Entry level audiophile turntable?

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jason00454
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Entry level audiophile turntable?

Post by jason00454 » 25 Feb 2011 06:47

Hello everyone. I'm new here, and new to quality turntables. I was wondering what some of your opinions are when it comes to entry level audiophile turntables. I've looked at at few from Rega, Music Hall, and Pro-Ject, but they all look so similar, and seem to have similar claims to quality. I would appreciate any advice :)

bastlnut
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Post by bastlnut » 25 Feb 2011 08:20

hallo,

what is your definition audiophile?
what is your budget for a new turntable? with or without tonearm?
thoughts on a cartridge you want to use?
what are you plugging it into?

have you looked at Acoustic Solid? Townshend? Michell? VPI?

regards,
bas

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Post by rkay5 » 25 Feb 2011 08:22

Hi,
Are you only looking at new tables as used is very good place to start.

v1nn1e
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Post by v1nn1e » 25 Feb 2011 11:24

Music Hall are badged Pro-Ject's with some slightly different features as specified by Music Hall. They are the new boys on the block having only been going since the early ~90's-ish.

Rega have been around a long time and in the UK were always considered the budget standard for audiophile entry-level with the Planar 2. Their nearest competitor was Dual with their classic 505 (in various marks). Since the vinyl resurgence of recent years (decades?) Rega have introduced some much higher-end TT's, and arms as well.

Going on from there you have Thorens who have also been going a long time and so you can get classic older decks like the 125/150/160 as well as their newer range. Then there was Dunlop Systemdek who made some models that could have been considered a step-up from the basic Rega's.

There are a plethora of Japanese mainstream manufacturers who all made TTs - Pioneer, JVC and one of the most popular, Technics. You may find one of these most easily, although I don't know which models might be considered audiophile.

Best not to judge a book by its cover - the essentials to check are the motor, bearing, platter and arm.

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Post by LousyTourist » 25 Feb 2011 14:20

If you're completely new, it is sometimes advisable to find a good hifi dealer and buy what they have, including setup. Sorry to say you'll be paying 2 to 3 times what the gear is worth that way but unless you're either willing to learn or mechanically inclined going used can be problematic. Not to mention that you're unlikely to find some farmer out there with a good deck, so you'll be having it shipped, which often breaks turntables beyond repair.

Of course you'd have to go to Des Moines or Cedar Rapids perhaps to find a dealer but you can at least drive it home yourself that way.

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Post by avole » 25 Feb 2011 15:10

If you're only looking at new then the Rega P3-24 is the place to start looking. Pro-ject start being OK at the Xpression level or above. Don't know Music Hall.

Don't forget to factor in the price of the cartridge - Denon DL103 or 110 if you need higher output, Grado Red or above, Audio Technical AT120E are good entry points.

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Post by cats squirrel » 25 Feb 2011 15:36

I'm having problems reconciling 'entry level' and 'audiophile', the latter suggesting something major (expensive).

Maybe a good place to get views on what is understood as entry level, mid priced, audiophile and whatever. And is it value based or sound quality based, and who decides, anyway (probably the magazines!).

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Post by gfong » 25 Feb 2011 16:44

The brands that you have mentioned, all have entry level and higher end tables. Depends on what features you want, sound quality you are looking for etc.
Also depends on what you are willing to spend on a table.

flavio81

Re: Entry level audiophile turntable?

Post by flavio81 » 25 Feb 2011 21:43

jason00454 wrote:Hello everyone. I'm new here, and new to quality turntables. I was wondering what some of your opinions are when it comes to entry level audiophile turntables. I've looked at at few from Rega, Music Hall, and Pro-Ject, but they all look so similar, and seem to have similar claims to quality. I would appreciate any advice :)
For having a bona fide, currently-in-production "audiophile" deck, you need to spend some serious money. I'm afraid "entry level audiophile" is nonexisting these days; the budget tables of the "audiophile" brands you list above are not good enough to be labeled "audiophile".

My opinion is that you get far better quality for the money if you go for an older hi-quality deck (example: A thorens TD125).

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Post by jason00454 » 26 Feb 2011 01:54

Wow... thank you for all of the info and advise. It will definitely be helpful. I'll try to answer your questions about this.

I'm looking for a machine that's quiet (motor), reliable, easy on my records, made from quality components, and of course.. I want it to sound good. I'm looking for warmth, detail, and balance across the frequency spectrum. I am on a budget, so this why I was looking for what they call an "entry level audiophile player". I agree with you that these terms seem to conflict with each other. Though I also think it is possible to get good sound out of more affordable equipment these days.

After all of your help, I'm thinking of looking for a used player. I'm guessing I'll be able to find something of higher quality for less money. I'm going to be connecting it to my harman/kardon HK3390. So that probably gives you an idea of my price range.

Any thoughts on a Technics SL-1900, or an MCS 6601?

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Post by bastlnut » 26 Feb 2011 10:13

jason00454 wrote:.........
Any thoughts on a Technics SL-1900, or an MCS 6601?
hallo,

that is really low budget equipment.
you will need to up the ante for something halfway decent.
look for a JVC something, maybe with a QL in the name.
a Kenwood with 'stone' or corian plinth.
you will do very well with an Acoustic Research....AR for short.
you may find a Thorens TD 160, 165, 145, 146
a Technics like the 1300 or 1600. the 1900 is cheap, light and plastic.
take your time and ask questions here.

regards,
bas

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Post by cipriano » 26 Feb 2011 11:46

Jason00454,
I was in the same situation as you recently. I looked at MH, Pro-Ject and Rega. But I eventually decided to go with a refreshed Dual from fixmydual.com. More character, more choices such as direct drive, idler, belt, 12" or 10" platter. New wood base and a new smoke colored dustcover. He'll hook you up with a quality cartridge and stylus and he knows how to ship a TT without any damage. Plus he is in Iowa so you could probably get a table overnight with regular shipping rate. I purchased a 1228 and I'm glad I didn't go with a Rega or Pro-Ject. $100 less than the Debut III as well!

rho
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Post by rho » 26 Feb 2011 13:03

Those Duals are often forgotten. Surely enjoyable TTs for the money.
If you are in for some upgrades later a TD1xx might be the better option, but if you just want to keep it stock a good Dual might be even the better choice.
I went for a CS-704 as my first real TT. I then went for a TD166 and a TD147. I have to say that it didn't feel as a real big step forward.
But those TD's can be tweaked a lot more.

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Post by avole » 26 Feb 2011 14:03

There's also the Technics SL12xx through to SL18xx which are worth considering, especially in the Mk II versions.

The ARs are good turntables for the money, as are some of the lesser known British decks like Ariston, STD, Systemdek, CJ Walker.

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Post by pivot » 26 Feb 2011 16:40

avole wrote:There's also the Technics SL12xx through to SL18xx which are worth considering, especially in the Mk II versions.

The ARs are good turntables for the money, as are some of the lesser known British decks like Ariston, STD, Systemdek, CJ Walker.
A point might be made that a "tweekable" used deck that one can add upgrades to - and parts are plentiful for.

To repeat posters who have gone before:

To the good list above I might add Thorens 150, 125, 160 or 145.

Early samples of Linn can be considered entry level but the upgrades can be steep money.

Rega P2 and up can be tweekable too.

Kenwood 500 series direct drives seem to go for little money comparied to the value. I am sure there are other examples.

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