Krelldog, I do not know the best route but I will share mine when I went back to vinyl about 8 years ago. I do know you have to stretch as far as you can $$ for each component - to ward off upgraditis.
I went with a basis 1400 signature, Hadcock tonearm, and sumiko blackbird high output MC. For the phono I went with ARC PH 5. The total package was about 6K. It knocked my digital rig out of service it was so much better. Also, you have to spring for a RCM like the VPI 16.5 or someting similar.
There are many paths you can take and they will all be good. I am 100% vinly now and have never looked back.
Check out my system page if you want to stay in the $3k range.
IMO, 3k is pretty tight for a good analog setup - it would not satisfy my needs. So, if I were to get started today, I would definitely go with a used Basis 1400 with a budget arm already on it (you can always upgrade the arm latter). Look for a used tube phono pre (ARC PH3 would be my 1st choice) then look for a cart on the warm full sounding side with output to match the phono pre gain. Don't forget cables - and as Pops said, you'll have to spring for a RCM. Nothing less then a VIP 16.5 will do IMO. All this will exceed 3K -but like I said, a budget of 3K on an analog system will not satisfy my needs.. It probably could of been done 10 years ago, though.
VPI Scout Jr ($1500.00)
DV 20X2 (850.00)
DV P-75 MKIII (900.00)
Would be a good place to start for $3250.00 if you want to buy new.
You could do much better in the used market. Good luck and happy listening!
Now on Agon:
Well Tempered Labs Simplex ($1200.00)
DV P-75 MKII (450.00)
DV Karat 17D3 (NEW!) ($950.00)
For $2600.00, a steal!!!!
I would go VPI Scout II or Classic 1, target price 1400-1800. Agree that DV-P75 Mk ii at $475 is excellent; I have a perfect 150 hour Dyna XX-ii mkii which I would sell you as well if interested. Great analogue within your budget...Teeshot
Sota Comet with 303 tonearm $1400.00
Croft Acoustics RIAA phono preamp (tube)$995.00
Grado Sonata mm cartridge $600.00
Total 2995.00,5 bucks under your budget,can't beat that!
I would go with the Well Tempered Labs/Dynavector combo.It looks to be the best value and highest performing of the other suggestions. IMO.
Sorry Yogiboy, IMHO,
Simplex over the Comet in a heartbeat.
17D3 over the a Sonata in another heartbeat.
Personally, I'd grab a restored table from Vinyl Nirvana fitted with a cart of Dave's recommendation (he knows the tables and the tonearms quite well and often offers discounts on new carts), then pick the preamp based on the output of the cart. You'll get a unique jewel a handcrafted, one of a kind restoration and you get to support a small business (and a good guy...I own one of his tables...he really is an artist).
He's got a gorgeous Thorens 160 refurb on his site now for just under 2K - add an Ortofon 2M Black and a Hagerman Cornet 3 (which sounds fantastic) and you'll squeak you in just under (or at) the wire.
Rega RP6 with exact 2 $1990
Clearaudio Basic plus $1000
Total $2990 for a hassle free good sounding setup. If you do not want to fiddle constantly with lost of arm adjustments or pre-amp settings then the Rega/Clearaudio set is great. Set and forget. Just listen.
Vinyl Nirvana has a nice website. I can forgive no phone # (I think), but he doesn't even list an address. Thanks for the link, very interesting!
I think the suggestions for the Simplex are right on. It's just more hands on than VPI. In that I mean literally, as in no cue lever. As far as appearance, I like it, but it's certainly different. As far as Dynavector, while the Karat is a good suggestion, I would also listen to the 20X/L. These cartridges are different enough, that it's not a matter of better. It will come down to system balance, and personal preference. Any thoughts so far Krelldog??? Cheers -Don
FWIW, Well Tempered and Dynavector are literally made for each other, and the Dynavector preamp is a nice little unit that is obviously optimized for the company's own carts- so there's definitely synergy going on there. The Amadeus is also one of my favorite TTs I've ever heard, and by all accounts there is a sonic family resemblance down the chain...so you can't really go wrong with that combo.
That said, Well Tempered TTs are not without their idiosyncrasies. They're a bit fussy to set up, the lack of a cue lever a bit awkward (to me, anyway), and the build quality in the tonearm / arm board assembly is not particularly robust (IMO). But for $2K this is to be expected...
As for reaching Dave, I've found him to be extremely responsive to email and willing to discuss things with you once an initial outreach is made....if that's your primary concern, I wouldn't be too worried. I can assure you, having been to his house twice (to pick up and drop off gear) and seen his operation "in action," that his business is legit...and his work is nothing less than top shelf...
Why fool around. Learn about these.
Not in the mood for a project?
Clearaudio with CMB
"As for reaching Dave, I've found him to be extremely responsive to email and willing to discuss things with you once an initial outreach is made....if that's your primary concern, I wouldn't be too worried. I can assure you, having been to his house twice (to pick up and drop off gear) and seen his operation "in action," that his business is legit...and his work is nothing less than top shelf..."
So this guy doesn't list what Country he's in. All the power to him.
I have gotten used to having no cue lever, but I admit it's not for everyone. I find dropping the needle easiest with the the little finger holder, but I find lifting the arm most natural using the the arm tube. I have seen a few do both with the arm tube, but I find the finger holder easiest to drop LP.... Cheers -Don
Not sure why I feel compelled to defend the man, but I can assure you Dave's on the up-and-up. He's got a thriving business in the heart of New England, he's a good guy, an his work is exceptional. He's a pro in every sense of the word.
I have no doubt what you're saying is true, but even e-bay lists the sellers general location. He must thrive on the business he has, so again, all the power to him. It's personal preference, and mine is to deal with someone in a more informal manner.
Thanks for all the input!!! I ended up buying a used PS Audio GCPH...a new VPI Scout 1.1 and a Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge. Total investment was 2200.00. I'm looking forward to reporting my results.
Happy New Year