terataz

Time to upgrade - weak link in the chain

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Hi all,

it's that time again when you're thinking "what component should i change next??", so I'm here to ask for your expert view on the matter:

WHAT MUSIC I LISTEN THE MOST:

Lots of jazz, classical, occasionally chilled electronic music.

LISTENING HABITS:

3 meters from the speakers, small room, never "banging" volume, but loud enough to fill the room. Serious listening via vinyl, Spotify for the everyday.

WHAT I LOOK FOR:

More dept of sound, more live, stage and natural sound... basically the same as always : "make that record sound like a live performance"

BUDGET:

I'd like to stay all in all around £600-£700, second hand equipment to maximize value.

Back to you. Have a look at my setup on my profile and suggest me what should I upgrade next .

Thanks!

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I would say cartridge and phono stage.

I am always surprised how many people suggest a 2M blue as actually sounding 'good' - its far from it, analytical but not detailed, quite lifeless with a narrow soundstage=, 'budget german' is the best way to describe it! A VW Golf 1.4 Hatchback. Reliable, cheap. I'd go as far as saying you might like an MC sound given the description as to what you are after. lots of decent budget MC's about like a Denon 110.

You could also try a nice valve phonostage like a Croft or Icon, or even a non valve Heed Quasar (match it with a warm sounding cart though), that will definitely give you a more atmospheric real world sound.

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If you are using the stock Techie arm think about changing that. The stock one is a bits rubbish imo.

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Super Wammer

I too have the SL1210 Mk2 and have thought about an arm change. Would you suggest say a Rega ? and what do you think the differences would be ? I am stuck with using a MM cart at the present time. (rega Elys 2) . I did change the mat on mine to a (Funk Firm Achromat) and that seems to be a good upgrade along with a Mitchell Clamp.

Alan

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I too have the SL1210 Mk2 and have thought about an arm change. Would you suggest say a Rega ? and what do you think the differences would be ? I am stuck with using a MM cart at the present time. (rega Elys 2) . I did change the mat on mine to a (Funk Firm Achromat) and that seems to be a good upgrade along with a Mitchell Clamp.

Alan

Hello Alan. Some say Regas don't go well with 1210's but I cannot understand why. They certainly should work with a wider range of cartridges. The nicest arm I used on one with an mm cartridge was an early Hadcock. I quite like unipivots.

Edit: New mats are a must. Michell clamps are brilliant and not much money.

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The best bang for the buck will be some room treatments , a bit of diffusion and absorption at the 1st refection points if you can , a bass trap or 2 .. some absorption behind the sitting position.

This is generic advice tho..post a pic of the room/system

The room is what mangles the good signal your speakers get.

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Hi Francesco

Looks like you have some decent speakers there. Never heard of your amp though. If I may say so, I would not be in a hurry to change your phono stage. My admittedly small knowledge on the subject is that good bang for the buck can be had upgrading a Moving Coil stage but less so when you have a Moving Magnet variety.

Where I feel I do have expertise is with the SL1200 turntable - having upgraded two of them, one to very high specification. One of the fabulous things about the SL1200 family is its upgradability. It is a pretty decent deck straight up but improvements can be made to the platter, mat, clamp, bearing, power supply, internal electronics, feet, headshell, whole tonearm (including mounting plate), internal chassis, feet, isolation, wiring. What is more you can do these one at a time and in my experience some of the better upgrades are the cheapest.

The way to look at it is from an absolute basics point of view. What is intended to be achieved by a turntable: (1) Accurate spinning, (2) avoidance / amelioration or the many vibrations, (3) a good platform for your tonearm (4) which in turn is a good platform for your cartridge.

In my opinion - and others differ - the relative importance is (1) Turntable (2) Tonearm (3) Cartridge. The first thing you should do is fit some quality feet. The go-to feet are Isonoes, but I see CageyH of this parish reports an even better result with Bo!ing feet (made by the Funk Firm). Then a good mat. The platter is a complex subject but does need to be addressed. If you lift your platter out and hold it by the circular magnet and tap it with a spoon you will hear it resonate. This is a total no-no and tells you that there is a problem. The problem is that the resonance in the platter (from the ambiance in the room, vibration from the floor, friction from the bearing, soundwaves from the speakers, hum from the transformer, return vibration from the stylus in the groove) all amplified 10,000 times by the time it hits your speakers is wrong. The Japanese designers decided to attenuate this with a rubber underlay. This was 50% successful at best because (a) rubber is not the best damper, and disappointingly (2) the rubber was applied with glue that was not consistently applied. How do I know this? I have stripped the rubber off five platters and replaced it with either with dynamat or epoxy.

