Weak Link in Vinyl Playback

Hi Everyone,

I’m looking for some input on a weak link in my system, mostly in regards to my vinyl playback chain in a 12’x11’ room.

I currently have a Technics SL-1700 MK1 with an AT-VM95ML cartridge. The turntable is connected to an iFi Zen Phono. The phono is connected to a Schiit Saga S via 3 ft. Blue Jeans BJC LC-1 cable, and the Saga runs to a single Schiit Vidar by the another set of the same cable. The Vidar is connected to Elac Debut B6.2’s via 10 ft. Belden 50000UE cable (as an aside, my digital path is Pro Ject S2 Pre Box Digital connected by the same 3ft. interconnects to the Saga>Vidar>speakers). I’ve connected a sub previously (a Martin Logan Grotto I that I inherited) to the Saga in the past, but am currently running without it.

My concern is that while the digital path sounds full to me, at least as much as can be expected, the vinyl path sounds a bit thin and weak. I guess I’d describe it as kind of lacking energy. My gut tells me the Saga S having 0 gain in both the passive and buffer mode (I run it in passive mode because it sounds more lifelike to me but I’ve used the buffer in the past as well) is the reason for this, but I’m not positive. I’m ready to upgrade to the Freya S if that’s the solution, but I didn’t want to start throwing money at a problem without really narrowing it down first. The Zen phono is set to MM and gain 1, which should be correct for my cartridge, the interconnects aren’t overly long (the speaker cable being 10’ isn’t too big a deal, I think?), the Vidar should be driving my inefficient speakers with no issue and judging by the digital path, it is. 

I’m hoping someone here can weigh in on what would make the biggest positive impact in my listening and give me the oomph I think I’m missing. For what it’s worth, I plan on doing some room treatment down the road, but that’s not what I’m looking for advice on at the moment.



Someone posted your table's arm is w/o height adjustment. I found this at Vinyl Engine trying to understand what TT you have: 

The tonearm definately IS adjustable in height. (RTFM) Their is a screw on the right side in the lift assy. Push down the lift as the screw is a hex that needs to be un-locked prior to adjustment. Then adjust height of arm with screwdriver: clockwise is lower, anti-clock is higher. 

Check your arm/cart set up in every aspect. Then consider a cartridge upgrade IMO.

@robbiesd That was actually me that posted it. Thanks for following up. I looked at it yesterday and saw that screw. I used my alignment tool on it's side to check the head shell angle while on the record and it's dead level so I ended up not needing to adjust.


The scale will definitely help because even the slightest movement of the tonearm weight can create a large change in VTF . I found that I like my setting to be about 5% over the middle of the range .

I have a Tavish design phono preamp that has cartridge loading both MM and MC on the front using dials for on the fly changing .  This turned out to be most useful since one can instantly hear the differences as you are listening , I discovered that I like what would be the minimal recommended load with the hidden load between the cartridge and the phono preamp added in to the total .

Also I am using a passive preamp or should I say an attenuator and input selector.