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  • Help me Grow - MM > MI > MC?

    Well, I'm a newbe here, but not to Audio in general.

    I've had my share of cartridges as I have been coming along. Nothing exotic or worth more than my first car (a 1978 Pontiac Sunbird with the Buick 231 V-6 engine and 4 speed - $4,400). A couple of Shures (with the V-15Mx still with me with the MR stylus and low hours), a Clear Audio Maestro v1, and now a Soundsmith Voice. Is a Moving Coil cartridge going to be such an amazing change from the Voice that I gotta get one?

    Which one (let's keep it sub $4k)?

    The pre-amp I currently have will allow higher gain, variable load and (while not as important) capacitance selection. Not an impressive pre, but it does work, sounds great and is still working toward that 50 hour mark where I'm hoping it'll open up just a bit more.

    Oh, turntable. A VPI Prime Signature. The ADS powers it, the arm (well, I have two) is the 10-3D (one of which is the 10-3DR). Also I did splurge for the periphery clamp.

    Pre is the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 (not the older DS) and is relatively new in the US. But not Europe.

    Amp is a Yaqin MS-100B. Tube are in the pre and the amp 12AX7 from JJ (actually ECC802 Gold Pins), Sylvania 6SN7s and Golden Lion KT-88s.

    Speakers are kit built from Madisound from the John Krutke "Zaph" ZRT 2.5 way using ScanSpeak speakers. I did add a home made sub using a ScanSpeak Relavator 10" woofer and class A/B Plate Amp.

    Cabling is made from high quality, multi-gauge, OFC and silver plated microphone cable with silicon jackets, some inside silver plated braid and sleeved. I figure if it's good enough to record with, it should be good enough for playback. Gold plated Pamona connectors, 4 Alloy (Tin/Lead/Silver/Gold) soldered. (I make a lot of my own stuff, because I can.)

    Thanks, and I'm always willing to learn.


    Digital (HDCD): Yaqin SD-32A
    Tape Decks: Teac X-2000R, Otari MX-5050 BIII-2 (X2) and BII-2H
    Turntable: Two Armed VPI Prime Signature, ADS, Periphery Clamp, Dual Pivot, HRX Pulley, Triple Belt
    Cartridges/Arms: Soundsmith Voice/JMW 10 3DR & Lyra Delos/JMW 10 3D
    Phono Preamp: Zestos Andros PS1
    Amp: Manley Stingray II
    Speakers: Madisound Zaph ZRT 2.5 Speakers, Dual Homemade 10", 250 (Ea) Watt Subs
    Power: PS Audio P5
    Accessories: VPI 16.5, Parasound ZPhono USB, JTP Cables, DIY Dual Cartridge Timers

  • #2
    Might help if you mentioned some subjective observations...what you like and what you might prefer when listening to "the voice" or other carts in your collection.
    Regards,

    Erik
    http://solypsa.com
    North American distributor for:
    Sensitive Sound MC Cartridges
    STST Turntables + Tonearms


    Available for in home setup and calibration of fine turntable systems

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, I like almost everything. Classical, Jazz, classic Rock (60/70/80's and some 90's) even some modern rock. No headbanger music. I also have a love of Celtic and what was once known as 'New Age'. The female voice favors heavily in what I have and what I buy.

      I can go from Bach's Solo Cello pieces to Stain'd in the same evening. If the mode directs me. Or Tori Amos and Hope Sandoval, a fine scotch and the light down real low.

      Not by any means a hugh collection (I'm building it as finances allow, but you can view it here at https://cloud.collectorz.com/jimtimp/music ). And if you are looking for software to catalog your collection, PM me. This stuff is great. (not mine, but I'll tell you about it and where to get it).
      JimTimP's music collection on CLZ Cloud for Music
      Digital (HDCD): Yaqin SD-32A
      Tape Decks: Teac X-2000R, Otari MX-5050 BIII-2 (X2) and BII-2H
      Turntable: Two Armed VPI Prime Signature, ADS, Periphery Clamp, Dual Pivot, HRX Pulley, Triple Belt
      Cartridges/Arms: Soundsmith Voice/JMW 10 3DR & Lyra Delos/JMW 10 3D
      Phono Preamp: Zestos Andros PS1
      Amp: Manley Stingray II
      Speakers: Madisound Zaph ZRT 2.5 Speakers, Dual Homemade 10", 250 (Ea) Watt Subs
      Power: PS Audio P5
      Accessories: VPI 16.5, Parasound ZPhono USB, JTP Cables, DIY Dual Cartridge Timers

      Comment


      • Johnny Vinyl
        Johnny Vinyl commented
        Editing a comment
        I had to do a double-take as your collection is amazingy similar to mine. Kudos to you on your excellent taste!

