am considering making some improvements or changes to the analog portion of my system. I
currently have two turntables: a Thorens TD 125 MK II with an SME 3009 Series II Improved
tonearm with an old Grado Signature 8MX cartridge, and a Linn LP12 with an SME Series III
tonearm (effective mass of 5 grams) with a B&O MMC1 cartridge. The knife-edge bearings
in both arms seem to be tight -- i.e., there is no movement when the 'arm is
gently pushed front to back.
with most things, bang for the buck is always a consideration. Both 'tables were purchased
new, are in excellent condition and have no issues with motor or bearing noise. The 'table
that I would make changes to is the LP12. The SME Series III 'arm does not seem to get
much love, but I've been told that with a proper cartridge it is a fine tonearm. My
current B&O MMC1 is such a cartridge. Looking around, my choices with that 'arm are
the SoundSmith Aida, the Benz Micro Glider SH (possibly a push, with a resonance of around
12Hz), the Grado Reference Master or the Ortofon 2M Black.
SoundSmith Aida is probably the best choice for the SME III, but I am somewhat drawn to
the Benz. Can you describe the audible differences among moving-coil, moving-iron and
moving-magnet designs? Changing 'arms on the LP12 is an option, and I am impressed with
the AudioMods Series III, which is a beautifully rebuilt Rega.
for the 'table itself, I was considering a Circus upgrade, but in talking with people in
the UK and looking at forums on the internet, the opinion seems to be that if your
original bearing is OK, some of the aftermarket subchassis, such as a CeTech or a Sole,
give better results for less money. The thought seems to be to use the latest Linn
armboard or one made from polymer or carbon fiber.
on which option is chosen, considering a new 'table is an option, but will more than
likely result in the highest cost. I read your review of
the VPI Classic and was impressed. The problem with this table is that at 10" in
height, it will not fit my cabinet. Mike at VPI seems to think that by changing the feet
and modifying the tonearm wire he can possibly get me the 3" that I need. He also
said that possibly a different 'arm could be used. I have no experience with non-suspended
tables and unipivot arms. How would the sound of the VPI Classic compare to that of an
First off, I see no reason you should sell either of your 'tables and buy a new
one. You have a pair of classics, and as so many owners of such 'table are discovering,
they are still the source of some great sound.
I have owned two B&O moving-iron cartridges, so I'm familiar with their sound, which
is somewhere between the incisiveness of a good moving-magnet and the extended top end of
a moving-coil. Given a high-quality phono stage that can deliver enough gain, you will
derive your best sound with a low-output moving-coil -- provided the cartridge is up to
the task, of course. You'll hear more top-end extension and air, and because moving coils
often use styli with finer profiles, they often sound more detailed overall and handle
groove noise better. An Ortofon 2M Black has a very good stylus too, and it is the best
moving-magnet cartridge I've heard. However, the Audio-Technical AT33EV low-output
moving-coil is better still, and I also have to say that I greatly preferred it over
either of my B&O cartridges, which I sold for surprisingly good prices (they're sought
after by people with B&O turntables, which can only use those cartridges, or
equivalents made by Soundsmith).
should have no problem changing the tonearm on either of your 'tables because so many
'arms use the SME mount. However, if you plan on keeping both 'tables, the fastest and
easiest way to upgrade their sound is to buy new cartridges, and given that you already
have two 'tables, perhaps some variety is in order. For me, that would mean mono and
stereo cartridges, likely both from Audio Technica. The AT33EV stereo cartridge is
available in the US, while the AT33MONO is only available in Japan but easy to buy via
eBay. You may opt for moving-iron and moving-coil, where a Soundsmith Aida and Benz Ace or
Glider would fill the bill. I know there are many LP12 upgrades, both from Linn and other
companies. However, I would still start with the cartridge and then introduce other
changes systematically, so you're not simply throwing money at the issue. -Marc
like to join your reader list. The equipment
reviews are very well done as well as very easy to read. I like very much your writing
style and the way you describe your equipment experiences.
you and best regards.
are your thoughts on using dual subwoofers? I have both of mine directly connected to my
preamp. Am I draining a lot of power? Am I better off with just one sub? My wife is always
complaining, asking me to turn down the bass.
subwoofers are taking a line-level signal from your preamp, so there is no worry about
"draining" anything from your system. Two subwoofers with large amps probably do
tax your home's AC delivery to some extent, but only when they're working hard, which
shouldn't happen very often.
