lostwin

VIDA - Cartridge Issues & Recommendations

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So, I have had my VIDA phono stage hooked up for the last week with my existing Ortofon 2M Bronze MM cart.  This then goes into a John Wood KT88 integrated.  

It sounds 'nice' but down on dynamics and just a bit flat overall.  The issue I believe is the gain on the VIDA which is quoted at 38db for MM which seems well down on comparable phono stages (the Trilogy is quoted at 50db, for instance).  This means an input voltage of about 0.45V into the amp.  Might not be an issue if I was going into an active pre or had sensitive speakers, but neither is the case.  I have contacted Guy at Puresound and John Wood to see if tweaks can be made to the VIDA and amp respectively, but I think that changing to an MC cart ultimately is going to be the answer.

VIDA is quoted as having 64db gain on an MC, this seems in line with other MC stages.  It has two impedance settings of 10ohm and 100ohm.

There seem to be quite a few users of the VIDA on the forum, what MC would you recommend?  I am thinking in the £500 to £1,000 price range, the higher the rrp the more likely I will seek a suitable used option.  The Hana SL might have been a obvious choice in this price range but a preferred loading of 400ohm would seem to preclude this.

What else should be on my list? 

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So the pre section in the Jwood is passive? I do remember noting a comment somewhere (could have been Tom Montesquieu on AoS) that the Vida favours active preamplification but I’m running mine into a zero gain Nelson pass pre stage and it absolutely sings, and a previous owner, Adey, used it with The Truth passive pre and loved it. 

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Super Wammer

Whilst the SL will work okay at 100 Ohm the ML is the one to go for with the Vida. Heard the ML into a Vida, a couple of weeks back when we went to Orbscures to listen to the cart he had on load from guy, and Baggawire took his Vida along. It really is a winning combination and sounded stunning. 

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5 hours ago, Lurch said:

Whilst the SL will work okay at 100 Ohm the ML is the one to go for with the Vida. Heard the ML into a Vida, a couple of weeks back when we went to Orbscures to listen to the cart he had on load from guy, and Baggawire took his Vida along. It really is a winning combination and sounded stunning. 

I’ll see if I can get a loaner ML to try it out.

From my calcs the .4mV output from the ML will result in a .65V input into the JW after the gain from the VIDA, a useful increase on the MM cart.

i retrieved my old CD player from the attic and plugged that into the system last night. I assume it has the standard 2V output. Definitely gives me more headroom and touch more dynamics, but not as much as the 5x increase in input Voltage would suggest so I assume that the JW pre is active.

Any other MC cart suggestions?

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Heard a Kiseki through the Vida at my last bake off sounded rather nice.Know idea what they cost though.

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At Graham's (GJO) bakeoff  my Kiseki  really did come to life once connected through Ian's (Baggawie) VIDA, However as I tend to move things on the Kiseki has now sold and  I have now got an Audio Technica AT-ART9 M/C Cartridge which even new out of the box is sonically more involving than the Kiseki, there is plenty of favourable info on the ART9 on the net, I got mine at a good price and it appears to be going up in price on a daily basis as it seems to sell quite well, However I would recommend that you try to listen to one if you are going to spend a large sum of money on a cartridge which is suitable to your setup.

 

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17 hours ago, lostwin said:

It sounds 'nice' but down on dynamics and just a bit flat overall. 

Once you have lived with a Decca that just applies to every cartridge I have ever heard.  Sorry if this is not really helping you with your dilemma but in my experience the overall characteristics of a cartridge will not change due to having too low a gain (just means having to turn the volume up more).  Loading will have an impact on the overall presentation and detail but shoot me down in flames if you disagree with me but it is my opinion that optimising loading allows you to get better detail and presentation but it does not result in a step change in dynamics (well not in any of the times we played when I was selling the stuff way back when).

In essence in my opinion there are cartridges that try to do dynamics and do a fairly good job but none come close to a Decca on that score. 

