Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

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junglungs
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Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by junglungs » 05 Nov 2018 17:11

Longtime lurker, first time poster here. Thank you in advance to anyone who reads this and can offer advice.

I'm in the market for a turntable and, although I've been a record collector for 20+ years, I have little to no knowledge of hardware, especially audiophile level gear. I'm mainly looking for something reliable, which will go easy on my records, preferably in the $300-400 range. I'm a pretty serious listener, but I'm unsure whether to go the used vintage route or to get something entry-level audiophile. Craigslist is not really a good option for where I live, so it's got to be online, although I'm wary of eBay so I'm mainly looking at online dealers and forums that have established reputations.

These TTs have caught my eye recently:

Used Technics SL-DD22, approx $200, refurbished by an extremely reputable company specializing in Technics. Not so keen on automatic TTs, but I could live with it, and besides it's way below my price range.

or

Used Project Xpression mk lll, approx $350, again a reputable dealer, but a totally different type of TT and sound, I know. I'm mainly just hesitant to buy a new entry-level audiophile TT because of some bad reviews I've read about seemingly low QC for the lower grade Regas, Music Halls, etc.

Can anyone offer some advice/insight on what might be the better move here?


By the way, the rest of my setup is a Marantz SR2000 going through some giant, vintage Kenwoods (which will be replaced later by some newer, more modest bookshelf speakers, most likely). My previous TT was a Technics 1200 with Shure White Label, and I just loved its reliability and flexibility, but I think another 1200 is out of my price range now.

I really, truly appreciate any and all responses.

lbls1
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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by lbls1 » 05 Nov 2018 19:42

The best way to approach your choices would be to have a live demonstration between the brands/types and determine which model would be the best. This would normally apply to almost anything one would want to select as an item to purchase.

What is unique about this present time is that the audio genre doesn't offer many opportunities to sample objects live. My best abridged advice is to go with your own likes. Use your interests and then research the good and not so good about each choice, and then determine which model will give you the best performance. You can use review comments from various sources, but you will need to use your own judgment to determine which model you will really want. Even with the best advice and research, equipment purchasing still has inherent risks. Take a chance....and enjoy.

62vauxhall
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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by 62vauxhall » 05 Nov 2018 19:56

I grew up with the what now the vintage turntables. Maybe it's esthetics or "feel" but none of the newer offerings do anything for me. Not viewing them from a technical aspect, just a user appreciation one.

I tried a Rega once, an early one (that might even be considered vintage by now) but got rid of it within days. Not one thing inspired me to keep it and it had an SME 3009 arm with a damping fluid trough.

There was no satisfaction or "joy" in using it.

Depends on how you look at things I guess. To me, form and function must be together rather than function by itself.

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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by royal_mile » 05 Nov 2018 20:58

I would go for a vintage turntable, you'll get a really nice one at your budget. My shortlist would include models made between 1974 and 1980 including the Technics SL1500 Mk1, Hitachi HT-550, Dual 606, Pioneer PL-510, Sansui SR-525, Pioneer PL518 all nicely made and great value.

The Technics SLDD22 is ok but way overpriced at $200, I'd pass on that one.

Good luck with your search.

Steve

lbls1
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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by lbls1 » 06 Nov 2018 02:59

I have to agree with the posters, in that a vintage turntable would make an excellent buy. Turntable quality was at its best during the height of the genre, which was about 40 years ago. Sadly you may find that some of the newer crafts may pale (inferior) in quality as compared with the vintage turntables. I believe the reasoning is that vinyl/turntables have had a recent re-surgence in interest, but because the genre is relatively small and recent, that the manufacturers haven't produced quality crafts in the volume and affordable prices as the leading tt manufacturers from decades past.

My previous post still stands, while vintage crafts are great, shop around and decide which is best for your needs.

