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Sweet spot for turntable with SHL5 plus

Chazk

Member
I haven't found this written about here on HUG in the way I'm thinking about turntable investment with my SHL5+. I currently have a Rega RP3, Dynavector 10x5 and Grado phono amp. I also installed a groove master subplatjer upgrade. Now I know that TT's don't provide the same level of fidelity as a good cd or my Tidal subscription. I also have a lot invested in my vinyl collection, largely emotionally I realize. My question is have any other HUG users discovered a sweet spot in optimizing the accuracy of playback of a turntable that we can appreciate with the degree of transparency our Harbeths provide? There is so much subjective reviewing that doesn't seem to address this question more objectively.
I love the relatively objective perspective of HUG and would love any further insight into this query. And with the three different variables listed in the equipment I have, this question seems a bit trickier to answer than the seemingly more straightforward amplifier decisions. As turntables are so subjective, maybe there isn't any way to establish a place of diminishing marginal returns. I'd consider a Rega p8 at some point for example, at over twice the cost of my rp3 and from my listening so far it does seem there is a noticeable difference in transparency and fidelity to my own TT. Just curious where others here who still love their vinyl have come down on this exploration? thx.
 

witwald

Active member
The direct drive Technics SL-1500C springs to mind. It looks like it is a well engineered product with excellent specifications. And it comes with the brilliant Ortofon Red cartridge, which is an excellent performer, and a cartridge that I like very much. I think that the SL-1500C is an upgrade path that is well worth investigating, although it may be a difficult turntable to track down. Other turntable manufacturers use a minimalist approach for cost cutting reasons, but that's not the domain of this heavily engineered Technics turntable.
 

ssfas

Well-known member
I very much enjoy vinyl. It is an expensive way of listening to music compared to digital, but there are other reasons as you have said. My suggestions:
- The RP3 and 10x5 is a good combination.
- I assume you will go up the Rega ladder as budget and taste permits.
- The 10x5 is already a fairly premium cartridge. I would stick to MM. There is a list here: https://www.whathifi.com/best-buys/accessories/best-cartridges
I have a Goldring 2500, a good unit.
- How is the turntable isolated? Wall mounting is cheapest and best.
- Record cleaning probably provides a greater return than anything else. I use a Loricraft PRC4. It's a one-off lifetime investment.
- The phono stage is probably as important as the turntable. You might be looking at a Rega Aria. Chord have released a unit called Huei that is likely to be excellent. In the USA PS Audio have just released a mid-price phono stage, seems reasonably priced (but not in the UK).

I use an Origin Live tonearm. I think they make great products based on very sound and original engineering (they have a unique dual pivot system on the more expensive items https://www.originlive.com/faq-items/tonearm-dual-pivot-bearing/). The do lots of Rega modifications. They are also based near Harbeth. There are some very good used units listed in the USA via HiFi Shark.
 

rolase

New member
If you are looking for transparency you will need low-noise and low distortion with a flat frequency response of cartridge and phonoamp based on a solid tt-drive.
A lot of cartridge and phonoamps in the market are sounded. A good choice is one of the Technics ddrives (quality of built and value for the price) with a Ortofon 2 M Black or Ortofon Cadenza Black with a phonoamp of Lehmann Audio. In many cases best value for the money is in the middle of the productrange of a brand. Thinking about MC or MM considering low noise MM is a better choice regarding value for the money.
I am using an EMT 938 (expensive but good sounding).
 

ssfas

Well-known member
It's worth noting that the 10x5 is a high output MC cartridge. I inherited one and gave it to my son, who I recall used it though the MM sockets of his amp. Depending on the gain, money could be saved by getting a better quality MM-only phono amp. Stereophile reviews loads of them, with measurements.

MC carts are expensive and a Loricraft costs less than most of them, but extends the life of carts indefinitely. My preference would be a good MM like the 2M or Goldring 2500, or a Rega, some of which have replaceable styli. I also have a 2M Mono, as well as a 2500 and a couple of MC carts.
 

hifi_dave

Well-known member
Your speakers are good enough to warrant the best turntable your budget will allow.

If you enjoy the Rega P8, I would suggest you go with that. Great performance, great backup, superb build, totally reliable, no faff and realistic pricing. The past year it has been my biggest selling turntable.
 

Chazk

Member
Thx for input so far. Direct drive vs belt drive does seem one of the forks in the road of choice and approach. I have heard of direct drive being more 'digital' like in it's clarity and consistent speed. But views of belt drive being better isolated from sound of motor and environment. As for the phono amp, is it true as with our stereo amps that all we are looking for is a straight wire with gain? That as long as it's not trying to add a sound signature, any decent phono amp will do? Maybe I'm just wanting to explore a bit more objective perspective to a very subjective part of the stereo system playback.
 

Chazk

Member
Hifi Dave
Thx for your Rega dealer perspective. Not sure there is an objective way to compare, but with your significant Rega experience, is there way to describe improvements in sound quality between P8 and RP3? As no doubt for many of us it can be hard to do head to head comparisons, especially when one model is no longer produced.
 

hifi_dave

Well-known member
Subjective impressions are not favoured here, so get along to a Rega stockist and do the dem. You will clearly hear the superiority of the P8. Any Rega stockist will be pleased to assist.
 

henk70

New member
Also very happy with my Origin Live tonearm and great support from the owner if you have questions about their products. I saw they also make reasonable priced tables in your price range. Maybe something to check out ?
 

witwald

Active member
As for the phono amp, is it true as with our stereo amps that all we are looking for is a straight wire with gain? That as long as it's not trying to add a sound signature, any decent phono amp will do?
I think that you've hit the proverbial nail on the head.

It seems that phono amplifiers can have a few difficulties along the road to being a straight wire with gain. A lot of that is related to the fact that they need to accurately replicate the (inverse) RIAA equalisation curve (see RIAA equalisation). When playing back a record, the phono amplifier is expected to provide a complementary boost of 20 dB at 20 Hz and a cut of 20 dB at 20 kHz, the total change being 40 dB over 3 decades in frequency (13.33 dB/decade), with 1 kHz being at approximately 0 dB. The target frequency response curve is well specified, and relatively simple to describe mathematically. However, the accuracy with which it is followed can vary from one phono amplifier to another, although it seems that circuits with about 0.2 dB accuracy can be built with careful adherence to electronic engineering principles. Of course, that begs the question as to how accurate was the RIAA equalisation curve of the electronic amplifier that was used when the LP was cut.
 

Chazk

Member
I had no idea about the RIAA equalization curve adjustments. I think this is part of what makes we vinyl lovers choice of players uniquely challenging, so many moving parts: Tone arm, turntable, cartridge and possibly phono amp. Each aspect of this chain that for the most part also impact one another. It seems objectivity becomes a bit of a pipe dream with vinyl playback.
 

ssfas

Well-known member
There is a fairly comprehensive equalisation chart here.
My system has about a dozen EQ settings programmed into the system that can be selected from the remote control. So far, never bothered. Life is too short.
With relatively budget systems a phono amp that keeps noise levels close or below audible is an achievement.
 

Chazk

Member
Which raises the question of what is a 'relatively budget system' ? With SHL5+ and Hegel and Rega rp3 currently I am pleased with my own system's sweet spot in value. But I don't know another friend or acquaintance of mine who has invested anywhere close to as much in their home audio system. Maybe I need to be expanding my circle?
 
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