Need to re-discover analog - please help

Like the short-sighted, lazy, modern moron that I am, I threw away all my LPs and turntable when I got hooked on my first decent CDP, a Kinergetics Platinum KD-40, 15 years ago. Because it was easier to take care of CDs. Now, my mother who was a musician, and had a classical collection of about 200 really absolutely great recordings, collected from the 1940s til the 80s, has left me her collection. They just have to be preserved, played and savored. I need an analog set-up that will a) do them justice and b) not sound noticeably "worse" compared to the digital set-up I am now used to. My analog set-up that I discarded (I know, I know.........please dont rub it in, what's done is done.) was a Denon 103D and Sony PS-800 linear tracking TT and also a Kenwood marble platter with SME tone-arm and also Denon 103 D cartridge and circa 1980 PS Audio MC phono stage.
The present system, to which must now obligatorily be added a turntable: EMM DCC2/CDSD; Atma-Sphere Line-stage MP-1 MkII, Atma-Sphere MA 2.2 modified (27 tubes each); Kharma 3.2; Indra Stealth i/cs; PAD Dominus i/cs and S/Cs (Rev C & B).

I tried MM cartridges before - Dynavector,Ortofon,Shure V15 iv - but only liked the MC Denon 103D - so would prefer that MC "sound".

I have not kept up with the analog market, nor new equipment, and am totally ignorant about the components but would greatly appreciate input as to what TT, tone-arm, cartridge and phono preamp to get that would neither bankrupt me nor do the wonderful collection my mother left me a disservice, nor my ear that is now spoiled by the pretty "good" digital, ancillary set-up I have. Nor, obviously, sound "inferior" to the CDs:)

What sort of a budget am I looking at to keep the system within the overall quality of the associated equipment that I have, without going crazy, since i will still mostly be listening to CDs (unless i get totally hooked and go bonkers..........)?

I listen to classical 90% of the time and 95% of her collection is classical.

As always, I appreciate your advice.
I'd be looking at a Teres 265 or equivalent turntable with a Scroder II arm, a ZYX cartridge and a solid state phono stage. I'd guess somewhere in the $7-9K range. Doubtful you will easily pick up a used Teres. You have a very nice digital source that I respect a great deal but be warned. The above combination will dust it. Part of my recommendation is based on your existing equipment. I'm certain you like a black background so do yourself a favor, buy the ZYX and the Scroder even if you get a lesser table.
"The present system, to which must now obligatorily be added a turntable: EMM DCC2/CDSD; Atma-Sphere Line-stage MP-1 MkII, Atma-Sphere MA 2.2 modified (27 tubes each); Kharma 3.2; Indra Stealth i/cs; PAD Dominus i/cs and S/Cs (Rev C & B)."

1.) Well, you've spilled the beans and you're not gettin' away for just a couple thousand bucks!
2.) And, if you DO spend the money necessary to add analog components commensurate with the quality of the rest of your system, you WILL
3.) "get totally hooked and go bonkers.........."
4.) and just who do you think you're kidding calling your digital set-up "ancillary"?


TURNTABLE: Rockport Sirius, Goldmund Reference (if you can find one), and if you want to "cheap out," then the big SME, VPI, Simon Yorke or Walker Procenium.

TONEARM: (depending on TT of course) SME V, TriPlanar, Air Tangent or Eminent Technology (if you like messing with air pumps -- might as well get an aquarium while you're at it!) the Graham 2.2 (or new Phantom), Morch. Unipivot TA's are fine but in my opinion they limit your choice of cartridges (and I know that remark will raise a stink!)

CARTRIDGES: (in no particular order) Allaerts Finish, Transfiguration W (I own one) vdH Colibri or Black Beauty Special x, Magic Diamond (this years' darling), ZYX Universe, Lyra Titan. The Lyra and Transfig have the most advanced motor-generator design. Either from personal experience, or review, these are all snappy cartridges and would bring out the best in your existing system.

PHONO CABLES: PAD, definitely! I can only afford Venustas, but you obviously have a Dominus budget!

PHONO PREAMP: That's a toughie. You're already toobed-out, so it wouldn't hurt to get a really great SS step up device. I guess you'd have to work this choice back and forth with your choice of cartridge. I don't recommend step up transformers though. They were fine once upon a time, but now cartridges have improved beyond the ability of a transformer to keep up with their (the cartridges') transient response. (Some may disagree with me.) I have a Mark Levinson 25s, and I'm not tellin' ya where I live! BTW if your preamp has XLR inputs, I'd definitely suggest getting a phono preamp with XLR ins and outs. Phono cartridges are inherently balanced output devices, so why not!? (and PAD can make you some really nice XLR phono cables.) Of current offerings, well, let's not discuss the Boulder. I'm sure it's great but I never heard one, and besides, you WERE planning to buy a few more records in addition to the ones your Mom left, no? I would check out the Manley, Tom Evans Groove or EAR for starters, and if one of those doesn't do it for you, try the other Stereophile Class A units.


