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Advice on an upgrade path please

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Advice on an upgrade path please

Postby neomagic666 » 11 Jul 2018 17:47

Hi All,

I have recently resurrected my vinyl collection through a deal I did. I managed to get a Marantz PM4200 Amp, Denon SC-M50 speakers and a JVC XL-E45 CD player for some computer memory modules I had (I do IT for a living). All works fine and after a very thorough external and internal cleanup is now being used every day happily and without problem.

I added a cheap 2'nd hand DAB tuner (Acoustic Solutions SP111) for £15 which is great and then I managed to get hold of a JVC QL A51 turntable from a family member for nothing. This cleaned up great and I absolutely love it, all apart from the perspex lid which is probably beyond saving, so will be keeping my eye out for a donor TT.

The TT is fitted with a Nagoaka MP10 cartridge and after following the excellent guides on this forum I have a really nice warm toned, clear and deep sounding record deck. Due to the fact everything in my setup is working fine and it cost me practically nothing I want to invest more into Vinyl than extra bells and whistles.

However I would like to ask folks opinions as to what would be a good cartridge upgrade for this JVC TT and if it would make much difference. Like I said, everything sounds fantastic at the moment but that's probably as much down to forgetting how good my Vinyl could sound (I'm a 1980's teenager ;-) ) to the rubbish small form factor mp3 stuff that has been around for the last decade or so. Also would a different tonearm make a difference? The one fitted seems excelent, has great balance, adjustable weight and anti skating settings. I really seem to be getting the vintage HI FI bug, especially as it is what I grew up with and bought new when I was old enough. I thought about doing a cartridge upgrade when it is time to replace the stylus, something that is unavoidable in time and without knowing how long this one has been used for, I will be keeping a close eye on it. The replacement is around £55 so if I was going to upgrade the cartridge it would be then.

I will be upgrading my speakers to a larger set at some point in the near future as well, so any recommendations would be great.

Many thanks,

Chris.

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Re: Advice on an upgrade path please

Postby EdAInWestOC » 11 Jul 2018 20:22

The Nagaoka MP-10 is a decent cartridge but you should pay close attention to what you hear and see if you can find weaknesses in the performance.

A new cartridge is usually the first place to gain some sonic advantages but you can also go the other way if you are not careful. If you really like the Nagaoka you might want to consider a model further up their line.

The other way to make an immediate sonic impact is to insert a stand alone phono preamp into your system. Again, make sure you think that your current setup is lacking in resolution, or you may just end up spending money for no gain.

The first step is to figure how much you have to spend. Depending on how much money you have to work with, you can make the decision to upgrade or stay where you are and save your money for better gear when you can afford it.

It would be best if you could visit some hi-fi stores and audition some gear to see what you have and what you may be missing. That way you can get an idea of what is available and where you might want to be as far as money is concerned.

Before you make any buying decisions, make sure you audition a range of equipment and don't just visit one hi-fi shop and select what you hear there. There is a lot of gear to choose from and sometimes it takes a bit of work to find what is your favorite.

It is also wise to not to buy based on how great something sounds in the dealer's showroom. It may be exactly that great but sometimes what sounds great in a show room will sound less and less great until you get annoyed by what you hear. When you are listening make sure you can live with the sound you are hearing.

If its too great sometimes its because the gear is accentuating something that will be annoying after a while. Make sure instruments sound natural and realistic with lifelike details. Cymbals should sound like cymbals and not like a crash of glass...that can be an indication of annoying high frequencies.

If the sound coming from the speakers is "beaming" at you, it will be annoying later. The sound should be realistic, detailed and flow effortlessly. Don't get impressed by low frequencies, midrange or high frequencies. They all have to be there for the music to be reproduced well.

You will know when its right if you avoid getting impressed by one thing or the other. Many speakers and/or systems can do one or a few things well but its the systems that do them all equally well that are the most enjoyable.

