Help a rookie.... kind of....

I'm not a rookie to audio, I've been enjoying this hobby for almost 25 years. I've decided to get back into analog. I still kept my album collection of about 400 LP's, in my second system. A low rent system albeit, but I kept it nonetheless. It's basically a Technics turntable with a Pioneer receiver and JBL speakers.
I just bought a Classe CP-60 preamp with MM/MC phono section, to go along with my Threshold T400 amp and Vienna Acoustic Beethoven speakers. I'm now looking for a high end entry level analog rig. Here is where I'm a rookie. I don't want to spend more than about $600-800 right now on a 'table,arm and cartridge, used is fine. Where should I start? If satisfied, I may spend more later, but I'm just dipping my toes in the water for now.


You don't want to mess with that old crappy vinyl..... just ship the lot to me and save yourself the expense of buying another turntable.

OK, since I can't beat you out of your old record collection here is my real suggestion.

What about a Well Tempered rig? Turntable, tonearm and cartridge should fit into your budget. Only downside is it will be difficult to upgrade without spending a lot more money.
Same deal here. Looked at all the choices and went with a VPI jr, Rega RB300, and Sumiko Blue Point Special. Fully upgradable and, I think, a cut above the Rega, Sumiko, Music Hall, etc. in that range.
HAHAHAHA.... Good one Albert and good to see you haven't lost your sense of humor. Since when is it a "downside" to find something that offers mega performance for a very reasonable amount of cash ??? : ) Sean
Still using the Well Tempered "classic" I bought in 1986, it's hard to beat but I don't think anyone will let one go for what you are looking at spending with a cartridge. I sure as hell would't sell mine for that! They will have to get it after my dirt nap. The WTL "record player" with a cart. MIGHT fit into the 6-8 range if you can find one. Ncarv has a good idea with the VPIjr or look for a SOTA Saphire, they seem to be out of fashion and can be had very reasonably.
Look at the Music Hall MMF-5 which lists new for $500 which includes a Goldring G1012 moving magnet cartridge (a $175.00 value). Just plug and play, and once you decide your back into records for the long hall, you can always upgrade later to high end.
I'm just book marking this page. I may jump into analog one day and need the info :^)
A little over your budget but Oracle MK2 with EPA 100 tonearm and Transfiguration cartridge for 1200 firm
Thanks for your responses so far gentlemen. It looks like Well Tempered is well respected, but hard to find. Maxgain, I have notice that the SOTA's seem to have the biggest discounts, is there a reason for this? Are they still in business? One thing I've noticed looking through used analog equipment, is that they don't discount like digital. What I mean by this is, for $700, I could buy a CD player that list for $2K. That same $700 will only buy an analog rig that lists for $1K. Hmmmm....seems like analog equipment holds its value better, therefore it must be more desirable.....hmmmmm.......interesting. Thanks again for all your responses. I see alot of those Music Hall all-in-one players out there MMF-5 and MMF-7, Sugarbrie recommended one of these as a good starting point, how do the rest of you feel about these 'tables?

I have the MMF 5 and it does music fine. I may upgrade latter, but for now I will spend my money on other things.
John, audiophiles are just as fickle as women who read fashoin magazines, SOTA is not stylish for this years"groovy"(pun intended) spring collection. There are many VERY good products out there that still perform well, that for some reason or another don't have "buzz" at the moment. SOTA is one of those. They are still around and building tables as far as I know. You can do very well building a system on a "budget",if you just pick up on last years trendy "color". Cables are the best example of this "style" thing. Buy last years sexy hot low-cut push-up fashion cable now for pennies on the dollar!
I read a post here that made me laugh so hard I nearly pissed my self, this pompous nerd was going thru a list of products that had fallen from grace, "old school" and and in his mind just so much crap for people who are not "hip & audiophile" . Audio Research and Conrad Johnson made the list. Please take advantage of people like this as much as possible. It will put a big smile on your face! And laugh at them when you see them wearing their pink pasley bell bottoms and platform shoes!So John "get with it".
Hi John,

