Hated my Pro-Ject Debut III looking for another budget option. Kind of thinking Thorens


Hi,
I finally got rid of my Pro-ject debut III and I am looking for another budget.   The ultimate deal breaker for me was that it was crazy noisy, loud hum,  also would generate a ton of static a couple of minutes into playing a record.  I always use an anti static brush,  and I started using an antistatic gun from work but the problem always continued. 

Lifting the plate up to change speeds was also way more annoying than I expected, and I listened to less of my 7" records because of this.   that fishing line counter weight was so corny,  for something that cost almost 500.00 USD I think Pro-ject could try a little harder (also has anyone ever had the knot come undone, took me over an hour to rethread the weight)  its like they finished designing this thing on a friday before a 3 day weekend. 

I am looking to get another turntable in that price range.  I can get a Thorens TD-170 next time I am visiting my in-laws in Germany for 380.00 USD and swap out the power supply for the US.   I like the idea of a built in phono stage so I can run line level straight into my passive volume control in then into my amp for even lower noise. 

Any suggestions?   people seem to say great things about the decked out U-turn but other than being less expensive at its core looks like the same thing as the debut III/carbon,  Music Hall,  entry level rega,  etc  

Also to note a lot of my records are relatively rare and have never been re-issued or released so I am not always listening to perfect 180 gram virgin vinyl. 

Any suggestions would be welcome.  Thank you, 
mwrenne
Unfortunately you’ll find most entry level TT’s at your budget of usd 500 all about the same. You know which ones they are already - you listed them. I think you’ll also find that the Thorens TD-170 is no better - might as well save money and get the Denon DP-29F which is very similar. But still an ill performing entry level deck.

If your serious about sound, my advice is to stay away from modern automatics and especially any TT that has a built in preamp. They are noisy and even when bypassed to be used with an external phono stage, are still noisy. Most try and remove them altogether so why have it in the first place.

If you can triple your budget, you can then get a true hi-fi TT like a VPI Scout Jr. or Clearaudio Concept. Now you’ll have something a cut way above your current Pro-ject Debut. But if you can’t, then look for a good used modern TT but it will still cost you a little more. I have seen Marantz TT15S1’s (basically a hopped up Clearaudio Emotion) for $800 used. There is we even a Concept for sale here on Audiogon for $800.  

If you still can't do that, then look at used vintage.  $500 will get you a good quality vintage deck like a Technics SL-1200MKii. Good luck.

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There is a VPI Nomad listed here for $700. It has all the features you are looking for. It just might fit the bill!
mwrenne,

That is a bummer that you had such a poor experience with the Pro-ject Debut III. I have a new Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Esprit SB and have not experienced any of the issues you described. I don't love the counter-weight setup, but it seems to work and I've not had any issues with any of the other features of the TT. It has electronic speed control which is switchable to 33 or 45 via a pushbutton switch on top of the plinth. I did have the setup checked/adjusted by my guru/TT Setup buddy. It was off a bit from the factory.

Regarding the noise and static you were experiencing: Did you have the TT Grounded using a ground wire from the TT to the pre-amp? 

I also would recommend that you don't buy a TT with a built-in phono pre-amp. As far as I know, they are all budget units, built to a price point and they will likely have compromises in all areas to meet the price-point.
I was never impressed much by the Pro-Ject Debut III, but I was *very* impressed with the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon with Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. The Debut Carbon DC, even more so, and at the same $399. I heard none of the static and noise on the Carbon; maybe the carbon arm neutralizes static? Or yours had a defective ground? I dunno, but when I was auditioning a Perreaux amp with my own LPs, the Carbon DC really *brought it*.

On a different note, how about a SOTA Comet at $850? Also available through Amazon, dust cover included. I never heard anyone dislike a SOTA.
Save a little more,get the used Rega RP3.
Top quality and sound for your bucks!
On a different note, how about a SOTA Comet at $850? Also available through Amazon, dust cover included. I never heard anyone dislike a SOTA.
+1 on the SOTA Comet!

But I thought the entry level SOTA was the Moonbeam.  That is an excellent price for a Comet! Either way, SOTA definitely should be considered when buying new as an alternative to the entry level decks mentioned above.
Paraneer:
But I thought the entry level SOTA was the Moonbeam. That is an excellent price for a Comet! Either way, SOTA definitely should be considered when buying new as an alternative to the entry level decks mentioned above.
My bad. I *did* mean the Moonbeam. The links to the SOTA website and the Amazon listing both go to the Moonbeam Series III priced at $850. The Comet is nearly double at $1600.

The Moonbeam seemed like a good candidate for a sub-$1K TT. I’m just not a fan of the RP1 and at that price think the Debut Carbon DC is the better value. I understand how the OP would be soured by his experience, but the original Debut III came out a long time ago (before Sumiko distributed Pro-ject?) and Pro-Ject has definitely gotten better and is under *a lot* more scrutiny than during the Debut III days. If Pro-Ject were still perennially problematic, they wouldn’t be the darling of all the mail order enterprises--MusicDirect, NeedleDoctor, LpGear, Crutchfield, Amazon, MagnoliaAV, SoundStageDirect, TurntableLab, B&H, even UnitedHomeAudio.

Still, the Moonbeam holds a strong presence at the $850 spot.

The Debut III if I am not mistaken is a non-US model More than just the power supply would need to be changed. The pulley system, the motor AND the power supply need to be swapped out.  
I second the Technics 1200 option.  (A Mk5g is worth paying a small premium for).  Absolutely tons of stuff on the net.
davidadavid:
The Debut III if I am not mistaken is a non-US model More than just the power supply would need to be changed. The pulley system, the motor AND the power supply need to be swapped out.
The Debut III has been a US model for at least 9 years, and is still a US-distributed model. It's most likely that his current version is a US-spec model. It just isn't very good, and it may have been an assembly line lemon.

However, I don't consider even the current version of the Debut III as good a value as the Debut Carbon DC, which, for $75 more gives you:

  • Carbon fiber tonearm
  • Ortofon 2m Red cartridge instead of tossaway OM5e
  • DC power supply for improved speed accuracy
And for $599, the Pro-ject Carbon DC Esprit SB gets you the carbon tonearm, Ortofon 2m Red, DC power supply, acrylic platter and electronic speed control.

I'm currently using the Esprit SB and really enjoy it. I may upgrade the cartridge, but other than that, I'm happy with it for the price.
IMO, Cheap cartridge on a good turntable/tonearm will beat an expensive cartridge on a cheap or poorly designed turntable/tonearm, every time.  So, stretch out to get a good turntable first of all, is my advice.  Surprised no one mentioned "vintage" in this connection.  In addition to the SL1200, I think you can still find a Lenco idler that fits within your budget (under $500) and can play with some of the big boys.  Then too, you can find vintage Denon DD turntables up to the level of the DP62 at or near to your upper limit of cost.

Had the same table and also hated it. I bought it from Audio Advisor and the salesman told me it was their best selling TT. Then, he informed  I could not return it or trade it. However, it was 3 months old. So much for AA's alleged advisers.  The table is a piece of junk. 

However, avoid  Thorens's new line of  tables.  And double avoid,  the so called Thorens "vintage" models on ebay that may be upgraded or refurbished. They are a nightmare of problems and don't offer the vintage sound they claim.

Check out either the Pioneer PS-1000( approx. $600, (and reviewed in Stereophile about 2 years ago by Herb Reichert) or the new Rega Planar  1 table which is approx. $450  and includes a cartridge. I would contact Music Direct, or check their website for new or clearance analog items.  Good Luck

I will never buy any table with a hanging counterweight.