new to me turntable and preamp

Looking to upgrade my turntable and preamp, and I'm just barely dipping my toe into this hi-fi thing. Was looking at the Rega and Pro-ject tables for price and looks (no matte black please), but the more I read the more I'm not sure about that. I've seen some systemdek IIX around as well. Just dropped money on speakers so don't have an unlimited budget. My table now sounds like a squirel after 1 hour or so of play.

My current system (get ready to laugh)
Yamaha HTR 5540 receiver
Linn Keilidh speakers
Gemini XL-BD40 w/ ortofon OM S
Radio Shack Stereo Preamp

anyone have any thoughts??
With $ being an issue, I highly recommend buying used. But, it will help if you know what you want or what you're looking for and looking at.

The Systemdek IIX can be a great buy. There's one available now for $500 or so that I would consider.

I'm pretty bored by the Rega, MMF, etc. etc. tables.

You're really putting together a combo of ttable base, arm and cartridge. If any one of the three sucks, the whole thing sucks. At a reasonable price, I'm a big fan of Grado cartridges. They sound really nice, work well with most mid range tonearms.
thanks for the input, it funny cause all the new sales sites rant and rave about the rega and pro-ject stuff, at least as far as the entry level stuff goes, but when i started reading on here seems most guys like the older stuff.
just found a denon dp-40f on ebay that looks well cared for, pretty sharp looking too. not real fond of the whole ebay auction thing though.
Ebay is hit or miss. You may find some great steals over there, but the people who sell over here are, on the whole, much more likely to have cared for their gear.

MusicDirect sells a Denon DP-300F for $329. Slightly less than the entry-level Rega and ProJect tables. These are all good tables at their price (I'd probably take the Rega if I had to choose between the 3 tables).

Remember, though, the the magic is in the setup. Don't ignore "trivial" advice such as "Make sure your turntable is level..." Pay attention to the details and you will be rewarded.

What component is currently doing duty as the phono amp? The Radio Shack or the Yamaha?


The receiver has no phono input, i got it several years ago before i had any idea about audio (i actually thought the yamaha would be the most likely to have a phono input). not long after i got the receiver a friend passed along the tt from a cheap dj set. got a needle and was all set to listen to some of my vinyl and realized little to no sound was coming through the receiver. Not knowing where else to go someone mentioned radio shack had what i needed. That was about 8 or 9 years ago.
Would it make more sense to get rid of the preamp first? I would think the radio shack piece has got to be the worst of my system. You think the chirping sounds are a worn belt on the tt?
Of course at some point i hope to replace the receiver too, but that will be at least a year away.

I'm not sure what might be causing the chirping sound, but it certainly sounds like a problem with the turntable. Even though the Radio Shack pre-amp might be pretty bad, if it's working spend your money to upgrade the broken pieces first.
You haven't really given us much information to troubleshoot the chirping sound, so tell us more about that. To me, "chirping" sounds mechanical. So you might look at the mechanical aspects of the table. Are there bearings that need to be lubricated? Also, I'm assuming that you hear this "chirping" through the speakers. If you are hearing this sound coming from the table itself, but this sound is not being reproduced through the speakers, that is an important piece of information to omit.
My point is that you have to be as detailed as you can when describing a problem to others that cannot experience it first hand.

Sorry about the omission, the chirping is definitely coming from the table itself, not through the speakers. Its kinda between a chatter and a chirp, really sounds like a chipmunk is getting tired of doing the work inside. I think it may be more prone to happen when a heavier vinyl is on the mat, and always after at least 30 - 45 minutes or play. I've never given this tt much thought other than one replacement of the stylus last summer.
I did see a NAD 533 on the sale page, which I believe is similar to the Rega??? Seemed to have fairly good reviews when I looked it up. Might that be a good starting point.

