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  #1  
Old 6th July 2019, 03:14 PM
G Willis G Willis is offline
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Default More top end required

I am using the WD phono and KT88 amplifiers in the XL form otherwise unmodified save for a resistor upgrade in the feedback.

My new 401 sounds great but a little 'dark'. What component upgrades / mods can I do in the phono stage to bring out a little more top? I do not want to change the power amp as, if anything, my DAC sounds a little on the bright side.
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Old 6th July 2019, 08:12 PM
John Caswell John Caswell is offline
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Default Re: More top end required

First question, which phono stage please.

John
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Old 7th July 2019, 03:35 PM
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Phil Y Phil Y is offline
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Default Re: More top end required

Hello Graham,

If I remember correctly, your Phono has a Soniqs cap as the o/p coupling cap which should be fine to leave for now but the 0.1uF between the first 2 stages is an "orange drop". This could usefully be upgraded with something a bit more fancy. This should open out the sound, improving clarity and detail. This would be the first thing I would try.

Phil.
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Old 7th July 2019, 05:07 PM
John Caswell John Caswell is offline
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Default Re: More top end required

Whilst I agree somewhat with what Phil says, one of the main reasons for the phono II and III sounding a bit soft was the choice of output valve which often caused an HF "roll-off"
This was alleviated largely in the III by the adjustable capacitor C9a.
This can be fitted retrospectively to the Phono II without too much hassle.
Ideally you will need a good square wave generator and an inverse RIAA network to set it up for best square wave response.


John
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Old 8th July 2019, 08:32 AM
Richard Richard is offline
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Default Re: More top end required

Quote:
Originally Posted by G Willis View Post
I am using the WD phono and KT88 amplifiers in the XL form otherwise unmodified save for a resistor upgrade in the feedback.

My new 401 sounds great but a little 'dark'. What component upgrades / mods can I do in the phono stage to bring out a little more top? I do not want to change the power amp as, if anything, my DAC sounds a little on the bright side.
Get a brighter cartridge or play with loading/set up etc. My vinyl is like yours using a Denon DL160 into several different phono amps. Soft treble (I sometimes wonder if the highs have been wiped from the vinyl after years of use) but I soon get used to it after a couple of sides. Then it's swings and roundabouts on which I prefer depending on the music and recording.

Of course if you're committed to just one source it's easier to set up a system to suit. AB'ing one source against the other will usually show some difference but not always which is "best".

The only set up to rival CD I've had in the last 30 years on AB switching was an Audio Technica AT F5 in an LP12/Ittock which was considered a bright cartridge at the time (mid 80's) and I don't remember it fondly, although it was very similar to CD in AB comparison into an Audiolab amp, but it wasn't a good time for my hifi and I chopped and changed lots of things back then.
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Old 8th July 2019, 05:19 PM
bob orbell bob orbell is offline
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Default Re: More top end required

A question I will ask is what cartridge are you using and what arm ?, I too have a WD Phono III and a WD WA 88, my cartridge is a Ortofon Kontrapunkt B in a SME 309 arm on a LP12 and dull it is not, I also tried a 401 (still the thing ) but concluded it was ****, others like the 401, John mentions adjusting the variable capacitors, if not already done, when adjusted correctly the RIAA should be at it's best, but, I doubt you will hear much if any difference, Richards comment on loading, if you are using MC can make or break the sound. Please let us know the rest of the kit. Bob
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Old 8th July 2019, 08:52 PM
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Greg. Greg. is offline
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Default Re: More top end required

Graham (G Willis) has bought my slate mounted 401. I heard it in his system last week and thought it sounded astonishingly better than it did in my system. The difference is he’s using a completely different support platform, an Origin Live Illustrious (might even be the top Conqueror) arm with an Ortofon Cadenza red, possibly bronze. I previously used the 401 with an Audiomods Series 5 and an Ortofon Kontrapunkt B and of course, different support. I thought Graham’s system sounded great. Probably the best combination I have heard with a WD88VAxl. Graham’s phono is the WD Series 3xl.

I really liked the live like and revealing sound. I didn’t have a problem with the overall frequency response and I suspect the darkness Graham is referring to is the classic Garrard sound. I have always found it acceptable but I have read others find it bass heavy and lacking in the higher registers. Not my personal experience.

