Low end TT vs. Hi end CD

so, i will soon have a good phono stage (supratek), to replace the numark mixer ...

do you think a technics 1200 can sound better than a wadia 860x?

right now, with a cheap cartridge and a cheap phono stage, the wadia kicks the technics butt.... (but i can hear some inkling of how the technics COULD sound pretty good)...
D46058ba 24d0 4dd9 8a2d 4f6ded3d8fe0dennis_the_menace

You've got one really nice system. I don't understand your reluctance to get an analog player of the same caliber. Have you been kidding us all along? To answer your question directly, I doubt the 1200 will get past the Wadia.

You need to spend some $$$ on a decent TT setup. The problem with cheap tables (or not so good tables)is that using a better tonearm or cartridge will not necessarily give you better sound. They can expose your weaknesses in your current turntable much more than improve sound.

An SL1200 can do a decent job, and actually is one of the better sounding direct drive tables. I think it might be close, if you had a cartridge like a Goldring 1042 and the Supratek phono stage.

I do agree with the above sentiments, however, that if you have a large amount of money sunk into your other equipment, the TT setup should be consistent with your other equipment.

Considering the fact that a really good turntable could totally obliterate the Wadia, why would you want to skimp in this area, when you have so much to gain there? Even a mid priced TT like a Nottingham or Michell will put you way ahead of the game. A Teres would have you dancing in the living room.

When you really find out what analog is capable of, you will wonder why you waited. Your ears will thank you profusely.
As Dennis and others of you know, I have had an SL-1200 as my only TT all of my adult life. It's not something I'm proud of or anything, it's just that nothing about its performance has prompted me to want to upgrade it as I have steadily done with the rest of my system. True, I haven't had another, presumably better TT in my system to compare it with before, but I have heard lousy TT's and know a little about what sounds decent, and with the few tweaks I've given it*, it still provides me with plenty of enjoyable music with no problems and great ease of use. So I can say with some authority that, compared to my Theta separates digital rig, the 1200 with a mid-priced medium output MC cart through a mid-priced phono stage can still provide sound that is superior in audiophile terms in many ways, and is almost always more enjoyable, than a digital set up that costs around twice as much. I don't know what Dennis will find, and I wouldn't discourage him from going beyond the 1200 if he feels like it, but I do tend to think it's possible for modestly priced analog too exceed some aspects of higher priced CD performance. Let me put it this way: I don't believe that the 1200 will in and of itself so compromise analog playback as to render the advantages of analog moot if the rest of chain is up to capturing and transmitting them. It certainly has some inherent limitations and flaws which I am aware of, but it just doesn't do anything that wrong.

*[For a list of the tweaks, click on my reviews and see my article on the KAB fluid damper.]
The following is from origin lives website;

Assessing priorities to upgrade your system is not always easy and so we have tried to provide some guidance from the experience that we have acquired over the years. Much depends on your the level of performance you aspire to, coupled with your future plans (if any) and budget. For this reason the following guidelines are a matter of opinion and judgement.

If you are using a Vinyl front end then the accepted wisdom is to break down your budget approx as follows: Please note that if your system is CD based, then this breakdown is not valid as CD players do not vary in performance anything like as much as turntables.

Turntable / arm / cartridge = 50% of budget
Phono stage = 8% of budget
Amplifier = 21% of budget
Loudspeakers = 21% of budget

For example if you have a £200 GBP CD player you could easily apportion up to £1000 GBP on the amp and £1000 GBP on the speakers which is the complete reverse of the philosophy for Vinyl.

If you are planning to upgrade over a period of time then you will split the budget based on your final investment in the system - needless to say there are all sorts of exceptions to the above guidance.

To break things down further we would suggest the following in terms of contribution to a front end performance - Please note that the price of a component does not does not necessarily mean that it will deliver more performance for the money than something else and the percentages indicated below are based on the average performance contribution to the system - not the price of the item.

Turntable = 47%
Tonearm = 33%
Cartridge = 11%
Phono stage = 9%

Ivor Tiefenbrun, the guy who developed the Linn lp12 also says, the table itself is 50% of th equation.

So as you can see the turntable itself is very important. This info will help you understand what Twl,Lugnut and Tok2000 have been saying.

