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Will a platter and cart/stylus upgrade improve the playback of old used records?

Wharfedale EVO4.4 Speaker

john_k_antony

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Dear All,

I recently bought a Pro-ject Debug III with Ortofone OM5E cart. It plays well with new records and tracks pretty well. The details are fine and not bright. I have connected the TT to the entry level Pro-Ject phono box pre amp and then to Denon 2310 AVR. The bass response is not to my taste / level though, but okay.

Now I have got some old records and when I play them, there is lots of surface noise, cracks and pops. Also I feel the clarity is not great at all. The bass is really lacking.

I did some research on the net and found out that a platter upgrade to an acrylic platter and cart/stylus upgrade will makes things better. If this information is true, I am planning to upgrade just the stylus to a more premium one. The reason is I dont want to fiddle around with the cartridge upgrade as it involves some alignment, fine tuning and getting a new counter weight as the stock counter weight only support carts with <= 5g weight.

The upgrade stylus I am looking for is Ortofon OM30. I have read that OM30 is compatible with OM5 cart. However OM5 is not the "Super OM" and hence OM30 on OM5 wont give you the best possible sound upgrade. Nonetheless, people say OM30 on OM5 is still a worthy upgrade in terms of sound quality.

The upgrade cost for stylus + platter would set me back by $400 if I buy them from needle doctor.

My question is doing this expensive upgrade worth the cost?

Really appreciate your inputs on the same.

Thanks,
John,
 

Sunderpalanivel

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I am not an expert in TT , but recently I have been doing a lots of research on it, so I will tell you what I feel. I dont think changing the cartridge is that difficult, you just have to place them and tighten the screw, also you dont have to worry about the tracking force as no good cart will track above 5 gm, only some useless ceramic carts track at that weight, so you can upgrade the cart without any problem as most of the carts trach < 2 gm.

I would suggest just upgrading the cart to a bit higher end, it will help in lowering the crack and pop noise to an extent, If I am correct , better the cart, lower the cracks and pops. I would not upgrade the platter at this stage, I would rather spend that money on much better cartridge.

Not to go too expensive with cart as well, because how well the cart is put to use is depending on the tonearm, Debut III being an entry level TT I don't think its tonearm could reap the benefit of much high end carts.

So, go for a moderate cart upgrade and try to get a record clamp (Or whatever it is called, its a clip sort of thing that goes on top of record) It will increase the overall mass of record.

At last, if you are ready to spend another $400, you could have invested that and bought a more high-end TT, which would have better tonearm allowing you to use much better cart like Exact or some MC carts.

If I have managed to give lots of useless information, apologies in advance :lol:
 
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arj

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cannot claim to to know too much about TTs, but as in the Hifi system, from what i could learn/ experience
the major components are
Motor/plinth
Platter/Bearing
Tonearm
Cartridge

each of this could give you some improvement in various apects but to get that big improvement, you need to identify the problem area.

typcally a heavier platter will give you a benefit of more even sound and hence bettertracking/smoothr sound. but it also depends on the bearing.

the cartidge should improve resolution as well as maybe the tonal quality but in the end the tonearm should be able to support it.

the best folks are the ones who have experienced the benefits with the same model as you are using, as every TT is different and what i see on my TT may not give you the same benefit.
 
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murali_n

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Hi john,

Before you do any upgrade, get the basics done right:

1) Clean all your records thoroughly, for this search this forum threads, you will get a lot of info. After thorough cleaning preserve the records in a clean and new plastic cover, this will prevent further dust build up. A clean record is the fundamental requisite for getting good SQ from your LPs. Store all your LPs standing vertically , in a covered rack or shelf.

2) Set up your TT properly, uneven surface will lead to mistracking and give less bass and imaging.

3) Set up your cartridge properly, use any protractor, see vinyl engine.com for further info, also use proper tracking force and counter weight setting, as this will reduce the wear and tear of your records and help in prolonging its life.

4) Clean the record and stylus before each play session.

5) Use a good Phono stage, the CNC Phono is recommended, recently I built one and its quality surpasses the Cambridge Audio 650P Phono stage.

Just my 2 cents.

