Best low-cost MC/MM pre-amp for my DL-110 cart? - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 23 Old 02-28-2015, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Best low-cost MC/MM pre-amp for my DL-110 cart?

Hi

I am looking to give my high-output MC DL-110 cart more oomph so that my LPs can finally compete on a level footing with my CDs. I am not getting enough out my LPs. I don't just mean volume-wise.

At the budget end, I am considering the ART DJPRE II Phono Preamplifier, but I might be able to stretch to the $200-ish price point with something like the Pro-Ject Phone Box 2. I'm giving the Japan site for this, but I would guess it's the same worldwide. But would it be worth the investment with my kind of set-up?

I would say that I have an entry-level set-up and probably entry-level 53-year-old ears

TT=Denon DP-500
Integrated Amp=Denon PMA-390RE
Speaker System=Denon SC-CX101-M

Hope someone can advise.
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post #2 of 23 Old 03-01-2015, 04:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecsobar61 View Post
Hi

I am looking to give my high-output MC DL-110 cart more oomph so that my LPs can finally compete on a level footing with my CDs. I am not getting enough out my LPs. I don't just mean volume-wise.

At the budget end, I am considering the ART DJPRE II Phono Preamplifier, but I might be able to stretch to the $200-ish price point with something like the Pro-Ject Phone Box 2. I'm giving the Japan site for this, but I would guess it's the same worldwide. But would it be worth the investment with my kind of set-up?

I would say that I have an entry-level set-up and probably entry-level 53-year-old ears

TT=Denon DP-500
Integrated Amp=Denon PMA-390RE
Speaker System=Denon SC-CX101-M

Hope someone can advise.
Bump.
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post #3 of 23 Old 03-01-2015, 05:32 PM
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Check out the XPS-1 phono stage from Emotiva. Highly regarded and priced at $149.
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post #4 of 23 Old 03-01-2015, 05:40 PM
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Your amp already has a phono pre. What do you envisage changing it to an external is going to do?
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post #5 of 23 Old 03-01-2015, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post
Your amp already has a phono pre. What do you envisage changing it to an external is going to do?
First off, it should let me bring the sound up to the same level as CDs so I can do some A/B-ing, but secondly I've been reading that the phono stages in modern amps are not necessarily the best these days, so I'm just hoping for more character to the sound but it's hit-and-miss, I know.

In case that seems like a weird statement about comparing CDs to LPs: I only recently got just back into vinyl. I love the whole paraphernalia of records but it's obvious that at the entry level, you are not going to hearing anything amazing sonically over CDs. I cannot really perceive myself the tinny/cold vs warm, even better soundstage claims you hear a lot, as much as I want to. But you do hear that certain styli and carts have a certain sound so I want to be able to tap into this.

Last edited by ecsobar61; 03-01-2015 at 06:40 PM.
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post #6 of 23 Old 03-01-2015, 06:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecsobar61 View Post
First off, it should let me bring the sound up to the same level as CDs so I can do some A/B-ing,
Really? How do you know it will? Calculated the gain all the way through? Shouldn't you then be choosing based upon gain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ecsobar61 View Post
but secondly I've been reading that the phono stages in modern amps are not necessarily the best these days, so I'm just hoping for more character to the sound but it's hit-and-miss, I know.
In basic hifi gear, not much has changed. Almost without fail they use the dame textbook 1/2 opamps/ch designs. So don't believe all the audiophile bollocks, especially from those that have no idea how to design one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ecsobar61 View Post
In case that seems like a weird statement about comparing CDs to LPs: I only recently got just back into vinyl. I love the whole paraphernalia of records but it's obvious that at the entry level, you are not going to hearing anything amazing sonically over CDs. I cannot really perceive myself the tinny/cold vs warm, even better soundstage claims you hear a lot, as much as I want to. But you do hear that certain styli and carts have a certain sound so I want to be able to tap into this.
I really don't see the point in this. Masters are different, it's going to be very hard to match levels accurately and synchronisation will likewise be near impossible so useful comparisons are going to be very difficult.