I have yet to hear a MM cartridge that floats my boats in comparison and perhaps you should be looking to a Moving Coil (or a Decca but I am not sure how well it would work in your arm).  I have to admit I would like to compare a Hanna to my old favourite the Denon 103 (especially when doctored by Expert Stylus with a paratrace) which if I could not have a Decca would probably be on my list as the cartridge I could live with and enjoy without breaking the bank.

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3 hours ago, uzzy said:

Once you have lived with a Decca that just applies to every cartridge I have ever heard.  Sorry if this is not really helping you with your dilemma but in my experience the overall characteristics of a cartridge will not change due to having too low a gain (just means having to turn the volume up more).  Loading will have an impact on the overall presentation and detail but shoot me down in flames if you disagree with me but it is my opinion that optimising loading allows you to get better detail and presentation but it does not result in a step change in dynamics (well not in any of the times we played when I was selling the stuff way back when).

In essence in my opinion there are cartridges that try to do dynamics and do a fairly good job but none come close to a Decca on that score. 

I have yet to hear a MM cartridge that floats my boats in comparison and perhaps you should be looking to a Moving Coil (or a Decca but I am not sure how well it would work in your arm).  I have to admit I would like to compare a Hanna to my old favourite the Denon 103 (especially when doctored by Expert Stylus with a paratrace) which if I could not have a Decca would probably be on my list as the cartridge I could live with and enjoy without breaking the bank.

Interesting thoughts, I appreciate your insight. What you are suggesting is that what I am getting is more a mis-match on the  characteristics of my current cartridge (at least compared to what I would like to achieve) rather than it being down to a gain specific issue. 

As such, perhaps I need to be considering MC carts that are a touch more dynamic in nature. I do want to keep an eye on gain, my speakers are 86db sensitivity, so a .4mV output looks to be a good minimum to aim for. The Hana ML looks a possibility and the AT Art 9 also mentioned in the responses looks worth investigating.

What type of arm do the Decca’s prefer?

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11 minutes ago, lostwin said:

As such, perhaps I need to be considering MC carts that are a touch more dynamic in nature. I do want to keep an eye on gain, my speakers are 86db sensitivity, so a .4mV output looks to be a good minimum to aim for. The Hana ML looks a possibility and the AT Art 9 also mentioned in the responses looks worth investigating.

What type of arm do the Decca’s prefer?

The Deccas in my opinion work best in a damped arm such as the Mission 774, Audio Technica AT1100, and damped unipivots such as the Hadcock and Mayware Formula 4 or in a Townsend rock with its proprietary damping system (paddle mounted to headshell).  They do not like knife edge bearings (such as the SME3009 and series 3).  It also works ok in a Fidelity Research FR64s and some other arms as to whether it works ok in the Rocksan give John Wright a call (london Cartridges) as he manufactures and sells the cartridges now.

I am sure the Hana SL and other £1000 cartridges perform well - but the tight git in me would never consider spending that on a cartridge that cannot be easily totally rebuilt (if the suspension goes it is a pain to replace etc.).  The Decca however, is a less than £300 job for a rebuild which includes a completely new stylus assembly.  So here i am still using cartridges originally manufactured in the 1970s.  Back to the Moving coils - I have not heard the Hanna and it may be superb but the tight git in me precludes me going there hence my comment I wish I could compare it to a Denon 103.  If you can try to get a comparison the Denon costs a mere £190 and an upgrade by having a new paratrace installed by Expert Stylus is about £300 with a new cantilever and less without I believe.  In its original form (with the conical stylus) to my ears it is a dynamic and exciting performer.  I have an Audio Technica ATOC 5 and to my ears the Denon is far better (may be lacking a bit in fine detai in comparisonl but its portrayal of dynamics is so much better to my ears and what is detail without real emotion given by the dynamics in music).

Do not be in a rush to change what you have - visit local Wammers to listen to what they have and go an annoy a few dealers for demonstrations to get an exact analysis of exactly what you think is lacking in your current set up and what you want to achieve (that will come with lots of comparison and listening using your favourite LPs)... then you will be able to decide exactly what you need to do to achieve what you seek (I hope)

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Solid advice, thanks Uzzy. The cart does seem to be the key step (for now) to tune the overall sonic signature so I will take time and see if I can try some options out.

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