London Decca

I just purchased a London Decca Super Gold.
I'm wondering if anyone has compared it the Jubilee and/or the Reference. I'm loving the Super Gold and I'm wondering if it is worth the money to move up the line.
Is yours the Mark VII with line contact stylus and four cartridge pins as opposed to their usual three? Mine is just back from Warren Gregoire in CA (US distributor/dealer) and sounding very good indeed.

I haven't made the comparisons you mention. You'll find that the Decca doesn't do warps very well but is otherwise very "immediate" with great detail and is very involving. Mine is on a VPI JMW 10.5i arm. What are you using?
Yes, mine is the newest version and I purchased it from Warren.
You can follow my 'system' link to see my system.
I'm using an Air Tangent linear tracking tonearm.
The cartridge is great and, right now, I just can't imagine going back to a traditional cartridge. That, however, may change -- things often do in this hobby.
Looks like we have the thread to ourselves :-)

To me, the Decca sound is the antithesis of "transparent," which is one of the reasons I like it (components noted mostly for their "transparency" tend to sound threadbare and bleached to me). The Decca is (again, to me) kinda rough-hewn and "real" sounding to a degree not found in my other main cartridges. I like them too, and sometimes the Decca is a little TOO much, but for now I'm sticking with it and leaving the others for a later time. I remarked to Warren that a new phonocable (Furutech Silver Arrows) had emphasized its "Decca-ness" in a very attractive light and he responded that cables are HIGHLY important in getting the most out of these carts.

Dealing with Warren, btw, is one of the really pleasant aspects of Decca ownership. He really believes.
Everyday I'm startled by what this cartridge does on my records. With some songs it's almost like I'm hearing them for the first time.
That's interesting about the phono cables. I have only ever heard the SG with my Kondo silver tonearm cable.
Can you tell me/the community what Warren recommends and, possibly, what to look for in a tonearm/phono cable to get the most from the Decca carts?
All that Warren said, after I told him about the Furutech silver cables, was "Wires can make an enormous difference." At the time I got them, I wasn't even very much interested in hearing the Decca. Don't know exactly why except that I was quite satisfied with the other 3 carts in rotation on the JMW arm (Soundsmith Zephyr, Shure V15VxMR with Jico SAS stylus, and Denon 301 II). But I put on the Decca and was kinda stunned when I didn't hear anything from either channel.

I told Warren about it and he said they could probably restore it for comparatively little money. When I got it back it sounded both great and different, which I laid to the new phono cables. (Maybe Warren's work had something to do with it.) In any event, it's not leaving the JMW arm any time soon :-)
I love my Decca Super Gold too. I had it re-tipped by John Wright in England with a Paratrace stylus which takes it to a new level.
Warren offered me a good price on the Reference and full refund for returning the Super Gold.
I will post my review to this thread but it won't be for a few weeks.
I have been dreaming to own a top performing MM cartridge but the prices here are just insane. I want to get out of the MC scene and simplify the number of active stages and no SUT but no idea where to go with an MM. Can you guys give me some tips on how to achieve 90% of the Decca at a fraction of the price? The top Goldring MM or Nagaoka MM … or?
Can you guys give me some tips on how to achieve 90% of the Decca at a fraction of the price?

John, buy an used Decca and send it to John Wright in the Shropshire, UK for a rebuild. JW designed the Jubilee and Reference and builds all the current London Decca range.
Ok, so now where do I get a used Decca? I am very eager to setup the phono with an MM.
For a top notch Decca like a Gold or Super Gold, you are looking at $600 with a worn stylus + $350 - $450 for a JW tip. You might get a Blue or Maroon a bit cheaper. BTW, a Decca is a moving iron not a MM. But, yeah, high output etc.
Warren Gregoire has some used Deccas and can offer attractive pricing on new ones. He will also be able to tell you if your arm is a good match for a Decca.
Thank you Exlibris. I talked to Warren a few days ago and he suggested the Jubilee for me based on my system. He had no used Jubilee's which was unfortunate. He said that the Graham 2.0 that I use on the Clearaudio Ref TT will work mighty fine with the Jubilee. The cartridge will arrive in 2 days.

I have been an MC user for 30 years. The change to the Decca will be quite a treat to run phono in a simplified manner. As incredible as the highly modified Counterpoint SA-2 has been, I have no doubt that eliminating this and the extra IC and cost of extra PC, will render some phenomenal results.

