What turntable is best for me? - Sound Advice

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Ed Selley, Sep 30, 2016.


    1. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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    2. Abacus

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      Nice article, however a number of sites are now pointing to the fact that vinyl sales have started to fall, after many years of increasing, so it will be interesting to see whether it will last long term, or finally die out.

      Quick question, are ceramic cartridges still made? (You could turn the stylus over from stereo to 78) as they were the most common in the 60s & 70s, for cheaper and all in one models.

      All my vinyl was transferred to CD years ago, and these have also now been converted to FLAC and stored on my server, I do still have my turntable though, although it is no longer setup as its unlikely I will be buying vinyl again in the near future.

      If I did for some weird reason decide to get back into vinyl, then my ideal setup would be a Mitchell Gyro Dec, SME Series IV Tonearm and Ortofon 2M Black Cartridge.

      Bill
       
    3. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      I think it's pretty clear that the boom is coming to an end but I think that the net result will be an increase in the number of people using vinyl as a format in comparison to the figures 'pre-boom.' The upper echelons of the market will continue to be pretty much unaffected.

      Sort of; the all in one players use them but they are no longer reversible as far as I know.
       
    4. golden phoenix

      golden phoenix
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      thanks for this article ED... i will be buying a turntable for one specific reason in particular, to listen to the beatles mono vinyl boxset which was made for vinyl from analogue to analogue source from beginning to end. i have a decent amp which has a phone stage, and checking the manual, it accepts a direct connection from a moving magnetic type turntable. since reading your article i quite fancy the Rega Planer 3, now having a quick look on ebay, some sellers are saying that they are selling the Rega Planer 3 because it has been updated with the P3 is that a newer model of the same turntable? (yesterday i really wanted to buy the rolling stones in mono on vinyl, but the price was just too much after buying the beatles boxset which was more important to me, so i had to settle for the stones on CD.

      now in relation to cartridges do you need to get different ones for both stereo and mono or is their a do it all type cartridge, and how can i differentiate between what makes a quality cartridge over a not so good cartridge. i do like the idea of also being able to transfer files via usb but i dont think the p3 does that really between 300-500 is my budget for everything

      cheers
       
    5. Stinger69

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      Rega haven't done themselves any favours with their product naming!

      If you ignore the first couple of decks Rega released in the 70s (Planet, etc.) The Planar 2 and 3 were out for ages, with quite a few updates to the tonearm and plinth along the way. They were replaced by various decks named along the lines of RP1 P1 P2 P3 RP3 etc.

      The very latest, are called the Planar 1 Planar 2 and Planar 3. These are a fair bit more expensive than the models they replace, so some end-of-line bargains are out there at the moment. To confuse matters even more, some people abbreviate the new decks to P1 P2 and P3 !!
       
    6. geogan

      geogan
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      Still have two Technics SL-1210 MkIIs at home which I used with Pioneer DJM-600 mixer to transfer almost all of my large collection of house/trance/techno/dance vinyl 12" singles and DJ promos onto very high quality, virtually noise free recordings using a full size Sony Minidisc deck recorder (can't remember model of it but it is one of the high-end ES models).

      As far as I remember it recorded in some form of Sony's ATRAC (DRM) format, but looking through my music drive, it appears I have converted a lot of them (or sourced) in uncompressed WAV format - but it's so long ago I can't remember the exact process involved!

      At the time though the process Technics SL-1210->Pioneer DJM-600 pre-amp->Sony Minidisc deck produced the cleanest, clearest, highest quality vinyl recordings but with the massive advantage of analog tuning each individual track before recording using the DJM-600s high/mid/low filters as each record would have different levels of bass/high frequencies which needed to be tidied up and matched before recording, and then the full size MD deck also had large record level VU type meter to tune the recording volume to exactly the correct maximum record level without clipping the higher bass frequencies.

      I hear Phil Hinton is looking for lids/covers for SL-1210's - I took my lids off when I bought them over 15 years ago and never used them (put them away in storage) so they are probably as new quality - think I will be keeping tehm though!
       
    7. BlueWizard

      BlueWizard
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      I have a particular philosophy regarding Turntables based on how big a collection you imagine yourself having. If we assume that 100 records takes up 1 foot of shelf space, that gives us a visual clue to help lend perspective.

      If you do not see yourself eventually having 4 feet to 5 feet of records, then I'm inclined to say get a good but very basic turntable in the £250 to £500 range. There are really some very nice highly regarded turntables in that range. However, if you see yourself as a more serious collector with perhaps 3ft to 10ft of albums (300 to 1000), then it might pay to get a more expensive turntable, say in the £500 to £1500 range.

      So, the underlying question is - How serious are you about collecting Vinyl? If you can't see yourself with 5 feet of albums, then I not sure you should see yourself with a high end turntable. The lesser the quantity of albums, the lesser the turntable (up to a point). A lesser collection also implies lesser seriousness. A greater collection of 500 or more albums indicates a greater seriousness about collecting vinyl, and that implies a more serious turntable.