    • #4
      Jim, I recommend you just jump into the deep end of the pond and start listening to some of the moving coils.

      You can start with the Denon 103R for very little money ($250 street price). The Denon 103R is arguably one of the best phono cartridges available at that price point. Keep in mind that it has a compliance of 5cu (stiff) and wants to see a high mass arm, so adding mass to the headshell is good. It also is low output and need a high gain preamp. For a little more money, $750, I highly recommend the Charisma 103 which is a modified Denon 103 which has a sapphire cantilever, line contact stylus (not a conical like in the Denon 103R), a more compliant suspension so it tracks at 2.2g (instead of the Denon 103R's 2.5g) and has a maple body which is heavier and non-resonant. The Charisma 103 is my current go to cartridge for demonstrating high performance/high value on my VPI tables. There are MANY better sounding MC's for sure but at a MUCH higher price.

      You can pick a price point and find several MC candidates. Opinion will vary, not only due to taste, but because we are talking about a system here where the overall sound is the result of all the parts. For best performance, I optimize the set-up, the arm selection, turntable, interconnects (from turntable to phono preamp), the stand, and the power system (the power cable feeding the ADS matters).
      Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
      Preamp: SMc Audio VRE-1C Preamp (fully balanced inputs and output)
      Analog 1: VPI Signature 21 Belt-Drive Turntable w/ 10” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti Phono Cartridge driving Lehmann Silver Cube Phono Preamp
      Analog 2: VPI HW-40 Direct-Drive Turntable w/ 12” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Phono Cartridge driving Genesis Gold Phono Preamp
      Analog 3: Studer A810 R2R tape w/ Bridge Console. Using built-in tape preamp
      Digital: Lumin Network Player with Lumin NAS
      Cables: Genesis Advanced Technologies/Absolute Fidelity Interface Interconnects, Speaker, Phono and Power
      A/C Power: Extensive System Upgrades, Sub-panel w/hard-wired power cables, and IsoTek Super Titan Passive Power Conditioning for Amplifiers
      Accessories: Custom Acrylic Equipment Stands, Klaudio Ultrasonic RCM

      Comment


      • #5
        I would go with an Ortofon SPU classic, full bodied and musical, very different flavor from your Shure and CA cartridge, not familiar with your Voice.

        david
        Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
        Distribution: NEODIO

        Special Sales: van den Hul
        Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

        Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
        http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
        http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

        Comment


        • Joe Pittman
          Joe Pittman commented
          Editing a comment
          David, what tonearm do you recommend with the SPU?

        • david k
          david k commented
          Editing a comment
          If you go with the GM series my number one pick is the SME 3012-R but works very well in EMT. Dynavector, FR, Ikeda, Jelco, and Ortofon arms. I have limited experience with the N series without the integrated headshell but I've heard them in a Graham Arm and a VPI JMW 10 if I recall correctly and the sound was very good but my first choice is the 3012-R in both cases.

          david

      • #6
        Originally posted by JimTimP View Post
        Well, I'm a newbe here, but not to Audio in general.

        I've had my share of cartridges as I have been coming along. Nothing exotic or worth more than my first car (a 1978 Pontiac Sunbird with the Buick 231 V-6 engine and 4 speed - $4,400). A couple of Shures (with the V-15Mx still with me with the MR stylus and low hours), a Clear Audio Maestro v1, and now a Soundsmith Voice. Is a Moving Coil cartridge going to be such an amazing change from the Voice that I gotta get one?

        Which one (let's keep it sub $4k)?

        The pre-amp I currently have will allow higher gain, variable load and (while not as important) capacitance selection. Not an impressive pre, but it does work, sounds great and is still working toward that 50 hour mark where I'm hoping it'll open up just a bit more.

        Oh, turntable. A VPI Prime Signature. The ADS powers it, the arm (well, I have two) is the 10-3D (one of which is the 10-3DR). Also I did splurge for the periphery clamp.

        Pre is the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 (not the older DS) and is relatively new in the US. But not Europe.

        Amp is a Yaqin MS-100B. Tube are in the pre and the amp 12AX7 from JJ (actually ECC802 Gold Pins), Sylvania 6SN7s and Golden Lion KT-88s.

