Which turntable, tonearm, and cartridge do you think are most hyped?
One of my friends who owns Garrard 301, Thorens 124 and EMT ?? told me that those three vintage turntables are as good as one can get for the price points, beating most modern turntables costing under $10K. However, I've also read that Garrard 301 is over hyped. My friend also insists that Ortofon RMG 309 tonearm and the original SPU Silver Meister (not MKii) are best for Garrard and Thorens. I wonder whether the Ortofon arm and SPU cartridge are over rated. Your thought?
You want to know the truth? Once a very reasonably affordable level is reached there are a whole lot of turntables that are so good that what you will hear is at least as much due to what the turntable is sitting on as the table itself. This goes for the tone arm as well. When it comes to arms, the turntable is to the arm as the shelf and stand are to the turntable. Playing a record sets the whole shebang to vibrating like crazy, and its this vibration of the total rack/table/arm/cartridge system that you hear when playing a record. Not the cartridge. Not the arm. Not the table. Not the rack. The whole thing all together.
That is the truth. This explains why people can feel so strongly that one or another is better. Once you hear the combination produce that magic then of course, if you are the kind of audiophile who doesn’t understand this then you are very likely to pick out one part or another as the one responsible for this great sound. And you will be right. In part. But only in part. Its the whole thing all together that you heard.
Once you figure this out then you can forget all about what is hyped or not, and focus on what really matters- how it works, how it looks, and how it fits in with your intended use. Some guys for example never will mess with VTA other than maybe one time to set it up, if that. If that’s you then VTA on the fly is useless. But if you know what it does and use it, well then VTA is essential and you will never have another arm without it. Like that. And all they hype or lack thereof in the world won’t change that one bit.
ihcho, those people are on another planet. Stay away from antiques. They are antiques for a reason. For 10K there is so much modern equipment that will handily out perform any of that stuff you mention above. In a modern system with solid output down to 20 Hz those turntables are awful. Big heavy arms and low compliance cartridges have a hard time following record irregularities (warps) adding distortion and increasing record wear. I am not into romantic sound. I am into accurate sound. With a good system you are better off with modern turntables, tonearms and cartridges. Do your antique collecting on the side. Get into old cars or something.
@millercarbon, "You want to know the truth? Once a very reasonably affordable level is reached there are a whole lot of turntables that are so good that what you will hear is at least as much due to what the turntable is sitting on as the table itself."
That was certainly my truth when I placed a cheap plastic turntable upon a solid wood rigid open framed table and was taken aback at what I was hearing. A wonderfully open dynamic sound lacking very little other than deep bass!
I guess all turntables must vary in the extent that they are influenced by their environments, but none seem to be totally indifferent.
OK maybe this one real got close.
Yes, it’s that AR hammer test once again.
As for most hyped. Easily the LP12 through the late 1980s, at least in the UK. You really had to be there to see some of the messianic nonsense written about this latter day AR and the rebadged Audio Technica cartridges it often came with.
Chakster, why the 3P? I am especially fond of the 3G. It has removable arm wands of different effective masses so you can tune it to any cartridge and like head shells you can keep several cartridges loaded up ready to go.
I recently saw a new Garrard 301 (at $20K) and a new Thorens TD 124 (at $15K) . I thought the only reason why they decided to remake the vintage models at that hefty price is that there are demands. If there are such demands but if they are not as good as contemporary tables at the same price point, they must be hyped. Garrard and Thorens may be over hyped and as mijostyn suggested, those vintages are not as good as many people think. It appears that LP12 is hyped too. I myself one time thought LP12 was one of the best tables ever made even tough it is hard to setup correctly. I'd like to hear what other models are over hyped. Thanks for your reply.
$15k is simply insane, but audiophile world is full of nonsense.
They are definitely over hyped, but I like the design of Garrard 301 hammertone (fully refurbisged by Audio Grail in UK), it’s GBP 3000 (the rest if for plinth, tonearm, cartridge). At least it’s beautiful!
Most of the modern turntables are so ugly that in my opinion people who spend a lot for such garbage have no taste (just money).
For over hyped ones look for this Nakamichi that goes for $100 000 Looks weird ...
There are many great vintage turntables, in my opinion this is one of the best design ever. I'm using two of them and practically this is the best turntable for people like me (who collect tonearms and cartridges).
The Linn LP-12 was, and maybe still is, the most hyped turntable, but over-hyped? Maybe, but let's not forget that it was the pioneer (not that Pioneer) of high-end turntables and changed audiophiles' views concerning the importance of a good front end in the audio system. There are many original LP-12s still spinning vinyl today, some upgraded to today's specs, some in their original form ~ a classic nonetheless.
