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slowGEEZR

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Hi. I'm a new member and have read some great posts here. I'm looking for some advice from the forum members, who seem to have a great deal of knowledge regarding all things audio. Recently, I’ve decided to slowly get back into vinyl. I’ve got plenty of records that have been sitting for many years. My integrated amp doesn’t have a phono section, so I purchased the little Bellari Phono Preamp that Stereophile recommended. First, let me say that I was amazed at how good my records sound when listening through the headphone jack on the Bellari. The sound is every bit as good as the sound I hear coming from CD or SACD through my MF X-CAN V3 headphone amp. Now, here’s the problem. When I use the Bellari as a phono preamp to my amp, the sound coming from my speakers (ML Aerius) is not nearly as good. It sounds like the highs are very much attenuated and drums sound wooden. It’s like a blanket was placed between the speakers and my listening area. If the volume is turned up, I can then hear the highs, but then the overall sound is very loud. I should say here that the speakers sound very similar to my headphones when using digital sources.
Does anyone know if the headphone amp portion of the Bellari uses the same amplification circuitry as the Preamp portion? It’s hard to believe the difference in the sound quality between them. I changed interconnects, but the changes were minute. I guess I could try to roll some tubes, but I’m not sure that would make that much of a difference. I really like the headphone sound from the Bellari and will keep it just for that, but unless I can open up the sound on the preamp portion I’ll have to buy another phono preamp. I’ll give it another week of break in and see if there is any difference. Maybe that's it, it's not yet broken in. Any advice? Since records sounded great through the headphone jack, I think I can eliminate the turntable and cartridge as the problem. The amp (Krell) also shouldn’t be the problem, unless there is some impedance mismatch (possible?) or the circuitry (both the line in within the Krell and the Bellari itself) isn’t burned in (which is hard to believe could cause that much difference). Thanks, Steve.
 

roberto

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slowGEEZR said:
Hi. I'm a new member and have read some great posts here. I'm looking for some advice from the forum members, who seem to have a great deal of knowledge regarding all things audio. Recently, I’ve decided to slowly get back into vinyl. I’ve got plenty of records that have been sitting for many years. My integrated amp doesn’t have a phono section, so I purchased the little Bellari Phono Preamp that Stereophile recommended. First, let me say that I was amazed at how good my records sound when listening through the headphone jack on the Bellari. The sound is every bit as good as the sound I hear coming from CD or SACD through my MF X-CAN V3 headphone amp. Now, here’s the problem. When I use the Bellari as a phono preamp to my amp, the sound coming from my speakers (ML Aerius) is not nearly as good. It sounds like the highs are very much attenuated and drums sound wooden. It’s like a blanket was placed between the speakers and my listening area. If the volume is turned up, I can then hear the highs, but then the overall sound is very loud. I should say here that the speakers sound very similar to my headphones when using digital sources.
Does anyone know if the headphone amp portion of the Bellari uses the same amplification circuitry as the Preamp portion? It’s hard to believe the difference in the sound quality between them. I changed interconnects, but the changes were minute. I guess I could try to roll some tubes, but I’m not sure that would make that much of a difference. I really like the headphone sound from the Bellari and will keep it just for that, but unless I can open up the sound on the preamp portion I’ll have to buy another phono preamp. I’ll give it another week of break in and see if there is any difference. Maybe that's it, it's not yet broken in. Any advice? Since records sounded great through the headphone jack, I think I can eliminate the turntable and cartridge as the problem. The amp (Krell) also shouldn’t be the problem, unless there is some impedance mismatch (possible?) or the circuitry (both the line in within the Krell and the Bellari itself) isn’t burned in (which is hard to believe could cause that much difference). Thanks, Steve.
Hola Steve and welcome. It looks that your phono preamp is not a good match for your preamp. You should have better sound than any cd...to my liking, and my tests with my own system, vinyl is more musical than my cd player/processor (Proceed), but I enjoy both very much. In a general way of speaking, the cd sound is brighter than vinyl. Because of this, you might have a low charged panels with a severe loss of highs...try to vacuum then to see if you could get more highs. The capacitance setting and the load of the cartridge is important too. As I recall, changing the capacitance could make your cartridge sound brighter, but through your earphones seems to be right...you must try different settings if your Bellari allows you that. Hope this can help...happy listening,
Roberto.
 