Welcome back to vinyl!! I replaced a 20+ year old Dual turntable last year with the Music Hall MMF-5. I love the sound. I would never have believed I would enjoy listening to my old albums more than their replacement CD's. Even my 16 year old daughter prefers the sound of the vinyl. I bought mine just before the MMF-7 came out. If I were in your shoes I would seriously consider the MMF-7 new. You can probably get it for around $800. I also just bought the Music Hall CD player. I think Roy Hall provides excellent value in what can be a snobbish and over priced hobby. Happy listening and good luck.
John, it may not be that digital is less desirable that drives the price market,it just seems to be prone to fast change and unfortunatly less durable products. I doubt that my current CD player will be working 10 years from now. So the prices drop faster. A new $500 player kills any player made 15 years ago. I thik that turntables being mechanical devices are less prone to the reinvention of the wheel. A 15 year old TT can still be quite good today. A 15 year old CD player is pretty much a boat anchor.
Other than the good advice above, I'd recommend either a Rega Planar 2 or 3. They make really good music and are usually available used for reasonable prices. The stock arms are really good, as long as they're not too old. Arm bearings do wear out, and can really muddy the sound.
Some things to consider if you buy a used table:
1. Make sure you have someone check out the table before you use it. Platter bearing oil dries up after time, or turns to varnish. You don't want to ruin the platter bearing (the most important part of a turntable by far) by using it with no lubrication! Clean out the old goop and replace it with the proper amount of the correct lube. BTW, if you have a 'table shipped to you, make sure that the platter is removed and shipped separately, and that the platter spindle is either removed or supported AWAY FROM the platter bearing during shippment. You don't want those two knocking heads while being jostled by your favorite carrier. ;-)
2. Make sure you get a new belt. [You're not really considering a direct-drive, are you? :-)]
3. Buy a new cartridge. Carts have a shelf life, and an old cartridge's suspension has probably seen better days. If you can't do it yourself, have someone setup the cartridge for you. It can make a BIG difference. Of course, make sure the type of cartridge you choose matches what your preamp inputs are. MM/MC, High/Low Output, etc.

I've owned an Orcale Delphi (moderately expensive setup), but one can obtain very excellent results from a simple Rega P3 turntable, enough so that spending thousands won't be justified. Additionally, the P3 is common enough, and popular enough that it is an easy sell should you decide to experiment with something better. I acquired the new style Rega P3 w/ the RB300 tonearm and a DynaVector 10x4 cartridge for $700. Acquiring the P3 used or new will be easy. Do yourself a favor and give it a shot. I'd highly recommend getting yourself a VPI 16.5 record cleaner as well. Again, an easy find new or used. Enjoy!
John, you don't mention your digital source, but with the level of the rest of your components, you will not be happy with an $800 table for long. I just got back in to analog a month ago. I was never really out ot it - I upgraded my B&O beogram rx to a Rega25. I am not blown away by it and am looking to upgrade already. Thinking Spacedeck.
Maxgain, LOL, I've been in the audio hobby long enough to know exactly what you're talking about. Thanks for answering my questions. I just wanted to know if SOTA was still in business, because I have noticed that when companies go under, there used gear price drops very low. Like Threshold, Counterpoint, and Kinergetics Research have shown (to name a few). I own a Threshold amp, and I have nothing against using last years fashions, I just thought there may be a logical explanation, like company going out of business. I am aware of the non-logical price drops as well. Usually fashion has to do with glossy magazines reviews. With good reviews, a products resale value will be solid, with bad reviews, resale will plummet. If there is a reason for the bad review, that's understandable. I don't always agree with the reviewers though, good or bad. So if I like a piece of equipment that a reviewer says is bad, I'm actually happy, 'cause I know he's saving me money.
Pcs and Miami_al a, thanks for your replies on the MMF-5's, I am considering a MMF-7, it's good to hear positive experiences with the MMF tables. I'm also keeping my eye on some SOTA 'tables as Maxgain has suggested. I can be patient at this point, because my CP-60 hasn't arrived yet, and I've waited 18 years, what's another couple of weeks. I will let you all know when and what I buy. Thanks for all the responses.