Enjoy your LPs for what they are and spend the money on good titles rather than waste it on a sideways move in another phono pre.
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post #7 of 23 Old 03-01-2015, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post
Enjoy your LPs for what they are and spend the money on good titles rather than waste it on a sideways move in another phono pre.
+1 - I would add - look for first pressings of the title from the country of origin.
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post #8 of 23 Old 03-01-2015, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post
Really? How do you know it will? Calculated the gain all the way through? Shouldn't you then be choosing based upon gain?

In basic hifi gear, not much has changed. Almost without fail they use the dame textbook 1/2 opamps/ch designs. So don't believe all the audiophile bollocks, especially from those that have no idea how to design one.

I really don't see the point in this. Masters are different, it's going to be very hard to match levels accurately and synchronisation will likewise be near impossible so useful comparisons are going to be very difficult.

Enjoy your LPs for what they are and spend the money on good titles rather than waste it on a sideways move in another phono pre.
O.K. I get what you and citizen arcane are saying, though some of the above is a bit technical. I was told that you can set the gain so that it's equal, but at the same time you are right, it's maybe not worth obsessing over this, as I don't know the first thing about physics and hi-fi anyway. At least I do know a bit about which pressings to get, and that's fun.
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post #9 of 23 Old 03-02-2015, 04:59 AM
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Might be worth investing in the ART DJPre in your situation.

As far as I know it's the least expensive RIAA phono pre with an adjustable gain and clip detector.

So you could adjust the gain to max line level and not have to keep adjusting the volume on your amp when swapping between digital and analogue inputs.

Digital will still be 2-3 dB louder because it can and has been more compressed but it's as close as you will get even if you rip the record.
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post #10 of 23 Old 03-02-2015, 07:14 AM
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Many here can give you great advice as to which pre-amp might work best for you.


Low cost, discounted items like a phono pre-amp can be found in many places.
I have purchased some demo items from Audio Advisor http://www.audioadvisor.com/departments.asp?dept=330

Certainly not the last word in the audio world, only a suggestion. Might be a good way to try out a couple of different pre-amps without putting too much hurt on your wallet.

Good luck!

By the way I am not affiliated with Audio Advisor, just a customer.
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post #11 of 23 Old 03-02-2015, 11:48 AM
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Can we assume you mean you have the Denon DL-110 HO-MC Cartridge?

The High Output Moving Coil Cartridge are a bit odd in their output. They do have an output high enough to be used with an MM (moving magnet) input, but the output is very much on the lower end of the spectrum.

However, in contrast, the output is also very high to be used with an MC input. So, you either have to connect to an MM input and accept low output or you have to connect to an MC input as accept very high output.

Here are the typical outputs for various types of cartridge -

MM Standard = 5.0 to 5.5mV
MC Standard = 0.5mV
HO-MC . . . . = 1.6mV

As to the Best PHONO Pre-Amp, that depends on the limits of your budget. The range is from about $100 to about $10,000. You have to determine where in that range you are.

With a budget of $200, you are in the range of common Phono Pre-Amps.

Project makes several, Musical Fidelity makes several, Emotiva tend to be exceptional value and are well worth considering, Cambridge Audio, Rega, etc.... I suspect you will want a Phono Stage that supports both MM and MC so you can determine which works best for you.

http://www.needledoctor.com/Cambridg...category=38984

http://www.needledoctor.com/Pro-Ject...category=35467

http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-S...cal-Fidelity_2

https://emotiva.com/products/pres-and-pros/xps-1

The Emotiva XPS-1 Phono Pre-Amp seems to be the most versatile, but also the one that looks the least like a common audio component.

Steve/bluewizard
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Last edited by bluewizard; 03-04-2015 at 01:31 PM.
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post #12 of 23 Old 03-02-2015, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeightonBeck View Post
Digital will still be 2-3 dB louder because it can and has been more compressed
Ignorant comment. Just because it's in the digital domain, it doesn't mean it has been compressed.
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post #13 of 23 Old 03-02-2015, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post
Ignorant comment. Just because it's in the digital domain, it doesn't mean it has been compressed.

