If you're willing to max your budget, there are a LOT of options for you, most of which I am not privileged to know enough about to advise on.
I am getting into analog and picked up a used Music Hall MMF-7 and am very pleased with it. It is a highly regarded table, especially at the used price - around $600 for table, arm, and cartridge. It is very musical and warm (I run it through an Arcam AVR200 integrated.) As an advantage, it is pretty much plug and play. There are not really any tweaks you can do easily, except for clamps and matts. And if vinyl turns out not to be your thing, you can probably re-sell a used one at almost the same price.
Non-upgradability can be a down side, though, if you catch a real bad case of vinylitis. A comparable table in quality and (sometimes) price is the Rega P3, on which you can do tonearm upgrades.
Keep in mind the magnitude of the undertaking - building a collection, cleaning the collection, dickering with the arm and the stylus. It may be best to try one of these, save yourself some $$ for albums and a record cleaning meachine, and then, by the time you've spent the whole budget, you'll know whether you like it so much that you chould have spent it all on the able alone.
I got into vinyl a few months ago and I started with a Nottingham Horizon with a Dynavector 10x5 cartridge and a Whest phono stage. I had owned some very nice digital front ends like you do and I was blown away by how good this combo was, surpassing the sound of any digital rig I had owned. Good thing about the Nottingham is that it is relatively easy to setup and use. I have since upgraded to the upper line Nottingham, but for the money the Horizon would be hard to beat I think.
One thing to keep in mind is that you will need a record cleaning machine and cleaning products. You will want to budget around 500 for that.
You need someone that can support you until you learn a lot more about the whole analog front end. Find a local Hi-end dealer that has extensive experience with turntables, tonearms and cartridges including setup and adjustments/tuning. Turntables are not as easy to use as CD players.
Look for a turntable with a suspended subchassis to filter out external vibrations, such as Linn, VPI, SOTA. I owned a SOTA Star Sapphire for 18 years.
$2,000 dollars? Ok, I'm going to assume audiophile used will work for you and that you want the 'tried and true'. Well, here's some ways to get away with 2k...(hey, that rhymed...neat)
1. VPI HW 19 MK IV/SAMA/PLC. For an arm, choose a BritAudio 1 or a Linn Ekos. Phonostage is a Bottlehead seduction and the cart is a ClearAudio Aurum Classics Wood.
2. VPI Scout/JMW 10/Dynavector 10x5. Phonostage is either the seduction or a used Lehmann Black Cube
3.Sota Comet with an RB-250. Detach the 250 and sent it to BritAudio.com for a JA Michel Counterweight and Incognito wiring upgrade. Purchase a used Acoustic Research PH-3 and a Shelter 501 Mk II.
Let me know if you need more,
Marty A. Nickison II
You can start cheaper with a Music Hall MMF-5 which comes complete and isn't at all shabby. That you really can't beat for the price about $500- on Agon. If you really have $2,000 to burn get a VPI scout second hand assuming as Ejlif said you have money for the cleaning machine and also you already have a phono stage.
Why would you own such an expensive system and only budget 2K for table/arm/cart.? Throw the phono stage that you will need in there and the budget looks even smaller. You can get pretty good sound in this price range, but you are likely to be disappointed in how it performs in the context of your system. If you just want to dip your toes in the water to see if it's for you, why not borrow a cheap rig from a friend. Or if your local dealer has a Rega P3 and something like a Project or Creek phono stage he would loan you for a couple of weeks, you could find out if it's your cup of tea or not. Then up that budget to be more in line with the rest of your components and you can buy a great setup that you will enjoy now and still have room to make smaller improvements. But in my opinion, that 2K will be wasted if you either
a) decide vinyl is not for you or
b) you want to reach higher up the ladder right away.
In both scenarios you will sell what you just bought at a loss.
Don't be discouraged by the Record Cleraning Machine cost. You can get a perfectly good one from Audio Advisor for $239. Whether or not you get into vinyl, it sounds like you have a problematic room with those dimensions and might want to look into room treatments as well. Good luck, Dave
There are some really good and relatively inexpensive choices out there. My preference is for the VPI Scout/Scoutmaster but regardless of which table you choose the KEY issue is proper isolation. Any competent table will sound fantastic if you are able to remove it from footfalls and resonances introduced by your speakers. Really good tables get better still. I would hesitate before spending a lot of money on a rig if you are unable to mount it to the wall using a Target or similar stand or can utilize some other means of isolating the table. IMHO table sitting on suspended floors (particularly in older homes) cannot be made to sound their best using many of the isolation products out there (Black Diamond Racing, Ginko, etc)--they are merely bandaids that do not adequately address the vibrations your table is subjected to. Basement systems are great in this regard because the table sits on concrete rather than suspended flooring. If you can't isolate then I would lower your expectations about what vinyl can do or simply stick with your excellent digital setup.
The tentative $2K budget I established is for 'used' gear and does not include phono stage or cleaning items. The budget is certainly not cast in stone and can be adjusted either way.
I realize a significant investment will be needed for albums should I pursue this end of the hobby seriously. If the table/arm/cart are upgradeable, or not, is not that important to me at this beginning stage, since I will likely sell the gear to upgrade if I continue in this direction.
Unfortunately, I'm not in an area that has high end analog shops, or know of anyone I could borrow a 'set-up' to taste this end of the hobby. But, please, all your comments are excellent and I would like to hear more. Thanks!