My view, this is a personal sound presentation preference. It suggests Graham likes a brighter sound than I do, so I also suspect the answer would be in a change of arm or cartridge, but, to me it sounded really good and I would in the circumstance be inclined to live with it and see if familiarity breads content.

Last edited by Greg.; 9th July 2019 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 9th July 2019, 08:27 PM
G Willis G Willis is offline
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Default Re: More top end required

Thanks you a range of interesting answers. I am indeed using an Ortofon Cadenza Red with the Origin Live Illustrious arm.

I suppose as someone who has only recently returned to vinyl as a 20 year break I am attuned to a digital presentation in the upper mid-range and treble and it may well be that I simply have to get more used to listening to analogue. In addition, as someone owns quite a lot of very high quality new digital recordings, by comparison a lot of the the LPs I am now listening to are rather old recordings and I am not necessarily comparing apples with apples.

I will have a think about it all. Thanks, Graham

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Old 2nd January 2020, 02:50 PM
A.N. Beal A.N. Beal is offline
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Default Re: More top end required

Dear Graham,
I used to have a Garrard 401 many years ago and I found the sound a bit dark/dull for my taste. A significant factor in this is the standard Garrard rubber mat - a felt mat gives a significantly brighter, more open sound. However the Garrard platter rings like a bell if it is not damped (the reason for the standard heavy rubber mat). I damped the platter on mine by placing a thin 'sausage' of plasticene as a ring around it, resting on the strobe projections. Experimenting with this and a thin felt mat would give you a idea of how it affects the sound. Alternatively there are various proprietary alternative mats available. (I believe that a cork mat can work well on a 401.)
Also with a low output moving coil cartridge the preamp input impedance can make a difference. I can't remember what the figure is for the WD phono preamp. With my preamp and a Denon DL103 I found that the standard 100 ohms loading (step up transformer into 10k ohms) made the treble sound a bit rolled off and over-damped but 470 ohms (step up transforner into 47k ohms) livened it up and opened it out nicely.
Good luck!
Alasdair
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  #10  
Old 2nd January 2020, 10:24 PM
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Greg. Greg. is offline
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Default Re: More top end required

With respect, Iím afraid I canít agree with Alastairís advise here. I should make it clear from the outset that Graham is using my previously owned 401 in a Slatedeck to which he has now added a second slate tier, although he made his post before adding the additional slate.

Getting a full range response out of a Garrard 401 is not a simple matter of changing mats. The plinth, arm and cartridge all bring their individual influences and getting those bits right first is the essential part of the process. I have to say that a Denon 103 is probably a poor choice of cartridge. It was introduced in the 1960ís, designed as a broadcast (radio station) cartridge for telephone frequency radio broadcasts. It was never intended as a high fidelity product, albeit, because it was good, it has acquired a reputation for good sound in a domestic system, but for sure that sound lacks fine detail and extension. Sounds musical at a nice price but for sure, there is more to be had.

I experimented with different mats including Ringmat, Tenuto gun metal mat (£350), Funk Firm Achromatic, cork, cork and neoprene, felt and even Ikea plastic foam place mats and a combination and variation of them all. One I didnít try was leather.

My conclusion, supported by several other listeners (including Peter Comeau) was that the original rubber mat sounded best, and as Alasdair has said, provided the damping the Garrard platter needs. All the other options tended to muddle or muddy the sound so it became confused and lost three dimensional sound presentation. All my friends with Garrard 301/401 have concluded the original is best. Thatís what they use.

Regarding the additional damping of the platter (if you think you need it), a more elegant option over Alastairís plasticine suggestion is solid rubber round rope. Available from eBay etc in 6mm thickness, it can be cut to length and butt joined with super glue to form a ring and stretched over the platter edge to sit in the grooves between the protruded strobe markings. Two rings can be added which do not spoil the strobe speed control monitoring or function. Having said that, in my view, if you are using an original mat, these damping rings are not required. The original Garrard designers were not dull. Many 301/401, users believe that they got it right with the original mat.

Personally, I never found the Garrard 401 as I had it set up to be bass heavy or lacking high end information. Of course, YMMV, and in my view arm and cartridge set up is critical and as Alastair suggests, maybe the interface with the phono stage is critical although knowing what Graham is using, it is no different from what satisfactorily worked for me.

It is likely that Graham is now happy with his sound as he has made changes to the TT since his post. His feedback on this would be interesting.
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