Hierachy in the analogue chain

Dec 20, 2014
207
1
18
#1
I am curious as to what people prioritise in the analogue chain and why? If money were no object to buy a single component what will it be? For my part I had thought it was:
1. Table
2. Arm
3. Cartridge
4. Phono Stage

does anyone have another take on this?
 

Johnny Vinyl

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 16, 2010
8,550
0
36
Calgary, AB
#2
My take is the same. And IMO, no matter the pricepoint, the table must always take priority before considering anything else.

At my level ($5,000 for 1,2 & 3) I would upgrade the cartridge before the arm as I believe I would get a higher level of playback detail and satisfaction.

Those guys playing with uber tables have said that the tonearm is more important than the cartridge. I wouldn't know about that, but I take their word for it.

I like the internal phono pre on my Marantz KI Pearl, so a dedicated standalone unit is not a priory right now. Maybe next year.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#3
IMO

1. Table
2. Arm and Cart compatibility
3. Phono stage

My philosophy is that the cartridge being the transducer needs optimal conditions to do its job properly. To me that means a table that is quiet, has very good speed and as a bonus can help keep the record as flat as possible. I put arm and cart together because there are many outstanding carts out there that aren't mid compliance. Using them on arms that don't match will rob them of potential, in extreme cases decimate performance with poor tracking. I think one's choice of phono stage need not be rehashed. It carries the same decision process as other electronics. Gain requirements, etc.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#5
While I think we both belong in the everything matters camp Christian, I don't think even the greatest phono stage can save us from mechanical problems upstream. Even a modest phono stage however would be greatly benefitted by a clean input signal.
 

rockitman

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
6,886
13
38
Northern NY
#6
While I think we both belong in the everything matters camp Christian, I don't think even the greatest phono stage can save us from mechanical problems upstream. Even a modest phono stage however would be greatly benefitted by a clean input signal.
True, but if your mechanical stream is in order, why degrade it at the phono stage ? I guess that was my real point. Everything Matters ! ;)
 

DaveyF

Active Member
Aug 1, 2010
5,749
17
38
La Jolla, Calif USA
#7
While I think we both belong in the everything matters camp Christian, I don't think even the greatest phono stage can save us from mechanical problems upstream. Even a modest phono stage however would be greatly benefitted by a clean input signal.
+1

In the hierarchy, I think we have to consider source first..and that means: TT, Arm, Cart and lastly phono stage.
My table manufacturer ( Linn) has a specific hierarchy which I believe is correct...in their case: The table consisting of 1) Bearing, then 2) power supply, then 3) sub chassis and suspension, then 4)top plate, then 5) plinth, 6) arm board 7) arm 8) cartridge and cabling and lastly the phono stage.
 
Last edited:
Dec 20, 2014
207
1
18
#8
hmm... interesting

I tempted to say phono stage first....table, arm, cart....however good all the stuff is before it, it's only going to sound as good as the phono stage that it feeds.
Hi Rockitman

I have to say I perhaps ought to have made the presumption that we are talking about turntables of around the Linn Sondek transcription level and above as opposed to a Rega Planer 2/3 level.

My own experience should perhaps have also required me to add tonearm cable given the massive improvement it gave my system when I put a Nordost Tyr into my chain (previously a TCI)

I am thrilled by the fact that I am gonna get my hands on a Vendetta SCP2a after a 9 year trawl... The phono amplification stage is the largest amplification in an Audio set up, and therefore the most difficult to do well. I very much see your logic and will probably report back at some point. My current phono stage is a Whest 0.20 which isn't peanuts financially - though I know there is better out there.

