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Advice on upgrades

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  1. Tone arm: I have an SAEC WE 3117  tone arm. 
    • I need a new weight and string, as the string broke… Or some ideas if it is good and if there are any advantages to consider changing?
    • And who might carry parts for it.It
    • always seemed like it work just fine 
    • (It sits on a SOTA Saffire)
  2. Preamp: I still have the PSE in a box and upgraded to an Audible Illusions Modulus (Via Randy in Santa Monica) ~20 years ago...
    • It seems good to me, but is there any great reason to consider an upgrade?
    • About all I would consider (off hand without thinking too hard) would be a Nagra Classic.
  3. Cartridge: A Blue Point Special… it has to be 10-15 years old…

I did see that Audible Illusions has an upgrade scheme so I might call them, or email them. (And see if it does 230v, etc)
- I don’t even know if it is MC or MM…  But they do upgrades.
-  And I did pick up an Accoustic Research Phono stage from Randy, so I guess that answers part of whether it (AI) is MC/MM .

Basically I need to overhaul/rehabilitate part of it in order to play the vinyl.
1. Who might carry the SAEC spares?
2. Thoughts on Pre/Phono stage?
3. Thoughts on cartridge?

My AVR-Processor arrives in a few weeks, so that provides some chin scratching opportunities.

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3 hours ago, TomicTime said:

you are in Oz right ? Garrot Brothers P77i is supposed to be quite good.

I’ll call the Garrot bros.

I am also looking at a Hana cartridge, does anyone have experience with those?
The have a microline and the Shibata stylus shapes. (In addition to Elliptical)

I just got off the phone with SOTA, and will hot rod the old turntable up with their new motor and a rebuild of the spindle/bearing. 


3 hours ago, TomicTime said:

I think Ebay might be good source for SAEC parts / help , you might not find parts for sale today but find vendor in Japan willing to help.


Thanks, I found one out of Singapore and it’s on the way.
My Audio Research PH2 should handle 0.4mv, so I am chin scratching here as to what cartridge to use.


There is also the Korf headshell, http://korfaudio.com/blog63 so I’ll need to figure out whether that and a cartridge and the tone arm play well together…

Has anyone got opinions on changing the head shells?

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While we are on upgrades, I need a new DAC as I've posted more than a few times.  I have spoken to a few dealers and been told to look at the Bartok, Meitner MA3 and Brinkmann Nyquist mk2.  I have heard the original Nyquist and loved it. it did feel a bit rolled off on top, but sounded great.  The soundstage seemed pretty big and it did piano and female voice really nicely.  It wasn't as 'punchy' or 'dynamic (hate this term)' as others, but was outstanding.  I have liked the Total DAC from France, but I don't know any dealers for them and I would need to buy used as I need to do for the Brinkmann or the Bartok if I go that route. 

I've heard EMM DAC's in the past and really was impressed by the sound.  I was told the sweet spot is the MA3 that's brand new and I can afford it.  I was offered the new Nyquist for someone at a price I can afford, but it's a major stretch and I hate doing that as I'm not a wealthy person.  

Have any of you heard any of these DAC's?  I was also told the Aqua's top of the line DAC is a must audition. I wont' be able to audition  most of these I don't think.  If you have heard them, please share your thoughts that you can remember as to your lasting impressions.  Thanks.  Pete

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Hi Pete - I have heard a few in the range you are considering.  As you know my favorite is still the Aesthetix Pandora - Signature….listening to Layla Revisited on it right now w 192 stream. One of these days, most likely send it in for Eclipse upgrade. I am running some great nos tubes from Andy at Vintage tubes - those made a BIG difference. I put Brinkman Nyquist in same class. Heard the I, not the II and not in my system, so thats a factor. Having a Bardo, I do trust Helmuts ears ;-) I like the Lampizator Amber i bought for my brother and had in my system for a week or so. For the $ range you are talking a very nice Lampi is excellent choice.  The DCS leave me cold, sorry. i do like the bigger company w resources to roll the software and improve the sound. Product support seems stellar. My last exposure to MSB was Analog w Powerbase. No longer in production.

