New TT vs Cartridge/isolation upgrade

Hi all,

I'm contemplating an upgrade to my Pro-Ject RPM 1 Carbon turntable.  Goal is to achieve a warmer sound with better imaging and soundstaging.  I'm considering two options, both of which would cost me about $600:

1:  Keep the RPM 1, replace the stock Ortofon 2M Red cartridge with Hana EH and add an isolation platform that would allow me to better level the turntable.

2:  Sell the RPM 1 and replace with a stock Pro-Ject Debut Pro, which ships with a Sumiko Ranier cartridge.  The Debut Pro has adjustable feet, which would make the isolation platform less vital (either TT will sit on a pretty solid wooden credenza).

Any thoughts on which path is best?  Basically the question is whether upgrading the RPM 1 or moving to a Debut Pro will yield better sound.   



The Hana EH is an elliptical stylus, Moving Coil, specs nothing special

Do yourself a favor and buy a cartridge with an advanced stylus shape: linear contact; micro linear; SAS, Gyger ... 

MM or MC with advanced stylus. Existing is MM Elliptical. New MC if prepared to get proper SUT with proper x factor and impedance.

any advanced stylus shape, MM or MC will be superior to an elliptical. They cost more, however, they have longer life, therefore overall, you get better performance for not much more at all.

This explains various stylus shapes easily

Now: better imaging: remember, center is phantom, created solely by L/R matching volumes. A cartridge with tight channel balance will do a better job of locating anything anywhere as intended.

Wide channel separation combined with tight center balance will yield better imaging than you are used to.

Here is a very good affordable MM cartridge with advanced stylus, wide separation, and tight center balance:

compare to your present 2M red specs



Wide Channel Separation, on some recordings, can be too wide.

Toe-In. I recommend the ability to adjust toe-in: for single centered listener; in a bit more for single listener IF too wide imaging, and toe-in much more for two listeners, each off-center. Toe-in whereby the left person is closer to the left speaker, but the right speaker is facing them; opposite right listener is closer to right speaker but the left speaker aimed more directly. Both listeners retain decent L/C/R imaging that way.

Just enough 'slip' material relative to speaker weight to allow movement.

As for TT, I do not like any of this level TT with a fixed headshell.

Easy for the maker to pre-align it, works out of the box for anyone with zero alignment skills or tools.

However, any worn stylus cartridge replacement; any upgrade like you are intending, any cartridge change will require basic alignment skills, several inexpensive tools.

A dealer, a friend, and I certainly recommend you eventually learn and acquire the simple tools and skills for the rest of your life.

A removable headshell gives you the freedom to have MM stereo; MC Stereo; Mono; Elliptical; Advanced Stylus, as you may 'grow into' as your vinyl interest develops. This freedom of flexibility is far more important than the 'fixed is better than removable' bs. SME's, others, world renowned, were removable headshells. They became famous with that feature.

Whoever introduced the fixed headshell might have saved themselves some money but they didn't do anyone else any favours.

Another classic case of manufacturers selling folks short whilst telling them it was for their own good.

If you must upgrade then Option 1 seems better to me.

All turntables benefit from better isolation - some of them incredibly so.

Especially when as you say, "either TT will sit on a pretty solid wooden credenza".

If that doesn't satisfy you then you'll need to save up for something substantially better.

Decks such as the Technics SL1200GR or Rega 8 will also benefit from an improved isolation platform.

The best form of turntable isolation is probably another question altogether possibly involving the use of accerometers and stethoscopes.


Whatever you do, it's going thru whatever phonostage used. If it's the internal of an integrated amp, time to max the budget for a proper standalone unit to maximize the existing setup. You can then decide on a cart.

Now your long game is in motion-transfer that to future table.

Avoid getting caught up in accessories-do that with the next setup.

@elliottbnewcombjr I need to learn these cartridge/tonearm setup skills, and acquire the tools you speak of. Would you, or others, be able to point me to a resource, and perhaps suggest the tools I should consider and acquire. I’m able to afford good tools. I feel like I’ve got at least one cartridge that’s way out of alignment, as I installed it myself, …when it hits the record, it often jumps to the right, off the platter. 

Thanks, I hope this doesn’t hijack the thread.

