Quiet Tonearms/cartidges??

I have a fairly good system and am considering revamping my turntable. I really haven't played vinyl in 20 years. When I did, I would buy an album, clean it, zap it with my Zerostat, then record it going through a DBX 224 and then play the tape. This would eliminate most pops and surface noise, while also allowing me to play at high volumes without any rumble. I have been reading about the higher quality tonearms and cartridges and understand that the high end models virtually eliminate surface noise of LP's. Is this HYPE or FACT? I rarely play LP's now-perhaps because I have no really good quality way of playing them, and I must admit, I enjoy the convenience of CD's. OK - I'm sure all you vinyl purists are muttering obscenities. I currently have a 1974 Pioneer PL-71 turntable , with a Shure V-15 III cartridge, which was pretty much the best I could buy at the time. I have a Theta CB3 preamp going into Krell KMA 160 monoblocks, driving some Wilson Maxx's (series II) speakers. I'm using a Theta Miles CD transport at the front. My old pioneer turntable doesn't sound "bad", but when I look at some of the new analog stuff out there, I'm wondering if I'm really missing out on some good vinyl reproduction. Don't have the bucks to invest in a turntable to equal the rest of my system, but may want to get into a medium grade line of analog equipment. Do any of you vinyl guys (or gals) have any advice? (Blowing my head off, or ingesting poison is not an option)
records still 'behave' like they always did, regardless of the money you spend. don't think those charming ticks, pops, etc, have disappeared. just pick a front end you like the sound of, and prepare to have fun....take care of your records and they'll take care of you.
The best setup with state of the art table, arm and cartridge and a top notch phono stage net you LP playback as free of noise as CD most of the time.

The reason I say most of the time, there will be a click or pop occasionally but moment by moment the music flows pretty much free of noise. During music sessions with my group on Tuesday evening we play a wide variety of LPs ranging from freshly opened to oldies from the 1950s. During the four plus hours of LP listening there will be a maximum of 4 or 5 total clicks or pops.

The total time these take up during the session amount to less than half a second and the other three hours, 59 minutes and 59.5 seconds are pure joy.

As many have posted in other threads here at Audiogon, even a live performance can be interrupted by chair squeaks, throat clearing or coughs. Even with CD your home is never DEAD quiet.

You have to ask yourself if the quality and availability of the music you intend buying is worth the effort rather than obsessing over possible negatives.

I also wonder why you would spend money recording to tape with prices of raw tape stock, especially since you say it will be processed with a DBX 224 which will alter the natural analog sound in a negative way (in my experience).

Even assuming you can pull off a PERFECT recording, any upgrade to your vinyl playback system (even VTA adjustment, tracking or load) would make your tapes out of date, at least quality wise. Why not just set up the vinyl playback correctly and enjoy?
I think that the most significant factor affecting tics and pops is not the quality of your cartridge/tonearm/turntable, but the dynamic range of the music you listen to, followed by the physical quality of the pressing.

If you are listening typically to music with narrow dynamic range, such as most rock music, or classical chamber music, or to recordings which are significantly compressed in terms of dynamic range, you will hear minimal tics and pops. If you are listening to uncompressed wide dynamic range music on high quality audiophile-oriented labels, you will also hear fairly minimal tics and pops. But the worst case would be minimally compressed wide dynamic range music on a mediocre pressing (typically symphonic music from one of the major labels), in which case I would say stick to cd.

-- Al
My insanely high gain ARC SP6 B soldered on MC make loud firworks type pop using the Dynevector 20X 2.0MV H.o. Cartridge. I switched to a non tube phono stge which is the Graham Slee Amp 2 SE which you can use with a HO MC but is designed mostly for higher output MMs. The gain was not a problem I got plenty of sound out of my big speakers and 80wpc tube amps and moderate Mu pre-line stage using only 6SN7 because I like them so there! Franly now $370 which was hard fought price for the Graham Slee Amp 2 SE is no longer just tweak change for me and I was not sure what the reason is for the near universal praise for it.
It took an eterrnity of glare,smear, dry and at times a shrill high end that my uber gain ARC did not do but magnified noise to the point of having a noise floor close to the cieling. Mercy a reprieve after leaving the Amp 2 on since I bought it 5 months ago it is smoothing over or I just lost more high frequency hearing.
Dear Handyman: IMHO there are at least two things that will improve the quality performance of what you have right now in your >PL-71 and that its worth to try before you change the TT/tonearm/cartridge :
you have to change the tonearm IC cable for a better one and you can change the Shure today stylus by this one:

