Upgrade TT or cart? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 28 Old 10-12-2018, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Upgrade TT or cart?

I have a Music Hall MMF 2.2LE stock running through a Schiit Mani to a Monoprice Hybrid 25w tube pre/SS amp, to a pair of PSB 500s. Sounds pretty good.
Thinking about an Ortofon 2M Blue, but would I be better off with a Project Debut Carbon Espirit with 2M Red or a Rega RP2?
Is the MMF 2.2 ok for the long run or should I really get a better TT and then think about a better cartridge down the road aways?

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post #2 of 28 Old 10-12-2018, 10:27 PM - Thread Starter
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46 views and no input...hopefully someone will chime in.
Thanks for looking.

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post #3 of 28 Old 10-13-2018, 03:24 PM
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Without telling us what aspect of the sound you wish to improve how can we make a recommendation?
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post #4 of 28 Old 10-13-2018, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Without telling us what aspect of the sound you wish to improve how can we make a recommendation?
The sound is not as clear or as full as listening to streaming BT from iTunes on the same Amp/speakers.
It’s like the sound is flat and there is very little soundstage. I have carefully set the weight and made sure the table is leveled.
I ordered a protractor azimuth bundle to check VTA and alignment.

Seems most folks consider the Ortofon 2M blue a big step up from the original cart but I worry I may be chasing upgrades when a new, better table would be a more logical next step, and if so how big does that next step need to be?
The only thing local I can listen to is Rega, it does sound better, but then it is an all Rega setup, phono pre & speakers.
I might try a table from Crutchfield so I can audition it in my setting...do I spend $700, $1k?
Rega 2, Project Debut SB, Music Hall 5.3, Rega 3 with Elys2?

I am hoping worst case is to buy 1 more table and maybe an upgraded cart in a few years and not spend more than $1200-$1500 total, if I have to spend more than that to simply enjoy my vinyl I may bow out and stick to digital.

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post #5 of 28 Old 10-13-2018, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by hdash View Post
if I have to spend more than that to simply enjoy my vinyl I may bow out and stick to digital.
How large of a collection are you talking about theoretically bowing out from, roughly? 10, 100, 1000, or 10000 LPs? If you are just getting started and don't have that many it means one thing, but if you've been collecting them for decades and have a massive library it means another.
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post #6 of 28 Old 10-13-2018, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I have about 500 lps and am just looking for some advice........
Is money better spent on a cartridge upgrade or a table upgrade.

If the mods can close or even delete this thread..I regret taking anyone’s time.
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post #7 of 28 Old 10-13-2018, 07:27 PM
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500 LPs is a sizable investment so simply dumping the format would be a huge loss unless you can resell them.

Phonograph sound quality playback is determined by the following things in roughly this order of importance with the more important things listed first:

The room [including treatments]
The speakers
Their placement and positioning
Room correction technologies such as Audyssey or YPAO, if used.
The condition of the LP records you play including:
- the eccentricity of the spindle hole meaning how well centered it is to the actual groove
- groove wear from use (and the people who owned it before you, if you buy used)
- warps
- the quality of the pressing
- how clean you keep the records (and the people who owned it before you, if you buy used)
The turntable/arm including its
- susceptibility to incipient acoustic feedback [can cause a boominess and murky sound even before it reaches "howl" level]
- speed accuracy
- wow and flutter including from heavy loud groove modulation causing a sudden increase in stylus drag [wavering speed smears imaging among other things]
- motor rumble
- hum
- proper alignment, VTA, and tracking angle
- inner groove distortion
The cartridge including its
- channel separation [determines sound stage width to a large degree]
- distortion
- frequency response into a particular load
The stylus including its
- ability to track loud bass heavy passages without distortion or mis-tracking
- cleanliness
The phono preamp including its
- hiss
- hum
- frequency response

Those are the things that come to mind off the top of my head.

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post #8 of 28 Old 10-14-2018, 08:07 AM
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m.zilch's excellent summary didn't really separate the turntable from the arm. Quite a few people have found that investing in a high quality arm, separately from the turntable, can make a significant improvement in the audio. It'll provide many adjustments for you to optimize, including arm balance and stylus force, in addition to cartridge and stylus alignment.

As with each of the other components in a turntable system, you can spend as much or as little as you can afford.

But don't forget that both the record disc and the stylus are subject to wear over time, each acting like sandpaper on the other. In addition to replacing the cartridge occasionally, keeping your records clean and free of dust is essential for longevity.

This latter problem is one reason why many people make electronic copies of their favorite records, so they can listen to them as often as they want without fear of damage.

