High end MM, or lower end MC?

Hello folks,

I’m after opinions! I know, this is hardly the right place, you’re all such a unanimous bunch :slight_smile:

I’ve run a Systemdek for years, and after a recent service, new Goldring 1042 stylus, new arm cable (Roksan HDC03a), and trialling both XS3 inbuilt stage, and Stageline N, thought it was about as good as it was realistically going to get. Which is a fine place, it sounds great in that configuration, and although isn’t quite the match of a mk1 Hugo, it is very enjoyable to listen to, and I spend hours doing so!

For the moment I’m happy with my streaming setup (Primare NP5 & mk1 Hugo), the SQ is excellent, even if the UX is not as nice as an all-in-one player. I will go for a ND5 XS2 at some point; after comparing it to my Hugo, it wasn’t awful, and in fact rather enjoyable, and the UX is way better.

Unfortunately the motor on my Systemdek recently started to exhibit occasional noise. I have started investigating motor replacements, gentle mitigation (some light oil seems to have eased symptoms) and also considering a new TT.

I first listened to a Vertere DG-1/Magneto against my TT. I was mostly, but not entirely convinced, the DG-1 remains pretty intriguing.

In July I’m off to listen to whatever Origin Live consider appropriate for a 2-3k budget across TT and arm.

I’d like a replacement TT to last me another 25 years, and likely the end of my hifi journey. I’d like a TT that is going to last, and from a manufacturer that supports their products. I do not think realistically I can run my Systemdek regularly for another 25 years, hence I do think I’m looking to replace it at this stage.

But the question I’m trying to wrestle with is, should I stay with MM, or venture into the heady world of MC? I just added a Graham Slee Accession MM phono stage to my Systemdek, and crikey is it an improvement. I’m amazed by how much better my TT sounds, to the point I’m almost considering fixing the motor on my existing TT and sticking with it (and crossing my fingers the main bearing holds out)! It’s right up there with the Hugo now. But I’m also wondering how much better a (c. 3k) TT replacement would sound? I’m also wondering how much better, say, a Hana SL & Superline on a new TT would sound? I’m kinda toying with the following options:

  • Stick with Systemdek & Accession (maybe use budget to go for NDX2 rather than ND5 XS2 at some point in future) - cross my fingers and replace the deck only if it irrevocably breaks (my so called “CD5 strategy” :stuck_out_tongue: )
  • Upgrade to a £3k deck, stick with MM and Accession phono stage. Basically a better base deck and stick with MM, possibly upgrading my 1042, though it sounds excellent!
  • Upgrade to a £2k deck, £500-£750 MC, 2nd hand Superline and run it initially from the powered aux on my XS3, later add a Hicap. Probably getting on for £4k total (but can sell on my Accession, so just over £3k)? Basically a cheaper base deck and go for MC.

I hadn’t considered a SUT/headamp until @llatpoh76 (thanks llatpoh76 - I wrote all this and didn’t post it, but your post prompted me to actually post it after all!) suggested one, so that’s another option.

Short term budget is £2-3k, £4k if I loose my senses in the demo room. Swapping XS3 for a Supernait is my long term amplification goal, no further!!

Is going to that level of MC (£500 -£750) worth the increased cartridge and periodic cartridge replacement costs (Goldring 1042 stylus replacements run “only” about £200)? If I upgraded my deck today that would mean a trade off for a lower specification base deck and arm. Or should I buy the better base deck and arm and stick with MM?

It’s almost like deciding between Rega P8 with MC and P10 with MM. Or Origin Live Aurora with MC and Calypso with MM.

Thanks anyone who got to the end of this post :smiley:

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IMO, you should at least have a look and listen at a Linn LP12.

There are several Linn dealers who will build you an LP12, to your spec, from parts they have.

As to carts… long term DV 10X user here.

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Rega and Linn are both obvious contenders. I’ve never auditioned either seriously. At the level I’m considering I was hoping to go a different, but still good, route! And no, it doesn’t make all that much sense X)

I will have to line a demo up after OL I think, thank you Ian.

