The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

the thin end of the wedge
myusernamechosen
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The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by myusernamechosen » 23 Jan 2020 14:42

TLDR at bottom if you don't care about background.

About 6 years ago I decided that I wanted to build a nice hi-fi system. I grew up listening to records in our house and as a teen in the mid 90's got my dad's system from him which was a Dual TT, NAD amp and a pair of Cizek speakers.

In college I bought a newer Yamaha integrated amp and a pair of Boston Acoustic Speakers I had that for many years until I was able to really spring for my ideal system, or at least close to it.

Over 2015-2016 I built my core system

TT: Rega RP6
Cart: Dynavector 10x5
Phono Stage: Rega Aria
Amp: Rega Elicit R
Speakers: Audio Physic Classic 30

This fall after 2 years in our new house I started improving the space and getting some acoustic treatments in place as well as augmenting the system with a pair of SVS SB3000s
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TLDR/The question: I'm debating upgrading my cartridge. My phono stage can accommodate a low output MC but I also don't want to spend $1200-1500 if it doesn't make a material difference. A cart is one of few things I can't go out and get a feel for prior to buying so it's a weird thing for me to take a leap on. How do others think about this process and when to say good is good enough?

BoringOldFart
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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by BoringOldFart » 23 Jan 2020 15:23

I usually upgrade my cart when the stylus starts sounding like it need replacing. Cartridges are like microphones in that they all have their own signature sound. Sinking thousands into one without being able to audition it is a real crap shoot. If you are comfortable with what you have I would recommend that you stay with it.

Voxy
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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by Voxy » 23 Jan 2020 15:43

Hi,

Maybe in the meantime u can take a look at the videos for the battle of mid end cart.

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCKNKJ_uFheEftryRCvbmfNg

Quite informative...

Agrippa
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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by Agrippa » 23 Jan 2020 18:13

What you have is certainly good, but good enough is a different kettle of fish entirely. It depends less on the actual quality of the system than on your psychological profile. Some will chase the tiniest improvement (whether real or imagined) to the ends of the earth (and their wallet), others will be perfectly happy with junk yard rescue projects. Where you are on that spectrum only you yourself know, but it sound like you're closer to the sensible side of it anyway.

If you're happy with the sound you have, then the sensible thing is to stick with it. It's a very competent system indeed and doesn't really need tampering with. The speakers are great, the amp is great, the phono stage is great and although I don't like your turntable at all, that's just pure subjectivity. Then again, although the 10x5 too is perfectly competent, at 4+ years of age it will be nearing the time when you need to swap it for a new one, for something else, or have it re-tipped. That being the case a low output MC seems like a reasonable enough purchase in the not so distant future.

You really don't need to spend $1200-1500 to improve on the 10x5 though. If you want to stick with Dynavector, the 20x2L can be had for C$999. Alternatively I would very much suggest you have a look at the Audio-Technica ART9 which will set you back $990. The latter especially is right up there with cartridges costing 5-6 times as much, a couple of which I own myself and others I've compared it with directly elsewhere. You really can't do substantially better at any price as far as I'm concerned.

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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by Boltman92124 » 23 Jan 2020 18:14

That's a pretty nice $750 cart you already have there! Other folks here will surely tell you to look at a re-tip or custom re-tip. Otherwise, the next step up is the 20x2 hitting that $1,200 range. Nice listening room!

myusernamechosen
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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by myusernamechosen » 23 Jan 2020 18:20

Boltman92124 wrote:
23 Jan 2020 18:14
That's a pretty nice $750 cart you already have there! Other folks here will surely tell you to look at a re-tip or custom re-tip. Otherwise, the next step up is the 20x2 hitting that $1,200 range. Nice listening room!
Thanks, the space has really come along in the last few months. The 20x2 is on my radar as is the Hana ML, but man is it hard to commit to spending $1200 on something I can't listen to first. In the case of my 10x5 the store had a TT set up with it as their recommended setup so I got a feel for it.

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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by Umberto_V » 23 Jan 2020 19:34

I have a Dynavector XX2 MKII. Possibly a bit out of your price range but an excellent sounding cartridge none the less. The sound is lush in the midrange and has excellent bass. Top end is pretty neutral sounding. If you like the Dynavector sound then worth auditioning if you can. I bought it to replace a worn Transfiguration Phoenix and it easily trounced that in sound quality.

myusernamechosen
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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by myusernamechosen » 23 Jan 2020 19:39

Agrippa wrote:
23 Jan 2020 18:13
What you have is certainly good, but good enough is a different kettle of fish entirely. It depends less on the actual quality of the system than on your psychological profile. Some will chase the tiniest improvement (whether real or imagined) to the ends of the earth (and their wallet), others will be perfectly happy with junk yard rescue projects. Where you are on that spectrum only you yourself know, but it sound like you're closer to the sensible side of it anyway.

