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Thread: Frontend upgrade path

  1. #11
    Join Date: Oct 2017

    Location: Ontario, Canada

    Posts: 466
    I'm Svend.

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    Alex,

    I reading your post, a few things occurred to me that you might consider to improve on what you currently have, rather than replacing parts right away. Ignore these if you've tried them already tried them.

    First, you might try adding a small weighted shim to your headshell to give the tonearm a bit more mass. The RB300 is on the lighter side of med. mass, and mated with the DL-103 which is lowish compliance, it may benefit from a few grams extra mass. Keep in mind you may have to tweak your VTA if the 103 is sensitive to it.

    Next, have you rewired the tonearm? I have heard that the RB300 really changes dramatically if you get a quality rewire job done by a pro. A single run between headshell and RCAs is said to be best. Between a rewire and a headshell weight/shim, you may not need another tonearm.

    Re. VTA, have you considered some of the VTA adjusters on the market? Again, this may be moot if the conical stylus of the 103 is not sensitive to VTA (it may not be). Would be worth researching, as VTA can make a huge difference to some stylii.

    There are also a number of aftermarket "upgrades" for Rega arms, some of which may work, others may be a total waste of money. I'd be careful what you choose if you're considering something like that. I think the most fundamental change you can make is a good counterweight -- I have the stock Rega tungsten one on mine, which works great and is said to be an improvement over the larger steel one. There's a fellow in your area selling aftermarket tungsten weights that might be worth a look (let me know if you need a link).

    Now to the deck itself... Have you played around with things like improving isolation and reducing vibration and resonances within the deck? I side with Geoff on this one, that you should avoid squishy feet on a suspended deck as it is said to counteract the work that the suspension is trying to do. I also have a suspended deck (Heybrook TT2) and will be experimenting with isolation soon, but will be looking at light and rigid platforms coupled to spiky feet. When I added Michell Tenderfeet cones to the bottom of the deck it made an immediate and noticeable improvement in imaging and detail.

    How about platter mats? Again, my experience is a bit limited, and further experimentation is ongoing , but I have found that the standard felt mats sound very different to, say, a cork mat. The felt are a bit hazy and indistinct sounding, whereas the cork greatly improved imaging, detail and tonal range. I will make up a leather one soon to see how that sounds. There are some rather fancy ones out there which may or may not work well on a suspended deck. Have you tried any other than the stock one?

    I hope this helps you. Depending on how much you've worked at optimizing your turntable, you may be able to transform the sound without doing anything drastic or expensive. If you do all of the above it shouldn't cost you more than C$500. In any case, there's something to be said for getting the fundamentals right in a turntable, regardless of whether you decide to upgrade cart or tonearm now or later. I'd recommend optimizing its performance first, and then looking at what needs upgrading. That way you know the deck is performing at its best, and that you're getting the best out of that expensive upgrade if you do decide to go ahead with it. I think that in your case this is especially relevant since you really like the sound as it presently is -- swapping out cart and/or tonearm is going to completely change that sound and you may regret it. Maybe better to work with what you already have and improve on it?

    Enjoy the ride!

    Svend
    Last edited by Svend N; 20-02-2018 at 13:52.

  2. #12
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

    Posts: 2,105
    I'm Alex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Svend N View Post
    Alex,

    I reading your post, a few things occurred to me that you might consider to improve on what you currently have, rather than replacing parts right away. Ignore these if you've tried them already tried them.

    First, you might try adding a small weighted shim to your headshell to give the tonearm a bit more mass. The RB300 is on the lighter side of med. mass, and mated with the DL-103 which is lowish compliance, it may benefit from a few grams extra mass. Keep in mind you may have to tweak your VTA if the 103 is sensitive to it.

    Next, have you rewired the tonearm? I have heard that the RB300 really changes dramatically if you get a quality rewire job done by a pro. A single run between headshell and RCAs is said to be best. Between a rewire and a headshell weight/shim, you may not need another tonearm.

    Re. VTA, have you considered some of the VTA adjusters on the market? Again, this may be moot if the conical stylus of the 103 is not sensitive to VTA (it may not be). Would be worth researching, as VTA can make a huge difference to some stylii.

    There are also a number of aftermarket "upgrades" for Rega arms, some of which may work, others may be a total waste of money. I'd be careful what you choose if you're considering something like that. I think the most fundamental change you can make is a good counterweight -- I have the stock Rega tungsten one on mine, which works great and is said to be an improvement over the larger steel one. There's a fellow in your area selling aftermarket tungsten weights that might be worth a look (let me know if you need a link).

    Now to the deck itself... Have you played around with things like improving isolation and reducing vibration and resonances within the deck? I side with Geoff on this one, that you should avoid squishy feet on a suspended deck as it is said to counteract the work that the suspension is trying to do. I also have a suspended deck (Heybrook TT2) and will be experimenting with isolation soon, but will be looking at light and rigid platforms coupled to spiky feet. When I added Michell Tenderfeet cones to the bottom of the deck it made an immediate and noticeable improvement in imaging and detail.

