MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso

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jsm71

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MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« on: 16 Aug 2014, 09:30 pm »
I've used the Clearaudio Virtuoso now for awhile and have had it upgraded to Soundsmith ruby cantilever and contact line stylus, which was a good improvement.  I would like to move for the first time into MC territory and I'm looking for suggestions.  I have to buy a SUT as well if I make that jump, likely Bob's devices.  My budget for the cartridge would be $2k and under if I can.  The Virtuoso sounds great and I don't want to change unless I can improve on the sound, but I believe my system can exploit a better cart.  Anyone else move into MC from the Virtuoso?  My table today is the Marantz TT 15S1 made by Clearaudio.  I believe it has the Satisfy arm.

A friend has a Lyra Delos and I like the sound of it quite a bit.  Opinions on that cart?

contium

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Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #1 on: 17 Aug 2014, 10:27 am »
I have a TT15S1 as well was never that impressed with the turntable with the Ebony Virtuoso installed. I did a lateral or maybe even downgrade to a Clearaudio Concept MC which was a substantial improvement to my ears. Definitely some system synergy going on.

jsm71

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Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #2 on: 17 Aug 2014, 01:23 pm »
What aspects of the sound impressed you?  Also what are you using for phono preamp?  That always makes a difference.

hifitommy

better sounding
« Reply #3 on: 17 Aug 2014, 07:49 pm »
MC carts have lower moving mass than MMs and can respond to fast moving transients more easily than MMs.  overall, a livelier presentation overall can be made.  only one way to know and that is to try a MC.

jarcher

Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #4 on: 17 Aug 2014, 08:08 pm »
The Kleos is my favorite Lyra cart - and one of my favorite MC at the lower price end (after my Ortofon Rondo Bronze, no longer made).  Not sure you can do much better at that price unless you want to try one of the new Ortofon Quintet carts. 

I find MC's high end "super hero" carts screechy and fatiguing.  That's why the Kleos / Rondo Bronze are the ones I favor as being more neutral. 

neobop

Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #5 on: 18 Aug 2014, 09:35 am »
Moving coils don't necessarily have lower tip mass (moving mass) than moving magnets.  That's an old misconception.  Some of them do have low tip mass mostly due to lightweight cantilevers.  The lowest tip mass of any cart ever was a Technics MM.  The 205C MK3 is 0.149mg.  Usually a tip mass of .3mg or less is considered good and .2 is excellent.

The Lyra carts don't excel with low tip mass, they tend to be closer HOMCs in that respect.  I think they sound good because of the quality of the design and they're known for build consistency.  They sound lively because of the rising high end which is not necessarily a bad thing, whatever you like.  This is typical Lyra response.  Delos looks very similar:



neo

jsm71

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Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #6 on: 18 Aug 2014, 01:41 pm »
@jarcher - I have read a number of very positive things about the Kleos but it would be a stretch with my budget.  I also have to account for the cost of a quality SUT at the same time.  OTOH I do want to get a cartridge that will also transition me into my next and likely final table at retirement in a few years, so jumping to the Kleos would be an investment in that endeavor.  If I had to pull that trigger today it might be the VPI Classic 2.  Good match for the Kleos?

Side note question?  What is the lifespan of these cartridges and what if any options do you have once the stylus reaches end of life?

livestrong

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Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #7 on: 18 Aug 2014, 01:58 pm »
While I can't say for sure if it is a good match for your table/arm - I've had great luck with the Shelter 501MKII MC cart.  I've really wanted to give Ortofon's new Quintet series a try as well - someday...

jarcher

Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 01:22 am »
Bet Neobop could better answer - but that doesn't stop me from trying  :lol:

I think going for the Delos would be fine. I get the feeling the Lyra carts get ever more detailed (and bright) the farther up the chain you go.  Though I've heard that the latest models are somewhat more refined (aka less screechy).  Your wise to leave $ for going up the chain w/ SUT / pre / cables / table etc though.  Don't blow the wad on the cart.

I think the VPI classic's will give you more low end authority vs your clear audio and an overall warmer and more fluid sound.  Many of the clearaudio TT's can be more "RAWK!". 

As for Lyra / VPI : if you like things more on the detailed side, don't see a problem.  I think many VPI'ers prefer the more mellow golden tones (e.g. the traveler was designed w/ the Grado Gold in mind) - yet for my Traveler I definitely prefer the greater dynamic slam & detail yet neutrality that the Ortofon Rondo Bronze offer.  If you're willing the get one used, that's the MC cart to me w/ the greatest bang for the buck. 

As for life : I've heard it said or read that 1000 hours before a retip & the body / engine should have indefinite life.  Don't quote me on that though. Guess YMMV depending on how used / abused.  Presumably once the stylus is very worn you'd send your MC baby to Soundsmith for a retip - assuming he hasn't kicked the bucket by then.  I think in the case of some manufacturers (Ortofon e.g.) they'd give you a trade in value for another cart. 


neobop

Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 12:36 pm »
I think going for the Delos would be fine. I get the feeling the Lyra carts get ever more detailed (and bright) the farther up the chain you go.  Though I've heard that the latest models are somewhat more refined (aka less screechy).  Your wise to leave $ for going up the chain w/ SUT / pre / cables / table etc though.  Don't blow the wad on the cart.

Funny, J. Carr just addressed this exact situation on another forum.  He must be reading these threads? 

