Entry level turntable for my son


Hello all, 
My 16 year old has the same audio sickness as me. He recently approached me about acquiring a turntable for his system. Any recommendations on the entry level stuff from Rega, project, music hall, etc? Should I stick with the newer stuff or look for an older model like a Planar 3 or a MMF-5? I still use my Linn LP 12,  but I hear the newer ones out there have some nice new features the older entry level stuff didn’t. I don’t think he will be looking to do any modifications in the near future, he just wants to spin some vinyl. 
Thanks in advance!
skipper320
My personal preference at this moment in time is anything in the Music Hall lineup. They all appear to be very well built and performnace is excellent

I have a Rega, that I have tweaked and rebuilt over the years, but at a cost that equates to an MMF 9.3, so I would not recommend them for someone starting out
http://image99.net/blog/files/category-turntable-mod0027s.html

Regards
A used MMF-5.X would be a nice entry level table. 
Thats great that your son has the same sickness.  lol  I would not normally say that but in this case.... 
For a 16 year old person i would buy ONLY (made in japan) Technics Direct Drive, the SL1200mkII on used market is $300-400. This turntable is unbeatable and build like tank, so he can do whatever and you can make sure it will last forever, in case of the spare parts - there is a huge market and they are cheap.  
A 16 year old who just wants to spin some vinyl? As Twain would say the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

I'm with the chakster. A kid who just wants to spin some vinyl, get him a bullet-proof rig. The way I look at it, anyone playing records on anything is going to eventually realize they sound so much better than anything else they will eventually want something even better. But not if it breaks. Or is finicky. So I vote for the tank.

And this has nothing to do with my first table being a Technics. Honest.  lol!
A VPI HW-19 (build like a tank) with a Jelco or Rega arm. Available for under a grand.
Noting recent medical advances and cure's for various
maladies, I'd have to second or third the recommendation
for a DD Technics of some sort.

Would make a great stepping stone if the illness is terminal. 

Check out U- Turn audio very affordable and American made with great reviews. The company was started a few years ago by some high school students.
The Project Carbon Debut is great and easy. Highly recommended.
I have two nieces who independently chose the U-Turn Orbit turntable. Both are very happy with it.  
+1 on used Technics 1200 or, if you can find one, the 1600.  I've had an SL-1600MKII for 35 years and it is still going strong.
I used to have a U-Turn Orbit Custom. It’s a high quality entry level turntable. I had the Ortofon 2M Blue and either the Pluto phono stage which I later upgraded to the Schiit Mani phono stage. This turntable and phono stage should together all be less than $1000. 
UTurn.....great entry level, quality and customer service.
One more for Technics of some sort. I got mine when I was 16 and it is still here and I still like it.
how about a dual 1229q ,has strobe, auto on/off no  cuing necessary or they can go manual, removable headshell,an idler drive and they last forever, probably find one for $100to $200. I gave my old one to my son and he is still using it! He loves that he doesn't have to get out of his chair to lift the arm like dad does.
My first table was a Technics when I was in middle school in the early 80’s. Great place to start or maybe Dad should pass down the Linn and treat himself to an upgrade.
Dad would love to pass own the Linn and move on, but the wife would like to express her disagreement! My son was talking to his grandfather ( from whom I acquired my audio sickness), and he told him to go for a Thorens TD 160 or a Rega Planar 25. Dad is a fan of vintage gear. He has an old Dual 1019 he’s willing to pass down. Is it worth it for the kid just to get things going? Dad is the original owner. It’s in minty condition but could probably use a new cartridge. Anything to watch out for on the old 1019? It seems like a good place to start him off with vinyl, and the best part, he’s willing to pass it down for free!
I also checked out the u-turn tables mentioned above. The price is right, but is the tonearm any good?
Thanks to all of oyu who prosted about the U-Turn - I just looked at it and find myself hooked.

Can anyone tell me what kind of material the sub-platter is made from ??? - thanks

I had been casually looking around for an affordable, but well designed second table and the Utirn has most ALL of what I had been looking for...
  • Drive belt around the outer rim of the platter - quieter operation
  • Motor as far away from the platter as possible - should not cause cartridge hum as with certain cart’s
  • The center of gravity of the counter weight is lower than the arm tube - something you find on high quality arms
  • acryilic platter option
  • great colour choices
  • simple operation
  • has an acrylic cover that can easily be removed for playing
  • Starting at $179 - WOW - what a BARGAIN!!!
This TT reminds me of the Rega II of 30+ years ago
  1. Afforable
  2. basic operation
  3. quality

U-Turn has incorporated the latest desing practices which would appear to make them a clear leader in affordable TT’s

Thanks - Steve


Great points Steve. What are your thoughts on the phono preamp they offer? Do you think it would be better to use an outboard phono pre amp or have them build it in?
For a 16 year old I'm going to give slightly different recs than for others. 
I think the idea of a used Technics is a great fit for the need. Super durable, easy to run, easy to move, and reliable. If you want to spend a little more and get him something brand new, the PLX 1000 is another solid option for pure reliability and ease of use. 