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Listening to too many options, is likely to result in confusion… But YMMV… :thinking:

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Haven’t heard it myself but there are very good reports of the Vertere DG1 paired with the new Vertere MM - the Sabre. Supposed to be a significant improvement over the standard MM that comes with the DG1

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Just personal preference but I have always found an mc to sound more open than any mm I have heard. A veil removed.

Currently running a Hana SL.

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A Superline is great but making full use of it will bust your budget. Good phono stages from Rega and Chord cost about £1k new (or a good deal less on an auction site) and work well for MM ((now) and MC (now or one day, as you choose).

You could push your budget to get a new Majik LP12, or a DG2 or a Rega 8 with decent MMs included. However, buying ex-dem or S/h via a dealer) would cut the bill to more like £2k for any of those. Ditto for rarer options like Gyrodeks, Clearaudios and even Avids.

Best value of all may be, as for so many of us, to get a dealer to build an LP12 from s/h bits. Now you can afford to add a Lingo 4 PS and an MC that justifies the extra bother.

Which will sound best to you is hard to say, and may be driven by what you did/ didn’t like about the DG1.

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Assuming everything is properly set up all of this is personal preference and crucially synergy. As well as the Vertere and Rega you might consider Avid, superb decks in my experience. Once you’ve settled on the deck consider your cartridge options.

Good luck,

Lindsay

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The lovely thing about the XS3 is that it has a built in phono stage. When I bought my SN3 I used an MM on my Planar 8. When I bought a P10 I put the Exact on it. It was good but I felt the cartridge was letting the TT down. So I bit the bullet and bought an Apheta 3 (MC) and a Rega Aria 3 phono stage. It was a total transformation and just works as if the parts were made for each other. Which they were of course.

I really like Rega, who make great value products that carry a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. You can get hold of good value Rega packages, say the P8 and Ania Pro, which are hard to beat without spending a lot more.

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If 3k is the limit budget, I would go for second hand Rega RP8 ( before the new P8), Rega Ania Pro or Apheta 3, and Rega Aria phono.
Having something better for the price will be very difficult. Then going for something still better with an XS3 is not optimal too.
Other choice : keep the internal XS3 phono, just buy a second hand Clearaudio deck with their top MM cartridge.
Third choice : Technics 1500 turntable. Suitable MC and phono.

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One thing that’s good about the phono stage you have is that capacitance is configurable. MM/MI carts are very sensitive to this, also requiring (benefiting from) low capacitance cabling. I strongly suspect people who say MC sounds more “open” have simply been comparing to an incorrectly loaded MM.

Personally I would keep the phono stage, if needed/possible switch out cabling for lower capacitance versions (consider BJC for example), and spend the money on a good deck and cart. My recommendation would be a Technics SL-1200GR/SL-1210GR and a nice cart like the Nagaoka MP-500 or an Ortofon 2M Bronze or Black. That will still leave you change, spend that on music and booze.

Or up your budget a tiny bit for the SL-1200G/SL-1210G and stick with your current cart for the time being.

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Working next 25 years ?
Plug and play, look at Technics SL1200/1500
There’s various editions for budget
Excellent rock solid performance, really good decks (says a former Sondek/Rega owner).

Stick your G1042 on, excellent cartridge, you might risk a cheap MC is not up to Goldring level.
If getting MC you need MC phonostage (which is not inside XS or SN).
Audio Technica OC9/AT33 MC cartridges gets good views at reasonable prices.

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This is all great, thank you! I’ll respond to a few points individually, but thanks for the thought and feedback, much appreciated :slight_smile:

I almost want something different to a Rega or Linn, and I do appreciate that it is churlish to ignore those likely fantastic options!

I shortlisted the Vertere as I run a Tabriz tonearm currently, and auditioned an original Roksan Radius when I originally bought my Systemdek, and the DG-1 is a fascinating TT. I felt Origin Live was worth a listen after a recent thread where one was mentioned and after reading up about their pretty wide range of decks and arms. I was hoping not to open the shortlist up too much further… but also I’ve always wanted to try a Linn, and I suspect the Rega options are hard to beat too.

