• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Turntable Cartridge Output Voltage with Vintage Receivers

Joined
Mar 30, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
I have some questions around cart output voltage, in this case as it pertains to vintage (1970's) Receivers and Phono.

My first TT is a Lenco (with mods) with a stock arm that came with a Nagaoka Nagaoka MP-11 cart which had around 5 mV output. Next I installed a 9" NOS tonearm Esoter Track 10 (same as the Jelco SA-250T) which came with an Ortofon Red cart which has 5.5 mV.

Both these arms/carts worked well, and the volume level on the amp was good at 1/3rd (midway between 9 o'clock and 12). Any volume beyond that and it just got too loud for the room. In comparison I liked the MP-11 better, smoother and richer. The Red issued some harsh upper register tones (trumpets for one) and at times sounded a bit rougher overall.

Next up was an upgrade to a Nagaoka MP-500 cart on the Esoter arm, this one is down to 3 mV. Amazing smooth sound, no harshness, full body, but here I began to notice I had to turn up the volume to get it to where the previous 2 carts were at.

Now I have another Lenco which has a VPI JMW-12 3D 12" Tonearm and a Soundsmith The Voice Moving Iron cartridge, this one is even lower at 2.12 mV. Here's where I find I need even more volume. I get amazing detail, but the low end hits/punch I'd get with the other carts (bass, drums) is not quite there.

Why are each cartridges different output? If these MM/MI go in mV number is it because lower gives you better sound? Do I now need a phono stage with different gain? Or would a Receiver with more power output (I have a Kenwood KR-9600 being worked on) fare better?
 

egellings

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
2,199
Likes
1,653
The various designs of the magnetic circuits and coil geometry-placement in carts will all affect the output voltage level at standard recorded velocity. There is no standard that specifies what this voltage level must be. S.Q. is not dependent on cart output voltage.
 

Suffolkhifinut

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 8, 2021
Messages
869
Likes
532
I have some questions around cart output voltage, in this case as it pertains to vintage (1970's) Receivers and Phono.

My first TT is a Lenco (with mods) with a stock arm that came with a Nagaoka Nagaoka MP-11 cart which had around 5 mV output. Next I installed a 9" NOS tonearm Esoter Track 10 (same as the Jelco SA-250T) which came with an Ortofon Red cart which has 5.5 mV.

Both these arms/carts worked well, and the volume level on the amp was good at 1/3rd (midway between 9 o'clock and 12). Any volume beyond that and it just got too loud for the room. In comparison I liked the MP-11 better, smoother and richer. The Red issued some harsh upper register tones (trumpets for one) and at times sounded a bit rougher overall.

Next up was an upgrade to a Nagaoka MP-500 cart on the Esoter arm, this one is down to 3 mV. Amazing smooth sound, no harshness, full body, but here I began to notice I had to turn up the volume to get it to where the previous 2 carts were at.

Now I have another Lenco which has a VPI JMW-12 3D 12" Tonearm and a Soundsmith The Voice Moving Iron cartridge, this one is even lower at 2.12 mV. Here's where I find I need even more volume. I get amazing detail, but the low end hits/punch I'd get with the other carts (bass, drums) is not quite there.

Why are each cartridges different output? If these MM/MI go in mV number is it because lower gives you better sound? Do I now need a phono stage with different gain? Or would a Receiver with more power output (I have a Kenwood KR-9600 being worked on) fare better?
Most MM/MI preamps are optimised to work with an input voltage of around 5mV with a preamp load setting of 47kOhms. So having to turn the volume up when using cartridge’s with a much lower output voltage is to be expected. Don’t know much about the Soundsmith the Voice MI cartridge. May be a good idea to look at their website for the recommend preamp input impedance settings.
Just checked the recommended preamp impedance setting is 47kOhms. Like many things in the wonderful world of audio, it’s very much suck it and see. Soundsmith know full well 2.12 mVolts is too low for MM/MI preamps and too high for MC preamps, yet they market their cartridge.
 
