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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:16 am 
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Location: Regina, SK, CA
My girlfriend's system consists of a Project Debut Carbon with acrylic platter and Speedbox, Marantz PM6004 integrated, Oppo 103, Usher S520's and REL T5 sub. Cabling is Kimber 4pr speaker and PBJ interconnect to the Oppo. I'm thinking of adding a dedicated phone stage in the $3-400 range. I would probably use another PBJ to connect the phono stage to the amp. Would there be an appreciable difference over the built-in phono in the Marantz? Keeping in mind I'll be adding another interconnect. If so, what would you recommend in that price range? Thanks in advance for your input.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:52 am 
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Location: East York, ON, CA
acuratl wrote:
My girlfriend's system consists of a Project Debut Carbon with acrylic platter and Speedbox, Marantz PM6004 integrated, Oppo 103, Usher S520's and REL T5 sub. Cabling is Kimber 4pr speaker and PBJ interconnect to the Oppo. I'm thinking of adding a dedicated phone stage in the $3-400 range. I would probably use another PBJ to connect the phono stage to the amp. Would there be an appreciable difference over the built-in phono in the Marantz? Keeping in mind I'll be adding another interconnect. If so, what would you recommend in that price range? Thanks in advance for your input.


What cartridge does she have?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:12 am 
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Location: Guelph, ON, CA
riffer wrote:
acuratl wrote:
My girlfriend's system consists of a Project Debut Carbon with acrylic platter and Speedbox, Marantz PM6004 integrated, Oppo 103, Usher S520's and REL T5 sub. Cabling is Kimber 4pr speaker and PBJ interconnect to the Oppo. I'm thinking of adding a dedicated phone stage in the $3-400 range. I would probably use another PBJ to connect the phono stage to the amp. Would there be an appreciable difference over the built-in phono in the Marantz? Keeping in mind I'll be adding another interconnect. If so, what would you recommend in that price range? Thanks in advance for your input.


What cartridge does she have?


You'd do well to try out a different interconnect.

I had a very similar system (Debut Carbon, Acryl-It, Speedbox, but used a Rotel RA-12) and swapped out my PBJ for an Audioquest Red River to quite good result.

PBJ is good to go from a phono stage to an amp, but straight from a turntable it could use a bit more shielding.

Also, without adding another box, you could swap up to a Kimber 8PR for more improvement.

That all said I'd look at a used Rega Fono, Graham Slee, or Clearaudio in that price range if you're dead set on an external phono stage.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:13 am 
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Location: Regina, SK, CA
riffer wrote:
acuratl wrote:
My girlfriend's system consists of a Project Debut Carbon with acrylic platter and Speedbox, Marantz PM6004 integrated, Oppo 103, Usher S520's and REL T5 sub. Cabling is Kimber 4pr speaker and PBJ interconnect to the Oppo. I'm thinking of adding a dedicated phone stage in the $3-400 range. I would probably use another PBJ to connect the phono stage to the amp. Would there be an appreciable difference over the built-in phono in the Marantz? Keeping in mind I'll be adding another interconnect. If so, what would you recommend in that price range? Thanks in advance for your input.


What cartridge does she have?


The Ortofon 2M Red that came with the table


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:26 am 
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Location: East York, ON, CA
acuratl wrote:
riffer wrote:
acuratl wrote:
My girlfriend's system consists of a Project Debut Carbon with acrylic platter and Speedbox, Marantz PM6004 integrated, Oppo 103, Usher S520's and REL T5 sub. Cabling is Kimber 4pr speaker and PBJ interconnect to the Oppo. I'm thinking of adding a dedicated phone stage in the $3-400 range. I would probably use another PBJ to connect the phono stage to the amp. Would there be an appreciable difference over the built-in phono in the Marantz? Keeping in mind I'll be adding another interconnect. If so, what would you recommend in that price range? Thanks in advance for your input.


What cartridge does she have?