    How about platter mats? Again, my experience is a bit limited, and further experimentation is ongoing , but I have found that the standard felt mats sound very different to, say, a cork mat. The felt are a bit hazy and indistinct sounding, whereas the cork greatly improved imaging, detail and tonal range. I will make up a leather one soon to see how that sounds. There are some rather fancy ones out there which may or may not work well on a suspended deck. Have you tried any other than the stock one?

    I hope this helps you. Depending on how much you've worked at optimizing your turntable, you may be able to transform the sound without doing anything drastic or expensive. If you do all of the above it shouldn't cost you more than C$500. In any case, there's something to be said for getting the fundamentals right in a turntable, regardless of whether you decide to upgrade cart or tonearm now or later. I'd recommend optimizing its performance first, and then looking at what needs upgrading. That way you know the deck is performing at its best, and that you're getting the best out of that expensive upgrade if you do decide to go ahead with it. I think that in your case this is especially relevant since you really like the sound as it presently is -- swapping out cart and/or tonearm is going to completely change that sound and you may regret it. Maybe better to work with what you already have and improve on it?

    Enjoy the ride!

    Svend
    Thanks for the fantastic suggestions and recommendations, Svend. Here is the current situation with regards to front end upgrades:

    1. TT platter upgraded with a high quality mat (the guy who modded the platter told me that he thinks adding any mats would only degrade the sound)
    2. Rega RB300 rewired
    3. Rega RB300 counterweight upgraded

    I had decided to ignore his advice regarding the platter mat and played with felt mats. The outcome was that, to my ears, the sound tightened and became more forward, less laid back and less effortless (which is the hallmark sound of this combo, effortless yet very enthusiastic). So I had discontinued my experimentations with mats.

    Haven't tried adding shims to increase the tonearm weight. Sounds like that'll be a worthwhile experiment, so I'll pursue that.

    Improving isolation and reducing vibrations is definitely something that's on my mind, but not sure how to go about improving that. Any specific hints/tips?

    Thanks again!
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  3. #13
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

    Posts: 2,105
    I'm Alex.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Firebottle View Post
    When I said struggle for level maybe I was being a bit OTT.
    The Bellari has a published gain of 30dB whereas the usual gain of an MM stage is 40dB.

    Hmm, that's worth some consideration. I'll keep that in mind, thanks.
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  4. #14
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

    Posts: 2,105
    I'm Alex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by walpurgis View Post
    I left mine with the standard tube. Didn't see much point in playing around with it as it sounded excellent as it was.

    Same with the standard power supply, I stuck with that as it worked fine. Using batteries could be tricky, I've seen the Bellari's marked 12v DC which would be OK with batteries, but also 15v examples and some with AC inputs. It would depend on which one you tried I guess.
    I read somewhere yesterday that it is recommended to let the tubes break in before jumping to conclusions regarding the sound quality. Is that your experience as well?

    I have a linear power supply that could be used to power Bellari. I'll experiment with it once the unit arrives, and will post my findings here.
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  5. #15
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

    Posts: 2,105
    I'm Alex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sounddampedsteel View Post
    I would be happy for you to try the Soundeck PM platter mat and a set of the DF Damping feet. If you don't like them I'll give you a full refund. Below is an email I received from a customer last week. Kind Regards.. Les Thompson

    Hi Les,
    I first heard about the original Sound Dead Steel products around 2006 after reading about modifications to the Technics SL1200 in HiFi World magazine.
    I think David Price raved about it at the time and I always wanted to eventually try one.
    Iím lucky enough to have a couple of systems (1 Valve, 1 Solid State) and altogether I have three different turntables that I like to switch between the two.
    The Technics I have is an ongoing experiment and the SDS platter matt is the latest addition to try and improve its performance.

    In the short time I have used it I would say the mat has improved everything, tightening up the Bass allowing to hear better separation between instruments, and somehow increasing the soundstage presented by the cartridge.
    I have placed the damping feet under a Rega P9 turntable and they have helped improve its isolation from the other equipment itís connected to, and also the noise floor level has improved.
    Quieter moments in music seem to be coming across quieter, if that makes any sense 

    In general the products have all made an improvement to my set up and I plan to experiment with them a lot more in the coming months.
    I would say (apart from the cost of shipping to the other side of the world) all represent good value for money.

    All the best
    Steve wells.
    Thanks for the offer , Les. I'm always open to trying things out, so let me know how should I proceed.
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  6. #16
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: Valley of the Hazels

    Posts: 8,351
    I'm AMusicFanNotAnAudiophile.

