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HighFidelityGuy
21-08-2009, 15:32
Hi,

I've recently purchased a Pioneer PL-71 direct drive TT.
Providing it doesn't get smashed to bit's in the post, this will be my first TT.
As I've never owed a TT before I don't have a phono stage and I know very little about TT's in general.

So I need some advice on what I need to get the PL-71 up and running.
I know it's probably going to need some switches and pots replacing but I think I'll be ok sorting that out. I'm planning on leaving the TT as standard as possible for now and just getting it working. From what I understand this is often the best approach with this model anyway which is one of the things that attracted me to it. I like simplicity.

I think the one I've bought is completely standard, so I think I just need a cartridge, headshell and phono stage.

On the subject of phono stages, I hear the Cambridge Audio 640P is great value for money at around 50-60 on ebay. So I was thinking of getting one of these to get me started. Can anyone think of anything more suitable/better for under 100.

When it comes to cartridges and headshells I don't know where to start. So what would be a good combination for around 100 for the pair? I would consider stretching to 200 if it meant the results would be considerably better.

If it helps, I listen to a wide variety of music so I need to make the PL-71 a bit of a jack of all trades I guess. My favourite genre is rock though.

Many thanks. :)

Dave Cawley
21-08-2009, 16:54
I am a dealer, but most trust me. Just my opinion for a ~ 100'ish budget start, AT120e and NAD PP2, both at 10% off web price and free postage to AOS members. But listen to everyone else, it's a great adventure you are embarking on!

Regards

Dave

DSJR
21-08-2009, 17:36
You won't go wrong with Dave's recommendation.

I'd also suggest a Sumiko headshell, which works well with these arms (even if the 120e and 440MLa don't strictly need the extra mass).

Without going to the extremes of an Ortofon SPU (or M3D/N21), the arm should also take Denon DL110's and 160's with no bother and these, along with the AT's, should be dropping slightly in price (with any luck) now the pound has recovered just a little.

I used to sell the NAD PP1. It's ok, if a tad soft toned for my tastes. I ought to mention the Cambridge 640P too, which now costs a bit more, but so many like it for the money I feel I should mention it. The only other fair priced one I can think of is the Rega "Fono," which worked well with non-Rega moving magnet carts.. It's been around a while though and I don't know how it compares today.

Alex Nikitin
21-08-2009, 20:11
If you are familiar with soldering and can assemble a PCB into a suitable box, there is one interesting option available - internal Creek Audio MM phono board for a very reasonable amount. (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Creek-Audio-Moving-Magnet-Phono-Board_W0QQitemZ390081586933) You will need an external 24 V DC power supply, a box (10 Hammond from Farnell will do nicely), input and output sockets and an evening or two. The result will be substantially better than NAD, Cambridge etc.

Alex

HighFidelityGuy
21-08-2009, 20:14
Thanks for the recommendations Daves.
Dave C, I've had a look at your website and you've got some lovely gear! On the subject of phono stages, I like the sound of the Clear Audio Nano which I see you rate highly. It seems to have some useful extra features for the extra cash over the NAD, so I'd certainly consider paying the extra for that. Do you have any idea how the Nano compares to the Cambridge 640P?

Cartridges still baffle me a bit. There are tons to choose between and I don't really know what the differences are between most, other than MM or MC.
I believe cartridges can roughly be split into heavy and light groups. I think the PL-71 arm is classed as being fairly light, so does that lend it's self to heavier or lighter cartridges. I'm not sure if this is a good way to look at the dilemma, I'm just trying to find a way to narrow down my choices. :scratch:

Also it sounds like the choice of headshell is dependent on the weight of cartridge and vice versa, so I think I'll choose the cartridge first and then the headshell as that seems logical.