I guess a 5-way comparison isn’t going to be possible anywhere, nor sensible. I’m basically taking my current TT to all the auditions, and am hoping to choose the replacement that beats it by the largest margin. The DG-1 wasn’t better everywhere, a difference I strongly suspect was down to cartridge choice, but organising a repeat audition with a different MM installed isn’t something I’ve managed yet. And you counselled against making things complicated :wink:

I think it’ll end up being two more auditions, OL, and a Linn/Rega, before I can work out if the Vertere needs another chance.

I can well believe it, I’ve just written above that I suspect the Magneto was what held it back from beating my TT everywhere. The Magneto lost out on absolute stage width, something I love about my setup and was surprised at the difference, it felt like a couple of feet were missing from each side! Depending how the other auditions go I might try and line up a repeat demo with the Sabre. I cannot believe outright stage width would be constrained by the base deck.

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That’s a great point, and a reason, if one were needed, that impulse buys aren’t always the best X) I’m sure I could sell on the Accession to replace with Aria or the Vertere stage (also does MM and MC I think) At least it showed me the difference a phono stage makes! No regrets, if that’s how it sounds though, I can also appreciate a dedicated MM stage is likely easier to engineer than an equivalent stage that does both MM and MC.

In this instance, as I’m taking dealer demo time up, I’ll probably buy new. I’d feel bad taking up their time only to hit eBay once I’ve decided… though I’ve been tested on this recently, some lovely TTs on eBay X)

I read what you said but nevertheless have to state that the P8 and P10 sets that include a cartridge are very difficult to beat without paying much more. I went from P8 with Ortofon 2M Black and Aria to P10 with Apheta-3 and first Aria and then Superline (power from 252). It was a lot of changes in a short time and so I can’t pin it all down, but it is so much better, and in particular the last one from Aria to SL made a huge difference. People love the Aria, but in my system the SL is a completely different league - and an older used SL is approx. the same price as a new Aria. Maybe in total a P8 w/ Ania Pro and used SL is a bit out of your budget, but just saying’ :slight_smile:

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That’s kinda what I am hoping. A£3k deck, from whoever, won’t sound terrible. I cannot listen to them all. I really appreciate that Rega are very well respected, for great reasons (thanks @frenchrooster and @hungryhalibut) and that Linn have rightly built a great reputation too. I think buying the right base TT now, and postponing the MM/MC decision is likely the right one. Not least as I’d probably be able to save a bit to make that a definite step up from MM if/when the time comes.

I think I should give the Rega and Linn equipment a listen, at least to rule out any step change improvements over the others in my list.

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Hey, no worries, I asked! And know the respect they receive here :slight_smile:

It was also seeing what 2nd hand Superlines go for that piqued my interest. I do now have a Stageline N and mostly healthy (I couldn’t sell it without having the motor fixed!) Systemdek to sell on. But I think to keep things straightforward I’ll see about maxing out on the TT and arm now, with my current 1042 unless a MM based package deal on the replacement makes more sense, and let that settle before making further changes.

Thanks again everyone, very much appreciated.

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You have been given a wealth of good advice from the sages and cannot go wrong. A well sorted Systemdek with a 1042 is a pleasing and affordable source as is. You will receive some improvement with a new turntable, but only you can determine at what cost?

Many years ago I went from a Systemdek with 1012 to a LP 12. As records are my only source, I am happy, especially upgrading the LP12, but I still think about the joy the Systemdek brought to my music.

Enjoy the ride and enjoy your music. My advice, make one source the primary and everything else is for fun.

Going from a Goldring Elite MC to a Dynavector 20xL was a revelation. The prior Goldring 1012 MM was subjectively more pleasing than the MC Elite.

Many people like the Hana cartridges and many like Dynavector for MC. My preference is for low output if going MC.

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