I think I'm going Mad! (turntables and cartridges) *

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Therecordjunkie, Mar 24, 2020.

  1. Therecordjunkie

    Therecordjunkie Member Thread Starter

    Good evening everybody,
    Just wanted to float a conversation concerning turntables and cartridges, vent a little and see if any of you might be able to talk me off the ledge. I've had a Technics SL-1200 MK2 for many years. During that time, I've tried a number of different carts and phono stages; most under $1,000. I listen to rock music; 60's, Punk, Powerpop, and even some Metal.
    Anyway, over the years; I began to become obsessed with sound quality. I've read these forums and audio gear reviews till I became cross eyed. I recently decided to get serious, so I purchased a E.A.T. C Sharp with the Ortofon black cartridge. I thought it sounded pretty good but It seemed like it was missing something. Slightly dissapointed, I mounted a Soundsmith Zephyr mimc star es low output to it and for the most part, all was ok in the kingdom. Even though I thought it sounded pretty good, I still wasn't wowed, for spending $6,000. I have a Puffin Phono stage. I know, a Phono DSP is probably a dirty word but it actually sounds pretty good and I love tweaking all of the different settings. Honestly, it's the best sounding stage I've come across under $1,000. I even demoed a $2,000 phono stage with the C Sharpe hoping to be wowed and it fell short of the puffin.
    Today, like many people; I've been house bound, bored out of my mind, due to the current virus situation. I've been recording a bunch of records lately, so I though it might be fun to do a comparison with my old table. I chose five records of various sound quality for my experiment. So it was the Technics, with a Dennon DL-301 II cart vs the E.A.T C Sharp, with the Soundsmith Zephyr. I connected them both to the Puffin; everything else was equal.
    I assumed the E.A.T. was going to kick the crap out of my Technics; I would laugh and carry it back down to the basement.. To my amazement; I found myself enjoying the sound of the Technics more, by a considerable margin! How can this be??? How can a $600.00 turntable with a $300.00 cart sound better to me than my beautiful C Sharp? The Technics had all the detail with a ton more punch!
    Have I been chasing a pink elephant , that doesn't exist? The dealer I spoke with when deciding to buy the C Sharp told me he preferred it to his $10,000 mcintosh table? So am I tone deaf or am I missing something?
    At any rate, I'm feeling seriously dejected; I'm considering selling my Soundsmith and C Sharp, get back what I can, go back to my trusty Technics and just give up on this Idea of audiophile bliss. If spend much more money, my wife may show me the door...lol. I know I'm rambling and raving like a lunatic but I have know Idea where I go from here?
    Both tables are set up perfectly and even if someone wants to make light of my phono stage, everything's equal; the more expensive table should win right? The price gap between them is so huge. I guess I've learned a valuable and costly lesson; more money doesn't always mean better..
  2. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy

    Michigan, USA
    Maybe you're just chasing the wrong elephant, lol. You ever think of building out a digital rig? For a fraction of the money you've spent on analog, you could easily get a killer DAC and streamer that would most likely give you plenty of wow moments. I know it might seem like a step backward, but you enjoy DSP on vinyl, so you're obviously not a purist. I'd keep the TT and cart you actually like, sell the expensive ones you don't like, and use that money to buy a kick ass DAC. That's just me though :)

    EDIT: I just noticed that your username is therecordjunkie...I am thinking my suggestion might fall on deaf ears, haha.
  3. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo Music gives me Eargasms

    The Rabbit hole. I've heard about that.
    bluesaddict, Manimal, jusbe and 2 others like this.
  4. Nomadicarchivist

    Nomadicarchivist Forum Resident

    Washington D.C.
    Therein lies the $50,000 question. I have been to these high tech conventions with "experts" that claim that you need to spend XXXX amount of dollars to get a quality system. Although I have been able to see their point.. UP to a point, I have always been pretty darn happy with the systems that I have snagged at thrift shops gradually upgrading along the way... Now days I am perfectly happy with what I have and have spent nowhere near what others have spent..

