Primary Control ( Netherlands ) is making some amazing tonearms.
Allnic 1201 is very good for its cost, however is a weak link IMHO.
Thanks for the advice. I'm thinking about selling the Allnic 1201 and replacing it with the PS Audio Stellar phono preamp which is only $2400 new with a 30 day return policy. I like that it has balanced outputs and that Michael Fremmer thought it was a good buy. The tonearm you recommended is a bit too exotic for me. I couldn't find a list price, but if it's custom made in the Netherlands, it will break my bank.
The ET2 is a floating tangential design which I've always liked, but it's not very good on a turntable with floating subchasis . The SME,Graham or Triplanar would be more appropriate.
Triplanar is more costly than the Primary Control Arrow fyi, but is also a good one :)
As far as phono goes its always worth trying when there is an easy return but I would keep the allnic around to compare. Not sure the PS Audio would be a hands down winner, maybe just different...
With a table and cart such as you have, phono preamp will really be critical to allow everything to achieve best results.
Not true, I ran a Sota with ET2 for a number of years - it is a great combination.
The SOTA has a balanced hanging suspension and is much more stable than TT's like the Linn where the platter/arm sit on top of the springs.
You will have to spend a lot of money to get a better arm.
If you do want to go to a convection pivoted arm I would suggest the Kuzma 4Point 9 - one of the best arms around regardless of price. If you want a cheaper arm the Audiomods Classic or 6 punch well above their weight.
The Allnic is a good phono - why not just get it serviced and buy a new set of decent tubes.
The ET2 was actually a pretty common pairing with SOTA Star. But I had one on a Merrill Heirloom (a much jumpier suspension), without the silicon damping, and it was very nerve-wracking to use! From what I could tell the ET2 sounded pretty damn good though. Just more of a hassle to use.
I got my Star III with a Fidelity Research FR64fx and it really feels like the perfect partner. Looks great too! Since then I’ve got a Clearaudio that supports multiple arms and I’ve played with Graham Phantom and CA Universal - but I prefer the sound of the 64fx with most cartridge combinations.
I’ve since had the Star rebuilt as a Nova V, and kept a 64fx on it. Wonderful match!
But just adding a Garrott bros p77i cartridge had it singing with the old SAEC tone arm and also I added a Korf head shell. That combo, and some DIY phono cable is < $1000, and it’s not bad, and uses the existing MM front end.
I might have to keep the ET2. I have a lot of time and effort invested into it, like a metal base, titanium wand, two German pumps working out of phase, and two home made surge tanks. Arms have gotten expensive. The ET@ was $1200 back in 1990 or thereabouts. The Sota table was about the same, but it's been upgraded. I just remembered that I sold my Lyra Kleos, and all I can afford at this point is a Lyra Delos or a Hana which I've heard good things about. Right now I'm using an Audioquest 7000 NSX which was designed by Lyra.
I just looked at a Manley and a Sutherland phono preamp, both used at around $3000
Digital streaming is looking pretty good at this point.😁
@gyneguy225 before changing 3 things at once, why not just change the arm first, then maybe the cart and phono stage last. It sounds like you aren't comfortable with the ET2, so that's gotta be what goes first.
If budget is <$2K, Audiomods & Origin Live should be on your list. I am pretty happy w/Audiomods V w/silver loom & VTA tower on my Nova6, paired w/Dynavector XX2mk2. OL is the obvious alternative w/models both lower & higher in price.
If $2500 or more, a used SME V is what Sota recommends more often than anything else on Novas & Cosmos.
If >$3K works for you the Kuzmas, Triplanars should be on your list. Cheers,
I'm just exploring all the options at this point. The SME is a really good recommendation and I thank you. I may give Donna at Sota a call on Monday. She's always been pleasant and very helpful. I honestly don't know much about the SME arms. I do know that the Cosmos armboard on the Nova would have to be changed out with the ET2. Every tonearm requires its own specially drilled armboard. At least the geometry is already worked out at Sota, and the arm and board are basically dropped into place and fixed with 3 screws.
I've used moving coil cartridges since 1975 when I bought a Denon 103C. Supex was next. I had a Naim preamp with MC phono card. For a while I was happy with a Linn turntable-Grace 707arm- Supex E+Super feeding my Naim preamp. Then along came ARC preamps (SP10 to start) which changed everything.
I won't be going back to MM cartridges, but I would like to get back my ARC ph5 which I traded for the Allnic. -stupid move!
As we know I have a cartridge to pick up and, some arm board drilling and tonearm setup.
What other MM/MI carts do recommend? Or are they all OK - and just different flavours?
I had pretty good luck with the Garrott Bros p77i, and some of the SoundSmith carts caught my eye, but I did not get a listen to any of them.