All the talk of the incredible dynamics of the Decca will motivate me to get the CAT JL-3 amps up and running again. These are currently out of commission as the system was moved from basement to living room and there is only one AC line to that room. The CAT's need a 20A circuit each! So the backup Counterpoint or Wolcott amps will have to do until I get circuits added. But the Decca will be a good start to phono enjoyment once again. I'm excited!

Hi John

I run the Jubilee on my Graham 2.2 with excellent results. I also have mounted it on a JVC 1045 and also had the same results. Table for the Graham is the VPI Aries Extend and for the JVC it is the Victor (JVC), TT-81. This cartridge puts many high end M/C's to shame. I kid you not!
The Satanic sound of the Decca is the only thing I miss from high end audio.

After I last moved house (almost 2 years now), all my beloved equipment remains in boxes (Immedia and Mico Seiki turntables, Triplanar/ Graham Phantom/ Ikeda and SME V arms, CEC TL-0 and Chord CD transports, Dartzeel amplifier, German Physiks HRS120, JBL Jubals)and I have been listening to a Bose Wave radio/CD. Like my car audio, I can live with this quite happily (just enjoy the music).

My first cart was a Garrot Decca on a Pink Triangle in the 80's and I loved that sound. When both broke, I missed the sound and always thought it was the Pink that was the main thing. In those days, uncolored turntables were rare so to some extent it was true. But nowadays turntables sound clean, and with a CD transport like my Chord or CEC there is no coloration, but something was missing. I thought I had just grown up, become less impressionable. Jaded.

Then I bought a Decca Maroon a couple of years ago on a whim. At first the sound was so bad I got a shock (was I listening to that!?) and I was even afraid the needle was damaging my records.

With a Decca if the VTA is wrong you can tell by the sound. VTA has to be set my sound, not sight. But when I got the VTA right it was like "this was the sound I was missing; it was the Decca, not the Pink". And I am dancing to music again.

I listen to classical and rock/pop. And with classical I am happy to listen with my CD players and MC carts like Ikeda, Ortofon SPU, ZYX and Koetsu. OK, with Glenn Gould playing Beethoven's Emperor Piano Concerto the Ikeda provided some of of my greatest hifi moments. But with Paul Simon or Led Zepplin, I gotta have my Decca.

There is no sound like a Decca set up right playing the human voice. And guitar. And synthesizers.

I want to get the Decca Reference. It is the only thing I desire from high end audio right now. Otherwise I can live with my car audio and Bose Wave.
Jafox, Warren has a used Jubilee on his website. Maybe it hasn't been updated...
NoRomance: Yes, sadly, I was too late for that good deal. And Warren had not updated the page. But it is ok. Mine arrived few days ago but just too crazy busy here. I hope to have it setup tomorrow.

Tokyojohn: What an incredible story. To have all that top rated equipment and yet reflect back on the return of musical enjoyment by the Decca experience says so much.

Jafox, I find it hard to believe myself I can keep listening to a table top radio, but I have come to believe that enjoyment of music and hifi reproduction can be separate (otherwise why do musicians listen to pretty boring audio, right)? I too started out with the Harry Pearson Absolute Sound philiosophy (live music is ideal) but have migrated to a Japanese philosophy. Great hifi is thrilling, and can be a way to appreciate music more deeply. For example I never really liked Mozart's Requiem until I heard a stupendous system with a 100k turntable front end play it. It did not even sound good or natural, but the sound was so detailed, like a microscope, that I suddenly heard things that I had previously missed. After that I got really into the music, and can appreciate the music on a vintage system with Spendor speakers. Some might sneer at this, but if an audio system broadens your musical appreciation, is that not a wonderful thing? I therefore sometimes call a high fidelity system a music exploration machine :)
I installed the London Decca Reference. I was told that it would have the dynamics of the Super Gold with more sophistication and nuance.
It is actually much more powerful sounding than the Super Gold.
It seems to energize all the air in the room and really make the speakers disappear on many songs.
It is also much more 'real' sounding than the Super Gold in that it you don't have to use much imagination to believe that there are real people playing real instruments in your room.
I honestly can't imagine a better cartridge - perhaps if there was one that had all the same positives and was as quiet in the groove as my ZYX.
My newly acquired Super Gold performs flawlessly in my Ikeda 407 arm, VTF 1,9g. No mistracking, stunning dynamics, wonderful music. Just to give my contribution.
I owned several Decca Mk Vs many years ago and loved them all. Immediacy with the Decca cartridges is unparalleled. The quality control back then was somewhat variable (sort of like British sports cars of the time) and required purchase from a reputable vendor. Years later, and several moving magnet & coil cartridges later I was still missing that Decca sound so I bought a Gold. While the almost non-existent cantilever is purposely part of the design, it was even shorter than the Mk V and drove me crazy on a few mildly warped record as the cartridge body would bottom out on the LP rendering them unplayable. (Yes, I do use a hold down clamp on the record). I'm curious if QC and the cantilever length are issues for anyone with the current cartridges.
Pretty much any warp will throw mine (Super Gold Mk VII) for a loop. Playing around with damping fluid in my JMW 10.5i does help ... some ... but that's the best you can hope for, IMO.
I've used a Super Gold with my Well Tempered Amadeus TT for about 4 years now and have had NO trouble with warps at all.