If you're happy with the sound you have, then the sensible thing is to stick with it. It's a very competent system indeed and doesn't really need tampering with. The speakers are great, the amp is great, the phono stage is great and although I don't like your turntable at all, that's just pure subjectivity. Then again, although the 10x5 too is perfectly competent, at 4+ years of age it will be nearing the time when you need to swap it for a new one, for something else, or have it re-tipped. That being the case a low output MC seems like a reasonable enough purchase in the not so distant future.

You really don't need to spend $1200-1500 to improve on the 10x5 though. If you want to stick with Dynavector, the 20x2L can be had for C$999. Alternatively I would very much suggest you have a look at the Audio-Technica ART9 which will set you back $990. The latter especially is right up there with cartridges costing 5-6 times as much, a couple of which I own myself and others I've compared it with directly elsewhere. You really can't do substantially better at any price as far as I'm concerned.
You summarized my current thinking quite well, there was a period where I didn't use the TT as frequency so the hours on the cart are probably not fully at replacing the stylus, which if I recall is a few hundred dollars through Dynavector. So there's still a big gap in price between a re-tip and new purchase.

I"m curious which TTs you like and why. I'm not disagreeing with you as I don't have a lot of frame of reference. I'm forgetting what else I auditioned at the store I went to to be honest.

brubacca
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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by brubacca » 23 Jan 2020 20:29

Which Dynavector 10x5 do you have? The older one or the new $750 shibata stylus one?

My Dynavector dealer thinks that the 20x2l is way better than the (old) 10x5. I really haven't heard much about the new shibata 10x5 and how people like it.

Anoth star at this price is the Sumiko Blackbird.

Lastly I just installed a Hana EL on my Rega P2. What an amazing cartridge. It is mile better than tje Rega Carbon and Ortofon 2M Blue. If the value carries through the line the SL and ML are most likely really good deals.

brubacca
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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by brubacca » 23 Jan 2020 20:29

Which Dynavector 10x5 do you have? The older one or the new $750 shibata stylus one?

My Dynavector dealer thinks that the 20x2l is way better than the (old) 10x5. I really haven't heard much about the new shibata 10x5 and how people like it.

Anoth star at this price is the Sumiko Blackbird.

Lastly I just installed a Hana EL on my Rega P2. What an amazing cartridge. It is mile better than tje Rega Carbon and Ortofon 2M Blue. If the value carries through the line the SL and ML are most likely really good deals.

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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by Legrace » 23 Jan 2020 20:58

Suggest you consider Rega Ania MC.

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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by myusernamechosen » 23 Jan 2020 21:15

brubacca wrote:
23 Jan 2020 20:29
Which Dynavector 10x5 do you have? The older one or the new $750 shibata stylus one?

My Dynavector dealer thinks that the 20x2l is way better than the (old) 10x5. I really haven't heard much about the new shibata 10x5 and how people like it.

Anoth star at this price is the Sumiko Blackbird.

Lastly I just installed a Hana EL on my Rega P2. What an amazing cartridge. It is mile better than tje Rega Carbon and Ortofon 2M Blue. If the value carries through the line the SL and ML are most likely really good deals.

I have the older one

myusernamechosen
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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by myusernamechosen » 23 Jan 2020 23:54

Umberto_V wrote:
23 Jan 2020 19:34
I have a Dynavector XX2 MKII. Possibly a bit out of your price range but an excellent sounding cartridge none the less. The sound is lush in the midrange and has excellent bass. Top end is pretty neutral sounding. If you like the Dynavector sound then worth auditioning if you can. I bought it to replace a worn Transfiguration Phoenix and it easily trounced that in sound quality.
How do you audition a cart though? So many variables in a system from cart to speaker

myusernamechosen
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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by myusernamechosen » 23 Jan 2020 23:55

Legrace wrote:
23 Jan 2020 20:58
Suggest you consider Rega Ania MC.
I’ve heard mixed reviews and a lot of the positive ones seem to come from people who got it with their P6 so not a lot of points of comparison

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Re: The battle of the potential cartridge upgrade vs being happy with what I have

Post by Agrippa » 24 Jan 2020 03:59

myusernamechosen wrote:
23 Jan 2020 19:39
I"m curious which TTs you like and why. I'm not disagreeing with you as I don't have a lot of frame of reference. I'm forgetting what else I auditioned at the store I went to to be honest.
Basically I like high mass turntables and "dislike" low mass designs. Higher mass will lower the amplitude of resonances at all frequencies (i.e. lower Q) and make things sound more "solid and stable", which I much prefer. Low mass will give higher resonance amplitude (high Q) and inject more "energy" and "bounce" into the music. More PRaT (Pace, Rythm and Timing) if you like. In my subjective opinion the former sounds better and more right. Others do of course disagree.

Examples of brands I like could be Nottingham Analogue (since I've had one for 20 years or so), Acoustic Solid, Scheu, (some) Pro-Ject, E.A.T., Pear Audio, Dr. Feickert, Kuzma, STST and many more.

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