Either of those TT's would be ideal to start with. I started with a music hall 2.1 and really saw (heard!) how enjoyable vinyl is! It's now my favorite source.
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Analog is expensive. Turntable, cartridge and the phonostage are all important.
I'm learning that right now. It's worth it, I suppose. I think it's fun just to handle an LP versus a CD, but I suspect that just to get the sound that all those on this forum rave about, you'd need to spend the following (used prices/ best bang for buck, just do your research and be patient):
Turntable: $600 - 1000
Cartridge: $250 - 400
Phonostage: $300 - 500
Maybe someone with more experience will chime in, and this is FWIW, my uninformed opinion, but the following gear gets mentioned a lot and is pretty popular, so you should have no trouble re-selling it for around what you paid if you don't like it:
Tables: Rega P3 or P3-24 ($500-750), or at least a P2 with an RB250 arm. The arm is very well thought. Michell Tecnodec w/Michell RB250 arm ($1000). They're all easy to set up and don't require a lot of maintenance.
Cartridges (you might want to buy new to be safe):
Dynavector 10X5, Audio Technica (AT) 150 MLX (these two are High Output Moving Coil and Moving Magnet carts. and should work well with amps that have built in phonostages). If your old NAD has a phonostage, stick with these carts. I did.
Denon 103 ($150, very well regarded), or the ZU 103 ($400). These two are Low Output Moving Coil carts. and require a heavier counterweight and some research on your part because the signal from them is very low.
Phonostages: I have a built in one, don't forget to include the price of a good set of IC if you want a separate phonostage.
I guess my point being, if you cheap out anywhere, you're always wondering where the weak link lies. Or maybe it's just me. It can get expensive.
For more info about Vinyl, read this guy:
His name is Marc Phillips. He's a super nice guy. If you email him with questions, he always makes it a point to reply.... he also writes for Tone Audio (great E-Zine..and free):
Good luck, and you're going to get lots of opinions. If it was me, I'd either go for a sub $100 TT like a Dual on Craigslist, or spring for the Tecnodec. Don't bother with the middle ground, you'll never get your money back if you buy a new P1 or anything in that range and you'll listen to your CDs because it's got convenience going for it.
Also, you have to clean your records (half the fun is getting cheap cheap vinyl), read this:
Record cleaning machines are $300+. The steamer is $30. If you want to make a DIY cleaning fluid, send me an email, I have some surfacant (Triton X-114).
my own experience says that if 3-400$ is a bite for you, stop and do not pass go. the analog route is, imho, expensive compared to digital, and even more so to get good sound. now there are people who are very good at tuning old tables and for them not so much. i suspect you are not one of those people.
In response to any naysayers, I say go for it. If you've been itching to try vinyl for so long, you'll always remain curious as to how it may sound if you don't indulge. Prepare yourself for what you're about to get into; save up the money if necessary so that you can afford the table, arm, cart, and accessories. I took the plunge a little over a year ago, and yes there were things I had to buy that I was not expecting (good cleaning materials, DIY vibration isolation, etc.). But it's all just part of the fun. Digital is ok if you don't want to spend time with audio as a true hobby. But if you find yourself saying "hmm I wish I had another hobby", then vinyl is it. Going to used record shops on the weekends to score records, tweaking the performance of your system through your own various inventive methods, learning from others how to add further tweaks and tune in your system, these are all things that keep me very busy with the hobby. But I will absolutely agree that you can easily end up spending more money than you originally thought. It all just depends on how far you want to take it.
I recommend you do what I did: buy one of the "all-in-one" packages that include tonearm and cart, and preferably have it setup by your local dealer. This way you can quickly jump into listening and not have to worry about setting up a turntable with no knowledge at all. Then as you progress, you may find that you want to make minor tweaks to the table, at which point you'll be gradually learning. I personally went for the Music Hall mmf-5.1, but they also make an mmf-2.2 which I believe is in your price range.
Like breeding Cockadoodles, analog has become trendy. Other than to impress your friends, there is no real reason to join the analog fray with limited funds that could better be spent on other parts of your system. New LPs are expensive. More expensive than CDs. Ancient old farts, like myself, will beat you to the prime used records and then you will have to learn to set-up and maintain an analog rig. And if you think that you can learn to set-up a turntable by watching Mike Fremer's video, you have no greater chance than you would of watching a stag film and becoming a porn star. If the music is what you want, stick to your CD player and forget the siren call of the analog world.