N.Murali
 

john_k_antony

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Thank you all for valuable suggestions. I will follow the recommendations from Murali sir. The phone preamp I am using is a very mediocre one - Pro-Ject Phono Box. That may be one of the reasons for low bass. I also feel that my Denon+Kef is bass shy as well.

As you guys feel that a cart/stylus upgrade will improve the sound, I didn't factor in the role of tone arm to fully extract the most out of the new cart/stylus.

But I read some reviews that strongly recommend changing the platter to acrylic will definitely improve the overall performance of Debut III.

I will keep researching more and try to tweak my current setting before spending any money on stylus upgrade and platter upgrade.

-John.
 

Sunderpalanivel

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You can definitely upgrade the cart to more reasonable ones, it will result in better bass etc, but it may not necessarily get rid of the crack and pops
 

john_k_antony

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I am more interested in replacing just the stylus and keeping the stock cart in place. The stock cart in Debut III is ortofon OM5 with OM5E stylus. Their high end stylus OM 30 is compatible with OM5 cart body. OM 30 is Nude Elliptical Fine Line stylus that gives much better tracking than the OM5E.

I asked Pro-Ject whether the tone arm in Debut III support using OM 30. Waiting for their reply.
 

Shivam

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Try your turntable with new or near mint condition LPs first. Surface noise is the first factor to degrade the sound. If possible use something like SpinClean disc washer to clean your LPs.

Buy LPs that don't have too many songs on a single side. To include more songs, the tracks are sometimes mastered to reduce the lower frequencies. This was very common with Indian pressings of western popular songs.

If you upgrade the cartridge to 2M red or something similar, improvement can be heard. However such a cartridge needs a higher counter-weight. Check the availability of that too before placing an order.

I have tried just the stylus upgrade on OM5 and it doesn't make much difference in my opinion.
 
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sachu888

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Platter upgrade will not help for reducing surface noise.You can try different types of TT mats,like cork etc.Changing a cart would be the better option for your TT.A good quality outboard phonostage would improve bass and dynamics.I am using Ortofon Super Om-10 on low mass arm of my Micro Seiki TT,with DIY CNC MM Phonostage and I like the sound.It has a very good bass,great imaging etc.

Regards,
Sachin
 

jls001

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Is the acrylic platter available from ProJect itself? If available, how much does it cost as a percentage of your initial purchase cost?

The low-hanging fruit you can pluck is to change to a better cartridge. Just make sure that you stick to similar kind of cartridge (in terms of compliance and weight of cartridge). Don't be too intimidated by the prospect of changing cartridge and making adjustments. It is very much part and parcel of turntable ownership. The earlier you learn to do it, the earlier you learn to optimise your analog source.

In brief, changing cartridge involves:
1) choosing a new cartridge which must be compatible with your tone arm.
2) remove existing cartridge carefully. There are four colour-coded wires that need to be removed. Note down the positions of these coloured wires.
3) Fit new cartridge, fix the 4 wires
4) Engage stylus protection.
5) Assuming your tonearm has markers for setting cartridge tracking force, set it to zero. If this feature is not available, then you NEED an electronic scale to set tracking force.
6) Set antiskate to zero.
7) Move the counterweight of your tonearm back and forth till the arm can stay level without support.
8) Set the desired tracking force.
9) Set an equivalent value of antiskate force.

At this point you should be ready to spin records. But you MAY get inner groove distortion. To further adjust your inner and outer null points to minimise inner groove distortion, use The Stupid Protractor from vinylengine.com. It is deceptively simple but a fantastic tool. Print it to scale (very, very important). Usage instructions here (courtesy sachu888), and also my thread here.

Next up, you can also adjust overhang, which by some accounts is more critical then null points.

Also, old records may not be the best way of judging your setup unless you know for sure that this particular record sounds good on another setup.
 

john_k_antony

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Hey Shivam,

Which stylus did u upgrade to? Also people are recommending platter upgrade to acrylic and get rid of that mat on the current platter that attracts lots of dust.

I am trying to stick with just stylus upgrade for all the reasons you mentioned like counter weight replacement to accommodate heavier carts like ortofon 2M Red or AT 440mla or Shure M97XE
 

john_k_antony

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Is the acrylic platter available from ProJect itself? If available, how much does it cost as a percentage of your initial purchase cost?

