Turntable Pre-Amp Questions

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Cynthia Binder, Sep 9, 2003.

  1. Cynthia Binder

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    I am finally upgrading from my mid 80s 2 channel Luxman system to Home Theatre. I want to continue using my turntable which is a Denon DP-47F with an Ortofon moving coil cartridge. I listen to mainly 70s classic rock.

    My new system is B&W 803s and 805s powered by a B&K AVR307. I need to purchase a pre-amp for the turntable, and have read the previous threads for ideas. However, I don't know enough about cost vs quality in light of the rest of my system to make a decision as to what quality pre-amp is appropriate.

    I would appreciate suggestions on what pre-amp would work well and complement my system. Also, ideas on where to buy would be helpful...

    Thanks!
    Cynthia
     
  2. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    What's your budget? It's hard to make recommendations without some idea of how much you're looking to spend. I don't check this forum too often any more so you can email me if you want to discuss anything, and I'm sure there will be others who will have suggestions/recommendations. I don't have too much experience with commercial MC phono stages.

    Just remember that a moving coil cartridge (which is what you have) requires a different phono stage than a moving magnet cartridge. Many phono stages are MM only, so make sure you get something that's MC capable.
     
  3. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Moving coil cartridges don't require a different phono stage, they need either a boost in the form of a pre-preamp (this term has always sounded ridiculous to me) - another state of amplification before the phono input - or transformation via a transformer (natch).

    One of the advantages of a moving coil cartridge is it's higher power output which results a higher signal-to-noise ratio, a very good thing. Problem is that it does this through higher current (formula is P = V * A, Power = Voltage times Amps), but the phono stage is voltage sensitive. A current transformer converts that high current into high voltage, thus preserving it's high SN ratio. A pre-preamp throws this advantage away and adds another opportunity for more noise and distortion (and, far too often, hum). Not that this can't be done well. Transformers - good, well designed transformers - have always been expensive.

    All that said, I am sorry to say that I can't help you in your search. I have been out of the LP game for several years and have lost touch with what's available.
     
  4. Cynthia Binder

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    I checked out Vinyl Asylum, but there is such a divergence of opinion that I don't know how to weed through the info and alot of the stuf just goes over my head. I don't want something that is technically difficult.

    As far as budget, I am somewhat flexible. What I really want to know is for the receiver, speakers and turntable I have, what level of pre-amp should I consider? My turntable is in storage due to the remodel, but I know the cartridge is an Ortofon moving coil. I also have an extra stylus on hand which is a Stylus 40 (purchased in early 90s and never used). I have no clue whether these are good or bad. The cartridge is original to the turntable from the mid 80s. Back when I got this stuff, I just relied on my audio shop for good recommendations and was never into anything other than did I like the way it sounded at my house. I always was very pleased with the sound through the Luxman receiver which has modes for both MM and MC. Now I cannot find a saleman who doesn't look at me like I am nuts for wanting to continue using the turntable!

    The Lehmann Black Cube appears to be highly recommended, but will my system be able to utilize a $600 unit fully? B&K makes a Phono 10 -- I guess that should complement the receiver nicely, but I know nothing about the quality of sound. Creek has the OBH-8SE which has gotten a variety of reviews and it is more in the $300 range. I have also read good reports on the Monolithic Sound PS1 for $400.

    So basically, I guess I need to figure out what level of pre-amp is appropriate for my system in order to utilize the euipment I have. I really appreciate your input.

    Thanks!
    Cynthia
     
  5. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  6. Anthony F.

    Anthony F. Stunt Coordinator

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    I use a Pro-Ject phono box that switches from MM to MC with jumpers in the event you change cartridges. Cost was ~$130 and I believe it's available at Audio Advisor and the likes. Reviews are solid on the budget side of preamps and sound is quite good.
     
  7. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    I haven't double checked this but wouldn't your receiver perform A-D, D-A conversion on all signals entering it. Most HT pieces do, and if this is the case you aren't going to hear much more than what the B&K wants you to hear. In which case I would look at a low cost option like the Project, Creek, NAD, etc.
     