Regards and enjoy the music,
I wouldn't want say so much about the other stuff as yet, but Raul's advise to stick with the V15 III gets my full support.
You have not mentioned your current stylus type (see in front of the protection flap) or its condition. In fact I would expect its condition may be still in good order.
I use a V15 type III right now and it runs with the (upgrade of old) stylus VN35MR.
It sounds VERY nice, B U T only after using the correct VTA setting i.e. about 1-1.5mm arm down at the pivot! Otherwise at level arm it usually sounds too bright and un-musical.
I use this old V15 in my SME-10 TT and SME-V arm a ~ $15 000 rig and it's a good match. Sounds better than some $3000 plus MC cart!
This brings about all this other analog stuff like Zenith, Overhang, Azimuth, settings etc.
I would expect, you not having been at it for some time, it may be somewhat of an 'un-known' to you.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT to have a basic grasp on this stuff. The last time you played records, not much VTA adjustment was practiced (never mind known!) I include myself here in the 70s and early 80s, and then only to be followed by CDs, amen.
I also think your TT will be more than fine to get going, given the correct set-up!
The phono-interconnects as mentioned by Raul are as well VERY worthwhile to consider as they are **usually** not of the best dating from that period.
Your next step, and again mentioned by Raul is the SAS stylus replacement for that V15. But I suggest only, if the current one is worn or not at least an elliptical (E) or hemi (HE) or micro-ridge (MR). Check for the end letters of the VN35xx stylus on your V15 type III. (Displayed on the stylus protection flap ).

Best of luck,
You'll find reading through this thread to be highly informative:


Among many other excellent points which are made, I would single out for mention Atmasphere's post about how phono stage or preamp designs that incorporate significant negative feedback will exacerbate tics and pops, and also about the criticality of proper cartridge and tonearm adjustment (as Axel also alluded to above).

-- Al
clean records havd fewer pops and less noise and better sound.
an good (and expensive) rcm (record cleaning machine) can do wonders.
Dear handymann: Of corse that changing the headshell wires for a top ones can improve the quality performance too.

Regards and enjoy the music,
A RCM => (Record Cleaning Machine) is a MUST as far as I had to learn. And that ALSO applies to NEW records as far as my experience tells me.
A lot of them new one's are not a pristine as one would like to have it. I use a Hannl MERA (pretty quite) with their latest Roller-brush --- VERY handy for reticent cleaning cases of mostly 2nd-hand vinyl.

Ticks and pops are said to operate right in/into the super-tonic frequencies i.e. above what you can hear. B U T they create their own lower harmonics that can make them sound worse then they actually are. This gets back to the cart/arm/phono-pre/loading matching also for MMs! (ask Raul he likes 75k ohm and 100k ohm better then the std. 47k input impedance for a lot of his MM carts). I mention this if it gets to picking a phono-pre.

I still think a good MM cart with a top 40dB tube? stage might be the way to go, rather than blowing your buck on one 'can-do-all' with a dodgy/lesser MC stage and trying to get it right afterwards with any of those overpriced MCs. IT WON'T WORK!
Just a more recently arrived at opinion on that subject.
Hi Albertporter,
I'm about to, it's in for repair or exchange for a new one. Depending on the outcome I consider to sell it.

I'm using the V15 III with 35MR stylus right now and I get more detail AND music... then with any of the MCs I used this far --- including Transfiguration Orpheus, Axia, DV 20X-L, Lyra Dorian, Ortofon Jubilee, Ortofon Kontra Punkt A, etc.

B U T, as I mentioned elsewhere this may well have to do with the ability or in-ability of my ML326S phono-modules, that's hard to tell. But so far my rig sounds better then ever!

If you call a top of the pops phono-pre your own >$5k, YMMV. I also mentioned, that those ML phono-modules, the lesser 320S, (not with Arlon25 PCBs) scored on the very top of some Germany Audio magazines --- otherwise one hears not much about them. Only info is: they are cloned from the ML32 Reference pre-amp's phono-modules.

I currently think, that MMs are much underrated currently, or MCs are over-rated. All of course based on a phono-pre's final ability and as usual a suitable cart/arm match.

I hope this makes some sense,
Axel, yes makes sense thank you for explaining.

I built up a rim drive Lenco about 5 years ago and that is what brought me to where I am today, running two Technics MK3 and one MK2 with plans for a Garrard as well.

The cartridge in that Lenco was a new Shure V15 III with stock stylus. I agree it was amazing for the money but it did not compete with my moving coil. Perhaps as you say, it's got to do with the phono stage, I was running the Aesthetix Io which was (and still is) a state of the art piece.
All the geeks will talk equipment but the truth is: If you feel the occasional click or pop is an intolerable distraction or that it interferes with the believability of the performance, then don't bother with vinyl. You may get through many sides with no discernable noise, but no matter how clean a pressing or how expensive the rig, clicks will happen.

For me it's part of life's acceptable imperfections .. the poorly timed cough during a symphony.. ..a stray hair in a Kubrik film ..a fly buzzing by a beautiful landscape view.. a little mole on a well-formed breast...
Queg said, "a stray hair in a Kubrik film "

True, there may have been a stray hair in a Kubrick film but little else was "stray" or inconsequential to the film.

I do a lot of late night listening and use headphones. LPs definitely have all sorts of noise using headphones. Through my amp and speakers, I hardly notice the surface noise.