Turntable system for a small room with on-wall speakers

Rick Robinson

Standard Member
Hi,

As a 50th birthday present to myself, I’m replacing the cobbled-together separates system I’ve had for the past 20 years, which includes my Dad’s 40-year old Technics SL-3300. I’m primarily concerned with a system that will sound great with my collection of vinyl.

I’d really appreciate any advice on the components I’m considering, as I’m facing a number of constraints in my setup.

My listening space is a study about 2.5m wide and 5m long; the speakers will need to be wall mounted on the sides of one of the 2.5m walls, facing down the 5m length; there is a window between them. The separates will sit on an Atacama Equinox stand just below the right speaker (this has been my setup for years, and thankfully doesn’t generate any noticeable feedback between the turntable and the amplifiers).

Because my “study” also contains a model railway as well as the desk I work at, there are no other placement options.

I’m looking to replace my turntable, amp, and speakers. As well as the left and right speakers, I’m wondering whether a sub-woofer would complement the bass of the wall-mounted left and right speakers - my current setup uses Monitor Audio Radius speakers for left and right, coupled with a Monitor Audio subwoofer which very noticeably fills out the bass. They’re remnants of a surround-sound system rather than having been chosen as a hi-fi for listening to music.

I’m willing to spend between £2000 and £4000 altogether. The reason for such a wide spread is that I’d be delighted to spend £4000 on a really amazing system; but am wondering if there are components at that price that would really work well in the space that I have.

For example, for a (roughly) £2000 budget, I could go for a Rega Planar 3, Rega Brio amp and Dali Oberon speakers that are specifically designed to wall-mount.

Or, I could “go large” with a Rega Planar 6, Rega Elex-R amp, Dali Menuet speakers and REL T7i sub-woofer

If spending all that money on the latter option would be justified, I’d be happy to do it; but if my listening space is too small to justify it, there’s no point.

And equally, I’m sure there are a bunch of other options that I haven’t considered.

In terms of music, my collection runs from classical, jazz and folk through pop and rock to industrial and dance ... but the bulk of my collection and listening time is extreme metal in various forms; so strong dynamics, fast timing and “crunch” are important qualities of sound, as well as the delicacies required elsewhere in my taste (I’m listening to Tippett’s Triple Concerto as I write this). I need a versatile but energetic system!

I’d be very grateful for anyone’s advice on the options I’m looking at, or on others that I haven’t considered,

Thankyou and best regards,

Rick
 

Nckch

Novice Member
I have a full Rega setup, P3, Brio and most recently added the Rega RX1 speakers, the RX1 have a wall bracket option from Rega so should be ok for you.

The combination is great in my living room which is only a bit wider than yours. I would suggest to spend the extra money on the P6 as with the p3 I would definitely add the Neo power supply and Exact cartridge anyway. Also spend Extra on good speaker cables

Give the RX1 a demo they have a great tone and I get no listening fatigue which I experienced with my previous KEF speakers
 

gibbsy

Moderator
There is a fair step up from the Brio to the Elex, both in power output and cost. The Brio is a very good amp and in a small space do you really need it. It would be easy to go and get a audition of both Rega models at a dealers.

The Brio comes with a headphone circuit whereas the Elex doesn't have that onboard. Only mention it if you do intend to use headphones. I really like Rega amps being the owner of an Elicit-R.

If you go down the route of an all, or majority Rega purchase then ask the dealer to throw in some speaker cables to sweeten the deal. If you don't ask you don't get. No need to spend a fortune of cables as long as it OFC. Of all things in a set up cables are the most benign and have no influence on the finished sound at all.
 

Rick Robinson

Standard Member
Hi both,

Thanks for your advice, really helpful. I hadn’t considered the Rega speakers, I’ll have a look at them. Any thoughts on whether they’d benefit from the subwoofer?

Regarding the amp, I certainly don’t need the extra power of the Elex-R, it was more a case of whether it would do a better job of separating out the instruments on the soundstage or reproducing their tone?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Rega speakers often go under the radar and as they are from the same company you have to assume that there is some kind of synergy of the various Rega elements. Whether you feel the need for a sub is something for the future and may be a consideration for any standmount that you choose. Getting one with a Neutrik connection for a high level input makes it fairly easy. REL and BK both use this system for their high level inputs.