Get a VPI Scout. That will include tonearm and have money left over for cart.
I am somewhat unfamiliar with the analog terminology; but I assume that "cart" means cartridge?
Regarding stands and isolation... Is a wall stand the preferred method, or are floor stands better? Thanks.
Whoever above is saying used Scout, I agree. You're unlikely to find one with a jmw10, they ususally come with a jmw9. But they're a really good table, highly upgradeable. Since you need to get a phono stage anyway, get one with mc capability, [approx. 60db gain] and a Denon 103r. You'll be under 2000 with this, depending on what phonostage you buy.
Don't forget record cleaning, and I will say this about the manual record cleaning machines: Cleaning records is, to me, excruciatingly boring and time consuming. If you have a lot of records to clean, the minimum machine I would get is the vpi 16.5 [used 300-400 and they go fast], only because they are slightly easier to use than a manul. If you're just starting out collecting, stay up on it! I have cleaned about 1000 of my lp's. I still have about 2000 to go. I am dreading it.
Yes, "cart" is short for cartridge.
If you have wood floors over floor joists, wall mounting is preferred, generally speaking. Be sure to bolt into the wall studs or masonry. See the recent www.6moons.com article
on wall mounting, for example.
As recommended by others, the VPI Scout with JMW 9 tonearm
is a very fine turntable/tonearm combination with a very good and reasonably priced upgrade path. (E.g., upgrade to the Scoutmaster, the Signature version of the tonearm, add a motor controller...) The upgrade to the Scoutmaster
(either intitially or later) is highly recommended, but the basic Scout is very fine. Combine this with a medium-to-high-output cartridge of choice (e.g., Grado Sonata, Shelter 501, Sumiko Blackbird, Denon 103R), and you've got a very competitive vinyl set-up.
For record cleaning, my recommendation will be to start with Disc Doctor's Miracle Record Cleaner and manual cleaning procedure
. Add a record cleaning machine later only for the added convenience, not for any improvement in cleaning results. (NB: I've used a VPI HW-17 record cleaning machine here for nearly 20 years and wouldn't be without it. But it's the Disc Doctor that makes the difference in cleaning results.)
Good luck on your journey into vinyl!
Slight quibble with Ruston here--while I fully endorse his claim that wall mounting is preferred when you have wood floor over joists, I would NOT recommend hanging the turntable shelf from the masonry. First, it flexes and vibrates when excited by room resonances and footfalls. Second, it is simply too weak to hold your precious table and the shelf supporting it. Screw your wall mount shelf directly into the studs or, if you do not have studs where you wish to place the shelf, take a 4' H X 32" W (the width between two studs with one in the middle) piece of grade 1 (smooth finish) 5/8" birch plywood and mount it to the studs in the location you desire. First cut away the wall board or plaster in the area where you want to mount the board. Then simply spackle around the perimeter where the plywood meets the wall board/plaster and paint. Now you can screw the wall mount shelf directly into the plywood. You won't even be able to see where the plywood is and will have the ability to easily spackle the holes and repaint should you have to remove the wall mount shelf for any reason. I did this at my house and it works very well.
Hi George. I'm coming from leftfield on this one. I use a Lenco GL75, which i think will outperform all the above tts, but which will need to be replinthed (a bit of diy). See the "building high end tts at home despot" thread. The last few posts by jean antais should get you aclimatised to the philosophy. Spend $200 on the Lenco, get a Rega rb250 arm and rewire it (easy to do), a denon 103 cart(ridge), and blow all the rest of your money on a used phono stage. Whatever you choose, for me vinyl is all i listen to thease days. good luck
Hi Dodgealum, good additional advice on securely mounting the shelf, but are you confusing masonry with dry wall? It's hard for me to imaging a solid block/brick and mortar wall ("masonry") vibrating or not being strong enough to support a shelf. I agree with you completely about not mounting a turntable shelf directly into dry wall. Cheers,
Good advice and recommendations, Guys, thanks.
In addition to my Krell HTS 7.1 preamp/processor, I believe I will need a "phono pre-amp" or "phono stage" in my system? Will this be connected to my existing pre-pro in a pass-thru mode?
Rushton--sorry, I misinterpreted. Certainly block or brick will not vibrate. However, I have always found it difficult to find anchor screws capable of holding significant weight in that type material. Supposing one could find screws to fix the table shelf securely, then that would be a fine choice. Just want to make sure the whole thing doesn't come down in a crash!
George, the phono stage/phono preamp are different names for the same thing. The connections are turntable to phono stage to a line in on your preamp. Many say that the phono stage is the most critical amplification with tt's. Also, you can get mm cartridges and mc cartridges. They need to suit the arm you choose. when you choose one or the other , start a thread asking for what to go with it. MC cartridges need extra amplification compared to mm cartridges. some phono stages, like the Ear 834P (just sold one, very good used buy) has both on it. My present phono stage, the Fi Yph, has only mm amplification, and i uase a stepup transformer in line before the phono stage, specially made to amplify my mc cartridge (Denon dl103) enough. I hope this is clear.
Thanks for clarifying that for me. In your post, you said MC cartridges need more amplification... do you mean in the preamp stage, or in the final amplifier?
Mc cartridges need extra amplification before the phono stage, usually in the form of a step-up transformer designed for the job. Phono stages can have the transformer built in or an extra amplification circuit to do the job. Which is better is a hotly debated subject, to only be answered by your ears, for you. I've only heard the trannie option