Thanks, Lugnut. After only a few hours of scanning the fora, I thought the ZYX too. Which one? Any suggestions for phono preamp? Stupid question if you dont mind: What depth must I allow for the turntable (I cant move the existing cabinet and have 17". Is that enough?)
Springbox10 the Denon DL-103 is still available and has something of a cult following. I find it quite special in that it performs better than it should for the price ($180).

Of course you can spend much more on a cartridge if you wish - Patrick's recommendation of Zyx is sound - the RS100 Yatra or Fuji (high output versions) are great at around $750 -$1100 if you source in Asia (ask off list for supplier info). Also consider the Shelter 501.

For a tonearm, the leading candidates are Expressimo's modified Rega RB250 ($650), the Morch DP-6 ($1490) and the Schroeder Model 2 ($2250).

If you have a turntable that delivers speed stability and is non-resonant then a high quality tonearm will really help your cartridge sing. A Schroeder/DL-103 combo is very synergistic.

Teres have a phenomenal reputation, although I haven't heard one yet. If you are mechanically competent you can pick up an old Lenco L75 (see the "Building high end 'tables cheap at Home Despot" thread here) or a Thorens TD150/125 and do some tweaks that are well documented on the net.

Other tables to consider if they are sold in your country are the Amazon One and the dps.

If you're not into collecting brand names or bragging about price tags, a DL-103/Expressimo/Lenco could be yours for around $1000 including the wood to build a solid plinth.
You guys never disappoint! Thanks a whole lot, Nsgarch! I now have a primer to go after, but I haven't tallied the budget of what you suggest. My Dominus budget has dried up, besides which, I never bought Dominus new, but was lucky to find used. I hope I dont end up having to sell my EMM gear and all the CDs:)
for phono i recommend the aesthetix io signature (which i own). can't get too many toobes. on the cartridge: your love of classical music should, in my experience, compel your audition of the upper range of koestu's.
If you are seriously considering a Zyx cartridge, per Lugnut's (outstanding ) suggestion, than I strongly suggest you place a call to Mehran at Sorasound. He can take you through the line and help you make an informed decision to get the most of what you want out of our Mom's vinyl. He also carries the SS Zyx phono stage. I haven't heard it, but it seems to employ the same design ethos as the carts.

It may well be that the the Fuji if not the UNIverse may be exactly what the DR ordered for your classical collection.

Other than being a satisfied and well served customer, I have no attachment to Sorasound. I have dealt with Mehran twice; over the course of each transaction I found him to be respectfull, honest and more concerned in making a friend than a buck. A rare quality in a vendor.

Welcome back to the vinyl club, we've missed you.

Interesting post 4 sure... I'd also call Larry at Hollywood Sound (you can find him here at a-gon). My dealings with him have been right on the mark... not too much or too little for my more modest system. And what I wound up with still astounds me. My particular sale certainly didn't allow him to close up shop for the day, but you wouldn't have know it from the time he spent making sure I bought the right product for my needs and then some.

Likewise I've no affiliation with him, just a customer who's been rewarded with solid help in an area I knew so little of.
Sorry Springbok10, but you must remember Audiophile Kosmik Roole #1 which is:

"You'll never be content, even for a moment, until all your equipment is of the same caliber."

And which contentment is immediately interrupted by Audiophile Kosmik Kweschun #1 which is:

"What if I just upgrade the . . . . . . . . . . . .?"

Time to start hearing from the flat earthers. Rega P9, $3900.00, Linn Linto phono pre, $1700.00. Cartridge? Many choices, Lyra Helikon is nice, Denon 103R, Dynavector XX-2. Hard hitting, no fuss, even gets the beats right, more important for classical listening than most believe. This whole rig will cost less than some of the phono preamps mentioned and still plays music.