One of the reasons I went with Rega was it's brilliant bass control of my speakers and as such I don't feel the need for a sub as my standmounts go deep enough for me. Soundstage, really dependent on the source, can be very good indeed with Rega. My poor old Elicit has had a hammering over lockdown, love it.
 

zombionicdoom

Active Member
My advice would be to take your favourite and most extreme punishing heavy vinyl and go and have a listen at a dealers. Of all of the music you’re likely to listen to if you can get the heavy stuff sounding really good the rest will all fall into place! 🤘😁💥

Any good dealer will be more than willing to get a couple of systems up and running for you. I think it’s sound advice going for a higher level record player and cartridge, I love my RP3 but if you can push it a bit then that’s the area I’d look at. I highly recommend the separate speed box and power supply for Rega record players too.

A well set up sub can be fantastic, I’ve seen great demo’s with REL subs and a neutrik connection however I think you’ll have more than enough bass with some of the components you’ve mentioned so that could be good for a future upgrade if you get the itch and Napalm Death aren’t quite tearing your face off hard enough!
 

Rick Robinson

Standard Member
Thanks again; I like the sound of the all-Rega setup, and they’d be more flexible than the Dali on-wall speakers if we move and the room situation changes; and I reckon I’ll take the advice to get the speakers first and think about a subwoofer later - I can always try my existing monitor audio sub and see what that sounds like.

>> if you can get the heavy stuff sounding really good the rest will all fall into place!

Haha that sounds like a plan! I do indeed have an original copy of “Scum” and (tiny claim to fame) once mixed my band’s demo tape in the same Selly Oak studio Napalm Death recorded it in ;-). I’ll pair it up with some early Celtic Frost and see how well they do with the guitar tone!

Next step is to find a dealer with some of this stuff in stock and give it a try. Thanks again!
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Of all of the music you’re likely to listen to if you can get the heavy stuff sounding really good the rest will all fall into place! 🤘😁💥
I always take a James Taylor album to my auditions. Am I missing something. :)

Take music with you that you are very familiar with and that covers a variety of audio. Metal tends to be loud, I believe. I always take Jethro Tull Songs From the Wood the Steven Wilson remix with me as it is a superb recording with great soundstage. Tull after all did win a Grammy for Best Heavy Metal album, who would have though, the flute, a heavy metal instrument.

The second album I always take is Joni Mitchells mesmeric Blue album. Again a great recording and any amp and speaker combination that can contain her high notes is well worth considering.

I do however think that my recommendations may be falling onto deaf ears.;)
 

zombionicdoom

Active Member
Haha that sounds like a plan! I do indeed have an original copy of “Scum” and (tiny claim to fame) once mixed my band’s demo tape in the same Selly Oak studio Napalm Death recorded it in ;-). I’ll pair it up with some early Celtic Frost and see how well they do with the guitar tone!
Very nice 👍
I always take a James Taylor album to my auditions. Am I missing something. :)
I think you make a very good point of taking what you know.
In all seriousness though taking along heavy music really is a great way to test out a system. I have some go to records that actually sound very bad on vinyl! Baroness - Yellow & Green is a great heavy rock album but the mastering on my green vinyl is horrible, I take it along because I know if it sounds good, we’re getting somewhere. It’s the same with Doomriders - Darkness Come Alive, it’s a dense and heavy hardcore record but if I play that and the soundstage opens up
it’s a really good sign, and it sounds just horrible, flat and turgid on bad systems. Now I know that if those two records are sounding anything like halfway decent I can break out my Baroness - Red Album which is a beautifully mastered vinyl record and it’s going to sound absolutely banging. Then it’s Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks another gorgeous mastering job with a huge soundstage. If I’m happy with all of those I know that anything I throw at it is going to sound great regardless of genre. In my experience heavy metal and all of its many sub genres are really really unforgiving when it comes to vinyl so it’s a great way to put a system through it’s paces.
@Rick Robinson I actually took along Celtic Frost - Monotheist to the last demo I had when I bought my Audiolab. The guitar tone on Progeny was absolutely searing!! Such a well mastered vinyl, one to pick up if you don’t have it. 😉 The only downside is I ordered my amp on 1st July and it still hasn’t arrived thanks to this accursed worldwide pandemic, still, it’s my birthday in a couple of weeks so fingers crossed for then 🤞 And fingers crossed that whatever you decide upon it’s in stock. 😁
 

