analog newbie questions...

Okay, so I'm totally new to this whole audiophile hobby thing, but am quickly becoming obsessed with it. A lot of the questions I'm going to ask might sound stupid, but please bear with me.

To start things off, I plan on purchasing a Rega P1. I've read a lot of reviews on it and it seems like a great entry level TT with excellant features and not too many frills. I'm also aware that I will most likely nees to buy a pre-amp, and I think I'm going with the Cambridge Audio 540p. As you can tell, I'm not trying to spend a ton of money here. Now, here's where I have a question... should I get an integrated amp instead of a receiver? If so, then the only thing I'll need to get are some decent speakers, right?
You need three functions besides speakers and TT.

1. Phono stage to boost v. low voltage signal from cartridge and apply "RIAAA equalization" to compensate for frquency response anomalies in recording process.
2. Line stage/input switching to select the proper source boost it to "line level", and control volume.
3. Amplifier to boost line level signal to speaker level.

You will need a box or boxes with functions 1, 2, and 3.

Pre-amplifiers provide at least #2, some also have the phono stage. They require a separate amplifier, #3.

Integrated amps have at least 2 and 3, but some also have #1, the phono stage. They will not require an outboard amp.

Receivers are basically an integrated amp plus an AM/FM tuner. They also may or may not have a phono stage. They will not require an outboard amp. Most modern receivers also have digital signal and surround sound processing and video switching that are not necessary for an analog stereo (2 channel) set up.
What system components do you have now?
Building on Swampwalker's comments, most people today say "line stage" & "preamp" interchangably, but not some preamps also have the phono stage built in.

Also, you need to consider 2 types of cartridge, MM moving magnet, vs. MC moving coil. MM put out much larger signal than MC, and you need to make sure you get a cartridge that suits both the tonearm of the table and the phono stage.

If you consider vintage gear, any receiver or preamp from the 60s or 70s will have a phono stage built-in, most likely MM type. That will be cheapest way to dip your toe in the water.

A complete tangent, but PLEASE clean your LPs, or you won't get anywhere near the sound that LPs are capable of. Cheers,
Okay, to clear things up, I plan on getting a Cambridge Audio 540p pre-amp, amd I looked it up and it DOES have a phono stage. So with that out of the way, I would want to get a an integrated amp (any suggestions???). Oh, and the Rega P1 already comes with the Ortofon OM5e MM cartridge. Would the pre I'm planning on getting be suitable for that cart?
Please provide your price range for both speakers and amp if you would like more specific help.

Generally speaking, the NAD amp/PSB speaker combo represents a good package from a value standpoint. I'd suggest looking for a used NAD C352 and PSB T45s.
Joe,If you're getting the Cambribge phono pre amp,I don't think you would go wrong getting a Cambridge integrated. The cartridge should be fine with the 540p.If there is a possible mismatch one of the analog guys here will probably let you know.Hopefully you can audition some of this equipment and see if you like the sound.
To start, the difference between the 540 and the 640 is huge. If you skimp here, there is no need to spend money further down the line because you will never realize the quality. Get the 640.
The Ortofon 5 is a decent starter. If you decide to upgrade, you only have to replace the stylus with the 10 or 15 if I'm correct.
Cambridge Integrateds or Music Halls are a great way to start.
Make sure you don't skimp on cables. You don't need to spend a bundle but don't buy garbage and don't buy from a big box store.
Finally, Do you really want to forgo a tuner? I'd rather have a receiver than no tuner at all? Look at Music Hall, Arcam, Cambridge and many more.
Have fun, borrow where you can, buy on Audiogon so you won't take a big beating when the upgrade bug hits you.
Awesome, thank all of you so much for the excellant feedback! Now, in terms of cables, and suggestions there? I've heard that they need to be 1 meter long? True? Also, is the ortofon om5e cart a good match with the 640p? Also, how long/how many plays will the stylus usually last?
If you answer some of the prior posts questions, members will direct down the right path. What's your budget ? What do you already own ?
There is a wealth of info about your situation in the archives as well.
The 640P is a no-brainer for the $. I dig mine. I saw a used one on this site the other day. $110 obo ?
Did you already buy the P1 ? If not, there is a lot of good used stuff out there.
Yes, the cart is a good match, but I'm not a fan of it.
Length of your IC's is irrelevant at this point, most are 1M+. A cartridge life depends on the set-up, condition and how clean your records are, 1000+ hrs.
Myself, I purchased a new entry level TT (MMF2.2) and bought a better used TT six months later for half the price.
Sorry for not answering the questions on budget and what I already own, I got too caught up in asking questions of my own haha. Anyways, in terms of budget, I'm trying to be conservative. TT: $400 - $500, pre: $100 - $200, int. Amp: $300 - $400, speakers: $300 - $500, cables: ??? (suggestions). So I guess all in all around $1500 or so. And no, I don't anything as of now, I have to purchase everything right off the bat. Those are all the things I would need to start spinning records right? A tt, pre, int. amp, speakers and cables of course?
Alright, this shores up the question @ hand. Specifically this site and another one has members with constructive knowledge that can save a person a lot of $ starting out.
A few personal insights or opinions. If you can afford to pay cash for a new car and sell it next year for half of what you paid for it, buy all new audio gear. If not, gently used is the way to go. You get alot more for your money. Pattern your system around your musical tastes. In your case, speakers will determine that.
The turntable is your biggest hurdle. Not done right, your wasting your time. IMHO the cartridge, tonearm and pre are the most important. If the TT holds speed, belt drive vs. direct drive, not that important at this pricepoint. The usual suspects: P2/P3, MMF5 & SL 1200. The technics SL 1200 is riding a resurgence with it's durability and up-grade path.
I'll let others chime in on the amp and speakers, so many to choose from.
Speaker cable (sheilded) can be purchased from a home improvement store. 14ga. is about .75 cent a foot. Decent used interconnects $30, maybe less.
My current system is just a little more than your budget and I feel satified with the performance. Having my turntable set-up correctly, speaker placement & component isolation made a significant inprovement.
I will drop some more names if you don't get enough responses. Goodluck, David-
Here's some good advice.........Talk to the guys at Audio Advisor (I am NOT connected with them, but have been a satisfied customer in the past) and give them your budget and desires. They can "package" a really nice entry-level system for you for under $1500, and they'll let you try it out at home for thirty days.

