modest turntable preamp suggestions (tube?) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 07-15-2014, 06:53 AM - Thread Starter
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modest turntable preamp suggestions (tube?)

I have a very modest turntable setup, and I got a Yamaha receiver a couple weeks back new for dirt cheap. I like it's features and sound with CDs, but the phono stage leaves much to be desired. When I did an A-B comparison between a CD and a clean copy of the same album on vinyl, I found the CD to be much more enjoyable - volume notwithstanding.

So I'm thinking of getting a turntable preamp for an AUX input to bypass the Yamaha's phono input.

Details:
  • Amp: Yamaha R-S500
  • Turntable: Pioneer PL-S50
  • TT cartridge: Shure M97xE
  • speakers: Advent Legacy III
Music listened to: Mostly early to mid 70s hard and prog rock, and some light rock, classic jazz, and blues.


Any suggestions for a phono preamp that's not overkill that would bring out the Shure cart better than the Yamaha?

A friend suggested a nice, low-end tube amp like the Bellari VP130. I love the idea of adding a warm, vintage sound to this setup, but unfamiliar with tube setups. My fear is this preamp wouldn't drive the Yamaha enough and I would have to turn the main up beyond it's comfortable level to get good volume.

Another thought is the NAD PP2e. Seems simple, has auto-shutoff, and has good reviews. Would this make more sense with the rest of the system?

Or would I really be best with a simple "Rolls" Bellari VP-29 or other Rega, Pro-Ject, or Music Hall box for around $100?

I would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions - thanks!

EDIT: cut to the chase - I ordered the Musical Fidelity V90-LPS. Review forthcoming.

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post #2 of 21 Old 07-15-2014, 07:14 AM
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The cambridge phonos are decent, I dont know the number but the series is azur and they are around 125.. Emotiva makes one that I have heard and works well xps-1 $150, as far as tube pre amps go, if you already prefer cd quality audio adding tubes to the mix may make it worse for you... I have a project table with a carver tube amp and while it sounds decent IMO it doesn't compare with the system my son has in his bedroom which is a $70 blu ray player and a lepai 2020 amplifier as far as sq and clarity are concerned, now for retro feel and look, sure its awesome, but for strict sound quality do your self a favor and don't compare what you hear in a cd to an old record...
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post #3 of 21 Old 07-15-2014, 07:21 AM - Thread Starter
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The cambridge phonos are decent, I dont know the number but the series is azur and they are around 125.. Emotiva makes one that I have heard and works well xps-1 $150, as far as tube pre amps go, if you already prefer cd quality audio adding tubes to the mix may make it worse for you... I have a project table with a carver tube amp and while it sounds decent IMO it doesn't compare with the system my son has in his bedroom which is a $70 blu ray player and a lepai 2020 amplifier as far as sq and clarity are concerned, now for retro feel and look, sure its awesome, but for strict sound quality do your self a favor and don't compare what you hear in a cd to an old record...
Thanks for the thoughts and ideas! I'll add the Cambridge Audio Azure 551P to the list of possibilities.
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post #4 of 21 Old 07-15-2014, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by DaverJ View Post
I have a very modest turntable setup, and I got a Yamaha receiver a couple weeks back new for dirt cheap. I like it's features and sound with CDs, but the phono stage leaves much to be desired. When I did an A-B comparison between a CD and a clean copy of the same album on vinyl, I found the CD to be much more enjoyable - volume notwithstanding.

So I'm thinking of getting a turntable preamp for an AUX input to bypass the Yamaha's phono input.

Details:
  • Amp: Yamaha R-S500
  • Turntable: Pioneer PL-S50
  • TT cartridge: Shure M97xE
  • speakers: Advent Legacy III
Music listened to: Mostly early to mid 70s hard and prog rock, and some light rock, classic jazz, and blues.


Any suggestions for a phono preamp that's not overkill that would bring out the Shure cart better than the Yamaha?