Last edited:

tonycollinet

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
3,063
Likes
4,604
Location
UK/Cheshire
You don't need more power in your amp, you need more gain between cart and amp.

Even a modest dedicated phono pre will probably do better than the built in phono stage, but check the gain compared with the amp input. That 2.12mV is 7.5dB below the 5mV Nagaoka.

Though whether this will improve your bass/hits compared with just turning up the amp volume is debatable. It may just be a characteristic of the MI cart.
 

Timcognito

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 28, 2021
Messages
1,188
Likes
5,012
Location
NorCal
Since the '70's I have owned 5 TT and maybe 7 cartridges and 4 amps w/wo internal phono stages, the phenomena you are describing has been true with all. One needs to get comfortable with this or get a multi-output phono preamp. I use the rule of thumb that one should never have to be above 60% of full scale on their amp volume because distortion starts to become a factor on many amps.
 

tonycollinet

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
3,063
Likes
4,604
Location
UK/Cheshire
I had a look through the phone pre reviews here. The Schiit Mani might be a good choice for you from the lower priced recommended models, since it has 4 gain settings. The downside being they are set with DIP switches underneath the unit - so not so good if your are regularly changing cartridges.
 

Suffolkhifinut

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 8, 2021
Messages
869
Likes
532
I had a look through the phone pre reviews here. The Schiit Mani might be a good choice for you from the lower priced recommended models, since it has 4 gain settings. The downside being they are set with DIP switches underneath the unit - so not so good if your are regularly changing cartridges.
I’ve got a Primaire phono preamp and all the settings are at the back really annoying. Why do they do that?
 

Suffolkhifinut

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 8, 2021
Messages
869
Likes
532
Most people are not swapping cartridges every 5 minutes.
True! But why make things more difficult, tiny dip switches with the writing upside down when viewed from the top. Plus having to hope the leads are long enough and don’t put strain on the terminations. Why not have rotating knobs on the front of the preamp?
 

tonycollinet

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
3,063
Likes
4,604
Location
UK/Cheshire
True! But why make things more difficult, tiny dip switches with the writing upside down when viewed from the top. Plus having to hope the leads are long enough and don’t put strain on the terminations. Why not have rotating knobs on the front of the preamp?
Cost.
 

Suffolkhifinut

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 8, 2021
Messages
869
Likes
532
Imagine how much it would have been with rotating knobs. :cool:
Another fiver?
1663178805310.png
 
OP
P
Joined
Mar 30, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
I had a look through the phone pre reviews here. The Schiit Mani might be a good choice for you from the lower priced recommended models, since it has 4 gain settings. The downside being they are set with DIP switches underneath the unit - so not so good if your are regularly changing cartridges.
Thanks to all for their info. This Mani unit looks doable. It would only serve the single TT with the Soundsmith. What setting would you recommend for this cart using the Mani? And are there other phono preamps I can look at within say a $500 or so price range that may be better than the Mani? Thanks.
 

DVDdoug

Major Contributor
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
1,335
Likes
1,700
Different CD players will have different output levels too. Ot tape players or TVs, or anything.

And some records are louder than others.
 

tonycollinet

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
3,063
Likes
4,604
Location
UK/Cheshire
Thanks to all for their info. This Mani unit looks doable. It would only serve the single TT with the Soundsmith. What setting would you recommend for this cart using the Mani? And are there other phono preamps I can look at within say a $500 or so price range that may be better than the Mani? Thanks.
Go here

Click on "audio electronics" in the brown bar
Search for "phono" in the search bar.
Look through the two pages there for items in your price range with a "yes" under recommended.
 
OP
P
Joined
Mar 30, 2021
Messages
11
Likes
2
Go here

Click on "audio electronics" in the brown bar
Search for "phono" in the search bar.
Look through the two pages there for items in your price range with a "yes" under recommended.
Thanks for the info. After some digging here are a few that I find interesting:

PJL Electronics
Parks Audio Puffin
Graham Slee Accession
 
Top Bottom