Ihcho, I don't think you are a deliberate troll, but the kind of question you ask has no factual answer and is only a call for opinions on a subject that is probably for vinylphiles only a little less provocative than questions about Trump or religion. You can see the battle lines forming already after only 8-10 posts. Ask yourself, what do you hope to learn from this thread that could possibly benefit you? I can't think of anything.
As regards Garrard 301 there is a factual answer. An idler wheel taking motor noise and vibration directly to the platter is clearly a bad design. All this noise and rumble for $20,000 is just a big laugh. Afficionados are kidding themselves. Yes time does move on in 70 years but all the 200kg bling tables with 30kg platters and costing up to $250,000 are over-hyped too. You don't need all that to spin an LP quietly at a constant speed.
For me, if I had 10k to spend on a turntable and arm, I like the VPI Prime Signature with their Fat Boy gimbaled tonearm. (Just over 9k) I have a 1983 Technics SL 1200 MKII with a few of the KAB mods. It doesn't compare to my Super Prime Scout.
Back in the '70's when a lot of this started, we had a lot of different TTs in my shop. Garrard was a joke back then--plastic and sold for about $40.00, I think. Thorns' tables were hard to get for a while. I think they were a couple hundred bucks...also belt drive as I remember and OK, but not perfect.
Linn-Sondek was supposed to be great. It was a belt drive, as I remember, and had a lot of issues and kept putting out changes to fix them whenever a reviewer would point something out.
Technics came out with DD tables and all of a sudden, the ultimate tables were born!! I forget all the numbers--an SP-10, maybe, was $500 dollars and pretty good, but of course the audiophile world had lots of negative things to say about them. Shure arms (SME something--I forget all the numbers) were about $100.00-$125.00 and had removable head shells, which was judged to be a no-no back then for all kinds of reasons. I forget all the arms with fixed head shells that came out about then.
The physicists said the straight-arm tables were the best as they tracked better, but B&O limited theirs to their own cartridges, which were mediocre at best as I remember. Another guy had a straight arm that you could put on a table, but it did not work very well.
Moving coil cartridges with various amps were in favor--Decca, Satin, Supex, Grado, etc. AT and Shure still had MM ones and their prices started rising. They were afterthoughts until then, I think.
My fav was the Transcriptor. We had one in the window to attract people. It never actually WORKED, of course, but it sure was pretty with its SME arm, etc. I think we actually sold a couple of them--probably as art objects!
I would guess Panasonic Technics tables are still pretty good. They started making them for discos so you could move the platter with your finger--MK 10 or 11 or something, and became a bit expensive. I still think I sold more B&O with the tracking arm than any, but I forget. I sold a lot of Thorns tables as well. Cassette tapes (METAL!) were big, as were Nakamichi tape decks, which broke but worked great when they did.
I would suggest going with Panasonic if they are still being made.
Rega- it’s hyped maybe deservedly so, but should get a mention regardless When I started my first ever audiophile TT search this past Spring, I soon realized it was going to a nightmare of obsessive, expensive and inefficient tweaks for me, several of which I’m simply not skilled enough to pull off properly. So I went with Rega since it’s advertised as an all in one solution and a 40+year track record with very little to fuss about. Dealer let me line up the P6,8, and 10 in my house and the 10 won easily hands down. Of course I still obessed a little with vibration and swapped out the stock feet for the Symposium rollerback plus and one of their better shelves. And changed the cart to the Aphelion2 which was a nerve racking experience, thank God for the head screw.
lewm, Thanks for your notice. You are right. I was not deliberately trolling, but I understand that it could be taken as trolling. Why did I ask? I was interested in hearing people’s opinion, not so much of fact (like measurement data on noise, hum, wow, flutter, ...). However, opinion can be very biased, and without supported fact it could end up into pointless argument. Anyway, a good portion of high end audio is based on hype and personal and subjective opinion, and asking whether something is hype or not may be pointless as you suggested. Hope that my question would not fall into pointless argument. So far, I like all the postings. Learned something new too.
Here’s my story (please skip it if you are not interested in hearing about it, and it might digress to other direction). I had Thorens 124 and Garrard 301, and sold Thorens because it was too much to keep both, and I liked Garrard more. I’ve had Garrard over 8 years. My Garrard is with Ortofon RMG 309 + SPU Gold/Silver and Ortofon RS 212 + SPU mono (dual arms). I don’t hear much hum or noise. It sound just nice. I like this setup a lot. Better than my other setup (Clearaudio Bluemotion + AT150mlx, Ortofoc MC20, SL15, ..., Denon 103R). However, at over three times price tag. My Clearaudio is for B rated albums and Garrard is for A rated albums.
