my system - lack of dynamics

stevebootes

Standard Member
Hi All,

I've recently bought a second-hand Thorens TD-160 Super turntable. I'm getting a really nice detailed sound out of it but it seems to have highlighted a weakness in my system best described as a lack of dynamics - there isn't much "punch" to music on it. It's a little better on some CDs than on Vinyl but that's just a likely because I haven't bought a decent cartridge yet.

The system has a bit of a dual role - it's mainly used as an HT system with movies and TV, but also has to provide music functions too. It's been cobbled together over the years mainly by second-hand purchases, so nothing has ever really been thought about in terms of matching.
Anyway, here's the system:

Pre-Amp: Tag Mclaren AV-32R Dual Processor
Power Amp: Marantz MM9000
Speakers: Proac Hexa Response system
CD: Marantz CD 6000 KI
Turntable: Thorens TD-160 Super with Pro-Ject Phonobox II preamp
Cables: Various - QED XT350 speaker cable, Nordost Blue Heaven and QED something interconnects.
Room is approx 12ft x 15ft.

Is there an obvious weak point in my system which is limiting my dynamics? The small Proac Hexa's would seem to be it just by looking at them, but maybe someone else knows better - sound quality is great from them. The Marantz power amp is also probably a weak point, but that seems to have plenty of oomph behind it even if it's not the most musical thing. I haven't spent huge amounts on cables but will that really make that much difference?
I'm at the point now where upgrading individual components is an expensive job that I don't want to get wrong - I'm not going to replace the front speakers with larger Proacs (for example) unless I absolutely know for sure that's my problem.

Any advice anyone?

Steve
 

steveledzep

Active Member
It appears that the lack of dynamics has only appeared since obtaining the Thorens. What cartridge is on your turntable ?
 

stevebootes

Standard Member
The new turntable has made me notice the lack of dynamics I think. I'm not sure if it's the turntable itself, or it's just highlighted a pre-existing problem.

The turntable is currently running a Nagatron 9600 (MM) as a trial, but I've had a Digitrac 300SE on there which sounded quite nice, and it came with a Mission 773MM which sounds ok, but I can't find any information about.
I'm currently looking into other cartridges which would suit the Mission 774LC tonearm - perhaps an Audio Technical AT-150mlx - but I'm taking advice on that. I don't expect it to fix my dynamics issue but I do want a better cartridge anyway.
 

steveledzep

Active Member
I'm not familiar with the cartridges you list. You have a very competent turntable and arm combination, with the correct cartridge, I'd expect it to sing !! The rest of your gear shouldn't be holding it back in my opinion.
 

stevebootes

Standard Member
The Digitrac is essentially an Ortofon OM-30. The Nagatron was part of a selection on loan to me from a friend, along with a couple of other MC cartridges which just didn't seem to work for whatever reason. I wondered if the Pro-ject phono stage was up to the job, but it could equally have been a mismatch between the arm and the cartridges I'd tried.

The setup is certainly musical - it's very pleasant to listen to and there really isn't a problem with it at background-listening volume levels. Lots of detail, excellent mid and treble. It just doesn't seem to have that punch that I think it should have.
 

Mr Pig

Novice Member
The components you have that I know about are all on the laid-back, smooth, inoffensive side. I'm not surprised that it lacks punch and I doubt that changing one thing will fix it.

Tag McLaren were basically Audiolab; detailed, clean but not punchy.

Marantz; same deal, especially their CD players.

Proac; same story. I like my music dynamic and involving and I have to say that I wouldn't have bought any of this stuff.

The turntable, well you've knocked it off there. It's easily the best thing you've got and in good working order as good as an early Linn LP12, which is pretty ok. Service it, look after it and you've got a deck for life. What arm is on it?

Fixing your sound might be tricky. AV is a compromise, unless you've got very deep pockets. I'd suggest you think about what matters most, better quality or all those extra channels.
 

stevebootes

Standard Member
Fixing your sound might be tricky. AV is a compromise, unless you've got very deep pockets. I'd suggest you think about what matters most, better quality or all those extra channels.
I'm quite happy with the quality, it's just the punch. It's probably used for AV more than anything else, so I may just have to live with it for now. Perhaps I'll buy a headphone amp instead..

The turntable, well you've knocked it off there. It's easily the best thing you've got and in good working order as good as an early Linn LP12, which is pretty ok. Service it, look after it and you've got a deck for life. What arm is on it?
I've just serviced it: new belt, re-oiled and polished the bearings and set up the suspension. The arm is a Mission 774LC (a re-branded Jelco I believe). I'll change the cartridge and maybe the tonearm cable but that'll be it.
 

Mr Pig

Novice Member
The arm is a Mission 774LC (a re-branded Jelco I believe).

Yes, Jelco made a great many of the budget arms of the seventies and eighties. I wouldn't bother rewiring it, I don't think the arm's worth it. Just buy a best moving magnet you can, I doubt it would handle a moving coil very well.