The reason a lot of audiophiles went to cd in the eighties was because they had dual's or some Japanese direct drive turntable, with most times a shure m95ed, these rigs were very noisy and full of distortion. Now compaired to a good cd player, the absence of noise, and a lowering of distortion, decided cd was better.

I to need to upgrade my playback system. I am analog only based in my listening room. Because of my budget I will soon purchase the Origin aurora turntable, with the silver arm, this is arrox.2K$

You could add the shelter 501 mc $800 (the same cartridge Twl uses) and never look back. If your budget allows you can get better preformance in the origin live lineup. I suggest you read the reports, checkout the web sites.
Have some fun investigating, and when you get your analog rig, you will then hear all the music you have been missing.
...not as precicely but in general good quality records are more than good quality cds even as of now. In this terms first you'll get a complete hobby development, great toy and most-likely the sound superior to Wadia.

remember, real high-end is analogue from recording to reproduction.
I don't have a lot of records... maybe 20. The majority of those are 12" dance records. I bought the Technics 1200 and the mixer so that I could learn how to mix, and because you can only find certain music on vinyl (how strange is that?)...

I never thought the TT could give me more than OK sound. I remember vinyl when I was very young, but I really grew up with CDs.

That's why I have a hi end CD rig, and hundreds of CDs.

I think over time, I may invest more money in a new TT, but I'm broke right now, and couldn't afford more than maybe a better cartridge.

But I'm very curious to discover more, and will start looking for vinyl. There is a great place right near my apartment called Second Story Books that has loads of used records CHEAP. I may find some stuff there I like...

I'll let you know how each added upgrade improves the sound. The Syrah should get here sometime late February (that would be over 5 months wait...).
There is a member aka- psychicanimal among us here who wouldn't be please that you call SL1200 Low-end turntable!:-)

I'm glad you posted some additional information. I'll modify my recommendation somewhat. My guess is that you have an unstated desire to have a quality vinyl front end based on what you read from myself, Twl, Rockinroni and others. If that's true, then just make it a long range goal. Heavens, I can relate to being broke. In the meantime, hit that used record store and buy some software on a regular basis. Just make sure that your current turntable and cartridge are in good condition and set up properly so as not to trash the software you buy. Too many audiophiles invest a disproportionate amount of money in hardware and their music library suffers. If you decide later on to become digital only based you can part with your vinyl without taking a huge hit. If you step up with a new vinyl rig at a later date you will already have enough music to re-discover without feeling pressured to acquire more vinyl software quickly in order to justify the purchase of a new turntable. Relax and enjoy. You have a very nice system and it'll be there when you can afford to make the move. You can't go wrong buying software.

Unfortunately all DD turntables - except for Denons - "cog" and thus in the ears of many are not acceptable as a true high end solution. But they are very convenient and come up to speed quickly.
Dennis, you have to visualize the 1200 not in stock form--but on *steroids*. Then and only then will you get the most out of it. I have not finished the full modification process on mine. How far will it really go? I have no idea. Will it outperform a WADIA? I recently found out someone who's got one lives some ten miles from me. Maybe when I'm finished...

Kevin Barrett(KAB Electroacoustics) sent me a Beta release of his modded Stanton Trackmaster II for evaluation prior to final marketing. Believe me, I have had no need to switch back to my Ortofon X5 moving coil. The 1200 on steroids has to be seen as a whole. The Stanton is an integral part of this, I'd say. Superb. Also, Kevin told me over the phone that he's coming (finally) with an outboard power supply this spring. YES!

Now, there's two issues that I'd like to address:

First, the subject of the phono stage. I believe phono stage is more important than turntable. I learned this from Dejan V. Veselinovic of Yugoslavia (www.zero-distortion.com). The above mentioned references are from turntable equipment manufacturers--and biased, of course. With all due humility, I think my 1200 (once all the mods are finished) could be rigged to an entry level Klyne phono stage and it would not be wanting.

