Records can be a bit ploddy. I'm considering an AT-OC9/III

Hi All,

I have a Dynavector 20X2 Low on my Sondek. The phonostage is a Stageline S. This was all a great match when I had SBLs.

A fairly recent change of circumstance means I now have Allaes. I characterise them as having a fuller, looser presentation than the SBLs, especially in the bass and mid, whereas the SBLs were drum tight. The consequence is that I'm finding records a bit ploddy where once they weren't. I am wondering if an AT-OC9/III might now be the way to go.

What do you make of this idea please? And do you have any alternative suggestions? I don't really want to change either the record player or the phonostage.



Original Post

Strat, Allaes great on CD and FM.

I should have said that if there is to be achange then it has to be a low cost change ;-)   Kore, Armageddon etc just not in the frame. Also that the Linn was last looked at by my dealer a year ago and given a clean bill of health. This includes the Valhalla board which was serviced when I bought it (the deck) about seven years ago.



I do know what you mean! FWIW I liked the OC9 Stageline combination but it can be a little bright but it could suit your LP12 nicely. Can you get a dem or a low hour sample from a dealer?

I still can’t help thinking the SBLs were just showing up problems further up the chain but hey ho, they can divide opinion.

Have fun, Stu

Mark, I reflected on the phonostage this morning before I posted, after a session yesterday evening. Before I had my SBLs, my phonostage was a DV p75 Mk3. When the SBLs arrived it was changed for a Stageline S which compensated for the lighter presentation of the SBLs. That's the thing with this game, you change one thing, then you have to change the other.

Stu, I'll see if my dealer can get AT. I think he fits AT95es for those buying used entry-level Linns.

Christopher, what arm is on your Sondek?. I recently had to replace my "dead" Arkiv. I had to look for a lower cost interim replacement and my dealer thought an OC9 would be a little bright in my Ekos. He recommended an AT-F7 which, for the money is fantastic in my Kore/Ekos Sondek, a real bargain


Thanks for tip, John. It's an Ittok LVII.

Here's the full system as per profile:

Linn Sondek/ Valhalla/ Cirkus/ Ittok LVII/ Dynavector 20x2L, Naim Stageline S, on Sound Org table. Naim CD5 XS. NAT03 FM radio. FCXS on CD player and amp. NAIT XS into NACA5 then Allaes. 60 series Isoblue and Wireworld Matrix block.

Did you position the allaes using the TT as source or CD? I remember being surprised at how far out into the room mine needed to be, hard against the wall just didn’t work. I’ve just checked and they’re at 22.5cm. 22cm gave a one note bass in a 11’ square room, that half centimeter made a whole lot of difference. 

I used an OC9 mk1 on my Xerses with rega arm. Very dynamic, good tracker but found it a bit too clinical with my Naim system. Certainly no vinyl warmth and my digital source (NDX) sounds much fuller.

I swithed to a Roksan Corus Black which has mostly resolved the issue. A shame as the OC9 wasnt knackered and does some things better than the Corus.

Given your symptons  it may well be a good match with your system  The Xerses is less warm than an LP12 so you may find it better balanced than I did.


Thank you Richard. Your post indicates to me that I may not have lost it completely.

At the moment I am experimenting with speaker positions as per Yeti42. They were 12cm from wall. Now 20cm. They are also slightly wider too. But they are no longer spiked through carpets, they are on granite slabs so I can slide them about.

CDs at the moment (sounding open and faster), records to come later....

I've a very similar deck to you and tried an oc9 about 18 months ago and it is a nice cart,  good detail and all that but a bit fussy with some older not so greatly pressed or mastered recordings and unless you wash every record before you play it, it is a bit of a dust magnet.  

Personally I think you already have a great cartridge and if you hadn't already had one I would say get the matching Dyna phonostage.  As was mentioned above I think you should try another phonostage the stageline was bettered by the Rega Fono MM when I tried it,  a different load setting I know but the stageline was a bit ploddy.

I think that ultimately though you may find yourself changing speakers within the next year.

Update. Thanks also to Bob and Joe. I like my Allaes, Bob. They match the rest of my stuff to make a nice set, so they are keepers. I have moved them out a bit as Yeti suggested.

The thought of returning to MM and a Stageline N had crossed my mind too.

