Moving into vinyl. Brinkman, TW Raven, GrandPrix??

Dear all,

I'm considering moving into vinyl as all my friends tell me it's the real deal and once you've got it, digital doesn't seem to appealing anymore.

I've being reading some threads on the various brands etc etc and have made a selection of a few players I'm highly interested in.

- Brinkman Balance
- TW Raven Black Night
- Grand Prix Audio Monaco turntable

Obviously the arm/cart has an impact on the sound as well, but which of these tables would to prefer and why? Any other tables I should consider?

I don't have funds for the really expensive turntables, the above brands are the price range I'm thinking of buying.

Appreciate your feedback.

.... once you've got it, digital doesn't seem to appealing anymore.

Beware of well meaning advice from friends.
Yes, I hope your friends also told you about how much work doing vinyl correctly can be. I'm all for anyone trying vinyl, but I'm not sure I would ever say that digital loses it's appeal if it is also done correctly.

As for tables to start with, I can only offer to buy the most that you can within your budget. And that could very well mean buying used. You can usually double your budget that way.

Keep in mind that the table is only one part. You also need to address the phono cart/phono stage synergy, cartridge alignment tools, cleaning supplies, etc. As I said, it takes quite a bit to do it right.
Thanks for your response. I do know is an expensive and time consuming part of hifi.

My comment about digital losing its appeal was maybe a bit to drastic. I basically meant that from the people I know that use vinyl, they all prefer the turntable sound over the sound of their CD player.

I don't have enough comparison but I like the sound of my CD a lot, but then, I'm (think many with me) always looking for improvements.

With respect to phono stages, there are 2 currently that has my main interest, it's the Boulder phono and the Lyra Connoisseur.

I'm extremely curious how for instance a Brinkman Balance with Breuer tonarm with a Boulder/Lyra phono would compare to a DCS Puccini/Scarlatti.
Maxx1973...i have not heard any of the tables you have listed but at that price point, I would not purchase anything without auditioning in advance multiple times!! The TW Acustic tables are distributed only by Jeff Catalano at Highwatersound in NYC and so if you are in the area, you should set up some time with Jeff to audition the Raven AC ($14Kish without tonearm). Jeff suggests the Graham Phantom and or Triplanar arms on the Raven AC, which gets you to the $20K range. The Black Night is closer to $40K I believe so that is twice the price of the Grand Prix and the Brinkmann table, both of which are in the $20K range. Do you have dealers that can audition the Brinkmann and Grand Prix tables for you? It's all good getting Agoners advice but at this price point you should be hearing the tables for yourself (multiple times) to really evaluate their strengths and capabilities before deciding on which table to purchase. The other table in this price range that make sense to audition is the Basis 2800. Good luck.
I think, you should try to listen to some Turntables and get a own impression. The pricing of turntables (above) have absolutely no connection to brain, science and performance. A 20k table is not better than a 8k table when that one is made better. Most owners want to believe that their 20k investment (with a nice rebate of course) was done right. The main reason, why such threads are always coming up again and will never end.
It depends on the customer, it is like being in a small boat in the sea, one day the wind is from this direction, the next day from that direction...
You can read the technical papers from Basis, it shows that knowledge, science and precision can be important :-), some think different.
It is a long journey...
Sorry wasn't aware that the Black Night was that much more expensive. I guess the Raven AC would be more towards the money I would be able to spend.

Off course I will try to listen to the tables as well, but I like the advise of the A'gon people to make a upfront selection and in order to get an idea which table would probably suit me. Same goes for tweaking since I read some tables require much more "maintenance and tweaking" then other.

The Brinkman with Breuer and Raven AC with Graham Phantom both seem proven set-ups which work well. Wonder what difference in sound they have.

I listened to the Raven AC with Graham arm once and thought the sound was good, but no "wow factor". Saying that, the rest of the system saw only so-so, therefore it probably wasn't a fair judgement to base my opinion on.
Just today I use the Search feature on the Gon's home page and got to a TW-Acustic Raven One, brass arm board, a Graham Phantom MKI and then a WSS Silver Phono Cable $7200.00 obo.

Brinkmann LaGrange with one year warranty Ad, but it does't have an arm included. P.S. There is a Brinkmann Tube Power Supply available. Check to see if it works with this Brinkmann. It is the sexist speed controller I've ever seen and makes Brinlmann TT's sound even better. Add your favorite arm.

Both are wonderful tables and are 95%title TT's as compare to the absolute best. They sound more a like than radically different.

If you buy either brand your TT's life time needs would be solved.
You should check out Kuzma, either the Stabi Reference or the Kuzma Reference. My Stabi Reference was clearly better than a Raven in a shootout with the same arm, SME V and Triplanar 7U with both a Transfiguration Orpheus and Miyajima Shilabe.
To really get a sense of how the tables sound relative to each other, you will need to audition them in the same system which is almost impossible. Find a good dealer whom you trust, who has the same equipment that you currently have and ask his advice. You may also be able to ask some of your analog friend to bring their tables to you to audition in your system. This will be both fun and very informative. As others have said, it is a long journey, but possibly a very rewarding one. Don't forget a good record cleaning machine and fluids. Think of the whole thing as a sub system of the rest of your system.