A friend suggested a nice, low-end tube amp like the Bellari VP130. I love the idea of adding a warm, vintage sound to this setup, but unfamiliar with tube setups. My fear is this preamp wouldn't drive the Yamaha enough and I would have to turn the main up beyond it's comfortable level to get good volume.

Another thought is the NAD PP2e. Seems simple, has auto-shutoff, and has good reviews. Would this make more sense with the rest of the system?

Or would I really be best with a simple "Rolls" Bellari VP-29 or other Rega, Pro-Ject, or Music Hall box for around $100?

I would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions - thanks!
Shure cartriges are notoriously sensitive to proper capacitive loading. Any preamp that addresses that need with the caveat that you actually systematically tune that loading will sound head and shoulders above the rest.

http://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/shure_m97xe_e.html

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post #5 of 21 Old 07-15-2014, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Update - I asked the Sales dept. at Needle Doctor for a recommendation. They said they recently tested various phono preamps, and the Musical Fidelity V90-LPS was the "clear winner" and would work great with the Shure.

Based on this, I think the V90-LPS is now top of the list.
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post #6 of 21 Old 07-15-2014, 05:02 PM
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fwiw, for around $50 the art dj pre II phono amp is quite good it replaced my Cambridge 550.i bought it a few years ago to use with my avr when my 70's technics intregrated amp went in for repairs to use my Yamaha yp801 tt (with shure m97xe cart.at the time.
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i'm so laid back,i'm laid out
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post #7 of 21 Old 07-15-2014, 07:50 PM
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Looking forward to your impressions with the Musical Fidelity!
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post #8 of 21 Old 07-16-2014, 06:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaverJ View Post
Update - I asked the Sales dept. at Needle Doctor for a recommendation. They said they recently tested various phono preamps, and the Musical Fidelity V90-LPS was the "clear winner" and would work great with the Shure.

Based on this, I think the V90-LPS is now top of the list.
No surprise the dealer recommended one of the more expensive items in its class. A quick look at its documentation

http://www.musicalfidelity.com/uploa...LPS_manual.pdf

shows it to be brain dead when it comes to addressing the capacitive loading needs of your Shure cartridge.

Yup, you got the Doctor's treatment - Doctor Ben Dover!

Looking at their own stock list, it looks like this one would be better:

Pro-Ject Phono Box S Phono Preamp

The user manual:

http://www.project-audio.com/inhalt/..._phonoboxs.pdf

Shows a switchable facility for optimizing that critical proper capacitive loading of your Shure cartridge. And, it only costs a little bit less!
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post #9 of 21 Old 07-16-2014, 08:12 AM
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The cambridge phonos are decent,
I also read the subjective reviews which praised this product as 'value for money'. So I bought an Azur 640P.

Was never very happy with it and when I put some metering on it I could see why. It's surprisingly noisy.

I printed off my evidence and the manager at the shop I bought it from gave me a replacement to try no quibble. He did say that it was possible they were all the same and so it proved. So now I use an ART which is much better and has more features for less money.

To be fair CA have released a new version with 'improved power supply' So maybe it's fixed now.

If you intend to ever get a MC cartridge be warned. You need a preamp with transformers inside otherwise it will be very noisy indeed. Since transformers themselves cost ~$75 you are unlikely to find anyone willing to put them in a box for you for less than $600.
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post #10 of 21 Old 07-16-2014, 08:18 AM
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I have a late-model Rega P-3 turntable and always wanted a tube amp for it with the tubes exposed just for the coolness factor. But I end up buying receivers with a phono-amp built in (fewer and fewer these days) and they do just fine for a lot less coin. But some people have money to burn; you find a lot of them on AVS.
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post #11 of 21 Old 07-16-2014, 08:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by archiguy View Post
I have a late-model Rega P-3 turntable and always wanted a tube amp for it with the tubes exposed just for the coolness factor. But I end up buying receivers with a phono-amp built in (fewer and fewer these days) and they do just fine for a lot less coin. But some people have money to burn; you find a lot of them on AVS.
I hear you.