Colin Shurety
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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by Colin Shurety » 06 Nov 2018 12:34

Having become thoroughly hooked on vinyl I started to look into the used turntable market as the new, so called, audiofile turntables looked really lightweight by comparision. In addition, there seemed to be some real engineering masterpieces lurking in the classified ads and the on-line auction sites. One thing I noted is that during the period before the arrival of the CD most HiFi manufacturers had a range of turntables to suit all pockets, more importantly, all had a flagship turntable. Year on year these flagships got better and better until the arrival of the CD.

Of all the high end, manual, direct drive turntables the Sansui SR-525 is probably the best value for money. The build quality of the SR-525 is superb, the quality of the switchgear is wonderful, everything moves with fluid smoothness, the way the turntable gathers speed echoes the smoothness of the controls. The speed control is astonishing. In addition, the tonearm is visually stunning and beautifully made and can support some seriously high end cartridges, so up-grading in the furure should not be a problem.

junglungs
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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by junglungs » 08 Nov 2018 02:14

Thanks to all for the insightful and thoughtful replies. I'm a bit surprised that no one spoke up in favor of the audiophile-style tables. But I guess it kind of supports my own gut feeling, that I'm more of a vintage kind of person.

Today I stopped by a local audio store and checked out their Music Halls, and just didn't feel any kind of draw. That was on the way to checking out a Technics SL-B2 that popped up on Craigslist, which right away felt more aesthetically and functionally pleasing. Unfortunately it had some issues and it seemed overpriced ($100), so I had to pass.

I may be better off making a separate post about this (and I tried running some searches already), but could anyone recommend any reliable online dealers of/sales sites for vintage turntables? Recently I've been checking audiogon, us audio mart, and of course the classifieds section of this forum. I also already checked KABUSA, who are selling the SLDD22 I mentioned above (I hope it's kosher to name names). I'd love to know of any other options, whether online-only, or brick and mortars with an online presence.

Again, thanks for everyone's input.

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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by noisefreq » 08 Nov 2018 03:21

Have you been watching the classified adverts here?
There has been several nice TTs that sold on there lately in your price range.
Right now...a newer Thorens TD318mkII for $350.
Another guy has two Duals, a Thorens and a Denon for sale in Canada.
Just keep an eye out...

JoeE SP9
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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by JoeE SP9 » 08 Nov 2018 18:35

I'd buy an U-Turn Orbit custom or an Audio-Technica AT-LP5. I could be happy with either.

We need some honesty here. Many posters here will always suggest vintage anything over new. They will do this even when the OP specifically asks about a new "whatever".

IMO the problem with many of their suggestions is that they're for gear that wasn't all that good in the first place. They always talk about the low cost of vintage gear. It should be low in cost. Much of it is 30 to 40 years old and needs substantial work to function as it did back then. Another issue is availability. A lot of vintage gear worth buying is simply not available or relatively high priced. They will say wait and keep checking CL and Ebay. That's all well and good for someone who has an functional system. It doesn't work for someone who has nothing and wants to hear music right now.

Sure, much of my gear is considered vintage. However I bought it when it was new. I have maintained it to the point where I send my preamp to ARC every couple of years for a full check. Another issue is that a lot of what the vintage uber alles crowd pushes is gear that I was unimpressed with when it was new. This includes just about every receiver. When I bought my first pair of panels (Magnepan MG-1's) in 1976 I quickly learned that most receivers were incapable of adequately driving them. When I moved to esl's in 1983 I changed most to virtually none. I can't recommend any sort of gear that can't drive the speakers I like.

Besides, buying vintage gear is a crapshoot. "It's like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get." In any case by the time you've paid someone to overhaul that vintage piece it's not really cheaper than something new and it still doesn't have a warranty.

Those who do the work themselves are in a different category. They like tinkering with and fixing things. Although I'm capable of building or repairing just about anything. I have no desire to fix anything. I want my gear to work and keep the magic smoke inside.

My advice is to bite the bullet and save (like I did and still do) for what you really want.

