Help with a complete vinyl setup about $2,500

Thanks for reading my thread.

I'm strongly considering getting back into vinyl. I've searched the archives back to last summer and was surprised that I couldn't find any thread discussing a complete vinyl setup for about $2,500. My goal is a lot of detail, a huge soundstage, very dynamic from top to bottom, and musical.

My current setup is:
Sonic Frontiers Line 3SE - preamp
Two PS Audio - Classic 250's (bi-amping)
Speakers - Tyler Acoustics - Full Linbrook System
Cabling & PC's - Verastarr (silver plated copper)

I'm looking for suggestions for a turntable, cartridge, needle, arm, phono-pre, and a record-cleaning machine (if necessary). Is there anything I should absolutely purchase new instead of used? I've upgraded to my current rig over the years a few times and I'm happy with my current rig even though I know I can improve it, that said is $2,500 enough to spend on a vinyl setup or might I get the upgrade itch at this price point? I guess I'm trying to ask, is a $2,500 vinyl setup in-line with my current rig? If not, then the thread title should probably read "Help with a complete vinyl setup in-line with my current rig, the vinyl setup will cost about $X,XXX dollars." Please fill in the XXX.

Thanks for your help.
VPI Scout w/ Dynavector 10X5 cartridge would do nicely, IMHO.
VPI scout w/ Grado Sonata cartridge & Grado phono pre would be almost exactly $2500 setup brand new.
"Is there anything I should absolutely purchase new instead of used?"

IMHO, get a new cartridge. I don't like the idea of a used cart--they're very, VERY fragile creatures and all manner of things could cause a used one to not be up to snuff...and re-tips are not cheap.

Other than that, used is fine, and you'll find some great deals that way. In my system, the Gyro SE was used, the tonearm was new (but purchased right before the price hike), and the cart was off my old 'table (and is currently out of commission, grrr...).

I will move over and let more experienced folks help on the specifics, but IMO $2500 will get you a very good TT/arm/cart, especially if you get some good deals...but I'd up the budget some more to allow for a good phono stage and cleaner, if you can. If you're into DIY, you can save quite a bit of money building a cleaner. Don't skimp on the phono stage.
My budget is also $2500 and I would like to buy the universe, or at the very least a pig that can fly. Let's see now: for that money you want a 'table, tonearm, cartridge, phono preamp and record cleaning machine, and want the whole thing to be very detailed, very dynamic from top to bottom and to have a huge soundstage. One thing about shooting at the Moon, it's a big target!

To get away with this, see "Building high-end record players cheap at Home Despot." Otherwise, you'll have to simmer down a bit. Of course, with a well-chosen array of items you could just get away with some of it, at least, with re-wired Rega arm, Grado Woody (huge soundstage and surprisingly detailed), ASL Mini Phono tubed phono stage at $250, and some sort of used high-end 'table along the lines of VPI, or Well-Tempered (no Rega necessary). Or conversely, buy 2500 Lotto tickets and hope for the best!
I can see it:

Teres 135: $1575
Rega RB250: $200
Denon 103r: $241
K&K trannie: $225
RRL fluids: $50
10 Last brushes $25
Audiopoints $75

Total: $2391

That leaves some room for error. You cannot beat it, and you will upgrade eventually. With the extra $100, you can get arm upgrades, i/c's, or save and add another 300 to it for a VPI 16.5.

Just my 2c
Here is some food for thought:

The VPI is WITH the SAMA AND motor controller. That would leave you $700+/-.

Expessimo: Cardas/Wasatch Cable Kit, The HeavyWeight, 2 HeX-Treme End Stub, Adjustable VTA, Lower arm nut $350.00
Save $22 Or..... an Origin. But you would be over budget.

Leaving $350 for a cartridge. I'd go moving coil. Ask TWL, he can guide you through MC world. Totally upgradable with small expenditures. The arm can be used on almost ANY TT. The VPI can get upgraded to Mk IV/TNT w/SAMA. The Monolithics work pretty good, but more important, would let you experiment with a LOT of different cartridges. This setup will run with some of the best out there.

