Cartridge Matching...Need Input

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Vinyl23, May 14, 2018.

  1. Vinyl23

    Vinyl23 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest US
    Hello all...first time poster! I'm upgrading my turntable to a VPI Prime Scout and going to pair it with a Parasound JC3 Jr preamp. Still a little new to the game so unsure which cartridge would be the best fit. After poking around on these forums, I've come up with the following options:
    1. Ortofon Quintet Black
    2. Shelter 501III MC
    3. Dynavector 20X2

    However, I'm open to other suggestions that may work better. Would like to stay under $1200 USD. Thanks for the input.
     
  2. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Katy, TX
    Seems like you are boxing yourself in. Most people match cartridge to the tonearm then match the selected cartridge to a phono stage. If you already have the gear, that is one thing. Do you have the phono stage?
     
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  3. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    The options are far wider than those 3 models, even in your price range. What music do you listen to?

    Please fill your profile so we know all of the gear you'll be using and consequently how it'll all sound together. We will then be far better armed with suggestions. Otherwise, it's kind of like shooting darts in a dark room.
     
  4. Vinyl23

    Vinyl23 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest US
    Thanks for the responses. Updated the gear in my profile...thanks for the suggestion. I enjoy a wide mix of music but my top preference are female vocals.

    For the tonearm, I was going with the standard on the VPI Prime Scout - JMW 9.

    VPI has several cartridges they recommend on their website but wanted to get input here as well. Thanks.
     
  5. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Let's see now. Does your preamp/integrated have balanced inputs? the JC3 Jr. you have chosen provides higher gain(46/56/66 dB) through balanced outputs, which will be handy with LOMC carts of about 0.3 mV. I have first-hand experience running a 0.3 mV cart into both 60 and 66 dB, and will tell you honestly that it sounds better at 66. The JC3 should be quiet enough to run at that setting without much noise.

    Now let's look at every cart you listed.

    Quintet Black:

    0.3 mV out, 5 Ohm internal impedance, >20 Ohm recommended loading. Probably should be run at about 50 Ohm.
    The JC3 Jr. loading scale goes 50 - 550. It may work, but you will never know if it sounds better below 50 Ohm. Anything above - you got it.
    With 66 dB/balanced cables and 50 Ohm loading - probably will work just fine. Your ears will be the ultimate judge.

    Shelter 501:

    0.4 mV out, 12 Ohm internal impedance. Recommended loading into phono - 100 Ohm (or 20 Ohm into a SUT).
    60 dB would be sufficient for 0.4 mV cart - eliminates the need for balanced cables. 100 Ohm loading you have on the Jc3.
    Will work. Again - your ears will tell you if you like it.

    Dyna 20x2:

    I would like to recommend the HO version, at 2.8 mV - would run nicely with a 46 dB gain (balanced), but it needs a 1000 Ohm loading, which the Jc3 Jr lacks. So - LOMC it is: 0.3 mV out, 5 Ohm internal impedance, recommended loading >30 Ohm. Also should probably be run at about 50 Ohm - but again you will never know if it sounds better below 50 Ohm with your JC3 Jr.

    For least amount of headache and guesswork - I'd probably go with the Shelter. Highest output, no need for balanced cables, you can play with loading both on the high and low sides - to see what sounds better to your ears. Plus: Stereophile recommended and TAS (The Absolute Sound) Best product of the Year.

    Shelter 501III MC Phono Cartridge

    Since you're looking in that price category, I could suggest the Dynavector Karat 17D3.
    0.3 mV out (the newer version), internal impedance 38 Ohm, recommended loading 100 Ohm, which you got, but it may also sound good at 380 Ohm, or anything in between - and that you also got! It's better than 20x2, also has a few awards, and is the only cart I know of with a diamond cantilever, which is intriguing.

    Dynavector 17D3 Phono Cartridge The Absolute Sound, Golden Ear Award, August 2007

    Should you like what you read - here's one almost new for half the price:

    Dynavector Karat 17D3 Lo-output MC Diamond-cantilever Phono Cartridge
     
    Vinyl23 likes this.
  6. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I'd call Acoustic Sounds to get their input. They probably sell and install a wider variety of cartridges than any other dealer. Their equipment manager is a no BS kind of guy and really knows what he's doing when it comes to component matching IMO.

    Cartridges|Acoustic Sounds
     
  7. Vinyl23

    Vinyl23 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest US
    Thanks Benzion. That kind of reply was exactly what I was looking for...limited knowledge around those specifics.

    I was planning on using balanced cables from the JC3 to the Halo so not sure if that impacts your recommendation of the Dynavector 17D3?
     
    James Glennon likes this.
  8. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    No, it's actually a plus. The older Karat is .23 mV, the newer ones are 0.3. Both of them, but especially the older one, can really benefit from the 66 dB gain of balanced cables.
     