If you want to try and change the presentation the biggest shift will be heard by changing the speakers. You might get what you want by doing that.
 

stevebootes

Standard Member
Yes, Jelco made a great many of the budget arms of the seventies and eighties. I wouldn't bother rewiring it, I don't think the arm's worth it. Just buy a best moving magnet you can, I doubt it would handle a moving coil very well.
I mean the external cable rather than the internal wiring, but yes - it's only a cheap arm so wouldn't be worth throwing money at. The external cable can at least be re-used on another arm.
I did try a couple of MC cartridges and I wasn't impressed, so I'm on the lookout for a MM that matches well.

If you want to try and change the presentation the biggest shift will be heard by changing the speakers. You might get what you want by doing that.
Where do I even begin to figure out what speakers are going to work in my system AND improve the dynamics !!?
 

steveledzep

Active Member
There are too many variables in this equation. You're trying to achieve punchy, dynamic sound (your words) with a surround system with good, but compromised equipment. Look at my signature below, it's a dedicated sound system and it sounds good to me. In our living room we have an Onkyo AV receiver with Yamaha front speakers, a Kef centre and Gale rears. A Kef sub supplies the low frequencies. My wife and daughter love this system for watching Blu-Rays, not my cup of tea, but it does work well. I have a few music concerts on Blu-Ray and they come across well, not like my main HiFi, but more than acceptable for video watching as I consider it. If you wish to create a true music system, which is appropriate for your turntable purchase, then maybe you need to look at a dedicated stereo amp with larger, full range speakers.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
as pointed out, if the lack of dynamic is new to the arrival of the turntable, then likely it is the cartridge. If you have other sources, as suggested try them and see if you have the same problem.

There is always better equipment out there, but I would expect what you have to sound very good. Are there some that sound better, probably, but there are always some that sound better in someone's opinion.

So, confirm that this is a new problem?

Next, does your amp or your Phono Pre-Amp have both MM and MC inputs, and are you sure you're using the right one? That's pretty important.

Next, lack of dymanics could mean just about anything. Again, if this is new, that is one thing, if this is a chronic problem, then I would give some thought to the room and the room acoustics.

Also what is the specific model of your main speakers?

Also, has someone added a custom tonearm to the Turntable or is this the tonearm that comes standard with the turntable.

Personally, I would focus on getting a new cartridge that suits your needs. Borrowing from friend is not that reliable. One must ask why are these cartridges just laying around? Can you trust the condition of the stylus?

Perhaps, though I can't say, what you took for 'punch' before was distortion, and not your turntable is crystal clear, and you miss the distortion.

I'll relate an anecdote from when I auditioned the Focal 800 series, when I heard the larger floorstanding models, I was impressed by how much bass they DIDN'T have. Until I re-shifted my focus and realized that while I wasn't hearing bass the way I normally heard it, I could literally feel it slamming into my body. Only then did I realize that the bass I was hearing was rendered crystal clear, prefectly rendered, and absolutely free from drone or distortion.

Perhaps, what you really need is shift in attitude. I'm not saying that is true, only that it is a possibility.

Typical though, you upgrade one component, then the other pale in comparison, so you get the urge to upgrade them too.

Again, I would personally concentrate on the front end or the back end, meaning the turntable cartridge or the speakers. I would expect that is in between to sound very good indeed.

But then, that is just my opinion.

Steve/bluewizard
 

stevebootes

Standard Member
So, confirm that this is a new problem?
I've noticed it since the arrival of the new turntable. Possibly just because I'm listening very critically. The dynamics are a little better with some CDs, but I prefer the sound of the turntable.

Next, does your amp or your Phono Pre-Amp have both MM and MC inputs, and are you sure you're using the right one?
Yes, definitely using MM input.

Also what is the specific model of your main speakers?
They are labelled Proac Response Hexa.

Also, has someone added a custom tonearm to the Turntable or is this the tonearm that comes standard with the turntable.
My understanding is that these turntables were shipped without an arm. The Mission 774LC has been added to it afterwards.

Personally, I would focus on getting a new cartridge that suits your needs. Borrowing from friend is not that reliable. One must ask why are these cartridges just laying around? Can you trust the condition of the stylus?
He's an ex-HiFi dealer and has lots of stuff lying around.. they're all boxed in a dedicated Fidelity Research case attached to individual headshells. I think he used to use them for cartridge comparisons. He's the sort of guy that looks after stuff.

Perhaps, though I can't say, what you took for 'punch' before was distortion, and not your turntable is crystal clear, and you miss the distortion.
That's very possible. I do seem to be listening to the turntable at quite high volume levels, maybe just because I can.

Again, I would personally concentrate on the front end or the back end, meaning the turntable cartridge or the speakers. I would expect that is in between to sound very good indeed.
Well, the cartridge will be changed anyway, I just need to find one that is a good match. I guess that will tell me something either way. Depending on the outcome of that, perhaps I'll try to borrow some larger front speakers from somewhere to see what effect they have.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: Trinnov Room Optimiser: A full explanation of Trinnov and its room optimiser technology
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom