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Troubleshooting new system (Line Magnetic, Davone, Dynavector)

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi all --

So about three months ago, I decided to gut my entire home audio system and start again. My goal was to create a system geared primarily to vinyl.

After a *lot* of listening sessions in various shops around NYC, a fair amount of reading and a lot of gut checking, I went (mostly) big.

Here's what I ended up with:

- Line Magnetic LM218IA amplifier
- Davone Ray speakers
- Dynavector P75 MKIII phono pre-amp
- Debut Project III
- Nagaoka MP200 cartridge

The Project turntable and the Nagaoka cartridge were inherited from my previous system. I kept them because it wasn't in the budget at the time to upgrade the turntable and cartridge as well.

The reason I'm writing is because the highs of this system are so punchy and so pronounced that I'm experiencing almost instant ear fatigue when I listen to any kind of music that has a pronounced sparkle. Most jazz, some rock and certain kinds of electronic music are so sheeny and bright and punchy they're almost unlistenable.

This issue is helped greatly by switching out the P75 MKIII with my old Cambridge Audio 640p preamp, but this also causes me to lose a lot of wanted definition and punchiness as well. (I can objectively tell that the MKIII has a far greater presence -- it's just TOO pronounced sometimes.)

But in a general sense, even with the 640p in the loop, I feel like this system is a bit too pronounced on the high end when I listen to vinyl.

My question is whether any more experienced hi-fi people on this board might be able to spot intuitively where some of my issues are coming from, whether it's because of a mismatch of certain items, an inferior table, etc.

FYI I'm strongly considering upgrading my table to a Well Tempered Amadeus. Haven't decided on a cartridge yet, but am instinctively trying to veer more to cartridges that seem to add bass and midrange.

As a corollary to my question, and as a bit of a beginner when it comes to serious hi-fi, I'm also really interested in any tools/resources that anyone can point me to that helps troubleshoot sound quality more scientifically. Is there a generally accepted practice for assessing the output of a hi-fi system like this?

Anyway, thanks in advance for reading and for any advice you can offer. I should stress that I'm mostly over the moon with this system about 80% of the time; it's just that 20% that has me feeling like I could be doing something better.

(And yes, before anyone asks, the MKIII is set up correctly.)

post #2 of 7
There are two possibilities that occur to me.

1) You may have a bad tube or tubes that are not performing well. The only way to tell is replace them with new ones. But this should be the same all the time, with all sources, so that's probably not it...lol.

2) A different phono preamp might be an improvement. The Musical Fidelity V-LPS II is only $200 and is one of the best for under $1000 IMO. It is excellent. I have a $3000 Audio Research phono stage in one system, and the V-LPS is nearly as good in the other system. It's a winner.

I feel that the Dynavector Phono preamp is very idiosyncratic and might be a mismatch to your cartridge. The fact that the Cambridge preamp sounds significantly different makes me suspicious.

I would try the V-LPS in your system first. That is an inexpensive unit that will sound very very good in any case.

If you are thinking of a cartridge upgrade, I highly recommend the Benz Micro Ace; it is fabulous.

I have the Music Hall MMF-7 turntable with the Ace cartridge, and it is a wonderful combination.
Edited by commsysman - 1/12/13 at 1:42pm
post #3 of 7
If subbing out the phono pre solves the problem, then I'd either try a different cart or a different phono stage. The two you have may not be well matched. I find that the Dyna P75s sounded their best with a LOMC cart with low impedance. That allows you to take full advantage of PE mode.

Is there a possibility of returning the P75 for store credit? I'd try to arrange a home audition of other phono stages if possible. Much more likely to find a dealer wiling to allow you to audition a phono pre at home than a cart. No substitute for a home audition. If no luck arragning one with dealers, maybe try Music Direct, Audio Advisor, Tweek Geek or another online company with a good return policy.

Also, have you played around with VTA? That might also help.
post #4 of 7
The P-75 has an adjustable MM gain function. Have you tried using it?smile.gif
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
commsysman: Thanks for the recommendation but I'm not sure I want to buy another phono stage at this point. My gut is that I'd be better off replacing the cartridge and at least going from MM to MC. I'll check the tubes as well although my gut says they're fine. The Benz Micro Ace looks interesting though..

roscoeii: Subbing out the phono doesn't solve the problem, but it definitely addresses a big part of it. Hence my feeling like the issue is fundamentally about table/cart. I can't even try PE mode with the MM cart I have.. what's VTA?

Class A: Yes, right now I have it set to the normal 40dB mode as 46dB was even more fatiguing
post #6 of 7
VTA is Vertical Tracking angle. Check the company that made your cart and they will give you a specific angle. Most of the time it's 20 degrees. How the needle sits in the groove will affect the sound of your music. Tonearm higher more treble lower more bass. Also w/the tonearm on your TT I would stay away from low output MC carts. Your Tonearm is only 9.5 gms if it's the aluminum tonearm and even less if it's the carbon. This basically means you have a low mass tonearm which will not match up low output MC carts. This will lead to mistracking and loss of detail. Unless your tonearm is 11.5 gms or heavier stick w/MM carts. smile.gif
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Ah right, thanks, that's very helpful. The Project III doesn't do VTA unfortunately..
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