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Turntable advice - upto around £3500

Pat Marcus

Active Member
Ive read the recent vinyl 1-2K thread and wondered what my fellow forum vinyl addicts thought about pushing the budget slightly higher.
I reckon I could probably spend up to about £3500 which must include arm but doesn't need to include cartridge or phono stage. I will be using a £1500 Ortofon jubilee MC and my beloved Roksan M1 Caspian Reference Phono SE (big PSU).

I was considering the Vpi scoutmaster signature with SDS but had also though about the Clearaudio Avantgarde magnum or indeed the Master Solution (possibly with one of the upgrades) matched to a Unify tonearm.
Then of course there's the Clearaudio ambient, much loved by the press and the new Roksan Xerxes 20.
Ideally I would like an electronic speed control.
 

Beobloke

Active Member
I believe a Michell Orbe and SME V would be around the £3500 mark, and will go very nicely with your cartridge.
 

Paul Williams

Active Member
Hi Pat

Rather than just list the usual suspects, I thought I'd put down a few of the more interesting Turntables that have caught my eye recently. Obviously these are perhaps a more risky proposition as they won't have the historic pedigree of the like of Linn, Michell, et al, from a UK perspective at least. But then I've found I seem to prefer non mainstream products on the whole. The links are not to preferred dealers, just ones with reasonable info, pics and so on

First up would be the Consonance Droplet LP5 £3k without the arm

http://www.hifidelityaudio.co.uk/turntable_opera-consonance_droplet_lp5.htm

Scheu Analogue “Das Laufwork no1” 3,000euro not UK distribution, but they make Clearaudio look……well, decide for yourself.

http://www.soundscapehifi.com/scheu-das-laufwerk.htm#doppel-laufwerk

Or the Scheu Premier MKII & III at 1,500 to 2,000euro (for 1 or 2 tonearms)

http://www.soundscapehifi.com/scheu-premier.htm#premiermk3

the Scheu Analogue site is

http://www.scheu-analog.de/en/index.htm and their tonearms look interesting as well.

Or how about the Brinkmann Oasis (direct drive:eek: ) £3,500 with arm

http://www.audiosalon.co.uk/brinkmannoasis.html

Off course for this sort of money you are straight into new SME Model 10a, upgraded/spec'd Nottingham Analogue Hyperspace territory, and an endless list of tasty second hand stuff such as an Avid Acutus for £3,500 (no arm, but this would sound great with an RB250 initially)

Anyway thought I'd at least flag up a few 'interesting products':D

Paul
 

dynamic turtle

Active Member
Excellent post, Paul :thumbsup: . Well done for pointing out some of the more esoteric offerings available.

So then Pat, what exactly are you after?

1) Some audio jewellery to impress your mates?
2) The highest possible fidelity, regardless of looks and ease of operation?
3) A solid, reliable, long-term investment that just gets on with the job of playing records without fuss?
4) Something to tide you over until the next upgrade in two years?

Answer honestly, and don't say "1,2 & 3"!

DT
 

Pat Marcus

Active Member
Great responses, thank you.
Call me a wuss but I dont really want anything that isnt source-able through a UK dealer at reasonable proximity to the midlands. Im not a tweaker - this turntable will stay exactly as it and will be the only turntable I ever buy (famous last words).
I DO want to have something that looks at least tolerable but sound must come first - I include the Roksan which to my mind doesnt look beautiful but sounds great. I reject the Avid Volvere and Volvere sequel for looking lovely but being quite incapable of stirring my soul.
Although I like the look of the brinkmann LaGrange I cant afford it and dont like the look of the Oasis, at all.
So in order of priority it goes 3,2,1 but Im not adverse to a piece of jewellry and Id certainly say that a second hand Acutus constitutes that !
I have done some evaluation already and in the final analysis I felt the vpi scoutmaster (non-signtature version) and the roksan both won out over the Michelle Orbe. Incidentally the vpi and Roksan couldnt sound more different from each other but each has certain virtues I love - delicacy and midband fluidity on the vpi and slam and bass on the roksan.
I will read the reviews of the Consonance with interest but suspect it might be too tweaky for me.