Check out and you will see that they have a wide assortment of products.You should be able to pick up a referbished star or sapphire pretty reasonable.Feel free to call either Donna or Kirk the owners,as they are very helpfull and will give you a great deal.By the way,Sota has been back in buisness for a bit over 3 years now and doing quite well.
Egoss, I'm sure all your advice is good, but it kind of scares me. It almost sounds like shipping a turntable is like shipping nitro-glycerin. It also sounds like buying used is a bad idea, since I don't know about bearings/ lube and all that stuff, and if I have to pay to have the table serviced, that would come out of the table money. So your saying, I'd be better to spend $600 and the other $200 on service and setup? That's better than $800 on the equipment? What do the rest of you think? Does this sound correct? Is it really that difficult to ship and setup a turntable?
Jsbail, my digital is a Classe CDP 1, I also have a Sony DVP-NS900V that plays dvds and SACD. You may be right about not being happy for long, but the other option would be to wait another 6 months or so, If I were to spend much over $1K. I just don't have the cash now. Besides, I've heard lots of folks say that a <$1K table sounds better than a >$5K digital rig. So I don't think I should have to wait, from what I hear even a MMF-5 should smoke my Classe CDP1.
Franklapdog, thanks for the link. All you guys are great, this is a lot of information.
BTW, the Classe CP-60 phono section is MM/MC. I believe that the MM is the higher output of the two, is this correct? What are the advantages/disadvantages of the MM and/or the MC? Is it just a matter of taste?

Thanks again,
Rega 3 with the modified 300 arm if you want not to tweak it.Just set up an let er rip!But I'd look for a used Planar 25 and a RB600 arm.Get a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine and some LAST Preservative and you'll buy few CD's.Lot's of great re-issue wax form comapnies like Classic records and Sundazed.
Shipping a turntable _properly_ is no problem at all. But, I've seen guys ship them all set-up and not realize that (I'm certain) most of its shipment life will most likely be spent upside-down. :-( So you just have to plan for the worst possible shipment handling, and you'll be fine. Used 'tables *are* a bit risky, since you can't check them out before buying. I usually try to run a 'table with the platter on, and listen to the plinth with a stethescope to hear platter/bearing rumble. Some used 'tables I've run into have bearings that are very worn & noisy. That will transmit right to your cartridge, so be careful.
As for set-up, the Regas, being a fixed-mount platter (lacking movable suspension) are the ultimate "plug 'n play" 'tables. The only real set-up is careful levelling and cartridge alignment. For that reason they make really good entry-level 'tables. They also happen to sound fabulous. :-)
As for cartridge choice, that's really subjective. I prefer moving coils for their response times ("quickness") which I relate to dynamics. Some prefer Moving Magnets for their ability to "soundstage" better - like the Grados do. If you get a Rega 'table, you can safely use any Rega cartridge and you'll love it. Also any Dynavector that works with your pre-amp is a great choice. I'm sure others have their favorites, those happen to be mine.
Good luck, and if you have any specific questions, e-mail me & I'll try to help. There are a lot of great guys on the 'List, and I'm sure they'll help as well.

Linn Sondek LP12, with Linn Ittok LV-II arm and Linn Karma cartridge. You all have been very helpful. Ed thanks for your latest response. I have an opportunity to buy the above stated 'table for $700. One caveat, the owner will NOT ship. He lives about 1 1/2 to 2 hours away. The table was new in 1985, he claims there are only a couple hundred hours of use. Photos appear to make it look in great shape. Is this a good deal? Would I be better spending $700 on a table like this, or $800-900 on a new MMF-7? Ed, I don't own a stethoscope, and I'm not sure I'd know what to listen for if I had one. You A-goners are the best, I've also posted this at AR (a waste of time) and at AA, but I've gotten, by far, the best and most responses here. Thank you all!

