Digital guy, thinking of taking the analog plunge.

What is the simple way to get stated with a turntable. I am looking for something easy to use that does not require hundreds of upgrades and tweaks. Is there a good starter set up out there or is buying a used table somebody upgraded a better bet.

Where does one start?
If you want a relatively inexpensive "turnkey" solution with a pre-mounted cartridge, it is hard to beat the new Rega RP1. It comes with an Ortofon cartridge pre-installed, and one of Rega's great tonearms.

Note that unless your receiver/integrated amp/preamp has a phono input, you will need a phono preamp as well as a turntable and cartridge. There are good inexpensive units from Creek, Pro-Ject, Music Hall and Parasound, among others, and a used one can usually be found at a very nice price.
What's your budget ? Perhaps a Rega table/arm combo for around $1,000 will meet your needs financially (excluding phono-pre & cart) ? If your holding back on the budget because you are unsure you will like analog compared to digital (Like I did), forget about that. You will love it. So if you have the cash, get what you want. There is no turning back to digital once you go analog (Fair Warning). The Clearaudio Concept Table package with arm and cart is another nice kit for $1,500.00 to start your analog odyssey.

I was in you shoes about two years ago ... all I can tell you is in my case it's been well worth the "journey". I say that because at first I just wanted an older vintage table with a basic cart and be done with it. We had a little "audiohead" gathering at a local pub and I asked the question "what table should I purchase?" I basically got my head ripped off for asking such a dumb question and never did get a straight answer. Every question I asked was answered by 3 more questions back to me. I continued on to my local used audio dealer and was given so my options I had found myself back at square one.

Here are some of the mistakes I made :

1. Don’t underestimate the possibility you may stay in analog for a while and start buying LPs which could bring on the upgrade bug regardless.

2. Invest in a good LP cleaning system - I bought the Spin clean because it's inexpensive and seems to do a pretty good job.

3. If you pickup a turntable w/o a cart make sure the cart you purchase works with the turntable. Yes, I actually bought a cart that was such that the VTA on my turntable didn’t accommodate it very well. The same goes with the cart and the phono pre - not all MC carts are created equal.

4. Space ... No, not a Deadhead interlude - LP's and cleaning systems take up a lot of it as well as the table itself. Just something to think about.

I like the Rega/Ortofon combo because it's been matched. I almost wished I would have gone that way but I have picked up a lot of knowledge about what I like along the way and I am still not into my analog setup nearly as deep as my digital setup. I find myself listening to entire LP's now where with digital I hop around a lot. I have rediscovered a lot of music I had long left behind which was an unexpected bonus. The sound is very pleasing but then again, so is the digital setup. I’m glad I did it and I hope you are too.

Good luck,
You should ! Do it ! You will love it.
I do have budget considerations and found that my first trip into the digital world of hifi was on a tight budget. I moved up rather quickly, but spend more time in a gear hunt than relaxing with music. This time I have the speakers, I think I have the amp, and will be looking for a source that lets me relax and spend time with music rather than tweak and upgrade all the time. I love some of the old vintage stuff, but am not sure I have the patients early on to let the learning curve work. I would like to get into something that is ready to go and if possible be under a grand used. I have looked at the empire decks, VPI Jrs., and a few of the oracle units. There is a tipping point between ease of use (albums spinning), quality of sound, limited maintenance, and cost effectiveness that i am looking for. For now I plan to stick it out with my old pioneer deck and scott nixon dac for cds. I want to keep the collection small with albums I want to listen to for hours.
I reserve Friday night for LP listening. I wait all week for it in fact.

My rules are;

I have to listen to the entire LP both sides.

No breaks - just keep them spinning.

No new music - just classics.

Last night was a blast. I picked up Elton John's - Greatest Hits and it was great. I spun Linda Rondstadt - Made in the USA and Bob Seger - Night Moves. All I can say is I approach it the same way you just mentioned. I want to sit down and just enjoy the music. Dont worry too much if the speakers are toed in perfect or the amp has warmed up enough. Just grab a beer, sit down and relax. It's really worked out great.

I agree with your second post - get something you dont have to mess with much. I ended up with a modified Technics 1210 M5G and a Denon 103r. Seems like an excellent match to me and I enjoy it very much. I thought about a big investment but I wanted to see how it went first. It's going very well and I'm not sure I will move up at all; why spoil a good thing?
Looking to stay under $1k, that is my max unless I move some other great or find a great trade. I am set with speakers and amp, but everything else is in the air.

I really want to keep it as simple as possible. Set up, maintenance, and updates are going to need to be simple. This is key for the arm/cart choices as well.
Since you are new, stay with new unless you can buy local and have good dealer support.

Also, I would recommend that you go with a either a pre-packaged combo or purchase from a source that will ensure good system matching (especially table/arm/cart).

I started with a Pro-Ject Debut III and made some misteps. For example, that table will not accommodate mc carts without upgrading to the acrylic platter (original platter is steel and mc carts attract to it). Also ended up with the Speedbox II. That said, I ended up with a pretty nice combo for around $800 all-in.

If I were to do it again, though, I would probably start with one of the following:

Rega P3-24 and Elys 2. You should be able to get both for around $1000.

Pro-Ject Xpression III and Speedbox II. You should be able to get both for around $800 (ask for at least 10% discount).

Also, look at getting the Bellari VP130 phono stage or the entry-level Vincent phono stage (forget the model number, but it's a 2 box affair).

Happy listening,

I am moving in the direction of a....

Still negotiating with three guys over 5 possible table options. One is local, one is a great deal, the other is from a trusted shop from Seattle.

I am close to a deal on one, and pretty far off on another. Loved the Horizon, but the only one I have seen for sale is way overpriced.