More comments please. In AVforums I trust !!
 

Paul Williams

Active Member
Pat Marcus said:
Incidentally the vpi and Roksan couldnt sound more different from each other but each has certain virtues I love - delicacy and midband fluidity on the vpi and slam and bass on the roksan.
I will read the reviews of the Consonance with interest but suspect it might be too tweaky for me.

More comments please. In AVforums I trust !!

I would Audition some of the Nottingham Analogue offerings as they major on musicality - and provide delicacy, midband fluidity, fast and deep bass with pace and slam. That applies to the lowliest horizon upward - just the more you pay the more you get:D They have upgrade options aplenty and matching arms if wanted but work well with others.

SME 10a not an option? Not heard one, but spot on your price range and if it delivers half of what my 20a can, then will give many years of pleasure.

Paul
 

Pat Marcus

Active Member
Hmm. How about an Origin Live Resolution turntable with mk2 Illustrious tonearm ? Have OL improved their quality control. Ive heard criticisms in the past of it being a bit iffy for the price .

Nottingham analogue Hyperspace with a studio mentor arm or, the arm from another brand ?

Keep the advice coming. Most welcome.
 

dynamic turtle

Active Member
There's a very competitively priced Scoutmaster + SDS on eBay at the moment. Whilst this sort of thing should never be rushed decision, I think you should consider the savings you'd make ove the dealer price (£2.5k?) more than compensated here.

Other than that, you are in SME 10a territory, and matched with a IV tonearm, you'd have a fuss-free long-term keeper. It will also hold its value pretty well, in case you get a scary tax return one day ;) . Forgot you had a 20a, Paul. Trés Jealous! What phono stage are you using again?

I would avoid linear tracking tonearms - they can sound amazing, but are difficult to calibrate and maintain (speaking as a Tangent owner). Also, anything made from black acrylic like the Avantgarde Magnum, is going to show dust very easily, and show scratches very easily (speaking as a Pathos owner). I'd go for less-classy looking clear acrylic option on this basis.

Speaking of which, Basis are supposed to have some nice offerings around £3k, as do Acoustic Signature. www.hifiguy.co.uk stocks these brands. Worth checking out his site.

Found a great page full of Clearaudio porn, here's the link: http://www.unitedhomeproducts.com/id140.htm

DT
 

Pat Marcus

Active Member
I had noticed the vpi on ebay and feel compelled. Im not a huge fan of the austere look of the SMEs. Thanks for the hifiguy link I think I will email them. I like the look of both the Basis 2200 and the new Oracle Delphi V.
 

Paul Williams

Active Member
dynamic turtle said:
Other than that, you are in SME 10a territory, and matched with a IV tonearm, you'd have a fuss-free long-term keeper. It will also hold its value pretty well, in case you get a scary tax return one day ;) . Forgot you had a 20a, Paul. Trés Jealous! What phono stage are you using again?

I would avoid linear tracking tonearms - they can sound amazing, but are difficult to calibrate and maintain (speaking as a Tangent owner). DT

Hi DT - still using either the Bottlehead Seduction or the TAG Mclaren PPA20 for phono stage duties. I will also be looking for another turntable some time, but has to be able to take two arms (1 to be a 12" one) to supplement the SME.

As for Linear/parallel arms, some are easier to use than others - has Len Gregory's Conductor air bearing arm reached general production yet? At a target price of £1500 it would be worth a listen.

http://www.sixmoons.com/audioreviews/conductor/conductor.html

Paul
 

dynamic turtle

Active Member
Paul Williams said:
Hi DT - still using either the Bottlehead Seduction or the TAG Mclaren PPA20 for phono stage duties. I will also be looking for another turntable some time, but has to be able to take two arms (1 to be a 12" one) to supplement the SME.

As for Linear/parallel arms, some are easier to use than others - has Len Gregory's Conductor air bearing arm reached general production yet? At a target price of £1500 it would be worth a listen.

http://www.sixmoons.com/audioreviews/conductor/conductor.html

Paul

Why are you planning to sell the SME? Didn't think you were the box-swapping type?

