Tonearm or Turntable...


Wondering if you might share some thoughts...

After many years away from it, I have returned to enjoying music again. I have a modest set up here. Entry level Clearaudio Concept, McCormack Micro Phone Drive, Cary SLI-50 (which I’ve had since new and has been used recently for the radio - a Magnum Dynalab Tuner - and TV shows for the kids), a Micromega Stage 3 cd player, a Theta Cobalt DAC and a pare of Decware DM945’s w/ midrange option. I have owned everything, except the TT and Speakers, since new. Vinyl has come back into my life, and I’m really enjoying it! I foolishly sold my TT and ALL my records when my daughter was born 10 years ago...

Here’s my question. I am going to "change" the system entirely, and I’m going to have to do it bit by bit. I want to start with the TT. Should I start with the arm, and use it on my current turntable, or, should I use my current arm (Verify) on a new turntable? Can’t buy both, like I said, have to do this bit by bit. Don’t want to start w speakers, as I suspect my Amp isn’t a great match for the Harbeths. I don’t want to deal w tubes anymore and will be looking for a solid state receiver which I am not in a position to buy at the moment. Wish I could specify what I listen to, but it’s everything from Beethoven, through Bill Evans, Max Richter, The Sex Pistols and Joy Division.

When I am done, I’m looking to have a TT (Clearaudio Ovation?), a CD player (Keeping my current one as I’ll be getting rid of CD’s at some point I suspect), some kind of digital source (Unknown at this point), a receiver( MacIntosh MAC6700 or MAC7200) and the speakers (Harbeth Monitor 30.1 or Super HL5 Plus). I will be keeping my current system and putting it in the bedroom I suspect

Thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

I would not touch anything until ready to get those Harbeths. Then I would move up the chain.

Hi, perkri,

I agree with inna, hold off until you can afford new speakers, although depending on what you end up with, that Cary amp may not have sufficient power to drive them.

You didn't mention which cartridge you're using but you might find a noticeable improvement with a cartridge upgrade. Looks like that McCormack Phono Drive can handle a wide range of cartridges.



Hi Inna and Tom,

Thank you for your thoughts.

My original thought was to look after the speakers and cartridge first, but agree that amp may not be a good match for them, hence starting w the TT/Arm.

The cartridge is the concept MM. Very basic... Decided I didn't want to get a cart yet as I want to make sure whatever I get will match with the arm I end up with.

The local dealer will let me try out the speakers - buy them and return if they don't "fit" - suppose that's an option also.

Perhaps my original approach is the better approach.


In my opinion, the turntable is the most important element of the analogue front end, tonearm next, cartridge last. I did it the other way, against expert advice, and regretted it.

Consider some of the less well-known brands, especially those that will deal factory direct. Trans-Fi is one such. Nottingham Analogue might be another, depending on whether or not they have distributor these days. I use a Nottingham as a second table for mono, and Trans-Fi tonearms on both my tables.

Also consider record cleaning, the more heroic the better. Clear improvements in sound, probable improvements in stylus life.
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If you choose British speakers you got to have British turntable !
Just kidding, but..
You could start upgrading from the beginning. The turntable itself is  a 'pace maker', pace rhythm and timing , as Brits say. And they are right. Nottingham is a fine British table, yeah, I've got one.

i would love to get a Loricraft, but I am going to pu an Okie Nokki for now. 

Ill look at the Nottingham! 

I don't know how exactly you clean the records. I use Okki Nokki too, with Audio Intelligent three step solutions. I first agitate with fluid and then soak for about ten minutes with fluid one, vacuum it off, and then fluid two, vacuum it off, then double rinse with step three water. If the record looked very dirty I clean it twice, again with soaking. Maybe not super cleaning but very good.
Only one Nottingham distributor/dealer in the US, as far as I know. 
Larry, Hollywood Sound in Florida. Theoretically, unless they restict the sales for a particular region, one could get Nottingham from the UK, except motor and motor pulley for the US voltage/frequency. Significantly less expensive. sells Nottinghams and many other brands and things. I got the cartridge from them, appear to be nice people.