So back to the mat. This will make more difference than with a turntable that uses an acrylic platter so please do not be turned off by negative / neutral comments relating to various mats where they cover acrylic / delrin / POM etc platters.

Of course you could get an aftermarket platter but this is fraught with difficulty. The Funk Firm platter is actually a High End platter but the cost is prohibitive. Mike New in Sydney also sells a platter for the SL1200 but (1) it is overpriced, (2) it is very heavy - think more bearing friction, (3) there have been several reports that it is not level and to my knowledge there has been no report of him correcting that or refunding (4) it is really ugly as the top has not been polished.

The options are to 'get your hands dirty' by doing your own underlay or to get a very high quality mat that with address the vibration of a metal platter. Oyaide appear to have a brilliant solution with the BR-one mat made from butyl - http://www.oyaide.com/ENGLISH/AUDIO/products_category/analog/index.htm (I have a Funk Firm Achromat and Origin Live Mat that are ok.)

Tonearm:

The tonearm is pretty decent. It has good bearings and a truly fabulous VTA adjustment. The arm wand, wiring and headshell are poor. You can upgrade the entire tonearm - Jelco 750 or SME M2-9 are the 'go-to' arms. Actually almost any arm could be an upgrade if you can get a mounting board. I myself run Jelco but if I was doing another SL1200 I would look at a SME M2-9 or an Origin Live. If you upgrade the headshell there is only one option (This will get a hoot of execration from other who have their favourites) but it has to be a Yamamoto Sound HS-1A. Made from ebony. Better than expensive options that I have tried from Technics, Jelco, Oyaide.

You can keep the current tonearm, rewire it and replace the headshell while you put funds to a better cause. PM me for a rewiring with Cardas wire for an option.

I could go on and on but that is probably enough for now.

Good luck with your exciting adventure. (My TT and cartridge and phono stage is definitely better than my Oppo 105 disc spinner.)

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Is the Techie standard? If so, some of the mods Andrei mention are worth looking at.

The arm for me was the biggest improvement, but ymmv depending on the choice of arm.

Cartridge and arm for me. The Jelco 750 is favoured by many.

People don't like Rega on the SL1200 as the arm lift lever is a bit awkward to operate.

My AO RB251 sounded ok though, but losing the easy VTA adjustment and detachable headshell was a pain.

You could try a Hana SH, but that will eat most of your budget. A cheaper alternative with a less analytical sound would be an AT150mlx, MP200 etc. Cartridges are difficult to recommend as the choice is entirely down to

personal taste.

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And don't forget the Jelco 250ST. Dave Cawley really liked this arm when he started the 1200/1210 fettling.

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£500 on new music and £200 on good red wine and single malts. Then move your speakers around a bit until they sound best, sit down, play new music and enjoy a nice chianti......

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I would say cartridge and phono stage.

I am always surprised how many people suggest a 2M blue as actually sounding 'good' - its far from it, analytical but not detailed, quite lifeless with a narrow soundstage=, 'budget german' is the best way to describe it! A VW Golf 1.4 Hatchback. Reliable, cheap. I'd go as far as saying you might like an MC sound given the description as to what you are after. lots of decent budget MC's about like a Denon 110.

You could also try a nice valve phonostage like a Croft or Icon, or even a non valve Heed Quasar (match it with a warm sounding cart though), that will definitely give you a more atmospheric real world sound.

I rate the 2M Blue as an excellent cartridge for it's price and quite capable, and I'm getting the good results through a budget Cambridge pre-amp. You would probably have to spend a minimum of double to get any significant improvement. The Denon is good but it sounds "scaled down" against the 2M Blue. Could you have an arm issue?

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£500 on new music and £200 on good red wine and single malts. Then move your speakers around a bit until they sound best, sit down, play new music and enjoy a nice chianti......

That's the best cure for upgraditus going. Always worth trying new music, you might find a few surprises. I remember meeting a hi-fi enthusiast who had a set up I could only ever dream about, but hadn't bought a new LP for almost 30 years - and guess what? He still wasn't happy with the sound of his set up!

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I would say the speakers, if you want more depth and weight.

:goodone: This! Reading through this thread, I find it hard to believe it has taken this long to suggest.

You have fairly well sorted analogue/digital front ends that are already capable as things stand + a pretty tasty amp, begging for a better/more capable speaker match. Addressing this now will give all round gains for both front ends, which seems better than throwing money at one source.

Yes indeed there could be some big gains to be had by improving arm/p.s./cartridge in the future, but I don't think I'd go too mad until I had more capable speakers that were more in keeping with the amp. You should be able to get summat quite tasty s/hand for your suggested budget, with no need to get mad spendy!

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