Converting to Analog

Ok, after hearing vinyl at the Home Entertainment show last week I am convinced vinyl is superior to digital (including SACD). My question is twofold. Can I get near the level of sound I heard without spending $10,000 on a turntable, and am I nuts to add analog to a ss ARC 100.2 amp with a tube LS15 pre? I can review other threads for recommendations on specific turntables to consider. Is there anything else I need to consider in adding a turntable to my system?
You can get great analog sound for a lot less than you think. There is, as we speak, a Technics SP-10 MKII for a mere 599.00 including shipping here on Audiogon. You will have to add a tonearm and cartridge.
Yes,Its lots of work to get it right.
Besides a TT you'll need a phono pre and a cartridge that work together.
Proper setup is a must.
A record wet-vac is mandatory IMO
Cleaning a dozen LP's at once can take a hour or more.Besides that, the jackets of used LPs usually are soiled and can stink.They need to be cleaned also.Rice paper sleeves for the vinyl and a decent cover for the jacket should be used.
There's tons of used vinyl out there for pennies a pound but many need proper cleaning they probably have never seen.
Proper TT placement is huge too or you can run into acoustic feedback and other nasties.
Some other items you'll need is a protractor,stylus gauge,tweezers,level,stylus brush,stylus cleaner,some sort of vinyl conditioner such as groove-glide,stylast etc.
Plus be prepared when family or friends say " a record player? why, when you can play CD's??"
The world of vinyl will open your eyes and ears but be prepared to work for it.
Sorry,I only answered your second question.
Can you get the level of sound you heard without spending 10 K ??
Be ready to spend at least 2-3 K to get "near" that level but you won't hit it.I think you'll be happy anyway.
I recently made the jump back into analog. I have an ARC Ref 2 (tube) preamp, Plinius SA 250 MK IV (ss) amp. I did spend around $7500 for a VPI Mk.V turntable w/Graham 2.2 arm and Ruby Benz 2 cartridge, BAT PK V phono preamp and Synergistic Research tonearm cable.

Most of my nonaudiophile friends claim they can't hear the difference when I a/b the same album and cd. I find the analog sound more natural and prefer the analog to the cd of the same music. Now I'm enjoying albums I haven't listened to in over 20 years. Fortunately, I've always keep my albums clean and never left them out on the turntable. Most of them sound great. You will definately need a good cleaning machine. The VPI 16.5 or 17 are considered the best out there. Good luck, you won't regret it.
I believe that analogue reproduction is always according to the price you're investing. To get the sound level for $10k you must either spend $10k or acquire it used for less.
Good post David99!
I just got back to vinyl and find it hard to listen to most CD's anymore. In fact, I'm listening to music more now, finding that vinyl is much more pleasing to the ear -- none of that harsh digital edge on the highs.
I'm sure I don't have the sound of the "Show," but I do have analog at the same level as my digital and am VERY satisfied.
I started with a VPI HW-19 jr, a Rega RB300 arm, and a Grado cartridge, plus rewiring the arm and other modifications, for around $1500, to keep my investment down and see if I really would be into it. Well, yes I am!
CD's are about convenience, but, in my book, my ears are happier with vinyl.
I'll second David99's comments, but I don't consider it "work". A few extra seconds to sweep a record and stylus before playing and a few minutes here and there for regular maintenance. Initial set-up is not a big deal- just relax and spend a couple of hours or so. One could say that analog is slightly more "interactive" than digital and can certainly be more rewarding.

Tony, you didn't mention what you had heard at the Home Entertainment show. Maybe if you could share that information, someone could give you an idea of similar equipment/cost to approximate that "sound".

I think that you can do a good basic vinyl system for a lot less than what people think. I would suggest starting off with a moderate set-up and go from there. Just keep in mind that there are a lot more rungs on the ladder should you choose to climb higher. Obviously, you can go "sky's the limit" if you choose to do so and obtain correspondingly better results. This approach minimizes your investment should you find that you don't want to put forth the initial effort that IS required with vinyl.

If you keep in mind the following basics, you'll do okay:

1) ALL TT's benefit from placement on top of a platform that is very rigid, well damped and vibration free.

