New Phono stage or not?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Geezerdog, Jan 19, 2018.

  1. Geezerdog

    Geezerdog
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    I have a quite old MF A3 integrated amp which has a phono stage into which I run a systemdek IV. It's good but I'm wondering if I bought a new phono stage and spent maybe £300 on one would there be much difference and would it be worth shelling out £300 on.

    Anyone have any similar experiences?
     
  2. Jampot90

    Jampot90
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    What cartridge are you using and what (if anything) do you find lacking at present?
     
  3. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    That is a difficult question, you first have to remember that New Electronics can not add anything, they best they can do is to subtract less.

    I would expect Musical Fidelity to produce quality equipment and that implies a quality MM Phono Input. Some External Phono Stages give you more control over gain, but that typically applies to MC Phono Cartridge. But you make no mention of gain being a problem.

    The other thing a given Phono Stage can do is track the RIAA Equalization Curve more accurately. But variations from the curve would probably not be noticeable, though they would be measurable.

    RIAA equalization - Wikipedia

    Then we have the quality of the internal amplifiers. Likely better Phono Stages uses higher quality low-noise Op-Amps, but again, this is a subtle thing.

    If you using more consumer grade gear, then I would say that possibly a good external Phono Stage would be worth it. But I would rate Musical Fidelity a bit higher than consumer grade.

    I don't think anyone can tell you definitively - yes or no - it is really up to you and your ears to decide.

    Truly good Phono Stages tend to run closer to £800 -

    https://www.hifix.co.uk/turntables/...re-amplifiers/rega-aria-mm-and-mc-phono-stage

    https://www.hifix.co.uk/turntables/...plifiers/musical-fidelity-mx-vnyl-phono-stage

    These are very versatile, but a majority of that versatility is applied to Moving Coil Cartridge. You didn't mention what cartridge you have on your turntable. Perhaps a better upgrade would be an improved cartridge which is something that actually produces sound.

    This is a question that is difficult to answer with any certainty as there is an individual element to it. Two people with identical equipment and similar rooms might not react the same. One may rave about the improvement and the other may hear nothing at all (relative to improvement).

    That was probably not much help, but it is the best I can say.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  4. Geezerdog

    Geezerdog
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    Thanks Guys, I’m using a sumito Pearl mm.

    Really appreciate your advice
     
  5. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    The Sumiko Pearl, which is what I assume you meant, is pretty good and cost about £110. I would expect it to sound pretty good.

    Again, if you had a Yamaha or Onkyo (or similar) Amp I would be inclined to say there could be come advantage to an External Phono Pre-Amp, but it is hard to say with a Musical Fidelity. I would expect MF to try and hit a pretty high standard in their equipment.

    Any chance you can borrow a Phono Pre-Amp from a friend and judge for yourself?

    Personally, it is not something I would worry about, but then I'm not you.

    Also, how old is the cartridge and - best guess - how many hours has it been used? I don't really have a fixed time frame on when Stylus start to wear out, but that is something to consider.

    The next factors is the alignment of the cartridge in the Arm. To the extent possible the Cartridge has to be parallel to the Tonearm Headshell and square to the groove as much as possible.

    Then there is the height of the tonearm which effect the angle of the Stylus to the record groove. Some turntables have an adjustment at the base of the Toneam Pivot (gimbal) to adjust the height. Generally you want the Stylus vertically 90° to the groove. Because that is so difficult to measure, the Stylus being so tiny, most simply adjust so the Tonearm is Parallel to the record. How accurate that is, I don't know.

    There are protractors you can buy or download that can help you with Cartridge Alignment. There are also videos on YouTube explaining proper cartridge alignment.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  6. Jampot90

    Jampot90
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    All good suggestions from Blue Wizard to make sure you are getting the best from the TT. The A3 is probably a good match for the Sumiko and I think it is unlikely you will improve on the phono stage for £300.
    Unless the TT has been serviced since new and carefully set up I would consider paying perhaps half the budget on having that done unless you are up to doing it yourself. If the Sumiko is in good nick spend the rest on some new LPs:)

    Jim
     
  7. Geezerdog

    Geezerdog
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    Thanks guys, a good idea to see if I can borrow one - I had not thought of that. The Pearl is only 1 or 2 months old. Also I had it put on by my local hifi shop so hopefully should be installed ok?
     

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