I'm a 21 year old college student looking to listen to vinyl for the first time. Many current bands are releasing vinyl with material that isn't available for download or on CD. I saw this as an opportunity to add some excitement to my music collection, unaware of the general expenses.
I really like my bookshelf speakers (triangle's have a nice warmth to them) and have heard that vinyl offers a similar feeling. The more researching I do, the more obvious it becomes that these quality low-end tables are still a bit pricey for me.
Despite the elitist attitudes in many of the previous comments, I think I'll continue to shop around for something within my price range. It's all for the love and enjoyment of music (something that seems to fall under the radar among many audiophiles)--- not for the fancy cartridges or other gizmos.
A big thank you to everyone who has suggestion different brands or directions which I may better direct my attention. All the best-
It took me about 1 week of lurking on this site to realize that most of the posters on this site are more interested in the gear than the music. There are plenty of us that are more into the music then the obsessive tweak/upgrade crew that are on this site. Good observation but don't give up on this site so quick- a lot of experience here.
Your best bet would be either the Rega P1 or P2, pre-packaged with a basic MM cartridge, to make your "analog plunge" worthwhile. If you like what you're hearing with either of these, you can always upgrade to a P3-24 (with a better cartridge) later on down the line.
Your "old" NAD integrated amp probably has a phono stage, so you should be all set. The Rega, mated with your NAD and Triangle's, should give you a very nice idea of what vinyl is all about, and I think you'll be incredibly happy for quite a while. YES !!!!, getting into vinyl is definitely a smart move, and you do NOT need to spend a ton of dinero in the beginning. I wish you the best of luck, and HAPPY LISTENING !
Actually, no, things *haven't* changed in the year and a half since you last posted-at least in the world of vinyl. It's pretty much the same stuff available at your price point now as it was then. And since you still "know nothing" about it, even with the advice proffered last time and the eighteen months you might have spent searching archives here and at other sites (this question has been asked thousands of times) I can only assume that you're a tire kicker wasting all these people's time.
In sum, yeah, I'd stick to the ceedees.
Before I sold my vinyl I purchased a better tt to see if it would sound better than my old Technics SL-1500. It did not sound any better to me than the Technics.
I suggest that for your experiment you pick up an inexpensive tt on ebay, get a decent Audio Technica cartridge and give it a whirl. If you like what you hear you can upgrade, if not, you can resell the tt and won't lose much. Good luck.
Oh yeah, my vinyl collection was nearly 35 years old when I sold most of it. For me, vinyl isn't worth the hassle. People with thousands of $$ in playback facilities can argue and may be right. But that's more money than I care to invest in music playback. Good luck.
I'll be the first to help out someone who is genuinely interested in enjoying the joys of analog, but I'm not seeing that here. All of the info that the OP received 18 months ago is applicable today. For whatever reason, he didn't pursue the hobby since his initial post, and so he now returns with the very same question, and as he himself admits, he still "knows nothing". If the OP's only attempt at figuring this stuff out is to ask which stuff to buy every year and a half, he's probably not ready for the discipline required to have vinyl sound better than digital-plus, there is a ton of info out there for the neophyte who can type the word 'google'. Why should we waste our time answering the same questions again?
Therefore, in this particular case, I counsel ceedees. Sorry if that's harsh, but so be it.
Some folks missed that incredibly important day of kindergarten where the teacher presented the idea that if you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all. Johnbrown is so high up on his pedestal that this sort of rationality does not compute. My over exaggeration of knowing nothing has lead to his dictating of what Im ready for. I hadnt realized that I needed Johnbrowns permission... Next time Ill be sure to double check. After all, Im sure he knows what Ive been doing for the past 18 months, and thus only he may decide what sort of responses are necessary.
Anyway, thanks again to the kind folks who have helped. To the others-- how about not opening the thread or not responding? I know internet-quarreling is tempting, but lets try and refrain. All the best--
If you have a built in phonostage already, you're definitely on your way.
Slap a MM or HOMC cartridge on whatever table... just get something off of Craigslist and you're good to go.
I started listening to music with LPs and didn't know the first thing about gear. The collecting, finding 50 cent/dollar records is half the fun.
Like others have said, just go for it.
Look into the Denon DL 160 as well... $150 cartridge new.
And it's fun to be trendy.