2) All vinyl based systems benefit from having thoroughly cleaned records and "needles". Once cleaned, records should be put into sleeves that are also clean without contaminants to re-pollute the vinyl. The stylus should be cleaned on a regular basis, but be VERY gentle. Do not use Pine-Sol or Formula 409 to "clean" the tip : )

3) All TT's benefit from the proper selection of arm / cartridge combo's and the appropriate fine tuning involved.

4) All cartridges can be fine tuned in terms of tracking specifics and loading within the phono section. If in doubt, follow the manufacturers' recommendations as closely as possible and then "tweak" as you learn more. Fine tuning can literally transform the tonal balance, amount of noise, etc.. from one extreme to another. Just be careful whenever working around the stylus : )

5) Don't be afraid to buy a used TT and / or arm so long as it is in good shape. I would stick to new cartridges and an arm / table combo that is already set up at this point in time though.

Good luck and hope this helps... Sean
My analog front end brought a recent dinner guest to tears ("the music is so beautiful"), while the digital had her dancing all over the living room. Cost for each: (not counting integrated amp & speakers as both were the same), Analog +/- $2,200.00; Digital +/- $6,000.00.

Both are worth every penny!

Best regards, Dave.
By "work" I mean mostly cleaning vinyl,jackets and getting the original sleeves in better condition.I save all the original sleeves for possible re-sale.Many need to be taped or glued.I clean the original sleeves also.It is lots of work getting vinyl and jackets clean.I hate to do 1 LP at a time so I wait til I have several to clean.
To me thats work.I'd rather be spinning than cleaning.
When I got my Nitty Gritty wet-vac I cleaned my whole collection in a 2 day period.At the time that was 400 LPs including applying groove-glide and cleaning the jackets and sleeves and putting the vinyl in rice paper sleeves and the finished product in a jacket cover.I also put a label on the back of each jacket with the date of the cleaning for future reference.
400 LPs in 2 days,NOW THATS WORK and maybe obsessive :~).I still have a buzz from the groove-glide!
David- Geez, you're even more obsessive than me!! Yes, I'd concur that cleaning jackets is real work- certainly alot more work than I'm willing to put in! You're going to give us vinyl junkies a bad rep. ;) (Yeah, like we don't already deserve it.... hehehe!)

A couple questions for you, David- 1)What process do you use to clean jackets and 2) what is your personal long-term experience w/Gruv Glide?

I recently rejoined the analog parade as well and I share with you my decisions. For your information:

I purchased a VPI MK IV with SME 309 and currently use the Clearaudio Beta Aurum cartridge. I am considering upgrades to the Grado Reference, Clearaudio Virtuoso, or other next year.

I purchased 500 rice sleeves and a VPI 16.5 wet vac.

I use Stylast products for cartridge maintenance and a Zerostat for static pops.

I opted for a Shure stylus gauge and fine tune slightly by ear.

My phono pre-amp is MM in a Cary SLP98P. I have thought of
upgrading to a separate but I am currently content with the sound.

I use the High-Fi News test record to evaluate the set-up. The turntable sits on an Atlantis rack with point suspension. Very stable, level, very low vibration and wide enough to support the size of the TT.

This set-up is relatively modestly priced and versatile.

I am biased to favor warmth over high-end shimmer, which can sound too analytical to me.

I hope this helps.
Is there VPI or Nitty Gritty or...or...or jacket cleaner????:^) Ho the hell is it possible to clean an inner sleaves?? I doubdt that vacume cleaner will be much of a help.

In fact I always have a couple of hundreds new inner sleaves and would never put the dirty record into the new.

Hello Tony. Guess what??? I am also becoming an analog convert myself. But only, not to the extent that you are becoming one. While I am getting ready to add analog to my audio system, there will always be a place for digital in my life, if not for the simple reason that I have invested hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in a CD collection that has taken me twenty years to build. And this is coming from someone who is getting ready to spend up to $1,500.00 on a new digital front-end in the upcoming months (I am looking at a SACD Player. I am considering both, a Marantz SA8260 and a Sony DVP-S9000ES, and at the moment, I am leaning more toward the Sony)(which is when it is all said and done, my analog front-end will cost about as much as my new digital front-end. But more than likely, it will be superior to my digital front-end, go figure ($125.00 for a used Thorens TD-147, plus a Grado Prestige Gold (and later on, maybe a Grado Reference Sonata), plus a Monolithic PS-1/HC-1, plus another pair of MIT Terminator 2 Interconnects, plus yet still, a record cleaning machine (a Nitty Gritty Mini-Pro 1))). And, I intend to keep on enjoying my digital collection now, and continue to do so years from now, while watching it continue to grow while I am watching my vinyl collection grow too.