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yogibear

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What cartridge and what setting are you using on your phono preamp? Also what interconnect are you using from your turtable-to-phono-preamp-to-integrated?
 

edwinr

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Just to clarify, have you checked you checked your headphones with another source? If so, and they sound okay, then we would assume that the headphone output of your phono pre-amp is working okay. That doens't mean to say there isn't a problem with your phono pre-amp elswhere. It sounds like an electrical mismatch mentioned above. Actually, have you checked to see whether there is a switchable RIAA filter?
 
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Rouvin

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Sorting out the input issues

I'm not familiar with the Bellari, but it seems like there are a few easy things that should be checked out before tube rolling or cable switching might yield any benefit.

1. Does the Bellari have the RIAA equalization curve built in, or does it merely amplify the signal it receives without applying the RIAA equalization?
2. Are you using it into a preamp or receiver or directly into a power amp?

1. If it has the RIAA curve incorporated, is it plugged into the correct input of your receiver, preamp or amp? The correct input would be a high level input of the preamp or receiver, or straight into the amp with the Bellari controlling the volume. Connecting into the phono input of a preamp or receiver would distort the sound.
2. If it amplifies the signal without applying the RIAA curve, it should be connected to a phono input of a preamp or receiver. If it is connected to a high level input or straight into the amp, the sound would be distorted.
 

slowGEEZR

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problem solved!!

Sorry I'm just getting back to the forum, but somehow, I've solved the problem. I was mistaken in thinking that the interconnects couldn't have been the problem. I was thinking that since the headphone output was good, that proved the interconnects were good. Wrong. That only proved the connection from the turntable to the phono amp was good! I changed the interconnect and voila, the highs came back and the veil was lifted. I can now say that the phono amp is a winner! Thanks for all the replies. I'm having a blast getting to know all my old music again! - Steve
 

roberto

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slowGEEZR said:
Sorry I'm just getting back to the forum, but somehow, I've solved the problem. I was mistaken in thinking that the interconnects couldn't have been the problem. I was thinking that since the headphone output was good, that proved the interconnects were good. Wrong. That only proved the connection from the turntable to the phono amp was good! I changed the interconnect and voila, the highs came back and the veil was lifted. I can now say that the phono amp is a winner! Thanks for all the replies. I'm having a blast getting to know all my old music again! - Steve
Hola...thanks for letting us that you could did it!! Many of us still think that the cables are just an interphase between components. And yes, sometimes cables make a wonderful change in the whole system. It is very good to know that you are happy with your new sound. Remember this, you could use your interconnects and speaker´s cables as a tone control. Copper is great for bass, and silver is great for highs, and depends a lot of your own liking...happy listening,
Roberto.
 

aliveatfive

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The Bellari phono preamp has been well-received by the audiophile press. They say that it's a wonder for under 2 hundred bucks. However, if someday you really want to find out what vinyl is all about, you'll probably need a better phono pre. I recently acquired an Audio Research PH 7 and it's so much better than anything I've used before there's no comparison. Starting at about 1000 bucks, there are many phono stages on the market that would probably give your tt a big boost.
 