Or do you mainly do MC and prefer not to opine?
@gyneguy225 Yeah, Sota can cut an armboard for most arms. Many brands follow SME or Rega(e.g. Audiomods, Origin Live) geometry. 9" arms all will fit. 12" won't. In between, it's worth asking. Sometimes Donna can hook you up with a trade-in armboard, because plenty of folks change direction. That could save you a few bucks and also time, if you get lucky. Cheers,
I do MC most of the time. The OP was leaning towards a Hana and keeping his Allinic 1201 so clearly not in the mindset to spend a lot on either cart or phono. So in that case a best in class MM might make more sense. Not saying they are better overall.
As you know I am in the trade and sell MC carts but they more costly than a Hana... ;)
I think my purchase of the Allnic 1201 was an impulse buy, and I would be quick to sell that item before anything else in the chain. I'm considering the Parasound Halo JC3+ which was designed by John Curl who designed the Vendetta phono preamp many years ago. The balanced outputs are essential as my analog rig is about 20ft from my preamp. Right now I convert the output of the Allnic from RCA to balanced with an ARC BL1. -What a pain in the butt!
I had an ifi phono stage on my list for a while.
In the end, I ended up spending a bit more… but at that end it seemed like a consideration. The Sutherland units were also on my list a bit higher up.
I was replacing an ARC PH2… which was really pretty good in terms on MM with no loading options.
Maybe I should have stuck with it?
I'm leaning toward the ARCRef3 phono. It may be expensive but apparently it's the best in the US and holds its value. It's a good mate for my ARC REF6 preamp.
For a while, I thought that vinyl was fading, but it seems to be making a comeback.
Audio is my hobby. So, I guess it's ok to spend some money on it. I don't drive fast expensive cars. What's a retired 71 yo to do?
I agree with others on their adulations of the ARC Ref 3/3SE phono stage (I have a 3SE). It will ascend you above the fray of the ~3K phono stages. It was a big difference when I upgraded from $3K stages to this next level. Also my VAC Renaissance SE phono is above the fray, just a different voicing than the ARC and a bit more fidgety with tube rolling :)
I also prefer using a quality outboard SUT, even with the 3SE. But it’s absolutely not necessary, and very specific to your cartridge choice.
A SOTA Nova with a great vintage arm (ET2, FR64fx, etc) and MC cartridge (your choice - I’ve successfully used many) will absolutely scale brilliantly with a top class phono stage. I know because I’ve tried that. It’s uncomfortably close to my Clearaudio Master Innovation lol.
I bought a refurbished SOTA Saphire two years ago from SOTA. I had it set up with an Origin Live Silver tonearm and an Ortofon 2M Red(as a placeholder)
Donna told me as I was loading it up that my setup could handle any cartridge up to $3k. A few weeks later I swapped out the 2M Red for a SoundSmith The Voice
I am a very happy camper.
So my recommendation would be an Origin Live tonearm. SOTA carries Origin Live and Kuzma tonearms. Would recommend discussing which one Donna recommends for your table.
I spoke to Donna today, and she still recommends the Origin live tonearm.
I found out that there are a number of upgrades for my 30 year old SOTA for about $3000 total, but I'll still have a 30yo turntable. I'm stepping back a bit, and considering that it will cost me a fortune to get the analog system to sound anywhere near as good as my digital. So, I'll see how it sounds with the Kiseki cartridge, and decide whether to go forward from there or give up.
Maybe hold off for a bit.
I got the full kit from Donna, and a workmate and I will do some measurements after I install the gear.
I’m intending to write up how it works.
@gyneguy225 , First off, good digital is always going to sound better than even the finest analog. My mistake. I should have said," is always going to be more accurate." Personally, I am into records because I have thousands of them collected over 64 years, it is a tradition I instinctively like because it is burned into me and it is more of a challenge than digital.
I suggest to people that if they do not already have a large record collection they should avoid analog and spend the money on music.
Your Nova is an excellent turntable and can easily be updated to modern spec. You will have to spend serious money to do better and the improvement would be marginal, not something everyone would notice. You have an excellent cartridge. As long as it is in good shape there is no reason to change. Tonearms are very important. The ET 2 is a terrible arm for a number of reasons and should be avoided at all cost. The Sota tables are limited to a small group of 9"-10" arms. The Triplanar will not fit without serious modification. The three great arms that I know from experience will fit are the Kuzma 4 Point 9, the Schroder CB and the SME V. The Origin Live arms will fit but I hear a lot of complaints about their service. Some of the Reed arms might fit but I am not entirely sure. I have a relatively new Sota Cosmos Vacuum and I chose the Schroder CB because I sincerely thought it was the best arm for this type of turntable and over the 9 months or so I have had it nothing has dissuaded me from that opinion. The only other arm I would really like to own is the Schroder LT but it will not fit on a Sota and I am not ready to buy another turntable.