But that's just me though.

But surely, you can get very good analog sound without spending anywhere close to $10K for it. I am getting into analog also, and I think that altogether, mines is going to be aproaching in the $1,500.00 to about $2,000.00 (and that's for the whole setup...... the turntable, a couple of phono cartridges (may start out with a Grado Prestige Gold, but will later upgrade to a Grado Reference Sonata), a phono stage, and a record cleaning machine). And while my analog setup may not be in the same league as a "state-of-the-art" $10K analog setup, it will be compatable to my setup, it rocks my boat, and I am saying that it will beat the hell out of my digital setup. What I am going to be looking for from my analog setup will be naturalness of tone, warmth, and a palpabilty factor (something that will draw me into the performance, making me become part of the event. That will either involve me singing along with the artist, tapping my toes to the beat, or getting up and actually start dancing right in the middle of my living room).

And my analog setup will consist of the following:

(01). A used Thorens TD-147 that I have recently purchased (I bought it used off of "e-bay" for $125.00 including shipping and handling. It was a $550.00 turntable a little more than a decade ago).

(02). I am going to use a Grado Prestige Gold cartridge with it for the time being. But depending on how good the Thorens is, if it turns out to be better than what I will expect, then it will have a much longer tenure in my system, and then I will upgrade the cartridge to a Grado Reference Sonata next year.

(03). A Monolithic PS-1/HC-1 MM/MC Phono Stage will be arriving in late August.

(04). I am also going to purchase a Nitty Gritty Mini-Pro 1 Record Cleaning Machine.

(05). And I am going to pile up on the accessories as well (some rice sleeves for my vinyl, an alignment protractor, a stylus gauge contraption to keep track of what's going on with my stylus, and to make sure that my arm and cartridge are tracking properly, a record clamp, and some spare belts for the Thorens as well).

(06). My Turntable is going to be placed on a marble top that is going to be placed on my DIY Salamander Synergy 40 "Look-A-Like" Audio Stand.

That's what my analog setup is going to look like when it is all said and done.

And all of this is going to be connected to the following system:

KEF Reference 102 Speaker System with KUBE Equalizer.
Adcom GFA-545 MkII Power Amplifier.
Adcom GFP-750 Active/Passive Remote Control Line Stage.
Magnum Dynalab FT-101 FM Tuner.
Pioneer Elite DV-37 Progressive Scan DVD/CD Player (soon to be replaced by a SACD Player. Probably, a Sony DVP-S9000ES).

JVC XL-M509TN CD Player/Changer (it sounds dreadful compared to my Pioneer Elite DV-37, but the JVC has something the Pioneer Elite doesn't have....... convenience).

Nakamichi BX-300 Cassette Deck.
MIT Terminator 2 & 3 Interconnects.
MIT Terminator 2 Speaker Cables.

Hope this helps you out some.

Best regards, and good luck in your pursuit of "converting to analog".

In no particular order:
Cleaning jackets and sleeves is not something I do, but I have done some Professional Comic Book repair. On the cheap is a cleaning pad available at an art supply store. The pad is filled with a powder. You shake the bag, rub in the powder, and dust it off. You can use a drafting brush if you like.

I have some rice paper sleeves, but don't consider them essential. I have gone thru several thousand of the 7 cent sleeves. The reason is that I really enjoy listening to inexpensive vinyl. I have over 9000 albums now, and have spent a buck or less on all but 1000 of them. Yes, they call me The Cheapskate. Most albums I have cleaned for me by one of my employees at $10/hr. Thats much cheaper than my time, and it's not rocket science.

I use a SAE 5000a and Burwen TNE 7000a. Both are tick and pop removers, and available for about $150 each, but there are many out there that don't work properly. You should pay $300 each if you are confident as to quality. I would be nice if I could buy 8000 albums for less than a buck each, and never have a tick or pop, but I've assembled a collection of several hundred Living Stereo LP's this way, and have bit the bullet on the ones I HAD to have a great copy of.

Most albums I listen to only once. New albums, and expensive albums I'll use Last Vinyl Protectant.