John, that sounds like a nice table for the price and you have an opportunity to go hear it first hand and bypass the UPS driver playing Australian rules football with it. The MMF's are nice tables for the price, but this is a much more substantial unit in my opinion, I don't meant to piss of you guys out there with the MMF's but I think you may even agree with me on this one. Linn tables can have some set up quirks but there are many out there who know what these are and would be willing to help. I am not a Linnite so I don't remember if that is a MM or MC cartridge, check to make sure it has enough output for your phono stage. This is the way I would go myself if I were in your position. Good luck!
Thanks Maxgain, I've had a couple response on AA as well. My concern now is my lack of knowledge. It seems that it is a very good deal IF in good condition. I've had people tell me I need to check the bearings in the tonearm and the platter. I'm sorry, being such a novice, this may be beyond me. I might be better buying new, since I'm not qualified to judge condition of the 'tables innards. Remember, the only TT I ever owned was a cheap Technics direct drive (no laughing!) I've also been told that the Karma cartridge is very old and esentially useless. Any ideas how old it might be? BTW, the Classe phono stage is MM/MC, so it shouldn't matter.

Go listen to it, if it sonds fine it probably is. If it has as little use as he says you won't have much to worry about. with 200 hours use it can't have much wear on the table bearins or arm bearings. The cartridge may have aged enough just sitting that they may be right about it but if it sounds good the suspension is likely ok. Is there a Linn dealer or any real audio dealer any where near you if you did need to repalce the cartridge in the future, if you are not confident about putting a new one in? Talk to the guy and get a feel if you think what he is telling you is on the level. It sounds like an excelent chance to score what you are looking for, it may be that the guy who owns it knows someting about the thing and can be useful. Most sellers are willing to help quite a bit. That is a great sounding table, set up a time to go see it and hear it for yourself,200 miles or so isn't that bad.
Three words: BUY THE LINN! If it's in any decent condition, you'll never regret it. Traveling is better than shipping, and Lord knows, we've all done sillier things for our Hi-fis. :-) You can always upgrade the Karma cartridge later, unless it just sounds awful now, which I doubt. There are many versions of the LP-12, and a 1985 is kind of in the middle of the range - Linn has been making LP-12s since the early 70's. There are differences in power supplies and platter bearings, but you can always upgrade later if you get hooked, which you probably will.
Is there a Linn dealer near you where you can get someone to check it out? That would be a good idea. It shouldn't cost too much, and setting a Linn up properly makes a big difference, although it requires a bit of Linn knowledge.
Happy Listening!
Maxgain, I did talk to him on the phone today, he doesn't seem to know much about it. It belongs to his aunt, he said he could sell it for her. His story is in the mid 80's she went into high end audio, but hasn't used much of the gear she bought for many years. He claims the 'tables just been sitting for almost a decade. He doesn't claim to be an audiophile, but it seems to work well as far as he can tell. I told him the earliest I could schedule a appointment would be next Saturday, and I will go, if he still has it. He's got it on Ebay and Audioweb, and claims that he has over 20 e-mails. But many of them want him to ship, and he won't ship. I told him I'll call him Thursday, if it's still open, I'll take a ride up on Saturday. I wanted to go today, but it's my wife's wedding anniversary, and she had other plans. D@mn! Her priorities just aren't in the right place. Thanks again for your response. I'll let you know how it turns out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

To stay in your budget I would recommend the Rega tables. If you shop around you can find a used P25 which is a very respectable table within your budget. Comes with a good arm that can later be tweaked for a modest fee(modest in audiophile terms).

Rega has been in the business for many years and their build quality and reliability is very good.

Also, if you decide that you want to sell the table you should have no problem getting rid of it. The market for REGA tables on Audiogon is very good. In other words, you won't get stuck with it if you no longer want it.
After reading everything here, I must tell you that I agree on the advice to buy the Linn. The deck is an industry standard.
Regas are nice...but given the choice over the latest and greatest rega and the list you provided...I would take the Linn.
You can purchase anything you need for the Linn in the way of tweaks. But even one of the old ones with a standard power supply outdo the Rega gear.
Egoss is very correct about setup. The spring setup is key to good sound. You don't need a PhD to do it though.
Dont sweat the bearing noise. The bearing would have to be REALLY bad to make sound below one of the regas.... (Not that I am downing Rega.)

Is that the little clay guy from TV having a bad day?
No, it's angry Green Gumby.
could also be any color gumby who attempted to mount pokey without jumpin' onto the saddle. -cfb
Is that why they called him pokey?