In terms of using a pair of subwoofers, that is actually ideal. Bass frequencies,
especially for home theater, are largely nondirectional, so a single subwoofer will often
be adequate. However, from my experience, music is more challenging, and I've heard setups
with a single subwoofer whose mono bass ruined the stereo spread with certain recordings.
your wife is often telling you to turn down the bass of your system, your subwoofers are
probably not integrated correctly with your speakers and their output is too great. Unless
your main speakers are severely bass shy, most of the time you shouldn't even know your
subs are on. -Marc Mickelson
consulted with you several times in the past. Thanks for your recommendations. I bought
Shunyata Antares interconnects and ESP Essence Reference power cords based on them, and
I'm very happy with both. Before I ask my question, I want to tell you that I've just
bought an Audio Aero Capitole Classic Signature Edition CD player, to replace my old Krell
KPS-20i. The Audio Aero player represents a big step up.
question: For many years I've used a Tice Power Block IIIA Signature Power conditioner. As
you may know, George Tice was a pioneer in the field of AC treatment for audio components,
and my conditioner was his last. Do you you know the Tice products? Unfortunately, George
Tice is out of this business. In the past few years, I've read excellent comments about
Shunyata Research and PS Audio power conditioners, but unfortunately no one can tell me if
they represent a better option than my Tice.
I live in Argentina it is impossible to compare them all, so I decide to write you. I
always appreciate your opinion and recommendations. If I didn't have a power conditioner,
I would probably buy a Shunyata, but in my case I already have the Tice, which, in the
1990s, was considered the best power conditioner on the market.
have no firsthand experience with Tice products, but I owned an early PS Audio Power
Plant, and I have been using Shunyata power products for many years. (I just finished a review of the Hydra V-Ray Version II.) The Shunyata products are
completely passive; they don't re-create or regenerate any AC power. Instead, they clean
the incoming power through various methods before passing it to your audio gear. This
makes them good for use with all kinds of components, including power- and current-hungry
amps. I've found their performance to be completely positive, even as I move products into
and out of my system. Essential Sound Products also makes a power distributor that comes
with its own captive power cord. It's a very good, completely passive product that gives
the sonic benefits of ESP power cords to everything plugged into it. Given that you like
your ESP cords, it's worth considering as well. Both the Shunyata and ESP power products
protect your audio gear against power surges and spikes in ways that won't hurt sonic
performance. -Marc Mickelson
Good going on that Search feature. It
sounds neat and very useful.
Desperately seeking Chet
kicking myself because one of my favorite albums of all time is Chet by Chet
Baker. It was released in 45rpm format, but it's sold out, and I can't find it anywhere.
Do you know of any sources I might have missed?
know what it's like to be in search of a particular record or CD, only to find that it's
out of print. That's the case with the 45rpm version of Chet, a great album
featuring, among other notables, Bill Evans. Acoustic Sounds, which produced the 45rpm
version, is sold out, as are the other online sellers I checked, including Amazon's
best options for finding a copy now are eBay and Audiogon -- none are listed at this
point, and when they are, you'll pay a premium, I'm sure. A search on the recording's
catalog number also turned up a lead in South Africa, called Vinyl South Africa (www.vinylsa.co.za). It might be
worthwhile to contact them and see if they have a copy to sell.
best option right now is the single-LP, 33 1/3 version of the album from Acoustic Sounds,
which costs $25. That's the way I'd go, keeping my eyes open for someone selling the 45rpm
version at a reasonable price. -Marc Mickelson