        Speakers are kit built from Madisound from the John Krutke "Zaph" ZRT 2.5 way using ScanSpeak speakers. I did add a home made sub using a ScanSpeak Relavator 10" woofer and class A/B Plate Amp.

        Cabling is made from high quality, multi-gauge, OFC and silver plated microphone cable with silicon jackets, some inside silver plated braid and sleeved. I figure if it's good enough to record with, it should be good enough for playback. Gold plated Pamona connectors, 4 Alloy (Tin/Lead/Silver/Gold) soldered. (I make a lot of my own stuff, because I can.)

        Thanks, and I'm always willing to learn.

        Hi, IMHO a DL103 r will not touch the soundsmith voice, my DL103 r is a modified soundsmith with a ruby cantilever and contact point diamond, which is the top of the line upgrade, although it sounds very close to the soundsmith ( I also have one ). The reason is the extra gain that is needed because it is .25 mv causes more s/n ratio. I use a SUT that is 1.36 which gives it a load of 36 ohms and voltage of 4.5 mv which is a perfect match. Although it is very close to the soundsmith you will gain nothing in audible pleasure. If it were me wanting the full effect of a MC against the soundsmith I would move on to Ortofon' high end MC line, or Lyra because that is what it will take.
        I also use Microphone cables for interconnects, I wire them Pseudo Balanced, the shield is not tied to the signal negative I solder a wire to the shield and attach it directly to the chassis. All of my signal negatives are direct to the amps ground plane, not the bond.

        Comment


        • #7
          Not a criticism on the topic, but an observation that seems to imply MC is perceived as being superior and that for one to qualify as a true audiophile one needs to evolve in that direction. Now.....I have limited experience with most MC cartridges, but from those I have heard I can't say they left me convinced that a change from MI (various Grado Refs) was in order. It should be said that I'm much more interested in the quality and content of my media as opposed to the quality of my gear, and it could be assumed that I am therefore more easily pleased. But I also know what I like.
          Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

          Comment


          • JCOConnell
            JCOConnell commented
            Editing a comment
            I just read Soundsmiths thesis why fixed coil (moving iron) is superior to MC this morning on their website. So I wouldn't say MC is necessisarily better than MM or MI.

        • #8
          JC says above: "I just read Soundsmiths thesis why fixed coil (moving iron) is superior to MC this morning on their website. So I wouldn't say MC is necessarily better than MM or MI."

          What most people don't know is that Joe Grado patented the moving coil in 1959. I think it is ironic that he manufactured moving iron (MI) for all of or the majority of years that Grado Labs has been in business. I can't recall exactly why, but I thought that Joe said the MI design was superior. In any event, the MI cartridges take less labor hours to produce due to the coil winding of smaller MC cartridges as far as I know, and are usually less expensive, and can have a user-replaceable stylus...
          Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
          Preamp: SMc Audio VRE-1C Preamp (fully balanced inputs and output)
          Analog 1: VPI Signature 21 Belt-Drive Turntable w/ 10” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti Phono Cartridge driving Lehmann Silver Cube Phono Preamp
          Analog 2: VPI HW-40 Direct-Drive Turntable w/ 12” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Phono Cartridge driving Genesis Gold Phono Preamp
          Analog 3: Studer A810 R2R tape w/ Bridge Console. Using built-in tape preamp
          Digital: Lumin Network Player with Lumin NAS
          Cables: Genesis Advanced Technologies/Absolute Fidelity Interface Interconnects, Speaker, Phono and Power
          A/C Power: Extensive System Upgrades, Sub-panel w/hard-wired power cables, and IsoTek Super Titan Passive Power Conditioning for Amplifiers
          Accessories: Custom Acrylic Equipment Stands, Klaudio Ultrasonic RCM

          Comment


          • #9
            Originally posted by Joe Pittman View Post
            In any event, the MI cartridges take less labor hours to produce due to the coil winding of smaller MC cartridges as far as I know, and are usually less expensive, and can have a user-replaceable stylus...
            Does Grado produce a MI cartridge with a replaceable stylus? I know that none of the Soundsmith MI cartridges have replaceable stylii.
            Analog: Holbo Turntable, VdH Crimson Strad XGW; Forsell Air Reference, Transfiguration Proteus; Rega RP-8, VAS Nova Mono
            Digital: Mac mini 6,2 with YFS PS-12M LPS; Exogal Comet Plus, Exogal Ion PowerDAC
            Electronics: Aurorasound Vida, Channel D Lino C; Merrill Cara, Gryphon M-100 Mkii (pair)
            Cables: Morrow, Gryphon interconnects; YFS USB cable; Morrow, XLO, Channel D phono cables; Morrow, Gryphon, Goertz speaker cables

            Comment


            • Joe Pittman
              Joe Pittman commented
              Editing a comment
              The older Grado's had replaceable styli, but I don't know anyone who actually did replace them... Replaceable styli were important in the early days for entry level cartridges, because they were frequently damaged (bent cantilevers) or broken... High-end users are typically much more careful. Knock on wood.