Some folks missed that incredibly important day of kindergarten where the teacher presented the idea that if you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all.
There's the problem. Many of us are so old there was no Kindergarten when we began our formal education. Now I understand why we are so cranky.
Go out to Amazon and get a Audio-Technica AT-PL120 turntable for about $175, order a Audio-Technica AT440MLa from LPGear.com for about $120 and have a respectable setup for less than $400. For now, you will be more than happy with this set up.
Analog does not have to be expensive. It *can* be *very* expensive, but it does not have to be this way. You just happen to post on a site where people trade components that cost way more than my first car (or second car, or even my current BMW, for that matter).
After you start buying LPs, send me an e-mail with the bands / LPs you buy...I'd be interested in knowing. Also, if you need help setting up your table once you get it, shoot me an e-mail and I'll help you out.
Yahoo! Good for Nrenter!!!
Before I had read through this entire thread, I was getting ready to recommend the Audio Technica PL-120 as well, but Nrenter beat me to it, and named the ideal vendor as well. Amazon's current price on this turntable is $161.78
At its price nothing can touch it, and for all the yammering on this thread about the Rega P1 and P2, this Audio Technica beats it all to hell on build quality and ease of operation. AT is able to offer up so much more value for the money thanks to more automated manufacturing (to very close tolerances) and the economy of scale that results.
Go to this page of Tone Publications' online magazine and download Issue 11. In there, Jeff Dorgay, the publisher/editor, reviews the Audio-Technica and gives it a very favorable review as a $300 machine. Now you can get it for a little over half that. Jeff and the others at Tone have fairly rarified tastes, and typically listen to multi-thousand-dollar belt-drive 'tables in signal chains of handmade electronics. Yet Jeff saw the inherent value and performance of this AT 'table.
Another cartridge--the one that Jeff settled on with this 'table--is the Ortofon 2M Red (or the Blue version if you care to spring for it). The 2M Red is roughly the same price as the AT 440MLa; it's just another alternative. Anyway, the PL-120 plus the 2M Red come to under $270, and I think you'd get a lot of enjoyment out of that combo.
No one said (or, at least I didn't) that a budget system can't be enjoyable. But let's not forget the ancillary stuff necessary for it to *be* enjoyable-especially relative to a ceedee reference. Stylus brush. VTF scale. Record cleaning brush. The tools, knowledge and discipline to learn to align your cart. Some way of cleaning the records, particularly if the OP is planning on buying used. LPs are valuable, so some good sleeves for storage. Oh yeah, that brings up the pesky issue of software-how much of that 400.00 budget will go to buying some music? A library of, say, 12 albums is going to get old really, really quick.
Yes, people have been enjoying records for close to a century, but how many of those people would choose ceedee over vinyl on a mid-fi system? Who knows, but if the marketplace is any indication, about 99%-and as much as I like vinyl, I'd probably be in that percentile. If I was in the OP's position and was gifted with a large record collection, it would be fun to buy a cheap record player and spin some tunes. But I'm pretty sure I'd go back to digital for the best sound.
And that was, after all, the OP's initial question.
I've got about 500 CDs and no vinyl. Im not looking to run out and buy 100s of LPs; Im sure Ill slowly acquire them just as I have my CDs.
Im not looking for miracles, just another means to enjoy my music. My father is an audiophile (a member here, but he has insisted I not mention his name... as to not tarnish his reputation) who claims buying one of these cheaper tables isnt really worth the investment. I realize it wont be top notch, but Im perfectly alright with that.
Thanks again to everyone; Im searching the classifieds here, amazon, and eBay. Ill let you know how it works out!
My father is an audiophile...who claims buying one of
Listen to him.
Here's what will happen. You'll buy an inexpensive table and cartridge. You'll
buy cleaning materials and set-up tools. You'll buy some used and new LPs.
Before you know it, your inexpensive $300 foray into vinyl will hit the $600 -
And...you'll be wondering why vinyl doesn't sound as good as your CDs. So,
you'll buy a more expensive table, arm and cartridge. You'll lose 50% or more
selling your old table and cartridge. Quickly, you'll have spent $2000-$3000,
and you'll still wonder why vinyl only sounds about equal with your CDs.
Read the threads and you'll discover the same story told over and over again.
Listen to your father. He's been down this road already, and he's trying to
save you time, money and frustration.