thanks again
The NAD would be fine. The squirrel sound is from the arm/cartridge and poor speed stability, resonance and feedback from poor compliance. Strangle that squirrel and bury it. Almost anything you do mentioned by anyone here, or from one of the reputable sites (Music Direct, Acousticsounds, Audioadvisor) will be leaps and bounds from what you have. Hold on tight and enjoy the ride.
...and bury the Radioshack with the squirrel.
thanks a bunch to all the advice. think i'm gonna pick up this NAD, any suggestions on reasonably priced pre amps? that seems to be a whole new world in and of itself.
Why not use the Yamaha as a pre and just get a descent phono stage like Bellari. It would be the most economical way to get your analog front end up and running. A pre amp would duplicate a lot of things the Yamaha does. In time you could upgrade the receiver to separate power amp and pre amp. Adding a Bellari and the Nad table along with your Ortofon cart could give you a surprisingly nice sound if, as others have said, you take the time to level and isolate your table along with dialing in the cart. Save a few bucks for the most important item.....the music! Good luck and most of all enjoy the wonderful world of vinyl.
first i'd just like to say how nice it is for you all to offer all this advice to us beginners. some circles just seem to what to keep all the info for those in the know so they can look down on all the rest. thanks.

once i get the new table, i just need a phono stage, and then from there i would just run that into the reciever? since the reciever has no phono input, i have been running my current table through the v-aux input jack. is there any difference in the jacks on the back?
also, you guys think my existing ortofon cart will be a better choice than the stock on the NAD?
Parasound has quite decent entry-level phono preamps at a very good entry-level price. Worth a look. Just connects to open jacks on your amp such as CD, AUX, or tape. Ezy.

Look into some of the Grado carts. You can get a lot for your investment.

I would also recommend looking into a Music Hall-5 table. Heck, look into a used one. The other tables you're considering are also good choices.

This is all entry level but quite decent sounding equipment that you should be able to easily sell as you upgrade.
Correct- you would run the phono stage into one of the receiver inputs (v-aux is probably a video input) If you are getting the table new and it comes with a cartridge start with that, it is probably a good match with the arm. BTW there is a Bellari phono stage on the Gon as we speak for $150-
I bought a Pro-ject Expression III from Underwood Hifi along with a Phono box II as a starter and it worked out great. I've since upgraded the cartridge and Phono stage.
Get an old Thorens if you can find one in decent shape. I just got my hands on an old one-owner TD150 mkII and it sounds better than most of the new models out now costing up to about $1000. Really really surprised at how good this old thing sounds.
Made a deal with the guy selling the NAD 533, so should be a good start, now I just need to find the right pre and I'll be all set. Picked up some nice records in Philly last time I was there and I'm saving these two sealed Japanese pressings for the special occasion.

And Zen, there must be something to those bellaris, those things go like hotcakes on saturday morning.

Oh, and I did adjust and tighten the screws on my cartridge saturday night, not sure if it should have made a difference, but I had no chirping noises even after 2-3 hours of playtime. go figure...
03-16-09: Csw77777
And Zen, there must be something to those bellaris, those things go like hotcakes on saturday morning.
If you go with the Bellari, make sure you get a cartridge of fairly high output. For example, the Denon DL-110 would be borderline too low, but the Ortofon 2M Red or Blue should be just right.

BTW, since you were originally going to replace your Yamaha receiver, let me put in a word for the stupid-good Onkyo A-9555 integrated amp. It lists at $799 and puts out about 85/170 wpc into 8/4 ohms. If you shop around you should be able to find it for under $500. Try B&H, J&R, and Amazon for deals.

Here's the best part: it comes with a really good MM phono stage. For the past 7 months I was using the Cambridge Audio 640p phono stage into the Onkyo. It's a $189 outboard phono unit. A couple weeks ago on a whim I decided to try the Onkyo's built-in phono stage and overall, it's better. The Cambridge *may* have a tad more slam (but I'm not sure, and it's not by much), but the Onkyo phono input is loads better in richness, ambience, inner detail, and resolving "microdynamics." Between the two, the Onkyo has the more captivating and involving presentation.