Was he talking about Data Compression or Volume Compression?

Steve/bluewizard
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post #14 of 23 Old 03-03-2015, 08:07 AM
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I use the DL-110 as well, fantastic cart. It's output is high enough to use MM pre's (while still a little quiet), but a little too high for standard MC pre's.

(As previously mentioned,) The Arte DJpre is a nice way to go with adjustable gain, to get it right, for what you're wanting to do.
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post #15 of 23 Old 03-03-2015, 04:02 PM
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Schiit Mani for 129.00 looks to be a good bet as well.
I'm considering this one for my Pioneer PL514/ DL110 combo.
The Rolls vp29 has a fixed gain of about 30db and I'd like to see what a little more
Oomph could do for my system.
http://schiit.com/products/mani
Cheers Mac
Edit: Other things to consider regarding sound quality are: Cartridge alignment with appropriate protractor, VTA, VTF, and head shell weight are a few factors to consider. I used the additional weight that the 110 came with as it is a light cart in the first place. I also played with tracking force/ anti skate a bit before settling on 1.6 grams indicated for both. Ymmv.
Correction- vp 29 has 35 db gain.

Last edited by macddmac; 03-03-2015 at 07:17 PM. Reason: Correction
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post #16 of 23 Old 03-03-2015, 05:06 PM
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I was able to pick up an NAD phono preamp (PP3i) used for about $75 (I think), and have been very happy with it, but only using the MM setting, and as this is my first TT set up, I don't have anything to compare it to except friend's set ups, so that's hardly double blind or unbiased.

Hopefully I can piggy back on this thread and not derail it. Anyway, I have been thinking of upgrading to a HOMC cart, specifically the DL-110, but am confused by comments here that it's output is "too high" for standard MC preamps. What would be the downside of hooking up HO MC cart to my Preamp switched to the MC setting? Wouldn't I just not need to turn up the volume as loud? As it is (I have an old Goldring Elan MM cart on a Revolver Rebel TT), I have to turn my records up to -18.0 to -14.0 to get a normal playback level. Even higher to really jam out, which is much higher than streaming or CD.

Just looking for some education so I'm not unhappy with a not so small purchase down the road. Thanks.
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post #17 of 23 Old 03-03-2015, 08:01 PM
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Here's a good thread on VE regarding gain
http://www.vinylengine.com/turntable...p+gain#p609269
Cheers, Mac
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post #18 of 23 Old 03-04-2015, 01:38 PM
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The ART DJ-PRE II might have some advantages, and priced at a very modest $50 -

http://www.samash.com/art-dj-pre-ii-...eamp-adjpreiix

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/deta...FZE0aQodfg8ANg

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Art-DJPr...81-i1125078.gc

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-a...-phono-preamp?

http://www.zzounds.com/item--ARTDJPR...FQwtaQodOGQA3w


If the volume dial can be trusted it can both Cut and Boost the output of the Pre-Amp. But it seems made for an MM type cartridge. Though the Denon DL-101 is a high output and should be compatible. With the gain from the Pre-Amp, you should be able to bring the level up to that of a standard MM cartridge.

That said, you have to wonder why this cost $50 and others cost closer to $200?

So, you have to use some judgement on whether the ART DJ-PRE II is right for you. The spec look good, noise is low, frequency response is accurate. But again, that particular device is a judgement only you can make.

Steve/bluewizard
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Last edited by bluewizard; 03-04-2015 at 01:43 PM.
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post #19 of 23 Old 03-15-2015, 11:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewizard View Post
Can we assume you mean you have the Denon DL-110 HO-MC Cartridge?

The High Output Moving Coil Cartridge are a bit odd in their output. They do have an output high enough to be used with an MM (moving magnet) input, but the output is very much on the lower end of the spectrum.

However, in contrast, the output is also very high to be used with an MC input. So, you either have to connect to an MM input and accept low output or you have to connect to an MC input as accept very high output.

