Who is using aTurntable/Phono Pre Amp?

I am fairly new here and I have been browsing quite a bit. I remember seeing a couple turntable setups in a few of the threads that I have been looking at and participating in… So, curious to see who and what they have. I am using an Audio-Technica AT-LP7 with an Ortofon 2m Blue a majority of the the time… and an Ortofon 2m Red for the rougher pressings. I have it paired to the Schiit Mani. I picked the AT-LP7 because I have had lesser models in the Audio-Technica line and have been generally happy with them. I looked at the offerings from Rega, U-Turn and Pro-ject and the one thing that was obviously a minus for all of them was the plinth thickness and the ability to isolate. In my main setup, the sub and one speaker is close by, so isolation was one of the main factors. The other was the arm/cartridge shell system… I love Audio-Technica’s system… Sooo easy to change out cartridges. I have also been curious of tube phono preamps… Anyone with any experience with them? I do not think I would consider a tube anywhere else in my system other than the phono stage…


Nice setup!

One generally differentiates between two philosophies.
Some manufacturers specialize in high mass which dampens by inertia and others in fast resonance dissipation by low mass and especially stiff materials. Of course this determines how the turntable has to be set up. If resonance dissipation is required, as is the case with Rega, it is always advisable to couple it to a defined mass and use a wall bracket for best sound and isolation. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages.
If you still have problems with resonances I always recommend the Bo!ng isolator.

This system was originally developed by SME in the 60s (hence the name). It has been adopted by many manufacturers and is particularly well known from Technics turntables.
Your tonearm is made by Hanpin and is a Technics copy with (I think) slightly different geometry. I would advise you not to rely on the antiscating specification on this arm and to make sure that the needle does not pull strongly to one side when you lower it. Also just check with headphones for distortion in only one channel and if female vocals are centered.
A good upgrade could be to use Technics wiring.

In the budget range there are actually no “real” tube amplifiers. The required gain is very high and therefore any noise from bad tubes, poor isolation, EMI and low-quality power supplies will be highly amplified. For MCs tubes can’t reach enough gain, so you have to use a Step Up Transformer. The Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 is okay but I would rather use transistors in this price range. For low to midrange MMs the Schiit Mani is perfectly adequate, only MCs don’t sound very good with it. A different phono cartridge or a better tonearm would be a much bigger improvement for the money.

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I have a Thorens TT with a Grace F9e cart (MM) and also use the Mani. For like ~$130 the Mani is a great phono. I’ve borrowed a Pro-Ject Phono Box RS ~$750 used and it wasn’t that impressive of a step up so I returned it to a friend. However the change from my near entry level AT cart that I bought the TT with to the Grace cart was night and day difference much less $$$.

You might want to research other phono stages but I think you have to spend big money before you get small incremental upgrades. The Hagerman Bugle 3 is well reviewed but I think it’s more a sideways step.


The AT-LP7 isolates well, I have not had any issues at all.

Ah yes… I was aware of that issue. At recommended setting I never heard any distortion or channel imbalance, but it did pull harder than I liked when dropping the needle at the start of a record.

Great Info!
I don’t think I will be moving up to MC cartridges and I am really happy with the Schiit Mani… just curious about the difference in sound. Your info may have saved some heartache. I have some experience with changing out MM cartridges and from what I have experienced it isn’t subtle. I am a tinkerer, so tonearms are not out of the question either :slight_smile:

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I have good experience with the 2m blue at 1.9g tracking force and you should land with an elliptical stylus at 1.5g true antiscating. All measuring antiscatin methods are faulty and I recommend always to go after hearing with studio headphones ( like DT880 ) and a loud and centered mixed (female) voice played from the center of several records.
left distorted, -> less AS (can often be as little as 0.9g)
right distorted -> more AS (shouldn´t exceed TF)
distort both -> go up to the maximum tracking force, otherwise align the turntable again with spirit level, measure azimuth again, otherwise buy a better cartridge or tonearm

Medium class MCs have become very good, my personal favorites are: Hana EL, Sumiko Blue Point Special Evo III and Ortofon Quintet Bronze
These beauties are justifiably operated on $3000 turntables with $1500 preamplifiers.
The Fluance RT85, equipped with 2M Blue is probably the best example for the fact that an expensive pickup cannot save a bad turntable. Even a Rega P1 with the factory $50 pickup sounds cleaner and better than a Fluance.

For every taste there is something on the market. Series and different types of stylus grinding from one manufacturer can differ considerably in sound. The Goldring G1042 is probably my favourite MM.

Tonearms can change the sound a lot, but must fit the cartridge you are aiming to use. Which sound signature do you want? What kind of records and genres do you play? In which areas are you unhappy with the current setup? Budget?

Audio Technika seems to have increased the effective length of the tonearm to 247 mm in order to prevent compatibility with technics tonearms and legal consequences. My hope to use a used Technics Mk5 tonearm without major modifications is gone. Nevertheless it is not a witchcraft to make a tonearm base for any kind of mounting by yourself.

Personally I have a lot of experience with Rega style tonearms but I do not exclude other companies.

The price of tonearms doesn´t always seem to be linear with the possible performance and old Rega arms like the RB250 have become the foundation for many ingenious modifications (The Funk Firm, Michell Engineering, incognito re-wire kit’s etc.).
There is a tonearm for every sound. The Rega RB330 or 300 platforms offer dynamic tracking force at an affordable price, making wavy and old records wonderful to listen to with a pleasant sound.
The RB250 platform can even be found on the most expensive decks due to its uncomplicated behaviour. A The Funk Firm FX3 or FXR-2 can probably run 98% of what is possible with vinyl. In my opinion, one of Rega’s greatest advantages is the fact that you can start with an OEM tonarm and keep on improving it.

