Analog newby question

I have a relatively high end digital musci/HT system and would like to add a turntable. However, as I got into the audio habit during the heyday of the CD, I don't think I've ever owned a record... Here's what I think I need, could someone let me know if I'm leaving something out? Suggestions of units to look for would also be appreciated

Line stage

Also, is the function of the line stage to boost the signal from the cartridge to a level that will drive the pre-amp (actually a DAC/Pre-amp, HT processor in my case)?

FWIW, the 2-channel portion of my system is currently:

Proceed PMDT cd/dvd transport
Proceed AVP processor/preamp
MF NuVista 300 front channels
Revel Studio front speakers

Thanks in advance,

As a newby, I would keep it simple at first. Assuming your preamp does not have a built in phono stage, you will need one. It won't work without one. Good "inexpensive" ones are make by Rotel (RQ970 MM & MC) and by Creek (OBH8 for MM and OBH9 for MC) all around $200 new. You can also get a decent turntable/arm combination from makers like Music Hall. The Music Hall MMF-2.1 comes with a Goldring Elan moving magnet "MM" cartridge, all for $300. So for $500 you are in business brand new. These are all recommended by Stereophile if that matters to you. Once you decide you like or dislike records you can move up or sell out and you without breaking the bank.
If you want to buy on-line sells the Creek and Music Hall. Check the demo section first for deals.
"I don't think I've ever owned a record... "

Why do you want records? That's the first question that needs to be answered.

If you want a toy, or just to start out for the hell of it, I'd recommend a used Music Hall MMF 2.1, a Grado Prestige Blue cartridge and the Radio Shack battery phono preamp (no joke here, search the posts in

If you want to collect and search for good vinyl, then read my analog posts. I recently purchased the Monolithic Sound phono stage and I wouldn't trade it for anything under $1200. My TT? Go find out what I've got....pretty controversial. Pretty sturdy, musical and revealling, too.
Sugarbrie has some good suggestions. Other things you might want to look into : I had a Rega planar 3 / Rb300 / super bias MM cartridge while I was in the UK and enjoyed its smooth but detailed sound. A used Rega could be resold for its purchase price if necessary. I have also read of people tweaking the RB300 arm and getting it to perform very well, though I have no personal experience with such teaks.

Also consider getting a Hunt EDA record brush to remove the dust before each playing to improve the sound and maintain the records. If you would like to start buying used vinyl (which is kind of fun since it is cheap and plentiful) then perhaps also budget for a record cleaning machine such as the nitty gritty or even the KAV cleaner which uses your existing vacuum cleaner (I can find the URL if you're interested).

Have fun !
KAB record cleaner from KAB Electroacoustics:

Be warned: Kevin is a self appointed evangelist of the turntable I own and will eventually convince you (for your own good). I have become an evangelist, too(no glass, no particle board in my TT).
If you decide to buy one, buy one from a dealer. They can help you with setup. Also, what you need to buy extends a little from the four major components. You will need to get, at the very least, a stylus force guage, and record care items. has a decent FAQ for vinyl playback.

Psychicanimal- How does the Monolithic compare to the AES PH-1 and the EAR phonostage? I have not run in to anyone who has listened to these three, let alone everything under $1200, and have some post hoc curiousity (I won the PH-1) about differences. Thanks.
Hi Tmitchell-If I were starting over I would have skipped the entry level tables,arms,cartridges,phono-pre.I can almost promise you the vinyl bug will bite you hard.I would buy the best "used" I could afford if I were you.You will save money in the long run too.Keep educating yourself here before you make a purchase.HAVE FUN! analog RULES!!
get some vinyl costs and figure on 50 to 100 pieces and only then consider what you will spend on a vinyl front end. in vinyl the more and the better isolation the better
Listen, i just did what you are looking to do. By the looks of your system i think you are looking for some quality sound since your components are of high quality. To me, i think analog done right is no comparision for a true audiophill. Analog can be sooo-involving something my great sounding digital system was just not conveying properly to these 50yr old seasoned ears for music. I recommend starting off with a better analog set up than suggested. It's not really that hard to setup for a anyone willing to put time into good sound and having good common sense. I would find a good knowledable local dealer who KNOWS analog and get educated and see what is available. It's your ears and taste. Go for it. Analog just does music properly. If you keep thinking about your equipment when listening to CD, than you need a good decent analog setup and forget about the equipment and be amazed at how good your system really is. Don't forget the treatment, very important if needed. Lp is good. Just keep reading and searching. Get the best you can afford and enjoy beautiful music. Let me tell you, the bass just pounds my chest and sounds so natural. Brass sounds like brass. Strings are strings like they use to be. Oh boy, the guitar, so proper. I'm using a BAT vk-p5 tubed phono stage with Telefunken nos and Siemen nos tubes and a 1986 Sota Star with some upgrades and pump/ps and a cheap Dynavecter High output MC and arm i never heard of (AT 1100, anyone?) to start off. I haven't played a CD since and my LP collection is growing like warp speed compared to buying CD. I don't think about the equipment anymore. The only thing is having to get up every 20min or so to change albums or sides. Good-luck
I had a B&OI turntable that looked great and sounded like crap.As I collected jazz CD's obsesively I found that many titles were not availible on CD whereas I'df see them in the record bin.I bought a Rega Planar 3 with one of their cart's.I couldn't believe how much more natural the harmonics were on a good 50's to mid 60's record than on CD.They also sounded more 3-d in soundstage and imaging.With your rig I'd go for at lest a Rega 25 ($1200) with their best cartritdge ($595??).Or what I like is the upgrade route with the VPI 19.You can have fun upgrading it.I went for broke and got a Aries with a 12" arm and a Grado Sonata cart.Go for a used tube phono.Try giving Bes a call at Music direct and tell 'em chazz sent you 1-800-449-8333.He will work in your budget an dis superb at system matching.
Thanks for all the responses. To answer an early question, the reason I am thinking about vinyl is that I accidentally found out I like the way LP's sound. I was visiting a friend back East who has reference quality digital and analog equipment. Just for kicks, I got him to play a few recent pressings and was blown away.