The only other thing I would like to see in your system would be a current mode phono stage like the Sutherland Loco or Little Loco, the BMC MCCI or the Channel D Seta L or Lino C. I own a Seta L Plus which I am enjoying very much. I am also using digital RIAA correction. You need a flat phono stage output for that which al the Channel D phono stages have. Your Lyra will work beautifully with one of these stages. You will notice more gain, less noise and more accurate bass.
Good information! I'm considering the Sutherland Little Loco. ($3300 vs $11000 for the ARCRef3.) The Kiseki will match up well with the Sutherland. It's low output, MC, and has an internal impedance of 6 ohms. It starts to add up fast when I combine the Sutherland for $3300, $3000 to upgrade the Sota, and a new tonearm for thousands more. I'm not sure of the price of the tonearms like the Schroder, Kuzma,or the SME, but certainly not chicken feed I suppose.😉
I love my lp's but not THAT much!
There is no dishonour is not rushing into it.
And the old setup was pretty nice, so the extra $ may not translate into a night-n-day difference.
What do you not like about the sound compared to your digital side?
I sprung for the TT rebuild.
But then again I looked at my age and at the calendar and thought, I best enjoy this stuff now.
I got it, but it’ll be north of 10k with the cartridge…
However my TT sounds pretty good still, with just a cart and new head shell. And I am not not sure one needs a high $ phono stage unless a LOMC is in the picture.
so as he already has a cart to listen to, then we should await the conclusions.
@gyneguy225 , cartridges are balanced devices! All you have to do to use a balanced phono stage is solder XLRs to your tonearm wires. It would take me about 15 minutes. The only arms you can't do this to in my knowledge are the Rega arms.
The Kuzma is $4,000, the Schroder is $5000 and I am not sure what a current SME is going for. There are many used SME V's now on the used market but I would not buy a used arm. Bearings are too easy to damage and significant bearing damage can be very hard to detect. As an example, If a turntable travels by car ANYWHERE without first removing the arm and placing it in a box where all of it is supported in foam (the original box) the bearings have been damaged.
The ET2 has no gimbles to wear out or loosen up. It is air bearing and that's one of its pluses. I can sling some solder but my eyes are so bad, I couldn't see those tonearm wires to solder them. Melting away the insulation is trouble as well.
My new cartridge arrives in a few days and I'll report back about it. That will determine my next move.
Re Mijostyn’s advice on purchasing a current driven phono stage: (1) That’s a fine idea if you plan to limit yourself to LOMC cartridges with internal resistance preferably less than 12 to 15 ohms, the lower the better, and (2) my own experience with a BMC MMCI ULN Signature phono stage suggests it is superb but not necessarily better than high end voltage driven phono stages with high gain, for listening to the aforementioned LOMC, low internal R cartridges. Not inferior but also not definitively superior. In a final attempt to be absolutely clear, I don’t hear anything that tells me current drive is going to take over the universe. But it will assume an important place therein.
My Kiseki purple heart cartridge arrived this afternoon. I hope that it lives up to its reputation. I'll mount it and do some listening tomorrow.
I've been browsing used turntables, and rebuilding my Sota nova for $3000 is looking better. Tonearms are pretty pricey as well. I considered a VPI. I saw a VPI Prime 21 3d gimbaled tonearm with tonearm weight for $3650. It's tempting to go for something new but I'm somewhat attached to my linear tracking arm with an air bearing suspension.
I guess it all depends on how the new cartridge sounds.
Has anyone here some experience with VPI tables?
No VPI experience. But if you like your SOTA, then let’s see how the Kiseki works, and decide later-like you mentioned.
VPI can sound a little clinical, but I have used a Classic 3 Signature for awhile now. The older SOTA Sapphire/Star Sapphire were a bit more melodic. I am thinking about possibly going to an Acoustic Signature model this time, but who knows. By the time I get serious about actually buying a new turntable, things could change. Hope that the Kiseki meets your expectations and the new upgrades improve your table and your listening pleasure. Just spend more time listening now and enjoying your music.
Thanks for the VPI info. I read a review of the Kiseki purple heart by Jim Hannon at TAS and he was pretty impressed, comparing it to some Koetsu’s. The ET2 was one of the arms he used in the review. I have the cartridge mounted but haven’t listened yet. It was a tense install as I received no stylus guard with the cartridge. Now, I need to set tracking force, VTA, and azimuth. I’m savoring this stuff, and listening can wait til tomorrow. I wanted a new cartridge but all of the Kiseki’s are sold out. Needless to say I’m stoked about listening tomorrow