That was fun. (Spending your money)
what about a new Nottingham?
Great pre amp you have, I have the same pre.

I don't have that many records, so I went with the following to keep my analog budget down.

VPI Scout + JMW9 - around $1200 used
Grado Platinum - around $250 new
EAR 834P Deluxe - around $900 used

I did not get a record cleaner, but there is no reason you should not. A VPI 16.5 can be had for $300 used.

From my research, Scout & EAR are safe bets and excellent value. You can choose your cartridge based on your taste.
Try a VPI Scout, skip the 10X5 and get the Dynavector 20XH for under 2K new. Tough to beat that combination for the money.
I'd consider doing what Jphii says, except I'd opt for the Nottingham Horizon w/RB-250 (sorry Teres lovers but I don't think the 135 does any better than the Horizon). With the money saved, I'd buy a VPI 16.5 vacuum RCM.
Ah David, I was waiting for that! Got the 16.5 yesterday. I'm spending the morning clealing lots of albums. It is amazing how much better this thing is than cleaning by hand.

Dsiggia, as much as I would like to see you go Teres, I know feel the 16.5 is a must have. Whatever way you go. get one!
VPI Scout with JMW9 $1500
Shelter 201 MM cartridge $175
Phono preamp $500-$1000
Cables $300-$500
Disc Doctor brushes and fluid $60

The Scout JMW9 is an excellent setup that will allow you to upgrade up to the best cartridges over time. The 201 will do you very nicely until that first upgrade. It's an incredible cartridge for the price. If you buy a phono preamp that takes both MM and MC, you will be ready to upgrade up to the Shelter 501II cartridge without having to change anything else. Unless you are averse to doing a little manual work (about 5-10 minutes per record) to clean your records, the Disc Doctor rivals any record cleaning machine in terms of getting the records clean. The records that I've cleaned sound fantastic. The ultra-low cost relative to machines allows you to spend more on other parts of your system. The other thing I like about the Disc Doctor is that you can clean while you listen, while the machines will make so much noise that it's not possible.

I have the Scout with 201 and Kimber H-Tak cable going into an Audible Illusions M3A pre and CJ Premier 11A with Sonus Faber Elekta Amator II speakers. Sounds fantastic!!!
Wcheng: I agree. The Disc Doctor brushes and cleaning fluid are unbeatable. I use a Record Doctor II (basically a Nitty Gritty 1.0) to dry the records after a spraying with distilled water. I suppose if you're limp-wristed it's OK to spend $300-$500 for a 16.5 or 17 but your vinyl won't be any cleaner or sound any better. The money saved will buy a lot of music.
Rega P25 $1150 (Music Direct)
Benz Micro Glider L2 $579 (Needle Doctor)
Musical Fidelity XLPS V3 $395 (Music Direct)
RR LP9 stylus cleaning fluid $25 (Music Direct)

Total $2149 Then save up for a record cleaning machine. I had this setup to start with, very, very satisfying
Ridiculous limp-wristed references aside, (funny how bold people are with the personal comments when they are not face to face with someone, especially when they'd probably find themselves on their kiester otherwise) I like the DD stuff as a low-cost alternative when the budget is tight. However, in numerous trials, I find the Record Research Labs fluids largely superior to the DD in that vinyl washed using the DD fluids are rinsed using distilled water and either air dried or patted dry with a terry cloth. In either case, the distilled water, in my experience, has always left a bit of audible crackle behind. The RR fluids, on the other hand, generally always leave a dead silence, at least on records that are not damaged, and I rarely have to give a record another cleaning as I did with DD. While some may find satisfaction without using a vacuum machine, my comparisons have proved to be no comparison at all with my vinyl being both cleaner and sounding better (many having been previously cleaned WITH DD). A long time ago, I questioned the RR fluids and recall that Albert Porter threw down the gauntlet, as it were, and offered to send a few folks a sample of the RR fluids to use in a comparison to what they are using. I will return that favor to someone wanting to do an honest assessment in deference to the generosity of Albert (and no, I am not affiliated with RR nor am I a dealer). I also know that I went without a vacuum machine for sometime and could not go back after buying one. Oh, and I saved my McDonald's money to buy mine............