      Now, obviously, I'm not handing down edicts on stone tablets. These are guideline meant to lend perspective. But for under 500 albums, I think most people would be perfectly satisfied with a turntable in the roughly £250 to £500 range. You can get a Audio Technica Direct Drive LP120 turntable on the low end of that range. On the low side of the middle, you can get the very well regarded Project Carbon Debut DC with Ortofon 2M Red. Equally for under £500, you can get the REGA Planar 2 with Performance Pack. There are all very good very worthy turntables.

      So, in my scenario, the number of vinyl albums implies the degree of seriousness, and that implies the degree of turntable you should get. Certainly it you are sitting on a wealth of cash, nothing to stop you from buying a premium turntable for a couple hundred albums. Equally, if you have 1000 albums, nothing wrong with a good basic turntable.

      But to lend perspective, my idea of about £1 spent on the turntable for each album you have (or ultimately anticipate having), as a broad generalization, is not far off from what people typically do.

      There are many good turntable in the roughly £250 to £500 range, sufficient to satisfy a vast majority of people.

      But carrying on with my theme, one has to ask, is it justified to spend £1000 or more on a turntable for only 100 albums? Of course, that is the decision of each individual, but as a generalization, I would say - No.

      Also, it has been a while since I counted so I'm not sure, but I think 100 albums would be in the range of 10" to 12" (250mm to 300mm) of shelf space. But since we are only using this to visualize the approximate size of a collection, it is easy enough to use 12" (300mm).

      Just a few thoughts.

      Steve/bluewizard
       
      Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
    8. Abacus

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      I would flip that on its head, as if you’re buying a lot of vinyl then it becomes about as important as having a mass of songs on a phone, (You don’t really take much notice) whereas if you focus on a certain type of vinyl (Just like Hi-Res Downloads or physical media) you will be looking for as higher quality as possible.


      Bill
       
    9. geogan

      geogan
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      I don't think you'd fit 100 vinyl 12" records (album or single) in one foot width myself TBH. I'd say it's much less than that, especially if you don't have them so tightly packed together that you can't flip through them or even pull one out :).

      I have IKEA cabinet that fit 12" vinyl perfectly - it's 3x2 sections of each about 1 foot width and I'd say I only have about 50 at most in each section. I could measure it and count them if needed :smashin:
       
    10. BlueWizard

      BlueWizard
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      I had counted and measures this before somewhat recently, but the details were a bit foggy in my brain. Currently my best guess was 10" to 12" for 100 albums. As it turned out, I still had every 10th record pulled forward, so it was very easy to measure again.

      100 Albums ~ 14" (356mm)

      But, for the purposes of this discussion, the exact length is not that important. We are merely using a given length as a visualization, to picture in our minds the number of albums we will eventually have. Though admittedly that is hard to predict.

      In my mind I see two possibilities guiding the choice of a turntable.

      1.) Turntable in proportion to your other equipment. This is the guideline I generally use as a starting point when searching out a complete Stereo system

      1x to 1.5x = Turntable (the extra 0.5x is for a cartridge upgrade if needed)
      1x = Network Player
      1x = CD/Disc Player
      1x = Amp/Receiver
      2x = Stereo Speakers

      So, if you have £1500 in your Amp, then proportionally you could justify a turntable in the roughly £750 to perhaps £2000 range.

      2.) Turntable in proportion to the number of Albums you anticipate having. I've already explained this in my previous post. Repeating, while you can do anything you want, it is hard to justify a £1000 turntable if your collection never rises much above 100 albums. But ... your money ...your life.

      Now in the case of equipment or a turntable, the guidelines merely establish a starting point and perspective. Once it comes time to actually buying, while I've given a starting point, you can deviate as you see fit. Most often, based on personal preferences and the equipment your find, rarely do you hit the suggested amount dead on. But both guidelines do give you perspective and a starting point.

      And do keep in mind that a turntable, well chosen, in the roughly £300 to £500 range are not slouch turntables. These are very highly rated and well regarded, and certainly no danger to the sound or to the records.

      The Audio Technica LP120 is a very nice turntable at a modest £240. Though eventually it will need a cartridge upgrade, though again, that will depend on how serious you are.

      At £299, the TEAC TN300 is certainly worth considering and a very attractive turntable if that means anything to you. A very basic cartridge, but that is enough to get you started.

      The highly regarded Project Debut Carbon with Ortofon 2M Red cartridge is an exceptional deal at £325, and it has a very good cartridge.

      Still staying under £500, the Audio Technica LP1240 is highly regarded and priced at £420, cartridge extra. This is a DJ turntable that will have some features not needed in a home stereo system, but a good turntable none the less.

      Their is a deluxe version of the Project Carbon, that falls under £500, the Project Debut Carbon Esprit SB at £425, also with the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge.

      I've certainly skipped over many worthy candidates, but I'm simply giving a cross section.