Here are the typical outputs for various types of cartridge -

MM Standard = 5.0 to 5.5mV
MC Standard = 0.5mV
HO-MC . . . . = 1.6mV

As to the Best PHONO Pre-Amp, that depends on the limits of your budget. The range is from about $100 to about $10,000. You have to determine where in that range you are.

With a budget of $200, you are in the range of common Phono Pre-Amps.

Project makes several, Musical Fidelity makes several, Emotiva tend to be exceptional value and are well worth considering, Cambridge Audio, Rega, etc.... I suspect you will want a Phono Stage that supports both MM and MC so you can determine which works best for you.

http://www.needledoctor.com/Cambridg...category=38984

http://www.needledoctor.com/Pro-Ject...category=35467

http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-S...cal-Fidelity_2

https://emotiva.com/products/pres-and-pros/xps-1

The Emotiva XPS-1 Phono Pre-Amp seems to be the most versatile, but also the one that looks the least like a common audio component.

Steve/bluewizard
Thanks for the very clear breakdown. I bought the ART simply because I have the lowest budget imaginable so I'll get back and let you know how it's going when I've broken it in.
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post #20 of 23 Old 03-15-2015, 11:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macddmac View Post
Schiit Mani for 129.00 looks to be a good bet as well.
I'm considering this one for my Pioneer PL514/ DL110 combo.
The Rolls vp29 has a fixed gain of about 30db and I'd like to see what a little more
Oomph could do for my system.
http://schiit.com/products/mani
Cheers Mac
Edit: Other things to consider regarding sound quality are: Cartridge alignment with appropriate protractor, VTA, VTF, and head shell weight are a few factors to consider. I used the additional weight that the 110 came with as it is a light cart in the first place. I also played with tracking force/ anti skate a bit before settling on 1.6 grams indicated for both. Ymmv.
Correction- vp 29 has 35 db gain.
Wow, I was advised 2.g for the tonearm weight and 1.5 for the anti-skate but I guess it depends on the type of TT? I tried weighing the arm and cart together but my scale isn't reliable enough.
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post #21 of 23 Old 03-15-2015, 11:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewizard View Post
The ART DJ-PRE II might have some advantages, and priced at a very modest $50 -

http://www.samash.com/art-dj-pre-ii-...eamp-adjpreiix

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/deta...FZE0aQodfg8ANg

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Art-DJPr...81-i1125078.gc

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-a...-phono-preamp?

http://www.zzounds.com/item--ARTDJPR...FQwtaQodOGQA3w


If the volume dial can be trusted it can both Cut and Boost the output of the Pre-Amp. But it seems made for an MM type cartridge. Though the Denon DL-101 is a high output and should be compatible. With the gain from the Pre-Amp, you should be able to bring the level up to that of a standard MM cartridge.

That said, you have to wonder why this cost $50 and others cost closer to $200?

So, you have to use some judgement on whether the ART DJ-PRE II is right for you. The spec look good, noise is low, frequency response is accurate. But again, that particular device is a judgement only you can make.

Steve/bluewizard
Yes, I am beginning to wonder now why I bought it! It's hard to state that there is any difference in sound quality. Ultimately, I am just turning up the main volume knob a little less that I was previously.
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post #22 of 23 Old 03-16-2015, 12:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecsobar61 View Post
Wow, I was advised 2.g for the tonearm weight and 1.5 for the anti-skate but I guess it depends on the type of TT? I tried weighing the arm and cart together but my scale isn't reliable enough.
What do you mean weighing the arm and cart together? You mean the weight at the stylus of the installed cart? Do you have a stylus tracking force gauge? Some antiskate settings may need to be set at a different number than the tracking force measure but you'd have to test it with a test record or via some other method....
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I am using NAD PPI4 with my LOMC Denon DL-301MKII. I went with the NAD so I could try out a LOMC cartridge. What an upgrade. The NAD was about $200. It replaced a Yaquin M-22B tube pre. The NAD sounds much better in my system.

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