I started with UTurn a couple years ago, and I loved it dearly. Honestly can't bring myself to sell it still since it was a gift. If your son is very into modern style, this one might really appeal to him. My only complaint with it was moving the belt from 33 to 45 can be a little finicky. Nothing major, but as I got more 45s it became more apparent. They also seem to have had a bad batch of bearings hit the market in the past year. They customer service is exceptional, but you'd prefer to never need to use it. And if your son does get the upgrade bug, you hit the ceiling on the UTurn a little faster. But my GF has had hers for almost 3 years, and uses it regularly without any issues. I don't think she'd trade it for anything because she loves the look and it works exactly as she expects.  

The new Fluance models (RT84/85) look highly compelling at this price point as well. One I would seriously consider if I was in the market at that range. 

Now if your son likes to fix things, vintage can be a great bargain, and a great way to learn vinyl. I'm not saying to get him something that needs fixing. But vintage will probably need a fix sooner than later. You'll obviously get the best bang for the buck here. 
Depending on your son’s intentions, I’d recommend a vintage Technics direct drive turntable if he wants to listen to music. If he wants to be a rap-“DJ”, then he doesn’t need a turntable, but need a serato box and a rap controller or two. The SL-1200mk2 is probably overkill for a 16 year old, unless he’s unusually responsible and outgrown throwing temper tantrums, get a $20 garage sale junker. 
He isn’t into the rap DJ thing. He has a rather nice system and wants to get into vinyl after we attended a record show 2 weeks ago. He has rather solid musical taste in my opinion. Listening to my system since he was born, he know he prefers vinyl to cd or streamed music off his iPad. I want to help him get into vinyl. I’m not worried about temper tantrums. He is very careful with his gear. I’m really leaning towards the Fluance or uturn stuff. They seem to be well built and a good value. 
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I think the venerable VPI Scout with the acrylic platter is a great sounding table.  Get one used and they are built like a tank and well, down the road put a Lyra Delos on it and you might be set for a long time.  Its a great combination.  The work very well together.
The prices on the sl-1200’s seem to have climbed north of $500
The prices on the sl-1200’s seem to have climbed north of $500

On used market the price can be from $300 to $500 depends on condition, also depends how quick the seller would like to get rid of it. Some people taking offers. For top condition $500 is ok.  

In case you do decide on Technics, do not forget to buy him oil. A few drops once a year and he is good to go. One little (they are really little) container of Technics-branded oil could last for decade or more but it is more likely he will lose it before he uses it all.
@skipper320 ...
Do you think it would be better to use an outboard phono pre amp or have them build it in?
Technically - I think the built in option would provide better sound quality than their outboard version because the tonearm wire would connect directly to the phono stage
  • eliminates the issue of selecting a "worthy cable" for that connection
  • but it limits future growth

Personally, I really like their onboard option - its great for a second turntable...
  • no fussing/expense of a second phono stage and TT-to-phono interconnect
  • I only want one to play "less than perfect" recordings to reduce wear on my existing cartridge, so "perfect sound quality" is not really necessary

For someone getting into vinyl - since it is their only TT...
  • the external option allows them to upgrade either the TT or phono stage as required - so that might be the best approach.
  • but others may want that simpler approach, which the internal option provides

I think U-Turn offers some very flexible, audiophile oriented options and configurations that could suit a lot of people from beginer to advanced.

I like it when a company like U-Turn comes out with products that cause "ripples" in the "normal pond"

Other established brands (too many to mention) could learn from them

Regards - Steve
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Audio Technica AT-LP7, fully manual belt drive.

Cheaper/earlier  VPIs use the Hurst motor which does NOT have a lower bearing on the motor (God knows why they designed that s..t like that) ?
In a year or so, motor starts getting destroyed.  Keep away from any turntable which uses the Hurst synchronous motors.
@cakyol
You have no clue in making that statement. I’ve been using a VPI HW19 since 1995 and I have never had any trouble with the Hurst motor!
You must be one of the lucky ones.  I used the 'standard' Hurst motor in my Linn Sondek and it broke on me after about 18 months with grinding noises. My point is, I AM talking from experience.