Although response graphs taken by the same testing facility will look strikingly similar between these two, the sound is said to be quite different.  The Delos will sound livelier (brighter) and Kleos smoother.  According to Carr this is because of body design and the way energy is drained into the arm rather than affecting the output.

A top quality needle can last as much as 2000 hrs or more depending on a number of factors.  Record and stylus cleanliness loom large on this one.  Accumulated dirt on the needle will increase friction and shorten tip life.  Lyra doesn't retip carts.  You can trade it in to an authorized dealer.  It looks like they don't give you much for your old cart in which case a $450 Soundsmith retip looks like a bargain if you want to stay with the same model.

Jsm71,
Assuming your system is different from your friends, you can expect different results.  An SUT has to be matched to the cart - both resistance and gain.  For example, the Delos has an output of .6mV so it will require less gain (turns) than a cart of .2mV.  Recommended SUT resistance is 5 to 15 ohms.  This is markedly different for a cart with 30 or 40 ohms impedance.  Also, the output of an SUT has a lot of capacitance and you're plugging into a MM phono input.  You might want to consider something like Blue Jeans low capacitance cables from the SUT to phono input.

You also have a lot of options in this price range and might want to consider other brands.  I suspect your friend has found a combination that sounds good and one that you would like to emulate, but you have to work with what you have.  Maybe you can exceed your friend's SQ with a different approach.   I'm not trying to sell you anything, but there are lots of possibilities.
neo

BobM

Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #10 on: Yesterday at 12:49 pm »
If you are saving part of your $2K  for a good step up you are going to be spending more than you think there. I would suggest looking at a Hagerman Piccolo. It's not expensive, it plays with the big boys, it has adjustability for gain and for loading built in, and it's not overly expensive (again).

That should leave you a minimum of $1.5K for the cartridge. Don't forget used. There's a Shelter 501 and a Lyra Delos and Helikon on Audiogon in your price range. Otherwise I would suggest saving up for something better, or waiting for a deal to show up in the used section.

 

jsm71

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Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 01:23 pm »
Also, the output of an SUT has a lot of capacitance and you're plugging into a MM phono input.  You might want to consider something like Blue Jeans low capacitance cables from the SUT to phono input.

You also have a lot of options in this price range and might want to consider other brands.  I suspect your friend has found a combination that sounds good and one that you would like to emulate, but you have to work with what you have.  Maybe you can exceed your friend's SQ with a different approach.   I'm not trying to sell you anything, but there are lots of possibilities.
neo

Thanks for the low capacitance recommendation for phono cables to the MM input.  That is the first I've read that, but I've never researched going to MC before.  As to cartridge choice, I'm not at all set on the Lyra line.  I just used that as an example that I believe my Virtuoso can be improved upon.

I'm also researching the Dynavector XX-2 and Ortofon Cadenza models.  The Denon DL-S1 also looks like a value leader but I understand these are remaining stock only.

jsm71

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Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 01:28 pm »
If you are saving part of your $2K  for a good step up you are going to be spending more than you think there. I would suggest looking at a Hagerman Piccolo. It's not expensive, it plays with the big boys, it has adjustability for gain and for loading built in, and it's not overly expensive (again).

My $2k budget is just for the cart.  I understand the SUT is a separate cost.  I'll research the Hagerman products.  Thanks.

jarcher

Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 02:39 pm »
Funny, J. Carr just addressed this exact situation on another forum.  He must be reading these threads? 

Was not aware of this, but if you direct me to which forum, would like to read further.  My comments were based on my limited actual experience of hearing Lyra products a few years ago at a show.

I've heard Bob makes great SUT's - though as you've said they have to be pretty cart specific, for which reason until I found my MC cart "soul mate", I'd get a preamp from Musical Surroundings first until I settled on "the one" cart.  Both the $600 & $1200 ones are phenomenal (pun intended) and come w/ all the switches you could want.


neobop

Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 05:34 pm »
Jarcher,
Here's the link for the Agon forum thread.  The pertinent post should be highlighted near the bottom of the page.  What I told you is about it.  The subject matter is carts in general and there has been little talk about Lyra in particular.
http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1200430667&openflup&11375&4#11375

JSM71,
Bob makes an SUT for around $1100 that has been well received.  I don't know resistance and gain options, but I've read that he's very helpful with inquiries.  If you might swap carts in future, you might want to consider a MC phono stage. I'm intrigued by the Vista, but I don't have one.  The Piccolo is well thought of and there are quite a few others under $1K that will give you more flexibility than an SUT. 
neo

tonyptony

Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #15 on: Yesterday at 10:28 pm »
I've spoken with Bob at the shows (NYAS and RMAF). He is a very nice guy and as helpful as can be regarding the selection of one of his SUTs for a cart.

dimkasta

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Re: MC better sounding than Clearaudio Virtuoso
« Reply #16 on: Today at 08:14 am »
I have the Virtuoso with the AT replacement needle, and I love it

I also have a Shelter 501 MK2 which is better by a rather big margin, but the thing is that it is difficult to do direct comparison because you cannot use the same phono. I am using a highly modified VSPS for the virtuoso and a highly modified phonoclone for the shelter.

I am currently working on modifying my VSPS to work with both cartridges with a flip of a switch so I should be able to do a more clear comparison.

I can wholeheartedly recommend the Shelter series though... I would love to have a 901 :)