slowGEEZR

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One thing I should note is that I haven't really listened to records in many years; probably 15 to 20. Even though I'm very happy with the phono amp, as my phono appreciation and sophistication grows, I may very well buy a "better" phono amp (The Phonomena and the AcousTech look pretty good). I haven't even checked out the MC cartridges! The Bellari is for MM cartridges (2.5mv - 5.0mv). I also need to replay the records that sounded so poorly to begin with, to verify I've got everything sorted out. With the albums I played after the interconnect swap, I never felt the need to listen via the headphones. - Steve
 

aliveatfive

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Now that you've been re-bitten by the analog bug, another thing to consider is the cleanliness of your records. Any record cleaner would be a plus, but I've had good success with VPI record-cleaning machines. I've found them less prone to problems than the Nitty Gritty models. Again, you pays your money and you takes yer choice!
 

tonyc

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Aliveatfive is dead right about the PH7-it is a killer! For less money also consider the PH5 at under 2K. About 70% plus of the PH7 at under half the price. Of course, snake bit arc guy that I am, the PH7 is on the horizon-as soon as I get Summits and replace my Rowland amp with a suitable arc!
 

aliveatfive

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tonyc said:
Aliveatfive is dead right about the PH7-it is a killer! For less money also consider the PH5 at under 2K. About 70% plus of the PH7 at under half the price. Of course, snake bit arc guy that I am, the PH7 is on the horizon-as soon as I get Summits and replace my Rowland amp with a suitable arc!
I'm saving my pennies for an ARC REF 110 to drive my Summits.
 

slowGEEZR

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aliveatfive said:
Now that you've been re-bitten by the analog bug, another thing to consider is the cleanliness of your records. Any record cleaner would be a plus, but I've had good success with VPI record-cleaning machines. I've found them less prone to problems than the Nitty Gritty models. Again, you pays your money and you takes yer choice!
Ha ha, you're absolutely right! I've been listening to albums for the last 3 hours and a few of them could have used a good cleaning. Years ago, I use to just use a drop of diswashing liquid and rinse them under the sink faucet, then dry them on a towel. That seemed to work great, as I recall, but was a slow process. I suppose nowadays that would not be considered a good method of cleaning them, although I don't remember seeing any deposits left and they sure sounded better after a cleaning. I think I'll get a record-cleaning machine since I have so many to clean! - Steve
 

slowGEEZR

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tonyc said:
Aliveatfive is dead right about the PH7-it is a killer! For less money also consider the PH5 at under 2K. About 70% plus of the PH7 at under half the price. Of course, snake bit arc guy that I am, the PH7 is on the horizon-as soon as I get Summits and replace my Rowland amp with a suitable arc!
Cool. I'm going to search on these two now and see where I can audition them. Thanks.
 

jfm

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tonyc said:
as soon as I get Summits and replace my Rowland amp with a suitable arc!
Tony,

Which Rowland amp for which ARC? I'm an ARC guy myself but am curious about Rowland as I've only heard good things about them, esp. their newer amps. Their virtues seem to match those of MLs? Thanks.
 

aliveatfive

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slowGEEZR said:
Cool. I'm going to search on these two now and see where I can audition them. Thanks.
Where are you? We'll give you some advice.
 

Peter Hogan

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aliveatfive said:
Now that you've been re-bitten by the analog bug, another thing to consider is the cleanliness of your records. Any record cleaner would be a plus, but I've had good success with VPI record-cleaning machines. I've found them less prone to problems than the Nitty Gritty models. Again, you pays your money and you takes yer choice!
I'll second the nomination of VPI...:)

Peter
 

DTB300

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slowGEEZR said:
I live in Alexandria, VA.
Howdy Neighbor!!!! I live up in Silver Spring by White Flint Mall....

While I am not a Vinyl user to help you in your issues here, a fellow ML member is always welcome to stop over sometime to do some ML listening.

Dan
 

aliveatfive

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slowGEEZR said:
I live in Alexandria, VA. The AR site said they had a dealer in Pikesville, MD, The Listening Room.
It's probably a long drive, but the best bet for you would probably be Overture in Wilmington, DE. They stock both ARC and ML. A pleasant place to shop - and NO SALES TAX.
 
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