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How would you change this upgrade plan? (Technics SL-100C + AT33PTG/II + Zen Phono)

squidbrand

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Jun 17, 2022
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My first post after lurking for a couple years!

Up until yesterday I was using a Technics SL-QL1 linear tracker with an A-T P-mount body (they're all the same as far as I know) and a Shibata stylus from TurntableNeedles. Also had a Herbie's Way Excellent II mat on there (the stock mat rotted) and I was using a Hagerman Bugle2 as my preamp. I loved the sound, but still found myself more and more interested in trying low output MC cartridge, just to expand my experience in the hobby (and the only LOMC options for P-mount are some costly used Stanton or Pickering models, which felt too risky). So I listed the turntable for sale, and yesterday someone came to pick it up. I am now without a turntable (though I still have the Bugle2).

My budget for an upgrade is in the window of $1500-2000 all-in. I love the ease of use of Technics DD tables, and one of the things that spurred me to finally sell what I had was discovering that the SL-100C (which is still not out in the US) has a dual voltage power supply, and that a European model will run in the US just fine with the right mains cable. (The SL-1500C didn't interest me because I have no interest in the Ortofon 2M Red or having a built in preamp, and the 1200GR doesn't feel hugely compelling as a step up since I know the 100C/1500C also uses their newer coreless motor technology.) So my plan at this point is to pick up an SL-100C internationally thanks to favorable exchange rates, and then also grab an AT33PTG/II, which seems to be a great match for the Technics 12g tonearm in its stock setup (meaning it wouldn't demand any modding off the bat, like the KAB fluid damper). And my Bugle2 can't be used with LOMC without switching out components, so my thought was to sell that and grab an iFi Zen Phono.

Total cost for this setup would be $1700, pretty much dead in the middle of my desired range.

So, my question: would you change anything about this plan? If so, what? And how would you characterize the improvement you think I would get from this change?
 
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squidbrand

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Well, I'll take that to mean "no notes, perfect plan."

I did execute the plan. Got the SL-100C from Germany and got the AT33PTG/II from a Japanese retailer for an excellent price. Both came via DHL with no headaches, and the turntable works fine with a junk drawer North American power cord swapped in. Also found an open box/full warranty deal on the Zen Phono. I added an Oyaide BR-12 mat (and a Hudson Audio Big Ben weight, since the Oyaide needs a weight due to its unusual shape), mostly just to get a little extra height for VTA reasons... though VTA did not end up being a problem at all, even with the stock mat and no headshell spacers. The reports I saw on Steve Hoffman about how much height compensation is needed for this cartridge on a 1500C/100C turned out to be grossly inaccurate.

It sounds awesome... an across-the-board boost to detail and separation. And sound notwithstanding, it has been nice to move from something completely locked down to something completely adjustable. So many little things to tweak. Just today I tweaked my anti-skate using the Soundsmith/Peter Ledermann method. Did I need to? Did it improve anything? Who cares? It's the journey, not the destination.

The KAB fluid damper will be next, maybe in a few months.
 
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deniall83

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Sounds like a great setup. I've been eyeing the same cart. I personally found the Soundsmith anti-skate method to be the best way to set anti-skate and it eliminated any audible IGD I was getting.
 
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