Anyway will be nice hearing other views on this, because it's always nice getting considered perspective on a topic.

thanks

Loheswaran
 
Jun 25, 2015
26
0
0
#9
I'm new to this forum so please be easy on me. I am not new to to this hobby. I've been assembling systems for myself and friends since my high school days which was 40 years ago. I believe it is the phono stage. Speaking of high school, way back when I was an 11th grader I took a photography class taught by the high school shop teacher who happend to moonlight as a wedding photographer, R.D. Reynolds. First day of class, twenty of us are seated around our tables with our parents' SLR cameras proudly foisted in front of us. R.D. pulls out an ancient Brownie camera and says to all of us arrogant punks, "you see this old simple Brownie? Well, I am here to tell you that I can take a better photo with this here simple point and shoot Brownie than any one of you can take with those fancy SLR's you brought with you today. It is all about the skill of the photographer, not the fancy bells and whistles of the camera in the photographers hands!". Well, the same holds true for any fundamentally sound table and cartridge. Set up optimally with the skill of a pro, a humble table and cartridge can sound amazingly good IF the signal is fed into a very good phono stage. Sticking with my analogy, the phono stage would be what in the old days we photographers called an enlarger. Good ones had top knotch lenses and it was impossible to enlarge a negative into a great print without a top notch lens even though the camera lens was much less vital. Hope you don't mind my story or first post.
 
Oct 12, 2011
263
1
18
55
Brooklyn
#10
Until a few days ago I would have ranked it; 1) Table, 2) Cartridge, 3) Phono Stage and 4) Arm.

What changed my mind was a phono stage I heard that brought a fairly modest system up to heights I hadn't heard in it before. Until I heard that I would have sunk the majority of money into the table and built the rest to compliment it. After hearing this phono stage I could live with it taking up 80% of the budget of the analog system, and filling in the rest.

Others may have equally transformative experiences with other pieces in the chain, so it goes to show that everything matters. Also if you are considering making changes I would think that it's going to be dependant on your system as to waht makes a greater difference.
 

jperry

New Member
Aug 10, 2014
14
1
3
#11
Based on my personal experience, yours may be different, I would rank importance in the following order:

Tonearm
Turntable
Phono Stage
Cartridge

I had a Basis 2000 turntable (just above their entry level) with a Basis branded tonearm, and changing from the Rega to a Basis Vector tonearm made more difference than almost anything I have done in my system
 
Jul 1, 2010
8,713
0
0
#12
I don't know squat about tables, but I know that transducers are the weakest links by far. So pay attention to your source and your speakers. If the speakers and amp are well-matched, everything in the middle is much less significant by comparison.

Tim
 

banpuku

New Member
Apr 24, 2010
5
0
0
MN
#13
My current solution allocates spend as follows:

Phono stage: EMT JPA 66 - $47000
Tone arm: Durand Telos - $18,000
Turntable: MA1 - $15,000
Cartridge: EMT TSD - $2,300

After 16 years of chasing analog, this is probably where I will stay for quite some time.
 

DLS

New Member
Jan 12, 2013
6
1
3
New York
#14
Without regard to actual cost, my own experience is that nothing downstream can ever uncover something smeared or eliminated by a component upstream. Therefore, we must begin with the transparency of the table, then the cartridge, then the arm and internal cabling, then the cabling to the phono stage, and finally the phono stage itself. Just my two cents.
 

DaveyF

Active Member
Aug 1, 2010
5,749
17
38
La Jolla, Calif USA
#15
Without regard to actual cost, my own experience is that nothing downstream can ever uncover something smeared or eliminated by a component upstream. Therefore, we must begin with the transparency of the table, then the cartridge, then the arm and internal cabling, then the cabling to the phono stage, and finally the phono stage itself. Just my two cents.
+1,
except I would swap arm and cartridge. The arm would come before the cartridge in the hierarchy.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,213
93
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#16
I look at this question in terms of: that to which the highest gain is applied is the most important (because, of course, that is the sound whose signal you are amplifying to the greatest extent). Therefore, I think turntable/arm/cartridge is the most important, because those components, collectively, are generating the signal to be amplified from the electrical nothingness in the grooves. The phono pre-amp would be the second most important because it is amplifying that source signal to the greatest extent after the cartridge tracks the grooves.
 
May 30, 2010
14,139
83
48
Portugal
#17
I tempted to say phono stage first....table, arm, cart....however good all the stuff is before it, it's only going to sound as good as the phono stage that it feeds.
Christian,
I will agree with you. I have changed many times of cartridge, tonearm and turntable, but changing the phono stage has given me the most fundamental rise in global performance. The others were mostly variations of preference and need careful matching with each other.
 

About us

  • Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing