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  1. #1

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    Default $200-$300 MM cartridge suggestions

    I'm getting closer to where I'd like to be with my vinyl 2ch system. I now have SDA 1A's driven by an EL34 integrated (super quiet even at max volume). I use my computer sometimes to stream music while milling about doing chores, but mostly I like to spin vinyl. Recently I picked up a very nicely built Hagerman Bugle phono preamp because I was un satisfied with the 60hz hum my Dynaco PAS3 was generating. The Hagerman is at least 60% less noisy than the Dynaco. Yay! Now I realize that the majority of the background noise is being generated by the Grado Blue MM cartridge! I swapped the cartridge with an Azden YMP20E and it is worse than the Grado. Do all MM cartridges generate noise? I was looking at the Clearaudio Concept MM cartridge, but I don't want to drop $200 and continue to have background noise, so I'm looking for recommendations.
    Source: Technics SL1200MKII Denon DL-110 cartridge
    Preamp: Hagerman Bugle Phono stage
    Amplifier: 4 x 5670 4 x EL34 integrated VAL VP110S (modified w/ vitamin Q caps, Alps blue velvet volume control, Vishay mil spec. metal film resistors..............)
    Speakers: Polk SDA 1A Signature

  2. #2

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    For that price range, I'd consider the Orotofon Blue.

    As to the noise issue, is there a way you could test your Bugle on someone else's system to see if it is quite, and then try your turntable thru their system as well in order to pinpoint the noise issue thru process of elimination?

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    MM's can be quiet as a church mouse. What kind of grounding are you using on the turntable? Sometimes you can get ground loops that cause hum. Reversing tag leads on cartridge can cause hum, leads shorting somewhere, bad connections.

    There are various troubleshooting steps to resolve tt ground issues on the web.

    EDIT: A multi meter can be used to verify wiring integrity from tonearm to RCA's. Take headshell off first, don't do ohms testing through the cartridge.
    Last edited by SCompRacer; 08-05-2013 at 02:59 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNHNDYMAN View Post
    For that price range, I'd consider the Orotofon Blue.

    As to the noise issue, is there a way you could test your Bugle on someone else's system to see if it is quite, and then try your turntable thru their system as well in order to pinpoint the noise issue thru process of elimination?
    The Hagerman Bugle with no input provides a very low noise floor. I can hear a faint hiss at max volume with the turntable unplugged from Hagerman on my system. I guess that I am saying that the problem is either the turn table arm wiring or the cartridge.
    Source: Technics SL1200MKII Denon DL-110 cartridge
    Preamp: Hagerman Bugle Phono stage
    Amplifier: 4 x 5670 4 x EL34 integrated VAL VP110S (modified w/ vitamin Q caps, Alps blue velvet volume control, Vishay mil spec. metal film resistors..............)
    Speakers: Polk SDA 1A Signature

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    ^ that may be true of the Bugle design in general, but if the OP's has a problem then it may have noise. IF he tests it on another system and it is quiet, then he can check that component off and look at the rest of his system. I've only heard very good reviews on the Bugle so I'm sure it's a nice piece. Same thing on the turntable, if it works well on another system then the OP would have to look at other links in his chain of components. There are others on here who have much more experience as to the trouble shooting aspect, it just seems like a common sense approach that would be easy to test if he has access to another system to check each link in the chain.
    Last edited by TNHNDYMAN; 08-05-2013 at 03:46 PM.

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    O.K. Last night I decided to dig deeper. I removed the head shell and used an ohm meter to check the pin out of the tone arm wiring. I know for certain that there aren't any short circuits, and that the cartridge is properly connected. I tested the Hagerman Bugle on my Yamaha HT system Aux input, and it produced the same results as on my 2ch system, so I now return to my original question. What do You "The Polk Audio collective Borg Hive" recommend for a MM cartridge that has a low noise floor because this Grado ZF3 (Blue equivalent) is too noisy? I did a little perusing on line and found multiple references to "the Grado hum", so I'm feeling justified and reassured in my decision that it is time for a better cartridge. I'd love to go with a MC, but I'm on a shoestring budget.
    Source: Technics SL1200MKII Denon DL-110 cartridge
    Preamp: Hagerman Bugle Phono stage
    Amplifier: 4 x 5670 4 x EL34 integrated VAL VP110S (modified w/ vitamin Q caps, Alps blue velvet volume control, Vishay mil spec. metal film resistors..............)
    Speakers: Polk SDA 1A Signature

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    Some guys like the Shure M97XE, which has come down a lot in price. Not sure how that would jive with your TT and system but others would know.

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    I discovered that the problem was due to lack of shielding on the RCA cables! I noticed that when I touched the RCA cable that connect the TT to the preamp the noise was even louder, so I slid some copper braided shield sleeving over the RCA cables and bonded it to the preamp's ground post. The result was so dramatic I could not believe it! I connected the TT ground wire to one end of the shield and the other end of the shield remained bonded to the preamp. This completely killed any and all noise! Now I need to find a way to make it look better and get rid of the clip cords! I'd also like to wrap the cables with some kind of polyethelyne sleeve to put some space between the shield and the cables and there by reduce capacitance coupling. Where is a good place to get tech flex braid?
    Source: Technics SL1200MKII Denon DL-110 cartridge
    Preamp: Hagerman Bugle Phono stage
    Amplifier: 4 x 5670 4 x EL34 integrated VAL VP110S (modified w/ vitamin Q caps, Alps blue velvet volume control, Vishay mil spec. metal film resistors..............)
    Speakers: Polk SDA 1A Signature

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    If your Bugle has sufficient gain I'd suggest a Denon DL-110 HOMC. It'll give you a taste of MC without a SUT and comes with a very fine nude stylus. It's also well suited to your tonearm and tracks quietly.
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