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How can I make my setup work? (Magnet vs Coil, etc.)

Posted: 11 Jul 2018 22:30
by jswofford
Hello! I've been browsing this site (and others) and you guys seem to answer these types of questions all the time. Thank you for already teaching me a great deal.

Yet I am on information overload, so while I apologize for the repetition, I wonder if I could give you all of my specific information and you could give me some specific advice.

Assume I can't afford to put any real money into this right now. So I'm hoping my next purchase decision can be my last purchase decision, it won't be expensive, and everything will work perfectly. :)

My dad distributed his vinyl collection amongst family members over the weekend, and I acquired about 100 records. The plan was for me to also acquire his turntable to use at home. To test that his 1,000 year old turntable worked, we plugged it into his 1,000 year old amp, and it worked fine. It actually sounded great on his 1,000 year old Realistic speakers. When I got it home, I plugged its RCA cables into the PHONO input of my new receiver/amp (and connected the ground), and the records are playing VERY softly. If I turn it up all the way I can hear it, but it sounds terrible.

So I did the Googling and learned that I might possibly need a phono preamp, which seems odd because my receiver is new and it should already be amplifying it. Google also told me that I might need a Moving Magnet cartridge instead of Moving Coil.

I have this Onkyo TX-8220 2 Channel Stereo Receiver with Bluetooth: ... op?ie=UTF8

I consulted the manual, which says that it will work with turntables that have an MM-type cartridge.

The record player is this:
Dual CS 505-1

The cartridge is this:
Ortofon VMS 5E Mk II

Needless to say, I wasn't aware that the type of cartridge would affect whether it would work with my amp. I am having a hard time figuring out if this cartridge is MM or not, but I'm kind of guessing it's a Coil, for reasons I can't remember. (Apart from the fact that I can't hear anything with it.)

So I have a few options:

1) If this is a Coil, I could just buy a Magnet. Or can I? Can my turntable just take any ol' kind of cartridge? And also... it turns out cartridges are expensive! This foray into playing all my dad's records for years on end was supposed to be a completely free venture. So... is it coil, and can I replace it with magnet for cheap? (I also of course do not want a piece of junk.)

2) Do I need a preamp?

3) My dad isn't dead or anything, so I could return his record player to him, and buy my own. Again, NOT wanting to spend a ton of money on this. The turntables I'm looking at, since I am a middle aged person trying to relive my youth, are those nice looking "vintage" style, with features I don't need but might be cool, like mp3 conversion, and all of which seem to have ceramic cartridges. Wait... CERAMIC cartridges? Now you're just messing with me. Are CERAMIC also MM? As in, will they work with my amp?

Let's say, for example, that I'm looking at this turntable: ... ord+player

Link to manual: ... A-0002.pdf

I haven't even found where it says what kind of cartridge it comes with. Honestly I'm surprised that every turntable description doesn't tell you up front and center what kind of cartridge it has/accepts. How else do n00bs like me get anything done? Besides bother you guys all the time? I don't recall having to know any of this stuff back in the day that I actually bought and played records.

TL;DR: My record player is TOO SOFT with my amp, even when plugged into the PHONO input. Do I need a new MM cartridge, do I need a preamp, or should I get a new record player altogether (which in many cases seems cheaper than a cartridge), or do you have another suggestion?

Thank you!

Re: How can I make my setup work? (Magnet vs Coil, etc.)

Posted: 11 Jul 2018 22:44
by jswofford
I'm really sorry, but I have a huge edit. Rather than edit the actual post, I'll just add it here: I just tore everything apart and put it back together, and the volume has come up! But sound is only coming out of the right speaker. Could this be a simple cartridge connection issue?

Re: How can I make my setup work? (Magnet vs Coil, etc.)

Posted: 11 Jul 2018 22:47
by Japi Roelofs
Hi and welcome to the forum

Dual 505 turntables have a reputation of RCA connectors going bad. You could try fiddling with the wires a bit when attached to the receiver. Also change left and right input, see if the sound follows the wire.

Re: How can I make my setup work? (Magnet vs Coil, etc.)

