Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by Falcor, Oct 10, 2015.
Please sticky as the prologue of the SBAF Vinyl Bible.
yeah, it's not objectively bad, but i just know there is way better for sound and tracking in MM land even for less than $100. there is the aforementioned Tonar Diabolic E, but i would recommend something from the grandpappies of moving magnet, Shure/Stanton. from Shure you have the M44-7, M35X, SC35C among others. please ignore the 'DJ' designation, these are very good cartridges for audiophiles and have enjoyed uninterrupted production for decades. from Stanton I like the OG Stanton 500 gold body. as a bonus with these carts you can get different flavors just by swapping stylus assemblies, kinda like swapping lenses on a camera. furthermore if you want to dick around with mono pressings you can get all sorts of 1.0, 2.5, 2.7 mil stylii for these carts and strap the outputs or use a mono switch on your phono preamp/receiver.
Added a note at the end of the photo cart section that many TT owners can appreciate and something I know Brent had to go through recently. It's something that is 100% guaranteed to happen.
What are some good phonostage options in that price range?
Marv summed it up nicely here
Read the following please from @sphinxvc
the micro iphono2, if the psu work fine, are good. cheap options. the new iphono 3 is a bit expensive but probably worth it.
I use the built in phonostage in my ifi retro stereo 50, it uses a iphono2 board but uses the main PSU. sounds lovely with the dl-103r.
Just to add another data point, I think Mani sounds fantastic with the Audio Technica MM carts, which tend to be on the bright side of neutral. I run a Japanese-market AT150E (elliptical) cartridge on my modded LP120 and it synergizes really well with Mani. Blows away the cheap ART preamps. I would similarly expect Mani to be a really good match for the Audio Technica carts with microline styli (e.g., VM540ML) and probably the VM95EN that Schiit chose for the Sol too.
How much worse is the OG Mani than the newer 1.2 Mani for MM carts?
Big improvement especially in warmth and clarity department. Mani 1.2 much less warm to my ears.
Not to poop on your post, but iphono 2 was not that good even for a budget phono. Maybe I had a bad PSU? The below comparison is with OG Mani:
OG Mani is congested. It wasn't horrible, but not good enough.
And another excerpt here from long ago regarding OG Mani:
Evidently the thread got sidetracked. Anyways, to follow up on the preamps, I rate them roughly in two groups:
GROUP 1: TC-750/54 with AMB power supply (both similar sound)
GROUP 2: All the rest (Rega Fono, Mani, TC750/54 with SMPS)
EC Transcription not going to be commented on much for obvious reasons. Ask Adam.
With the Sigma 11 PS, the TC-750/54 snaps into place and runs away from the rest (Mani and Rega) with big dynamics, increased resolution, refinement and poise. Clarity, clean lines, attack, and articulation are further improved. Note that a commissioned AMB Sigma 11 will run about $350. The TC-750 is a discrete transistor design, with crappy parts (electrolytic caps everywhere even for small coupling caps). The RIAA network isn't passive. It's in the feedback loop after the second transistor. If any downside other than lack of ultimate nuance and resolution, it's lack of extension in the bass. I suspect the 2.2uF caps at the output are too small.
For the rest in group 2, TC-750 with the SMPS, Rega Fono, and Schiit Mani, they are all about equivalent in terms of the ladder, but they do sound quite different from each other, especially the Rega Fono.
The Mani is well extended in both bass and treble, has great control, good slam, but ultimately sounded less clear and flatter than either the rest. The TC-750 with the TC-754 PS wasn't as well extended in the bass, but was marginally clearer and definitely more lively (and also more grainy in the treble). By a tiny margin, I preferred the TC-750/54 with the TC-754's external SMPS (it looks like a bigger unit compared to the TC-750's SMPS) over the Schiit Mani. However, I don't know if I can say if this would be the case with the stock TC-750's super wimpy SMPS.
The Rega Fono was significantly warmer tonally than the rest. Bass was murky, mids were lush, and treble was unoffensive. Despite the drawbacks, the Fono was marginally more engaging and lively than the others in this group. With the TTs on hand and how they were setup, the Fono was my least preferred phono pre, but I could see it as more suitable than the Mani or TC-750 with SMPS depending on synergies and personal preferences.
That's a good data point. I've been wondering about the iPhono2, since I have the iPhono3 BL right now which is quite good, very good in fact. But it better be at $999. It's funny because I think it's almost a requirement to go BL with iFi to get good sound. All the iFi stuff that isn't the BL has been meh.
One thing about Mani 1.2 is that it is only good in MC. For MM, the cheapy TC-750 with a $28 surplus LPS is quite a bit better, more clarity, less stuff in the way.
never heard the iphono 2, just
I think it sounds good with the denon dl-103r. wat cart were you using?
Synergy is key. I think I was using 2M Blue when I wrote my thoughts about iPhono2. I hope there is a iPhono3 loaner.
Does anyone have any information / opinions on the Cambridge Audio Alva Solo phono preamp. This is $179 on Amazon.
Hard to answer without knowing your intended cart/TT and downstream chain.
Have had several Cambridge Audio digital players and found them to have good sound but unreliable mechanics; perhaps not an issue with a pre section.
UK designed Brit-Fi with made in China economy of scale.
Many choices in the $200 phono pre offerings, are looking for a specific sound?
It doesn't sound like you have heard this unit.
I have a Fluance RT85 TT, a belt driven TT with Ortofon 2m Blue cart. My current phono preamp is a tc-750.
I'm looking to upgrade my phono pre mostly because it is an entry level unit.
Cambridge Audio wis/was the house brand of Richer Sounds. That is not necessarily a bad thing: they were the best-value no-nonsense dealer in UK. No idea where they stand now, especially since they broke their promise to sell nothing but hifi.
I have a question about pairing a MC cart with the Mani 1.2. When I bought my turntable (Denon DP-52f), it came with a Klipsch/Hibino MCZ-2 cartridge that had a broken aluminum cantilever. I'm currently using an AT-440mla, and the stylus is definitely done. For about $250, I could repair the MCZ-2 cart with a new aluminum cantilever or figure out a MM replacement for the AT440mla. I've really liked the AT cart, and I'm hoping to keep the Mani for now. I don't listen to a ton of vinyl these days, bit it would be nice to play some of the stuff I can't find digitally.
So, is it worth pairing restored MC cart with the newer Mani or would I be better off pairing it with another AT MM cart (say something like the VM95ml)?
I can't comment on the differences between that MC cart and your current cartridge, but one option would be to keep the AT440mla body and just replace the stylus with the VMN40ML, especially since you like the sound of your current setup. The VM95ML is a tier below your current setup, and might be disappointing (a bit rolled in the highs). Marv posted some cool frequency response plots of the VM95ML here [link]. The VMN40ML replacement stylus is cheap enough [amazon link] that you might be able to repair your MC cart too, depending on how interested you are in bringing it back to life.
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