  8. Mark All

    Mark All Second Unit

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    I use a Creek phono stage with my Music Hall MMF7 turntable which has a high output moving coil cartridge. I'd suggest calling someone at Audio Advisor or Music Direct to get their opinion on which Creek phono stage would match best with your cartridge (either the OBH-8SE or OBH-9SE for a little more than $300 each). They are high quality for the price. Some receivers and pre-amps no longer come with even a moving magnet compatible phono stage--shameful!!

    Still, if you have your own phono pre-amp, you can just run it into any spare analog audio input and experience beautiful sounds from your vinyl.
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    If that's a real real old Ortofon, why not pick up on a new moving magnet type?
     
  10. greg_t

    greg_t Screenwriter

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    Mark,

    I'm close to going for the MusicHall MMF7, and was wondering if you could post your impressions of it, and if you bought yours locally or over the net, how difficult was the setup,etc. Any info is appreciated. Thanks.
     
  11. Cynthia Binder

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    Thanks for the input everyone!

    Chu, maybe I am mis-informed, but I always thought that MC was better than MM. At least that's what my local dealer in Sioux City, IA used to tell me.

    I seem to remember that when I replaced the turntable in '93 due to lightening, they told me the cartridge that I had on the original turntable was better than anything they currently had available and that's why I just got another stylus.

    Let me know if I am wrong on the MC vs the MM, and if so what MM cartridge would be good.

    BTW -- anyone have any experience with that B&K Phono 10 unit. Supposedly you can record the albums to CD with it. Is this unique?

    Thanks!
    Cynthia
     
  12. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well I don't know about being mis-informed Cynthia but dealers and specialized manufacturers and afficianados are not always the place for unbiased, accurate information.

    The MC/MM is but one of many audio debates that're out there with no clear-cut winners. The things is, once one's made a commitment to go into one particular camp, a process of self-justification occurs and often people surround themselves with others of the same beliefs. Some beliefs are solidly grounded. Others are based on wishful thinking and about speculation of situations that'll never occur. I look at it in many ways as Ford/Chevy debates.

    The thing about cartridges, all of them, is that they don't all extract information from vinyl identically. Some emphasize amplitude more than gathering information from the side walls of the groove. Construction differences will result in greater or lesser amounts of crosstalk or ability to discern information contained within the grooves. Some tend to be more picky about what capacitance load they're seeing. It all boils down to that it's entirely reasonable to expect different cartridges from different manufacturers to have differernt sonic characteristics. And given that those differences occur within both the MC & MM camps, I find it supremely difficult to argue for one over the other.

    However one can argue that MC will invariably require an additional amp and that will raise your total cost of ownership. Also MC tends to be pricier than MM although one can find preposterously priced versions of both. It boggles my mind that their costs can and do exceed the price of a top of the line Athlon or Pentium chip.

    My reasoning for you to consider a MM design is based on a couple of factors. First, your existing cartridge, is a decade old. Even if not played, it's entirely reasonable to assume that there's been degeneration of the elastomers, rubbers, and assorted components within the cartridge. Quite likely, time and environmental exposure has resulted in stiffening or excessive compliance of these materials. It really depends on the nature of the elastomer how that's going to go. Nonetheless, whatever tolerances the manufacturer (Ortofon) once established as resulting in acceptable performance are likely no longer met. Hence, it seems reasonable that a replacement cartridge ought to be somewhere on your to-do or to-buy list. Secondly, the MC will require a pre pre-amp or whatever people want to call it. That's going to cost a bit and I think if you decide you're going to go that way, then it may be prudent for you to consider devices that include the ability to vary capacitance and resistance loading as well as determining if that particular unit has a record of noise or hum. EMI/RFI shielding of these components can and do vary. Some say one can take precautions against that. Of course. I say one is dealing with a marginally designed unit.

    Just some food for thought. Bon appetit!
     
  13. Mark All

    Mark All Second Unit

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  14. greg_t

    greg_t Screenwriter

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    Thats for the info Mark. I have a Pioneer Elite 49TXi which has a built in preamp, I'll check the owners manual for some specs on it. I'll also do some reading on Audio Asylum. Thanks again.

    Greg
     

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