I'm not afraid to spend a bit to get sound that I like. I doubt purchasing low-fi and then comparing it to $13K worth of digital front-end is going to make me quit playing my CD's.

Until recently, I was also using a Sony SCD-1 but recently sold it with the thought of upgrading to the Accuphase DP-85. Since Proceed/Madrigal is talking about potential upgrades to the PDMT and AVP to enable SACD playback, I thought I would hold off on more digital equipment and look into analog. There are many of recordings that haven't (won't?) be released on SACD that are available on high quality vinyl.

BTW, I was wrong before. Amongst the 1200 or so CD's I've amassed in the last 10 years, I found a single solitary album in a box in the attic. "KISS Alive" that I must have bought when I was 13...

Thanks for all the input,

Ohlala, I considered the E.A.R., Black Cube, Mistral, Phonomena and the Monolithic. Read reviews, talked to salesmen, read posts, looked at pictures of the units.

It was a phone conversation with Greg, the designer of the Monolithic that made the sale. He's an awful salesman--that's why he made the sale, though. He described to me the rationale behind the design of the preamp and how it worked. I made my choice without hearing any unit (I'm the psychic, right?). Greg's words were exactly what I was looking for in a phono stage. It was based on a hybrid design and with similarities to the Klyne preamps--only cheaper. I have a high performance (for the year 1980)low output MC preamp (Biotronic Gestalt) w/outboard PS and I wasn't totally satisfied--it was super clean and flat but lacked something... The Monolithic totally blew it away (this without the dual mono power supply). And the two previous owners of my other preamp upgraded to a Klyne SK-5A!!!

I have a 'feel' for selecting components, what can I say...I bought my JMlab speakers without ever hearing of the brand before nor auditioning them! Same for my Cambridge D300SE CD player, my Soundstream/Krell DAC, my Melos SHA-3 preamp, the Ortofon X5 MC...Mail order all of these.

I don't know if this will help you. Just make sure you have definite goals regarding your system and what you want it to do. I do. And I'm focused.

I have a heavily modded Rega Planar 3 with a moving coil Benz 3 (old one, nowdays) going into a benz PP1 phono stage.. it is absolutely CRUCIAL that the cartridge is properly installed with azimuth, offset, VTA, and antiskating set right. Otherwise, you'll miss alot or damage your cartridge and records. Once you get into it you HAVE to get a wet-vacuum cleaner. I have a nitty gritty. There is really no other way to clean records, and you can hear the difference. I also have a second system with a rega cd player (original planet) and really the LP system is more revealing, more detail, etc. than the cd.
Hmmm...I just removed a barely-used mahogany AR table with Linn arm and Adcom Hexacoil...with OE dust cover, felt mat, new belt, Souther clamp, a few cleaning brushes, etc.
I only have 50 or so LPs, and simply don't want to invest ina good phono stage. So I got a great tuner instead.
Since I have the original box and packing, I could ship this stuff properly and carefully.
I was going to sell the whole shebang to a dear friend with 1000+ jazz records, as his wife was going to buy it as a holiday gift, but I menioned it to him and she's pissed that it's not a secret anymore, so she won't buy it for him.
Any takers out there? $300 +sh should do it....
Hapy holidays all. Ern