AUDIO FORUMS >> General Discussion and Support >> Phono stages and the like

Message started by Robem on 02/10/17 at 07:04:45

Title: Phono stages and the like
Post by Robem on 02/10/17 at 07:04:45

I am still getting my amp and speakers warmed up and bedding in, however I have a question/concern.

The weak link in my system at this point is my phono stage - I have a solid state one by Schiit. While I understand phono stage and cartridge are directly related I struggle at the math here... I am currently using an Ortfon 2m red.

The reason for this post is that I have concerns with my amp and the gain needed. According to Steve's input specs and the specs of the cartridge I would need a phono stage that can output 53db of gain. This really limits my choices... outside of Decware gear I need to be looking at Ifi (omg) or Jolida. Does the Decware even meet these specs??? Am I missing something??

Is "NdB = 20 log V1/V2" not right?

Title: Re: Phono stages and the like
Post by mark58 on 02/10/17 at 10:59:59

I don't know about the math but any Moving Magnet Cartridge should work with Decware's  ZP3 Phono Stage.  I think folks here have even used it with very high output Moving Coil Cartridges without a Stepup.  I'll leave the math explanations to others.   ;) Mark.

Title: Re: Phono stages and the like
Post by Tripwr1964 on 02/10/17 at 12:20:29

yes the zp3 works particularly well with the 2m mm carts.  the red and blue have a little higher output and work very nicely with zp3's.  i had a blue and loved it.

Title: Re: Phono stages and the like
Post by Acetone on 02/10/17 at 16:57:30

Works great with my 2m black. I never have to turn my se84ckc zen amp past 10 o'clock.

Title: Re: Phono stages and the like
Post by Archie on 02/10/17 at 17:06:50

Is "NdB = 20 log V1/V2" not right?

That is the formula I use and with my Ortofon MM I calculated 0.5 volts out of my ZP3 and with my Ortofon MC I calculate 1 volt out of the ZP3 when preceded by a ZMC1 (20X).  What skews my results is that I am using a CSP3 between the ZP3 and ZMA.  Without the CSP3 things are definitely good but I like the extra weight the CSP3 adds.  Between my CD player and TT, the CDs play lowder given the same volume settings, which makes sense since the CD player puts out 2 volts.

One by-product of the lower voltage is that the gain on the amp will generally be turned up more, so any hum from the ZP3 will get louder.

Before I went with Decware and the ZP3 I was using a NAD phono stage that was rated at only 35 db for MM carts.  I was feeding an NAD integrated amp and the question of voltage never came up.  I don't know how the NAD was rated for input voltage.  It is possible that it needed only 1 volt in to come up to full power.

The bottom line for me is that the ZP3 is fine for my set up with an MM cart of 5mV and and MC cart of 0.5mV.

Title: Re: Phono stages and the like
Post by Tripwr1964 on 02/11/17 at 00:06:23

if i recall the red and blue are 5.5 and the bronze and black are 5.0mv.

Title: Re: Phono stages and the like
Post by Acetone on 02/11/17 at 00:21:04

Archie,  you bring up info that I am in the midst of gathering. What is the min volt .05mv etc that will work with the ZP3 without having to invest in a SUT?
Are you saying your MC cart works fine without a SUT?

Title: Re: Phono stages and the like
Post by Archie on 02/11/17 at 00:43:08


Keep in mind that my regular set up uses a CSP3 in front of my ZMA which boosts voltage to as much as 30 volts depending on the input.

With my 0.5mV MC cart I am using a SUT -- the ZMC1 which gives a 20X boost.  With that and my ZP3 I think I put 1 volt into my CSP3 (or ZMA if I go direct).  My MM cart gave me 0.5 volt into my CSP3 or ZMA.

I don't think I can answer your question since the CSP3 really changes the equation by adding quite a bit of gain by itself.  I think when high output MC carts are mentioned though, they are in the 2mV range, not the 0.5mV range.

When I got my MC cart I had a long wait for my ZMC1 and I did run the cart directly into my ZP3.  I then ran into my CSP3 and with the gain at or near max I had decent performance from my ZMA -- BUT with a fair amount of noise.  I never tried going directly into the ZMA in this configuration and I doubt if it would work.

I have very satisfactory performance bypassing the CSP3 and running direct into the ZMA with the 1 volt output but I don't remember if I even tried running direct with the .5 volt output with my MM cart.  I suspect it would work okay but might lack some density which is the reason I prefer using the CSP3.

Title: Re: Phono stages and the like
Post by Robem on 02/11/17 at 08:52:48

Archie, thank you... I think you just answered the question I have going on in my head. Bearing in mind that I absolutely must upgrade my phono stage "right now" and that I am interested in trying a couple of different cartridges along the way I will hold off on ordering a ZP3 until I can afford to order a SUT at the same time. I'll keep my eye on the bay for an interim solution.

Title: Re: Phono stages and the like
Post by Acetone on 02/11/17 at 16:38:37

Thanks Archie, I thought as much. Now I need to do more research on HOMC carts and min hZ output required for the ZP3. (an e-mail to Steve might be the ticket).

Title: Re: Phono stages and the like
Post by Archie on 02/11/17 at 18:46:10


I don't know much about HOMC carts but do they give the full advantages of an MC cart?  In some of my readings I came across an opinion that lower cost MC carts are generally beat by quality MM carts, such as the Ortofon 2m Black (some consider the best of the MMs).  I don't know that HOMC are "lower cost" by any means but it makes me wonder at what expense to performance is the higher output?

When I decided to go MC I wanted a clear distinction from MM.  Of course, the problem is the ~$1k for the SUT and the ~$1k for the cart -- which is basically a throw away item!  I don't regret the expense since I don't really do digital.

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