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Replacing a Linn K5

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Replacing a Linn K5

Postby RobGE » 10 Jul 2009 23:55

Hello there,

this is my first post here, so please be gentle!!

I have a Rega Planar 2, with an aging Linn K5 cart. I've owned the cart from new, but as I'm sure your aware Linn no longer make styli for it, and quite frankly I don't really want to do the compatible but ugly Audiotechnica stylus replacement kludge.

Prior to the Linn, I had a Rega bias (came with the Planar 2), and briefly a Rega Super Bias.

I'm after a replacement for the K5, preferably something with a similar sound balance, but hopefully with a bit more detail.

I've read that Goldring carts are a good match for Rega decks, and that the Goldring 1012GX is particularly good. However I've also read some comments that it can be a bit bright sounding, which if true, is not really what I'm after.

I didn't get on too well with either of the Rega carts I owned, so am a little wary of choosing something like the bias 2

Can anyone help please, I really don't want to spend much beyond £150, especially as the deck itself is a budget (albeit good) turntable.

I mainly listen to 70's, 80's, 90's rock and alternative (Cream, Floyd, Springsteen, Hendrix, Neworder, Blur etc etc) some electronica/dance (Kraftwerk, Leftfield, Prodigy etc), and a very small amount of Classical and Jazz.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Rob
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Postby Alec124c41 » 11 Jul 2009 01:32

I can heartily recommend a Denon DL-160 high output moving coil. It sings on a Planar 2. I also recommend you print out a Baerwald alignment protractor to set it up. The link is at the top of the page.

Chears,
Alec
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Postby RobGE » 11 Jul 2009 22:40

Thanks Alec.

Looks like a good choice. Anyone else got any suggestions before I go and spend some money?

Also, as the Denon is a high output MC cart, should I use the MC switch on my amp, or stick with MM. The quoted 1.6mv output sounds a bit high for the MC input on my Amp.
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Postby blakep » 12 Jul 2009 00:08

AT 120E

Miles ahead of the Linn K derivative cartridges which were essentially cheap AT's with Linn's name on them sold at ridiculous prices. The 120E is far superior technologically and sonically and, even though it is an old model, stands up to much higher priced competition.

Output on the Denon 110/160 is supposedly closer to 2.2 mV, but that still presents a bit of a problem with some phono stages as it's almost smack dab in the middle of working well with MM or MC gain stages so that is something to consider. Generally speaking you are going to want to run those cartridges into a MM input, but there may always be exceptions to the rule.
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Postby Alec124c41 » 12 Jul 2009 01:15

I've run my DL-160 through both the MM and MC stages of my Yamaha amp, and it sounds good both ways. It is perhaps a bit more lush through the MC stage, due to different loading. I'm currently using the MM stage for it, and running a LOMC cart into the MC. The DL-160 stands up well to more expensive cartridges. And it tracks very well.
I'm sorry I can't compare it with an AT120. I've read a lot of good things about it, but have not used one.

Cheers,
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Postby blakep » 12 Jul 2009 16:37

Hi Rob,
I can't comment on the Denon 160, but I have spent quite a bit of time with it's little brother the 110. Absolutely no problem re. output and really is one of the best budget carts around.
Dave


Without knowing exactly what phono stage Rob is using and the gain it provides, I think it's difficult to state that there would be "no problem re. output" on the Denons. In this case he'd be moving from a cartridge that outputs 4.5 mV to one that outputs somewhere between 1.6 and 2.2-less than half the output. There are many posts on various internet forums from people who took the plunge with high output MC's only to find that they were not an optimal match with their phono stages.

Too little gain and it's like listening through a wet blanket; you can then compensate by plugging into a MC input and that solves the volume problem but very often at the expense of a gain mismatch which puts you into an overload situation giving you lots of volume but also less than optimal sound.

If someone wants to go the high output MC route, they are well advised to take a look at the gain calculator at kabusa.com and match cartridge output to phono stage gain as well as look at other things like loading which you've pointed out.
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Postby maco » 12 Jul 2009 19:30

I am using both the Denon DL-160 and the AT-120E. I have a preference for the AT120E on Rock and Electronic music, more punchy than the DL-160 with a slightly larger soundstage, but can sound bright on some records. The DL-160 is more refined sounding, retrieving more detail and has a better tonal balance overall, soundstage is more in depth and lead instruments are not too much upfront. I switch on the DL-160 for classical music and opera. With the AT120E you have the facility of using a range of superior styli, from AT135E, AT440MLa to AT155LC. I am using also an ATP5 stylus on the AT120E body when I want to burn down the house :twisted:
Regards
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Postby RobGE » 13 Jul 2009 22:43

Thanks guys,

you've certainly given me a fair bit to think about! I think its going to be a toss up between the Denon DL-160 and the Audio Technica AT-120E.

Alec124c41
I can heartily recommend a Denon DL-160 high output moving coil. It sings on a Planar 2. I also recommend you print out a Baerwald alignment protractor to set it up. The link is at the top of the page.


Why do you recommend the Baerwald alignment protractor, over the one that comes with the Rega? can someone give me a quick overview of the effect the different protractor designs have if thats okay?

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Postby howlindawg » 14 Jul 2009 01:00

RobGE wrote:Why do you recommend the Baerwald alignment protractor, over the one that comes with the Rega? can someone give me a quick overview of the effect the different protractor designs have if thats okay?


I've just been through a similar process with my planar 3.
I ended up swapping my Linn K5 (setup using the Rega supplied protractor) with a Goldring 2500 (setup using the Baerwald protractor from this site).

The difference is astounding. 8)

As for the protractors, the protractor Rega supply with the planars fixes the position of the cart using a single null point. The Baerwald sets the position at two null points and marks the correct path of the stylus across an arc. Basically the Baerwald aims to provide equal distortion across the record, rather than minimise distortion at a single point near the end of the disc as per the Rega protractor.

The real life effect for me was that the cart was positioned much further forward in the arm using the Baerwald and this resulted in a sound that I prefered.
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Postby RobGE » 28 Jul 2009 23:20

Just like to say thanks to everyone for their help.

I decided to opt for the AT 120E cart, which arrived today. I've set it up using the Baerwald protractor designed for Rega turntables, and am pretty happy thats its aligned as accurately as I can do it by eye.

I'm currently listening to a bit of Leftfield on a Simplyvinyl 180g pressing of Leftism (not loud enough to annoy the the neighbours obviously). Very happy so far I must say! Definitely noticably better than the K5.

So thanks again!

--
Rob
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