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December 2010 issue - Page 4

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December 2010 issue
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UPGRADE

I’ve recently upgraded my Cambridge Audio based system with a Cyrus system comprising of a CD8SE CD player, Pre X Pd QX pre-amplifier, 8 power amplifier and matching PSX-R power supply for the CD player. As you can imagine, I’m very happy with the results and am enjoying the sonic improvements that my new system delivers. It is however the improvement to the analogue side of my system that prompted me to write.


My turntable is an inexpensive Goldring GR2 complete with the standard 1012GX MM cartridge and a Goldring PA-1 phono stage. I used this set-up with my Cambridge system and didn’t originally plan to upgrade it as I listen to vinyl relatively infrequently. Hearing the Goldring through the Cyrus pre/power amps however, provided an unexpectedly pleasing result. Although not able to match the CD8SE for detail retrieval, it’s the sheer “ambience” of the sound provided by the turntable that impresses me (a quality that was not overtly apparent when partnered with my Cambridge system).


I am now contemplating how the sound can be further enhanced by either adding a price comparable turntable to the Cyrus system or modifying the Goldring with some of the many after-market upgrades for Rega derived turntables on offer from companies such as IsoKinetik and Origin Live. I must confess that the latter option appeals to me more as this will allow me to make improvements in stages, as funds allow.


It is this conundrum that forms the basis of my question. I’d like to draw upon your years of experience with hi-fi and ask your opinion. If you believe that buying a new turntable is the better option, what would be a sensible price bracket of turntable/phono stage/cartridge to partner my Cyrus equipment.? If you believe that upgrading the Goldring is a viable option, where would you start and what products would you recommend? Any guidance that you can provide would be gratefully received.

Grant Hatcher

 

My priority here would be to improve the phono stage, then the cartridge. If you like ambience then an Icon Audio valve phono stage such as the PS1.2 is an ideal choice. Contributor Rafael Todes insists on the ‘phone to me that the PS3 is way better and the best phono stage he’s ever heard, so you may want to ruminate on this. But you should then upgrade the turntable to at least a Rega P3-24 and fit a Goldring 1022GX or 1042. I’ll leave David to elaborate! NK

 

icon-audio-ps3

 

A magic phono stage, the Icon Audio PS3 with valve power supply.

 

I'd go for a Rega P3-24/TT PSU (£585) as an absolute minimum; this will give an obvious improvement to your GR2 and is a better basis for future mods if that's the path you want to take, compared to the seriously paired-down GR2. If you don't mind a larger footprint turntable, then of course the Michell GyroDec SE (£1,149) is a bargain; you could pull the arm and cartridge off your GR2 to use pro temps, possibly with a 1042 stylus upgrade when it's time to renew.


The Michell is a dramatic upgrade to the Rega and is effectively a stripped down superdeck that's upgradeable to one of the best turntables around, in some respects, at any price. So it's a great launchpad to the high end vinyl world. Trouble is, you'd not be listening to your excellent Cyrus CD8 SE CD player anymore, methinks! DP



 

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