Good luck with your search, Dsiggia, I'm, sure you'll find something to be happy with.
Anytime tough guy.
Well, I suppose that anyone who refers to the thousands of folks who own a 16.5 or 17 as limp-wristed, speaks volumes about themself, and that should suffice. But, if you are really feeling froggish sometime and are not just limp-lipped, you name the time, date, and directions to your cave and I'll be there.

sorry, Dsiggia, I promise not to derail your thread any further, regardless.
4yanx: My limp-wristed comment was a metaphor for laziness not meant to impugn the owners of the 16.5 or 17. I'm sure they are fine machines. I maintain that with a little elbow grease, good brushes, proper fluid, and vacuum you can have clean vinyl and a lot of money left over to spend on more vinyl. That's not debatable it's simply a fact. If I hit a nerve with the "limp-wrist" allusion that's on you. Now if you're ready to put this thing to bed, let's get on to more worthwhile issues. Look forward to hearing from you.
Sorry, Disggia, I know I promised but this foolery just begs to be answered. And since this guy tells me he won't be responding in the thread, and then proceeds to do so anyway, I will give the response he now "looks forward to hearing".

First, though, if it is of any benefit, e-mail me your snail mail address and I will send you some fluid to get you going in return for crapping on your valid and otherwise interesting thread. To answer part of your question, I'd be careful of buying a cartridge used, unless you are confident with whom you are dealing or you can give a test listen before buying. On the other hand, you can obviously get a much better cartridge in terms of quality when buying used than paying anywhere close to retail for a new one. It can be done successfully and save you a lot of money, but it can also be risky.

Geez, Mr. Bill, talk about digging one’s hole even deeper. I doubt that many found your limp-wristed reference any less transparent than a good set of cables. Oh, I know, one would be limp-wristed because they were too lazy to raise their hands. Your assertion that anyone using a 16.5 or 17 is lazy, as compared to real men or women who do things manually, is patently absurd – “metaphor” or no. As far as “striking a nerve” goes, try again. Once more, your reference is wholly transparent and whether your utterly crude insinuation were true in the sense that you deliver it or not, it would not bother me in the least. Ignorance does, though. That’s on YOU. And, hey, the next time you want to trot out words like metaphor and allusion, try looking up their meaning, lest you continually expose your decidedly limited vocabulary.

To the rest of the posters here, unless Disiggia requests my further OPINION, I’ve said my last on this topic, believe it or not! Ha! :-)
Here's an opinion. Try decaf. BTW, look up metaphor and allusion. They're used correctly you dunce.
When you start a topic like this, SOME of the answers you get are from people who have actually tried what they recommed. We do so because we were in the same position once. And got some good advice. And in turn would like to help others who are interested in becoming addicted to vinyl learn from our mistakes.

You know, this Wc65mustang was in idiot in the "how long will vinyl last" thread, and once again turns into an idiot here. Take a look at his d"answers" this should be no surprise.

Don't let this boob ruin the thread.

Now, aside from that, back to the topic at hand. I follow 4yanx' cleaning method, after much trial & error myself. I should have just done like he recommends and bought the damn 16.5 up front. Now that I have it, and the RRL fluids, ALL of my albums sound better. Period. You can search for his post on cleaning. It's a long one, but it works.

So, in other words, maybe you should work it out so you end up with one. I've had mine for 3 days and already cleaned about 150 albums!

I use the 16.5 and RR fluids and I ask you; what value do I place on the time saved by this set-up and method?


Screw the so-called manual method. Might as well hook your turntable up to a potter's wheel and rotate it with your feet so as to hear the true essence of turntablery.
The increased VALUE of the 16.5 with RR products has brought to my 700+ LP collection VASTLY exceeds the cost of the the unit.

Hey, if I can buy 50 used LPs for $1 each and have them sounding better than any used CD version at $10 a piece as a result of this cleaning setup, then it has paid for itself in spades.