    Ear of the Beholder..
    showtaper, Musical Maxis and Wngnt90 like this.
  5. Wngnt90

    Wngnt90 Forum Resident

    I own all vintage audio gear, mostly Pioneer and Marantz integrated amps and a Spec1/Spec4 stack driving either a pair of Cornwalls or HPM 150's. Two Pioneer TT's and two Technics TT's, one being a black version SL-1200 mk2. Equipped with a collection of vintage Shure V15 III's, a V15 IV and an M95ED all with Jico SAS's...my search for vinyl nirvana has ended. This gear just puts a huge smile on my face everytime I listen to it.
  6. Raylinds

    Raylinds Martinis, music and glowing tubes

    I have learned there are many different "flavors" in audio gear. Flavor A costs X and Flavor B costs X times 3. While many might like Flavor B better, some will prefer Flavor A, despite the lower cost. I envy those people.

    Sell the C Sharp, buy more music and be happy.
  7. Therecordjunkie

    Therecordjunkie Member Thread Starter

    Thank you all for your comments and advice. I remember when I was a kid, my Dad bought a German stereo. I believe it was called a Saba. It was the early 80's. He had a Dual turntable. I remember him bragging to people how he could stand it up and it would still track. I thought that stereo sounded so amazing. I guess I jumped into the Rabbit hole to try capturing some of that for myself. I literally have a record collection that's easily worth more than my truck. All I've wanted is to make it sound as good as I can. I understand sound is an extremely subjective thing but I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever find it.
  8. DryWhiteToast

    DryWhiteToast Where's my Ativan

    I think there are a couple of things.
    You have to give new gear and accessories time...many, many hours.
    I believe that a cartridge will sound better over many, many hours and the biggest thing though, IMHO is
    you become use to one sound and then something that is new is startling at times.
    I bought PSB speakers to replace lower end PSB's a few years ago.
    Buyers remorse, on the phone with the dealer seeing if I could trade them in and you know what, around the 50 hour mark, it struck me how much better
    sounding they were and still are. I love them now but for the first 50 hours, I was disgusted in myself for "wasting" money.
    If you can, don't do anything too harsh and give it time.
    Take Care
    F1nut likes this.
  9. jfine

    jfine Forum Resident

    The 1200 is a good table, I would keep that and lose the other one. Besides, you can mod the crap out of the 1200 and tune it til you get what you want.
  10. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Uppsala Sweden
    You should try an ABX test instead and see if you can tell a difference at all.
  11. Matt Richardson

    Matt Richardson Forum Resident

    What kind of music are you using to do the comparison? Heavy beat 60s funk or blaring metal? Try listening to some well-recorded acoustic or classical music, then see which set up you like better (even if you don’t like the music).
  12. hockman

    hockman Forum Resident

    The 1200 is a very good table; don't let all the people who tell you that it's a crap DJ table put doubts in your mind. I say this as someone who has owned spec'd out Linn Sondeks and Basis Debut turntables, and now use a 1200mk2 side-by-side with my Basis. If you enjoy it, then keep using it and cut your losses and ditch the other table.

    Hi fi is very subjective, and more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better. There are so many variables involved and there are some expensive equipment around that are pretty dire musically.
    BayouTiger, 33na3rd and clhboa like this.
  13. tvstrategies

    tvstrategies Multicast is dead

    A case of diminishing returns. o’course you can also buy an old Dual and recapture that Dad’s Stereo feeling for real - My 1970s 1229 and 2m Bronze, total ~$500 never leaves me wanting
    bever70 and Nomadicarchivist like this.
  14. Pastafarian

    Pastafarian Forum Resident

    I'm getting the impression that you've not had the necessary time to audition what you may wish to buy. In my experience all those reviews shouldn't be relied on but a guide for what may be worth the effort to get a listen to.

    I'd say a good dealer should have set aside 3-4 hours for a dem when someone is serious about buying this level of gear, of course you'll probably wilt before you've used up all that time but then they can sell you some 180g vinyl or some superior cable.