My 2-channel Yahama reciever has phono-in, but I'm not very happy with the sound from that input. I'm hoping the issue is a low-quality phono amp in the receiver, but of course it might (more likely?) be my turntable and/or cartridge. I had to start somewhere, and the thought of a tube amp was exciting, but eventually decided against tubes. Hopefully this Musical Fidelity preamp will do the trick.

We'll see.
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post #12 of 21 Old 07-16-2014, 06:19 PM
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I don't think they are going to recommend a bad performing preamp and thus ruin a potential repeat customer, and they are a dealer with a good rep.
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post #13 of 21 Old 07-16-2014, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post
No surprise the dealer recommended one of the more expensive items in its class. A quick look at its documentation

http://www.musicalfidelity.com/uploa...LPS_manual.pdf

shows it to be brain dead when it comes to addressing the capacitive loading needs of your Shure cartridge.

Yup, you got the Doctor's treatment - Doctor Ben Dover!

Looking at their own stock list, it looks like this one would be better:

Pro-Ject Phono Box S Phono Preamp

The user manual:

http://www.project-audio.com/inhalt/..._phonoboxs.pdf

Shows a switchable facility for optimizing that critical proper capacitive loading of your Shure cartridge. And, it only costs a little bit less!
If you look at the Shure as with *most* MM cartridges, they provide the smoothest HF response with lowest loading. There are a few exceptions but in general a MM phono preamp shouldn't add any additional loading so adjustability is of little use. Getting a system down to 125 pf to 150 pf is about as low as you can get when you add in the tonearm wire, interconnect cable etc. For a high quality, affordable phono preamp, I would suggest a Hagerman Bugle 2.

As far as the Bellari VP130, it's a Rolls with a tube thrown in. And as I recall, the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. All the heavy work is still done by the Rolls with the tube just messing stuff u . Don't bother with tubes unless you are willing to spend some $$$ or go build a kit. There are some good tube phono stage kits out there.

Greg
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post #14 of 21 Old 07-17-2014, 05:17 AM
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If you look at the Shure as with *most* MM cartridges, they provide the smoothest HF response with lowest loading.
What about this?

http://www.tnt-audio.com/gif/shure_m...f_response.gif



This is IME pretty typical for the cartridge involved. This was already posted once in this thread.

In case you are color blind, the response curve with the lowest capacitive loading is the green line which starts rolling off at 2 KHz. This roll off makes the cartridge sound somewhat dark and muted. I've only had about a half dozen different Shure cartridges over the years and noted this again and again.

The blue line which represents modest capacitive loading seems to be the smoothest.

I agree that there are other MM cartridges such as some of the Grados that don't need added capacitance, but that's not the question that the OP asked.
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post #15 of 21 Old 07-17-2014, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post
What about this?

http://www.tnt-audio.com/gif/shure_m...f_response.gif



This is IME pretty typical for the cartridge involved. This was already posted once in this thread.

In case you are color blind, the response curve with the lowest capacitive loading is the green line which starts rolling off at 2 KHz. This roll off makes the cartridge sound somewhat dark and muted. I've only had about a half dozen different Shure cartridges over the years and noted this again and again.

The blue line which represents modest capacitive loading seems to be the smoothest.

I agree that there are other MM cartridges such as some of the Grados that don't need added capacitance, but that's not the question that the OP asked.
Perhaps, to my eyes, the green response looks the best but really, none of them look all that good IMO. The problem with the Music Fidelity is that they don't publish the capacitance wtf? I would have gone with the Project as well. At it's lowest setting of 100pf, you would get a total system capacitance of about 200 to 250pf. If the Music Fidelity is fixed at 100 pf, the OP should be fine as well but who knows?