Rick Robinson

Standard Member
What a small world ... yep, I’ve got Monotheist too, a real return to form at last! I’ve also got the Steve Wilson remix of Aqualung :)

@gibbsy In truth I’ll take a mix along, definitely the heavier stuff as that’s what I listen to most, probably the re-engineered Killing Technology by Voivod as it’s a lovely remaster of some really fast, chaotic, complex stuff; but also some Tom Waits for variety, the Bartok string quartets for the tone of the stringed instruments and Pictures at an Exhibition for something grand and orchestral.

@zombieonicdoom Your points about taking some poor-sounding records and some with good sound stages are really helpful - my original pressing of Aqualung has a rubbish soundstage so that might be one to try too.

The staff in these places must have some patience!
 

gibbsy

Moderator
my original pressing of Aqualung
Bought that the day it hit the shops now lying idle in a pile of other vinyls. The Steven Wilson remix on CD will slay it, does open it up somewhat and is much more dynamic. Wilson has certainly done wonders for all the Tull albums he's worked on.

Don't know any of the metal albums you've mentioned my genre really being the singer songwriter and folk rock and there some really good SACD releases available there.
 

zombionicdoom

Active Member
The staff in these places must have some patience!

They certainly do, another good reason for a separate dem room.
Bought that the day it hit the shops now lying idle in a pile of other vinyls. The Steven Wilson remix on CD will slay it, does open it up somewhat and is much more dynamic. Wilson has certainly done wonders for all the Tull albums he's worked on.

Don't know any of the metal albums you've mentioned my genre really being the singer songwriter and folk rock and there some really good SACD releases available there.
I’m sure I’ve got Aqualung in a record case in the loft, I’ll have to dig it out, give it a clean and a listen. Saying that, it may well be Songs from the Wood.
You’re certainly right @gibbsy CD’s do for the most part sound much better than vinyl (I do have a few exceptions I can think of) and I don’t doubt SACD goes further to that end. However, there’s something to do with the process of vinyl that’s just so nice when you get it right, somewhere between the witchcraft and alchemy of combining the right cartridge, turntable, phono pre-amp, amp, (*coughs*) cables 😉and speakers and cleaning your vinyl records to get it all running smoothly when the needle goes down, it’s very satisfying.

Another thing I’d say about your new system @Rick Robinson is definitely try and emulate how your speakers will respond when mounted on/near walls. A very sensible idea to consider those Dali speakers. I recently wall mounted mine and whilst they look great they distinctly have a boom when they are in 2ch bypass mode. The room eq on my A/V receiver sorts it out but seeing as I’ve been waiting on the Audiolab to arrive so that I can run my RP3 straight to it I’m more than a little concerned that it’s going to be boomy and the Audiolab will effectively just becomes a power amp for the L/R speakers because I’ll still need the room correction 🤷‍♂️ Still, I’m sure it’ll sound great regardless and my wife is a lot happier which is priceless!! 😃
 

Rick Robinson

Standard Member
Thanks @zombionicdoom - yeah, I’m starting to think about the Dali Opticons; you’ve got me enthused about the RP6 and more expensive Rega amp, so I figure I’ll need speakers that can make the best of it, but th RX1’s are the only Rega’s that look like they’ll wall mount. I’ll have to see if I can find a dealer who’ll help me experiment with a couple of different configurations I guess.