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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by Sunwire » 08 Nov 2018 19:01

I see lots of good quality used turntables on ebay between $300 and $400.
The MOST important thing is to be sure the seller knows how to disassemble and pack the turntable properly for shipment.
Many don't.
Don't buy from an inexperienced seller. Feedback should be at least 99% favorable.
DO send a message to the seller asking him for a description of exactly how he plans to pack and ship the turntable.
If they are unresponsive or give a less than thorough reply, don't buy from them.
Go on youtube and search for videos on "how to pack turntable for shipping" and see how it should be done.
You can also search the forum archives here for "packing turntable" or similar words.
If you can find a turntable on ebay or another site that is within driving distance, even better.
I once drove about 7 hours each way for a turntable, but I'll admit there were a couple of other reasons I wanted to make that particular drive. And it was a real bargain price for a really great turntable.
Fully manual turntables are the safest to buy because there are fewer parts to wear out, break or, adjust.
Technics is the safest brand to go with. I haven't seen a bad Technics turntable, yet. But the prices will be higher than for other brands that may be just as good.

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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by lbls1 » 09 Nov 2018 04:44

One poster hit on a good topic. A lot of people will say to go with vintage without describing in detail what its like shopping for and owning a vintage craft. Vintage is in essence a quaint way of saying "used" or perhaps a better analogy, dated. Like I mentioned earlier, that turntable design has been on the outs of major manufacturing and consideration that there hasn't been any significant improvement in design from the height of the genre at around 1976.

The problem with vintage is just that, inherent problems due to age that one will need to consider. Many good vintage crafts may need some type of service or maintenance due to age, and one will need to be prepared to handle this problem. It was a little bit of an eye opener for me, as (I happen to like turntables) both vintage units I bought this year needed service. The bright spot is that once a unit has been repaired or restored to like new, that it will likely perform as well or better than many new units on the market while still being relatively cheaper in cost. In fact, one could be amazed at the performance of a few vintage units despite age.

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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by Mdewitt134 » 12 Nov 2018 01:39

Most everyone on this site has gone through the “new vs vintage” question: personally i’ve Seen many vintage have features just not available on new without spending more than I care to. Each time I spec’d a table I would like it was around $1000... but I kept searching and found an SL1700 mk2 for $160, and love it! I keep seeing 1200 mk2’s on Craigslist around 500, and a nice pioneer pl-530 for 400...

Features I appreciate are s-shaped Tonearms with easily upgraded and swappable headshell/cartridges, heavy plinth & platter standard, and on some tables everything is adjustable, which the entry audiophile are not (like VTA)

Here is a very good site in SC I ran across, great selection of refurbished Technics, not sure he ships but can give an idea of TT prices and features...

https://turntablesbycth.com/

So what happened to your sl-1200? Is it broken or already gone?

junglungs
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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by junglungs » 12 Nov 2018 06:30

Mdewitt134 wrote:
12 Nov 2018 01:39

So what happened to your sl-1200? Is it broken or already gone?
I owned my 1200 while living in Japan and sadly had to sell it before moving back to the States last month. I was even considering buying a flight case and either shipping it home or paying the extra luggage fee just so I wouldn't have to deal with what I'm going through now trying to find a new one (8 years ago I paid the equivalent of only $200 for a used one in Japan, and it never gave me any trouble)... That's a very helpful site though, basically exactly the type of thing I'm looking for, so thank you!
noisefreq wrote:
08 Nov 2018 03:21
Have you been watching the classified adverts here?
There has been several nice TTs that sold on there lately in your price range.
Right now...a newer Thorens TD318mkII for $350.
Another guy has two Duals, a Thorens and a Denon for sale in Canada.
Just keep an eye out...
Yes, I definitely had my eye on that Thorens. Looks really beautiful, just not sure I'm up to dealing with the suspension when it comes time. And I PM'd that fellow in Canada but never heard back...
JoeE SP9 wrote:
08 Nov 2018 18:35
A lot of vintage gear worth buying is simply not available or relatively high priced. They will say wait and keep checking CL and Ebay. That's all well and good for someone who has an functional system. It doesn't work for someone who has nothing and wants to hear music right now.
Pretty much the boat I'm in right now. I am basically waiting for a decent vintage piece to fall into my lap, because I'm a bit nervous to take a risk on something new which might arrive with speed/pitch issues, platter wobble, motor hum, etc. etc., right out of the box...
Sunwire wrote:
08 Nov 2018 19:01
I see lots of good quality used turntables on ebay between $300 and $400.
The MOST important thing is to be sure the seller knows how to disassemble and pack the turntable properly for shipment.
Many don't.
Don't buy from an inexperienced seller. Feedback should be at least 99% favorable.
Excellent advice, but for me personally this time around I refuse to deal with eBay, simply because I don't want the headaches of bidding and incompetent sellers. I'm hoping to stumble across more places like audiogon, us audiomart, or sites like kabusa or the one provided by Mdewitt134 above. Or a reliable brick and mortar in my area.