I’m a bargain hunter, I say ’inexpensive’ tools and these are them:

I put this together for a friend, I hope the links are still good



$15. ALIGNMENT DISC: one side: Lines for Overhang and Two NULL Points

ANTI-SKATE: other blank side: spin platter manually, adjust anti-skate control while watching,aps,120&sr=8-2-spons&psc=1

$14. TRACKING FORCE, Digital Scale,aps,67&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1

$10. AZIMUTH and VTA Alignment Block: clear actylic with Grid of Lines

$6. MAGNIFYING MIRROR to VIEW STYLUS (two). 3-1/2” DIAMETER, One: 10X; One 20x + 2 tweezers

$11. FLAT MIRROR to View Azimuth Reflection 4” X 6” X 3MM. Thickness of LP, place under the stylus, view from front, any deviation from straight will be reflected ‘opposite’.

$13. STYLUS CLEANING FLUID, Audio Technica

  1. CLEAN LPs

$50. MANUAL LP WASH SYSTEM (do batches of 10)

$9. INFANT SCALP SCRUBB BRUSHES (3). Scrub Dirty LP’s Vigotously, then rinse in above system,aps,77&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&smid=A2W58AXSS61W30

$13. OVERSIZED EYEGLASS CLOTHS, Dust LP ONLY IF Needed (13 pack). I DO NOT use a brush anymore. Place LP on platter, just lay cloth on, spin platter by hand while very lightly pulling cloth off the edge to remove surface dust, not push anything down into the grooves.


$6. ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL, 91%, 1 Quart


$14. STYLUS BRUSH, Carbon Fiber, Non-Slip Textured Handle,aps,65&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1



$13. ISOLATION PADS below Turntable, I wrapped my edges with black tape)

$__ CENTER WEIGHT, Disc Stabilizer. Size/Weight/Style Vary, how strong is your motor?



Rulers $6. Pair of Metal Rulers, mm and inches, starts on the edge of the ruler


$31. Finally, Removable Headshell with Azimuth Adjustment

You adjust it ONCE for your arm’s fitting which may be ’off’. Then, each time you use that headshell in that arm: before you tighten the headshell into the arm, there is very minor movement possible, you snug it up, double check it’s azimuth with the mirror, fully tighten

Some arms, like the Micro Seiki 505 have an adjustment of the fitting IN the arm, a very nice feature. I installed two of these, standard and long on a Luxman TT for a friend. Magnificent engineering

This one has unique base, others a simple hole and bolt below.

Suppose you do not want to add weight on your platter, i.e. the Luxman Motor lifts the platter to reduce bearing wear.

These rubber gizmos hold reels on tape recorders. They are the same diameter as the TT platter spindle

You press them down, they stay holding the center and pull off easily when done.


you want one’s with flexibility, not dried out that have become rigid/brittle.

Above just for a visual example.

To actually try and answer the OP's question. Keep your current table for now. If you have a phono preamp that can do Moving Coil, the Hana is a nice option. If not, look to the Sumiko or Nagaoka carts.

That Ortofon Red is your issue, it's not that special, especially for what they charge. The one nice thing you could do, and save yourself a couple of bucks, is just to upgrade the stylus to their Blue or Bronze since the "engine" is the same.


The Bronze engine is different…it uses silver plated wire, and the cost difference is trivial between stylus and cartridge, so get the whole Bronze. I too recommend keeping the RPM1 and addressing you upgrade itch with a cartridge. For under $500, the Bronze is where I’d go. The “Clever Clamp” is another record clamp suitable for your Table.
for isolation and leveling: a set of 3 Funk Firm Boing feet should screw into the threads used by Pro-Ject for the stock feet  


I’d be careful with footers and isolation platforms especially when it comes to turntables. It’s very easy to make things worse.
I suggest you focus on phono stage and cartridge. The Hana E series is very good as long as it matches with your table and your phono stage isn’t a bottleneck. 

Thanks, everyone.  I'm using the phonostage that's built into my NAD DAC/preamp, which I imagine may not be able to fully take advantage of a cartridge like the Hana EH.  I'm thinking of keeping things simple and just replacing the Ortofon 2M Red with a Sumiko Ranier ($150) to get a warmer, fuller sound.  I'd then wait to upgrade TT or anything else until I have a lot more to spend.