Sounds like all your father's advice on the subject has done is delayed your enjoyment ( or perhaps dissatisfaction ) of an analog front end. Is he willing to pony up some cash to get you an "acceptable" table?
Quite frankly, when I was your age, I "wasted" far more than $400 on far worse ideas. If you don't like the AT table, you'll get most of it back by selling it here on the 'gon. I wish I could say the same for my "bad ideas".
If you don't like the AT table, you'll get most of it back by selling it here on the 'gon.Really? Based on what evidence?
I don't see a large demand for cheap turntables among the users on Audiogon. Even the highly regarded and "cheap" Technics SL1200 tables sell for $.50-$.60 on the dollar here.
For some, it's an investment and calculated move for others - passion and joy.
Kids at my local, used LP joint do not need thousands to enjoy vinyl.
Here, most do.
Here's what will happen. You'll buy an inexpensive table and cartridge. You'll
Unfortunately that is the road we've chosen and there is not ONE person here who didn't get his cherry popped.
To cause you less grieve and expenses - buy used.
But do not be discouraged - try it, listen, be your own judge.
There were a lot of experiences/decisions in my life that cost me dearly - analog rig isn't even close to any of those ..... but I enjoy(ed) them all.
04-22-09: TvadWell, since the PL120 can be had new with warranty through Amazon for $161.78, you can't lose much at all. Even if you take a 50% hit, you've only lost about $80--the cost of 2 or 3 new albums.If you don't like the AT table, you'll get most of it back by selling it here on the 'gon.Really? Based on what evidence?
The Audio Technica would be worth keeping around at that price to play 78s if nothing else.
And you don't need to spend a lot on cleaning or aftermarket accessories. The PL-120's counterweight calibration is accurate enough, and a bundle of Fibertex microfiber towels from Costco plus a spray bottle of record cleaning fluid will do the job. And you can get a Magic Eraser for $2 to clean the stylus forever.
I can certainly vouch for the quality of the Dual 500 series. You can easily find one on Ebay for around $25 to $50 (the one I listen to most is a CS522 with AT130E cart). I also own the Pro-ject debut with Ortofon Om10 cart and enjoy the table quite a bit. I just ordered the speedbox mkII and will report on the differences when it arrives. Start whenever you're ready. It really is one of the most enjoyable hobbies and the reward is definately worth the money and tweaking.
True, but a lot of people start there.
I understand. I'm not arguing that point. I'm simply pointing out that few audiophiles, if any end up there, and to believe that a $300 investment in an analog front end is going to be satisfying for long is unrealistic. This is the point the OP's father is trying to make if I'm not mistaken, and thus far, I don't see anyone disagreeing here.
You own a Teres turntable, an Origin Live Silver tonearm and a Denon DL103 cartridge. A pretty sizable investment.
And it took me 10 years, 4 companies and and MBA to get there. I like nice things, and I'm not going to apologize for that. Do I need this setup to enjoy music? Nope. Not at all. Do I apprecaite the design, the history, the build, and the fact I can call the guy that build my table should I so care to? Yes. And I'll pay dearly for that privledge.
Tell me again, how does this make me a snob? There is a price point for every music lover, and there is a product at damn near every price point. I don't disparage anyone's means or priorities. On the contrary, I find workable solutions where you offer nothing but discouraging words.
I have a "music lover" freind that has 10x the LP collection I will ever have, and have been using the same Technics SL-1200 that I picked out for him back in Jr. High (mid-80's). He loves that table and will use it until he dies.
I have another "music lover" friend that owns his own record label that uses an AT table (the same one I recommended) an could not be happier with it. Again, he'll probably use it forever.
I have "audiophile" friend that wouldn't be happy no matter what was in his system, as he's chasing that "absolute sound."
OP doesn't sound like an "audiophile". He sounds like a "music lover". We could use a few more of those around here. And if someday he wants to upgrade his system, provided he can afford it, God bless him.
Besides, who are you to define what is "satisfying" for him, and how long this "satisfaction" will last?
Step back and take a breath. I never wrote that it made you a snob. I asked the
Besides, who are you to define what is
"Or should I just stick with CDs?"
I agree with Tvad in the objective sense that inexpensive TTs do not sound as
good as inexpensive CDPs. To do better costs a lot of effort and money.
There is a bigger, more personal picture, though. There are a lot of people
(and I know them) who are interested in sound quality but are not
audiophiles. They perfectly enjoy their turntable rigs as do I when I visit them.