Of course you should not underestimate a good deck, the Michell Engineering Tecno Dec is my secret tip. In general the sound improves at a higher price. But from 2000$ on the improvements become maginal.

simple setup with a uturn orbit i customized with the acrylic platter and a grado black cartridge (i am planning to upgrade though i dunno if i should go for another brand or go grado red), and have it running through a schiit mani and currently some powered speakers, though i plan on moving it from these computer speakers with a headphone jack to either a schiit magni 3+ or a liquid spark depending on if i trust monoprice and if i want the magni look


The Grado Red would only be a needle upgrade, the body is the same. I’d go with a replacement needle.
I have tested the Red at home and was impressed by the pleasant sound but the poor tracking and uneven channels make it a bit overpriced. Other manufacturers also offer more resolution in this price range. If the cart should remain Grado I would recommend to spend a little more money for a Silver with the better coils. A similar warm sound, which however does not have to hide low resolution and offers more clarity, is offered by the Goldring G1006 which would be my personal recommendation (might need to add weigt). Other manufacturers could change the sound signature more, if this is desired.

Have had this setup for some time and some is long out of production.
Mitchell Gyrodeck with DC power supply upgrade, SME IV arm with Ortofon Kontrapunkt mc cartridge through a Trichord Delphini phono stage.
The arm, cartridge and phono stage are no longer available.


Nice setup! I wouldn’t change anything there either.
Do you use the Orbe screw-down record clamp? I’ve never been able to make a direct comparison and I’m not sure if it’s worth it because I find normal spindles so convenient.

Actually it would be from a black1 to a red3 (I almost did a gold 3 but that’s WAY too much at 260)

Also I only choose grado because I dunno enough about channel separation and tracking… I just know apparently ortofons are too bright and I like a more rock and hiphop focused sound

I play nothing but 33s…Some are close to 50 years old… as I have had them since I was a teenager…most are still in decent shape. As I got older I typically recorded them on cassette tape and occasionally played vinyl… So they are in great shape. Within the last two years, I just started getting back into buying… Its a crap shoot now it seems… Quality is inconstant. I listen to a wide variety of music… Ambient, World, Jazz, Electronic, Rock, Metal… pretty much anything except Country or Hip Hop. What I buy on vinyl could be any of those genres… Sometimes I will have both digital and vinyl copies of albums. I try to keep an ear out for good quality pressings and I will buy even if I have it in digital format.
I am happy with the AT-LP7… the anti skating is a little bit of a downer, but it is workable. Like you said, the anti skating measurement is not something to depend on. The table has been leveled with a spirit level and aligned with a protractor… tracking force adjusted with a scale.
I did a quick check for arms to mod with and it does not seem the Audio-Technica is a mod friendly turntable. My budget is a relative thing… the The Goldring G1042 would not be out of the question. I just can’t see getting a cartridge that is more than the turntable itself, or for that matter any single component in my system. Could there be a turntable upgrade later??? :wink:

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also thats like a 200 dollar cartrige on my turntable which is only like 400 or so when including the black… i dunno about how much i can do that… im still very much in the entry level 500 dollar range turntable and 200 is a lot

I only have experience with the 2M Red and Blue. The Blue is definitely reveling, so much so, on a bad pressing or a heavily used album, I have to switch to the 2M Red.

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aparently ortofon is not worth it until you have a black and they are too expensive because made in denmark

My first experience was going from an Audio-Technica AT95E to the Ortofon 2M Red on an older turntable. It was a definite upgrade… Now from a Red to a Blue… Which in my experience is an upgrade over the Red for sure, except in those less than ideal conditions.

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i just dunno how to perfect my setup for up to when i upgrade to a thousand or so dollar turntable since i dont care about tonearms and all this stuff and just want a great sound

im paranoid and getting so many conflicting opinions… i just wanna know what would be the best for me personally

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Are you looking for different powered speakers? Or you concentrating on headphones?

i already have headphones planned… i have 58Xs and plan to move to either the Sundaras or the 6XX, and i am planning on replacing the powered speakers with a Schiit Magni 3+ or Monolith Liquid Spark, but i dunno which would be the best because if i ever get a preamp with tube the monoliths more tube like sound might be too much, since im kinda wondering how i should upgrade from a schiit mani preamp and from my grado black1 cartridge, people are saying that grado is still great because of the sound and that ortofon is too bright and has no bass and others saying grado has bad tracking force but only on heavier tonearms but i dont update my tonearms all i have is a uturn, so i dunno whether to do ortofon, grado, or a different brand of cartridge thats under the maximum grams of the orbit (7.2 grams)… i want to perfect as much as i can before i overreact… most of my setup is newer hip hop, pop, and indie rock records and on both 45 and 33… and just want to achieve some kind of audio bliss

The upgrade game can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, especially when there are a number of areas that you are looking to upgrade. If it was me… I would do nothing with the turntable/cartridge/phono pre-amp right now. Figure out what amp and headphones you want. … let that settle in for a bit… get a good idea of how that combination sounds… then you will be able to research cartridges or other changes based on a sound you know your system has. You may also want to keep in mind connectivity for others sources in the future.

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No i just use the Gyrodeck clamp.
Never considered the Orbe version tbh.
I did consider the Orbe platter upgrade at one point but couldnt justify the cost at the time plus i just love the look of those under slung counterweights.

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