Intriguing world of Analog

I am an aspiring audiophile and have enjoyed the forum postings on Audiogon over the past few months. I am impressed by the number of people with such advanced knowledge on audiophile subjects and who are willing to share their knowledge with others. I have become intriqued with the seemingly complex world of turntables, tone arms, cartridges and many other itemes related to analog music. I've seen pictures of turntables having numerous tone arms associted therewith and I am curious as to why one would need multiple tone arms. Many years have passed from the day I had a record player and we would tape a penny to the tone arm above the cartridge to keep the record from bouncing off the record. I'm sure the analogophiles reading this post are clutching their chests and gasping for air at the thought of it.

Somehow I feel another obsession coming on.

If I wanted to make an initial foray into the analog world of music what would be a good starting point? Is there a turn-key solution where you purcahse a table, tone arm and cartridge in one fell swoop? I would be willing to spend from $1500-$2,000.

My current sysem is as follows: Classe CA 200 amp, Classe CDP 35 preamp, B&W Matrix 802 series III speakers, and a Yamaha RX Z11 AV receiver. My preamp has a phono location on the source knob.

Will I need a separate phono amp or can I use my Yamaha reciever?

Your help and recommendations would be greatly appreicated.
The yamaha most likely is only an MM phono input, not MC.. So you can only use MM cartridge, or a High output MC cart. as they like to call them.. Thats anything with 2.5 mV or higher output.. The rest gets a bit complicated as you have many things to answer for yourself...

How much money,
and Music
are you willing to put up with and find!
Not to mention tools, cleaners, storage etc...
For 1500 you can do a good table and cart, but with all the rest including buying the media itself that you would need to play well your in for a whole other world.
(by the way I love analog and my vinyl, it just takes a lot if you want to go all the way)
And so it goessssssssssssss
Papajoe, there are definitely options well within your price range for a turnkey analog rig. For example, you can buy a new Rega P3-24 turntable with the RB301 tonearm and the Elys cartridge for $1,000. For a bit more money, you can upgrade the cartridge and add a VTA adjustment mechanism to the tonearm. Or you could go with a gently used VPI Scout/JMW-9 or Basis 1400/RB300 and a very nice cartridge within your $2,000 cap. There are other alternatives as well.

You should have a look at your Yamaha owner's manual to find the level of gain offered by the phono stage along with the recommended minimum cartridge output level and related specifications (e.g., input impedance and capacitance loadings). With that information, we can get you pointed in the right direction with respect to cartridge options. As Undertow pointed out, you will probably find that you need to stay with MM and high output MC designs that offer output levels at or above 2.5mV.

Another thing you will want to consider is the overall quality level of the Yamaha's phono stage. I don't have experience with the Yamaha AV receiver, so I can't help with this assessment. However, it's important to strike the appopriate balance among all the links in the chain. Your phono stage is VERY important to your sound, so you will want to understand its limitations before choosing a turntable, tonearm and cartridge.

If you decide to really get into the analog game, you will probably eventually be looking to upgrade your phono amplifications given the relative inflexibility of one that is built into an AV receiver. If you can swing it, you might want to break free of the AV receiver right away and work a phono stage into your budget.
If you've been reading this forum for a few months I think it's safe to say you have a strong interest in vinyl. It would surely be too boring for anyone who didn't. I would encourage you to give it a try. You'll likely find it addictive. There's a lot to learn. I still learn things every day on this forum and audio asylum. That's part of what makes this so interesting.
Myself, I'm partial to VPI products currently. Others disagree but I think they offer great performanance at their price points and are easy to upgrade when you're ready. For the money your talking about you might consider the Scout or even Scoutmaster with a MM cartridge if that will work with your Yamaha for the time being. You could do the rest of it as budget allows but in the meantime not compromise quality by trying to buy it all at once. A lot of used tables(of all brands) show up here and that may offer a good chance to get your foot in the door with some nice stuff too.
You have two choices in that range a vpi scout or a project 9.1.Add a cart of your choice and you will be well on your way to listening nirvana.
multi arms are a shortcut to using mono vs. stereo cartridges. Also when two different stereo cartridges will be used, say one a MM, the other MC.