Am I heading in the right direction?
Wow this is a steep learning curve. :doh::lolsign:

HighFidelityGuy
21-08-2009, 20:17
If you are familiar with soldering and can assemble a PCB into a suitable box, there is one interesting option available - internal Creek Audio MM phono board for a very reasonable amount. (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Creek-Audio-Moving-Magnet-Phono-Board_W0QQitemZ390081586933) You will need an external 24 V DC power supply, a box (10 Hammond from Farnell will do nicely), input and output sockets and an evening or two. The result will be substantially better than NAD, Cambridge etc.

Alex

Thanks Alex, I'm handy with a soldering iron so that wouldnt be beyond me.
Do you have any idea how this would compare to the Clear Audio Nano? Obviously the Creek lacks the MC compatability but appart from that.

EDIT: That reminds me; I've seen some MC cartridges listed as "high output". Would this mean they would have to be plugged into a MM stage or are they still compatible with an MC stage? Thanks.

Alex Nikitin
21-08-2009, 20:24
Thanks Alex, I'm handy with a soldering iron so that wouldnt be beyond me.
Do you have any idea how this would compare to the Clear Audio Nano? Obviously the Creek lacks the MC compatability but appart from that.

I never heard the Nano, so I can not compare, sorry. However I did design that particular board and know what it is capable of :smoking: . It is also possible to update that PCB with a couple of FETs (PCB allows for that, AFAIK) to improve it to a "Special Edition" level. SE version was once reviewed by Stereophile (http://stereophile.com/integratedamps/327/) as a part of Creek Audio 5350SE amplifier.

Cheers

Alex

P.S. - MC cartridges with high output work just fine with an MM phono stage.

P.P.S - MMSE board also gets an honourable mention in another Stereophile review (http://stereophile.com/phonopreamps/105graham/), where it performs on par with Graham Audio Era Gold Mk.V phono stage.

DSJR
21-08-2009, 20:33
I'd suggest you get a decent headshell FIRST, followed by either an AT120e (which can be upgraded to 440MLa by changing the stylus I think) or a DL110. The Creek phono board looks to be a great option and I'm sure Alex N will help and advise no end on fitting it to a case and wiring it up correctly...

Dave Cawley
21-08-2009, 21:26
Read the review on my site of the NAD PP2? Only a couple of us here know it, and we like it. The Nano is good for the OC9.

It all depends on budget, and 100 or even 200 isn't going to do Nano/OC9

Regards

Dave

DSJR
23-08-2009, 09:12
I've just twigged - Dave's talking about the NAD PP2, which I'm sure I'm not familiar with - at least I referred to the PP1 instead - I've been out of it for too long.... Put it down to a shortage of feline affection :(

HighFidelityGuy
26-08-2009, 13:42
Thank's for all the suggestions.

I've been giving this some thought over the last few days and I've come to some conclusions.

I narrowed the cartridge choice down to the DL103 and the AT120e.
In the end I think I'm going to go for the AT120e as it will make getting everything working cheaper due to it being a cheaper cartridge and MM. So I'll be in touch with Dave Cawley about that next month. That's a great deal BTW Dave, thanks.

On the subject of phono stages; I think I'm going to go for Alex Nikitin's suggestion of using the Creek board he designed. I'm hopefully going to make a dual power supply that can power the Creek MM and MC boards so I can add the MC board later. I just need to brush up on power supply design methodology first. :scratch: That's something I've been wanting to have a bash at for a while so I'll use it as a learning experience.

On the subject of headshells; The PL-71 came with a decent looking Technics model fitted, so I think I'll use that to start with to save money. That is unless anyone knows of a good reason not to use it.

The TT it's self appears to be in pretty good condition. It's just a bit dirty and has a couple of small chips. One of the speed select switches is dodgy too but other than that it seems fine and switches on. I can't check the speeds as I don't know how but I'll just replace the pots anyway and worry about setting it up later.

I'd also like to strip the whole thing down and re-finish the wood as it looks like a bit tired. I think I'll also replace the phono sockets on the back with some nice new ones and replace some of the old internal signal wiring that looks a bit past it's best. Some of the solder joints look a bit dry/corroded, so I'll re-do those too.

That's it for now. I'll hopefully post some photos soon.