All of my suggestions are based on personal experience. Regarding a ZYX, I have recently purchased a R100H Yatra MK II. It has most of the qualities of the more expensive versions. It is dead silent in the grooves at high volume. Amazing. The Fuji and Universe are better but not by much to my ears. I own an LP12 with an Ittok arm running into a Supratek Syrah. I'm sure this would float your boat inserted into your system. Still, if you have the change I stick by my suggestion of a Teres 265. Incredibly well built and not fussy to set up. Once set up they stay that way but do need a mass loaded stand. I'm intimately familiar with the Schroder II. You could hang a $10K cartrdige on it and it would do it justice. This arm is, IMO the best tonearm value in analog, bar none. I've heard it directly against the Scroder Reference, the latest Triplanar and the Graham 2.2. Of these four arms the Reference is incredible but the Triplanar and Schroder II are very close. There is just something about the ZYX line of cartridges that is very real. The designer has something like fifteen patents implemented in the lineup and most of them are for eliminating time smear. I'm not technically oriented but my ears tell me he has it right. I've never heard detail and smoothness blended together so well once broken in. Did I mention how spooky quiet they are? Also, there is no need to go out of country to buy one. Mehran is a class act. Truly one of the best vendors I've ever dealt with. The lineup is confusing unless you discuss the possibilities with Mehran of Sorasound. Getting one is like finding religion.
Slightly used DPS turntable with wonderful Schroder arm at 2500 euro/offer looks excellent and almost a turnkey solution.

Scheu Premier II table is about 2000 new and a superb value and performer.

Used Forsell at just over 6000 bux looks very good, too.
Springbok10, we'll all suggest for you a system that will match our respective tastes. I won't be any different. Assuming you're not quite ready to go the all-out route I've taken with a Walker Audio Proscenium turntable and Aesthetix Io Signature phono stage, consider this alternative combination that I've found very engaging and just enjoy those 200 LPs you've inherited without breaking the bank. You'll get a large slice of great analog sound. Later, if you want to take it further, re-sale should be no problem.

VPI Scoutmaster with JMW 9 tonearm - $2400

Cartridge (MC):
One of the following: Benz Glider 2 ($800), Dynavector Karat 17-D2 ($750), Sumiko Blackbird ($750). (Sure, one of the $2-5,000 cartridges will be better, but any of these would be very good. Live with one for a while before moving up market.)

Phono stage:
Your existing Atma-Sphere MP-1, assuming you didn't have Ralph eliminate the phono stage when he built it for you.

Welcome to analog once again!
I like the budget and simplicity. Would the JMW 9 tonearm mate with the ZYX cartridge? If not, which of the cartridges you mention would be closest in character to the XYX? My MP-1 is linestage only. Dont feel like shipping it back so which Phono preamp has balanced outputs? And is in keeping with budget above?
Fine responses by all the above. I probably have more experience with the ZYX lineup than some others. In the past year I've had the Airy 2, Airy 3, two UNIverses and one non-released model in my system. (Helping Mehran of SORAsound evaluate his product line.)

ZYX's are mid-compliance cartridges, so they're a fine theoretical match for JMW's and other medium mass arms. I've heard them on a Graham 2.2, TriPlanar VII and the Schroeder Two, DPS and Reference. People say they perform well on a Moerch DP-6, Nottingham Space Arm and other arms too. ZYX's are somewhat exacting as far as setup is concerned, so an easily adjusted arm helps. Once set up however, they do not place difficult demands on the arm, which some lower compliance cartridges do.

I'll disagree with Lugnut's otherwise excellent recommendations when it comes to the performance differences between ZYX models. In a sufficiently revealing system the differences are very significant.

There is no doubting the overall superiority of the Airy 3 over the Airy 2. The former's greater speed and dynamics are apparent in just a few moments. I could easily identify one from the other blindfolded in my own system after a minute or two. The Airy 2 has a slightly richer harmonic envelope, but that cannot quite make up for its relative slowness, at least to my ears.

The UNIverse is so far beyond both Airys it renders comparisons meaningless. If the rest of your rig and system are up to it, its ability to transport you right into the acoustic space where the music was recorded is uncanny. As Lugnut said, a UNIverse on an appropriate rig will bury your Meitner. IOW, if you don't want to risk obsoleting your digital source and collection then don't listen to one. Once you hear it there is no going back.

Pair a UNIverse with a TriPlanar VII for the quickest attacks. Pair it with a Schroeder Reference for a richer harmonic envelope. Which is "better" is a matter of taste - I suspect most people would prefer the Schroeder/UNIverse combo. None of the other arms I've heard it on compare with those two for best synergy with ZYX's top model.
Well, amongst the plethora of great equipment suggestions(of which, I am unqualified to comment), there are two big ones that I do have experience with - dealing with Mehran of Sorasound and Larry at Hollywood Sound.

Like you, I am a returning newbie to vinyl and just bought my first system over the last few months. I just bought a ZYX Fuji FS from Mehran last week and as been mentioned above, he is one of the nicest, most thorough, and patient people I have ever dealt with in audio.

He listened to all my beginner thoughts and questions, then walked me through the important aspects of tonearm/cartridge interaction. He never tried to force or even push a sale, just offered advice and suggested I think about it. I must have waffled back and forth several times before plucking out $1k of my hard earned money on a slightly used Fuji. He has checked back in with me since then to see how things are coming along, and with setup suggestionsfor tools and test records I will need to get things right. He just goes that extra mile to make sure YOU are happy with the cartridge.