And the time saved is additional value to boot.

Nuff said.

Assuming you haven't given up in despair, I'll second '4yanx's' modification of 'jphii's' list and add a few tidbits:

Nottingham Horizon + Rega RB250: $1200
Denon 103r: $241
K&K trannie: $225
RRL fluids: $40 (from Galen Carol)
10 Last brushes $25
VPI 16.5 RCM: $500
Turntablebasics alignment protractor: $20
Jennings HP50 digital scale: $50

TOTAL: $2301.

That leaves $200 for possible upgrades to the RB250, which is a fun arm to start with because you can learn so much from tweaking it. This setup will blow away any CDP you're likely to have tried, not to mention whatever midfi analog rig you used to have.

As far as wc65mustang's childish and untested pronouncements that hand washing with DD will equal machine washing with RRL, just ask yourself where is his evidence? Everyone who's actually tried both methods prefers the ones recommended by '4yanx'.
Remeber, the 16.5 is under $450 shipped (to NC, anyways) from Galen Carol. Another $50 to play with.
i absolutely agree, go with a record cleaning machine. i have had great success with my nitty gritty 1.0, but i am intrigued with the 16.5. one question i have about it. when i clean now, i scrub manually, and with the design of the nitty gritty, the bottom doesn't touch anything. so there is no possible way for it to get contaminated. with the 16.5, the record goes on a cork platter. what do folks do to negate possible contamination? i would think there must be some easy way to do so.

i am setting up a analog rig now...unless you get very good used deals, you might be estimating too low.

a analog setup is alot more $$$ than digital.

here are some costs to consider...

used table, arm and cartidge -----$1500
used phono stage ----------------$750
used cables ( 2 pairs) -----------$500

that right there is is close to $3k without accessories...

hope that helps,

Thanks for all the positive responses. It's nice to see the discussion regarding the 16.5. I'm definately planning to get the 16.5 with part of my budget. I'm still doing research on everything else, so additional thoughts are much appreciated.
used cables ( 2 pairs) -----------$500

?? 2 pairs?? Only one if you need an external pre, which he does. If he's like all of the rest of us, I'm sure he has a cable set or two laying around to get him by.

used phono stage ----------------$750

$250 & up. Read the suggestions.
Well "Dsiggia"......... I seem to also be in the same boat as you when it comes to getting into analog for just a song. Being a digital man all of my "audiophile" life during my first twenty-two years of my being in this "never ending" hobby, I can definitely understand your need and urge to experience analog bliss without breaking the bank, but at the same time, want something good and satisfying.

What I am using right now is a Thorens TD-165 Belt-Drive Turntable that I have bought used off of "e-bay" about two years ago, and it has a Grado Prestige Gold mounted into its tonearm. It is then plugged into a Monolithic PS-1 which in turn, is being flanked by its companion HC-1 external power supply. And this is plugged into a relatively expensive (at least......... according to MY standards) "KEF/MIT/Adcom/Magnum Dynalab/Cambridge Audio" system (which is valued at more than $6K), and is getting relatively good sonic results from it. I'm not going to say that my analog setup is going to go toe-to-toe and challenge today's super analog setups. But for the type of music that I listen to right now in relation to my level of interest in analog reproduction and the capability of my system, I have to say that I have done pretty damn well for myself. I am so smitten with the analog sound (and I am going to my local record [vinyl album] store and buying any piece of wax I can get my hands on) that I cannot help but think about what an added expenditure would do to improve the sonic capability of my audio system, and thus for, what such an expenditure would do to enhance my enjoyment of the blissfulness of the analog experience. So in saying that then, I am thinking about spending about $2.5K on an improved analog setup myself. But being that I already have a phono stage that I am happy with, I think that ALL of my proposed $2.5K will go on the hardware (turntable and cartridge). Being that even though, you have stated the type of sound that you're going to want from an analog setup, I didn't see no where else on this board that you stated what type of music you listened to, and that alone may/will go a long way as to what setup you're going to end up with for your $2,500.00. But being that I listen to R&B (both classic and modern), Funk, Rap/Hip-Hop, Jazz & Fusion, and Rock, I am going to want the same things that you stated that you wanted as well. But being for the type of music I listen to, what I also want to end up with is something that sounds more dynamic and more refined than just a high priced "party" system (which is something that I don't want.......... the "party sound" system). So to that end then, this is I what I am looking at now myself:

Turntable System: Clearaudio Champion -- $1,200.00
Tone Arm: Rega RB-600 -- $650.00
Phono Cartridge: Grado Reference Statement/Sonata -- $500.00
Phono Stage: Monolithic PS-1 + HC-1 -- Already Own

And my total would come to about $2,350.00 (all from Music Direct). And I also would want me a record cleaning machine right now myself. But for the time being, I am just going to have to continue to save up some more money and keep it on the "wish" list.

But for you, this is what I would look into to be on the safe side.

Turntable System: VPI Scout + JMW 9 Memorial Arm -- $1,600.00
Phono Cartridge: Grado Reference/Statement Platinum -- $300.00
Phono Stage: Monolithic PS-2 -- $600.00 (and if I am not mistaking, this is an upgraded version of my existing PS-1)

And this would bring your total to JUST $2,500.00 (again, all from Music Direct).

To improve the dynamics of your system, I think that the first upgrade later on would be the addition of the HC-1b external power supply, and then later on, a better cartridge. A record cleaning machine would come right after that.

Good Luck and Regards...........

i came up with 2 pair of cables since most audiophiles i know dont have 2 decent pairs of the same cables laying around for spares.....$250 is pretty much the starting point of decent used cables.

as for pre's i am looking the the audible illusion 3 (run hot rodded via tape outputs or the audio research ph-2 or ph-3 phono stage( each one anywhere from $750 to $900)

hope that helps.

There is a demo Audio Note TT1/ARM2 (heavily modified Systemdek and rega rb300 arm rewired with pure audio note silver wire and audio note silver interconnect) for 875/BO. Put a dynavector DV20XH or 10x5 on it and you are set; no step up device required as both are high output.

For a phono preamp the Antique Sound Lab unit at under 300 gets good marks from the folks I've chatted with. This unit is also a good candidate for modifications to increase its performance.

That gives you a turntable, arm, cartridge, and phono preamp for well under 2k. If you want to spend more money I'd suggest looking at the Audiomat phono preamp; not cheap but supposedly very, very good.
Well, I've decided on my initial setup & it's well above my initial budget - oh well.

I'm starting out with:
Teres - Model 160 Table
Origin Live - Silver Tonearm
Denon 103r - cartridge
Tom Evans - Microgroove phono pre
VPI 16.5 - record cleaning machine
RRL fluids
Turntable Basics Protractor,
A huge slab of granite for isolation
Brass Isolation Cones for additional isolation

And about zippo knowledge on how to get this thing working as it should. I'll probably be in the market for some A'gon consulting soon.

A big thanks to everybody for all the help so far!

All you have to do is ask!


If you were going to blow the budget why didn't you say so? We could have recommended a wood base Teres from the get-go! ;-)

You're in for a treat, that looks like a fine setup to me. There was a post just last week from a new Teres 160 owner who's very pleased that he upgraded from a Scout/SDS.

I hope you'll add Twl's HIFI mod to the Silver at some point. It's a killer mod for Shelter cartridges and should be even more so for that Denon. Order a Silver Mk I if your source can still find one. It's easier to mod than the Mk II.

Setup help is just a posting or email away.
Doug, I happened to notice the other thread when it was listed & have continued to follow it. Needless to say, I did get fired-up after initially reading it.

Luckily, I did get a used Mk I so after I get settled in the upgrade will be on the list of items to do. Thanks again.

If you order the HIFI Mod weights from Twl you'll also be able to add my VTF-on-the-fly mod. It's way better than futzing with the counterweight and best of all... it's free!

Good news: there's always more stuff to do
Bad news: there's always more stuff to do ;-)