          • #10
            I'm sure the folks at VPI will have some suggestions regarding an MC to try out. They listen to lots of different gear and have ideas about what works on their product line. With regard to the Shure V15VxMR, lots of different, and not necessarily expensive, cartridges will better it, imo. I found it a little bit laid back for my tastes on a few different tonearms and vintage turntables I've had. And you don't have to go to MC to beat it.

            -Steve
            webmaster at The Analog Dept.
            system list:Classe' CAP 151 integrated, Carver TX-11b Tuner, NHT 2.9 Speakers, Thorens TD124 ( plus other Thorens models), Otari MX-5050 BII-2 R2R, Jolida JD100 cd player, ML-9600 digital recorder

            Comment


            • #11
              Well, I guess I need to clarify something. The subject is asking for help in growing (as in my knowledge and my system) and is a MC cartridge going to give me the overall superior reproduction given my equipment over the SoundSmith Voice MI cartridge ( and jonathanb, all Soundsmith cartridges have replaceable styli - just not user replaceable and the price is quite reasonable - check the site).

              Now, I don't have the equipment (oh that sounds just sooooooo bad) some of you do. But given what I do have, and it's modest with about a total of $25K invested, will a $4k MC cartridge give me superior reproduction?

              I've looked at Lyra's (seriously considered the Kleos before I bought the Voice). So I guess I'll be specific:

              Is a vdH Frog, or a Shelter 9000, or similar cartridge going to blow my mind and wish I dropped acid because it would explain the feelings I'm having listening to the music (and thereby surpassing the Soundsmith Voice)?

              I hear so much about MC cartridges it tends to make one believe this will happen. Is the experience commensurate with the hype?

              Thank guys, and so far this has been a real learning discussion. I truly do appreciate it.
              Digital (HDCD): Yaqin SD-32A
              Tape Decks: Teac X-2000R, Otari MX-5050 BIII-2 (X2) and BII-2H
              Turntable: Two Armed VPI Prime Signature, ADS, Periphery Clamp, Dual Pivot, HRX Pulley, Triple Belt
              Cartridges/Arms: Soundsmith Voice/JMW 10 3DR & Lyra Delos/JMW 10 3D
              Phono Preamp: Zestos Andros PS1
              Amp: Manley Stingray II
              Speakers: Madisound Zaph ZRT 2.5 Speakers, Dual Homemade 10", 250 (Ea) Watt Subs
              Power: PS Audio P5
              Accessories: VPI 16.5, Parasound ZPhono USB, JTP Cables, DIY Dual Cartridge Timers

              Comment


              • #12
                Originally posted by JimTimP View Post
                ( and jonathanb, all Soundsmith cartridges have replaceable styli - just not user replaceable and the price is quite reasonable - check the site).
                Soundsmith has rebuilt two cartridges for me, one a Clearaudio Accurate and the other a Symphonic Line RG-8. (They also recently repaired/refurbished my Gryphon M-100 mono-block amps and Gryphon XT preamp.) Their prices are reasonable and their work impeccable.
                Analog: Holbo Turntable, VdH Crimson Strad XGW; Forsell Air Reference, Transfiguration Proteus; Rega RP-8, VAS Nova Mono
                Digital: Mac mini 6,2 with YFS PS-12M LPS; Exogal Comet Plus, Exogal Ion PowerDAC
                Electronics: Aurorasound Vida, Channel D Lino C; Merrill Cara, Gryphon M-100 Mkii (pair)
                Cables: Morrow, Gryphon interconnects; YFS USB cable; Morrow, XLO, Channel D phono cables; Morrow, Gryphon, Goertz speaker cables

                Comment


                • #13
                  Originally posted by Joe Pittman View Post
                  JC says above: "I just read Soundsmiths thesis why fixed coil (moving iron) is superior to MC this morning on their website. So I wouldn't say MC is necessarily better than MM or MI."

