Differences between three turntables

Analog Forum:

I know questions like this have been asked many times on this forum, so I'm going to try and phrase the question a little different in order to avoid a chest thumping contest ;) I am looking to enter the world of analog and am at a young enough age where I have no experience with vinyl at all. I have done some research and I have narrowed down the following turntables and want to know what I can expect in terms of sonic differences and maintaince and setup differences as well as upgradability. I understand that one can definitely mix and match, so I realize that I am being unfair in a certain respect by not giving full specs or options on these turntables, and since I will purchase my setup on audiogon, I will most likely not get a completely stock setup... okay, here the choices are:

vpi hw-19 jr.
rega p25
music hall mmf-7

I will be using the phono stage from a BAT vk-3i and I will be listening to classical music exclusively. I know the BAT can handle mm and mc carts (again, I'm not sure what the sonic and practical differences are between these two formats, so comments in this vein will help too) and I have been told that the phono card has two gains - 45dB and 60dB. Normally it has 47k input impedance, but you can add any resistors you wish. It will work great with any cartridge with output down to .1mV or so.

I'm trying to avoid the "which is better" type of question and am more interested in comparison in terms of sonics, ease of use, and upgradability.

I'm also ameanable to answers that read such as "go with X and then look to upgrade to Y cart or Z tonearm in the future".

Finally, I have somewhat of an inclination to go with the VPI as in general I like to purchase at the low end of a brand that I then will stick with and move up their line (e.g. to the Scout and Scoutmaster).


I am a VPI owner, although I started with a Scout (not the HW-19), and then moved up to a Scoutmaster. However, I auditioned the Rega 25 (with RB300 arm and Benz Ace cart) for a good bit before deciding to try the VPI (which, contrary to popular advice, I bought based on comments here on A-gon without first actually hearing it). However, I have not regretted going with the VPI at all.

Now, after having listened to both, the main difference that I perceive between the VPI Scout/Scoutmaster and the Rega is that the VPI has finer details. Each instrument or vocal is more distinctive and floats in its own space, and seems like it is etched in detail. I like that. Although I believe some people interpret this as VPI being too "analytical." So that's a matter of personal preference.

In contrast, the Rega (IMHO) does not seem as detailed, but instead creates a very "holistic" musical presentation (for lack of a better term). It is very good, and some people prefer that.

So it really kind of depends on your personal taste and what you want to your system to do. As an entry level TT, you can't go wrong with either. However, for what its worth, I have read other comments that there really isn't much of an upgrade path for the Rega 25.

I'm sure others can and will suggest other TTs not on your list.

A final note, VPI is about to ship its latest JMW9 "Signature" arm, which will mate with the Scoutmaster (and Scout). You can get details on the VPI website.

Good luck and welcome to vinyl.
VPI no longer makes the HW-19 series so upgrades will be difficult once VPI sells the parts they have in stock.

I will let the analog gurus answer the rest.

Good Luck,


p.s. I have a Hawk 19 MIV. I like it alot. I am pondering buying a scout or upgrading my Hawk. Leaning towards the scout.
You fail to mention what arm is on the VPI, BUT the VPI will sound good with just about any arm. In other words, there is scope to upgrade the arm later on if you wish.

The VPI jr turntable can also be upgraded to MKIII or MKIV specs, or you are creative you can stick a TNT platter on it. Each mentioned upgrade will give you a nice bump in performance.

Best yet is to look for a HW19 MKIII or MKIV and purchase that rather than the jr.

After you get your deck (and tonearm) you should consider which cart buy. DO NOT consider a cart first and then try get a deck to match it.

I have no experience with the other two tables but have had a new MMF-7 for over two months. I am extremely happy with it. It was easy to set up, is easy to operate and comes with a hinged dustcover, which is important in my dusty country home. I also think it is a good value for the price. The other table I listen to every week is a tricked out Linn Sondek. When I go home and listen to my MMF-7 I realize it isn't a Sondek, but it still sounds pretty good.

Good Luck

I have a VPI HW19 MKIII and I sold my Rega P25 when I bought the VPI. So I can give you some insight there. I've not heard the MMF-7.

The VPI and the Rega are pretty different TTs. The Rega is of the light construction school while the VPI is all about weight.

Both sound very good. And both are fine entry level turntables. They are both easy to live with, easy to set up and are pretty much plug and play. It's hard to compare them because they are so opposite in nature. I find my VPI has much better bass than the P25 and it is more speed stable. My P25 ran a bit fast as is a Rega trait. The Rega is a quick table the music is fast paced, but the VPI isn't dull or slow. I'd describe it a weighty.

After owning the VPI I wouldn't go back to a P25 that's for sure.

As others have said, you'll do much better if you find a used MKIII or MKIV. I got my MKIII with an rewired RB300 tonearm on A'gon for $800. And I sold my P25 for $725. So pricing of the two is about the same.

The HW JR. is fine and currently a bargain but you'll have difficulty upgrading now. The MKIII/MKIV have vastly upgraded plinths, bearings, platters and armboards. All worth having.

Good Luck
the jr and its upgrades are still the most bang for the buck....the whole boyscout series is ok sonically, but a don't think it will stand the test of time.
My .02, check out the Basis 2001 that is listed here on the 'gon. I have no affiliation with the seller or Basis, other than I am a former 2001 and MMF-7 owner.

1st, it has the same motor that is used on the Basis Debut so there is no speed stability issue.

2nd, the noise floor is much lower than any of the tables in your list.

3rd, you can put a much better arm (Graham or Vector) on it than any of the tables in your list.

4th, (and this is a biggie) it will do your vk-3i the justice it deserves.

5th, you won't have to go through the inevitable upgrade.

Yeah, I know. It's not my money. :)