The Ortofon 2M Red that came with the table


I'd probably put my money there. Marantz stuff is pretty good and the turntable is good. I assume you are using the phono cable that came with the Pro-ject.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:33 am 
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She's using the stock phono cable. Would you suggest a move up the 2M line to perhaps the bronze, or do you have other recommendations?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:59 am 
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I haven't heard the Marantz phono stage, but have had some of the usual suspects over the years. Those included are the Pro-Ject Tube Box SE, Yaqin, Rega Fono, Graham Slee Gram Amp ll, and the Ifi Iphono. I upped the ante a little at one point with a PS Audio stage. You can find glowing reviews of most of these units, within the context of "for the money". But I ultimately found that my on board phono stages of my older integrated amp and preamps were as good sounding, and better in some cases. My amps have had "real" phono stages, built at a time where many were still using turntables as their primary source. Most of the integrated amps were British from the likes of Sugden, Cyrus and A&R Cambridge, and were from the mid 1980's. My Harman Kardon Citation 21 preamp's phono stage from the late 1980's also performed as well as any of the above listed. My friend's mid 1980's Bryston .5b preamp phono stage was also as good, or better than any of the above (seems to be a pattern developing here). All sounded different, yes, but better? Not really. My existing phono stage, is ... you guessed it, the on board of my 1985 Sugden A25 integrated, and its sounds very good. I've been down the cable swap out road for years too, and up to about the $2-$300 mark for I/C's for the phono stages. They are different, but not necessarily better in a glaring and obvious sort of way.

You may find that she moves sideways from one entry phono stage (built in Marantz) to another outboard in that price range. If the Marantz stage is known to be a good stage (or at least a decent one), I'd stick with it until an across the board upgrade could be made. I think that phono stages are marketed in this price range to attract buyers who do not have built in stages incorporated into their integrated amps or preamps, and would like to get started down the road to analogue playback. OTOH, acquiring a used stage such as a Rega Fono, will only set her back $2-$250. And if it doesn't outperform the Marantz, it's easy to move on in the used market. Of all the above, I found that the Graham Slee sounded the best (subjective statement of course, and within the context of my system as a whole).

Now, when my brother brings his $2,500 Fosgate Signature valve stage over for a spin ... that's a different story.

Some have suggested a cartridge swap. That is what I would be looking at in this case. Grado has it's fans and detractors, but I once had a Grado Prestige Gold1 on a Pro-Ject arm years ago (an Xpression lll table), and it was a very good match.


Last edited by cyrus on Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:07 pm 
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I've not heard the phono input on your amp, but I do have the 2M Red. I'm not a fan of the cartridge and would consider changing that out first. My 2cents.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:12 pm 
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in your price range the used Lehman black cube se....


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:43 pm 
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Location: Fisher Branch, MB, CA
Or a used Moon 110 lp.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:07 pm 
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the promo material for the PM6004 says" no integrated circuits' in the unit, at all. the ic's are for control and switching, but apparently no audio level IC's. But that is just crutchfield's wording.

This seems to indicate a discrete riaa amplifier/eq, so the (MM) phono section may actually be very difficult to beat, when looking at $200-300 units.

If true, then shift efforts over to a better cable and better cartridge, possibly.

the image indicates it may be done with surface level discrete components, on the underside of the board.

https://www1.crutchfield.com/p_642PM600 ... id=1&pid=4

(internal shot, then zoom it twice. upper right corner. You can see the capacitors required for a Left and right RIAA filter, they are up top as through hole components.)

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Last edited by Teo Audio on Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:27 pm 
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Before you go all out and buy a phono stage, I'd recommend buying a 2M Blue stylus upgrade and going from there.

I would second a Graham Slee phono for the 2M series. It would undoubtedly be a huge upgrade to do the Blue. IMO the Red doesn't retrieve enough info to justify a better phono stage. I've owned the Red, Blue and Bronze, among others. Bronze could be good, as well, but would require a whole cartridge, and someone to set it up properly.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:28 pm 
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Location: East York, ON, CA
acuratl wrote:
She's using the stock phono cable. Would you suggest a move up the 2M line to perhaps the bronze, or do you have other recommendations?


If it is within your budget. I'm a fan of line contact styluses and that is the least expensive in the range (I have a Rondo Bronze). therealco has experience with these cartridges, so I would seriously consider his recommendation of the Blue stylus; plus I think you can change these out without having to learn how to set up a cartridge :)


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:03 am 
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Thanks for your suggestions everyone. Looks like the consensus opinion is an upgrade in cartridge. I'm going to look into the upgraded stylus from the blue as well as pricing on the bronze.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:18 pm 
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Location: Vancouver, BC, CA
I would suggest one of the Musical Fidelity X Cans phono stages( I believe the LPS) or the Trichord Research Dino phono preamp. Both can be purchased in your price range on the used market. It should be noted that he Musical Fidelity can be upgraded by changing over to the X Cans power supply from its walwart power plug.


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