some sonic characteristics on the phono output? I'd imagine most TT enthusiasts are hoping for / shopping for "transparent" transformers... but I come from the studio recording world, in which folks covet certain transformer-output devices for the particular flavor that the particular iron / nickel imparts on the audio.

So I'm curious. Am I going to be in pretty good shape with an Ortofon SPU 1e headshell/stylus going directly out of the Thorens into the MC-ins of the M1 ViNL phono stage, or am I completely missing the boat if I don't add a Transformer in between the TT and the Phono Stage?

Once my photos get approved by the message board, I'll have a few pics of the device, as I complete more updates & upgrades. It might not happen until the summer, but I'm planning on milling a new hardwood plinth, and I'm even going to put a small sliding drawer in the plinth for the brushes & accessories that I keep handy with the TT. I can't believe I don't see any big plinths with built-in storage.

PolarEar's picture
Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: Mar 3 2020 - 9:31am
Trying to decide on a phono cart & do I need a transformer?

Your combo preamp and thorens is just fine with spu, no need for step up.


  • X