I also contacted Larry at Hollywood Sound months ago about buying tables after seeing his ads here on Audiogon. He also listened to all my newbie questions and then helped steer me towards choices that best fit my budget and experience. Nothing special there, but guess what?

He turned down a guaranteed sale(I called ready to buy) to suggest that I buy a table from a reputable dealer near me who could help with setup and support. He even supplied a couple of names.

How often does a dealer turn down a "sure thing" to suggest better support from someone else?

Two great guys - Mehran & Larry, you can't go wrong with either of them.

I don't disagree with you. If you read my post I said my cartridge enjoys "most" of the performance aspects of the better ZYX cartridges and I stand behind that opinion. I didn't say it equals them. Pick any two very highly regarded interconnects that work well with this system and there will be much more audible differences with them than within the ZYX cartridge line IMO. Also, let's note that you listen almost exclusively to orchestral music whereas I listen to all music genre's. You have been invited to drop by and listen for yourself to determine if my system is resolving enough. What I was trying to recommend are components that wouldn't be replaced because of disappointment but would endure through their useful life at a price point that didn't exceed the Meitner gear.
All of the above have been great comments. Dougdeacon is clearly our most knowledgable contributor on the ZYX cartridges. I've not heard one, I have heard from a few folks whose ears I trust (in additon Doug) that the ZYX Airy and above are really nice sounding cartridges that have a nice balance of strengths. I have a bias towards medium output cartridges in the 0.34mv range and above because I prefer all tube amplification in the phono stage and have never been happy with the transformer solution many find acceptable. I think there are versions of the ZYX available as medium output. If your interests push you up to the $4000 price range, I'm still very fond of the Magic Diamond cartridge Lloyd Walker sells, and Harry Weisfeld has been very complimentary of the Dynavector DRT XV-1s.

For a phono stage, I'd recommend you go directly to an Aesthetix Rhea. Used Rhea units are available in the $3000 range, and they are fully balanced from the first gain stage forward (so they will accept a standard RCA input from your turntable), and they have a 600 ohm balanced output impedance so they are a perfect match for your MP-1. The Rhea will be a nice complement to the rest of your system and will give you sonic performance in that same realm of performance. There have been several reviews of the Rhea in the various mags, here's a link to Robert Harley's comments in the TAS issue in which the Rhea and Calypso received "Editor's Choice" awards:
Didn't mean to start a tussle of course. I was just responding to your statement that,
The Fuji and Universe are better but not by much to my ears.
Your experience is not my experience, that's all. In our system and to our ears the differences between ZYX models are greater than (and quite different from) the differences between interconnects. You're right that these differences are more easily exposed by large scale orchestral works, and even more so by large scale choral works. Chamber music, most jazz, jazz and pop vocals and rock are all a bit less demanding of a cartridge.

Of course I'd love to get out to Boise to see you again and meet Barbara, and to hear your system and Steve's. Unfortunately my present circumstances make scheduling a trip difficult.

Thanks for the Rhea suggestion,, Rush. I will call Larry and Mehran on Monday. The Rhea sounds ideal, but, unfortunately, takes up a large amount of real estate (18" deep) which is not available in my set-up. Too bad, as there is a barely used one on A'gon. WAF will not allow for a new piece of furniture, nor will the budget, which, from the suggestions above, will probably mean getting rid of a whole smaller ancillary digital system in another room. But you vinyl guys obviously think that's OK - and I'll let you know in a few months if you were right:)
By the way, to all of you, to whom I am very grateful, I want simple, so no air pumps or Linn Sondek type "difficult to set up" arrangements - less fussing the better. No exceptional tweaky units - I want instant or semi-instant vinyl voodoo! And my TT and tonearm should be less than $3K, cartridge less than $2K and phono stage about the same. Total of about $7-8K, I guess.
How about VPI Aries Scoutmaster + JMW-9 toneram,ZYX, + a phono preamp to be determined. I need more suggestions of balanced outs that would mate with the MP-1 and a ZYX cartridge, please, for about $2K?
Springbok10, if space is at a premium thereby excluding the Rhea, you really might want to consider sending your Atma-Sphere MP-1 back to Ralph for him to add the phono section. Ralph is very much a vinyl guy. Scott Markwell was pretty complimentary of the MP-1's phono section when he awarded it a 2002 Golden Ear Award in TAS, saying:
"It also handily surpasses the Jadis [JP80 MC preamplifier] in frequency extension at both extremes and has even greater dynamic wallop, with the best 3-D soundstaging I have heard. To me, the MP-1 Mk II is a glorified phono section with the bonus of line-input capability."
The Jadis JP80 to which he's comparing is a pretty doggone good full function preamp with an excllent phono stage. Updating the MP-1 might be your most cost effective option, too.
Add phonostage to MP-1 - that's exactly what Larry at Hollywood Sound said and didn't even want to debate the issue: synergy, less cables, no more searching. I was impressed that as far as he was concerned that was so obvious as to exclude any discussion. No-nonsense, upfront guy, Larry. I was speaking more of my innate reluctance to entrust any equipment to the vagaries of our national carriers - FedEx and UPS. I'll persuade Bax Global - they rarely mess up. Ok, one down, thanks, Rush. He (Larry) suggested Nottingham and Helicon (Lyra). Both he and another Vinyl Dealer thought I would be underwhelmed by the Scoutmaster. Origin Live with an Illustrious/Encounter tonearms the other suggestion.
Another shipping option might be Adcom Worldwide, regularly used by Atma-Sphere.

