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ezehead's picture
Last seen: 11 months 1 week ago
Joined: Jan 3 2013 - 1:35pm
system upgrade

Hello everyone. My name is Ezequiel. I'm from Argentina. A few years ago I found my dad's record collection and since then I've been buying and playing lps vigorously. My current system is a Technics SL-Q3 with M44C cartridge, Sansui G3000 amp and a pair of bookshelf Polk audio loudspeakers. Except for the polk audio, the rest of the equipment is quite old. The first 2 things in my upgrade plan are the TT and the phono stage. Then the amp, and later on if it's necessary the loudspeakers.

TT considered:

-Rega P6
-VPI Traveller
-Marantz TT15
-Clearaudio Concept

I've read tons of reviews and opinions and although I've learned a lot, I can't seem to pick one of those, some criticize a table that others worship and so on. I think I'm inclined for the rega P6 with the exact 2 cartridge but I'd like to hear everyones opinion. The VPI seems a little expensive considering that I'll have to buy a cartridge and the dust cover probably aswell. Many have criticize the concept arm and sound, but again, I've never seen it or heard it sadly.

Phono preamp considered:

-Musical fidelity V-LPSII
-Project Phono Box Mk2
-Cambridge Audio Azur 651P
-Graham Slee - Gram amp 2 SE MM

I've not looked for an amp yet since I will be out of money after this purchases, but in a near future I'd like to buy a new one aswell, so any advise will be appreciated.

Here in Argentina there are almost no dealers so I will have to make some crazy international delivery plans to get this things, so there's absolutely no way for me to try any of these equipments and eventually return them If I don't like them. My decision will be permanent, hence my doubts and the seek of external opinion.

Thank you all for your wise posts and opinions, and keep vinyl alive.
Cheers from south america.




jackfish's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: Dec 19 2005 - 2:42pm
The Marantz TT15 is essentially a Clearaudio Emotion, and to

purchase its equivalent with a Clearaudio tag would cost nearly $900 more than what the Marantz TT15 costs. The Marantz TT15 would be at the top of my list.

The Graham Slee phono stage would be the best of those you listed. If you could spend a bit more, and find one, the Musical Surroundings Phenomena II would be a nice match with the Marantz table and cartridge.

Good luck!

Review by Christopher Wolff in 2008: I have been searching for a turntable for almost 3 years, on and off. Until recently, I was not happy enough with the over all quality for the dollars spent on the available products. I considered the popular 'hi-fi' units like Music Hall, Rega and Pro-Ject, as well as units like the Technics SL1200MKII(and upgrading the arm). I must admit, the Technics really is superior to the other entry level price units, by leaps and bounds, so far as engineering/quality/build is concerned, even if the tonearm is a bit dated. If I was going to buy a $500 range table, the Technics would be the only logical choice. But I decided to considerably increase my budget range to about $2000 USD range, as I wanted to buy my final turntable, not waste money buying something I would want to later upgrade. When I came across the Marantz, I was initially mesmerized by it's beauty. Then I took a closer look.

Arm: It uses the ClearAudio Satisfy Aluminum arm, which is a $1200 arm by itself, and appears to be rather superior by a large degree, compared to the Rega RB300(or even RB700) and arms used on most other turntables in the under $2000 price range. The Satisfy seems to be extremely stiff, and has a dead locked stability with no twist whatsoever. The friction is extremely low(much lower than is usual) thanks to the polished sapphire bearing on tungsten points(3-5x lower static friction than standard metal on metal polished and hardened bearings, based on what I could find in research). The fact that virtually every part of the tone arm was precision machined is also impressive, as far as a cosmetic standpoint. The magnetic anti-skate is very good, and if you are one that does not like anti-skate at all, you are in luck, as it can be removed by simply unscrewing and taking off the large set screw on the right hand side that contains the anti-force magnet. The hydraulic damper is among the smoothest I have used. I was not impressed at all by the arms on the Rega, Music Hall and Pro-Ject turntables. I have noticed one or two people online complain that the Satisfy has a non optimal design, in regards to the angle of the vertical bearing in relation to the headshell angle. This is true - ideally - the bearing would be at the same angle. Because it is not, when the vertical position changes(like on a record warp), the vertical (azimuth) will be changed dynamically. I investigated this, and aligned my azimuth as close as possible using a right angle to the cartridge/stylus. I then observed the degrees of error over the distance that a severe warp would move the arm, vertically. Well, theory is nice, but it's not realized in practice here. The amount of error that occurred was less than the degree of accuracy I could ever begin to align the azimuth to begin with. That is, the apparent degree of dynamic azimuth error due to the bearing angle was less then the error of my best attempt at azimuth alignment. Even if I used more precise azimuth setting(using for example, a macro lens on a live view camera with reference squares on the view screen), I can't see how you can be sure the actual stylus tip is even lined up perfectly with the cantilever(which is your best reference point). Anyways, many arms have this so-called 'problem' present that I can not discern is a real problem. Besides, my turn table passes the Ultimate Test Analog LP record with flying colors after my careful set up procedures. The arm seems to be a near perfect transparent device, overall; it was a major selling point of this turntable for me. The arm mounts directly into the table with a single set screw to hold it(and adjust VTA). The arm also comes with the separate mounting plate hardware to mount the arm in another table if you so desire. A very good inclusion, IMO, if one wants to change tables but keep the superb arm in the change.