Posted: 11 Jul 2018 23:45
by jswofford
All right, so after the volume came back up, I kind of grabbed the cartridge (to see if I could easily figure out how to remove it if I had to), and after grabbing it, the volume went away again. So I was thinking, cartridge issues. So I took some tweezers and tried to make sure the color coded wires were fully inserted, and one or two seemed loose. Now they all seem fully inserted, and the volume is back up, but still there is only sound from one speaker. I changed the left and right input, and the sound did follow the wire.

Not really knowing how the needle/cartridge works and what the color coded wires represent, do you think the 1-speaker-only issue is more likely to do with the RCA connectors/cables than the cartridge? Unfortunately the RCA cables come right out of the turntable so I can't just switch them with another set of cables without doing some surgery on it.

Thank you!

Re: How can I make my setup work? (Magnet vs Coil, etc.)

Posted: 12 Jul 2018 06:44
by tlscapital
A little overall inspection, clean, polish and replacement of worn out interconnect of "old" gear is at least welcome if not necessary. If the RCA cables of the turntable have just "fallen off" you'll likely need to solder new ones. In my book that is called surgery.

If they are in good enough shape you can just re-solder them. While at it make sure that the solders in the RCA's are not fooling some. Or you could also replace/upgrade with shielded low capacitance 1 meter length cables fitted with anti-corrosion RCA's.

You could also change the cartridge/headshell wires if they are corroded. You don't need to go for the fancy ones. Gold platted interconnect are cheap enough. Only they need to fit tight (as long as the cartridge pins are corrosion free as well) to the cartridge pins.

Re: How can I make my setup work? (Magnet vs Coil, etc.)

Posted: 12 Jul 2018 08:52
by raphaelmabo
The Ortofon VMS are Moving Magnet so not Moving Coil. If it's 1 000 years old, it may need a new stylus/needle. They wear out with time. A new stylus for the VMS 5E can be bought from LP Gear among others. But even with a worn out stylus you should have sound in both channels, if a more distorted sound than with a new one. But perhaps the cantilever is off or another problem.

To check, swap the cables at the back of the cartridge, this means swapping so the two cables on the right moves to the left and the cables on the left moves to the right. At the back of the cartridge, the upper pins are for the left and right channel and the lower pins are the ground signal for left and right. Normally, the colour codes on the wires should match the colours on the back of the cartridge.

If still the same speaker is dead, then we know it's not the cartridge, it is the wires in the turntable.
But if the other speaker is dead, then it is the cartridge.

But I believe it is the turntable wires, probably one of the RCA cables has lost the connection inside. Should be an easy soldering job.

Note about Moving Magnet (MM) and Moving Coils (MC):
Most MC cartridges have lower output than MM-cartridges, this means that they need more amplification to get up the volume. They also differ in electrical characteristics, so they need a special MC phono pre-amp. It do exists high output MC's that are designed to work in MM phono stages, they have higher output than standard MC cartridges and are made to match the electrical characteristics of MM. But some means that the low output MC's sounds better...

I have a high-output MC myself and I'm happy. :)

Re: How can I make my setup work? (Magnet vs Coil, etc.)

Posted: 12 Jul 2018 15:20
by jswofford
Great, raphaelmabo - thanks for the info! I will let you all know how it turns out. :P

Re: How can I make my setup work? (Magnet vs Coil, etc.)

Posted: 12 Jul 2018 17:05
by 2112adrian
Hi there,

I remember the Dual CS505-1, had one when I was a student around @1000 years ago! Good deck then a real affordable gem. It was very popular in the UK as it was good value, pretty robust, sounded pretty good and cost @£75 new in the early eighties , so quite affordable.

My point is, I was just remembering that the CS505-1 had an unusual mounting method for the cartridge , the cartridge sat on a slide that meant you could swap out cartridges or mount / dismount them without damaging the arm bearing. There could be dirt build up on this slide as well. I seem to remember this was locked in by moving the finger lift forwards or backwards.

I think I ran mine with a Nagoka MP11 then moved to the Ortofon VMS20 which seemed to suit the deck.


Re: How can I make my setup work? (Magnet vs Coil, etc.)

Posted: 14 Jul 2018 00:32
by jswofford
Thank you 2112adrian for your reply as well! I love learning this stuff.

I swapped the cables at the back of the cartridge, and the same speaker is playing as before. So it seems we have isolated the wires in the turntable. Perhaps I'll see if my dad wants to do some soldering, if that's what it comes to. :)

Thanks again!