Whoever recommended those 3 tables to you sure know their vinyl.All 3 are superb,with perharps slight difference in tonal shade.They are good enought to be bought without auditioning IMHO!!!I could happily live with all 3 and I am sure most people would be too,but if somebody put a gun on my head and ask me to choose ,I would probably choose the Brinkmann
I would start with a Thorens TD 160 and see if you like all the vinyl rituals, all the good sound and all the very hands on adjusting, tweeking and experimenting :)


I listened to a Brinkman with the Breuer Arm and Breuer EMT pickup plus tube power supply. The rest of the equipment is 4 pcs mono amps from Classe' and Audio Research REF 3. I think he used a Ayre phono amp. B&W 802D loudspeakers. The sound was on the bright side I think, but that is not necessarily the turntable. Its more the total set up and the listening room. However, a great great turntable, but expensive.

You can buy TW Acustic for a fair price from Europe. I have seen some second hand Raven 3's without arms for approx. USD 9.000. With a Graham Phantom II for approx. USD 12,000 in all. Not bad I think.

Good luck!

Cheeers, ToffenG
I tend to agree with Peter, start, with something small and cheap. Not necessarily a Thorens. If you have no vinyl at the moment, I am not sure I would spend north of $20000. Mind you, I can't afford $20000, with 3000LPs. Thats kids at University for you.
I settled on a Raven one, which is much cheaper than the AC and according to the designer, gives you 95% of the performance of the AC. I listened to a number of TW decks at RMAF and all the combinations made some of the best sounds at the show. As Fafion said, I am sure all 3 decks are state of the art and would give years of pleasure. I have heard the Brinkman, not the Monaco, but it comes with a great reputation and reviews.
The problem with vinyl, is it is almost impossible to make meaningful comparisons. No dealer will have all 3 and if he did, they would probably have different arms, cartridges, phono stages etc. If they did have the same arms etc, it still would'nt be a fair comparison, because of synergies between decks, arms and cartridges. So I think, even with careful auditioning, any purchase will be a leap of faith, to an extent
The benchmark is the Linn lp12. This table has been continuously improved. I would then see what you get for more(or less) money. Are you into sound or the emotion of music? Careful cartridge/arm tweaking can make an amazing difference(Note: I believe that Linn says to take off their arm to tighten the cartridge screws.).

I have decided for a TW Acustic Raven One. I did have a Micro Seiki 5000 in the 80-ties, and before then various TT's. Silly me sold the Mikro Seiki a few years back. The same happened with my Mørch DP6 Gold... I have to forget.

I have a few thousand lps, and I want a turntable with the possibilty of upgrading. VPI Classic is a bargain as you can add upgrades, and it will play very well indeed especially for its price. The downfall is that you are stucked with one type of arm. Therefore I decided to go for the Raven One with a Graham Phantom II arm.

I did have serious plans buying a TW Acustic Raven 3 / Brinkmann La Grand with a Breuer arm / Basis 2200 with a Vector arm. But it became too expensive for me. The Nordic dealer of TW then told me that Raven One with a superb arm such as Graham Phantom II or Triplanar would give almost the same result, and money left to a good the phono amp and cartridge.

You can always sell the turntable, and keep the arm, cartridge and phonostage. And step up to a better one later.

Sorry for the long tread!

Cheeers, ToffenG
Don't be sorry man! Be happy! Vinyl Lives!
toffeng I spoke to Thomas at the London show a year ago and he said the One gives you 95% of the performance of the AC for, what, about half the price.
If you want to save a bit more on the arm, he uses an Ortofon 309 on his one and says, again, it is only a few percentage points off the Phantom, or Triplanar. I use an Ortofon on my One and am very happy with it

Thanks a lot about all the feeback. Since it's generally impossible for my to auction every interesting turntable, arm, cartridge combination + phone stage at the same dealer I do need to make a pre selection based on the experiences people have on here. Appreciate it

Out of interest, has anyone experience with the Bergmann turntable? It looks pretty nice.

Good luck Maxx1973 :) Timztunz; Ortofon 309 will definetly be looked into. Thanks!

Cheeers, ToffenG

When you get to the top end of TT designs, preference is definitely very personal. Any of the above will give you a really stable platform on which you can let your chosen arm/cart/phono stage sing. In some ways, this is your bigger conundrum, getting synergy with the rest of your system, your room and the music you like to play.
If you live in the US, getting a demo, let alone a home demo is a real problem, whereas for us Brits, the travelling distances to dealers are relatively easy. Dealer backup is really important, unless you're used to setting up TTs, arms and carts. Having continuing backup after your purchase is a key element in your long term enjoyment, if you're a vinyl newbie. If you're like me (having set up TTs now for nearly 30 years), then dealer backup (apart from quality control issues) are less important.
If you're in the US, I would seriously consider a trip to NYC to see Jeff at Highwater Sound. TW TTs, TRON phono stages etc and great backup.

Happy Christmas shopping!

Maxx 1973,

I have the Brinkmann two arm LaGrange.
At this point and this level there is not much that one can say when you hear such a wonder of design, elegance and utter perfection.

The man is a fanatic designer down to the nature of the screws and their different composition. So when he works out the arm (the 10.5) and the EMT cartridge to his specs to his specific table, the synergy is complete.

Any buyer would be crazy to pass up the package of TT, arm, and cartridge.

For my second arm I have the IKEDA 407 12" with an IKEDA cartridge. That is the value of the two arm Brinkmann. You can also experiment.

And then, you will again find out how great the Brinkmann total package is!

There are very few in audio that can produce such synergy....

If possible try to listen to the Bergmann Sindre. I heard it at an audio show and was very much impressed. But it is hard to get a good impression of a product at a show. Also don't forget Transrotor Orion.