Which brings me to my next question (again, maybe better suited to its own thread): this may be very naive, but I'm kind of wondering, is there a typical/acceptable markup on used items which a professional audio store has serviced and is selling on their own? For example, someone above said the Technics SL-DD22 being sold for $200 by a very reputable online site was "way overpriced". Or for another example, I recently dropped by a very well-respected audio store in a nearby city, where they were selling a refurbished Technics SL-D2 for $300, which also seemed a bit excessive.

I do realize that parts and labor costs do factor in, as well as the fact that things have really changed with the whole "vinyl is back" trend, but still, how you do really know what is a fair deal these days?

Again, thanks to all for the helpful discussion.

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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by Spinner45 » 12 Nov 2018 08:28

junglungs wrote:
12 Nov 2018 06:30

Which brings me to my next question (again, maybe better suited to its own thread): this may be very naive, but I'm kind of wondering, is there a typical/acceptable markup on used items which a professional audio store has serviced and is selling on their own? For example, someone above said the Technics SL-DD22 being sold for $200 by a very reputable online site was "way overpriced". Or for another example, I recently dropped by a very well-respected audio store in a nearby city, where they were selling a refurbished Technics SL-D2 for $300, which also seemed a bit excessive.

I do realize that parts and labor costs do factor in, as well as the fact that things have really changed with the whole "vinyl is back" trend, but still, how you do really know what is a fair deal these days?

Again, thanks to all for the helpful discussion.
It's 2018, so course prices, inflation, labor rates are going to be different on items today.
As far as "markups" go, if a 1988 Technics DD22 was serviced and selling for $200, that's great.
After all, it originally cost $180.
Factor in if it was to be made today, inflation, etc., you'd pay perhaps a $1000 for the same engineering and quality.
A Technics -D2 originally cost $150 in 1979...
Serviced and selling for $300 is another one not to argue about.
Of course, cosmetic condition of these is important too.

I don't understand those people who complain about "overpriced", they must want to haggle and get "on the cheap".
Those types don't understand product rarity, inflation, or today's servicing costs. (including current parts costs)
A parts seller might charge $25 today for a part costing $2.50 in the 1970's - he's trying to earn a living too.
Try aquiring a dustcover for any turntable these days... hens teeth.
The electric bill for a business today isn't the same as 1980 either...

I say...Ya want something cheap?
Go buy a Crosley crapola.

vinyl master
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Re: Used Vintage vs Used Entry-level Audiophile

Post by vinyl master » 12 Nov 2018 09:25

Spinner45 wrote:
12 Nov 2018 08:28

I say...Ya want something cheap?
Go buy a Crosley crapola.
My Crosley was one of the most expensive ones I own, and I don't even use it! I still kick myself for paying full price for it...That said, a well-serviced vintage model can be worth it, if you don't want the headaches...Of course, I also love to haggle (and if you can do it, why not??? I've been fairly successful at it, but I've always come away in a situation where both seller and I are happy...)...The thrill of finding quality for cheap is a reward unto itself, too, when I realize they're not gonna make these kinds of turntables anymore...

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