Step up for HOMC?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by mbroeska, Sep 14, 2017.

  1. mbroeska

    mbroeska Member Thread Starter

    I have a Denon DL-110 on an RP3 going through a Lounge Audio LCR MKIII. Gain on the Lounge is 40 dB, but based on my research, the 1.6 mV output of the DL-110 should have a phono pre of approx 56db.

    My analog system goes through a Naim UnitiQute 2 and a Naim NAP 100. Speakers are B&W 685s. I find I have to turn the volume up to 55 (on a scale of 100) for music to start to open up. Additionally, I feel that I have many records that sound closed in, muffled, or veiled compared to their digital counter parts. I don't think this should be the case.

    I know that HOMC is technically "fine" with MM phono amps, but I'm curious whether there would be something to gain (no pun intended) by having that 16 dB boost.

    I'm not ready right now to invest in a step up like the Lounge Copla and I'm looking for suggestions or options...

    1- is there a really inexpensive SUT that'd do what I'm wanting? Talking less than $100.

    2- is there a good DIY project to create a simple, fixed 16 dB boost? Degree of complexity should be low or instructions would have to be REALLY clear.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts you all might have.
     
  2. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Surprise, AZ
    Get a used phono preamp
     
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  3. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    The K&K SUT kits are about as simple a kit as you are going to find, but they're not less than $100, in kit form it's more like $300, and while the instructions are clear, you need a good soldering iron, small motor coordination and a light touch with the iron on the PC board.

    You probably are looking to step up output voltage to something around 5 mV for a typical phono preamp. So that means, with a 1.6 V cart, you're only looking for around a 3X set up transformer. That's not typical. The basic K&K with the Lundahl 9226, is 1:5, but that will step up the output to 8 mV. that'll probably be OK, but it's possible that you could overload a MM phono stage with very load records (like if you listen maybe to old 12" singles). It would also change the reflected impedance loading the chart to 1880 ohms. That's OK, the cart has a 160 ohm internal impedance, so a load of 1600 ohms or above aught to be pretty good (in fact it might be better than loading the cart at 47K ohms).

    Your best bet might just be an outboard phono preamp with more active gain and a wide range of loading options, or an active head amp -- not, however, the Copla with that cart. The Copla offers adjustable cartridge loading from 40 ohms to 300 ohms. With its internal impedance the Denon DL-110 is going to need to be loaded at at least 1600 ohms, 300 ohms will be way too much of a load and you'll have soft, dark sound I suspect loading a 160 ohm cart at 300 ohms.

    Hagerman makes a little active head amp, the Piccolo. No impedance loads between 1K and 47K but at least is doesn't mean loading the cart at 300 ohms. Based on the specs it looks like it would work for you, but again, it's more like $300, not $100.
     
  4. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Surprise, AZ
    buy a used phono preamp
     
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  5. Build the Common-Base Circuit written about here. That's where Copla grew out of.

     
  6. Benzion

    Benzion Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    buy a used Copla or a used Piccolo from Hegerman.

    I run the DL-110 into 50 dB - sounds just fine.

    In general terms, you'd want the phono pre to give you output of about 500 mV or a little more going into your preamp/integrated. At 50 dB gain, the output is 506 mV. At 56 dB it will be 1,009 mV - over 1V, which is too much, IMHO
     
  7. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I dunno about the OP's tech prowess, but he did ask for "DIY project.... Degree of complexity should be low or instructions would have to be REALLY clear." Doesn't sound like he's up for a scratch build from a schematic.
     
  8. mbroeska

    mbroeska Member Thread Starter

    Thanks for the replies!

    Mike from NYC - a used phono isn't a bad idea, but I like the idea of learning something new from other avenues.

    chevokas - you're right on my technical abilities. It's been at least 25 years since soldering anything. I have some handy friends in that area though and thought it could be a learning project for everyone.

    morinix - thanks for the suggestion, but see above response. :)

    Benzion - thanks also. Perhaps a Copla is in my future... but only when it's time to upgrade from the DL-110 to something else.
     
  9. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    The Lounge Copla will go great with your DL-110, I know because I used to have that exact set up.
     
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  10. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Copla sounded great IME but you could also grab a more adjustable phono stage if you want for future cart changes and it'd probably be similar results.
     
  11. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    So you're loading your DL-110 at 300 ohms? It's a 160 ohm internal impedance cart, IIRC, that's barely 2x the internal impedance, that's gonna give your a lot of voltage loss at the input of the head amp, and probably gonna modify the frequency response (depending of course on how the impedance of the cart changes with frequency). Or does the Copla have provisions from 1500 0r 2000 or higher impedance loading?
     