So it's pretty hard to beat--a fairly powerful, very fast, resolving, high current amp with variable gain line stage, and a better built-in phono preamp than most outboards under $300. In fact, another owner (in another thread) liked his Onkyo phono stage better than a Bellari. The amp should be a good match for the Linns--this Onkyo set a new paradigm for bass resolution and clarity in my home systems.

The only caveats: you need banana plugs, bare wire, or pins at the amp end of your speaker cables, and the Onkyo needs 100 hours of break-in to sound right.
thanks for the suggestion johnny, but i got to hold off a bit on the reciever - think my wife might go crazy if i mentioned another new audio component right now, but i'll keep it in mind when i'm ready.

...reading up on the bellari, seems some have problems with the humming, but this is something that has been cleared up???
and has anyone else tried the parasound?
Bellari is better than Parasound IMHO.
I have read somewhere that a certain cartridge gives the Bellari a slight hum, I can't remember which one though. As long as the tube is good, and you should probably get a spare, and the table is properly grounded you should not have any problems with any hum. A friend has used the Bellari for years without any trouble with several different carts and It actually sounds very good.
Grado cartridges often hum a little bit (mine do but I still love the way they sound) even if the table is well grounded - apparently due to interaction with EMF around TT motor. Perhaps the Bellari accentuates this hum more than some other amps. I am not using a Bellari but ma friend absolutely loves his.
alright fellas, I should have everything up and running in about a week, so I'll let you know how everything turns out.
Hi Saw you bought records in Philly I live in Monroe co.
in the Pocono's and I have a NAD 1600 tuner preamp I would be willing to donate to your cause this has mm mc phono stage. I would like to recommend the Denon DL-103. There is one on Ebay for 155.00 in Germany at Williams stylus Don't know where you live but if your my way stop by and pickup the NAD
There you go, a tuner. a pre amp AND a phono stage and a good one at that! That is very generous Pumpkinman, you have restored my faith in humanity. If you can jump on that Denon DL 103 cart you will be in great shape. You'll have a real music maker. Let us know how it turns out.
The tuner pre was passed on to me by someone I recently
purchased a new pre so I would like to help him on his way
this a wonderful hobby. I also am new to Audiogon and high end equipment, since last summer I aquired an amp preamp turntable and last Fri. a set of Vandersteen 2ce speakers
Good luck with your system.
so the new tt came today, so of course i hooked it up even though i don't have a new phono stage yet, but i will say bud powell was sounding much better. i've been playing records for quite a while, but not sure i was really listening to them till now.
can't even imagine the sound of some of the other systems out there. i'm afraid i've been bitten by the bug...
Chris let know when the amp & preamp arrive
Alright, so the upgrade is complete and I've got to say the whole package seems complete (for now...)
I first hooked the nad to my existing set up, what I noticed: some records seemed much clearer, but didn't seem to have as much output as before, and other records just sounded off. It was funny because those that seemed best on the old setup (electronica, dub-reggae) were the ones that sounded off, especially as the volume was turned up. But some of the jazz records were nice and crisp, but still didn't sound as good at moderate volumes. Guess that was the quality of the yamaha and radio shack making them selves obvious.
Well thanks to Pumkinman all that changed. He shipped me a Onkyo m-501 and a NAD 1600. So now my system is:

NAD 1600 preamp
NAD 533 turntable
Onkyo m-501 amp
Linn Keilidh loudspeakers in rosenut

So far everything I've played from my collection sounds worlds better, particularly anything that has quality production behind it. I was a little concerned about finding a combination that would be a benefit to all the music types I like, but the Clash to Johnny Cash, Art Blakey to Dolly Parton (that's my wife's) all's been great so far.

One question, what's the theory behind the loudness setting on the preamp. Seems its beneficial to some of the rock and punk, but totally blows out levels on the crisp and sparse type stuff.

And what's the next step - speaker cables, interconnects, record cleaning???
I'm a firm believer in everything set to flat
I don't use tone controls or the loudness switch
As far as interconnects I like audioquest copperheads and Canare speaker wire (very resonable)