This combination of arm/cartridge is, IMO, a nearly ideal match.
Very nice Doak. I have an Amadeus GTA, and a Std Amadeus in my secondary rig. I am always looking for suggestions to try. It seems like 95% use either Emt Tsd-15 or Dynavector 20X, Karat, or XX2. I guess heavier cartridges work pretty well w/ the Lo/Med mass Amadeus arm. Apparently the damping allows them to match well. I will look in to the Super Gold. Cheers -Don
No problems encountered with my JW Paratracer tipped Super Gold on a 12"Jelco. I never noticed an issue with the old stylus either. In fairness, I don't have many warped records.
Finally finally I got the Jubilee all set up for some serious critiquing. Sadly I still don't have the CAT amps up and running as I need an electrician to install two 20A circuits for these. And also sadly, one of the SoundLab A1's has an issue so I will have the backplates updated when resources become available. So for now I am using my trusty Counterpoint NPS 400 backup amp and a pair of Nola Boxer speakers. Imagining the compromises with this latter setup, the result is still quite amazing. Throw a serious front end on a pair of small speakers and you can be quite surprised! But this is only a preliminary report and with only 20 or so hours on the Jubilee.

The Jubilee in a word is VIVID. Oh my, bring on the floodlights. Very serious dynamic contrasts. Low frequency performance with the Boxers is impressive. No bottom octave here of course (with the Boxers) but the presence in the upper bass is mighty nice. This is often an area lacking with more focus on the upper range. The Jubilee does a mighty mighty fine job with piano articulation, great weight to each piano strike. And wow, the lower strings such as Cello. Very well done.

I had to throw on the reference LP, Roger Waters "Amused to Death", to check out the wild sound effects that this recording puts out. And sure enough, the piano placement is spot on with subtle details not even present from the rebook recording through the Lampizator B6 DAC. Simply magnificent. Long live Analog.

The upper frequencies from time to time seem to convey a little too much sibilance but this could be an issue with the Boxers more than the Jubilee. I will not know what the Jubilee can really do until I get the CAT/SL's back online.

Finally, there is a hum issue. I tried a cheater plug on the Aria preamp and no change. Put another on the Counterpoint amp and no change. Powered off all digital gear and MAC Mini…no change. Tried a cheater plug on the TT motor - no change. Unplugged the SoundLabs and no change. Removing the tonearm cable (Stealth Hyperphono) ground spade from the Aria made the hum really bad! So that is truly needed but the remaining hum is another issue. Changing to a Strightwire phono cable resulted in the same hum, and of course much reduced musicality. I tried a wire from Aria to the amp chassis and no effect.

The hum's level increases with volume increase. I went crazy unplugging lamps and other things and no success. So I have no idea what might be the solution. Sadly I just sold the CJ Motif MC7 or I could have tried that to determine if this is an Aria issue…but I doubt it.

Any ideas would be appreciated.
You could also try grounding the phono
ground wire to the ground of the phono rca
The grounding ideas are worth a try, but Deccas, including mine, seem to have an affinity for hum that defies attempts to remove it.
Thank you so much, Noromance……great ideas. But sadly, no change. I will try to borrow phono stage and see if that changes things. And I have a friend who is a super setup guru too. Maybe he will have some ideas.
JaFox, are you using balanced inputs from phono to Aria? How about running phono ground to mains ground directly?
It's been awhile since one poster was looking for a Super Gold, but for anyone currently looking for one, I will be putting my NOS one on Audiogon later today. New Old Stock as I Brooks Berdan order me two, one to use and one for back-up (common amongst Decca devotees). I never needed to pull the back-up out of it's box (the Decca QC problems of the past are just that!), and am currently getting ready for the final move of my life (hopefully), so it's time to consolidate and minimize. Look for it tonight if interested.