For example.....Rega P1 w/ Ortofon OM5e ($395), Marantz PM-5003 (a really nice integrated amp with a good built-in MM phono stage, $449), PSB Image B15 speakers ($379), and an 8 ft. pair of AudioQuest Type 4 speaker cables ($109). A system like this ($1332 total) should give you a wonderful taste of what our hobby is all about, and should enable you to really enjoy listening to LP's with a big smile on your face. The guys at Music Direct should also be able to put together a similar system, so you may want to speak with them too. They sell the same table and amp, but with a different variety of "~$400" speakers. Figure on another $100 - $150 for speaker stands.

There'll be a ton of "audiophiles" out there who will tell you to spend more $$$ for better stuff, and they're right. More $$$ will buy better stuff, but within the constraints of your $1500 total budget, a good "analog starter system" like I'm describing will be a great way to get into our wonderful hobby. Then, don't worry, as soon as the "upgrade itch" hits you, you'll start the never-ending trek that we're all on now. Good Luck, and let us know how things turn out. Happy Listening !!
Since I brought up the 640p: I like Ortofons but have others that I prefer more, Goldring 1012gx or 1042gx and a Shure M97 for lower priced cartridges.
Interconnects: Under 1M can cause set-up issues sometimes.
I was always told to try to spend an even amount on each piece of gear, TT, Amp, Speakers, phono pre should be less.
Buy a used integrated with the assumption that you will upgrade eventually. Stick with newer stuff to avoid problems.
Speaker Cable: Don't buy garbage, at least 12 gauge. Get decent banana connectors. Even Madisound & Partsconnexion have some very inexpensive bananas. Avoid the twist on types.
Finally, some dealers get amazing prices on close-outs and B-stock. They are an option. AudioAdvisor was suggested and can be great. I like Spearit-sound and Echohifi also.
This is all great stuff! Thanks everyone! One question, with the marantz pm-5003 int amp, would I still need to purchase a phono pre amp, even though the int amp has a phono stage included?
Nope. Phono pre-amp = phono stage.
No, you will not need a separate phono pre-amp. Any integrated amp which has a built-in phono stage will allow you to plug your turntable's wires directly into the amp. Move the amp's selector switch to "phono," turn on your turntable, drop your stylus into the LP's lead-in groove, and enjoy the tunes ! It couldn't be any easier.
If you are seeking speakers, take a look at the Kirksaeter Prisma 210's. I liked them so much I bought two sets and am using one set for rears in a HT. Very efficient great speakers. I think Rick at Audioforce still has a great deal on them. I am not associated with Audioforce, just a satisfied customer. If the deal is still running the pair will come with a free center you can sell if you dont want it for even a better deal.