You might need to qualify what you mean by “disappointed”. What is your expectation? What is that expectation based on?
There could be many problems and diagnosing a solution without symptoms is hard. For example, if it is the setup showing up less than great older pressings, an amp with [dreaded] tone controls might be a better solution. It’s really going to depend on an accurate problem description.
I use the tone control scenario purely because I’m familiar with it - not suggesting that’s your issue. A few pressings from the 70s need a heavy hand to be playable in my collection.
You’re running fine line styli on both of those cartridges. How do you adjust VTA with your arm?
Does another phonostage put the stageline to shame?
My second deck carries an Aro with a London Decca Maroon (and 8g of brass) feeding a Stageline N powered from my pre and I’m surprised by how good it is, though it does pick up pops and clicks more than I’d like.
I’m also surprised that VTA still seemed to have a fairly narrow sweet spot despite the spherical stylus and readjusting VTF after each VTA adjustment.
Nagaoka MP200 is quite a step up from the MP110 in these aspects and works well with the Stageline. For a different sound you could try known alternatives like the Goldring 2000 series (also made by Nagaoka, 2100 is well-liked) or 1000 series. Many are happy with a 2M Ortofon Bronze. Good luck!
In the past I had the Rega Exact, still produced, with Rega deck and Stageline. It worked very well.
But here the characteristics of the Thorens Tp160 arm should be checked, to see what are the optimal cartridges with that arm.
is a phono cartridge compatible with a Thorens TP16 arm?
is a cartridge compatible with a Naim Stageline N?
I have no idea about 2), then I have not seen, heard or fitted a phono cartridge to TP16 since last century. I am reasonably certain that was a Shure M75 ED2.
I suggest signing up to and doing some searches on the Vinyl Engine site. I had not realised that there were three versions of the arm. Comments in some of the discussions about the arm swing from far better than an SME 3009 to far worse. There are then comments that it is not the most straightforward arm to set up.
One review of the Nagaoka says it lacks dynamics and has poorly defined treble, so perhaps the Stageline is revealing what that reviewer hears?
Are you happy that your TP16 is in good condition?
The Vinyl Engine site has tables that give an idea of compatibility entering the specifications. It may be that from the specification point of view that an Ortofon 2M Blue is a closer match, so of the two cartridges mentioned, the AT is a closer match. Of the comments above, @Richard.Dane says he has enjoyed AT MM cartridges with a Stageline N.
Personally, I prefer AT to Ortofon MM, but I do not fit the norm on this forum. My hearing, equipment, room are not the same as yours.
Hi Cellohannes, another consideration, taking into account the sound qualities you’re disappointed with, is what your equipment and the Thorens in particular are sitting on. My experience over many years is that in terms of dynamics and clarity particularly when the music is complicated either through loads of notes and/or interplay between instruments, turntable support in particular makes a significant and critical difference the sound qualities you mention.
My second deck was a Thorens 150, and I now have an early model LP12. It is my experience with the LP12 that led me to really appreciate the importance of equipment support. I bought and still have the first Lingo (£450 ish), hailed as a game changer at the time, and it was a significant improvement, but I was disappointed that the dynamics and rhythm of the music hadn’t improved as I expected. The jazz I listened to was much better, but still confused and compressed too often. I just accepted that rest of my system,Meridian pre, Quad 405, Linn speakers, wasn’t good enough (first world problem!!).
Then came the new kid on the block - Mana supports. I got the small table for the LP12 (£125 ish). Jaw dropped. Dynamics, leading edges improved so much, confusion and compression practically disappeared. The sound was now what I had expected from the Lingo. Absolutely accept that it wouldn’t have been as good without the Lingo, but it was the £125 Mana, not the £450 Lingo, that bought the smile to my face. My smile got wider as I gradually got Naim amps over the years, which now includes a stage line.
Incidentally, people pay good money to listen to the reference system, based on a 160 supported on layers of Mana supports in the B&B room offered by Mana inventor, John - sorry can’t remember his last name.
Clearly if your 160 is on a decent support, and you are happy with the sound of that support, then please ignore the above! It might well be the cartridge/ phono amp combo that’s the issue.
Best wishes Amer
I’m afraid nothing beats trial and error here. I changed my MP110 for a MP200 for exactly the same reasons as yours and it worked very well. The Ortofon I have now (MC-3 Turbo) is better overall for most of the music that I like and my room, albeit different in several individual aspects.
There are some combinations that will provide optimal synergy (cart/arm/deck/psu/phono stage) and you’ll just have to find them starting from various established recommendations.
Audio Technica (AT) will be on one end of the scale, Ortofon and Goldring in the middle, and Nagaoka on the other end. Your turntable is outside the usual collection of decks here, hence the wide range of well-meant advice. Good luck!