Yeah, an AIR BEARING linear tracker for £1500 sounds very appealing, but the Conductor looks a bit....err.....unfinished. Is he really going to sell it in that state? Needs a bit more finishing & general tidying-up if you ask me.

Six moons seem quite impressed with it though ;)

DT
 

Paul Williams

Active Member
dynamic turtle said:
Why are you planning to sell the SME? Didn't think you were the box-swapping type?

Yeah, an AIR BEARING linear tracker for £1500 sounds very appealing, but the Conductor looks a bit....err.....unfinished. Is he really going to sell it in that state? Needs a bit more finishing & general tidying-up if you ask me.

Six moons seem quite impressed with it though ;)

DT

No shan't be selling the SME, unless I get the chance to upgrade to a '30'.

The review was (I think) of a pre production arm, but I wouldn't expect the a massive upgrade in finish as that's the bit that costs. Still for the price well worth a look/listen.

http://www.soundscapehifi.com/cartridgeman-conductor.htm

Paul
 
A

Abootnoo

Guest
The case for parallel tracker's never seems to have been well proven - there have been some fantastic examples over the years, but most have bitten the dust. I quite fancied an Airtangent years ago, but my PT2 just wallows at the thought of it.

I remember an old argument being that studio's use linear arms to cut masters. If that's the case, do they spend mega-money, or are the cutters of the same dodgy quality of most of the replay arms?

Either way, I'm sticking to my faithful Zeta. If it does have beginning/end of side retrieval issues, they've never been enough for me to give up enjoying the music.
 

Paul Williams

Active Member
Abootnoo said:
The case for parallel tracker's never seems to have been well proven - there have been some fantastic examples over the years, but most have bitten the dust. I quite fancied an Airtangent years ago, but my PT2 just wallows at the thought of it.

I remember an old argument being that studio's use linear arms to cut masters. If that's the case, do they spend mega-money, or are the cutters of the same dodgy quality of most of the replay arms?

Either way, I'm sticking to my faithful Zeta. If it does have beginning/end of side retrieval issues, they've never been enough for me to give up enjoying the music.

I think the case for Parallel tracker has been proven, purely on geometric principles alone (zero distortion across the whole record) and if you ever heard them (when working at anywhere near full potential) they are quite magical compared to any pivot/unipivot. Airtangent still alive and well by the way.

http://www.airtangent.net/main.html

What lets them down is the complexity, set-up requirements, cost and need for cosseting - no fit and forget here. I would love to try the Conductor on my SME and if I was re-buying now would have considered an SME turntable without arm and auditioned this item, as its cheaper than my 'V' even though it doesn't compete on finish, unlike the Airtangent.

In the context of this thread - a Nottingham Analogue Hyperspace and Len Gregory's Conductor air bearing arm would be spot on budget - trouble would be getting them together for audition.

Paul
 

dynamic turtle

Active Member
Paul Williams said:
What lets them down is the complexity, set-up requirements, cost and need for cosseting - no fit and forget here.

Ain't that the truth. :suicide:

Easily the biggest love/hate relationship I've ever had with ANY bit of kit.

Absolutely not for the impatient, or weak of constitution :nono:

I've used a Tangent for six months now and believe me; pivoted tonearms have never seemed so attractive :rolleyes:

DT
 

Pat Marcus

Active Member
Thanks to everyone for their advice. Ive had a few of my questions answered but I guess there just arent that many people out there with widescale experience of this sort of kit at this kind of price point. Has anyone got any recommendations for dealers in the m25 area, midlands or "lower north" that I can try or indeed, any other forums I should look for guidance.
 

dynamic turtle

Active Member
Walrus have the largest selection of turntables, and they're quite friendly. The shop is very dingy & rough around the edges though!

Midland audio exchange carry Rega, VPI & Michell, and quite a few cartridges....
 