I ignored my vinyl for years and bought a whole stack of CDs, then when Noise released the re-engineered Celtic Frosy early albums, I bought the CDs for the sound and the vinyl for the artwork and booklets - or so I thought; I was blown away by the sound of the vinyl. Might sound a strange thing to say about death metal, but in those days the sound wasn’t so effects-laden as it is now, and the vinyl brought out the tone of the voices and instruments amazingly well compared to the CD. Since then, I’ve been buying vinyl again and thoroughly enjoying it.

Good luck with the AudioLab, I hope your wife appreciates it. Mine banned my music to the study years ago, hence the need for wall-mount speakers!
 

degsy

Active Member

zombionicdoom

Active Member
I ignored my vinyl for years and bought a whole stack of CDs, then when Noise released the re-engineered Celtic Frosy early albums, I bought the CDs for the sound and the vinyl for the artwork and booklets - or so I thought; I was blown away by the sound of the vinyl. Might sound a strange thing to say about death metal, but in those days the sound wasn’t so effects-laden as it is now, and the vinyl brought out the tone of the voices and instruments amazingly well compared to the CD. Since then, I’ve been buying vinyl again and thoroughly enjoying it.

Good luck with the AudioLab, I hope your wife appreciates it. Mine banned my music to the study years ago, hence the need for wall-mount speakers!
I totally get that about the early DM stuff. A well mastered vinyl is a beautiful thing. I can think of a fair few records where the vinyl totally outstrips the CD in every way. The original Tool - Undertow CD was compressed to oblivion and the vinyl is a real revelation It made me so happy, it’s exactly the same with Acid Bath - Pagan Terrorism Tactics. Funnily enough having mentioned it earlier, Baroness - Red Album too, the CD sounds great but they did such a great job on the vinyl that the clarity of the instruments is astonishing. The biggest frustration for me is when they totally ruin the master on some modern vinyl records, it’s like, I don’t care if it’s on 180g green splatter vinyl if it sounds bloody awful! My copy of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here would blow away in a gentle breeze it’s so flimsy but it sounds tremendous because it’s so well mastered. And I think this is the difference between a good and bad hardware set-up, you can put on those poorly mastered vinyl records and it can still make you happy that you’re listening to it on vinyl and not a CD.
As for my wife enjoying the Audiolab, well, I drive her mad with my tweaking but she’s the one who got me back into Celtic Frost - Monotheist when she started listening to it again earlier in the year! I actually bought her the first Triptykon album for her birthday and she was thrilled. I’m a lucky lucky man!
 

Rick Robinson

Standard Member
You’ve given me a few albums to add to the reading list there :) ... and I do think you’re right, it’s down to both the master and the setup - in the 90s the original pressing of Aqualung sounded just fine on the setup I had at the time; but on the kit I have now (which is pretty non-optimal, but a lot better) it sounds just awful - which is why I bought the re-engineer. Similarly, today I’ve been listening to vinyl pressings of CF and Voivod demo’s from the 80s. They’re primitive things recorded on a tape player through a couple of microphones, but accept the context, and they sound fantastic.

I’m also a fan of early Queensryche, and in particular their most unloved album, Rage for Order (they looked ridiculous on the photo shoot, but the music’s wildly experimental). The CD remaster is way over-compressed, and, unlike most of their output, there’s never been a vinyl remaster - which is a shame because the compression, whilst spoiling some aspects of the album, does bring out some facets of the sound that are hard to detect on the original. Fortunately my original copy is in great shape - I played it once in the 1980s when I bought it, to record it to tape on my dad’s stereo; it hadn’t been played since until recently, and is in great shape.

I love my wife very much, but she’s *not* a CF fan - Artie Shaw and Prokofiev are more her thing.

Early in our relationship coincided with the CF reunion tour - I never saw them in the 80s; I remember being furious with my family as we literally drove past Hammersmith Odeon the day they were playing there on the way to some family event which meant I couldn’t go to the gig (though given it was the Cold Lake tour, probably just as well I missed it!)

Anyway, on the reunion they played Wolfrun Hall in Wolves so I got a ticket; my wife (girlfriend at the time) insisted on accompanying me to share the experience. I did my level best to persuade her “you might not like it much ...” but she insisted ...

