My birthday is coming up and I will be asking for a *new* TT. Budget is up to $1500, but preferably closer to $1k. I would be comfortable pitching in another few hundred $$$ for a good cartridge if I get a table without one. Was thinking: Rega P3, maybe P6 if I really stretch the budget (that'd be over my $1500 mark)
MoFi StudioDeck Clearaudio Concept (I have a lead on a lightly used one with low hours, bundled with an Artist V2 cart, but might make gift giving awk)
I have no experience with the Rega or MoFi tables you mentioned (other than an acquaintance having had a P-3 which really sounded good in his system...don’t know what cartridge he had). My (thoroughly enjoyable) years with a Music Hall MMF 5 would lead me to be the most curious about the Pro-Ject...seems to have great reviews. The latest iterations of the Music Hall MMF 5 and MMF 7 are at the low and ($100 past) high range of your budget, respectively.
I'd go for a Technics 1200GR. Save a little longer. You know why? Because if you go the cheaper route with those belt drives, you will be back here in 6 months with a new post looking to upgrade to a table in the ~$2000 range. The Technics will give you great bass, great timing, and sparkling highs. If you must, the Clearaudio is probably the best of the rest.
Thanks for the responses everyone. The problem that I have with the Technics is that I (personally) find it to not be attractive, and there is an element of WAF as well. So I would prefer something with the more standard modern appearance a la Rega, Pro-Ject, etc. I know you guys want to roast me for that preference, but we all have preferences, right?
BTW, do you currently have a turntable now, or will this new purchase be your first?
@robelvick this will be my second TT. I currently have a TEAC TN-300 which has actually sounded quite good to my ears. Pre is a Pro-Ject Phono Box SE II into KEF LS50 Wireless.
We have a local music club that (up until recently) meets at a local hifi dealer and we have listened to the MOFI Ultradeck 2 or 3 times now for a couple of hours each time. Seems to be a very good table. Lots of body and dynamics. I own a Music Hall MMF 7.1 and that's a very solid table. I think the newest iteration of it is in your price range. I owned a Clearaudio Concept for a short time. It's a very good table, but it was the most sensitive to footfalls of any table I've ever owned and I have springy floors, so it didn't last long in my system.
TEAC TN-300 this is attractive for you ? I'm afraid with a belt drive turntable like this you will never understand what is analog playback, those Music Hall, Pro-Ject and Rega are the same. Buying a turntable like this for $1500 is absolutely crazy, it must be $500 turntable max.
Audiogon became a platform for questions like this, always Rega, Pro-Ject and related belt drive entry level stuff for systems based on wireless speakers or even usb devices. About 10 topics per week.
There are very good reports regarding the SOTA Escape. Worth looking into. Has the Phoenix Engineering speed controller integrated which is an excellent way to obtain speed control with a belt drive table.
what part of Russia are you from? I ask because 5 years ago, my wife and I were in St. Petersburg for a week. I was drooling over the architecture and the beautiful women. In all my travels, I have never seen so many beautiful women as I did in St. Petersburg. Everyone was so friendly, what a beautiful country. A Facebook friend and his wife from Moscow, flew out To meet my wife and I. They both spoke English well and they showed us all the sights, one of the best vacations we ever took! We even went to a real Russian Tea Room. The statues of Peter The Great were quite impressive as well.
I have always thought that the VPI HW-19/III with a typical arm installed on that table is a very good performer and excellent buy. The HW-19/IV with a decent arm can be tweaked into an excellent performer much above competition at over twice it's price point. Either table comes in well below your $1500 price point.
Both are not so rare and usually in very good shape used.
I understand you want "new" and you have certain aesthetic restrictions, too. Allowing for that, I also endorse a used VPI HW-19. I have a Mk 2 with a Mørch UP-4 tonearm and I’m pretty happy with that combination and the turntable can be easily upgraded. Parts are readily available, too. I paid $500 for the turntable and it was in superb condition (from a local Audiogoner!)
It’s your coins to spend but you didn’t get a huge amount of support with your Rega and Project suggestions. I would listen to our Russian buddy as he is a pretty knowledgeable vinyl source. The Technics tables that were suggested are wonderful tables....I have had the 1200G model and also several Rega Tables and there is no comparison between the 2 of them. The Technics tables are much better quality hands down.
Marantz TT15S1. Comes with a $1000 cartridge, a badass tonearm, and a table built by clearaudio. It’s the best deal in turntables. Yeah it’s a few years old but, you get a sweet setup and it’s good looking too.
If I were spending $1,500 on a new table, Rega and Project wouldn’t even make the bottom of that list! WAY overpriced for what you don’t get! Technics wouldn’t make the bottom of that list, either! Japanese glam table.
Check out SOTA. The Moonbeam is around $1200 and the Comet is around $1700. There is a model in between I just don't remember the name of it. They also trade in (buyback) their old models. They also repair their own turntables.
I have a VPI HW-19 MKIII with Jelco TS-550S and Hana EL. I'm quite happy with the sound, and I plan to get the Hana SL in the future for even better detail and tracking. The HW-19 is well-built too.