I'll stand by my VPI Scoutmaster suggestion for anywhere near the same investment. For resolution of complex orchestral music, it does a very good job.
Springbok10 -- I'm glad someone else suggested a Helicon, and I suggest you compare it to the only other (current) cartridge that can match it technologically, the Transfiguration Temper W. In fact you can read an excellent review of those two plus the Audio Techne in the June 2003 Stereophile.

I think adding a phonostage to the MP-1 is a terrific idea, however, can it be a high gain MC phonostage, or will you need a step-up transformer as well?
Both he and another Vinyl Dealer thought I would be underwhelmed by the Scoutmaster.

Well, he's obviously not a VPI dealer !!
$2800 - Teres 255, unfinished rosewood
$2150 - Schroder II, carbon fiber armwand
$1500 - ZYX cartridge
$6450 Total turntable excluding shipping. Remaining funds hopefully will pay for the installation of your phono stage.

Okay, here's the beauty of this setup. You will be required to finish sand the plinth on the turntable/armboard and apply lacquer or polyurethane (whatever) for a lasting finish. Then you will need to assemble the bearing, mount the arm and cartridge. At this point you will be an expert on your table and fully understand its needs. There is an upgrade path which you can do in steps and if you wish to get a better Teres at a later date you place your order for the new one, and then sell the 255 for close to what you have paid for it.

I simply put in a figure where you can buy one of many ZYX cartridges depending upon how robust your phono stage will be. With the wait you will have to receive your Teres you can contact Mehran and discuss the phono section of the MP-1. A demo or very low mile nicer ZYX with warranty may become available to you. Make the wait work in your favor.

The remainder of the funds hopefully will cover the cost of installing the phono stage in your MP-1. This combination will far exceed the performance of your Meitner front end, DEPENDING ON THE SOFTWARE. I'd like to emphasize that with this combination of analog and digital you can now concentrate on buying the best software regardless of format. Again, I love the EMM Labs stuff.

This is essentially what I was trying to do for you in my first post. It makes little sense to buy less because of the quality components you have become acustomed to. This combination will enhance your already wonderful system and you will have no compelling reason to upgrade, except for perhaps a battery power supply.
Both he and another Vinyl Dealer thought I would be underwhelmed by the Scoutmaster.

Well, he's obviously not a VPI dealer !! - Readster

They both are, Readster!!!
According to Hollywood Sound's website, he doesn't list VPI as one of his lines. I just don't see how anyone could say you would be "underwhelmed by the scoutmaster" i think it is a big time value, (if you could say that about something costing $2400) but just in comparing to other much more expensive tables, i've even heard some reveiwers say that the scoutmaster is the best sounding table they've heard from VPI, even considering the $10,000 HRX. That's just what i've read, not trying to start an argument.
I also dont want to argue - I would love to buy a VPI - and I certainly respect what you & Rush say. Let's just say I "misheard" Larry, since he is a VPI seller according to the website that I have just checked - maybe he just said that by omission. I think I'm treading on dangerous ground here, since Larry was extremely helpful and I probably should have shut up about my sources, as I will do in future. Blame me, not Larry. Let's say it was NOT Larry. OK? I certainly dont want him to be blamed by VPI because I was indiscreet.
Can we drop this now? I certainly appreciate all the input from everybody and dont wish to impugn any make/manufacturer/dealer.
consider it dropped, good luck on your hunt.

Dear Springbok10: There are many options out there. Here is my advise:

TT: Acoustic Signature Final Tool. To beat this turntable you have to go for a Walker, a Verdier or the like. Great performer for the price. Hard to beat.
Tonearm: Moerch DP-6. An excellent one and you can match with any cartridge, because the use of different effective mass arm wand ( this is a plus. )

Cartridges: Sumiko Celebration ( lower price than the ZYX and great performer. Truly a bargain. ), Dynavector XV-1, Clearaudio Discovery, Allaerts Boron, Ortofon Kontrapuntk B, Denon S1, Shelther 90X.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Just a reminder - A turntable spins a platter. If it spins at a constant speed and imparts no (or virtually no) vibration to the lp as it does so, that is the best it can do. Period. Doesn't matter how much it cost.

