Built in MC phono stage

I have upgraded from a Goldring 1042 MM cartridge to a Ortofon Quintet Black S Moving Coil cartridge. This was in part on the advice from the retailer who was doing a service of my Thorens TD350 turntable and me wanting to get the best out of my record collection.

On the retailers system using my turntable with new cartridge, (he used similar make speakers but had mono block amps and a syrus external pre-amp), he played some LPs that sounded rich, detailed, dynamic with a combination of warmth and excitement. Impressive doesn’t do it justice.

Taking it home and connecting the turntable to the SA30, the sound is seriously bright and harsh, with seriously high treble to the point of being uncomfortable and a listening experience that was fatiguing after only a few minutes.

Trying to assess why, when the MM cartridge sounded so much richer and more stable, and it now bearing no resemblance to what I heard by turntable being capable of, it was suggested to me that I may be experiencing the limits of the SA30s built in MC phono stage.

I would just appreciate some thoughts from the Arcam community.

If I am correct, this cartridge has a .3mv output. Thats in the lower range for a moving coil. And it will need to be properly loaded to get the best sound from it. I think you are at the limit of what the Arcam SA 30’s moving coil stage can do. I ran into a similar issue with my .2mv Koetsu Urishi Vermillion. I was hoping it would work, but I kind of figured it was going to be a big compromise. I bought a outboard phono stage and all is good.


Hi Ken, I know nothing of amps, volts, etc, but the dealer thought it should work ok, he knew what amp I was using. If I have to buy an external phono stage to get the best out of it, that’s a reasonable compromise, I was just hoping the SA30 would have been up to the job with ease, like it was with the Goldring MM. I am worried that there is a fault with the SA30 or some compatibility issue

I doubt there is anything wrong with your Arcam SA 30. A really good phono preamp costs as much or more than the SA 30. As soon as you get into the low output moving coils, really good phono stages are needed to get the most out of the cartridge. Most amps with phono stages in the price range of the SA 30 only include a MM phono stage to avoid this problem. If you trade the Ortofon back for a high output moving coil, I think you will be happy with the SA 30’s MC stage. If you love the cartridge, your next move is to set a phono stage budget and start looking for one that mates well with your Ortofon. I bought the Teac PE-505. Your dealer should help you sort this out. Good luck!


SA30 supports MM and MC, but it must be correctly set in setup menus. Did you changed phono stage to moving coil?

yes. it sounds poor to say the least. A number of commentators have said that it is due to the Sa30 doesn’t do as well with MC carts, especially low voltage as MM carts, so I am opting for an external phono preamp, which I shall demo Friday eve. Thanks for your interest. Lawl

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I picked up a second hand PhonoBox DS+ because the Denon DL-304 Gold in use only outputs 0.18mV <gulp!> but is so sweet that I really wanted to keep it. Direct to the SA30 is very quiet and there is a fair bit of hum and noise. With the PhonoBox DS+ set to +60dB gain, and pushing into a spare analog input, it sounds amazing!

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