I also have a Technics SL-150MK2 with SME Series III and Shure V15 Type IV-MR. Sound is on the clinical side, but could be due to the SME III and V15 IV combo's reputation of CD-like sound, i.e. very accurate.
You won't go wrong with the Technics direct drive or the HW-19. It all boils down to your preference.
I initially didn’t want a Technics either. I had already owned a 1200MK2 for many years and with a budget of 3k was looking at upper end Projects, Sotas and Music Halls...something new and different. I’m an industrial designer and I liked the aesthetics of these brands much better. I also looked at the Kuzma Stabi.
Take a close look at the Project and Music Hall turntables. Oftentimes they share the same tonearms. A lot of companies will share parts when they don’t have the expertise to pull the whole thing off or can’t spend the necessary money on R&D.
In the end I decided to spend a little extra and get the 1200G. It’s an amazing TT. About the aesthetics: It’s just too familiar. But when you pick up the tone arm or need to make adjustments, you really do appreciate the expertise that this company has when compared to almost every other TT manufacturer. The gimbal, by itself, is extremely precise.
I know you don’t like the look of a Technics. But put any of those TTs right in front of you so you can see them up close and feel how they work and you will see that the Technics is a better product...and that’s what won me back.
At your price point, it is on another level. I vote for the GR, or MK7.I would vote for a NOS MK2 over a lot of the other brands.
Ciao, se sei interessato, oltre alla già citata Rega, Project, VPI ecc., Se ne hai l'opportunità, ascolta la ditta Funk Little Super Deck, costruzione inglese con tecniche molto originali trovate. Lo posseggo da un anno con una nagaoka mp head 500 e suona molto bene con il suo braccio FS5. L'ho trovato nella demo ex olandese per $ 1500. Vivo in Italia Buona ricerca e buona fortuna DavidHello, if you are interested, in addition to the aforementioned Rega, Project, VPI etc .., if you have the opportunity, listen to the Funk firm Little Super Deck, English construction with very original techniques found.I have owned it for a year with a nagaoka mp head 500 and sounds very good with his FS5 arm.I found it in the Netherlands ex demo for $ 1500.I live in Italy Good research and good luck David
Not sure what a poster meant by you will "lose" on a belt drive turntable at the $1500 price point...if I were you I would go for either the pro-ject x2 or move up to the new classic Evo @ $1599. I own the classic sb and replaced the bluepoint no 2 with the Hana el and it's the best turntable I've owned...to each his own, belt drive, direct drive...I personally have to be happy with the way something looks as well as performs, and the classic sb or evo have it all over the technics, unless you like the DJ look, i don't.
Another vote here for the Marantz TT15S1. I bought a MoFi Ultradeck first and felt it was overrated and overpriced. Anti-skate was abysmal. Didn’t really get all the hype over the Delrin platter. But the MoFi promotion department sure can write up a compelling sales pitch... Exchanged for the Marantz and could not be happier. Incredible cartridge, great tone arm. For the price, it’s a no brainer. Twice the table of the UltraDeck for $1000 less.
Not sure what a poster meant by you will "lose" on a belt drive turntable at the $1500 price point...if I were you I would go for either the pro-ject x2 or move up to the new classic Evo @ $1599.
You will lose because those belt drive are inferior turntables and inferior technology in comparison to the brand new Technics SL1200 mk7 or especially the GR Direct Drive models with much better tonearm with VTA on the fly with removable headshell.
Also this is SPEED STABLE turntables, belt drive are not.
Those small companies like Pro-Ject or Rega simply can’t compete with Japanese GIANT like Matsushita, the reason Technics price is not twice as much is because they are making millions of units.
At one point in my journey I went from a Linn LP12 w/ Keith Monks TA and Sonus Blue label to a Techics SP12 in the rubber plinth they made for it, paired with Audio Technica's best arm and cartridge (Signet TK9MLa or something). I was totally disappointed in the flat, mechanical sound, and within a year had a SOTA Sapphire w/ Sumiko FT3 arm and Dynavector Ruby Karat...aahhh that's more like it! Never DD again. I next movet to a Well Tempered TT/TA and that's what I still have...30+ years later, with no regrets. There is this:
https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649611502-well-tempered-lab-amadeus-gta-dps-herbies-mat/ This is no doubt better than what I have, and it's price, while above your stated budget, seems worth the stretch for what could well prove to be your last turntable buy...think of it...no further "upgrading"! Don't know enough to suggest a cartridge, but options abound. I use a vintage Grace F9 Ruby with great pleasure.
My comments are based on my ownership of the Clearaudio Emotion, which by all accounts is basically the same as the Marantz TT-15S1 with a different plinth and feet. Some things to consider. There's no dust cover. That may or may not be an issue. There are aftermarket ones, but they are basically a big acrylic box and will add another $200 - $300 to the cost. The Virtuoso cartridge is very good for a MM. Clearaudio's cantilevers stick way out in front of the cartridge body and are easy to snap off (ask me how I know). The motor on my Emotion had a tendency to wobble around and was hard to position so that it didn't touch the plinth. There is a second (optional) ground wire on the bottom of the platter, that is kind of a PIA to get connected and keep in place. I ended up taping mine to the bottom of the platter to keep it from coming loose. A replacement belt is $50. The anti-skate control is a screw on the back of the tonearm assembly and a little fiddly. These come up on the used market quite often and you can typically find them at a little over 50% of retail. Not trying to talk you out of it, but some things to consider. It's a nice table and has a good tonearm for the price and is attractive.
