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  1. #1
    Super Wammer TIU's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    I've heard it said that a reasonable budget cartridge on an expensive tonearm and deck will easily outperform an expensive MC cartridge on a reasonable budget tonearm and deck.

    Those who believe in the source first maxim may not agree. I have always thought the cartridge would play the larger part in vinyl reproduction but now I'm not sure. Is the cartridge the last, less important piece of the puzzle to drop in place?
    'The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles.'

  2. #2
    Gufmeister Leonard Smalls's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    I've always found that the TT makes the most difference, usually followed by cart then tonearm..

  3. #3
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    Post imported post

    chicken and egg?

  4. #4
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    Post imported post

    the theory is that i 20 quid audio technica cartridge in a super deck like the sme 30 will sound better than say a van den colibri in a rega planer 3.
    i have never tried it but i'm sure many have.

  5. #5
    Super Dooper Wammer rockmeister's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    the cart makes the most difference to the sound, but as has been said, you'll only hear 30% of a £2000 cart in a £20 arm, but %99 of a cheap cartridge in a £2000 arm. Why not just buy an arm that is good enough to do justice to any cart you might afford in the future?
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    still just watching clouds

  6. #6
    Super Wammer TIU's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Easier said than done rocky? I am starting to think that your first statement is not true. The rest of the TT plays a bigger, more crucial part? Certainly has more influence than a cdp casing over its transport and DAC. Maybe the answer is to buy one of those older Thorens or Garrard decks (which used to be unreachable high end when new) with standard arm fitting and invest in the best tonearm you can afford, and then look at the cart?

    Think about it, almost all carts, even £50 ones will quote a full frequency range of 20kHz to 20Hz and beyond. It's what is done with it that counts.

    How many members have posted for advice on which cart to upgrade to in order to upgrade their TT when in actual fact they should be upgrading their tonearm instead for a much bigger improvement? This is true if we are to believe Rudi's comment above, which seems to make sense.

    It has got me thinking, hmmm.....
    'The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles.'

  7. #7
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    Post imported post

    While it's not perfect, the RB250/300 is good enough to let almost any cartridge do its stuff mechanically and is perhaps the cheapest available 'proper' arm.

    You'd need to be using a pretty decent TT to really get the benefit of something better armwise.

    I'd even say that once you'd got such a TT then you could use a fairly exotic cartridge (and rest of system) before that arm started to become a limiting factor.

    Once upon a time cheap arms really weren't very good but that's not the case now.

  8. #8
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    Post imported post

    I don't know if this will help sort it out in your mind.

    A bad turntable (note I didn't say a cheap one) will fnark everything up no matter what arm/cart combo you put on it. Ditto the arm.

    Think of the arm and turntable just as a platform which will (or won't) enable a cartridge to show what it is capable of. Assuming that the cart is a good match with the arm in terms of resonance.

    If you have a good solid and stable platform the cartridgeif itsreasonably competent will sound good ... a better cartridge will however sound better But only if you got to first base with the TT and arm in the first place.

    There's a lot more than quoted frequency range figures - tracking, compliance, stylus shape, tip mass, resonance characteristics ... after all most amps and speakers also will quote at least 20Hz to 20kHz ... they don't all perform equally well.

  9. #9
    Super Wammer TIU's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    I understand fully what you are saying Uncle Ants and Murray, but this is the part I'm puzzled over.

    If you have a good solid and stable platform the cartridge assuming its reasonably competent will sound good ... a better cartridge will however sound better. But only if you got to first base with the TT and arm in the first place.
    This is what I thought but I'm now questioning this belief (slightly). For example, you have a standard Rega P3 with the good quality RB300 arm, or whatever Rega supply with it, and you want to make a first upgrade. What do most owners do first? Upgrade the cart when in actual fact they should be keeping the supplied cart and upgrading the tonearm for a much better improvement. I'm just questioning the importance of the cart over the tonearm, that's all. I do agree that a better cart on a good solid deck with a quiet motor will reap dividends but not as much as a better tonearm. I won't quote any frequency range figures again as I agree they're mostly meaningless.
    'The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles.'

  10. #10
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    Post imported post

    murray johnson wrote:
    While it's not perfect, the RB250/300 is good enough to let almost any cartridge do its stuff mechanically and is perhaps the cheapest available 'proper' arm.

    You'd need to be using a pretty decent TT to really get the benefit of something better armwise.

    I'd even say that once you'd got such a TT then you could use a fairly exotic cartridge (and rest of system) before that arm started to become a limiting factor.

    Once upon a time cheap arms really weren't very good but that's not the case now.
    yep the rega is a super arm. 95% an sme v without sme v prices.