Second, one needs to know what to listen for in a turntable. I believe a lot of the belt drive cult following arises from a *personal* preference for huge, deep soundstage. Moving coils will give it to you and as a general rule your average DD will be just too noisy for this. The tradeoff is in speed and rotational stability (Wow & Flutter, en inglés). You WILL lose a lot of musical details. Unless one is using a belt drive with immense speed and rotational stability (like a VPI w/ flywheel) you will pay the price. Kevin Barrett has taught me this and I'm very grateful to him. When I switched from the Ortofon X5 MC to the modded Stanton Trackmaster II ( a moving magnet design) I noticed that the soundstage collapsed somewhat. Once the Trackmaster II broke in I started listening to an unbelievably detailed and live sounding midrange. This cartridge allowed me to hear a lot of microdynamic information as notes and voices were sustained, as in salsa horns and vocals. With higher wow and flutter this would be impossible to discern.

I use a Monolithic Phono stage plus excellent line conditioning and the results have been nothing short of outstanding. See if you can borrow a good phono stage and outline a flowchart for your mods. You will not be disappointed.
thanks psychic for your suggestions. i'll look into a different cartridge (moving magnet?) when i get the phono stage. that gives me some time to save some dough.

what are some medium priced cartridges to look for? TWL suggested a Goldring 1042.

i also took a look a Zaikes review of the KAB dampening system. interesting, and may be something i tweak with after i'm initially set up. Zaikes was great helping me get the basics of my TT setup...
You're welcome, Dennis. Now you're beginning to realize the 1200 on steroids is NOT a low end deck. It is low priced, nonetheless. For just over $1000 (brand new) you can purchase the following:

1) 1200 turntable
2) Tonearm fluid damper
3) Outboard power supply (soon)
4) High end integrated headshell cartridge.

What a deal! No other deck comes even close...

As to cartridge choices, I do trust TWL's analog *expertise*. He's one of a kind. I would give Kevin Barrett a call, since he is also an authorized Goldring dealer. He can tell you what will work best w/in your budget. Tell him I sent you: www.kabusa.com

Last, the tonearm fluid damper is more than just a tweak...
you guys are throughing good money away, trying to polish a turd. I guess you guys are dj's, in that case DD Turntables and Stanton cartridges are the ticket. good luck!
polishing a turd :)
Yeah, polishing a turd...
I can't make a judgement on that case unless I can have a chance to listen not just basing on general rule of thumb about belt drive v.s. DD.
I also tend to believe to TWL as to the analogue expert that this deck is quite descent for high-end playback.
I'm not saying it's high-end, just that is is pretty good for a low cost. I'd still buy a good belt drive TT before I got any direct drive.
Actually, I've seen an older thread around here, started by Psychicanimal in full provateur mode - championing the 1200 to the skies - with Twl bashing it to the depths...
(I either fall somewhere in the middle, can't hear worth a damn, or am blissfully ignorant :-)
Zaikes, you said you think the 1200 is very convenient and easy to use. Are some of the other belt drive tables (i've been doing some reading the last couple nights) like LinnLP12, Basis 1400, Teres 135 (these were the recommended moderately priced players) hard to operate or require maintenance and tuning all the time?

Also, what cartridge are you using? have you tried a goldring?
Alex, I've mellowed a bit in my old age. No longer am I bashing it to the depths. I am thankful that some people are again trying turntables, and am more careful with my words now. Or at least I try to be.
There's always 1200 bashers in every audio forum. The problem is they can't back up their thoughtless comments and just make fools of themselves. These same people are also unable to look at something rehardless of brand and get some idea of how good it is. No wonder I get e-mails from people wanting to mod 1200s but who are uncomfortable publicly posting their views...

In my previous posts I have expressed some serious, valid and coherent points. A few hours ago I got the dual mono power supply for my Monolithic phono stage. The sound has changed drammatically in all areas: soundstage, dynamics, bass, PRAT, noise floor, etc. More than ever, I still think phono stage is more important than TT. I called member Jahaira and my 1200 was playing. He said to me--"It's sounding faster!" My reply was that PRAT had substantially improved, as well as the bass. He could hear that vocals were clearer, too. And this was over the telephone!