... and lasted about 5 minutes in the bar before the concert once she heard the warmup music coming through from the hall next door! She took the car home, I stayed for one of the best gigs of my life, and shelled out £40 for a taxi back home - made the cabbie’s night!

PS if you haven’t tried it already, I’d recommend Sub by Apollyon Sub, in between CF and Triptykon - it’s only on CD, no vinyl, but some great death/industrial crossover, and bizarrely enough a quieter song that’s (ahem) actually quite beautiful IMHO
 

oscroft

Member
Bought that the day it hit the shops now lying idle in a pile of other vinyls. The Steven Wilson remix on CD will slay it, does open it up somewhat and is much more dynamic. Wilson has certainly done wonders for all the Tull albums he's worked on.
His King Crimson remixes are superb too - I've got several of both (on vinyl mainly). Oh, and on Tull, Passion Play is an often overlooked album, but the Wilson remix is as good as you'd expect from him.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
His King Crimson remixes are superb too - I've got several of both (on vinyl mainly). Oh, and on Tull, Passion Play is an often overlooked album, but the Wilson remix is as good as you'd expect from him.
I've got Passion Play, the SW mix. No King Crimson, think I'm going to have buy some, not listened to them for, must be over forty years.

Best album you'd recommend.
 

oscroft

Member
I've got Passion Play, the SW mix. No King Crimson, think I'm going to have buy some, not listened to them for, must be over forty years.

Best album you'd recommend.
Their 1969 introductory masterpiece, In The Court Of The Crimson King, without a doubt. The Wilson vinyl version has an extra LP of alternative takes/mixes, which I'm sure will be included with the CD version.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Their 1969 introductory masterpiece, In The Court Of The Crimson King, without a doubt. The Wilson vinyl version has an extra LP of alternative takes/mixes, which I'm sure will be included with the CD version.
Ordered. DVD-A and CD combo of the 40th Anniversary SW mix.
 

Rick Robinson

Standard Member
I'd say go for "Red" as well; track 5 "Starless" is 12-minutes of sheer genius, including a dustbin lid used as a cymbal (according to a drummer I used to play with!)
 

zombionicdoom

Active Member
Anyway, on the reunion they played Wolfrun Hall in Wolves so I got a ticket; my wife (girlfriend at the time) insisted on accompanying me to share the experience. I did my level best to persuade her “you might not like it much ...” but she insisted ...

... and lasted about 5 minutes in the bar before the concert once she heard the warmup music coming through from the hall next door! She took the car home, I stayed for one of the best gigs of my life, and shelled out £40 for a taxi back home - made the cabbie’s night!

PS if you haven’t tried it already, I’d recommend Sub by Apollyon Sub, in between CF and Triptykon - it’s only on CD, no vinyl, but some great death/industrial crossover, and bizarrely enough a quieter song that’s (ahem) actually quite beautiful IMHO

I love the Wulfren Hall and Civic for that matter, saw some great gigs back in the day - Pantera, Anthrax, Slayer etc. Brilliant venues. The last gig I went to at the Wulfren was Danzig back in 2013 - it was brilliant and bought the memories flooding back, even if it was a bit of a jaunt up there from Bristol.

I'll certainly check out Apollyon Sub and I'll pick up that remaster of Aqualung too - that'll definitely keep Kat happy, she's a bit of a Jethro Tull fan.

When you do your demo, if possible, I'd suggest you start out with the RP3/Brio/Fono combo and incremetntally swap bits out for better components as you go and see where it takes you. Any dealer worth their salt will be more than happy to accomodate you given how much you're willing to spend. I'd try and squeeze some Chord Clearway cables out of them too, I've been really impressed with mine. Sorry @gibbsy I know you've no love for the cables, but you're spot on with your ideas ;-)
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Chord Clearway
It's those interconnects and terminated speaker cables that were thrown in when I bought my Rega Elicit. Rewarding a loyal customer as well. That's why I keep going back to AudioT.
 

daddy999

Active Member
I’d go with the Rega P3 option. I have my Rega P3 running through a Yamaha amp and MA gold 100 speakers. Love it.
 

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