This morning my dealer demonstrated the differences between a Stageline S and Rega Fono MC, using a Linn with Rega arm and Rega Ania cartridge. Unsurprisingly, the Fono gave the more lively, more engaging presentation. A suitable weekend will be determined for a home dem so that I can decide whether my DV 20X2 L into a Rega Fono MC is also more lively and engaging.

trickydickie posted:

I used an OC9 mk1 on my Xerses with rega arm. Very dynamic, good tracker but found it a bit too clinical with my Naim system. Certainly no vinyl warmth and my digital source (NDX) sounds much fuller.

I found the original model lost everything I liked about vinyl playback. In a rather subtle way that worked its inexorable 'magic' to the point where I felt I could live without vinyl.

Hi, I have not read all the above posts, but could it be caused by what or where your deck is located, particually in relation to the speakers? its a guess.

I have an olive HiCap S/H from TomTom & serviced by another company on my Stageline and it certainly was a worthy improvement, I have similar LP12 to you, but with HercII PSU / Adikt cartridge and certainly sounds very good.

Update: The Allaes are, as Maxine Nightingale might have said, right back where they started from with 12cm behind them. The Linn is 110cm from one of them.

My Sondek sits on a Sound Org two tier table. Last night I decided to spike it through my carpets onto the concrete floor. I've been meaning to do it for a while. I have also dusted it, and cleaned the deck where necessary especially the belt, its running surface on the inner platter, the surface where the inner platter meets the outer platter and the motor pulley. The arm was also rebalanced. The sparkle has returned to my records.

So ....not feeling the need to try another stage or another cartridge. I've sometimes regretted going MC before an Armageddon etc. For me, that's where the $$$s will go in the future I think, in our aspirational hobby.  Thanks all, for your advice and help.

Christopher_M posted:
Robiwan posted:

An AT-OC9/III is not that great. Probably the worst AT cart you can buy. Too bright, lacking warmth and bass oohmp, not the Naim sound you want.  

Any positive helpor advice on offer?

that an AT-OC9/III isn't a great cart. Better buy a lively and musical MM cart like Linn Adikt, some Ortofon's, some Grado's, Goldring 1042 etc.

Christopher_M posted:
Any positive help or advice on offer?


I have read this thread in full with some interest even though I have moved to 'serious' LP replay since too recently. I write only to tell you that in my opinion nobody will have concretely positive help or advice to offer, because nobody has your ears and your room and your taste. You have very rarely written to me about your vinyl life because I wasn't into it enough, having only a secondary system in the studio with nostalgic 40-odd years old gear to replay 40-odd LPs when days were unbearably grey and insignificant.

Then I bought a decent TT – sorry, nothing British: a Pro-Ject RPM 3 Carbon, which, once setup with a minimum of care and placed in the main and now only set, turned out being much better than my expectations, with a Grado Blue 1 MM cartridge and a Stageline N. To me, it all sounds good, very good, but depending on three things: mood, expectations and quality of the LP. I have 50 years old mono LPs sounding lively and engaging, and modern 'audiophile' pressings that only show to which level of foolishness the world of audio has dropped, and how miserably we throw our time down the toilet in infinite indecisions, regulations, tweaks, changes of opinion on practically every single piece of our stereo systems.

Now the Allaes are the culprit. You write 'ploddy', I go and google the word, find nothing and must go by nose. Or it is the cartridge, and here I have nothing to google because I don't know anyone of the quoted ones. I only know my Grado, which was a cheapish model when I bought it but these days it was tracking every inch of any disc without distortions or indecisions. 1,65 grams. The funny thing – please forgive me if I refer to our private correspondence for a moment – is that when I wrote to you that I didn't like the idea of two different sources in the same system – LP and CD – you were always very encouraging and full of arguments in favor of also having LPs In the living room; now I have both and am satisfied. But then, you wrote a number of times to me complaining how you seemed unable to have sound of your complete satisfaction with either LP or CD in the same system! Proof of this, the SBLs – which, in my opinion, are to Allaes what Orson Wells is to Guy Ritchie – went, and Allaes came. You say they can sound ploddy; I don't know what that means, but I have heard Allaes several times and always found them the most assertive (let's not say aggressive not to hurt anyone in the Headquarters) in the mid/treble among all the Naim speakers I have heard or owned. It seems to me that you want the right sound with CD, LP and Radio in a single speaker system. Impossible?