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post #9 of 28 Old 10-14-2018, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Selden Ball View Post
m.zilch's excellent summary didn't really separate the turntable from the arm.
True, but at this sort of lower price range (the OP seems to be considering) I'd personally stick to buying an integrated system where the arm is designed and engineered to work optimally by the same team that designed and engineered the main turntable. They work together as a system and although theoretically a consumer can mix and match one to the other, I'd recommend, especially at this price point, that such decisions should be made by specialists who design and integrate these things for a living rather than a hobbyist just getting into this stuff.
---

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This latter problem is one reason why many people make electronic copies of their favorite records, so they can listen to them as often as they want without fear of damage.
Good advice. Another plus to making a copy while the record is still in pristine and unworn condition is that recording sessions can be done with the room sound turned down or completely off so you are guaranteed your LP's playback is 100% free of incipient acoustic feedback distortion. Most people are aware of how if you place a turntable too close to a speaker and turn up the volume (and the bass) the sound and room vibration can re-enter the stylus/cartridge and cause a nasty, loud howling feedback sound akin to microphone feedback, forcing one to keep the volume down and not mount one's turntable on or near the speaker/sub, but what they don't realize is that low levels of this feedback can cause distortion during playback even before it reaches runaway "howl" level especially on the louder passages. It can make the sound "boomy", murky, and seems to exaggerate the turntable's rumble noise. Although there are various ways to attack this feedback by giving the turntable isolation, some more successful than others, the best method is to have no sound in the room at all. That's exactly what you get during a recording session (with the volume turned off) or when listening through headphones.

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".

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post #10 of 28 Old 10-14-2018, 04:08 PM
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I have the MMF 2.2 turntable. I ended up charing the cartridge to the Denon 301mkII. What a difference it made! I also changed out (tried 3 different types) the MM/MC pre-amp to the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS. The Denon cartridge is an MC load, so you need the MC section. I changed to the Pro-Ject from a solid state MC/MM maybe a year or so after changing the cartridge. Another big step forward in sound. I also rolled some different tubes into it.

My amp is the Silk Audio MS-38 which is a customized Yaqin MS-30 with upgraded caps. It is a 40 watt tube integrated amp.

I am running Martin Logan Aeon speakers.

I also wonder what a new table would be like but I am extremely satisfied with the sound I have right now.
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post #11 of 28 Old 10-14-2018, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
True, but at this sort of lower price range (the OP seems to be considering) I'd personally stick to buying an integrated system where the arm is designed and engineered to work optimally by the same team that designed and engineered the main turntable. They work together as a system and although theoretically a consumer can mix and match one to the other, I'd recommend, especially at this price point, that such decisions should be made by specialists who design and integrate these things for a living rather than a hobbyist just getting into this stuff.
---



Good advice. Another plus to making a copy while the record is still in pristine and unworn condition is that recording sessions can be done with the room sound turned down or completely off so you are guaranteed your LP's playback is 100% free of incipient acoustic feedback distortion. Most people are aware of how if you place a turntable too close to a speaker and turn up the volume (and the bass) the sound and room vibration can re-enter the stylus/cartridge and cause a nasty, loud howling feedback sound akin to microphone feedback, forcing one to keep the volume down and not mount one's turntable on or near the speaker/sub, but what they don't realize is that low levels of this feedback can cause distortion during playback even before it reaches runaway "howl" level especially on the louder passages. It can make the sound "boomy", murky, and seems to exaggerate the turntable's rumble noise. Although there are various ways to attack this feedback by giving the turntable isolation, some more successful than others, the best method is to have no sound in the room at all. That's exactly what you get during a recording session (with the volume turned off) or when listening through headphones.


My turntable, like the rest of my source gear is placed down the hall from my speakers in another room. At first I thought this would be a negative, and particularly cumbersome to have the turntable in another room. But it turns out there are some positives, such as not having to worry about any speaker-borne vibrations mucking up the turntable signal. And in terms of ergonomics, it hasn't really proven to be an issue at all. When I lower the needle the music usually doesn't start until I'm about at my listening seat anyway.
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post #12 of 28 Old 10-14-2018, 07:40 PM
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OP, I think you were hoping for a simple answer but there isn't one. I will make a suggestion since I am in a similar situation, although I only have about 150 LPs, but I want to enjoy them without breaking the bank. I got a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon with Ortofon 2M Red, and while most sound OK, I am having issues with excessive brightness and imbalanced mids on some recordings. My room contributes to the issues, but digital music sounds fine. Turntables and vinyl seem less forgiving in playback and more things can affect what you hear as others have pointed out. I wish I had gone a step up to perhaps a Rega 2, but a new table is not something I want to invest in so I will likely upgrade to the 2M Blue and see what happens. In your case, your TT is a decent entry level but a 2M Blue may help a bit. If you upgrade the table, get as much as you want to spend on it and it likely has a better cartridge anyway. I have heard good things about Rega so the Planar 2 would be a decent upgrade (the 3 even more so). If it still sounds flat, then there could be room issues among others. Unfortunately, no one can advise what will get you the results you want, so it has to be trial and error upgrades. If you can get a free trial on a Rega I would give it a go.
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post #13 of 28 Old 10-14-2018, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R Harkness View Post
When I lower the needle the music usually doesn't start until I'm about at my listening seat anyway.
Why not invoke the help of a housemate to lower the arm for you, on command from your seated position?


