My Setup's Weakest Link

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ErikThetaChi69, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. ErikThetaChi69

    ErikThetaChi69 Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Miami, FL
    Hi all,

    I've been an vinyl junkie for years but I'm beginning to get into the world of audiophilia (it even sounds dirty) and I'd like to know where to improve my setup .I know a lot of you are really well versed with these things so pardon my ignorance. I'm just looking to get into this awesome hobby. My hardware is as follows:

    -Technics SL-1400 turntable with anti-static mat & tonearm brush
    -Audio Technica AT440 mlb
    -Marantz 2238b
    -Klipsch KG4's

    What do you all think is holding my setup back and what would you do ton improve it? Is there any mods I can do equipment I have already to make it better?
     
  2. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Forum Resident

    Really, I think that you have a nice set up, were everything is nicely balanced. By balanced, I mean that everything is a good match for each other, with everything pulling it's own weight.

    There are no weak components and nothing is out of wack price wise.

    Back in the 90's, I owned a pair of the KG5.5's.

    If you like the sound as it is, stay with everything that you currently own.

    If you want to alter the sound signature, I would do it with the cartridge, where you can not only change the SS, but you will have taken a significant incremental step upward.

    I would recommend a Ortofon 2M Bronze. Nicely musical and with a slight bit less "sharp" definition, than the AT440mlb's and not as bright, but very smooth and refined.

    You will have a built in upgrade path, because you can have the 2M Black by just changing out the stylus. I use the term "upgrade" cautiously, because the Bronze and the Black have different SS's. Is is subjective that one has superior sound to the other one.

    The Black would be closer to the 440's, more detailed than the Bronze, more bass and more organic sounding, but still less bright than your AT.

    I have both the Bronze and Black stylus and I like them both, just different. I had been listening to the Bronze for a wile, but a few weeks ago, I switched back to the Black.

    It's all good!
     
    Balthazar, John Woo and Dennis0675 like this.
  3. ErikThetaChi69

    ErikThetaChi69 Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Miami, FL

    I also have a Shure V15 type II cartridge. I was thinking when my AT440 mlb needs to be replaced of getting a Jico SAS for the Shure. How do you think it would compare to the AT440mlb & Ortofon Bronze?
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  4. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    I also think you have a very good set up and well matched. My move would be to get an external phono stage, you can beat the internal on that Marantz for not a lot of money. Which one would depend on how much money you are willing to throw at it. Running a $500 cart into an internal phono from the 70's is keeping you from hearing all it can do.
     
  5. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Active Member

    Location:
    Iowa, USA
    If your Marantz is original inside then it is the weak link. Electrolytic caps, possibly some transistors that are 38 years old will be holding your receiver back from sounding like it did back in 78.
     
    John Woo and Daily Nightly like this.
  6. triple

    triple Forum Resident

    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    No cables?
     
  7. ErikThetaChi69

    ErikThetaChi69 Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Miami, FL
    Interesting. Do you have any suggestions for external phono stages? I'm thinking under 200. How would a tube phono stage affect my sound compared to the phono stage in the Marantz?
     
    Dennis0675 likes this.
  8. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    I'm thinking $500 :agree:

    The lounge is a forum favorite and for tubes it going to be a parks budgie or a project tube box. There are many threads on the topic you can check out for more information. I will add that a getting a nice phono stage will e one of your favorite upgrades ever.
     
  9. ErikThetaChi69

    ErikThetaChi69 Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Miami, FL

    I'm a big fan of Pbthal's rips. I know he used a Budgie in a lot of rips, so I'm definitely gonna look it up!
     
    Dennis0675 likes this.
  10. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront

    14 Cheerleader Coldfront Well-Known Member

    Location:
    USA
    You have a nice system. But one upgrade leads to another. Eventually you will probably upgrade every link in the chain so start with the end in mind. Set your long term end-state full system budget. That way you won't upgrade individual pieces twice. Make it a multi year process to spread out the expense.

    I would go speakers first, then table/cart, then phono, finally amp. Used can be a great way to go...try audiogon.

    In the meantime enjoy what you have!
     
    John Woo and Dennis0675 like this.
  11. dirtymac

    dirtymac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Exile, MN
    A lot of solid advice. I also agree that your system is well-matched, with nothing screaming out to be upgraded. If you play a lot of records, you could upgrade your cartrige and a Shure V15 II with Jico SAS would be a bit of a step up from the AT440.

    I'll echo what 14 cheerleader said, Enjoy what you have and if you want to upgrade map it out and do it over some time, starting with the speakers (i.e. if you really like your Klipsch KG-4s then Forte's with Bob Crites upgraded tweeters/crossovers would be a significant step up).
     
  12. ErikThetaChi69

    ErikThetaChi69 Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Miami, FL
    You're absolutely right. I just purchased an original UK copy of Odessey & Oracle. It's my favorite album and possibly the most I've ever spent on a record. After seeing all your setups on the forum, I probably got a bit self-conscious about my setup not being the best for my records and possibly doing damage to them. I need to start thinking about what my ideal setup would be and slowly building up to it.
     
    Balthazar and dirtymac like this.
  13. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Forum Resident

    I have two vintage Dual TT's that both have Sure cartridges, one has a modern Sure and the other has a V15 Type IV, which I am very fond of.

    Actually, I had those same thoughts, but I am given to believe that these are difficult and expensive to come by.

    @Thorensman has presented some other less expensive options to the Jico, they sound like very reasonable and intriguing options.

    As has been mentioned, a phono preamp UG has been put on the table and I agree, that that is another upgrade you should consider.