    The other issue is you may prefare a digital front end.
  15. finn

    finn Forum Resident

    I would say that the EAT is not actually perfectly set up as you might assume by whoever you purchased it from. You possibly enjoy the technics more at the moment as it probably has more lower bass weight which gives the sense of more drive and excitement which is fine as you like it.
    However, try and find someone who really is prepared to set up the turntable, firstly by alignment and then by ear. You may be very surprised by the changes wrought.
    I can do a turntable setup basic alignment in 10 minutes, if I want it to sound amazing it takes about 4 hours, which was yours do you think.
    bootbox likes this.
  16. Fishoutofwater

    Fishoutofwater Forum Resident

    I get where our OP is coming from. I have spent a lot of money on carts over the years and never felt overly happy with any of them. I gave up LPs in 1985. I started buying LPs again in 2000. Again i found finding a cart i liked difficult. A sound engineer friend of mine suggested a cheap cart and i laughed!! NO WAY. I gave in and to my surprise i have never been happier. I now love playing both LPs and CDs. Money does not always buy you happiness sound wise.
    Eigenvector and clhboa like this.

    LARGERTHAN Forum Resident

    Been saying it for years - the 1200 series is as good as a table needs to be, and then some...Fluid dampers on arm and some other mods are worthwhile considerations.

    Undoubtedly, it is technically superior to the EAT. Its genesis would involved more expensive tooling, more extensive engineering processes and design etc. There's a good reason most manufacturers go belt drive.

    It doesn't please me to say I'm not surprised.
    bootbox likes this.
  18. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Uppsala Sweden
    Why doesnt it please you? Cheaper tables being good is a benefit to everyone.
    Fishoutofwater likes this.
  19. Therecordjunkie

    Therecordjunkie Member Thread Starter

    Just looked up the test. Looks like fun. I'm going to see if I can do it today. I'll report my findings...lol.
  20. Therecordjunkie

    Therecordjunkie Member Thread Starter

    I tried 5 records, varying in sound. Obviously, harder music sounds better with more punch. I also used a couple super clean Powerpop records. Although not as well recorded as Jazz or Classical, still clean and open enough to hear the detail, especially that crisp high hat. I love that sound.
  21. Therecordjunkie

    Therecordjunkie Member Thread Starter

    Honestly, I was thinking of trying one. If I can find one that's been gone over and serviced.
  22. Therecordjunkie

    Therecordjunkie Member Thread Starter

    It came set up, so I cant speak of the initial set up but I set up the Soundsmith. The E.A.T. has a funky anti skate mechanism. It's a counter weight on a piece of fishing line, that's connected to and activated by the movement of the arm. There's no precise setting, it's more of a range. I spent a good amount of time, making sure it was completely level. I used a digital scale to set the tracking force. Lastly, it has a 10" arm, I used a magnifying app and the protractor that came with the table. I got it lined up as perfectly as I'm capable. In absence of all of the high tech, fancy tools, I mounted it as best as I can.
  23. Therecordjunkie

    Therecordjunkie Member Thread Starter

    Believe me, no one wanted the E.A.T. to win more than me. I wanted it to justify all the time, thought and money that went into buying it. I came away: surprised, disappointed, and a little embarrassed. That's why I started this thread. I couldn't really tell my wife, I just wasted over $6,000 of our money... So I figured this would be a good way to vent and see if other people felt like I do. I'm thinking there's people who probably convince themselves there table sounds superior due to their investment. I cant do that, I have to be honest.
    showtaper likes this.
  24. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Uppsala Sweden
    Should be somewhat easy if you have another person who can randomly pick one to play from. You would need the same cart on both tables though.
  25. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    The BBC used Garrard 401,s
    Followed by Technics SP10
    I honestly think Technics is par for the course.
    More money spent does not always means x 6 better.
    The V15mk3 mentioned by someone
    Is a damned fine cartridge.
    With my set up i am totally satisfied
    And woild not swop it.
    I think you have answered your own question.
    Well done.
    showtaper and McLover like this.

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