Flaps100

Pre-Amp ?

14 posts in this topic

I am new to this forum, not new to midlevel audio fun, some might say entry level, but I think more like midlevel :-) Went through the vintage stage over the last 2 years, bailed out , just too unreliable with constant issues. So current system, recently upgraded, Wharfedale Jade 3 Speakers, Onkyo 656 receiver, chosen due to phono pre-amp, Tidal built in and really easy to use and great price. Current turntable is a Stanton 61, not great, but not horrible either, it will be replaced this coming Friday with a nicer Orbit with the arylic platter, cue and Grado Black.  Now to my question, will a preamp like the Lounge be a truly better sounding option, the Onkyo sounds amazingly good compared to the other 5 receivers we can get out of the stack and the phono section seems ok, we tried my sons Pluto preamp, and it was a little louder but I don't think it sounded any better, so does anyone think its worth $300.00 on this system for something like the Lounge unit?

 

Thanks for any ideas on this topic.  Chris

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The Lounge is excellent and should be a big improvement on the built in stage. You are making a nice step up with the Orbit so maybe wait a bit and get used to the sound of the new table, but save money for the Lounge in the meantime. It's well worth the money.

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I agree with the above poster. Give yourself some time with the new deck and get a feel for the sound. It is my opinion, though, that you won’t get much out of a better pre-amp right away. Everyone has their own opinions, but I think the cartridge is one of the most important links in the chain. Your new one will most certainly be a huge upgrade from whatever was on your old TT, but it’s still no gem, and certainly not even close to being on par with your speakers. 

 

It'll sound slightly different, maybe, but it won’t allow you to hear detail that your stylus is not picking up, if that makes sense. By all means get one because it will be useful to have in the future as you upgrade your cart, but probably isn’t necessary right away.

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50 minutes ago, Jlegg said:

I don't want to bother you too much, but I do appreciate your input, If I could spend $300.00 on a cartridge do you have any you think are worth the money and would sound dramatically better than the Grado, with my Jades and TT and Onkyo ?

Thanks, Chris

50 minutes ago, Jlegg said:

 

I agree with the above poster. Give yourself some time with the new deck and get a feel for the sound. It is my opinion, though, that you won’t get much out of a better pre-amp right away. Everyone has their own opinions, but I think the cartridge is one of the most important links in the chain. Your new one will most certainly be a huge upgrade from whatever was on your old TT, but it’s still no gem, and certainly not even close to being on par with your speakers. 

 

 

It'll sound slightly different, maybe, but it won’t allow you to hear detail that your stylus is not picking up, if that makes sense. By all means get one because it will be useful to have in the future as you upgrade your cart, but probably isn’t necessary right away.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

On 4/9/2017 at 9:18 PM, arem said:

The Lounge is excellent and should be a big improvement on the built in stage. You are making a nice step up with the Orbit so maybe wait a bit and get used to the sound of the new table, but save money for the Lounge in the meantime. It's well worth the money.

 

This, I can't recommend the Lounge enough.ive had it for a couple years now, and it always impresses me.

I mentioned it to another member, and he bought one and said he can't believe how good it sounds. As far as not noticing the change in sound with a preamp swap, that's crazy. Especially when going from an inboard Onkyo preamp on a receiver, to an external with great reviews such as the Lounge

Edited by vinyl addict

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6 minutes ago, vinyl addict said:

 

This, I can't recommend the Lounge enough.ive had it for a couple years now, and it always impresses me.

I mentioned it to another member, and he bought one and said he can't believe how good it sounds. As far as not noticing the change in sound with a preamp swap, that's crazy. Especially when going from an inboard Onkyo preamp on a receiver, to an external with great reviews such as the Lounge

Sure, it will sound different. And it'll probably be at least noticeable, but with that setup I doubt it'll be better, just a bit different.

Glad you enjoy the preamp, but what works for one system doesn't work for others.  Just my opinion, and I'm not telling the person not to buy it, but I think the money would be better placed elsewhere.

 

And for recommendations for $300 cart, I like the  Ortofon 2M blue and bronze for that price area. I think they are great for the price, especially when paired with a tube preamp. I eventually moved from one to a Dynavector 20X2.

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19 hours ago, vinyl addict said:

To the OP, I would highly recommend a new preamp over a Ortofon Blue. That built-in Pre leaves much to be desired, and a new pre will really shine.

Orbit + Grado Black (your plan)+ Lounge will be music to your ears. You'll be listening nonstop.

 

Only if the Onkyo amp in general allows the off board phono stage to give of it's best and my experience of Onkyo amplification in the last 30 or 40 years tells me that it won't. Modern Onkyo amplifiers and especially the AV ones are not really at their best when it comes to audio use so I would say that is the weakest link here.

19 hours ago, Jlegg said:

Sure, it will sound different. And it'll probably be at least noticeable, but with that setup I doubt it'll be better, just a bit different.

Glad you enjoy the preamp, but what works for one system doesn't work for others.  Just my opinion, and I'm not telling the person not to buy it, but I think the money would be better placed elsewhere.

The Orbit/Grado Black and Lounge Phono stage choice is a good one but pointless without replacing the Onkyo so If this was my money I would be replacing that amplifier before spending money on anything else. Using an off board will give an improvement as the on board phono stage is so poor but the rest of the amplifier won't allow the off board phono to give it's best anyway so how much is debatable.

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10 hours ago, allenh said:

Would this be a worthwhile upgrade over the Onkyo,  Gotta give up easy to use Tidal to get it, let me know your thoughts.