  11. #11
    Super Dooper Wammer rockmeister's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    sorry TIU, I didn't see the 'deck' part of your comment...just cart vs arm. NATCH as an owner of a (ok I'll shut up) I'd say more or less what uncle ants said, and I agree with Murray about modern arms, but there are plenty of awful arms from pre 1990 fitted to quite decent decks (with thorens, for example, being guilty...I owned one on a 150Mk11 ..luvly deck...good sound, but the arm was el crapola). I tend to agree too that there is a big synergy thing going on here...compliance is vital, but sounds must work together too musnt they, just as dry amp/cd/speakers will drive you insane (unless you like that sort of thing), so will clean forward cart/ neutral arm and cold detailed deck....shiver).

    So look for a good manufacturer or a dealer who has taken the trouble to try and put sympathetic kit together, and tune to taste with cart. Always worked for me, but then I got a good deck....:minikiev:
    still just watching clouds

  12. #12
    Founding Wammer kingsxfan's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    I've found that the actual TT makes a big difference. I'd never have though except it was really very obvious when I went from my standard Orbe to the modified one, night and day improvement with the same arm and cart.

  13. #13
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    Post imported post

    TIU wrote:
    For example, you have a standard Rega P3 with the good quality RB300 arm, or whatever Rega supply with it, and you want to make a first upgrade. What do most owners do first? Upgrade the cart when in actual fact they should be keeping the supplied cart and upgrading the tonearm for a much better improvement.
    Because they want to upgrade, not buy a better deck. The weak link in the P3/RB300 combination probably isn't the arm relatively speaking. If you wanted to totally maximise the performance of a competent but relatively budget cartridge, you would keep the RB300 and buy a better deck ... but for most people that isn't an attractive proposition.

    Besides the P3 is fairly competent in itself, its not like an upgrade from say a Goldring Elektra to a 1042 isn't something you will notice, you will - and for a lot less than the price of a new tt. Upgrading the cart is effective and cheaper.

  14. #14
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    Post imported post

    I have messed about with a few decks over the years, and would say that its deck>arm>cart. You can put a better cart on a less good arm, but not get all it can do, or stick a less 'good' cart on the better arm and get much more from it it.
    There is also the point to bear in mind, that in theory the deck and are a long term hardware investment, and a cart is replaceable software. i.e. when buying a deck/arm set up, if you have to save anywhere save on the cart, you can replace that easily later.
    Music is an outburst of the soul

  15. #15
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    Post imported post

    Strange that I was thinking about this today whilst driving to work.

    I ended up with cart,deck,arm but I can't remember why. Will think about it again.

  16. #16
    Super Wammer TIU's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    "deck>arm>cart".
    I always thought an arm was simply a carrier of wire and the means to getting the stylus onto the record. If it's a hollow tube with wire running through it, how does it influence sound and why is it important to get right?

    Maybe I should read up on the subject a bit more before posting but I'm only questioning the cart first idea that most people seem to have.
    'The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles.'

  17. #17
    Administrator Hawk's Avatar
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    Post imported post


    Just asked in the other thread, but heres a related question...

    SME 10 + SME V + 3K cart

    Or

    SME 20 + SME V + 1K cart

    and why?

  18. #18
    Gufmeister Leonard Smalls's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Hawk wrote:
    Just asked in the other thread, but heres a related question...

    SME 10 + SME V + 3K cart

    Or

    SME 20 + SME V + 1K cart

    and why?
    Neither

    Nouvelle Platine Verdier, Morch up6 and Clearaudio concerto cart at around £4.5k will outperform both. The full magnetic bearing Verdier would do even better for £2k-ish more..

    But then I don't like the SME 10 - too flat for me, bit too hifi..

    Or even Coolgales' Clearaudio Maximum Solution ex-dem at just over £2k - cracking TT and very similar to my Revolution!

  19. #19
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    Post imported post

    If the question is which change makes the biggest improvement in the sound, my view would be

    1 Turntable
    2 Cartridge
    3 Arm

    Although the thing we haven't considered yet is the relative cost of improving each bit. Let's say it costs £500 to upgrade to another tuntable. Would the £500 spent a on the cartridge give a bigger improvement? Probably yes .... but then you're committed to spending another £600-700 every few years to maintain that sound quality.

    It's a great question .... but the answer for me is it's in the 'hard box'.

    It's almost like a variation on the 'mullet' question
    I don\'t want anymore, thank you

  20. #20
    Super Wammer TIU's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Not sure Hawk but you arrange the audition and I'll sell all of my disposable organs to buy the winner. :lmao:

    Seriously I guess the SME 20 but only by a whisker. I should have started a poll.
    'The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles.'

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