new turntable/setup advice.....garrot Optim FGS

Im looking for My first TT in years. I dont have any local dealers so I will probably be ordering the gear. I have been reading everything here for several months and now I am ready to pull the trigger. I am weighing several decisions.

1) Do I start off with some sort of starter table? Rega P-3 or the like. Or do I jump in "Whole Hog" and get a Scoutmaster or something similar that can be upgraded.

I'm leaning toward the VPI line because I understand the setup is pretty painless. So a couple of questions about the VPIs.

2)Is the JWM-9 "signature " A really good upgrade over the standard JWM-9. Other than the wire upgrade are there other features such as more versatile settings.

2) Ive had a recommendation of the Garrot Optim F.G.S. MM cart. I would like some info from someone using this cart.

Sorry if Im rehashing old posts but I have read everything that I could find.
Contact Larry ( owner ) of Hollywood Sound..An Honest dealer with many years under his belt..He sells VPI and swears by them..He has a world of Technical knowledge and can deal with Vinyl newbies..I purschased a Vintage piece from his personal collection and was treated very nicely..I will eventually ( when I ca afford to ) buy a VPI table from him ......His shop is in Hollywood ,Florida.......
I've been using Garrott Optim FGS with a VPI Scout/JMW9 turntable for quite a while. The Optim FGS is about as good as a MM design gets IMO. It tracks very well, much better than Grado wood bodies I've used. Only problem is, I don't know of anyone that imports that cartridge anymore. It's not available from any US importers I'm aware of at this time. An Australian business, lists it on their website for $1000 Aussie dollars. The Stereotimes review of the Optim FGS (available on the web) concurs with my impressions of the cartridge. I'd also be interested in the new top of the line Nagaoka cartridge, sold by the, among others.
the garrotts are great...i would check out the new threns 160 hd for a killer turnable

I was just thinking of posting an almost identical question...

I can't decide if I should buy something inexpensive to get my feet wet and go up or dive in full force to start. I also haven't had a TT in over 20 years, so set up and the like are real concerns. Should I risk me screwing up an expensive table or start low and work up??

What do you analog guys think?
Kennyt & Cfbob, you ask a very subjective it's hard for someone who doesn't know you well to give meaningful advice. One person's beaucoup bucks is another's chump change. That aside, I'd ask; how dextrous and patient are you? Tonearms like VPI that implement azimuth and tracking force adjustments by moving the same weight in different directions/rotations can be a test of patience and coordination. If you are a bit of a klutz, I'd consider a tonearm that implements each adjustment with a discrete adjustment. I've got good hand eye coordination, close up vision, and patience and I don't consider VPI set up (done well) painless at all. The advice to consult with a longtime expert dealer like Hollywood Sound or Audiofeil is wise, don't hesitate to benefit from their experience. mirror my feelings exactly. I wonder how much I will enjoy vinyl. Ive been going through some of my old vinyl and am excited by the prospects. I only wish I could be close enough to one of these dealers so I could meet face to face and hear the product.

Photon46.....Klutz?.....Moi?...probably. What arms do you consider user Friendly?
I find that VPI stuff is very easy to install and get running well. The factory is always helpful with a real desire to make their customers happy. I find that they don't shmooze, but in simple E=mails can solve any problem with their products. ...and then there are all of us in Audiogon-land just waiting to help. I know after I do a major VPI upgrade(changed the 9 Sig for the 10.5i) that turns out well, I'm especially happy and proud of what I did, and also, it is a great learning experience. Don't be chicken...just do it
No offense meant Catfish. I've just worked with some guys who really don't do well with small parts and fussy adjustments. If you take your time and don't get impatient, it's really not hard to do. When I say it's not painless, I mean you just have to be prepared to make the same adjustment more than once to get everything dialed in to the nth degree. Sometimes I've changed cartridges and everything went smooth as silk and I was done in 40 minutes. Sometimes (last Sunday,) things didn't settle as well on the first try and it took me an hour and a half to get things right. Stringreen is right, you just have to jump in the deep end and learn to swim.

I am considering something from $1-2K for an entry try it and see, would go $5K for a solid rig.

in the 1 to 2k range(new) its tough to better the latest incarnations of the timeless dual.
Ive been traveling so I havent been near a computer.......thanks for your responses. Im still interested to find out the differences between various VPI tonearms. i.e, the JWM 9 vs the JWM-9 signature.......or the 9 vs the 10 or the 10.5. I wonder what adjustment features are considered worthwhile for the money.
I have been told by several folks that I'll be fooling myself with a cheap <$2K TT and have of course been looking at higher models....

I am looking @ and Avid Diva II or Volvere w/SME 309 arm, undecided about cart at this point.


I changed the VPI 9 Sig to the 10.5. on a Supersoutmaster with heavy platter using a Benz Ebony LP. There is an audible improvement, but it is very incremental. The big difference is that the 10.5 allows very precise repeatable VTA adjustment. If you change VTA often, then the 10.5 is the arm to get...if you set the arm so that it performs optimally with all your LP's, it may not be so cost effective. I find the 9 Sig to be a top notch arm and certainly good enough for me. I might bring your attention to
i had been using what I would called "mid fi" turntables for a long time. When I decided it was time to go "audiophile" grade on a turntable, I was willing to spend about $2K on a TT/Arm combo. I purchased a VPI scoutmaster / JMW9 arm combo for $2K used. This was my first experience with a unipivot arm. After doing much research on the internet and asking questions here I was able to set it properly using the correct tools. The great plus to VPI turntables is the upgrades that are available. You can start off with the "base" model and upgrade things like tone arm, platter, add on things like the SDS speed controller, rim drive, periphery ring.

Stringreen....I know very little about TTs therefore I would assume that I would not be fooling with the VTA on every record, at least not initially. I was advised NOT to get the signature wiring. The logic was that unless I had a super phono stage the sig might sound a little bright. Do you have an opinion on this? Thanks for the link

Thanks Arnold_layne

Where can I go to get a good "primer" on TT setup?