Upgrading Guidance for Vinyl based Systems

Due to carrying out a great deal of listening to vinyl replay, we have had the luxury of listening to a vast array of equipment in different permutations. The following information is intended to offer some help and advice on the many options and choices available with regard to upgrading priorities and allocating your hard earned budget.

We are constantly asked questions about upgrade paths along the lines of
"How much should I spend on my cartridge?"
"Is it worth having my arm rewired for a budget turntable?"
"Should I upgrade to the advanced dc motor kit or upgrade the tonearm or turntable?"
"What level of performance does the dc motor kit add to my deck?"

Assessing priorities to upgrade your system is not always easy and so we have tried to provide some guidance from the experience that we have acquired over the years. Much depends on your the level of performance you aspire to, coupled with your future plans (if any) and budget. For this reason the following guidelines are a matter of opinion and judgement.

If you are using a Vinyl front end then the accepted wisdom is to break down your budget approx as follows: Please note that if your system is CD based, then this breakdown is not valid as CD players do not vary in performance anything like as much as turntables.

Vinyl based Replay

Turntable 23%

Tonearm 18% The importance of the arm is explained in tonearm overview

Cartridge 5%

Phono Stage 25% The phono stage accounts for up to 95% of the total amplification in Vinyl based systems

Amplifiers 15%

Speakers 15%

 For more on this topic see Hi-fi-System-Philosophy-and-upgrading

DC Motor Upgrade/ Arm Upgrade/ New Turntable?

Depending on the deck, the dc motor kit will add around £700 GBP worth of performance to most turntables relative to the cost / performance of turntables. This makes it a very good investment - Increasing the performance of a turntable is vastly more effective than cartridge upgrades.

The motor upgrade is usually as effective as upgrading to a Silver tonearm but this depends on the quality of your current turntable motor drive.

Upgrade Comparisons

The upgrades below are scored in terms of performance relative to one another.


Sovereign turntable = 300
Resolution turntable = 270
Calypso = 245
Aurora = 190


Enterprise tonearm = 330
Conqueror tonearm = 280
Illustrious tonearm =190
Encounter tonearm =150
Silver tonearm =130
Linear Flow 2 External Rewire (option for all tonearms) = 65

Fully modified OL1 or Rega RB250 = 86.5

OL1 tonearm = 30
Structural upgrade = 25
Slotted arm tube = 16
Internal rewire = 7
External rewire = 7
Upgraded Phono Plugs = 1.5

Universal dc motor drive upgrade

Standard drive upgrade (complete) = 60
Advanced drive upgrade (complete) = 135
Ultra drive upgrade (complete) = 150
Upgrade transformer (optional add on = 35
DC200 motor (optional add on) = 10


Origin Live Ltd. Unit 5, 362B Spring Road Sholing, Southampton SO19 2PB, UK