      Lastly, pushing up very near £500, the REGA Planar 2 with Peformance Pack is £460, which includes the REGA Bias 2 cartridge (£75).

      I don't think anyone would be crying about having any of these turntables. However, if you have the money and can justify the cost, then turntables in the £500 to £1500 range are also very nice ... if you can justify the cost.

      For myself, I draw the line at about £1000 to ~£1500. Even if I have win-the-lottery money, I don't see much need for more than that. That said, in today's market, my current turntable is in roughly the £400 to £600 range. Though I bought it many years ago, so the stated price is adjusted for inflation.

      Again, in covering this range, I skipped over many worthy turntables just to present a cross section of possibilities.

      So the point is, while I recommend this range for those less serious, the above are all serious, but entry level, turntable, all worthy of any record collection. You just need to workout your budget and priorities.

      Just a few thoughts.

      Steve/bluewizard
       
      Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
    11. golden phoenix

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      well since im absolutely brand new to the turntable game after researching many options, after @Ed Selley article Ive pretty much decided on this set up

      Turntable - Rega P3
      Phono stage - Rega Fono MM MK2
      cartridge - Ortophon 2M red cartridge

      this lot will cost about £724, i know some of you will say why not get P6 but that pushes costs over £1000 (does the P6 just have exactly the same parts as the P3?) belt drive etc?

      (might add the TT-PSU) at a later stage)

      im about to upgrade my speakers too, i will connect all this to my marantz 7010, which does have a phono input, but a separate stage might provide better quality, the only thing i would want is a usb in my phono stage for flexibilty. ironically in the cheaper phono stage but not in the Fono.

      if i just listened to the beatles in mono and never buy another album id be happy with that, i'm basing this on being a beatles nut, and listening to them how they should be heard. although i'l likely get more albums..in the digital world i have sacd, dvd audio,flac etc...but i always no matter how clear and precise they sound, digital to my ears seems to lack warmth only analogue seems to provide. i guess its horses for courses.

      ps - just thinking about this, can anyone recommend a phono stage compatible with the rega p3, but also includes a usb drive? and would work in this set up? or indeed any other solutions

      will the separate phono stage definitely sound better than my 1000 amp?
       
      Last edited: Oct 7, 2016
    12. BlueWizard

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      I don't think anyone could find fault with that system, and considering all you are getting, the price is pretty modest.

      As much as it is about the equipment, I think it is equally about Budget, Priorities, Preferences, and Circumstance.

      As to the need for a external Phono Stage, I've never needed one. The Amps I've had have all had decent phono stages sufficient to meet my needs. But I can't fault anyone who decides to buy an external Phono Pre-Amp. Though I might suggest you start without one, assuming our amp has a Phono Stage, and see how it works. Then if you decide you want to try an improve on what you have, consider an external Phono Stage.

      But, the Turntable system as you laid it out should hit a pretty high standard at a pretty fair price.

      I'm slightly envious, I have to admit.

      Steve/bluewizard
       
    13. geogan

      geogan
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      Well I just measured and counted by shelves again and I was wrong and you were right :D. My shelves are about 13.5" width and I counted 100 vinyl singles/albums in less than 12" width in a sample section. See pics below with measuring tape in first which has exactly 100 records.

      [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
       
    14. Toon Army

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    15. golden phoenix

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    16. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      It asks far too many questions engineering wise. There is going to be a hell of a lot of EM flux from levitating the platter and I can't see that helping the cartridge. The oscillation will also need to be controlled to an enormous degree otherwise the effect will be like a very softly sprung and poorly damped suspended deck. I'd be interested to see what the speed stability figures are too given the costs of decent contactless drive systems. Finally, what the platter does in the event of a power cut is a question worth asking.
       
    17. Toon Army

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      Bet you still want one!:D
       
    18. golden phoenix

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      im pretty sure turntables work better with gravity :)
       
    19. BlueWizard

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    20. Toon Army

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      Trying to make space to get my old Technics turntable out of the loft. Any thoughts folks on upgrading the cartridge at a reasonable price?
       
    21. BlueWizard

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      Define Reasonable Price?

      I would suggest these two -

      Audio Technica AT120E Moving Magnet Cartridge - Superfi

      Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge - Superfi

      There is also a low cost plastic Cartridge Alignment tool for Technics turntables.

      Technics Overhang Gauge -Easy to use tool for perfecting the rake angle.

      Technics Overhang Gauge - Alignment Tool - Vinyl Engine

      There are also a variety of Cartridge Aligment gauges that can be downloaded and printed.

      cartridge alignment protractor - Google Search

      Aside from setting the Tonearm/Stylus to the right length, the cartridge needs to be absolutely parallel to the sides of the Headshell.

      Steve/bluewizard
       
    22. Toon Army

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      Steve,

      Thanks - Looks like I will spend half the weekend doing more research with your suggestions. Don't know what my budget is and I guess I will come up with one once I have seen the prices.
       

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