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Hi all, hoping to tap into your vast experience for some guidance/recommendations. I am looking to upgrade from my very reliable and good sounding Schiit Mani as I want to dabble with MC carts.  I have a Audiolab 6000A amplifier, Technics 1200GR TT and Ascension Timberwolf floor standers.  While I am happy with my Nagaoka MP200 cart paired with the Mani, I am led to believe that it may not be as proficient with MC carts. As a result I am keen to consider first a phono stage upgrade followed by a decent MC cart (have my eye on the AT 33SA).  Pricewise I am looking at up to about $2K or just over for a phono that will cater for both MM & MC and one that is flexible to be used with various MC carts in the future if needed.  I like the things I have read about the Parasound zphono xrm at the moment but was wondering if anyone thinks there would be a noticeable difference or improvement in sound quality by moving from the Nagaoka/Mani combo to something like the AT33SA/Parasound zphono xrm combo?  I am really keen to hear and learn about your experiences. Also would love to hear of any other suggestions for phonos up to about $2.5K.  Cheers!  

 

 

 

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No, only because I don't much about SUT's.  Will definitely do some research though.  Thanks!

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I've upgraded recently to a Parks audio puffin and can say that I've very happy with the upgrade. I use a MM cart - so no experience with MC, though I think there are others in the forum who have used the Puffin with MC carts. Will cost you less than 1000 AUD landed in Australia (ships from the US)

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10 minutes ago, Hawk66 said:

No, only because I don't much about SUTs.  Will definitely do some research though.  Thanks!

 

The other option, Ivan, is an (active) head amp - ie. a gain stage.  This gives you flexibility in terms of cart loading.

 

With a SUT, you are lumped with the loading determined by the MM phono stage's default loading (in the Mani's case, 47kOhms) divided by the square of the coil ratio.

 

Whereas with a head amp ... gain is independent of loading. 

 

The Mani gets good reviews - the zphono may not sound any better - it's a risk you would take.

 

If you go for the AT33SA, you have a cart with a nominal output of 0.4mV ... having a coil inductance of 10 ohms.  This says to me that the optimal loading for the cart will be between 100 ohms (10x coil impedance) and 1000 ohms (100x).  A 1:10 SUT will deliver a loading of 470 ohms - well into the sweet spot; however, a 1:15 SUT will only provide a loading of 209 ohms.

 

Andy

 

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other Phono pres that keep getting mentioned often here are Graham Slee and Lehmann audio. There are also offerings from Rega and Project

Edited by anandpkumar
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Hagerman Audio Labs - Trumpet MC

 

This item currently in the SNA Classifieds would be my choice.

Edited by Bisguittin
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3 hours ago, anandpkumar said:

I've upgraded recently to a Parks audio puffin and can say that I've very happy with the upgrade. I use a MM cart - so no experience with MC, though I think there are others in the forum who have used the Puffin with MC carts. Will cost you less than 1000 AUD landed in Australia (ships from the US)

Same here re: Parks Puffin.  And @Hawk66 I upgraded from the Mani to the Puffin.  The Mani is outstanding value at its price range, but somewhat limited if wanting to use it beyond MM carts.  And the MC gain stage was very noisy to run MC and anything over 44db gain from memory, I noticed gain 'hiss'...

 

So i use a step up transformer with my Puffin on my Lyra Delos.  Very happy with it.   My step up is a 1:10 load of 470ohms as what mentioned by Andyr below.

3 hours ago, andyr said:

 

The other option, Ivan, is an (active) head amp - ie. a gain stage.  This gives you flexibility in terms of cart loading.

 

With a SUT, you are lumped with the loading determined by the MM phono stage's default loading (in the Mani's case, 47kOhms) divided by the square of the coil ratio.

 

Whereas with a head amp ... gain is independent of loading. 

 

The Mani gets good reviews - the zphono may not sound any better - it's a risk you would take.

 

If you go for the AT33SA, you have a cart with a nominal output of 0.4mV ... having a coil inductance of 10 ohms.  This says to me that the optimal loading for the cart will be between 100 ohms (10x coil impedance) and 1000 ohms (100x).  A 1:10 SUT will deliver a loading of 470 ohms - well into the sweet spot; however, a 1:15 SUT will only provide a loading of 209 ohms.

 

Andy

 

 

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1 hour ago, anandpkumar said:

other Phono pres that keep getting mentioned often here are Graham Slee and Lehmann audio. There are also offerings from Rega and Project

I have Graham Slee phono stages and really like them and a benefit is you can do a home trial with no obligation to buy and see how they are in your system/room

 

However GS does not do a MM/MC combined phono; more info here https://www.hifisystemcomponents.com/phono-preamps/ 

 

One component he does is a MC step up with variable loading - The Elevator. You could use one with your MM phone stage, and I believe there is one for sale in the Classifieds at the moment at a pretty good price.

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I have a similar setup to you. I run (well ran*) a 1200GR with a Nagaoka MP-200 into a Mani. 

 

The Mani was promptly sold after I tried a Graham Slee Reflex Era Gold (transitional model between Era Gold V and Reflex M).

 

The GS is much quieter (less hiss), more resistant to interference from WiFi, has better bass quantity and quality/texture, female voices sound more liquid, but the single biggest difference was the soundstage which grew significantly.

 

I felt that the Mani was a very midrange centric phono, and has good pace but falls down in a lot of other areas. 

 

Before jumping into MCs I would strongly recommend that you actually max out what your MI (the Nagaoka is not a MM) can do. MIs have advantages as well relative to MCs, and there is significant overlap between the higher range MIs and the mid-higher range MCs.

 

*: I now run a GAE

Edited by adhoc
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Posted (edited)

You should have a look at a second hand Whest. I am looking at upgrading my PS30r soon. IMO James makes some of the best phonos that you can get. 
 

You should do a bit of research online.  The latest 40 model SE is the best phono that I have heard. 

Edited by PKay
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Thanks to everyone for their comments. Always a great learning experience. I am loaning a GSP audio Reflex M first to see if it is a step up from the Mani. Depending on that i will either stick with the MM carts or start dabbling with MC’s with either a SUT or dedicated stage such as GSP accession mc stage..

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10 hours ago, Hawk66 said:

Thanks to everyone for their comments. Always a great learning experience. I am loaning a GSP audio Reflex M first to see if it is a step up from the Mani. Depending on that i will either stick with the MM carts or start dabbling with MC’s with either a SUT or dedicated stage such as GSP accession mc stage..

 

If you'd like to compare the Audio Reflex M against my own 'Muse' MM phono stage, Ivan ... just send me a PM.  If you're in Melbourne, I should be able to drop it over, quite easily.

 

Andy

 

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Wonder how the Parks audio puffin stacks up against something like the Musical Surroundings Phonomena II+ (another suggestion for OP). Trying to decide myself on one at this price level. 

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17 hours ago, Hawk66 said:

Thanks to everyone for their comments. Always a great learning experience. I am loaning a GSP audio Reflex M first to see if it is a step up from the Mani. Depending on that i will either stick with the MM carts or start dabbling with MC’s with either a SUT or dedicated stage such as GSP accession mc stage..

 

Be sure to let us all know how you get on with the Reflex M after you've used it a little while 😉

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