                  What most people don't know is that Joe Grado patented the moving coil in 1959. I think it is ironic that he manufactured moving iron (MI) for all of or the majority of years that Grado Labs has been in business. I can't recall exactly why, but I thought that Joe said the MI design was superior. In any event, the MI cartridges take less labor hours to produce due to the coil winding of smaller MC cartridges as far as I know, and are usually less expensive, and can have a user-replaceable stylus...
                  JC,

                  Does this mean you agree with Peter Ledermann's analysis and explanation? To be honest he was convincing enough for me to purchase his cartridge, and in all honesty (wow, this is an honest sentence) I'm very happy with it.

                  And Joe, same question...
                  Digital (HDCD): Yaqin SD-32A
                  Tape Decks: Teac X-2000R, Otari MX-5050 BIII-2 (X2) and BII-2H
                  Turntable: Two Armed VPI Prime Signature, ADS, Periphery Clamp, Dual Pivot, HRX Pulley, Triple Belt
                  Cartridges/Arms: Soundsmith Voice/JMW 10 3DR & Lyra Delos/JMW 10 3D
                  Phono Preamp: Zestos Andros PS1
                  Amp: Manley Stingray II
                  Speakers: Madisound Zaph ZRT 2.5 Speakers, Dual Homemade 10", 250 (Ea) Watt Subs
                  Power: PS Audio P5
                  Accessories: VPI 16.5, Parasound ZPhono USB, JTP Cables, DIY Dual Cartridge Timers

                  Comment


                  • JCOConnell
                    JCOConnell commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Well, I cant say Ive actually heard any MI carts so I'm not really ready to jump on the bandwagon yet

                • #14
                  Originally posted by JimTimP View Post

                  JC,

                  Does this mean you agree with Peter Ledermann's analysis and explanation? To be honest he was convincing enough for me to purchase his cartridge, and in all honesty (wow, this is an honest sentence) I'm very happy with it.

                  And Joe, same question...
                  JC
                  You may have, in the 80's all of the Stanton's were MI and a lot of the Ortofon's Were MI with replaceable stylus just like a MM, (for that reason most people think that they are MM) I have two, A Stanton 681 EEE and Ortofon VMS 20, the Stanton still has the best channel separation of any cartridge to this day, the VMS 20 rivals the DL 103 R, That being said my Ortofon MC 10 had the most upper end detail of any cartridge that I have owned, It was .09 MV so there was a lot of gain hiss to play it, the impedance was 3 ohms. After 31 years the cantilever bent and I would not consider replacing it. there are too many Great cartridges w/o the gain problem and if you never hear that upper detail, you do not miss it.

                  Comment


                  • JCOConnell
                    JCOConnell commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I did have a Stanton 681EEE at one point, but I was using it with horrid equipment so tough to judge.

                • #15
                  Originally posted by JimTimP View Post

                  JC,

                  Does this mean you agree with Peter Ledermann's analysis and explanation? To be honest he was convincing enough for me to purchase his cartridge, and in all honesty (wow, this is an honest sentence) I'm very happy with it.

                  And Joe, same question...
                  I highly respect Peter Ledermann and agree with most of what he says about the fixed coil advantages. However, I don't think it accounts for everything about the whole LP playback system. Another major variable is how the arm drains energy away from the cartridge and the phono preamp integration in my opinion. There are many other factors as well. Ultimately, all of the technologies MM, MI, MC, Strain Gauge, etc, converge on the same goal of ultimate sound quality. There are good as well as bad examples for each technology. The cool thing is that LP playback has never been better. There is a lot of great vinyl available, all we really need is more time to enjoy it (play those records!).
                  Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
                  Preamp: SMc Audio VRE-1C Preamp (fully balanced inputs and output)
                  Analog 1: VPI Signature 21 Belt-Drive Turntable w/ 10” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti Phono Cartridge driving Lehmann Silver Cube Phono Preamp
                  Analog 2: VPI HW-40 Direct-Drive Turntable w/ 12” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Phono Cartridge driving Genesis Gold Phono Preamp
                  Analog 3: Studer A810 R2R tape w/ Bridge Console. Using built-in tape preamp
                  Digital: Lumin Network Player with Lumin NAS
                  Cables: Genesis Advanced Technologies/Absolute Fidelity Interface Interconnects, Speaker, Phono and Power
                  A/C Power: Extensive System Upgrades, Sub-panel w/hard-wired power cables, and IsoTek Super Titan Passive Power Conditioning for Amplifiers
                  Accessories: Custom Acrylic Equipment Stands, Klaudio Ultrasonic RCM

                  Comment

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