Which comes first, a new cartridge or phono stage?

I would be grateful for some opinion on what the next step on my vinyl playback should be

I have a Gyrodec with HR power supply, an SME Series 1V arm with a 52 (using internal cards) and 135’s into a pair of B & W 802 Nautilus speakers

I have a Dynavector 20X2L cartridge on the SME

Should I upgrade the cartridge first, I’m thinking of an XX2, or add a Superline then later change the cartridge.? I can’t stretch to both at once, and the Superline would, initially at least, be powered by the 52

Many thanks for any help on this

IF your cartridge needs replacing now, that would be the logical step. In my experience, the phono boards in the 52 are really very decent: much better than people give them credit for being. I assume you have “S” boards as you are not using Linn cartridges?

I have no experience of the Superline, so can’t meaningfully comment, but did use the “S” boards for 14 years.

As a DV user of many years (but only 10X’s), I cannot fault this logic.

I agree with @BigAl that Naim’s phono boards are far from broken. Over the years I have used every variety known - N, S, K and now E (with my current 10X).

S & K are similar. Either would work with a DV low output cart.

Hi thanks yes “S” boards in the 52

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If your current DV is shot, then by definition, that is the priority. If not, then perhaps keep an eye out for a s/h Superline and or Supercap and buy one or the other as the opportunity presents.

In 2005, I aimed to get a 52/Supercap/135s and picked up components as they became available. However, I did have a definite plan which was fulfilled in 2006 with the 52.

However, once you are in Superline territory, other options present themselves.

You could do very much worse than a new XX-2 with Dynavector’s own P75 mk IV phono stage.
The P75 is a remarkably excellent phono stage, especially for its modest price.

We used to pair an XX-2 mk II with a P75 mk II to great effect. The Mk IV is considerably better than the mk II.

The Superline sounds significantly better but only once you have bought the special z foil airplug 453R resistor and powered it all with a Supercap DR, all of which brings the cost to about 10 times that of the P75. Why do I say this? Because I tried various Superline configurations while looking for an upgrade to the P75 mk II. Oh, and we enjoyed a 52/135 amplifier combination for many years. Truly a classic Naim amplifier.

Hope this helps, BF

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I agree with you, the phono stages are exellent; in the days of the phono king they contributed to the reputation and history of Naim. They are well designed and are not old fashioned compared to other phono stages of today.
They are a bit ignored, the low price devalues their true value, age and some components (condensers,tantals) to replace. Well powered phono is always great with Naim electronics!


Many thanks for your thought, yes it does help

The cartridge has about two years use, so I could go phono stage first, but having been to a recent Naim dem evening of the new 300 series, it was stressed that upgrading the front end first was the way to go. I am just not sure of the order, cartridge or phono stage, so I thought I’d ask for opinions

You should get a new cartridge first. If your existing cartridge is worn out, you may be damaging your records irreparably by playing them.

I can say from personal experience that the XX-2 is a great cartridge (I had three over a ten/twelve year period), and the S board in your NAC52 is precisely what you need.

You are probably aware that Dynavector offer a ‘trade-in’ when you buy a new cartridge, so you will get a discount on the price of the new cartridge when your dealer sends in your existing 20X2L.

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With regards to your cartridge, it will depend on how much use it has had over the 2 years. I have a 20X2L which is about 2 years old too, its in great condition and appears to have lots of life left in it, well I hope it does!

By all accounts the Naim boards do seem to perform very well, I was chatting with my dealer a while ago about phono stages and he said that you have to spend a fair bit to better those old boards!


I sympathise with @Bluesfan about the DV P75 being amazing VFM, and that a Superline benefits from the airfoil plugs, and that both are clearly better than the already good MC cards.

However, I power my SL from the 52 and have compared it to the P75 mk 4 we have for another LP12. The Superline was well ahead, as it should be for the cost, even from eBay. I believe those who rate the SL even higher if using a dedicated Supercap, but I don’t think it is necessary for it to beat any phono stage rival I have heard.

Mind you, the P75 is so cheap s/h that it might be the better choice of your cartridge is getting worn out as it makes the double change affordable sooner.

Thanks for this, very useful

My cartridge only has two years use, so hopefully about another two or three years in it

My thoughts were either get another cartridge now and keep the existing one as a spare, or get a phono stage now and change the cartridge in a few years time.

Can you borrow a good phono stage from someone and let your ears decide?

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Two years on a Dynavector micro ridge isn’t that near the limit and the superline is a great phonostage that will run off the AUX supply of your pre until you free up a supercap. Get a 453Ω Airplug to keep it happy and upgrade the cartridge later. An XX2 or higher DV will use the same loading.


Thanks, yes I am beginning to think along those lines

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