98% of the differences people think they hear from turntables result from:

a. the cartridge's unique characteristics
b. the interaction/combination of the arm and cartridge.
c. the interaction/matching of the cartridge's output with the signal path, primarily the phono section.
d. the quality and quantity of isolation of the turntable from acoustic and mechanical feedback sources.

All this dwelling on which TURNTABLE is silly advice - especially for someone with only 200 lp's at the moment! My advice would be to get any decent deck with a good arm - like a VPI Aries Scout, play a bunch of lp's with a Denon 103 and Shelter 501, and see if this whole vinyl thing is even what you really want. You can always shop for something to impress the neighbors later.

If an Aries Scout or it's equivalent isn't enjoyable to you, then neither would a J.C. Verdier. It's different, but it ain't THAT different.

IMHO, of course.
Denis- I am not a vinyl (or digital for that matter) expert by any means, but it seems to me that Opalchip's advice is excellent. Plenty of decent TTs for sale used here, including SOTA, Well Tempered, Rega, VPI, etc. I was very pleased with the service I got from Donna and Kurt at SOTA; they drilled an armboard, mounted the arm and cart I sent them, balanced it, and shipped it to me, all ready to drop into the arm board cut-out of my used Star Saphirre with the appropriate amount of lead shot for the suspension, all for a VERY reasonable price. I recommend them highly, and you can deal direct with the owner/manufacturer. I'm sure there are others out there who would do the same for their product.
Opalchip and Swampwalker have a point, up to a point. Most of the turntables that are of higher cost as well as higher cost cartridges drastically reduce low level noise versus the well respected Sota, Rega et. al., tables. The question becomes one of at what point do each of us (in our own minds) begin to see the point of dimenishing returns. That changes with time, exposure to better components and our personal incomes. My own table gets bashed a lot in these forums primarily by people that have no experinence with them. Since 1984 I've had no compelling reason to buy a different table and have spent money to upgrade it along the way. I really respect my LP12. The thing is I've been exposed to other tables and know in my heart that if I lost mine somehow I would buy another brand because of the very small benefits. I've evolved. We have a guy starting this thread that has one of the finest digital front ends on the planet. His other equipment is complimentary to his source. I know where you guys are coming from and agree with you but I really believe that a lesser table would only reside temporarily amongst the other great gear. It's cheaper to do it right once. My sense is that Springbok10 is a man of means and appreciates things of a higher caliber. I am in no way criticizing your opinions because it's correct for most of us.
My sense is that Springbok10 is a man of means...

I hope my wife never reads this thread, since I told her we couldn't afford to re-furnish the family room. How could we? Every red cent is earmarked for sonic solace, which is how I justify the insane spending on just a "hobby"........but then I doubt I'm alone?:)
But I appreciate Opalchip and swampwalker's thoughts and have not discounted them. In fact, it is not improbable that I will start with a vinyl rig on my junior system, which is not of the caliber of the main rig, until, as Opalchip so aptly says, I can see if this vinyl thing is for me, long-term, before spending what is clearly big bucks, because I certainly dont qualify, main rig notwithstanding, as a "man of means". You know about the guy who has a Benz parked outside his tent?
You've got a great sense of humor Sprinbok10. Okay, having said what you said, forget the above advice from me. Also, forget all the criticisms leveled against Ivor and Co. regarding an LP12. Buy one just like mine. If you find it appeals to you, move it to your main system and weep as it shames the Meitner. I've a sense of humor too. He he. Anyway, I'm really anxious to read about what you do and where you end up. Fun thread.
How does a Origin Live resolution + Illustrious tonearm + Shelter 90x + Whest 0.20 Phonostage sound to you pundits?
How important is it not to have balanced ins and outs for an Atma-Sphere preamp and amp that are fully balanced designs?
Thanks again for your input.
Springbok, as I think I mentioned earlier, a MC cartridge has an inherently balanced output due to its electro-mechanical design configuration. What a pity to stifle its output (to say nothing about losing the advantage of better noise and hum rejection) by running it through single ended interconnects and phono preamp when you have such a marvelous balanced amp and preamp already.

