Does a record player make that much of a difference??

Question for all you Audionerds - in your experience, how much of a difference does one record player make over the next compared with the differences that a cartridge, phone pre-amp, and separate head amp make in the signal chain?

Reason I ask: I just upgraded from a MM cart to a MC cart (Dynavector 20x2-low output). Huge difference - the Dynavector sounds much more alive and detailed compared with the MM. I find my current record player (a Marantz TT16) to be a real pain to work with - I have to manually move the belt on the motor hub to change speeds, and the arm is not very adjustable or easy to do so. But, aside from that, it's not terrible. How much of a difference can I really expect if I upgrade to a better record spinner vs the change I heard from upgrading to a better cart? 

My next acquisition is a separate head amp to feed the phono stage.

Thanks for all your insights!



Michael Fremer did a comparison between two turntables using the same cartridge, the same tone arm, and the same phono pre-amp playing the same LP.

Have a listen to see if the differences are meaningful to you.

Lew - I initially blanched when J Carr suggested i remove the finger lift on the Triplaner….. we compromised and i put shrink sleeve on it with the heat gun….

@tomic601 I’ve been using a 4point11" & Safir tonearms without the finger lift and yes it sounds better. A bit nerve racking but worth it IMO. Please explain what you hear with the shrink wrapping on the lift vs no shrink wrapping?

Well - those are two great tonearms @sksos and as i recall Kuzma deleted the fingerlift off even the entry level unipivot for sonic reasons . I would say the lift damping via the shrink was more pronounced on my Lyra cartridge than w Kuzma…but i would describe it as less grain / haze and cleared decay.  - hope that helps.

i have significant seat time at a local dealer w 4 point and Safir….. just lovely execution and sonics….

Best to you

I added a finger lift to a few of the mounting plates of my Schroder CB. They are titanium wire and heat shrink. I can not hear a difference between modified and unmodified plates, but since I do not have two identical cartridges I can not do a direct AB comparison which is what is really needed. I do not use the lifter. I have a Little Fwend do the lifting at the end of the record and I cue the record manually. I use the lifter only as a block when I am working on the adjustments. To cue a record manually you have to have a finger lift. The physics of the situation are not that difficult. The cartridge is sitting on a suspension, the resonance frequency of that suspension is around 7 Hz. Nothing above about 20 Hz gets to the tonearm through the cartridge. Then there is airborne vibration. I use a dust cover during play that greatly attenuates the higher frequencies that might affect the finger lift. If the finger lift is stiff enough, it's resonance frequency will be above the audio range and will be damped by the heat shrink. A good test is, if you can bend the finger lift by hand it might be a problem, if you can not bend it by hand it will be OK. 


"cleared decay." ?? I have hours of seat time with the Safir on a suspended CS Port. It sounded like the record to me. The turntable did not sound at all. For those of you considering a CS Port you have to take into account the very large around 14" platter which can make fitting a short tonearm a real party. I would not go below 10". The CS Port also has a very unique feature. The surface of the platter is ground concave. You can see it easily if you put a straight edge across it. The CS Port comes with a very heavy record weight. This presses the record into the concavity in a similar fashion as a reflex clamp. It also presents the record to the stylus at a slightly different angle. Azimuth should be adjusted to account for this.