Yamaha A-S701

Stereo integrated amplifier with built-in DAC (Silver)

10 hours ago, allenh said:

 

Chris 
 

 

Only if the Onkyo amp in general allows the off board phono stage to give of it's best and my experience of Onkyo amplification in the last 30 or 40 years tells me that it won't. Modern Onkyo amplifiers and especially the AV ones are not really at their best when it comes to audio use so I would say that is the weakest link here.

The Orbit/Grado Black and Lounge Phono stage choice is a good one but pointless without replacing the Onkyo so If this was my money I would be replacing that amplifier before spending money on anything else. Using an off board will give an improvement as the on board phono stage is so poor but the rest of the amplifier won't allow the off board phono to give it's best anyway so how much is debatable.

 

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12 hours ago, Flaps100 said:

Yamaha A-S701

Stereo integrated amplifier with built-in DAC (Silver)

 

That would be a vast improvement over most AV amps let alone an Onkyo.

 

That Yamaha is designed with proper 2 channel stereo audio in mind from the start whereas AV amps are designed to do many things so they mostly end up being average at pretty much everything, obviously some are better at some things than others but as a general rule a half decent stereo integrated amplifier like that Yamaha will show the vast majority of AV receivers a clean pair of heels when it comes to audio.

 

All that said you might have a unique taste in sound so I will put in my usual caveat that all of this is down to personal preference and would always give the same advice of going and having an actual listen to stuff before handing over any money, but if you do prefer the Onkyo over the Yamaha for music then I would take a trip to the ear doctor.

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So you've been told to buy a new cart, a new pre amp, and a new amp... There is a sort of philosophical argument going on here as to which is going to give you the biggest upgrade in sound for your money and I really don't think anyone is wrong. I have never heard an on board phono pre that sounds good. 

 

Im going to attempt to give you an honest unbiased opinion from someone who has gone from worse than what you have to something much better than what you have. 

 

That amp you're looking at looks good, and probably is, but without a decent preamp or decent cart is going to be wasted money.  You're preamp is the weakest link. I don't know that the lounge is the best option. Some like it. I've heard it and thought it sounded flat and was easily beat by tube preamps in the price range. The Little Bear T10 comes to mind for $100 cheaper. 

 

The Grado Black isn't a great cart. Please remember this is the beginning of the chain. Crap in = crap out. Your cart converts mechanical to electrical. It's up for debate, but I believe it's the most important  link in the chain. You already have great speakers, get yourself a good cart.

 

You have what? $1200-1500 speakers and a $75 cart? Admittedly you have a $0 pre, but.. 

 

You will always be able to upgrade every part of your system. In my experience I have found the money to positive effect hierarchy to be the actual record quality > cart> pre >table > tone arm > amp > isolation >rca  cables > power supply.

 

Take it for what it's worth. And sorry for the wall of text. I have a few tube pre amps and carts if you're interested and am willing to chat privately on building a preamp if that interests you.  

 

Good luck.

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The reason the OP has been given lots of different advice is that because people are talking from a stand point of personal experience which is perfectly fine but also very confusing for the OP.

 

If we take this back to basics the biggest problem is that everything in the chain needs to be of a similar quality but it's ok to buy something that is out of place if you are going to bring the rest of the chain into line at a later date.

4 hours ago, Jlegg said:

That amp you're looking at looks good, and probably is, but without a decent preamp or decent cart is going to be wasted money.  You're preamp is the weakest link. I don't know that the lounge is the best option. Some like it. I've heard it and thought it sounded flat and was easily beat by tube preamps in the price range. The Little Bear T10 comes to mind for $100 cheaper. 

Yes in normal circumstances the the start and end of the chain have the biggest effect on sound but to that end that Onkyo receiver will not allow any better components to shine at their best so to my mind that's the best place to start before spending out on an off board phono stage or better turntable or cartridge. You can of course do it the other way but won't really know if your new turntable etc. Is actually any better.

4 hours ago, Jlegg said:

The Grado Black isn't a great cart. Please remember this is the beginning of the chain. Crap in = crap out. Your cart converts mechanical to electrical. It's up for debate, but I believe it's the most important  link in the chain. You already have great speakers, get yourself a good cart.

 

You have what? $1200-1500 speakers and a $75 cart? Admittedly you have a $0 pre, but.. 

I agree about the imbalance between the speakers and the rest of the system but don't agree about the Grado, any cartridge will only shine in the right arm so needs to be fitted in an arm with a suitable compliance and quite often people's opinions about different cartridges are formed because they've heard them in the wrong arm but the usual problem people complain about with Grado carts is IGD which just isn't true, its just that they are a little more difficult to align. 

 

To the OP it's your money so take all of the advice here as a guide only as there is also the factor of personal taste so as always the best advice is to listen to as much stuff as possible before handing over any money but either way enjoy it as it's a learning curve and you are going to make mistakes along the way, we all do.

 

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Well its been a few days and here are my updates. The Onkyo is history, replaced with a Cambridge Topaz SR20, sounds a lot better even to me.

When I play Vinyl, I don't have to peg it for descent volume, and the overall sound, is much clearer, tighter, my best description. I lost some features such as Tidal built in, but we handled that with Chromecast and a tablet, works real good.

 

Now what does everyone think of the pre-amp in the Cambridge, I could still get a better pre-amp if you guys think it is worth it?

 

Thanks again for all the input, things are sounding better and its so much fun to me to play with this stuff, listen and learn.

 

Flaps, Chris

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The Cambridge phono stage is quite good (it should be the same if not very similar in design to their cheaper stand alone one) but yes it can be improved upon.

Get used to what you have now for a while though so that if you do upgrade further you will know what the difference is. If the Cambridge is new let it burn in for a bit, it will get better.

The Chomecast is a wonderful thing, I use them all around the house myself, much better than Sonus and things like that.

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