Especially With a system like yours, the source is truly everything. Skimp on the TT, the TA, and finally (for now anyway) even the cartridge, if you have to, but invest in a great (probably expensive) balanced phono preamp.
I presume the Manley, ($7.3K) Tom Evans Groove ($3.6K) and EAR 324 ($3.6K) are all balanced? Why, if this is so crucial, do dealers tell me that they hardly sell any balanced units as phono stages? Is this not true? I am not arguing, since I have zero experience or factual basis to argue, but obviously seek information, and, looking at your system, you are eminently qualified to give it! The Atma-Sphere MP-1 can handle over 0.3mV without a transformer and Ralph's phono stage has a good reputation, although the reviews on the ones you mention (+ the Whest) are really stellar. I have always believed in having balanced sources, since the strength of Atma-Sphere is the fully balanced set-up, but get told by numerous dealers that it doesnt make any difference (to their ears) in using single-ended, eg Whest, phono stages. Of course, naturally, it may be that those I spoke to sell single-ended designs. Comment?
Per Opalchips comment concerning 98% of the differences people think they hear from turntables"-

I have a Scout and a Garrard 301 both setup with the same arm, the same cart on the exact same isolation playing into the same pre, power and speakers. Currently both are playing Neil Young's Harvest.

FYI-the Garrard is new to me (1 week here), and I have been putting it through it's courses. It's just coincidence I happened to come across Opalchips comment and am in a position to put it to the test.

The difference between the two is no small matter. Nor is it something only the most critical listener would identify easily. I will not get into qualitative differences here; but I will say the differences in tonality, imaging, soundstaging and all that audiophile mumbo jumbo are absolutely startling.

I think it bears mentioning that precious few tables "spin at a constant speed and impart no (or virtually no) vibration to the lp"
Springbok10, I do not have all the history at my fingertips but it took a long time for home audio to adopt what the pro world (of necessity due to long cable runs) had used for years. The longstanding prevalence of single ended connection probably had somthing to do with the dominance of a few manufacturers (RCA? connectors) in the early home entertainment industry of the 50's.

The market for phono equipment dropped off drastically after the introduction of CD's in the early eighties. Many of the turntables of that time even came with hardwired RCA phono cables installed! All this was a good 10+ years before the home audio industry began offering balanced connections -- at first just on the better brands like Audio Research, Mark Levinson, etc.

Nobody was really paying much attention to developing new and better phono preamps until (relatively) recently. And let's face it, it's a small market at best. That means that a.) the prices are going to be disproportionately high due to so few units sold, and b.) manufacturers want to capture the largest number of potential customers in that already small market. Since most of the market (still) owns single ended equipment, the designs being produced are largely single ended. But I see that beginning to change.

As for the ones you mention, I honestly don't remember. I'm pretty sure the Manley does, but what you mainly get for all that extra money is a versatility that you probably won't require, since you're only going to be using one cartridge (I presume?) I'm certain the Audio Research phono preamp offers balanced ins and outs (and don't discount that one, it's supposedly pretty terrific -- but that's just what I read, I haven't heard their latest).

If I didn't have my beloved ML 25S, I might consider a tube unit for my all SS system. In your case, as I mentioned earlier, I think a great SS unit (like the TE Groove+) would compliment your system beautifully. Additionally, it could be left running all the time, which for that kind of device guarantees performance stability. Of course, you could leave a tube phono preamp on 24/7 but you don't need that!

The Whest has gotten great press, but like new computer software, I won't buy an audio component until it's been in the market a couple of years. (No beta-testing for me!) I'm also no fan of the battery powered units. Not because they're battery powered -- that's a great idea -- but rather because the production cost savings gained by the elimination of the power supply have apparently not (yet) gone into making a top notch battery powered phono preamp, if you get my drift . . . . . . . . . . .

Nsgarch brings up a topic I've wondered about. Certainly with true balanced operation a phono stage would enjoy a lower noise floor; at least theoretically. In practice, and only because I've been lucky enough to listen locally to a variety of great phono stages in a world class system, I doubt that the benefits will matter. Of course, I've been wrong before. It's just that having listened as extensively as I have it's getting difficult to believe things will get significantly better. Silent is silent and that's what I'm hearing from almost every great phono stage I've heard. It's like asking how black can black get. Thanks for bringing this up Nsgarch as it's interesting.
Lugnut -- I may not have been clear: I wasn't referring to necessarily less noise/hum in the phono preamp itself. (My single ended unit is as "quiet as a chair.") I was referring to the noise/hum picked up by single ended interconnects vs. balanced interconnects. Particularly the run between the tonearm and the phono preamp; which is where most such problems begin.

Of course, having balanced inputs generally results in a better signal-to-noise ratio within the component as well.