Then I saw new Thorens and Garrard selling at $15K and $20K. The high price tag must be due to the popularity of the vintage models and strong following. The popularity may be due to their true superb performance or possibly due to hype or nostalgia, or something to do with cult level status. I was not interested in Technics DD turntables and I did not know how good they were, but I pretty much ignored them and lumped them into cheap Japanese turntable category. But I recently saw a lot of people using new 1200GR at under $2K, and most users seemed to be just happy about it. I wonder how many happy Technics DD users compared their setup with vintage/new Garrard/Thorens with SPU. I might try it by myself. If Technics 1200GR with SPU (with additional counter weight) sounds just as good and I don’t hear much difference, I can sell my Garrard. So, in that sense, lewm, you were not right.
Then I saw new Thorens and Garrard selling at $15K and $20K. The high
price tag must be due to the popularity of the vintage models and strong
following. The popularity may be due to their true superb performance
or possibly due to hype or nostalgia, or something to do with cult level
You'd be surprised. All of these play a part. Except hype, a word you seem to use as a catch-all for anything anyone likes more than you think they should. But whatever. There's a point here worth making but its going to call for opening your mind and looking around at the whole big wide world. By you I mean you the reader not necessarily just you the OP.
I've been a Porsche guy since high school. Back then a new 1979 911SC sold for about $25k. By the time I could afford one it was 1991, they were depreciated to about $12-16k, and I found a very nice example for $16k. People mocked me for over-paying when $12k was the going rate, and sure enough within a few years its worth much less but oh well, its a nice car, don't they all go down in value anyway? Well now 30 years later its got another 150k miles on it and still a fine example and guess what? They go for like $40k now, ones as nice as mine anyway. The better the condition the higher they go.
What I noticed over my 30 years following these things, they all do this. Every single one. People get blinders on, something catches their attention, they figure has to be X. Which X could be oh its a GT, or its a Speedster, its the last of the air-cooleds, or X could be what you said, nostalgia, cult (another misused word like hype) status, whatever. Point is this is nothing special. Happens all the time. Don't be distracted by this one or that one. Pay attention to the trend. The all-powerful trend.
The trend is anything and everything that somehow manages to survive the ravages of time becomes worth a lot more. One Porsche guy refused to believe me, went looking for proof, was at least man enough to admit when he found a Chrysler K-car selling for $25k, about 5x what they went for new, crappiest car Chrysler ever made. Watches, clocks, telescopes, and yes turntables all follow this same trend. Try and find something more than 30 years old still in great condition that has not gone up in value.
(Priced in fiat dollars, which is the real problem. None of these has gone up in terms of real money, gold. But that's another one for another day.)
The market is thin, and the market is specialized. You can bet your bottom dollar that $15k turntable you're talking about is one truly exceptional example, nothing like what you have or are likely ever to see anywhere. That's why people pay the money. To have something special. And it is. All you have to do is watch the reaction every time I pull up at a gas station. People just naturally love intrinsic beauty that endures. Its not hype. Its in our blood.
"Of course I still obessed a little with vibration and swapped out the stock feet for the Symposium rollerback plus and one of their better shelves. And changed the cart to the Aphelion2 which was a nerve racking experience, thank God for the head screw."
This is the kind of unforgettable stuff that sets us audiophiles apart from the rest of the human race. We sometimes seem to be living 2 lives, one for the world and the other for our obsession.
After 20 years of marriage and 2 kids I don't think I'd be up to that kind of thing anymore. It's bad enough with a $250 cart let alone a $3k one.
Gosh those days of experimenting with wall shelves and various turntable platforms seem so so long ago - and yet so recent.
If I remember correctly different platforms under the Rega 3 never seemed to make much difference.
The better way for me to go was to use a rigid lightweight table as a support rather than a wall shelf.
I now suspect that this was largely down to living fairly close to a busy main road whereby no wall shelf was ever going to excel in being stationary enough.
I hope you've had better luck at the vinyl summit with your Rega 10. Many years later I'm still not certain what the best way of attaching a turntable wall shelf would be, but here's a nice story warning of some potential dangers.
That may be true. A good analogy with Porsche 911. I’ve never driven 911, but I had a chance to sit on the passenger seat in mid 90s. The driver showed off a little bit (?), and I still cannot forget the exciting feeling I had.
My understanding is that the "new" Garrard 301 is not that at all. The factory is now refurbishing the original 301s, including replacement of certain parts that they now are re-manufacturing. The ultimate plan is to increase the number of parts being manufactured to the point where wholly new tables can be built from scratch. The new Thorens 124 looks a lot like the original, but, it is a direct drive table, not an idler drive table.
