entry level turntable


i am thinking of giving vinyl a try but i don't want to spend alot to begin with. am i better off getting something like the rega rp1 or the project debut carbon or would a vintage turntable be a better way to go.
ca4826
A used Dual is always a good bet if it is working. A $50 cartridge and you're good to go.
The problem is finding a decent used Dual for $30 someplace.
I know a local used Lp store has a pile of the plastic japanese stuff, but finding something you would want to use.....
Vintage tables often require a lot of TLC. I know, I own several. If you are just starting out, it is hard to go wrong with an entry level table from either Music Hall, Pro-ject or Rega. Personally I might lean towards the Pro-ject Debut because it comes with the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, which is an especially well-regarded entry-level cartridge.

If you don't have a local dealer you are working with, the folks at Needledoctor.com are terrific to work with.
So many of the entry-level turntables have moved up $100-200 in price in the last few years. The Project Debut Carbon seems to reset the price/performance point ($399) with a better tonearm and cartridge. It wasn't too long ago that a carbon fiber tonearm was considered pretty exotic. When you consider how ringy and resonant many tonearms are, that Debut Carbon makes for an excellent starting point.

You can do some economical upgrades during those first few years as well: replace the original stylus with the 2M Blue one, upgrade the platter, get a speed box to make the speed more stable and accurate. To me it's *the* starting point below $500.
Denon 47F with 103 cartridge should be your goal. Used it would be under $500. Of course, you need to pick up the unit, no shipping.
IMO youre way better off with the Rega or ProJect. IMO the ProJect Carbon sounds like it would be a great choice, but cant go wrong with either. In your price range, they will both be way better then vintage (again-in your price range).
You really need to state your budget for this but a used rega 2 or 3 would be a better option than a p1 or cheap pro-ject generally around the same price. you get your money out if you upgrade or abandon. make sure to get at least the rb250 arm, not the olderr 200.
The new VPI Traveler looks/sounds nice. Certainly worthy of a look and listen.
Is the VPI Traveler being sourced in China?
Do you have a phono preamp or phono input?
Rega RP 1 with performance package which comes with upgraded cartridge, belt & mat. If you buy pre-installed it is cheaper. All I will say is believe all the good things you hear about this TT!

P.S. - Don't judge at least till 100 hrs burnin (as with most). Big change.
The VPI is made in USA (New Jersey). There is only the cuing device that is made in Asia..(this is what I was told).
Here's a different approach: the Audio Technica AT-PL120 USB DD turntable with LPGear enhancements. It even has 78 rpm, and speeds are changed by a switch, rather than removing the platter and changing the belt position. The LPGear mods include a better mat and a Nagoaka cartridge.

PLUS! this TT has a built-in (but bypassable) phono preamp and A/D converter for ripping LPs to digital. The Tone Report's review of the pre-USB version of this turntable was pretty complimentary, especially considering the price. It's in Issue 11 under Dorgay's article, "Budget Gear."

Even if you move on, $300 bucks isn't much, and it could be handy to keep around for playing 78's.
Please do not buy the Audio Technica. Every audiophile forum has given this item poor reviews, but they are heavily promoted on Amazon and others sites because of the build in USB and phono preamp, presumably for people wanting to transfer their vinyl to digital. It may be ok for creating MP3 files, but not for pure listening to vinyl purposes. think about it, $300 for a turntable, arm cartridge, phono preamp and AD converter with profit for manufacturer, distributor and retailer. What could you really expect for that price? and how much is apportioned to the turntable/arm/cartridge only.
A Basis 1400 signature got me hooked on vinyl for good. That is his entry level table. I have since upgraded to the Basis 2200 signature and can't imagine needed another table.
I think going vintage is worth the risk if the price is right...I contemplated Rega and Project but was not that enthralled by build quality, etc for the money...Dual, Thorens,HK,etc are good bets for belt drive...I also like DD Denon, SOny,JVC, Technics...