Best to you in your search

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  • 3 weeks later...

The system sounding very good with the TV and CDs. I have not moved the speakers around because it is already sounding nice in width and depth. 


  • TT belt ordered from SOTA.
  • P77i arrived
  • Korf head shell arrived
  • New preamp tubes arrived (But it still sounds great)
  • New amp tubes arrived (6x input and 8x KT-120)
  • Parts for the record cleaner ordered

Not sure it the Hana ML would work with my 42 dB gain AR PH2 (SS) phono stage, or if I would need a SUT… hence I’ll play wait-n-see. (Not sure what the preamp gain is available, and that may add to the phono stage.)

So I’ll likely just enjoy using the p77i for while.

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21 minutes ago, ctsooner said:

Wow. Will you also be set up for simple 2.1 also?  Trying to follow lol

Yeah Pete, It seems complicated to me as well… I am also trying to follow it myself 😉

The 2.1 is currently servicing the TV. The AVR will taking the HDMI and spit out the video as HDMI and strip off audio as x.x.x channels. Probably as 5.2.0, as the room(s) do not allow for more, and the Mrs will not allow 5.2.2 as she does not want ceiling speakers. (And also doesn’t even want the 2Cs in the room… so We’ll see how it goes.)

The TT will go out as:

  • TT —> ARC PH2 —> Audible Illusion Linestage —> PrimaLuna Dialogue HP — 2C + sub


The Roon (CDs) will go out as:

  • AVR —> Audible Illusion Linestage —> PrimaLuna Dialogue HP — 2C + sub


The TV will go out as:

  • AVR —> Audible Illusion Linestage —> PrimaLuna Dialogue HP — 2C + sub (2.1)
  • AVR —> Hypex —> VCC-5 and Hypex —> VSM(s) 
  • AVR —> a couple of extra subs as a 5.2 (which is really 5.3 as the Vandy sub is in the 2.1)


I have a few choices:

  • Input the Roon/TV from the AVR and go out of the Preamp (via the AVR as the video input)
    • So I’ll need to set a fixed preamp level for the TV/AVR as it does room correction.
  • And I’ll need a switch to disable/enable the Hypex channels when I want the AVR playing the Roon content in 2.1


At least ^that^ is path that I am on… but I do have the VCC-5 and the VSMs en route as used gear. It was either do that or I use a sound bar.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Even though I got the Garrott Bros cartridge, and was looking for a phono stage primarily for a LOMC (like the Hana ML)… And I have become somewhat enamoured with Peter Lederman talking about those SoundSmith moving iron cartridges… (so there is no current need for more gain than the ARC PH2 has (42 dB).

Well… I am 95% sure I am picking up a used Nagra VPS next week.


Was looking at the iFi units, the Sutherland Lil Loco and the Moon unit, and the Nagra.
(All are at wildly different price points.)

I’ll try and get the son in law to take the ARC PH2 as a free upgrade, or I’ll move it on.
Or use it if I get a second LP-deck.

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On 9/16/2021 at 5:06 PM, Holmz said:

I am also looking at a Hana cartridge, does anyone have experience with those?

I just replaced my ten year old Sumiko Blackbird with the Hana.  As my ARC SP-17 preamp has only 47dB of gain , I didn't want to add a SUT, so I went with the MH (high output).  I also had my LP12 rebuilt.  Consequently, it's impossible to quantify how much of the improvement is due to the rebuild and how much to the cart.  But, the improvements are dramatic and the playback is SO quiet; most likely attributable to the stylus.  According to Hana:  the M Series uses a Nude Microline stylus, mimicking the cutting stylus and fitting more precisely into the vinyl groove. This enhances tracking to capture the most delicate musical details with better frequency reproduction, stereo imaging, and resolution.

Play on

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