These are exciting times!
Good grief, now we've got audiophiles hearing "PRAT" over the telephone...Psychic, you would be terribly unhappy (but no less insecure I'm sure) if you didn't have anyone to pick a fight with over your beloved 1200, so what I think the other good members have done here is simply to help ensure for your continued well-being. ;^)

DTM, I'm not implying other TT's are hard to use, but then as I say I've never lived with one of those you mention. But I do find it nice to be able to push a button for practically instant start or stop, and the same thing for speed change. It's physically small and basically maintainance-free (no belt to change or go astray, no motor positioning, no springs to adjust), and so is easy to set up. It has the basics you need: leveling feet, calibrated adjustments for VTF, VTA, and anti-skate, as well as an armrest and lift, plus a couple of things I appreciate, like a hinged dustcover and a removable headshell. It runs at the correct speed irrespective of AC line conditions (but has a strobe readout anyway), and has a pitch-change control which is useful to a musician. It exhibits no bearing play in either the 'arm or the platter, is quiet in operation, and is designed and built to be insensitive to high ambient SPL's. Besides which, I just like using DD TT's - it's nice to be able to spin the platter freely in either direction when trying to cue 30+ tracks for a compilation recording, for instance. The idea of belt-drive has always seemed conceptually inelegant to me (although it may be eminently practical) - but I don't plan on ever owning a Rockport either. What I think I'll ultimately do is have KAB perform the 78rpm mod on my 1200, which will give me an excuse to keep it around forever after I finally succumb and get myself something more audiophile-approved. (I am using the Glider M2, and have not heard any Goldrings.)

Thomas - So I'd noticed. :-)
I think I can hear the PRAT through the internet.

Seriously though, my old roommate wants to buy my Technics. Before I upgrade the table to non-DJ cartridge, I think I might just sell it to him, and look at a belt table. I just realized I have a couple grand coming to me on my tax return.

I'm goin to mull it over...
"Good grief, now we've got audiophiles hearing "PRAT" over the telephone..."

Caribbean audiophiles--that is. Jahaira & I have been raised listening, singing and dancing Afro-Caribbean music. We have an unbelievably good sense of rhythm and timing. When I was in grade school we used to piss off the teachers by using the desktops as drums and improvising rhythms(descargas). Where I come from people bring their drums and instruments to the beach and happy hours on the street and sing and play for hours and hours. It's not coincidence we have the highest number of Latin Grammy nominations.

What I wrote might be impossible for you, but not for us. I mean, there's people in Fiji that walk barefooted over red hot rocks...good grief!

Since you like proof, dear Zaikes, I'm giving you some:

When Columbia records decided to record their first crossover album with the Fania All Stars (1976-77) they sent one of their executives to the first rehearsal. Fania All Stars is composed of pretty much the top salsa players in each instrument--and most of those are percussion instruments--even the string bass is played upbeat! Anyway, the record executive showed up with a *metronome* --so that the Fania All Stars could "keep their rhythm!". Such is the ignorance level out there. If a Columbia Records executive did that, I'm not surprised nor offended by your comment. Next time you get to go to a Caribbean party for Anglos watch how they dance--maybe you'll understand. Because of that incident w/Columbia, the album was titled "Rhythm Machine".

Regarding my unhappiness if I didn't "have anyone to pick up a fight", I have forwarded you a copy of an e-mail between Kevin and I, where I state that I was glad that the 1200 bashers were gone--and directing him to this thread. I was wrong.

Will you also be "sure" about me being "insecure"?
First let us remember the question at hand.
Low end TT vs. Hi end CD
Do you think a technics 1200 can sound better than a wadia 860x?
This question was asked by a man who owns a $6000 CD player, VAC amp, Martin Logans etc. He has little analog experience, and is asking a serious question. Can a $500 turntable, better a 6k cd unit, used on a very revealing system.
The answer to this question is only common sense.

In my first response, I explained that the turntable itself, is most important in the analog chain. This is not only my opinion, but I quoted 2 highly acclaimed hi fi manufactures as references. Only to be put down by a self proclaimed turntable expert that stated, and I quote, "The above mentioned references are from turntable equipment manufacturers--and biased, of course". Psych do you honestly think you are giving Denis the best advice based on his equipment. Or your personal preference for your beloved turntable. I know he said he was broke and you are trying to hot rod his rig. The rest of us think he would be better served saving his money for something more complementary to his other components. I know only to well, what a revealing amp and speakers, can make a entry level front end sound like.
I am sorry I hurt your feelings with my thoughtless comments, but I do not think I am the fool here.
Oh Lord! Now because we were magnanimous, we get hit with the "white men can't dance" routine. For somebody who claims to be a "psychic", you certainly have a poor perception about what people will think about your statements.
Last night, I started looking to see waht kind of vinyl is available, and realized I could almost replace my entire CD collection with vinyl. I was amazed. I never knew they were still manufacturing current music on vinyl.