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    Use self adhesive bitumen damping material (your local automotive spares store can usually supply this), and use it to dampen the plinth, and the suspended sub-chassis.
    Chris



    Once we've made sense of our world, we wanna go fuck up everybody else's because his or her truth doesn't match mine. But this is the problem. Truth is individual calculation. Which means because we all have different perspectives, there isn't one singular truth, is there?

  7. #17
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 35,336
    I'm Geoff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by magiccarpetride View Post
    I read somewhere yesterday that it is recommended to let the tubes break in before jumping to conclusions regarding the sound quality. Is that your experience as well?

    I have a linear power supply that could be used to power Bellari. I'll experiment with it once the unit arrives, and will post my findings here.
    I noticed no tube break-in with mine. It sounded fine out of the box and carried on that way.

    A linear power supply could be good. Check whether the Bellari is AC or DC. I've seen both.

    I have a decent phono stage, but the Bellari is the only phono stage I wish I'd kept, It never put a foot wrong and sounded great. The integral headphone amp is OK too, although I hardly used it.

  8. #18
    Join Date: Oct 2017

    Location: Ontario, Canada

    Posts: 466
    I'm Svend.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by magiccarpetride View Post
    Thanks for the fantastic suggestions and recommendations, Svend. Here is the current situation with regards to front end upgrades:

    1. TT platter upgraded with a high quality mat (the guy who modded the platter told me that he thinks adding any mats would only degrade the sound)
    2. Rega RB300 rewired
    3. Rega RB300 counterweight upgraded

    I had decided to ignore his advice regarding the platter mat and played with felt mats. The outcome was that, to my ears, the sound tightened and became more forward, less laid back and less effortless (which is the hallmark sound of this combo, effortless yet very enthusiastic). So I had discontinued my experimentations with mats.

    Haven't tried adding shims to increase the tonearm weight. Sounds like that'll be a worthwhile experiment, so I'll pursue that.

    Improving isolation and reducing vibrations is definitely something that's on my mind, but not sure how to go about improving that. Any specific hints/tips?

    Thanks again!
    Hi Alex,

    Sounds good on the mat, rewire and counterweight! Nice one. Which mat did you finally settle on? A felt one?

    I'm not familiar with your deck, so perhaps others can better advise on tweaks that work for a Systemdek. But in principle I would look to damp any surfaces that might resonate or vibrate. In my case, on my Heybrook, I will be doing as Chris suggested above, and adding some adhesive bitumen damping to the bottom plate to see if that improves things. The bottom plate in question is a sheet of 1/4" press-board covering the full bottom cavity, so lots of surface there to vibrate. Other Heybrook owners report that dampening, or even removing it altogether, helps things. If your deck has something similar, then have at it. Also, if the structure of the plinth (corner joints, bracing, etc.) seems a little wimpy, then you could add some strength there with corner blocks or other bracing. If the subchassis looks like it could resonate, then a few pieces of adhesive bitumen on that might help too. Again, Systemdek owners could give good advice here.

    An alternative to bitumen sheets is sorbothane, available at Amazon.ca in self-adhesive sheets. I think Parts Connexion in Burlington may also have something like this for a reasonable price.

    As for footers, I can vouch for cones. As mentioned, I use Michell Tenderfeet, which you can get at Artech Electronics in Montreal. There are lots of other choices here, including spikes that screw into the plinth. I'll be looking for a light and rigid platform to put my Heybrook on -- not sure what I will use as yet...some sort of foamcore board perhaps, if I can find it. I plan to put spikes or cones beneath the platform, and keep the deck sitting on its own cones. I'll post back once I try it.

    Hope this helps....

    Cheers,
    Svend

  9. #19
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: Valley of the Hazels

    Posts: 8,351
    I'm AMusicFanNotAnAudiophile.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Svend N View Post
    In my case, on my Heybrook, I will be doing as Chris suggested above, and adding some adhesive bitumen damping to the bottom plate to see if that improves things. The bottom plate in question is a sheet of 1/4" press-board covering the full bottom cavity, so lots of surface there to vibrate
    I knew there was something I'd forgotten
    Remove the bottom plate and throw it away ...
    Chris



    Once we've made sense of our world, we wanna go fuck up everybody else's because his or her truth doesn't match mine. But this is the problem. Truth is individual calculation. Which means because we all have different perspectives, there isn't one singular truth, is there?

  10. #20
    Join Date: Oct 2017

    Location: Ontario, Canada

    Posts: 466
    I'm Svend.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Stratmangler View Post
    I knew there was something I'd forgotten
    Remove the bottom plate and throw it away ...
    Could do...but it seems to be helping support the Michell cones at the moment. I'd have to use different cones, perhaps ones that could be screwed into the plinth bracing. Gotta think about that a bit...

    If the plate stays in place and is adequately damped, would it not help prevent airborne vibrations from reaching the subchassis, and perhaps also strengthen the plinth? Just theorizing here....

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