  9. Vinyl23

    Vinyl23 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest US
    Called Hifi Heaven and they had sold that Dynavector quite some time ago and forgot to unlist it. Not sure if I can swing a new one (but maybe). Open for more suggestions if anyone has any.
     
  10. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Does it have to be LOMC? What about HOMC, MM, and MI?
     
  11. Vinyl23

    Vinyl23 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest US
    No I’m open to suggestions that will be a very good fit for the VPI Prime Scout and the Parasound JC3 JR. Thanks.
     
  12. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Seriously, give Acoustic Sounds a call.
     
  13. Vinyl23

    Vinyl23 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest US
    Thanks Helom...yes, I will do that. Who do I ask for?
     
  14. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Take it from somebody who has the Dynavector 20X2L and has had zero issues running any phono preamp with 60dB or more gain with it. I wouldn't let the stats of the JC3 Jr stop you. In fact, I just bought one which I'll be picking up on the 26th. It won't be a problem to pair those two together and if you do a bit of research, you'll see others have done the same with great results.

    As for loading, it is entirely system-dependent. One of the members here had nearly the same phono preamp, cart, and a turntable of the same brand. Basically, the only real big difference was the speakers we each used. He suggested 1000 ohms. When I tried that, it sounded much too bright! Backing it down to 100 ohms provided a perfect organic presentation. And that is taking into account Dynavector suggesting 30 ohms. The setting I preferred was more than 3x their suggested setting. I'd also have the option to go down to 47 ohms if I want to with the JC3 Jr, so no worries there.

    Stats are good and all but real-life experience counts for more, IMHO. Not every cart will work but the 20X2L will work perfectly fine. Personally, I find the Dynavector sound quite lovely and delightful to listen to. Great bass, velvety highs, and natural midrange. There are plenty of other carts out there, some of which you might prefer. The problem with carts is you can't test them before buying. Having said that, I have a VPI Prime and will be comparing my new JC3 Jr to my current Lehmann Decade.

    If you're seriously considering the 20X2L and it'll put your mind at ease, assuming you can wait a little while, I can PM you with my findings once I get the JC3 Jr going. Unless you're thinking of a cart with much less output than the 0.3mV the 20X2L offers, you should be A-OK.
     
    Vinyl23 likes this.
  15. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Stelly
     
  16. James Glennon

    James Glennon Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    Also, you can trade in your Dynavector 17D3 against a new one when the time comes, fairly good discount (around $300).

    If the Dynavector turns out to be a good match, I can highly recommend it for sound quality!

    JG
     
  17. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I mean, @Helom is giving you a good advise - call someone who has probably sold, installed, and, most importantly - heard a ton of carts in the course of usual daily business.

    If I were in your shoes and with your budget, I'd take a look at Nagaoka 300 and 500, Soundsmith Carmen, AT-33Sa, AT-33/PTG-II and AT ART9.

    There are many worthy carts to consider. Try to hear as many as you can, read as many reviews as you can on the others. And - call Stelly.
     
  18. Vinyl23

    Vinyl23 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest US
    Yes I can wait a little bit. PM me when once you get some run time. Thanks so much.
     
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  19. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    My pleasure! Glad to help however I can. :)
     
  20. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    @Vinyl23 While browsing, I found a somewhat used Dynavector 17D3 cart, in case you're interested.

    Dynavector Karat 17D3 MC Cartridge Micro Ridge Stylus

    No idea if this is an avenue you'd be comfortable using but thought I'd mention it in case this suggestion from @Benzion piqued your interest.

    From $1350 to $700, that's a big discount... assuming what's written in the ad is truthful. The fact the seller has good feedback and posts his phone number in the ad is a good sign, though.
     
  21. Vinyl23

    Vinyl23 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest US
    Well they are moving fast....already sold! Thanks for letting me know.
     
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  22. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Good deals never last. :(
     
  23. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    definitely consider an audio technica ART9 (from LP Gear, ~ $999) . threads about it here and A-G.

    many people say it sounds better than cartridges 3X the price.
    i loved mine (still have it) and it took a cartridge twice the price to beat it (ortofon cadenza blue).

    are you using balanced or unbalanced out from your JC3 jr? (it matters because of different gain specs)
     
  24. Vinyl23

    Vinyl23 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwest US
    Planning to go balanced. Appreciate the input.
     
  25. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    Excellent, balanced output gain is 66db, which is exactly the gain I used for the ART9 along with 100 ohms resistance. Read up on that one- it sounds incredible with all types of music.

    I used the ART9 on my VPI Traveler which has the same tonearm mass as the Prime Scout. I would also suggest the Herbies mat if you need one.
     
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