Techics SP12 in the rubber plinth they made for it... I was totally disappointed in the flat, mechanical sound ...
Not sure why you mentioned this very old (SP12) entry level cheap model of Technics here ? This is probably a $100 turntable.
And what is a rubber plinth ? Even in the 70’s their top model plinth was Obsidian, not rubber.
The best vintage technics is SP-10 mkII and SP-10 mk III.
BUT We’re talking about brand NEW Technics with completely different next generation modern DD motors, they are the best DD motors available today. You will find more about Technics reference class DD motor here.
The affordable version is SL1200GR for $1700 or SL1200G for $4000
Interesting takes everyone. You guys are starting to make me look more seriously at a Technics. Either they have the best, most subversive marketing department ever (better than even MoFi) or Technics is the real deal. I lean toward the latter.
I’ve also added the Marantz and VPI HW-19 to my list for consideration. I am sure any of these three would be a HUGE step up for me sonically. Anyone have reasonable (<$500) cartridge recs for the Technics or VPI tables? I’d get the Marantz with the Virtuoso as it is such a screaming deal.
Matsushita Electric Industrial , now Panasonic, has more than 100 years of history. Technics is a part of Matsushita. It was and still is a huge company. This is the real deal.
Long time ago people raved about Technics MM cartridges like this one, this model still goes for over $1k
I’m currently putting together technics system for a friend with EPA-100 tonearm and SP-20 direct drive in obsidian sh10B3 plinth. This is 100% vintage system. Here is my ex SP-10 mkII with EPA -100 and same cartridge.
Here is a long thread about Technics NEW turntables.
MM cartridges with mid compliance is what you need for Technics tonearms if you will ever buy Technics SL1200GR (or related Technics DD). Without breaking the bank this is one of the best under $450 (compliance 15cu at 10Hz, stylus type is Stereohedron and magnet is Samarium Cobalt, can be used for more than 1000 hours, this is LineContact type of the stylus). Find NOS and be happy. Expert Stylus Co in UK specialized in Pickering/Stanton service. NOS styli still available for this model if you’re lucky. Ask if you need help.
Have you considered buying a vintage deck and spinner, use it’s arm, upgrade cartridge? upgrade to a better tonearm in the future?
this one is unusual, deck is wider than normal, with wide removable armboard that allows you to easily change the arm, including up to 350mm long arm. it looks nice, bet the wifey would like it if you do.
IMHO The Rega P3 is the table in the $1000 range, Although I would immediately throw a Dynavector 10X5 on it and some groove tracer upgrades...like the platter and sub platter. Also a good solid platform for more isolation help really make the P3 shine!
Try the Hana EL. It is the new Denon 103 and considered to be better. Talking of vintage Technics cartridge, I bought a used EPC-205C MK3 with original stylus (still in good condition) a couple of years ago. This cartridge is very neutral sounding, just what a cartridge is supposed to, but still sounds analog and not flat sounding as my V15 IV-MR. I've read the EPC-100C is better but I haven't heard it.
I have the GR. For me it looks more upscale in real life than in pics for some reason. If feels quality as well, not flimsy or cheap at all, so if the looks thing is holding you back, try at least to see it in person. It’s A LOT of turntable for the money.
Try the Hana EL. It is the new Denon 103 and considered to be better. Talking of vintage Technics cartridge, I bought a used EPC-205C MK3 with original stylus (still in good condition) a couple of years ago. This cartridge is very neutral sounding, just what a cartridge is supposed to, but still sounds analog and not flat sounding as my V15 IV-MR. I’ve read the EPC-100C is better but I haven’t heard it.
Denon is not better, it has conical stylus tip and low compliance, a very old design for super heavy tonearms. Also don't forget about SUT or MC phono stage that you will have to add to the price.
An MC cartridge for beginner is the worst as re-tip cost a lot and cartridge must be shipped back to the manufacturer for a long time (or to re-tipper).
I’ve mentioned some of the best Technics MM cartridges just to remind to others that Matsushita invented not only amazing DD turntables, but also made great cartridges with extremely low moving mass and super wide frequency response. Unfortunately the rubber material in cartridge suspension was a bad choice, they are all suffering from this problem in 30-40 years (softened suspension, cartridge almost laying down on the record surface). Jico S.A.S. is replacement for 205 series, but not for 100 series :( Another "problem" is elliptical stylus, they could use advanced profile, but they didn’t :( What was really great is Boron Pipe Cantilever.
One of the reasons why some other vintage cartridges are better is different stylus profile (stereohedron, micro ridge, line contact, micro line etc) and proper suspension.
Grace even made Boron Pipe cantilever, but with Micro Ridge stylus, i like Grace LEVEL II better.
For beginner: user replaceable stylus is a must have, for this reason MM or MI only (not MC).