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I think, any turntable in this price range will sound excellent. You just have to figure out what exactly you are looking for and what cartridge you are going to use. I understand, you plan to buy new table/arm/cartridge. Your reference to compare to should be one of the better two track reel to reel tape decks playing at 15 ips speed. Table set-up closest to it would be your choice. Easier said than done, I realize that. But don't rush it. You also want the turntable to be reliable, easy to operate and maintain and supported by the manufacturer.
But first question is belt drive or not or it depends.
Very good questions, mm.
What you get in the better tables is a lower noise floor and a higher level of detail retrieval. Just about anything in your price range will sound very good indeed. To optimize requires some experience, which is rather fun on its own.
There are some subjective and some objective criteria. First, how good does the suspension have to be? My house is built on rock and my table is connected in direct line to the foundation, and there are no highways, rail lines, or other sources of vibration within miles. That means that a suspension is worthless to me - so I didn't pay for one.
Are you very keen on the exactly correct speed, for example, if you have perfect pitch? If so, then make sure that the motor controller has a speed adjustment.
Are you offended by a little quirkiness? For example, my turntable requires me to spin it by hand to start it. Doesn't bother me - I concentrate on the low noise and the saved dollars. Offends others.
Subjectively, what you must decide is the weighting of noise and precision. That is a matter of taste and a matter of experience.
That said, there is one major complication - set up. Few retailers seem to know how to set up a turntable, tonearm, and cartridge, and fewer still will bother. That complicates any comparisons you make.
My suggestion is to listen to a bunch of different systems, preferably amongst your friends. When you find a sound you like, you can take the knowledge to a trusted dealer - and if he's in the next state, the trip will be worth it.
One of the most musical combinations I've heard
featured the phono pre you just bought (JC3+)
That was a J.C. Michell Orbe SE with a modified Rega arm
and an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze
That combo as I recall would be in the 6K-7K range.......
If you favor a mass loaded table, of course VPI could be a musical choice........stay away from dark sounding cartridges with VPI
Aries, Classic and HRX (They don't like Lyra Kleos) One advantage of VPI is if you find you want to move to something else, you'll have a very wide audience for resale.....
In a suspended table, I just installed an Oracle Delphi MK VI 2nd gen
with Oracle/SME V arm This combo lists for around 17K, but with 345 arm could probably be purchased in the 11K range......one of the most beautiful tables out there.....
A compelling choice if I was looking now would be the AMG Giro including arm listing @ 9900 retail.......probably 90 percent or more the way to the big AMG table.....I've heard the Giro at a show and it was incredibly musical. I think with that table, the AMG cartridge would be a great fit....
Down to it, the table shouldn't really impart a signature......which leads to cartridge match/synergy as the final piece for a musical combination.
The Ortofon cartridge lineup, (Cadenza) sound very musical w/ VPI and I assume other mass loaded tables......the most magical presentation I've heard in my home was the veryy low output Transfiguration Proteus coupled with a world class step up transformer.... I also think the Transfiguration Axia sounds amazing......my closest dealer, reference analog had a VPI Avenger with both cartridges and we went back and forth on VPI 3D Ref arms and I think the Axia is an absolute bargain.....gave very little up to it's big brother.........
Thank you to all that have responded so far. Denver is very limited on hi-end dealers of audio gear. We have VPI, Thorens, Rega, Pro-ject and Transrotor. I would like to try something in my home and I like the idea of having someone local who can help set it up properly. Any thoughts on these brands due to them being available locally to try before I buy?
@mmporsche You're right about the JC3, that's a smart choice especially at its price point. I used to own a Vendetta that paired with my VPI table and it was a great combination.
VPIs match well with Dynavector, Soundsmith, van den Hul, Benz, ZYX and Cardas carts, amongst others.
If VPI is on your radar, check out my ad here for TNT6 Hot Rod with Walker Motor Controller. https://www.audiogon.com/listings/turntables-vpi-tnt6-hot-rod-12-7-tonearm-walker-audio-motor-controller-all-accessories-orig-o-2016-10-08-analog-19803-talleyville-de
Sorry to hawk it, but it's exactly in your price range and a great value for a beast of a table from the most reliable & beloved manufacturer in the category.
About the Fern & Roby table, I remember seeing it and really enjoying its sound just over a year ago at CapAudioFest priced at $4500. After good write-ups, a year later I was told by friends who saw it at the following CapAudioFest that the price had been pushed up to ~$8k. If that is accurate, pretty scary and makes me question its value. Cheers,
@sbank Your table does look very nice. I wish I new more about this stuff and could just pull the trigger based on a picture or write-up. Unfortunately, I have found that many of the reviews are totally biased due to financial commingling (magazine displays ad while also reviewing product) so total BS. That is why I am trying to hear something before I buy because I don’t want to be disappointed. I want something that is very immersive and natural sounding. That is why I bought the Voxativ setup at the show on show after listening to it for a few hours and comparing it to other setups. I am not saying I would rule you deck out, however, I guess I need more information.
Regarding F&R, the pricing with their base table, arm and Denon cart is only $3750 if memory serves. Just like anything the cost depends. Add a Soundsmith cart for $4K and all the sudden it is nearly $8K. Christopher, the owner of F&R, is a super nice guy and passionate about vinyl. My only concern is long-term reliability since this is a 3 year old venture. Also, he doesn’t have R&D resources like a VPI or other large brand. That being said, I really loved the sound and want to buy his table based on this plus I like buying unique, hand-crafted items.