I don't consider the Analogue equipment to have any real cost versus Digital equipment because of the source material price break. You do the math with your figures, but for me 8000 LP's at $1 versus 8000 cd's at $9 equals a $64,000 savings that can be applied to analogue eqipment before the break even point is reached!
Heck, for $10-20 grand you can buy EVERY SACD and DVD audio disk ever made and have plenty left over for Class A players!
I like listening to great music I havent heard before. There is no way to do that in the High End on the cheap except thru vinyl.

The Cheapskate
You should just get out and listen to some TT rigs at various price points to get an understanding of how much it costs it takes to pull it off. IME, there is less diminishing of returns for TT rigs than for other components, so the answer to your first question, for me, is no. That is, if the rig you listened to was $10k. I don't think it takes $10k to beat SACD, though.

I would also suggest that you learn about cartridge and arm setup before you buy. There is a great FAQ section on setup at You really have to be honest with yourself when you consider whether or not you will like or not mind looking for records, cleaning them and setting up your TT. Its a lot more work than comming home HMV and hitting .
GO for it. A second hand table with no movement in the platter at all apart from round and round (sideways rock is BAD). I got a VPI Jr cheap and upgraded it slowly to Mk4 as I could afford it - an Orogin Live modified RB250 arm unless you are feeling rich..... I vote for a Benz 2 glider (with my walett!). mine is medium output, but if you want a cheap phono stage then a high output one will work into a low gain moving magnet preamp fine. Try to listen to a high output Dynavector as well. Grado is also worth looking at, most of all - TRUST YOUR EARS!
Next up for me is an Orogin Live DC motor kit.

Great post. Oh.... I like the nickname ("The Cheapskate) as well.

Jim-I clean my jackts with windex and a paper towel.It gets all but the most stubborn stains off and leaves them smelling fresh.If the jacket is rough texture I rub very softly with windex and a rag. A paper towel will flake on the rough textured jackets.
As far as groove-glide,Im not impressed with its ability to remove ticks,pops and fizzle.I just don't hear a difference in that regard.The reason I use it, is it makes the music sound smoother and more refined.I don't spin an LP without first using it.

Marakanetz- Always the negative! To answer your question "how the hell do you clean inner sleeves" Place the sleeve on a hard,flat surface.Wipe with a clean cloth that has been dampened with windex or some other cleaner and THATS IT!!!! That wasnt so hard! Besides getting the inner sleeves cleaner and fresh smelling it helps to get some of the creases out.
I sell vinyl on eBay.Original and excellent condition inner sleeves add value to collectable vinyl.When I write my descriptions I always describe the inner sleeves condition.I include also, that all my vinyl has been cleaned on a Nitty-Gritty and treated with Groove-Glide.Buyers love that!!
LP's need to be taken very good care of.This includes jackets and inner sleeves.The inserts and posters that came with many LP's of days gone by need to be taken care of also.These LP's can't be replaced
I don't like the idea of using Windex. Most glass cleaners are a combination of water, isopropyl alcohol, ammonia, and lemon extract. Assuming the water doesn't damage anything, ammonia and lemon will have serious consequenses long term. The cardinal rules of restoration are to do no harm, and make sure all work is reversable. I strongly suspect that 10-30 years down the line, these album covers will be noticably browner, and more brittle. The arts supply store cleaning pad is suitable for archival purposes. If your only concern is making things look better temorarily so you can off the item on eBay, then maybe you also want to try Armor-all on your vinyl. It will make it so pretty!

The Cheapskate
Brtitch-I use windex very lightly.I spray a small amt.on a paper tower and dont dirctly spray the covers.
I doubt very much this will have any harm on the covers as you imply.
your sarcasm concerning armorall is not needed.
I don't want to argue. I've sold over $20 million dollars of collectables, and I stand by my assertation that Windex will damage a jacket in the long term and is only done by unknowledgable or deceitful sellers. Let's just agree to disagree on this.
The Acoustic Signature Final Tool recieved a rave review on the Stereo Times site. It is about $2000 at the Jerry Raskin's Needle doctor. Combine it with an Origin modified Rega or Silver tonearm and the total is less than $3000. Add a good cartridge ( I like the Clearaudio Aurum Beta S) and you're in business for a lot less than $10000.