Table chassis: The table itself is air craft grade acrylic that has been machined to shape. It is roughly 0.75" thick. The table chassis is slightly resonant. When you tap on it quickly, you can hear a slight emphasis and resonant response. It is, however, far less resonant than the standard painted MDF chassis used by most manufacturers. The surface appears to have been bead blasted, giving a fine satin appearance/feel. The unit has solid, large diamater aluminum feet which are polished. Very attractive, but there is no suspension on this turntable - so you must consider this for your application(s). I use a de-coupled board/plinth to sit the turntable upon.

Platter: The turning platter weighs approximately 5 lbs, and is 1.2" thick. It is made of silicone infused acrylic. It is very dense. It is unusually inert. Tapping on the structure reveals a very low level 'tick' sound(simply your fingernail tapping the solid structure) with absolutely no noticeable decay/resonance. This is a fine platter, IMO. It is precisely machined and has no visible irregularities when spinning, unlike some other platters on other turntables.

Platter Bearing: It uses an inverted thrust bearing with a hardened metal alloy resting on a single bearing made of some kind of ceramic or jewel(I am not sure), but it is very hard and smooth/polished. The hardened metal shaft rests against a metal side bushing to stabilize it vertically. The well the bearing sits within under the table is made from machined aluminum and is sealed against the bottom of the acrylic base with a silicone gasket. A bit of grease is dabbed in, it appeared, and the table came with bearing oil that is suggested(by the manual) to be used once every few years. I actually went ahead and dumped in a bit to fill up the well enough to give the bearing and point a constant oil bath. If you spin the platter free(without the belt on it) on a level surface, it will continue to spin for 1-2 minutes(depending on how hard of a spin you gave it)and is completely silent from a normal perspective. If you rest your ear against the table firmly, you can hear a slight constant friction sound - but it's incredibly low in level. Superb bearing is the conclusion.

Motor: The motor is what appears to be a standard asynchronous AC motor that locks onto the voltage line frequency. It makes no audible noise, except a slight 60Hz hum, if you listen to it within a couple of inches. The motor does vibrate a bit(60Hz). The motor is not connected to the table in any way - this needs to be made clear. The motor sits in a hole that is cut out in the table, but the motor rests on the surface underneath the table, not the actual table. I placed some closed cell vinyl weatherstripping foam on the bottom of the motor to acts as further isolation of the motor and resting surface. I also places some of this material in the cut out hole where the motor resides, to prevent accidental direct contact of the motor with the turntable chassis. You can easily shift the motor position when you turn the table on/off, as the on/off switch is located directly on the side of the motor. I measured speed stability using The Ultimate Analog Test LP. I recorded the 3150Hz track and analyzed a 10 second long recording using FFT analysis to determine actual frequency at any given time point. The variance measured was -0.08%/+0.14%, peak variance. The table isl listed as speed stability of +/- 0.2 % in most specifications, so real performance certainly better than manufacturer specifications. The actual speed stability is probably even better than I measured: it looks like the test record was not 'exactly' centered on it's hole, though it was very very close. The motor is not high in torque, and it it takes 4 or 5 seconds to reach speed stability. The motor 'chirps' a bit when you first turn it on, as it fights the silicone belt. I recommend giving the edge of the platter a little spin to put the table up to speed before turning the motor on: this should help with both motor wear and belt wear. The motor has a machined acrylic pulley attached to it with 3 set screws. I wish the would have used aluminum, just for cosmetic reasons. The acrylic is fine in this capacity. This is a precision machined acrylic part - not a cheap molded plastic piece.

Platter Mat: Ditch the mat. The record will be best dampened by direct contact with the acrylic platter. Use a clamp to keep the record tight against the acrylic.