Ed
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Re: Advice on an upgrade path please

Postby neomagic666 » 11 Jul 2018 21:09

Thankyou Ed, that's great advice, it had never even crossed my mind. I live close to York and Hull and I know there are some good HiFi seperates shops in both locations. I appreciate you taking the time to write a good reply, I will follow your advice - I can feel myself getting hooked into this stuff already lol.

I love the current sound from my Vinyl, but I will re-assess fully in a couple of months when the shine of getting back into vinyl has waned a little. If it does sound as good then, I may stick with the current cartridge and save towards better overall equipment.

Cheers,

Chris
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Re: Advice on an upgrade path please

Postby DeepEnd » 11 Jul 2018 22:01

With regard to the cartridge the MP10 and MP11 used the same body so the easiest upgrade would be to fit a better styli. I have an MP11 body with the stylus from a MP-110 (part number JN-P110) and this works very well indeed and you would probably need to spend well over £150 to get anything better.

I paid £31 for this stylus (out of Japan) but they seem to have gone up to about £35-£36 now (UK price ~£60). I didn’t get hit for VAT etc. but the current higher price might trigger this adding ~£18 if you are unlucky.

I also have the stylus from a MP-200 (JN-P200) and this is a further significant upgrade from the 110. Cost is about £90 which with duty, VAT handling charges ends up around £120 in total. This may seem a lot but with 90%+ of the performance of a full £360 MP200 cartridge is a real bargain.

I would suggest starting with a 110 stylus and enjoying your system for a while and only when you think there is something missing consider changing anything else but the MP11/110 is quite at home with my £1,000 amp and £800 loudspeakers.
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Re: Advice on an upgrade path please

Postby raphaelmabo » 12 Jul 2018 07:45

You have a nice setup there! The Marantz amp may be their entry level but it is a good one. The Denon speakers were made by Mission and are perfectly Ok. You seems to have a balanced setup.
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Re: Advice on an upgrade path please

Postby neomagic666 » 12 Jul 2018 09:23

Thanks for your advice guys, the information about the styli is very interesting. Without a full history of the current stylus fitted I am tempted to change it sooner than later. Deepend, will the JN-P200 fit into the MP10 cartridge? If so I think that is the route I would go.

Yes Raphaelmabo it does appear well balanced, if older equipment. I do love the overall warm tone even when playing CD's. I still can't believe it has cost me next to nothing.

Thankyou both for your input, much appreciated.

Chris.

Just a note, for now I am investing in Vinyl while saving for any bits and bobs I decide to replace. I am very very aware of the laws of diminishing returns, mainly due to my job. I think the idea of upgrading just the stylus is a great option as there seems to be little difference in the reviews of the MP10 / 11 cartridges and their replacements MP100 / 110.
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Re: Advice on an upgrade path please

Postby raphaelmabo » 12 Jul 2018 10:36

Yes, the JN-P200 should fit both MP-nn and MP-nnn bodies.
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Re: Advice on an upgrade path please

Postby DeepEnd » 12 Jul 2018 14:49

Yes they all fit each other here are some samples using a MP-110 stylus (yellow), a MP-200 stylus (purple) and a Paratrace re-tipped MP11 Boron stylus (Black - sort of MP-200 stylus with a line contact tip to replace the elliptical) on a MP11 Boron body (same body as MP10 and MP11). You can even find tips for old Mono and also 78's that fit the same body.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfeL1ar0YOw

Once the MP-200 tip is worn out having it re-tipped with a Paratrace would be my next recommendation as a potential future upgrade (£120).
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Re: Advice on an upgrade path please

Postby neomagic666 » 12 Jul 2018 22:20

Again many thanks Guys. Decided to undertake a repair and polish job on the TT lid, a previous owner used an expoxy glue all over the top of the lid.......not sure why as there are no cracks. Below you will find the before pics lol....I have my work cut out but it's only time. Think I'm looking for a miracle but in theory it can be done. Watch this space.....
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