09-04-12: Manitunc
Please do not buy the Audio Technica. Every audiophile forum has given this item poor reviews, but they are heavily promoted on Amazon and others sites because of the build in USB and phono preamp, presumably for people wanting to transfer their vinyl to digital. It may be ok for creating MP3 files, but not for pure listening to vinyl purposes. think about it, $300 for a turntable, arm cartridge, phono preamp and AD converter with profit for manufacturer, distributor and retailer. What could you really expect for that price? and how much is apportioned to the turntable/arm/cartridge only.

Did you miss the memo? In Issue 11 of Tone Audio, editor Jeff Dorgay (who regularly spins his vinyl on 5-figure rigs) gave it a pretty enthusiastic thumbs-up for what this TT gives you for $300. Have you ever heard of economy of scale? AT can make tens of thousands of these on a highly automated, high precision assembly line for far less money than something out of the British turntable cottage industry. Sold separately and in its own anodized extruded aluminum housing, Audio Technica's ATPEQ3 phono stage sells for around $82, was reviewed by Michael Fremer in Stereophile and nominated for 2010 Budget Component of the Year.

Your entire post is based on audiophile dogma and second hand knowledge gleaned from forums that recycle and regurgitate audiophile dogma. OTOH, I have one in my house (for my son) and it's really not bad. It's especially a good call for someone just getting back into vinyl who may be lacking a phono preamp and isn't comfortable with removing the platter every time he wants to change speeds. The AT120 is easily improvable for very little money, such as a better headshell, better mat, a clamp, and better footers and/or isolation platform. Many of the "audiophile approved" entry level turntables only work with a narrow variety of cartridges unless you buy an aftermarket counterweight that costs half again as much as the turntable itself. The Audio Technica can handle cartridges of many weights, and even has adjustable VTA.

If you knew the wholesale prices of entry level cartridges, and how much the housing adds to the prices of components such as phono preamps and digital converters, the final price of $309 wouldn't seem so unrealistic. AT includes the IC modules on the turntable chassis without the cost of extra jacks or aluminum housings. They really don't cost that much.
Johnny,
I am willing to accept that I am not the best person to opine on low cost USB turntables as the ones I have actually seen didnt merit even a tryout given their cheap looking construction and operation. However, even Tone Audio stated that "As long the internal phono stage is disabled, the Audio-Technica is “hard to beat” if you’re a vinyl lover on a budget'. so they didnt think much of the phono stage, even with MF's nomination for budget component of the year. Maybe the AT120 is better built and sounds better than most USB tables, which is what Tone Audio is saying, but to me, that doesnt say much.

To each his own, but I would buy used.
Buying used might be the way to go if you're on a budget and you do some research. All I can say is if you go out and buy new spending about $300 on turntable/tonearm,$80 on a cartridge, and $100 on a phono preamp if it is needed, you're going to be sorely disappointed if you're looking for analog bliss. Just ain't gonna happen. Several years ago I looked into getting back into analog this way and after listening to several entry level 'tables and cartridges it was extremely disappointing. Had to anty up considerably to get the quality of sound the big boys talked about. Good luck!

09-05-12: Manitunc
Johnny,
I am willing to accept that I am not the best person to opine on low cost USB turntables as the ones I have actually seen didnt merit even a tryout given their cheap looking construction and operation.

If you haven't seen/handled the AT PL120 USB, please don't advise someone not to buy one. The PL120 weighs 23 lbs and is NOTHING like the flimsy POS's made by ION and the like. Also note that the PL120 costs 2-3 times as much as the flimsy USB TTs you refer to. The PL120's built-in phono stage is simply a bonus to get a newbie rolling until he can afford a real phono stage. That Dorgay mentions that the TT sounded better with a quality external phono stage indicates that it's capable of higher resolution than the built-in, and that's good. I was suggesting the PL120 purely for its suitability as an entry-level turntable, not because it's USB-capable.

I'm in total agreement about those cheap'n'flimsy ION USB turntables and I've warned many people off them. But I've seen and felt them, and have also handled and used the AT PL120, and the Pro-Ject Debut USB. The ION is crap; its only selling point is that it has USB output. Not so for the Pro-Ject USB and the AT PL120. Both were viable and competitive entry-level turntables for years before their respective companies added the USB feature. They did the USB market a favor by offering quality alternatives to the ION.