It has me thinking, along with the offer I got for my Technics, and the coming tax return, that maybe I should shoot for somekind of decent analog setup. I could even sell the Wadia (which I was going to do, but the winner of my auction backed out, and I ended up keeping the player), and take the proceeds to get something great.

I looked at Teresaudio.com, and yes, the TT look great, but I gotta admit, I hate when I see rare woods used. It's just a line I won't cross -- supporting rainforest destruction. That stuff kills me.

So then I started lookin at Basis, Nottingham, Michell, and VPI. goin to mull it over some....
"Psych do you honestly think you are giving Denis the best advice based on his equipment."

Yes, I think so. It was him who mentioned *purchasing* a 1200 to begin with. If he's got such an expensive rig he should know a little bit about audio--or risk falling prey to unscrupulous salesmen.

"Can a $500 turntable, better a 6k cd unit, used on a very revealing system. The answer to this question is only common sense."

I think the thread's title pretty much answers the question were in not by the fact that I have ordered two "Wadia Killer" CD transports (AIWA XC-35M & XC-37M, less than $100 each). There's simply too much overrated gear in *high end*. Therefore, I don't look at equipment in "$500 vs 6K" terms...

"The rest of us think he would be better served saving his money for something more complementary to his other components."

He already has the TT! Like Deano taught me, "Never pass up an audition." I bet "the rest of us" haven't auditioned a modded 1200 vs other higher priced decks. Like it always happens. I wrote I might do the Wadia/1200 comparison in the future--once I've done all the mods.

"I know only to well, what a revealing amp and speakers, can make a entry level front end sound like."

Just because amp and speakers are revealling does not necessarily mean more musical. I do have revealling and musical amp and speakers (Melos SHA-1 linestage, Forté 4A amp & Modwright Swans M1 speakers). I purchased the Forté 4A per Sean's recommendation. He said if my front end was good enough I would be able to reap the Forté's benefits. After letting it run for three days straight I e-mailed Sean what I was hearing. His reply was that I had given "a pretty accurate description of how that amp sounds". Therefore, my front end is up to speed...

"you guys are throughing good money away, trying to polish a turd. I guess you guys are dj's, in that case DD Turntables and Stanton cartridges are the ticket. good luck!"

"I am sorry I hurt your feelings with my thoughtless comments, but I do not think I am the fool here."

No, you haven't--how could you?

Oh, not all this Planet's caucasian men are Anglos, BTW. For example, 80% of the Arab world is caucasian--so much for the "sand n*****" stereotype. Anyone seen recent pictures of blonde Afghanis with green eyes? I was referring to "conditioning" to rhythm and timing as we grow up (that's what the grade school reference is for). No intention to attach racial stigma. Much of our musical heritage is Arab--not just African. The Arabs conquered most of Spain for some 800 years.

Have a great weekend and...

Roni, I realize what you are saying about the benefits of DTM getting a better TT in absolute terms, but I stand by my statement that the TT he already has can (combined with a decent cart and phonostage) give more *musical* pleasure on some levels than a much more costly (and quite possibly any) "Redbook" digital rig. Such is the inherent advantage of the more information-rich medium. Put another (more relevant) way, the 1200 - without any special tweaking - can serve as a fine intro to the pleasures of vinyl, and if Dennis keeps it for the time being while he gets himself some more records first, I am confident that the TT will not do anything to turn him off from pursuing the analog path long-term.

P.S. - Francisco, don't take the "PRAT" thing personally; I don't believe in this conceptual buzzword from any audiophiles as it pertains to gear, only in its constituent parts as they pertain to music. And about the insecurity crack - anybody who picks fights just so he can defend himself the way you enjoy doing is insecure to some degree, myself included. Surely insecurity about my TT, rather than any particular dissatisfaction with its sound, is what drove me to do all the tweaking in the first place. Guess what? All audiophiles fit the same damn description, which is why we're just a bunch of over-analytical nuerotic sensualists.
Zaikesman,ok I give, the 1200 sounds better than any cd player. This is GREAT news. All I know is the last time I put a cd player (Nad) into my system to check the cd vs. vinyl thing was about 8 years ago and vinyl still ruled. In all the equipment reviews I have read, reviewers really praise those megabuck cd rigs. Take the Linn for example.
Denis you might as well keep your wadia, because I hear its only worth about a hundred bucks used.