Unless VPI is using a 'specialized' version of the Hurst motor, the issue is there.

At one point, being aware of this issue, I know VPI improved the motor by attaching a brass sleeve to the top bearing but this is a band aid, never a proper solution.

An axial motor without two bearings is bound to fail sooner or later.  It is a design flaw.


I gave my nephew my 30 year old VPI and he has never had a problem with that Hurst motor!!
Maybe the motors were built much better 30 years ago.. Just like pretty much everything else these days
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Marantz TT-15S1, great value!
Used Technics except for ones with a Plug in Cartridge.
1. Does your son prefer a belt driven TT or DD?
2. What is your budget?

I wouldn't buy any used Technics SL1200, because those were used and abused by DJs years ago. It's hard to find one that was used as a home playing TT. If your son prefers DD, I would go with a NEW SL1200G if you wouldn't mind to spend over $1600 or New Pioneer PLX1000 for around $800. If he prefer the classic one my choice would be much wider: U-Turn, Pro-ject, Music Hall, Rega Planar 1, Marantz. They are all in a same price category of $350-$500 with a similar performance. Sometimes I even think they a produce at the same factory :)
You might want to check out Fluance. Very reasonable prices.
https://www.fluance.com/turntables
Steer clear of "Toy" tables. I picked up an AudioTechnica AT-LP60 used for like 50$ off a friend (they retail at Best Buy for like 149 or something). It worked OK when I was using my HT receiver, but sounded miserable once I finally got around to upgrading to a real high-end amp. After that I picked up a Denon DP-300F. That actually sounded REALLY good. It was fully automatic and had a built-in preamp and lasted me until I picked up a really nice Emotiva differential with a built in Phono stage. Gave that one to my parents (who say it sounded better than the turn table they had growing up!) and grabbed a used Pro-Ject Debut Carbon used for like 350. It is incredible! Highly recommended and super affordable. Plus, it's rife with mods and extras to really geek out on.
All good advice...For new I would look at the Rega Planar 2/Planar 3 and the Pioneer PLX-1000 with Ortofon 2M Blue. For used, a Technics 1200 (not used as a DJ TT if possible) would be great. I have and use a early 1980s Technics SL-D303 direct drive that sounds great and will probably survive the nuclear holocaust along with the cockroaches. Made in Japan and I'm sure will far outlive me.  
Belt drive turntables must be avoided for sure, this is the worst investment, especially the cheap ones. Comparing cheap belt drive to $300-500 used DD Technics SL1210mkII is very bad idea, Technics always better in everything (and can be upgraded, if needed, by changing the arm, feet, power supply etc). You can’t buy anything better than this for $300-500 for a 16 year old kid.

Also in a youth comminity Technics is a legendary turntable used by their idols (deejays) in music videos and on stage, in the clubs etc, your hi-fi belt drive is nothing for them.

Technics DD previously used by DJ has no problem at all (if the tonearm is not damaged, which everyone can check). It’s impossible to damage Technisc DD motor, no matter who is the user, i have those turntables for 23 years, my neighbour have them for 30 years. Many friend purchased them used and some of them made in the late 80s or early 90s, still no problem to use at all. Every spare part for SL1200mkII or SL1210mkII available on ebay new in the boxes and can be replaced by any technician. This is Made In Japan quality and a cult turntable in the history. They made more than 3 000 000 of them and this is the reson why the price is so low.

A bnad new cost just $1399 (with phono stage and cartridge included)!
https://www.technics.com/us/news/20190107-sl-1500c/


the Technics is nice, no doubt about it.
Another vote for U-turn Orbit. Got one for my daughter with the Ortofon Red cartridge. She absolutely loves it! I believe the outboard phono stage and the one mounted in the TT have the same internals.
If it were my kids, the idea it came from grandad would mean a lot.
Many other suggestions are for better quality tables.
Why not start w a gift, if it needs cleaning, maintenance, lubrication, do it together, if it needs at minimum stylus replacement or cart replacement, start there & take your time looking.
Agree it’s hard to go wrong w any Technics table ( even the belt drive weren’ terrible)- I guess I’ve just spoken heresy aloud.
The important thing is have fun.
You'll die of old age before the opinions here stop coming in.
Re: the 1019:  http://best-turntables.com/dual-1019-turntable-review/
Since you like your Linn, maybe you could find a nice Basik with a LVX arm or better. I have one and love it with a Shure V15.
Sota Comet. Buy American!!!