Record clamp: The turntable comes with a molded clear plastic Souther Clamp. It is essentially a piece of plastic with a tight fitting hole over the spindle, that grips by friction. I don't like the included plastic Souther clamp. It looks and feels cheap. If you are like me, and what the aesthetic theme to be constant, then get an after market clamp that you like.

Cartridge: The Marantz comes with a ClearAudio Virtuoso. This is rather surprising. This cartridge is almost universally praised by users and reviewers alike, and it's cheapest selling price that I could find online was $875 USD. This is a startling quality unit to include in a $1600 turntable package. Without the cartridge, I consider the $1600 price to be more than fair, considering the superb overall quality/engineering of this table system. The cartridge supposedly comes pre-mounted to the tonearm and is pre-setup. However, my package was missing the cartridge entirely, and as such, Marantz shipped me a new cartridge that is factory sealed in it's retail packaging.

Closest comparable product to the Marantz TT-15S1 is the ClearAudio Emotion. The Emotion uses the same motor and arm. Everything else is different. The Marantz uses substantially heavier/thicker construction, and the Marantz uses more cosmetically appealing feet(large machined aluminum) as compared to the small acrylic feet on the Emotion. The Marantz is like the middle product between the ClearAudio Emotion and ClearAudio Performance. The Performance uses a yet, slightly thicker platter, and moves the platter bearing up to the CMB magnetic bearing system, which used magnetic fields to levitate the platter, as opposed to a physically contacting bearing and shaft. From other brands, the ONLY product I have found that seems comparable with the Marantz and is in the same price range is the VPI Scout. However, the Scout does not have the same quality of bearings in it's tone arm an the Scout may have a slightly more resonant chassis, as it is made primarily of MDF compared to the solid machined air craft grade arcylic of the Marantz chassis. The Scout has a slightly thicker platter as compared to the Marantz. The Scout has an isolated motor as well. The VPI Scout and Marantz TT-15S1, in fact, were the main two tables that I had to choose from. I don't think you can go wrong with either one of these for the dollars spent. I don't think you can possibly get more real performance in terms of audibility by getting a table that costs more than the VPI or Marantz at issue here. Psychological differences, of course, are a different story. If you refuse to believe that 'only' about $2k can get you a transparent table/arm system, then you will certainly perceive differences, regardless if they are real or not. So far as other brands with models in the same price range, such as Music Hall, Pro-Ject or Rega: I can not buy into it. They appear to be far less substantial in construction/engineering as compared to the VPI and Marantz at issue here. I am looking for the most engineering/build quality for my dollar.

Sound: As you have probably noticed, I have not said anything about sound quality. This is because I literally can not detect any signature caused by the turntable itself or the tone arm in this case. Any coloration(s) appear to be the result of the vinyl album used or the cartridge. The table here appears to be a near-perfect neutral device, which is exactly what I wanted to begin with. This table should not limit ANY cartridge or album.

UPDATE and IMPORTANT information: After the belt has worn in a bit, it no longer chatters when you turn on the motor. It now slips a little bit as you first turn on the table and rapidly comes up to full speed. Also, in reference to speed percentage accuracy above, this is not wow and flutter. RMS Wow/Flutter would be a smaller number in percent as compared to my measure, which was raw percent deviation from a 3150Hz test tone. For example, Marantz's speed percent stability is rated at 0.2 percent, and Marantz's RMS Wow and Flutter is specified at 0.07 percent. These are two different expressions of the same parameter. I measured percent deviation as a maximum of 0.14 percent, better than Marantz's specification. The wow and flutter realistically will be in the 0.05 to 0.06 percent range. This is excellent, but not quite up to the standards of a quartz locked direct drive device like the Technics units where are know for their extraordinary speed accuracy of 0.025 percent RMS wow and flutter.

ezehead's picture
Last seen: 11 months 1 week ago
Joined: Jan 3 2013 - 1:35pm
Thank you. I guess he doesn't

Thank you. I guess he doesn't leave any space for doubts. Marantz it is!!

commsysman's picture
Last seen: 5 hours 59 min ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am

I would choose the Rega P6 and the Musical Fidelity VLPS preamp.

The Music Hall MMF-7 is also excellent.

jackfish's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: Dec 19 2005 - 2:42pm
I'd stay away from the Regas.

Both the RP-1 and RP-6 have had documented production quality issues.

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Last seen: 4 days 6 hours ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Quality issues

I just read about Rega quality issues on another site.  It concerns an off axis glass platter on a Rega RP-6. This comes under the category of gross errors.

 Check this link (