Greg
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post #16 of 21 Old 07-18-2014, 08:41 AM
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The problem with the Music Fidelity is that they don't publish the capacitance wtf?

This problem is endemic in the analog domain, and reflects the intersection of vinylphilia and subjectivist know-nothingism. Because everything is best evaluated by ear, there is no need for measurements, and no pressure on manufacturers to provide them.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #17 of 21 Old 07-18-2014, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post
The problem with the Music Fidelity is that they don't publish the capacitance wtf?

This problem is endemic in the analog domain, and reflects the intersection of vinylphilia and subjectivist know-nothingism. Because everything is best evaluated by ear, there is no need for measurements, and no pressure on manufacturers to provide them.
That's going a bit far. I was in the market for a new phono stage 6 months ago and after several months of researching, I didn't see a single phono stage manufacturer that didn't list the loading specs. I'm shocked as hell that Music Fidelity doesn't. Maybe it was just an oversight that a simple email would clear up.

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Well then I'll have to plead guilty of extrapolating from a sample of one.

There is, though, a dearth of attention to the capacitive loading issue. This thread is a rarity. In most cases, cartridges and phono preamps get recommended pretty much willy-nilly. Perhaps that's OK if, as you said earlier, most carts work best with the low loading supplied by most preamps. I wouldn't mind seeing some documentation of that, however.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #19 of 21 Old 07-21-2014, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, the Musical Fidelity V90-LPS showed today.

My initial impressions are very positive - much richer and clearer than the Yahama's phono input, and I don't have to turn the amp up nearly as loud to get volume, which cuts down on distortion.

I flipped through a couple records, loud and soft, acoustic and electric, and was pleased to get the full sound on all that I was originally hoping to get just from the Yahama. Now it seems the turntable's Shure cartridge and this Musical Fidelity preamp are outclassing my vintage Advent speakers, but that's a problem for another day.

Overall - I might have spent more than I should have, but at least it seems the money went toward a quality product, and one that I'm happy with.
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post #20 of 21 Old 07-21-2014, 09:43 PM
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The problem with the Music Fidelity is that they don't publish the capacitance wtf?
An earlier version of the Musical Fidelity (the V-LPS) was measured by a German audio magazine at slightly less than 80 pF IIRC. The current version is probably similar. Official specs from the manufacturer would certainly be preferred!
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post #21 of 21 Old 07-22-2014, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by DaverJ View Post
I have a very modest turntable setup, and I got a Yamaha receiver a couple weeks back new for dirt cheap. I like it's features and sound with CDs, but the phono stage leaves much to be desired. When I did an A-B comparison between a CD and a clean copy of the same album on vinyl, I found the CD to be much more enjoyable - volume notwithstanding.

So I'm thinking of getting a turntable preamp for an AUX input to bypass the Yamaha's phono input.

Details:
  • Amp: Yamaha R-S500
  • Turntable: Pioneer PL-S50
  • TT cartridge: Shure M97xE
  • speakers: Advent Legacy III
Music listened to: Mostly early to mid 70s hard and prog rock, and some light rock, classic jazz, and blues.


Any suggestions for a phono preamp that's not overkill that would bring out the Shure cart better than the Yamaha?

A friend suggested a nice, low-end tube amp like the Bellari VP130. I love the idea of adding a warm, vintage sound to this setup, but unfamiliar with tube setups. My fear is this preamp wouldn't drive the Yamaha enough and I would have to turn the main up beyond it's comfortable level to get good volume.

Another thought is the NAD PP2e. Seems simple, has auto-shutoff, and has good reviews. Would this make more sense with the rest of the system?

Or would I really be best with a simple "Rolls" Bellari VP-29 or other Rega, Pro-Ject, or Music Hall box for around $100?

I would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions - thanks!

EDIT: cut to the chase - I ordered the Musical Fidelity V90-LPS. Review forthcoming.
Highly recommend Vincent audio PHO 8 separate power supply and a great unit.
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