The low-hanging fruit you can pluck is to change to a better cartridge. Just make sure that you stick to similar kind of cartridge (in terms of compliance and weight of cartridge). Don't be too intimidated by the prospect of changing cartridge and making adjustments. It is very much part and parcel of turntable ownership. The earlier you learn to do it, the earlier you learn to optimise your analog source.

In brief, changing cartridge involves:
1) choosing a new cartridge which must be compatible with your tone arm.
2) remove existing cartridge carefully. There are four colour-coded wires that need to be removed. Note down the positions of these coloured wires.
3) Fit new cartridge, fix the 4 wires
4) Engage stylus protection.
5) Assuming your tonearm has markers for setting cartridge tracking force, set it to zero. If this feature is not available, then you NEED an electronic scale to set tracking force.
6) Set antiskate to zero.
7) Move the counterweight of your tonearm back and forth till the arm can stay level without support.
8) Set the desired tracking force.
9) Set an equivalent value of antiskate force.

At this point you should be ready to spin records. But you MAY get inner groove distortion. To further adjust your inner and outer null points to minimise inner groove distortion, use The Stupid Protractor from vinylengine.com. It is deceptively simple but a fantastic tool. Print it to scale (very, very important). Usage instructions here (courtesy sachu888), and also my thread here.

Next up, you can also adjust overhang, which by some accounts is more critical then null points.

Also, old records may not be the best way of judging your setup unless you know for sure that this particular record sounds good on another setup.


Thanks for the detailed suggestion :).

The Acrylic platter is available with NeedleDoctor for $129. The price I paid for the TT is around $450 (23K INR) in Bangalore.

I am little worried about changing the cart as many people have said that they ended up breaking the color coded wires when they changed carts in Debut III. That's why I am inclined towards just changing the stylus :D.
 

jls001

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I am little worried about changing the cart as many people have said that they ended up breaking the color coded wires when they changed carts in Debut III. That's why I am inclined towards just changing the stylus :D.

It needs to be done carefully. A steady hand helps. It's no brain surgery as some folks make it out to be.
 

john_k_antony

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Sachu,

I am interested in building the same DIY CNC MM phono stage. How much did it cost you? What are the tools needed to build it apart from a soldering iron, volt meter and screw drivers :). I read from your thread that you got the PCB from the AK member.

Thanks,
John.
 

Shivam

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Hey Shivam,

Which stylus did u upgrade to? Also people are recommending platter upgrade to acrylic and get rid of that mat on the current platter that attracts lots of dust.

I am trying to stick with just stylus upgrade for all the reasons you mentioned like counter weight replacement to accommodate heavier carts like ortofon 2M Red or AT 440mla or Shure M97XE


I have kept the platter same as provided. I tried an Audio Technica MM cartridge with very good results and a borrowed 2M red also with excellent results but later I shifted back to the original OM5e. My reason- I use another Turntable for daily use and so it didn't make sense to invest more in other turntables.
I could not get a counter-weight for the heavier cartridge so I just turned the way the provided weight is mounted and added a few rubber washers (similar to the ones used in taps).
 

sachu888

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Sachu,

I am interested in building the same DIY CNC MM phono stage. How much did it cost you? What are the tools needed to build it apart from a soldering iron, volt meter and screw drivers :). I read from your thread that you got the PCB from the AK member.

Thanks,
John.

Hi John,
I got my first board from Ak member Hypnotoad,but the cost was little high due to shipping.I am now sending Indian made very good quality PCBs to AK members.I am going to order few boards.PM me if you are interested.You will need to buy a suitable case and RCA plugs of your choice.I can provide you the rest of the components.
Original Ak thread here Another Super High End Phono Stage! No expense spared... - AudioKarma.org Home Audio Stereo Discussion Forums
Regards,
Sachin
 
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arj

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Thank you all for valuable suggestions. I will follow the recommendations from Murali sir. The phone preamp I am using is a very mediocre one - Pro-Ject Phono Box. That may be one of the reasons for low bass. I also feel that my Denon+Kef is bass shy as well.

Actually ,more than anything else, the upgrade of your Phono might give you the best upgrade..this appears to be your bottleneck. the sound from the project entry level box on my system was very thin sounding.

for the best price/performance Virens Lyrita phono might be the best option in your range.
 
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