https://s15.postimg.cc/s3qeyzoor/IMG_0369-5.jpg

I stumbled upon this image when trying to research if there are remote controlled arm lifts akin to the "Little Fwend" auto lift. There aren't.

Of course adjusting the VTA on the fly via remote, that exists:
http://www.canuckaudiomart.com/detai...mages/1402925/
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post #14 of 28 Old 10-15-2018, 11:27 AM
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I got a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon with Ortofon 2M Red, and while most sound OK, I am having issues with excessive brightness and imbalanced mids on some recordings.
Same here, but I find it hard to blame the cart, because other records sound stellar. I am still seriously considering getting some of the Cardas 4x34 tonearm wire to replace the original wire in my TT. You have a much newer TT, so excessive capacitance is probably not your issue. I heard a huge difference when I changed my RCA cables from TT to AVR, and am wondering if changing tonearm wire will continue the trend.

Quote:
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Turntables and vinyl seem less forgiving in playback
My findings exactly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zcars View Post
I will likely upgrade to the 2M Blue and see what happens.
Will be very interesting to see your findings. In the other thread, it was pointed out that the Blue actually has a RISE in the upper registers, but graphs don't always translate to ears.

(PS> My first go at separating quotes....it's a lot of work...lol)
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post #15 of 28 Old 10-18-2018, 07:14 PM
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Not sure if this is of any help but here is what I did and I am very happy with the results. I have a 35+ year old Denon DP1200 turntable. I had a Denon mc cartridge that was about 15 years old. It sounded good but I wondered if a cartridge change would yield any improvement. I purchased a Benz Micro gold mc and set it up. Pretty obvious improvement. I have it feeding in a Classe CP 50 pre amp and it really sounds very good. I have been purchasing new vinyl and listening to some of my old records. It has been a great move for me and i am having a ball listening to vinyl all over again.

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post #16 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Why not invoke the help of a housemate to lower the arm for you, on command from your seated position?


https://s15.postimg.cc/s3qeyzoor/IMG_0369-5.jpg

I stumbled upon this image when trying to research if there are remote controlled arm lifts akin to the "Little Fwend" auto lift. There aren't.

Of course adjusting the VTA on the fly via remote, that exists:
http://www.canuckaudiomart.com/detai...mages/1402925/

Is that my former housekeeper?
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post #17 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 06:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zcars View Post
OP, I think you were hoping for a simple answer but there isn't one. I will make a suggestion since I am in a similar situation, although I only have about 150 LPs, but I want to enjoy them without breaking the bank. I got a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon with Ortofon 2M Red, and while most sound OK, I am having issues with excessive brightness and imbalanced mids on some recordings. My room contributes to the issues, but digital music sounds fine. Turntables and vinyl seem less forgiving in playback and more things can affect what you hear as others have pointed out. I wish I had gone a step up to perhaps a Rega 2, but a new table is not something I want to invest in so I will likely upgrade to the 2M Blue and see what happens. In your case, your TT is a decent entry level but a 2M Blue may help a bit. If you upgrade the table, get as much as you want to spend on it and it likely has a better cartridge anyway. I have heard good things about Rega so the Planar 2 would be a decent upgrade (the 3 even more so). If it still sounds flat, then there could be room issues among others. Unfortunately, no one can advise what will get you the results you want, so it has to be trial and error upgrades. If you can get a free trial on a Rega I would give it a go.
"Ortofon 2M Red, and while most sound OK, I am having issues with excessive brightness and imbalanced mids "

There's likely your issue.
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post #18 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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"Ortofon 2M Red, and while most sound OK, I am having issues with excessive brightness and imbalanced mids "

There's likely your issue.
So, I pulled the trigger on a Project Carbon Debut Esprit SB (DC) with the Ortofon Red.
I am now happy with the way it sounds, the sound is cleaner, the bass is more defined and overall it just sounds more full and clear.
Maybe down the road I will go to an Ortofon 2M Blue, but not for at least a year or two.

