Help required with vintage Hifi setup (including cables)

asselbee

Novice Member
Help required with vintage Hifi setup (including cables)

Hi. I am new to this forum and this is my first post.

During lockdown I did what a lot of other people have done and installed a summerhouse in my garden for use as a music/chilling room.

I have dusted off and installed my old kit from the 80's, namely an Onkyo A8150 Amp, Ariston RD80 Turntable and MIssion 770i speakers to which I have added a Marantz NA7004 network streamer and a Cambridge Audio CD36 CD Player. I am mostly using the Marantz to stream Amazon HD from an old laptop via the USB as well as playing my extensive collection of vinyl and CDs and using Internet radio (mostly WXPN).

I am generally pleased with the sound but I wanted to try and improve it by acquiring some decent speaker leads so made up some Gale A315 with Cambridge Audio Banana Plugs and that's where my problems started. After putting the cables together I discovered that the Onkyo only has the old spring loaded speaker connections so the plugs at one end at least are useless. What's more the cables (which are 2.5 mm) are too big to fit the connectors on the back of the amp.

I have a few questions:-

1) Is there anyway I can use bigger/better cables with my present setup or will I need to get a different amp with plug-in connectors? If so, would it be worth getting an amp with digital input to feed directly from the NA7004?

2) Prior to getting the NA7004 I had not really entered the realms of digital music. Would there be anything to be gained from adding a DAC (eg Topping E30) between the Marantz and Amp? The DAC onboard the Marantz is pretty good but cannot handle some of the newer formats. Would this get round the issue or would it just be a waste of money?

3) I have noticed that the phono is a little subdued compared to other inputs. Would it be worth investing in a (reasonably cheap) phono amp to boost the signal or is there anything I could get which would cover both this point and 2 above? I would like to stay "vintage" if I can as I like the warm sound some of the older kit gives.

4) I am using bog standard interconnects - presumably I would notice a marked difference with good quality RCA/Coax interconnects - is there any improvement to be made with Optical connectors over coax?

I know there are a lot of what might be silly questions here but I would really appreciate any help/tips/guidance you could give me.

Thanks in anticipation.
 

musicphil

Active Member
Your turntable is 👍, what cartridge are you using and what's the arm like?
Your amp is the weak link, I would upgrade this as its possibly 30 odd years old and the caps might be starting to fail.
Be careful replacing it though with other vintage equipment unless it has been serviced and had components upgrade.
If you still want to go down this route for vintage amp, look out for something like a Marantz 1030 or 1060, very nice amps!!!

You don't need fancy banana plugs they will not make a difference to sound.
Interconnects again you don't need to spend a lot, look out for something like van damme interconnect cables on flea bay.

Depending on your amp direction, possibly go for an external phono stage, lots out there. Schitt Mani, Project box or iFi Zen phono stage which is an absolute bargain!
Some others will add the digital bit as I don't listen to streaming etc.
What's your budget?
 
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asselbee

Novice Member
Your turntable is 👍, what cartridge are you using and what's the arm like?
Your amp is the weak link, I would upgrade this as its possibly 30 odd years old and the caps might be starting to fail.
Be careful replacing it though with other vintage equipment unless it has been serviced and had components upgrade.
If you still want to go down this route for vintage amp, look out for something like a Marantz 1030 or 1060, very nice amps!!!

You don't need fancy banana plugs they will not make a difference to sound.
Interconnects again you don't need to spend a lot, look out for something like van damme interconnect cables on flea bay.

Depending on your amp direction, possibly go for an external phono stage, lots out there. Schitt Mani, Project box or iFi Zen phono stage which is an absolute bargain!
Some others will add the digital bit as I don't listen to streaming etc.
What's your budget?
Hi Phil
Thanks for that - The cartridge is a Grado GC Super as supplied by Laskys when I purchased the deck in 1982 - I think it is mounted on a LInn Basik tone arm. I did think about looking for a S/H Marantz 6004 or 6005 which likely would match the NA7004 closely but will also look at your suggestions.
AS per the banana plugs - I didn't think they would make that much difference just convenience really.
I like the look and reviews for the IFi Zen and the schitt ( love that name!) so will try and listen to them and see which I prefer - I guess budget wise I want to get away with as little as possible but could probably stretch to £400 or so if I can be careful to sneak it in without the wife noticing! I am more than happy with the Mission speakers and the streamer so a good amp with the correct speaker connections and, hopefully, a digital input, should sort me for the time being.
Thanks again for the reply.
Mark
 

Jampot90

Active Member
In the short term you could make an adapter set to connect the banana plugs to the Onkyo using 4 heavy duty chocolate block connectors and a few inches of a lighter guage cable that will fit the spring clips.

I have done this to utilise 'proper' speaker cables with vintage speakers that only have screw terminals.

Like these from wickes -


The banana plugs fit with just the slightest grip from the clamp screw.

There is no benefit to using toslink over coax, in fact it can be argued that since an electrical signal has to be converted to optical and back again it may in some cases be worse;-)

Jim
 

Leelo

Active Member
Hi Phil
Thanks for that - The cartridge is a Grado GC Super as supplied by Laskys when I purchased the deck in 1982 - I think it is mounted on a LInn Basik tone arm. I did think about looking for a S/H Marantz 6004 or 6005 which likely would match the NA7004 closely but will also look at your suggestions.
AS per the banana plugs - I didn't think they would make that much difference just convenience really.
I like the look and reviews for the IFi Zen and the schitt ( love that name!) so will try and listen to them and see which I prefer - I guess budget wise I want to get away with as little as possible but could probably stretch to £400 or so if I can be careful to sneak it in without the wife noticing! I am more than happy with the Mission speakers and the streamer so a good amp with the correct speaker connections and, hopefully, a digital input, should sort me for the time being.
Thanks again for the reply.
Mark
Regarding your question about speaker connections to the spring clips on your amp. I used to have a set of connectors that terminated the cable but instead of solid banana plugs they had a short length of braided copper wire the fitted into the hole in the spring clip. Not seen them recently but might be worth a search
 

Daniel 70

Active Member
In the short term you could make an adapter set to connect the banana plugs to the Onkyo using 4 heavy duty chocolate block connectors and a few inches of a lighter guage cable that will fit the spring clips.

I have done this to utilise 'proper' speaker cables with vintage speakers that only have screw terminals.

Like these from wickes -


The banana plugs fit with just the slightest grip from the clamp screw.

There is no benefit to using toslink over coax, in fact it can be argued that since an electrical signal has to be converted to optical and back again it may in some cases be worse;-)

Jim
Hi .. just a minor point of difference between the toslink and the coax. The data is digital in both cases so there is no added noise. However the coax cable shares an earth connection between two separate items of equipment, and can allow a hum loop to form, or for low level electrical noise to seep between devices. Since the toslink is a plastic tube, there is no possibility of this interference or hum passing ... So one up for toslink.
However .. the technology used in toslink was 1980s and the data speed is very slow for optical fibre ..it is good enough for 2 channel Hi Res say 24bit 96K , but cannot handle beyond that. The coaxial cable can go up a notch on that 24 bit 192K . .so can handle Surround sound. ..so one up for coaxial..
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
If you have not done so already, treat your turntable to some TLC. Change the bearing oil and give it a new belt. New suspension springs may well be beneficial after a long time in storage.
 

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