I am familiar with the original Garrard 301 and 401 and the Thorens 124. When these are properly refurbished and maintained, they can sound very good--punchy, dynamic and lively. I have no idea if this is the result of the kind of drive mechanism employed or any other characteristic of the table and the particular arm being used, but, I've heard similarly lively sound from some belt-driven and direct drive tables that happen to use high-torque motors, so I do wonder if that contributes to this sound.
I own a belt-drive table with a spring suspension (Basis Debut with vacuum clamp and motor controller) that has a quite different sound--the table sounds less vivid, but the presentation is more "poised" and there is far less noise from the record grooves (the platter damps vibration imparted in the record by the act of playing the record). I like my table, but, if another listener thought it sounded "dead," compared to the likes of the 301 and 124, I can understand that judgment. Given the right system and preferences, the 301 and 124 can be world class tables and I certainly would not rule them out just because they are old and can be prone to some noise issues.
I own a Woodsong 301 with an Ortophon R309D arm. In the process of setting up my new Triplanar SE arm and selling the Ortophon. The Ortophon is a nice period right match for the 301 but can’t compete with the performance of the Triplanar. I had been searching for a good used 301 for years. Feel fortunate to have found a great one. The 301/401 are legendary and deservedly so. They originally were designed for professional use and are truly built to last... and they have. When fully restored, they are hard to beat. Their physicality is unique. And with the idler drive they produce the thrust of music unlike any belt drive. My Woodsong certainly has many features well beyond the original. It also happens to be beautiful!
Historically the most overhyped turntable would have to be the Tin Sondek. In the early days the Linn Doctor needed to visit multiple times a year to keep it stable.
On these forums the most overhyped TTs would be the 70's direct drives and their derivatives with their 70's low tech error correction circuitry inducng a lovely digital haze across the audio spectrum. No amount of fettling, magic oil or elaborate plinth can eliminate that glare.
@chakster WOW! Those are sure different from the original ones that were self-contained and silver with lots of speed dots on the platter for making sure the speed was set correctly.
I imagine they cost a bit, as well.
I love vinyl, but still use an older Technics (SL-1200, but don't quote me) and a old Luxman--not sure of the number. Both are just fine, thank-you, but I should probably get a new cartridge sometime. Right now, I need a crossover (EC-21) but am having a heck of a time finding one!
As soon as I get that, I will work on the TTs.
Thanks for the update. Crazy stuff...when they sold tons of TTs they were pretty cheap. I guess today, with a very limited market, they cost more. We used to sell several a week. These days, who knows?
I've probably written this too many times already, but if the OP is interested in a vintage DD, then I think the Denon DP80 is a bigger bang for the buck than the SP10 MK2. Can typically be purchased for under $1000, with or without plinth. I have owned both, side by side on the same system for about a year. I eventually kept only the DP80. This is not to say that I can claim the DP80 is superior to any of the new G series Technics and certainly not to the Mk3 (which I also own) or the SP10R. Those latter two are world class. Considering that the lower cost G series tables come with a good plinth and tonearm, that's where I would go if on a budget of under $2K.
There is a Technics Direct Drive motor under the Neumann platter when thecutting stylusworking on doing its magic.
This is misleading. The Technics cutting lathe motor devloped for the Neumann cutting head was the SP02, Its about the size of a medium cooking pot with torque figures dwarfing even the SP10mk3.
Furthermore the SP02 was SPECIFICALLY designed to work in conjunction with the 70lb Neumann flywheel.
The majority of the direct drive turntables couldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding by comparison to the Technics SP02 lathe motor, and their lightweight platters have little inertia compared to the Neumann flywheel.
I love the metaphor, Dover. And your point is well taken; it's been noted by others as well, and all you have to do is look at the SP02 to know it is far more massive than any turntable motor needs to be. However, the Mk3 does have a 21-lb platter, a bit heavier than the skin off a rice pudding, at least my wife's rice pudding.
I posted many pictures of this motor in my posts earlier this year (thanks to jpjones for the images in his blog).
It is Direct Drive and your records made with Direct Drive, period.
SP-10 mkIII and SP-10R are best DD from Technics available today.
Technics platters are all super heavy!
Denon DP-80 and Victor TT-101 platters are lighweight.
Those are greatest direct drive turntables available today for very reasonable price in my opinion.
If you like something else - no problem.
I like Garraard 301 Hammertone, but only because it looks cool, never tried. Using Denon, Technics, Luxman, Victor direct drive and I can’t detect any single problem with these different type of direct drives.
