Advice on starter vinyl HiFi setup please!


Novice Member

I'm a newcomer to vinyl and HiFi, and looking to get my partner an entry-level second-hand set-up for her vinyl collection of rock, pop, reggae and jazz. Our room is about 8mx6m with a v high ceiling.

My budget is ideally around 500GBP (900USD), and I'm considering something like the following, second hand, via online auction websites:

Technics sl1210 Mk II (c. 350GBP)
Pioneer A400 (c. 150GBP)
and some cheap speakers initially, maybe the Wharfedale Diamond 9.0 (60GBP)
or the Mission 751 for 160GBP

Am I making any major mistakes with this lot? Any other kit I ought to be considering? My thinking was that I could upgrade amp and speakers over a period of time, but prices seem to be rising on the Technics, I suppose because it's out of production, so I thought that would be the bit to get decent quality straight away.

Any advice and help would be most welcome!

The setup


Distinguished Member
So, in summation, you have about £600 to £700 to spend on a stereo system with amp, speakers, and turntable ... right?

If not specifically what is your budget?

You have not make any mistakes because it is all down to personal preference. If that system is your preference, then it is perfect. But I will say that it is long on turntable and short on speakers.

Also, it seems you are focused on USED equipment. Fine, if that is your preference.

Let me try an alternative -

£325/ea = Project Debut Carbon with Ortofon 2M Red cartridge
£240/ea = Yamaha AS500 Integrated Amp with 85w/ch, with PHONO IN
£565 = Total

That cutting it a bit lean, but for speakers, consider these just to get things started -

£238/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 122, 6.5" driver, 40hz
£180/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 121, 5" driver, 45hz

Alternates -

£250/pr = Monitor Audio BX2, 6.5" driver
£199/pr = Monitor Audio BX1, 5" driver

The above system with the Diamond 122 would be a substantial £803, but that is all new equipment, Full warranty, all highly rated, a powerful amp, and speaker with pretty deep bass response for bookshelf.

Project Debut Carbon Turntable With Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge - Superfi

Yamaha AS500 Amplifier - Superfi

Wharfedale Diamond 122 Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

Wharfedale Diamond 121 Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

Monitor Audio Bronze BX2 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

Monitor Audio Bronze BX1 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

All this equipment is very common and available from 100's of sources, sometimes at better prices. So it pays to do a Google-UK Shopping search to see if you can find a dealer near you or if you can find a better price.

Also these aren't the only choices but the represent very good value in very good equipment for the money.



Novice Member
Hi Steve/Bluewizard,

Thanks so much for your really helpful and full reply. You're right that I'm getting mission creep on the prices! 700 would be fine if it's substantially better than 500! And yes, stereo: amp, turntable, speakers.

My perception from reviews has been that you get better value from second hand, and I tend to be willing to risk the lack of warrantee. The turntable is the bit which is scariest because of all the moving parts, but the Technics floods the internet with spare parts at good value, and has a very good rep for robustness.

I was looking into the Pro-ject Debut before and seeing it getting reviewed as being quite a thin sound, especially compared to the Technics, so for much the same price I'm happy to risk used. Is that not right?

I really like your amp and speaker recommendations. Does anyone know of good older versions of the Diamond 122s or the Audio Bronze that would be worth a look second hand?

Thanks for your help!



Distinguished Member
Likely the problem with the Project Debut and especially so the previous Debut III was the generic OM05 cartridge. It is OK, but worth about £30. The New Project Debut Carbon comes with an £80 Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. The 2M Red and the entire 2M series are all highly rated. Allegedly smooth and balanced.

The Technics turntables are very durable and highly desirable. But they are perhaps not the best for someone on tight budget.

Prices vary greatly on the Technics 1210 MKII -

technics 1210 - Google Search

Similarly the Technics 1200 -

technics 1200 - Google Search

But at any price they represent too high a proportion of your limited budget. Even the Project Debut Carbon is to high a proportion of your budget, but that is about as low as a serious vinyl person would want to go. In a sense, with vinyl, there is a minimum standard.

As an alternative, consider this in new equipment -

£325/ea = Project Debut Carbon with Ortofon 2M Red cartridge
£180/ea = Yamaha AS300 Integrated Amp with 60w/ch, with PHONO IN
£505 = Total

Leaving about £200 for speaker. The 5" bass driver Diamond 121 and Monitor Audio BX1 are fine speakers, and both £200 or less. That take you to £700.

Myself, if at all possible, I would recommend more power from the amp and bigger speakers. As listed in my previous post, sadly, that comes close to £800. Still 60w/ch of the AS300 is not tiny, and the 5" Diamond 121 or Monitor Audio BX1 are still very fine great sounding speakers. Stereophile Magazine gave and absolute RAVE review of the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 speakers; one generation behind the current Diamond 121.

Whether you will like the Diamonds or the BX will depend on your personal taste. One might say the Diamond are smooth and slightly laid-back. The BX are a bit crisper in the highs, but also have slightly deeper lows.

The Technics are Direct Drive Turntables, that is the spindle and the platter are mounted directly to the motor. This is great for DJs as they can 'scratch' without concern of damaging the belt. But Direct Drive are rare and expensive.

Further if you buy a Technics Direct Drive that was used for DJ purposes, it probably has the wrong kind of cartridge or at least the wrong kind of Stylus. DJ's typical use Conical stylus because the angle of the tonearm to the groove doesn't matter. It presents the same profile to the groove regardless of the angle.

However, for serious high fidelity music listening you want an elliptical cartridge that can pull much finer detail from the grooves. An Elliptical cartridge is more critical about alignment, but there is an advantage in sound to that more precise alignment.

In short, if you get a DJ turntable you will likely need a new cartridge or at bare minimum depending on the cartridge it has, you will need to switch to an elliptical stylus (needle).

Yes, used can be very high value, but you have to know what you are doing. You need pretty advanced knowledge of equipment to know what might be worthwhile, and you have to have a very strong instinct about whether the seller can be trusts. Now the seller might not try to rip you off, instead he may just be a clueless ham-fisted clod.

Though in all fairness, a majority of used purchases work out fine. Just not as fine as buying new equipment.



Novice Member
Hi Steve/bluewizard,

Thanks again for all your advice. After more review reading I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with your new-buy recommendations:

Project debut w ortofon
Yamaha AS500
Diamond 122

If you've patience for three more beginner's questions, I'm nearly there now!

I'm guessing these come with power cables but not connection cables between them? What cables do I need to link it all up? How much is it worth spending not to spoil the ship for a ha'peth of tar?

With many thanks for all your help. I can't wait to get some proper music sound going after years of laptop speakers etc!


Distinguished Member
Everything that needs a Power Cable will have a Power Cable.

I suspect the turntable will come with interconnect cables as they tend to be somewhat unique.

So, all you will need it Speaker Wire. How much you want to spend, depends on available budget, but I would suggest you don't need more than common Twin Lead speaker wire.

The QED 79 Strand at 2.5mm² is about £2/meter. More if you want some kind of terminations on the ends. Something like Spade Connectors or Banana Plugs. Though terminations need not cost a fortune.

So, two 3 meter cables would be about £12 total with no terminations.



Novice Member
Thanks for all your help, Steve/Bluewizard. It's all here and we've been playing a variety of things on it for a number of days, very happily! Beautiful rich sound in the mid and upper end. Am about to start a new thread on subwoofers...

Really thrilled to be getting the sound quality of Hi Fi, though, after years of tiny, tinny speakers.

Thank you!

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