A used VPI, with arm and cartridge installed, is the way to go, providing you can pay cash and pick up in person, wherein the seller must demo the unit as fully operational and functional.

Thank you all for your helpful comments. From your answers I can see there is a lot to learn. I think this calls for a trip to my local high end audio store for a rapid information download. I would like to compare MM and MC cartridges. I may have to increase my budget to include a phono preamp. I will check into the turntable options mentioned in this thread.

Thanks again!!
Dear Papajoe: As important as is the hardware more important is the software, how many LPs do you have? enough to be worth it?

Btw, in your Classe preamp you can add a phono card that I think will be of better quality performance than the one on the Yamaha.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Buconero117: I own several tonearms ( 20+ ) and the main reason to that is that I can match almost any cartridge to the right tonearm where I can achieve the best cartridge quality performance.

The same cartridge with a different tonearm souns different but exist one tonearm where that cartridge show its best.

Regards and enjoy the music.

How would I know if my Classe preamp has the phono card? I bought the item used on ebay so I'm not sure if it has the phono card. If it does not have the card are such cards readilly available on Audiogon?

I have numerous albums. I'm not sure if they will be of much value though. Many are from the 1970's and are of standard pressings. I'm not sure of the quality of these recordings. I also have numerous old 78 speed records that I purchased at garage sales. They seem to be well preserved but they are quite old. Many of these records are probably monaural. Many of the records are in hard-bound record albums. Again, I am not sure if these will be worthy of play on the turntable I intend to purchase. Your comments on this point would be helpful.

Dear Joe: The manual say that the Line 1 could change to Phono ( with the phono card ), you don't have a TT/cartridge to find out but in the manual in Fig. 6 are some toggle-switches with labels: take out the cover plate and see inside if you find out those switches.
No I don't think you can/could find a phono card through Agon, my advise is that you ask directly to Classé.

For what you say maybe is worth to it and you have to think in a three speed TT: 33/45/78 like the Technics SP-10 or SP-15

Regards and enjoy the music.

regards and enjoy the music.
I would sugest starting with used equipment. Your price range is about what I spent when I upgraded earlier this year and for my $$ I got a Series III Sota Star Saphire(upgraded platter) with an Audioquest PT-6, a new Pro-ject tube box and a new AudioTechnica OC9 cartridge and I've been really happy with the sound. I'm not saying that you should seek out this exact system,but it serves to illustrate that a) there are great well cared for tables here, and b) there are new components that offer really great value if you're not hung up on spending a lot of bread. A little creative thinking will get you a lot of bang for your buck.
Thanks again for your helpful comments. I have researched obtaining a Classe Phono module. From what I have read, it is recommnded that you have a professional install the phono module. I have contacted my local audio store and they will contact Classe to see if a phono module is availabe for my Classe CP 35 preamp. If so, I will be on my way. Next I will research the tables, arms and cartridges mentioned in this thread and decide. I have had good luck following the other recommnedations from Audiogon members and from purchasing numerous items from Audiogon members.

I also recommend vpi! They are easy to upgrade and sound good from the get go. If you need some inspiration see what I did to my table. It started out as a 40 or so lb. tt to a 430 lb. monster.
Since it is my baby I am probably biased, so take this with a grain of salt, but to me it sounds as good as anything I have heard analog, keeping in mind digital can't touch analog.

I viewed you tt. WOW! Is the entire table upon which the tt rests suspended in the air by a counterweight? This was quite a project.
The tt platform and the drive system sit on two surfaces that are not attached to each other, other than the belt that turns the platter.
The drive system rests on a shelf, the tt is suspended by steel cables and some bungie chords are used above that.
IMHO this is the way to go, the tt does not see any resonance from any surface of the room. When the music is playing at a reasonable level everything in the room resonates. By suspending the tt with cables the tt is decoupled and does not see this. Also there is a ton of weight, like about 200 pounds or more I forget the exact amount and that is just the tt part. The drive system has some considerable weight as well. The whole thing weighs 430 pounds!
I get better dynamics than digital by a long shot, in fact most that hear it for the first time think it's digital because its so clean sounding and dynamic.