The extent of what you say has not been lost on me. And, I do find this to be very interesting. I am not questioning that things can get better because repeatedly through my life in this hobby the performance bar has been raised in regard to state of the art. What really amazes me about this is the amount of information held within the grooves of old recordings. I can only afford to be a "trailing edge" kind of audiophile, buying gear later than the "cutting edge" audiophiles. With each improvement in my own gear I rediscover Louis, Ella, Duke and The Count. Just as I've experienced the positive effect of using a supertweeter (which makes little sense to me since I cannot actually hear what it's doing) and accept it in spite of my minds reluctance to do so, similar benefits of which you write are the only area I can imagine progress being made. I cannot hear any hum or noise in the single ended designs being used in SOTA analog today. Like I said "how black can black get?" My sense, based on high frequencies beyond what we can hear increasing the presentation in the supertweeter example, is similar gains may be had by employing true balanced design as you've described. I find it very interesting and hope that someday I'll be able to experience it. Good point, indeed.
Thank you all for your input. I have decided to start "modestly" with my vinyl system, since I will only have 200 or so LPs of questionable condition (havent been played for 20 years, some of them)to start with, dont know if I will really get into vinyl again as I have with Digital, and being realistic, will have to spend $15K to match the quality of my main rig and CD source - no question. That's too many $$$ for an experiment.
But I have 2 smaller rigs, in my office, and my den at home, so sorry to bore you, but will have to ask again for recommendations, since the question is now easier, as I will plug the analog system into either (or each in turn) of these systems and see how it goes before possibly graduating into the big-leagues in the main rig. I also agree with the sage who said that no audio-nut will be content with a weak link in a good system. Office system: Denon APL 3910, Jadis orchestra Reference int amp, Merlin TSM-Mx speakers; Den system: Cairn Fog V2 with upsampler, Bel canto SETi 40, Proac S1 speakers.
Thinking of used Linn/Ittok arm/valhalla (on A'gon for $1290 with Denon 103 - waiting to hear which) and Phenomena/EAR 834P/or similar quality phono stage used which should all come to about $2-$2.5K, which is about what I wish to spend on this "experiment" with the above 2 rigs.
Any further suggestions/comments would be most welcome. I have saved all the suggestions in the event I do get into vinyl again and start collecting and listening big-time. But who knows, the above systems may just sound great, right?
I have read a few of the responses, and have to agree in particular with Flyingrad. I haven't hear a teres in the UK, so I can't give an opinion.

With your budget You really have the pick of decks. I myself had a £7000 budget and bought an Amazon model one and am delighted - you can upgrade this to reference standard.

I must say though that hifi is like a car. However good it is you can get bored of the very things that you liked.

When I auditioned I listened to several decks: SME model 20/2a and model 10, the Platine verdier, the Clearlight recovery basic, the michell orbe, the nottingham analodue hyperspace, the Avid Acutus and the Volvere sequel, the dps, Rega P9, and VPI.

What I suggest is that you call some dealers, tell them your sytem, and ask them to loan a deck to you. If they say no, don't buy their product - simple as that. $15 big ones should buy good service in my view, and that's part of the deal.

I have heard that John RAskins the needle doctor is a big dealer in the states, and you should try him.

I must say that I envy your task, because it is great fun checking a lot of kit out!
I have now heard the Teres 200 series and the 360 (with Schroeder Reference/Koetsu Urushi) plus the Galibier Quattro Supreme with Schroeder Ref/Lyra Parnassus, Schroeder Ref/Denon DL-103R and Micro Seiki MX-282/DL-103R.

The Teres 265 is good, but on rock cuts the bass guitar leading edge was missing, giving the perception that the song was playing slow. The 360 had phenomenal spacial precision and detail recovery however I found the overall presentation somewhat bland and lacking pace.

The Galibier was simply stunning. It had amazing life and energy, deep extended bass, great timing, better information retrieval than the Teres - I honestly have never heard a better turntable.

My favourite combination was the Micro-Seiki/DL-103R which had tighter, better-controlled bass than the Schroeder, although I was assured that the Schroeder Reference excels on acoustic and small ensemble music. The DL-103R was in no way shown to be wanting by the Urushi.

As the MX-282 is hard to find these days, contemporary equivalents would be the Triplanar and Ikeda (built by the founder of Fidelity Research).
Dear Flyingred: I own the MAX-282 and the Ikeda tonearms and I have experience with the Triplanar. All these tonearms are differents and have different music/sound presentation, no there aren't equivalents.

Btw, I agree with you : the Micro Seiki beats the Schroeder with a tighter, better controlled bass.

Regards and enjoy the music.
You could never go wrong with a good used LP12; I got mine used for 1200 with Akito arm and K18 cartridge...I have upgraded slowly as you can only do with Linn. I have never been disatisfied with the dependability, the sound, or the improvement the upgrades have made.
Just as a courtesy to all of you helpful and long-suffering vinyl junkies who helped me, I am following up with the rig I ended up with.
Thanks again for the input.

SOTA Sapphire TT
Origin Live Encounter tonearm
Shelter 901
EAR 824 Phono stage (balanced)