I was at a party recently where to my audiophile-dork dismay the record
player was playing on top of the a large PA in the back yard. Sounded fine - I
enjoyed the music.
One can, as people do, enjoy "inexpensive" turntables, often for
indie music playback which wasn't recorded at Carnigie anyways. The
playback will definitely give you a different mix/sound than CDP. You just
have to be clear on what your goals are and audition a table in your price
range to get a sense the sound quality. Also with what you are looking at,
depending on the specific model, you will not need much in the way of
This whole thread feels like Deja Vu....
I know for a fact Viridian has used the Mike Fremer/Porn Star analogy elsewhere...
Anyhow, Knotgreen -- what are your thoughts now? Aside from gaining the right to compete in these ridiculous battles on Audiogon if you do get into vinyl, are you still thinking about getting into it? I actually saw a used MMF-5 sell for about $200 here on Audiogon not too long ago...
And about the expensive LPs, if you don't mind building your collection to include mostly used classical, jazz, and classic rock LPs, you can find them fairly cheap.
Hi Knotgreen, my apolitical response to your question would be to consult with a reputable audio dealer. Analog is intrinsicly more complicated than digital, in both its user involvement in setup and the difference in sound. Listen to several different setups at several different pricepoints, ask questions and familliarize yourself with the difference between those pricepoints and the type of sound they offer. Make yourself aware of the difference in sound between analog and digital, and understand that whatever table you choose will not be as simple to use as a cd player. Make sure your table and arm choice is going to be something that can be setup by someone at your skill level. You may have to save your money for a while to get the setup that is right for you, as anyone on this post will tell you, analog is not cheap.
If you are serious about this, as others on this thread have said, you probably want to save up around $2k to make this a good experience from you. Even then, if you don't have someone there helping setup the table, etc, it is likely to be an exercise in frustration, as making turntables sound as good as CDs is not easy to do with all of the setup variables involved.
But - if you want to just jump in, buy the Audio Technica table and cartridge that has been recommended. Take the table and the cartridge to a reputable hifi dealer who can properly set it up, and pay them to do it.
You'll be in for about $400 at this point, and you'll need to buy some records to of course. You'll need to find a phono stage as well. This would be a good time to decide if you want to take things seriously, or if it was just a fun experiment, or maybe nothing will go right, and you will hate everything about how high maintainence analog playback is. Either way, that would be a good place to start.
The Audio-Technica turntable makes things even easier because it has a built-in phono stage. You can just plug it right into today's line-stage-only receivers and integrated amps.
Of course you can get a better phono stage by buying separately, but the AT-PL120 can get you started without that additional complication.
I want to add one more thing: different people hear things differently. It's why some languages have five different versions of the letter "p" and English has only one, why only a very few languages have a "th" sound at all.
My point is this: some people will never be satisfied with LPs regardless of how much is spent, while others will hear a marked and preferred difference even with the humblest of turntable/cartridge setups. Digital excels at the boom and sizzle--the sharp transients, dynamic contrasts, and frequency extremes. LP playback gets expensive to achieve the very best of that, but even my $2 (garage sale) belt drive Yamaha turntable with included conical stylus P-mount cartridge gave me the magic of the music between the bits that you can't capture via redbook (or even 24/96) no matter how much you spend.
So this idea that you have to spend $2K and up to begin to sound better than CD is highly subjective; it comes down to what you hear and what you listen for. If you hear the "music between the bits" you'll hear it right away on any turntable, even if it sounds compressed with a limited frequency response.
After all, it's the iPod generation who have been bringing back vinyl. They want something meaningful and involving to listen to when they get home and take off their earbuds. Do you think most of these new pressings are being played on Rega P7s with an Exact cartridge? They're either being played on Dad's old direct drive, B.I.C., or a new $150-300 Denon or Yamaha belt drive with cast aluminum platter.
Just wanted to update--
Got myself the Audio Techinica PL120. It took me about a half hour to setup and I spent the rest of the evening listening to records. I can't even begin to express how happy I am with it. The warmth of the vocals and acoustic guitar is so remarkable! Even dad, the once nay-sayer, had kind words to say about the table.
The counter weight seems to be the most confusing piece. As mentioned, this is my first time using a turntable and this piece seems to be the most difficult to get a hang of.
Anyway, thanks for the help! Joining the ranks of vinyl enthusiasts,