I see that you have received some very good advise from fellow Agonners. But be warned !!!
You are getting into a new world here; in that there are so many things available that you will find yourself swept away in a spending frenzy (like I did) if you are not careful. I started out wanting to buy a turntable for only $300 but I could not find a good one at that price based upon reviews that I read. I ended buying three turntables to see which one I like. I bought a Marantz, Music Hall MMF 5, and a VIP Scout. I kept the VIP Scout, but I would highly recommend the Music HAll MMF 5, and it does come with a cartridge. You also have to consider the types of cartridges to use. I could not tell by just reading the reviews and the specifications, so I also bought a few cartridges to have a listen for myself. I like the Dynavector DV20H and the ortofon 2M Black. I have not yet decided which one to keep. Then you have to get a record cleaning system: this could be a record cleaning machine and fluids, steam cleaning system, microfiber cloth and fliuds, or a combination of all. I use a Steam cleaner, followed by Audio Intelligent fluids, then a Nitty Gritty record cleaning machine. Cleaning the records is a must, not matter how you do it. Look at the threads here on Audiogon for record cleaning. Then you must have a good stereo system, good speakers, probably a phono stage. I use Mcintosh: Pre amp, Power amp, tuner, and CD player. and I have just ordered a set of Audio Space mono block amps, to bi amp my system (not necessary,I was told, but I just want to do it to see if I like it that way). You don't have to go crazy like some of us do in order to get a good sounding system. I think in most case its trial and error, and you have to listen to the equipment yourself before laying out your cash. A good resource is your local stereo dealer and if they will let you try out some things at your home, that would be a big plus. I go to this extent because I like listening to records, I only listen to CD when I am in the car, and to get the full benefit from playing records your system must be ready. And as I indicated before you don't have to spend a lot for such a system. You must also have good interconnect cables, and power cords. Check out Audio Art cables here on Audiogon, I am using their cables. Another thing to consider is vibration isolation for your turntable. I have a thread here on Audiogon that state what I did to get rid of most of the vibration. the thread is called: "VPI Scout Vibration Conquered with Home Brew Tweak".

I will try, initially, to resist the temptation of going hog wild on a spending spree. I will try to take baby steps first and then see what happens. My first step will be to buy something like the Hall MMF5 that you recommended or one of the several others that have been recommneded in this thread. If that satisfies my urge I will stop there. However, when I see some of the tt rigs on Audiogon I get this funny feeling deep inside which tells me to be careful.

Thanks for your comments.

Good advice from almandog.
Just want to point out that if you do your research well- you may end up keeping everything you bought. I only sold off one item of all the things I purchased here on gon. I consider myself lucky but it was also due to the good planning.
Fortunately you can buy used, so then when if you decide to sell it back you won't take a big loss.
I still would recommend the vpi, but that's what worked for me so take it with a grain of salt. The beauty of this hobby is that there are so many good brands to choose from. The other thing I would recommend is to get a good phono stage. But that's for another thread.
After you get set up, regardless of what tt you choose you can still go with decoupling the tt from the room, I add this because it can make a big difference, just a thought.
I have ordered the phono board for the Classe CP-35. It cost $200.00. From the installation instructions it looks like I can install it myself, no soldering required. The phono board supports both MM and MC cartridges. I believe the lowest voltage is 0.3 mVolts which should support most cartridges on the market today.


200 is not bad... Should be a pretty good one too, better than the yamaha for sure. It would seem it is just a module with a like computer type quick connect and your preamp was designed for the phono card anyway from the beginning as an option, so should be very simple to install, might have a second wire harness on it to attach to the main power supply or something.
Hello all,

I have now officially taken the plunge into the analog world. Today I purchased a VPI Scout turntable and a Dynavector 20X cartridge with a 1mv output. Apparently, this cartridge is one variety of Dynavector 20X cartridges that come in high output, low output, and medium output which is the one I purchased. I have also purchased the DVD 21st Century Vinyl by Michael Frem to assist me in setting up the table and installing the cartridge. Now I will pull my records from storage.

Any tips on record cleaning utensils?


Pedrillo: I get better dynamics than digital by a long shot
I don't see how this is possible. TT's might be able to provide certain qualities that some folks find more enjoyable as compared to digital, but due to TT's mechanical nature and the limit of the tonearm/cartridge combination to track large groove excursions, I don't see how it can provide better dynamics than digital.