Psych why are you buying cd players?
Rockinroni: Lame. Hope you got a laugh out of yourself for me.
Just ordered couple of records from GEMM.com

what an awesome site. you can find anything! i was really impressed with the selection.

we'll see how the TT sounds with my new phono stage. i'm seriously considering givin up the wadia, making some money to pay down a little debt, AND getting a new TT setup! analog is definitely cheaper than digital to set up.
Steve, did you already sell your BAT?
Yep, sold the BAT, paid off some debt. Auctioned off the Wadia, buyer backed out after auction. Which was OK... I'm still trying to hold on to it.

But I could get some extra cash AND get a sweet TT setup, along with a bunch of new records, by selling the 860x.

I'm going to listen first to some new vinyl, on my 1200, with my current cartridge, and the new phono stage first, to see what i think.

I guess I hope I can hear some of what vinyl can do on the 1200. From your answer above, it seems like I should be able to do that...
Rockinroni: Lame. Hope you got a laugh out of yourself for me. what does this mean? I really do not know what you are trying to express to me only that it sounded negative. Every man is entitled to his opinion. I was not being sarcastic, I thought I made it clear, I did not know how the top end cd players sounded. Only what the reviewers said. I to am open minded and hope to learn something from an exchange of thoughts. After reading stereo mags for 30 years I feel I know when A reviewer is doing a good job. Seams too many people in this thread are getting emotional. The turd comment was made to express my feelings to Denis, That I felt he should spend his money on something else. Not to hurt anyones feelings. I think most people make their equipment choices from their pocketbook restraints, and most of us feel there is a pricepoint associated with every item we choose, where price to us exceeds value. The reason I read so much and buy so little is because I cannot afford it. Its easy to put together a system when price is no object, and you can afford to try the new flavor of the month. That's why we search for knowledge about Hi Fi. So our choices do not negatively impact our wallets. It's great to have a forum like this, where we can all combine our thoughts, and at the end come up with a better understanding of a given topic.
Ron, apparently I misunderstood you, and I am sorry. I thought your post read like dry sarcasm. My apologies. I have not heard either the top CD players or the top turntables, so my opinion is necessarily somewhat speculative and based on limited knowledge, but some real knowledge nevertheless. For all I know, a $20K Linn blows away every other device ever made, but somehow I doubt it. Every piece of gear and type of technology has its pluses and minuses. (An old NAD CD vs. a 1200, on the other hand - no contest!) I won't doubt your sincerity again.
OK, I'm back...

Zaikes, you've made me have a laugh with your message--for real! I was just talking to Jahaira earlier today--we *can* hear subtle changes PRAT--with our music, most definitely! Maybe you should take a vacation in Fiji--or the Caribbean!

Music is not the only activity I do for pleasure. Fitness boxing and training has been, although I've been retired from that and gaining weight like crazy...

Roni, this is what got you in trouble: "I guess you guys are dj's, in that case DD Turntables and Stanton cartridges are the ticket. good luck!"

If you would go to the reviews section and read Zaikes' review of the tonearm damper for the 1200 you would realize who Zaikesman is. His rig is well put together and his eloquent review demonstrates a command of the English language and a very keen ear. A visit to www.kabusa.com would immediately tell that Kevin is a non-commercial, non-Voodoo guy dedicated to the preservation of analog recordings. He has also designed and marketed the most complete transcription phono preamp on the market. His choosing the 1200 as a main workhorse might at least raise some questions and give you some insights...

As to why I buy CD's, hey It's time consuming to clean records & styli, flip them, etc. A WADIA quality CD changer-transport is very appealing to me, especially if it's less than $250. I have some 700 LPs vs 300 CDs, so I need a TT that will make things easier for me while providing adequate high end playback performance. I can start fast, clean records on top of the platter, have light for the stylus, continuous VTA adjustment, service manual, parts availability, etc. Without question, the modded 1200 fits the bill in its price class like no other deck. When I started shopping for a TT I was looking at the "glass and particle board" crowd until I ran into posts of people modding the 1200 for high end use. I approached the subject with an open mind--that's all...