    Emotiva (IMHO) makes a quality SS phono-pre, which is under $200 and only $100 more contained inside a analog input extender, with an included remote control. I have this model and it is clean and neutral sounding. I do have a Decware tube phono-pre on the tube system. but it is a lot more expensive. Budgie makes a nice tube-pre for about $400.
     
    Balthazar and Dennis0675 like this.
  14. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Forum Resident

    That also is a good recommendation but the question is, would it really be cost effective. I like the KG series, but I don't know whether or not it is worth the monetary investment, considering the current valuation of the KG series. I do agree that it would sound better. This is an OK thing, IF you are going to have these speakers as a permanent part of your collection.

    It's kind of like modding a car, you can do a lot of things to it as a labor of love, but don't expect to make your time and monetary investment back.

    The only way to make a recovery is if you take it to such a level that someone with a big wallet is wanting it, with a passion.
     
  15. dirtymac

    dirtymac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Exile, MN
    The KG4s are fine speakers, but I wasn't recommending that they get upgraded. I was suggesting that, if the OP really likes his Klipsch speakers, he may want to move on up to the Fortes (or Chorus/Chorus IIs or Cornwalls) and get the Crites upgrades. Something like that could hold its own with several layers of upgrades of surrounding equipment.
     
  16. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    Truth
     
  17. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Forum Resident

    Got it!

    Also, keep in mind that Crites crossovers are replica's of OEM's, which is fine. But there is also ALK Engineering, that makes upgraded crossovers for Klipsch products. I use ALK crossovers in my Altec A7's, and there is nothing like them anywhere in the affordable price range.

    These crossovers and not plug and play. Sure, while their installation is straight forward, they have to be dialed in, a process that took me several weeks to understand and to perfect.

    I had my first pair of A7's custom built when I was sixteen, over forty five years ago.

    For all of those years, I was under a certain impression, that they were what they were, and they are perfect for rock oriented music or live public performances, but even I would not come close to calling them audiophile speakers.

    My main pair, with restored 828-cabinets with Eminance bass drivers and original Altec 511B horns and 908-series drivers are way up the ladder from standard factory issue.

    These are guaranteed to outlast me (I know, I am old, so that isn't any big deal). But they will outlast another generation or so.

    So, yes, I do understand in a way, that most can not, without having a point of reference, if you choose quality, you can make an excellent lifetime investment.

    And, with the proper upgrades, you can have some incredible sounding speakers.

    Not only that, you will have horn loaded speakers that highly benefit from tube amplification.

    I can run the A7's with a small 3.9-watt Decware, Mini Torii. Sounds fantastic.

    A lot of of modern speakers, meaning most modern day speakers, are designed for SS amps and HT applications. Tubes not only don't bring anything to the table with many of these speakers, but are often lacking the dynamic impact that SS amps deliver.
     
    Balthazar likes this.
  18. resonated

    resonated Active Member

    A properly dialed-in Technics SL-1400/440 MLb is going to treat your Zombies album just fine..... It's todays cheapo Crosley's and AT-LP60s that are the primary offenders in accelerating wear to records.
    For a vintage amp I think you could do a lot better than that particular model. While the lowercase "b" baby Marantz receivers are attractive because of their aesthetics and wide-availability, the higher wattage models outperform them by a mile. Better dynamics, more headroom, and usually a better phono selection can be found in the more upscale models. I used to own an all-original Pioneer SX-737—only 35 watts—and it sounded so much more spacious and detailed than the 20 watt Marantz receiver they use behind the counter at my local record store. Early to mid 70s Pioneer, Sansui, Marantz and MAC stuff rated 40 watts and above might be your best move for the money.
     
  19. ErikThetaChi69

    ErikThetaChi69 Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Miami, FL
    Decided to make sure my turntable was at peak performance after reading a lot of your thoughts. I've run into a bit of snag though. I can't seem to adjust my tonearm height to dial in my VTA on the SL-1400. The manual doesn't state anyway to raise or lower the height of the tonearm whatsoever. Anybody have any ideas what I should do? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
  20. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    It looks like your table has a fixed arm height. The easiest way to adjust VTA is by using platter mats of different thickness. Otherwise, you can shim the cartridge, but then you'll have to realign it for offset and all that jazz each time.
     
  21. Hipper

    Hipper Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Herts., England
    The biggest adjustment you can make to the quality of the sound is to position speakers and listening chair properly, room treatment (bass traps etc.), an equaliser or DSP. These three things will change a system (for the better if done well!) much more then any upgraded gear, cables etc.. Once you've done the positioning and room treatment (I realise many do not like EQ/DSP), then look at isolation products and power sources.
     
  22. ErikThetaChi69

    ErikThetaChi69 Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Miami, FL
    I figured getting a thicker mat was an easier solution, so I bought this:

    Original Cork Turntable Mat (THICK) - Audiophile Mat for Vinyl Record LP's | eBay
     
  23. Balthazar

    Balthazar Forum Resident

    [​IMG]

    I think of what you wrote when I see people recommend super low watt tube amplifiers with speakers like my Harbeths. In the right application, tubes are amazing. In the wrong application, they're an unnecessary restriction.
     
    Dennis0675 and SandAndGlass like this.
  24. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Forum Resident

    And that is why I am SandAndGlass... (see avatar on left)
     
    Balthazar likes this.
  25. ErikThetaChi69

    ErikThetaChi69 Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Miami, FL
    So I found a set of Forte's in my area that I'm gonna try to snatch up. I'm looking at a Denon DL-301 mkII MC cartridge with a Emotive XPS-1 Phono Preamp. This wouldn't be overkill with Technics Sl-1400 mkI would it?
     

Share This Page