The current F&R Tredegar ($10500) without arm on their site looks to be the same $4500 a-year-ago table that Herb Reichart wrote about in Stereophile, then called "The Turntable". Now it's shown with Schroeder arm options that take the total to >$15k. Their lower priced tables are newer models I believe and they don't include the heavy iron plinth which was the promising aspect of the original table. I have not heard their cheaper tables and have no opinion other than they are nice looking.
FWIW, VPI although a leader in current production tables, is still a relatively small family business designing and hand building tables. They have proven over time the ability to adapt to customer's requests and continue to push the envelope. No small feat when you look at an old audio magazine and see all the companies advertising that no longer exist! Mat and Harry Weisfeld even check in here on occasion. Cheers,
Mmporsche, Brinkmann will cost more than you are planning to spend. I also suspect that it is in a totally different league. If you are ready for that you are ready to audition it.
Though I didn’t hear the Parasound phono stage, I never heard of anything world class for this kind of money, not even a single cable.
It also depends on the cartridge. Assuming adequate prices, phono stage should be two/three times more expensive than cartridge, in my opinion. It is a very important link, aren’t they all? Besides, you might want to have a tube phono stage or at least compare tube and solid state. That mid-level transistor phono might destroy your sound.
A lot of great advice here.
I would suggest also to read some reviews (like the one below in the link) just to solidify what to look for - not necessarily to pursue the TTs in the review. I personally had a Kuzma TT which I loved, have a VPI Prime now and a Micro Seiki BL 99V with SAEC arm and Lyra Lydian Beta cartridge (and a ton of other much less expensive tables). The VPI is running with Shindo Aurieges and Auditorium Hommage SUT, with Ortofon Cadenza Black. Really nice sound.
The Reference Lenco MKI and MKII by Jean Nantais. will allow for a good arm & cartridge for at or under $10k
I went from MK1 to MK2 and now MK3.
The MK3 is fit for $100,000 & up systems
You mentioned your getting into the hobby so my question would be first, how much of a record collection do you have now. The size and quality of that will impact your enjoyment as much as a great table will. As far as tables go I like my Orbe SE but, suspended or non and looks, your ears will matter more than others opinion.
Been around this analog game for a long time, owned and cherished many musical pieces throughout the decades. The SME model 15 and Nottingham's were boring to my ears when I heard them, the J. Nantais Lenco MkII indeed makes warm music but for the same $10kish you may want to seriously consider the Artisan Fidelity Garrard 301 Classic model mated with a suitable arm and cartridge. Furthermore, the quality and craftsmanship is superior to the Nantais, in my experience.
Btw, as a Lenco idler fan, I had seriously considered picking up a Mk3 Nantais, until I heard the Artisan Fidelity Achates Lenco....in my view this design is on another level.
Another table I was eyeing recently was the Kuzma Stabi S and TW Acustic, but the belt drives are perhaps best left to another discussion, so I digress.
Even with multiple analog front ends, I find quenching my thirst for additional pieces a satisfying, educational journey.
à votre santé - Cheers,
I'm going to be hearing a Stabi S with 12" VTA in a couple of weeks. I will chime in with some thoughts afterward. Alexander, may I ask what you have cherished the most from your past setups. I think an SME with something other than the matching arm may have been very interesting. If I don't ride off in to the sunset with the Kuzma, perhaps a Woodsong 301 and Reed arm. Funny, I was on the phone with a big dealer the other day. They carry some of the best gear, no question. With all that elite gear, including the best names in digital, they lacked IMHO, a strong analog line. I said to him no offense, but I'm surprised you don't have a strong analog line. Not my exact words, but I certainly shared that basic thought. Anyway, his answer was, analog is not selling. Perhaps when you step above the entry level, and then take VPI out of the conversation, he's not far off base.
There appears to be a nice VPI HRX on Agon for sale. No cartridge. What works well with this table?. I also see a classic 4 that is for sale her and is located in Denver. Not sure I need two arms though.
My vinyl is limited to about 100 albums at the moment. Part of the fun for me is discovering new albums at three local stores.
@mmporsche As I mentioned earlier, VPIs match well with Dynavector, Soundsmith, van den Hul, Benz, ZYX and Cardas carts, amongst others.
The HRX and TNT6HR are same dual motors/flywheel, same tonearm with on-the-fly VTA, same leveling adjustable suspension feet, same motor controller. The only difference is the HRX has the sandwich plinth and the TNT6HR has the 2" black acrylic plinth, which is a tad less clinical in nature. Replacing the SDS motor controller with Walker Audio Precision Motor Controller is a sonic upgrade mentioned in other threads here.
Feel free to PM me if you would like to discuss by phone. Cheers,
The HRX w/ 3D arm on here is a very good deal. 14K list for around 8K
For that arm, an incredible match would be either the Transfiguration Axia or the Ortofon Cadenza Bronze. I've heard both on that table with that arm....
If that table really has never had a cartridge installed, I'd recommend jumping all over it before someone else does......
I wouldn't bother with the classic 4. The differences in motor/plinth between the tables are night and day and the money isn't.....
mmporsche....You are obviously a person of discriminating taste (I too own a Porsche).....I also own a 3D VPI arm and have had experience with many of them....the 3D is a definite winner. I would put a top of the line Lyra (Atlas or Etna...they are both wonderful...the Etna is a bit more musical or less analytical (not putting down either of them). If you take my suggestion (the HRX is a great table....can be made better by the addition of a rim drive, Classic Platter..all in due time)