Pat Marcus

Active Member
Ive been offered what looks like a very good deal on an Avid Acutus which just about comes into my budget. Its an Ex Dem from a Dealer down south. Ive never read a review of the Acutus that doesnt rate it as anything less than superb and I know that Hifi Choice have given it "best turntable over £3k" award for several years running but what does the kowledgable community think ? At the moment its got a bog standard RB300 on it but Avid reccomend a Dynavector or SME5 as a later upgrade.
 

Paul Williams

Active Member
Pat Marcus said:
Ive been offered what looks like a very good deal on an Avid Acutus which just about comes into my budget. Its an Ex Dem from a Dealer down south. Ive never read a review of the Acutus that doesnt rate it as anything less than superb and I know that Hifi Choice have given it "best turntable over £3k" award for several years running but what does the kowledgable community think ? At the moment its got a bog standard RB300 on it but Avid reccomend a Dynavector or SME5 as a later upgrade.

I've had brief listens to some of the lower priced (non-shiny) Avids and on both instances have found the sound to be good (With SME IV's). I felt the presentation was very fast, made a Linn sound a bit pedestrian:eek: , but still a musical, solid performance although I think lacking a bit of inner detail. Dynavector arms are interesting but very costly compared to SME's and not usually recommended for sprung turntables due to their weight - then again the Acutus is no lightweight itself. But visually I think it would jar with the Avid Acutus, one shinny the other satin, but does style matter. I guess you'd have sometime to decide what arm you wanted and again if you were looking in the Dynavector price range, then most arms would be available to you. Where you going to try and audition the Acutus?

http://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/dynavector507_e.html
http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/1205/dynavector507mkii.htm

Paul
 

dynamic turtle

Active Member
Hi Pat,

Never heard an Acutus myself (well, unless you classify 15 minutes in the Tom Tom room at Heathrow as a listening session? They were using it with an SME V). Certainly looks very pretty and seems to get good reviews. I think the Volvere Sequel looks nicer though. The Acutus is a bit too Cylon for my tastes...

Paul, that Dynavector tonearm looks more like a bit of lab equipment - wow! I have a lot of respect for them. They're one of the only Japanese brands I can think of (along with Stax) that offer good value for money. OK, so their stuff is expensive in absolute terms, but they are cracking vfm, relative to other brands

I'm finding all this talk of superdecks very dangerous btw. I'm looking at these a bit too longingly. Time to lock up the credit card!

DT
 

Pat Marcus

Active Member
Since posting Avid have told me that early next year they plan to introduce a visually and sonically matching Dynavector-style arm at a much more sensible price. So I think I would wait for that and put up with the RB300 for now.
Im not much of a fan of the Volvere or Volvere Sequel. They left me rather cold compared the midband transparency of the vpi scoutmaster, the drive and slam of the Xerxes.10 (now 20) and the big sound of the Orbe SE. All the decks had the same RB300/cartridge combo and this made comparison easy. That said, the Acutus is allegedly in a different league and therefore I am more willing to consider it in isolation. The price is very tempting.
So, should it be Acutus or, bid, bid, bid for the scoutmaster/SDS on ebay ?
 

dynamic turtle

Active Member
Not sure if it's fair to compare a scoutmaster to an acutus - one costs $13k, the other $5k.

I guess with the VPI you have no-nonsense looks, a good tonearm NOW (rather than an RB300 for 6 months), and an upgrade path via the platter ring/clamp and 10/12 inch arms.

Also bear in mind that you'll probably have to pay full RRP for the Avid's new tonearm, which is unlikely to cost under £1500.

DT
 

Paul Williams

Active Member
Pat Marcus said:
So, should it be Acutus or, bid, bid, bid for the scoutmaster/SDS on ebay ?

Personally I don't see the issue, these two decks are worlds apart & the fact you are even considering the Acutus without audition means you're being swayed by its drop dead gorgeous looks, superb finish, high quality material content.........even if you never played a record on it, it would still look oh so good:rotfl: When I was buying my last turntable these just weren't around at such a bargain price, so I ended up with my "no-nonsense looks,.. good tonearm" and no "upgrade path" SME:D

Paul
 

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