My SBLs never sounded wrong with CD. When I sold something, it was never because of sonic dissatisfaction, with the single exception of the very first S-400s but mostly of the SuperUniti, which I hated from the first minute I had it. Don't ask me why I bought it. One of those moment of craziness – many here have had them, trust me – when you believe that you can have a one or two box solution in NaimWorld: which is impossible and a nonsense, unless you are one of the very very few lucky guys who really are content with plain good sound and who really enjoy music, not the system.

Naim is for multiplicity, and the impressive compatibility within the range is made to encourage multiplicity, not to favour reduction. I am really sorry not to be able to give you any positive help or advice, but I have a feeling that you won't solve any issue. I may be with Bob the Builder, and predict a change of speakers within one year. I don't know how you can be happy with Allaes. Did I mention one of our mutual acquaintances, who has a sci-fi 500 system with S-600s and is sometimes doubtful about it, and has had a UnitiLite + N-Sats system for a while that was a joy for the ears and peace for the mind? Guess which of the two systems went?

The member who suggested a used HiCap on the Stageline might have a point, if we accept the idea that the Stageline is 'bright'; but you say or imply that the Allaes don't guarantee tightness enough to vinyl, so a HiCap, that brings a few Kilos to the sound? My Stageline has actually some 'verve', but that is good with the Ovators. The Grado and the Pro-Ject, for some miracle, seem to sound much the same. I am lucky, but most of all I have set limits to my expectations and budget. Plus, I have decided to subjectively and intentionally like certain things, instead of hoping to find the miracle combination of their objective goodness. This saved me.

Please don't be offended if I posted all this publicly instead of keeping it for our daily, entertaining private correspondence; but in my opinion you are not considering the only lifejacket that could save you from perennial paranoia, which this forum won't ever help you dispelling, since everyone has a suggestion for things, people, places and sounds he has never heard as they are as an ensemble: an asylum. I am referring to compromise. Smell your cart, your phono stage, your deck, your amp and your speakers as you'd do with roses; the ones who don't smell enough, sell them. And go back to daisies.

All the best



To update the thread, today I have collected my Linn from my dealer and an AT-OC9 ML/II has been fitted.

I've only played five sides but so far I am very pleased. The snap that was missing has come back. It's clean and detailed and the timing seems great. I can certainly endorse the idea that this AT cartridge and a Stageline S are a good synergistic match.

Apparently there's more to come after it has all settled in after about 50 hours.

Thanks to all who contributed and to Richard who had the specific knowledge that it was the II and not the III that could be the better match with my Ittok LVII.

Perhaps best of all is how good my early eighties Linn now sounds (albeit with a Cirkus) with Valhalla, no corner braces, and a glued sub-chassis. Happy chap. Thank you.

I had an AT 0C9 mk1 on an ittok a couple of years back and really enjoyed it although mine was used just as a stop gap. I understand that you really like the synergy of the stage line but in your position I would be really tempted into trying another phono stage. IMO the cartridges you are using would really benefit from an upgrade of phono stage it’s a really important part of the signal chain and will really open things up. Just a thought for the future but for the moment just keep enjoying the AT OC9 a great Cart. 

Cheers Bob. Basically my thinking is that I would spend on getting stuff off the records first before I sweated the phonostage. To this end the long term plans are (in no particular order) metal baseboard, Armageddon, and Majik subchassis with improved fixings to my Cirkus armboard.

But the synergy is now right, so it is good as is. For now.

hungryhalibut posted:

Here is a free upgrade. Remove the base and just use the feet. As there are mains voltages inside, make sure nobody sticks their fingers inside. 

Nigel - I think you should have that removed.  Dangerous and surely in contravention.  Apologies if I seem over zealous. 



Just so everyone is clear. Removing the baseboard is a well known tweak for better sound with the LP12.  However, it should only be done where an off-board power supply is being used, otherwise it cannot be recommended as it then exposes you (and others) to the risk of live mains voltages.

Within the context of my non corner braced, Valhalla Linn, my dealer yesterday suggested that the extra screws around the edge of the metal base board (maybe 12) would brace the plinth. Also that there is an earthing point, so even better. Plus it's only £160. Loose change parking money, in LinnWorld.

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