High end turntables

I grew up with turntables… 60’s, 70’s…. 90’s. I collected albums. The biggest wow moment was when I finally got a high end turntable. I had had a Philips then a reissue of the AR sprung table that I could rap on the cover while playing a record… and no skip or sound, and a classic Shute V1 (?). It was the best sound around.


But it wasn’t until around 1990 I bought a high end turntable and cartridge that my jaw dropped in disbelief at the sound vinyl was capable. The pops and clicks virtually disappeared, surface noise was completely gone. This table was a VPI Aries and a Van der Hull Frog… a $2,500 cartridge (in 1990…. What $10K+ now).

I am currently listening to a 1972 album that I bought for a dollar. It looks like it was used as a frisbee in competition. Scraped, warn… it looks terrible. I have a record cleaner… I had cleaned it years ago when I had purchased it. I almost put it back, thinking i wanted to enjoy my listening session. But I put it on. Wow, it is beautiful, quiet and wonderful dynamics. I have always attributed the ability of high end tables ability to play really crappy disks that the stylist goes deeper in the groves than old cheap turntables. Maybe that is correct.

My real point is. If there are some people out there that have budget tables and phono-stages that sound pretty good and you are reluctant to throw a ridiculous amount of money thinking it may not be worth it… analog done well is truly amazing. You of course need good basic equipment… preamp, amp, and speakers. But the level of sound quality of vinyl is truly amazing.



As you discovered, a cartridge with a narrow profile stylus can play a part of the groove that has not been previously damaged or worn, which came make so battered records sound new (as long as you clean the record thoroughly).  Also, good tonearms and players effectively damp the sharp impulses of ticks and pops, making such seem less significant.

A cartridge transducer that is based on amplitude for voltage generation will not emphasize ticks and pops, eg cartridges from DS Audio.  Magnetic cartridges are currently based on velocity for voltage generation thus ticks and pops result in voltage spikes.

Good post @ghdprentice 

You are surely right about the changes that come with a good vinyl chain. I always know how far up the chain someone has been when they talk about pops & clicks. Its usually not very far

Just got done with my vinyl listening session. Played Lunatic Soul albums, Impressions and Fractured, all 6 sides. Completely agree with OP, on my VPI Classic with Lyra Kleos cart, it just sounded amazing. Even so I am working up the latter with my digital end, the vinyl one will always be just a tat more magical.



Yes, I have kept trying to get my digital end to be as satisfying as my analog end. This has gone on for decades. It finally does… it took a lot of work (aka, money investing in contemporary technology)… I finally had to get the best DAC I have ever heard and the flagship Aurender streamer to get there. But I am fortunate in that I could afford to put together such a good digital end. 

But an incredible analog experience is more within reach of most folks pursuing high end audio.

Really good analog as most know is costly. It can come in small increments at a price. I felt I had put together a good tt setup until I first heard a friend's setup that is truly magical. With his help I began to get some of that magic in my tt setup. I think it goes without saying that my friend knows his schiit...:-)))

Costly, yes, but with a crucial difference. Unlike digital where you spend more and more never getting anywhere constantly falling behind as every year or so what you bought for $10k can now be had for $500, with analog what you buy sounds good year after year and you buy more because you want more of this.

Is it necessary? Not really. I learned this lesson very early. My vintage Technics SL1700 had been boxed up for years, all during the time I was remodeling and building my listening room and system. This was just after CD had "killed" vinyl and so my system was CD. Until I dug out the Technics and put on a LP.

Wife came home, "What sounds so good?" Records. I was stunned. Busted up 20 year old DD turntable with worn out bent cantilever Stanton 681EEE and we both agreed it bested my ten times as expensive Cal Audio CDP. Easily. Not even close. Crap phono stage, patch cords, and all.

Yes a really top flight analog front end is costly. But if that is all you say it creates a false impression that turns people off. Truth is just about any record player will walk all over digital. 

So the OP makes a great point. Anyone out there with anything analog is right to be happy and satisfied. But at the same time there is the potential for those same records to be transcendentally spiritually awesome on the right rig.

I think high end turntable comparisons are hard to come by, unless you have a very accommodating, connected dealer or access to someone who owns several high end turntables. I compared a Kuzma Reference Triplanar arm with new Lyra Titan i to a Kuzma XL/Airline in my system, using the same cartridge. It was a revealing presentation, mostly in what the better table "didn’t" do-- it was artifacts that were missing from the better presentation.

Play a lot of different program material.

How do you avoid the issue of a cartridge that matches the system voice working better on one arm than another?

Lots of variables. Very few opportunities to drill down and compare directly in a controlled environment.

And the differences may vary depending the LP-- which leads you to set up changes per record, something most people like to avoid.

No answers, more questions.

I think the biggest challenge with any vinyl system is the variable nature of the game. SO many things effect the sound overall it is a bit overwhelming for some new to the game. Having said that, overcoming the hurdles and landing on a sweet sounding setup is the payoff and every bit worth the $ and brain damage to get the thing dialed.

Notions or concepts are ''oppositional'' ( binair) arranged linguistic 

expression  meant for our ''mental orientation''. But notions and

concepts are not expression which can be true or false. Those

are only statements or propositions . Aka ''statement which correspond

with reality'' . I prefer ''propositions'' to avoid reference to statements

expressed in different languages . Those imply translations with ''the

same meaning''  which is an  problematic, uh, concept. 

So ''high end TT's''   imply ''low end TT's''.  Only two kinds?