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  12. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    The Lounge works with a transimpedance dial on the front, no jumpers to deal with. You just turn the dial until you like what you're hearing, just like a tone control. When I told the Copla's designer Robert Morin (@morinix) what cartridge I was using it with he was intrigued since he said technically it shouldn't work with such an HOMC cartridge. Robert put together the same set up on his end and found that the sonic results were excellent, very much to his surprise.

    Here's a link to the Copla page so you can read the tech specs on the unit: Home | Phonopreamps | Lounge Audio
     
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  13. No it does not.
    Yes one would think so... But then, as you can read above, DigMyGroove did an unconventional thing and made a true discovery. The DL110 will work at any dial setting but does chatter a little at lower than 100 ohms. I really want to figure out the deeper reason why this works but I have been so busy.

    Right now, as I type this I am listing to DL110 + Copla + LCRGold playing a thrift store find of the Amadeus sound track. It shouldn't work, but it does!
     
  14. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    As you point out, loading it that low may modify the frequency response, but I'm not sure as to whether that will happen or how much of an effect there will be.

    What is not in question is that when you start to load the cartridge down that much, the voltage output is dramatically reduced as you say. You tend to see a lot of discussion on this (even though users may not know this is what they're discussing) with first time/novice users of high output moving coil cartridges. Very often, users are pairing them with MM stages that may have a moving coil option. The stage may only have 32-36 dB of gain which will be light and present problems with high output MC's that have an output in the 1.6-2.5 mV range. (The rumour used to be that the 110/160 output is closer to 2.2 mV in real life than the 1.6 stated spec from Denon-FWIW, both 103R's I have owned came with spec sheets identifying the output as .3 and .32 mv as opposed to the stated .25 mV standard spec).

    So users like this switch over to the MC setting, which has a ton of gain but typically a load of 100 ohms. The voltage output is dramatically reduced but still may sound better than not having enough gain on the MM side. More a function of the altered gain relationship/matching and interface between cartridge and phono stage.

    Will it sound as good as providing the cartridge with both the proper amount of gain and desired loading range? Hard to say without having a quality phono stage handy that has the flexibility to provide both.

    In terms of the OP, my gut feeling is that 56 dB of gain with the cartridge being run into a 47K load (which it is designed to do) will be far too much and sound like crap; probably way too much gain even if you can load the cartridge at around 10X internal impedance or 1600 ohms. If you load it down to 100 ohms, it might actually sound ok. But, again, would it not sound better if it is optimally set up in terms of both gain AND loading?

    Going back to the OP once again, if the output from the 110 is indeed 2.2 and not 1.6 as spec'd, his 40 dB gain may not be bad at all. In an of itself, running at 55 on a volume pot on a scale of 1-100 with an analog setup is not unusal (with digital, not so much, which can confuse newcomers to analog). I've run in that range pretty consistently for the last 10-15 years and in my current setup run much higher than that due to the sensitivity on the line input on my most recent integrated, typically running around 75-85 and the sound is outstanding and noise levels are very low. That is really what you have to watch for; if you can achieve the SPL's that you require without introducing noise which overwhelms the signal or reduces fidelity, it does not really matter where you are on the volume pot.

    "Closed in, muffled, veiled", though, may definitely be related to not enough gain. On the other hand, it may also be related to other issues in the setup of the cartridge and table.
     
  15. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Wow, reading stuff like this and now I am convinced the 110 requires a highly adjustable phono pre to get dialed in properly.
     
  16. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    That cart is known to have a higher output than spec. Internet talk, FWIW. I found 40 dB to be pretty good. 44 dB was too much, and i had to load it down to 1K.
     
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  17. Dr. Metal MD

    Dr. Metal MD Forum Resident

    Location:
    Coruscant, Ohio

    Who/where/what is Hegerman? I'm in the market for a Copla, and I'm looking for a very lightly used one. Thanks!
     
  18. vinylkid58

    vinylkid58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Victoria, B.C.
    Piccolo2 - MC Headamp

    The original Piccolo was available as a half kit, which is what I have. It's an excellent gain stage.

    jeff
     
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  19. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germantown, Md.
    Hagerman makes good products, it's the superior design.
     
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  20. Dr. Metal MD

    Dr. Metal MD Forum Resident

    Location:
    Coruscant, Ohio
    Thanks!

    Superior to a Lounge Copla?
     
  21. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germantown, Md.
    I would bet. Look at the specifications.
     
  22. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    My experience has been that HOMC sound fine with 36db stages, so 40 is a cake walk. It sounds like you want your Lp playback to sound like your digital playback. That's a bit of a reversal from the first world problem experienced by most other hi-fi buffs! ;)
    -Bill
     
  23. I have some Copla blemish units. PM me if interested.
     

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