Thanks for the input and feedback, I will now work on the room to see what I can do to improve it.
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post #19 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 09:31 AM
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So, I pulled the trigger on a Project Carbon Debut Esprit SB (DC) with the Ortofon Red.
I am now happy with the way it sounds, the sound is cleaner, the bass is more defined and overall it just sounds more full and clear.
Maybe down the road I will go to an Ortofon 2M Blue, but not for at least a year or two.

Thanks for the input and feedback, I will now work on the room to see what I can do to improve it.

If I were to do it again, I wouldn't go with the Ortofon Blue either. It can be a little bright too. I'd go

https://www.amazon.com/NAGAOKA-MM-MP.../dp/B002SDU67Y
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post #20 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 11:58 AM
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post #21 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 12:02 PM
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If I were to do it again, I wouldn't go with the Ortofon Blue either. It can be a little bright too. I'd go

https://www.amazon.com/NAGAOKA-MM-MP.../dp/B002SDU67Y

Not to hijack the thread but just for future reference if this is found I agree that the Nagaoka MP 110 is worth considering. Do the research. Personally just now after 30 hrs mine is well balanced through the sound spectrum and tracks well with no noticed IGD or sibilance. Does everything as it should and is what I consider an affordable, entry-level hobbyist-grade cart.

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post #22 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 12:06 PM
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Not to hijack the thread but just for future reference if this is found I agree that the Nagaoka MP 110 is worth considering. Do the research. Personally just now after 30 hrs mine is well balanced through the sound spectrum and tracks well with no noticed IGD or sibilance. Does everything as it should and is what I consider an affordable, entry-level audiophile-grade cart.

It's not a thread hijack as this is what we're talking about. Did you buy the Blue or the Nagaoka? I find the Ortofon Blue just fine in this table most of the time. It's just a little hot once in a while.
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post #23 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 12:26 PM
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It's not a thread hijack as this is what we're talking about. Did you buy the Blue or the Nagaoka? I find the Ortofon Blue just fine in this table most of the time. It's just a little hot once in a while.
The Nagaoka MP 110 - smooth, relaxed sound. Great $100 cartridge and replaced my Ortofon Super Om 20 that I may upgrade one day. Note change in my original response from audiophile to hobbyist as that's what I consider myself

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post #24 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
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That Nagaoka cart looks interesting and seems to get good reviews. I will have to consider it when the time comes to try a different cart, for now I am going to spin my records and enjoy.


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post #25 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 01:31 PM
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The Nagaoka MP 110 - smooth, relaxed sound. Great $100 cartridge and replaced my Ortofon Super Om 20 that I may upgrade one day. Note change in my original response from audiophile to hobbyist as that's what I consider myself

Great. When I replace the Blue, that's the one I'm going to get. Heard too much for all of it be wrong.
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post #26 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 01:38 PM
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I envy you hdash - I spent some time in Waterloo Records and came out with an armload on both occasions. That combined with the smaller used record dealers would lighten my wallet mightily

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post #27 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by hdash View Post
So, I pulled the trigger on a Project Carbon Debut Esprit SB (DC) with the Ortofon Red.
I am now happy with the way it sounds, the sound is cleaner, the bass is more defined and overall it just sounds more full and clear.
Maybe down the road I will go to an Ortofon 2M Blue, but not for at least a year or two.

Thanks for the input and feedback, I will now work on the room to see what I can do to improve it.
I was going to suggest upgrading to the Blue cart, and if that didn't improve, you could buy this exact table and pop the Blue on it. I should have gotten this table originally as I went with the Pro-ject Debut Carbon. I tired of removing the platter to change speeds so I bought the speed box. Then I tired of the OG mat static clinging to my albums so I bought a anti-static slip mat. That clung too so I bit the bullet and got the Acryl-it platter. i could have had the Esprit that has the speed selector switch, and the acrylic platter for what I have in my Debut. I did just replace the 2M red with the Blue stylus (direct replacement, simply pull the red part off and pop the blue part on) and I am very happy. in the end, I have a fine mid-level table and to improve upon it would be an amount I am unwilling to spend at this point in my life.

Congrats on pulling the trigger on a very nice table! I hope you get years of enjoyment from it!!

Vinyl, tape, digital... I don't care as long as I can listen to my music...
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post #28 of 28 Old 10-19-2018, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by citizen arcane View Post
I envy you hdash - I spent some time in Waterloo Records and came out with an armload on both occasions. That combined with the smaller used record dealers would lighten my wallet mightily
I am not even going to talk about how light my wallet is, I would have to use the word “helium”.....

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