Empire 298 Questions

My dilemma: I grew up in a house with two audiophiles for parents. I haven't lived at home for a while and sadly that means I don't have a turntable for my vinyl collection. So basically, I'm wondering whether I rehab an old Empire I inherited from my grandfather or do I buy a new intro level table? I've currently got an Empire 208 with the model 98 tonearm, which I think technically makes it a model 298. It runs, but needs some cleaning up. It definitely needs a new belt and it's missing the headshell and I'd need a cartridge. I'm wondering if it makes sense to buy something new along the lines of the Rega RP1 table that comes with the Ortofon OM5e cartridge or the Music Hall MMF-2.2 LE which comes with Music Hall's Tracker mm cartridge or if I should spend an equivalent amount of money (around $500) rehabbing the Empire and on a new cartridge for it?

My guess is that the Empire will be the better table when I'm done, but can I do this project with a $500 budget? Given that I grew up listening to a proper system with gear like Audiostatic speakers, etc, I've got reasonably high expectations. Any opinions as to which route will sound better at the end?

Thanks for any help you can offer, I'm very new to at creating my own setups.
It is definitely worth doing and should be doable if you can find a headshell for the arm. If not, you will have to replace the arm and that might require more extensive modifications to set up.

OTOH, if you decide against doing it, I would be happy to take it off your hands. I miss the Empires I gave away.

I think you will find many others would love to take that off your hands...Great table..Just needs some TLC
There is yet another option for an Empire 298, but it is more expensive. There is a wonderful engineer name Mike Paschetto who owns a company called Analog Engineering that can take an Empire 208 and turn it into an AE 2008 -- the details are available at analog-engineering.net. I had this done with a 208 last summer, and it came back as a gorgeous piece of equipment. But, it costs $2495.00 to have the upgrade work done, and then you have to add a tonearm and cartridge on top of that.

I have done some simple restoration myself on a 698 -- so here's some suggestions for the 298 -- you should check to see if the bearing is still properly oiled -- if not, Singer Sewing Machine oil is a good, inexpensive choice for lubricating the bearing -- as I recall, it is about $15.00 a bottle. Replacement belts for the 298 are readily available online from several sources, and shouldn't cost more than about $15.00 or so (the original part number is DB-208 and the belt is a flat belt with a 35.1" circumference). Replacement grommets for the suspended motor are often available, off and on, through eBay. Your big issue is the motor itself -- is it in good operating condition and will it maintain speed -- if so, you are in good shape. If not, getting it refurbished or finding a replacement may be tricky. If you just need a belt and bearing lubrication to get the little puppy operating, then you can take the rest of the money and purchase either a used cartridge here on Audiogon or a good basic cartridge from someone like Needledoctor (a Grado, Goldring or Denon, for example) and stay within your five hundred dollar total budget -- just take care to make sure the cartridge weight is compatible with the 298 arm's weight range (sadly, I don't know what that is).

As you can see from the other responses you got, if all this is too much to take on, you can always sell the table and use the proceeds to buy something modern -- be sure to check market prices before selling -- as the interest expressed on this thread demonstrates, a 298 in good condition is a desirable item.
Sorry, I also meant to mention that you can sometimes find headshells (or separate arms being sold with the headshell) on eBay for the Model 98 Arm, although you may have to be patient and wait for them to turn up.
We have developed an update path for the Empire as well (and Mike is one of our customers...)


If you decide to do the work yourself, we also have new correct motor mounts and new belts. This is an easy table to update- for years I ran mine with the SME 5 mounted on it.