Apologies for my ignorance on Technics DD turntables. I only knew that some of their high end models were good for DJ in dance club. Now I see that some of their high end models are as good as turntables can be.
lewm, Thanks for your suggestion of Denon DP80. However, if I ever buy a turntable again, I would go for a new one that requires minimal setting. In that sense, I like my Clearaudio Bluemotion. The setup is so easy. The only downside is that I cannot install an SPU. I need at least two turntables, one for stereo and one for mono. Preferably three for two stereos. I have so many albums that do not deserve expensive cartridges.
I see two different schools of thoughts from turntables users: one who highly values vintage Thorens, Garrard, and EMT, and another who highly values DD turntables from Technics, Denon, and other Japanese companies. However, I have not heard yet from anybody who have had both about their cons and pros. Maybe those issues were discussed multiple times before, and I would not ask them again here.
I have one different question though, if I may. Which is a better table between entry level Clearaudio turntable (like Concept) or similarly priced Rega 6 and Technics SL-1200GR? I prefer the simplicity of Clearaudio and Rega, but if Technics is at least as good, and if it can be used with SPU cartridges (with additional counter weight), then I would go for Technics as my future turntable. (Well, I've read that it is absurd to use SPU cartridges with SL-1200GR tonearm, but I've seen some people were happy with it.)
Dear Ihcho, So, from the "most hyped" question, this thread eventually turned into a bunch of recommendations for purchase, and I fell into the trap myself. I’ve got to correct you on one statement; the "high end" Technics turntables (SP10 Mk2 and MK3) were in fact used in a lot of radio stations because of the near instant start-up, but never by DJs (in nightclubs). The favorite DJ table was and is the SL1200 and all its variants.
Have you decided which turntable is most hyped? It’s always the one that the other guy likes, never your own.
Have you decided which turntable is most hyped? It’s always the one that the other guy likes, never your own.
Not quite. Probably I did not use a correct term. When I used 'hyped', I meant by something that is excessively advertised, overly reviewed, overly followed, and overly priced then what it really worth for whatever reason. Not much of misleading and false advertisement. It appears that both those vintage tables and Japanese DD tables have very good reason for their following and high price. I somehow thought that the 301/309/SPU is at the level of holly grail in turntable community and the modern turntable technology has not surpassed the 70 year old technology. But the conclusion I reached from this thread is, it is not. Again, it was due to my ignorance, and I am happy to learn that. Apologies if I wasted your time, but I certainly appreciate your comment.
My mint Luxman PD444 from Japan with two new armboards in 2018 cost me $2000 which was not common, but I got real lucky. Runs perfect and is one of the most gorgeous golden age tables ever made. Real cost on a mint PD444 is more like $4000 or more, if you can find it.
Russian time traveling Victor TT101 in mint-condition sitting on JP’s bench cost me $1500. Original plinth with 4 armboards cleaned up, new Teak veneer cost $500. JP’s cost is around $1500. $3500 for top of the line vintage DD.
I have one different question though, if I may. Which is a better table between entry level Clearaudio turntable (like Concept) or similarly priced Rega 6 and Technics SL-1200GR?
You’re comparing belt drive to direct drive here.
I prefer the simplicity of Clearaudio and Rega, but if Technics is at least as good, and if it can be used with SPU cartridges (with additional counter weight), then I would go for Technics as my future turntable. (Well, I’ve read that it is absurd to use SPU cartridges with SL-1200GR tonearm, but I’ve seen some people were happy with it.)
As ex owner of a few SPU cartridges I can tell you that you’d better look for SP-10mkII and "12 inch tonearm like Thomas Schick. I owned this combination with my SPU Spirit and SPU Classic cartridges.
If you want SL1200GR then you can still use SPU with custom made ring weight for the counterweight, but it’s a bit strange, because there are many better higher compliance MC for Technics tonearm and some killer MM cartridges (best). You can also replace Technics tonearm with something like Jelco.
If you have and like an SPU cartridge, it is a matter of choosing a suitable arm, I don't think the type of table particularly matters. Some people insist on being vintage appropriate, but, to me, a good table, regardless of vintage, deserves a good arm whatever the vintage.
I had the privilege of hearing a collection of four different Ortofon SPU cartridges, two were older, and two were current models, on a modern top-end Ortofon arm. This was an interesting comparison--I liked both the highly regarded older model and the latest top end SPU model which sounded quite different from the older model. The Ortofon tonearm is a favorite of the dealer who was doing the audition (the table was a Thorens 124). I would suggest the Ortofon arm, but, it is made by Jelco, which recently went out of business, so it, like a lot of other arms made by Jelco, have become quite hard to find.