Newbie Analog High Expectations??

Good Afternoon,

I am considering jumping into analog with a my system. I have Magnepan 1.6s. I will be adding a Rogue Perseus preamp to use its HT bypass with my Integra 9.8 and Sunfire amp.

I am thinking of adding a turntable, must people agree a Rega P3 is the best entry level model. This will go along with my Squeezebox Duet. I want to buy classic jazz LPs and build a collection.

Since I want to buy used to save money, could I be disappointed in the analog sound compared to the digital I am used to? I hear everyone rave about LPs but I continue to be skeptical.

PS I didn't grow up with LPs. :)

Thanks for any insight
Definitely look at the used markets as well as the new. There are a LOT of great used TT's and cartridge combinations out there that you can get at the same price. And you would be helping to keep the money supply circulating also :-)

Don't forget to budget for a phono preamp if there isn't one already built into the Rogue preamp.

There's lots of threads on this very topic, but mostly you will need to consider the following:
- setup is paramount for good TT sound, read up on the right way to do this or find a knowledgeable friend to help
- clean records are also important, so buy a Disk Doctor cleaning kit as well, or something similar
- vinyl is not as user friendly as digital, it is a labor of love so expect to expend some extra effort
- it may take some time to get the setup right, or you may hear great things right from the start, but be patient, there is a lot to learn and a lot of "tweaking" that can always make it better

A lot of the difference between digital and vinyl is in the mastering, not just the medium used to replay it. Sometimes digital wins, sometimes analogue. But if all things are equal (same master, clean records, good setup and isolation) vinyl will probably come out on top.

Everything Bob says is right on. Now, I will play the skeptic. I've returned to vinyl four times over the years, three, almost four were met with great disappointment. Vinyl simply didn't sound as good as my digital. Finally, this fourth attempt has met with success, albeit it still a work in progress.

And so I say, it all depends on how good your present digital is, your listening preferences, the quality of analog gear your proposing to buy, how you feel about greater amounts of labor directed to cleaning and turning over vinyl every 20 minutes or so, higher noise levels from grunge on vinyl, I could go on and on.

I think too many audiophiles make it seem easy to attain satisfaction in the analog realm. I've found it to be hard work, much harder than digital.

I'm just now beginning to attain an analog sound I find as involving as my digital, and this after months of spending mucho bucks and tweaking to no end. Now, perhaps I'm just hard to please, you may find analog nirvana right away, it seems many do. I will only say, no one can predict an outcome for you, you will just have to experience for yourself.
"Jumping" is not the best way to get into anything. Certain characteristics of LP audio are a major anoyance to some people, while other people are not bothered. (OK, I am mostly talking about surface noise). I suggest that you somehow get some experience actually listening to LPs before making the investment. On this site there are a group of people who claim thet LPs are vastly superior to digital sources. Maybe so, for them. Take a look at the LP playback equipment they are using, add up the cost of that equipment, and then decide what you want to do.
Listening to music through a turntable is a different experience than most other forms of listening. As others have said, it requires more attention to proper set-up and the actual turning of records. It is a less automated front end. Some of this adds to the overall listening experience in the opinions of some, others think it is a pain in the ass. The numerous variables also afford you the ability to fine tune the sound to a greater degree than what is available in other formats. If you are a tinkerer and like to be more involved in the outcome of your music, vinyl might be for you. It takes some work, most think that it is worth it in spades, myself included. When I first bought my tt it paled in comparison to my digital front end- now, after 6 months the vinyl is dialed in to the point there is no comparison between the two, worth the effort in my experience (much thanks to the many on this site that helped me wade thru the endless choices and decisions that I have had to make, opening up a whole new world of listening to me).
To answer your question, yes you could be disappointed with analog sound compared to the digital that you are used to. And much of this will have to do with your expectations.

But let's take off our anal audiophile geek hats for a second and look at the eventuality a different way. As a classic jazz fancier, you are surely aware that there are many, many great performances that are only available on LP, just as there are great performances only available on CD. Why would anyone who is genuinely interesed in the breadth and scope of our musical heritage intentionally cut themselves off from a substantial amount of great music? Real music lovers will want to have the ability to access both formats, and sound quality be damned.
Viridian, thank you, yes, music is supposed to be what this is all about! I would hate to think of a day where I'll be unable to enjoy my 6,000+ cds!
Thanks for the great discussion.

Im a mechanical engineer by trade, so I think the tinkering may be something that I can deal with.

I hears a system in the store I bought my maggies from playing vinyl on a turntable for an INCREDIBLE price, many time more than I want to spend. It was playing a 200 g press of Miles "Kind of Blue". I am looking at a Pro-ject Expression III or Rega P3/P5. If I can get a majority of that sound, I think I would be happy.

Sounds like you get what you pay and put into vinyl. I am on a progrssive movement to improve the small things of my system like cables.

Thanks again for the excellent advice.
Hi Cory,

If you like to tinker you will love LP playback. It is work, from finding good copies, to how to store them, to how to get to the most, to how to maintain what you do set up. Vinyl is work but it can be very rewarding.

Unless you feel the need to get dealer support, I will suggest that you look at the used market here for a table. You can get 4 or more times the performance of the tables you mentioned. And if you decide it is not for you, you will not lose much if any of your investment. But be advised. The arm, the cartridge, the table, the cables, the phono stage are all equally important with vinyl. Then we can start the discussions of how to adjust all of this in order to get the best performance.
BTW, the Rega P3 and P5 tables are in a completely different league from the Expression, both in performance, and cost. My advice is to go to the P3, at a minimum, and stretch for the P5 if you can.
Wow, what a great forum. I thought had all the experts!!!

Ok..What makes a good turntable etc..? I know constant speed and no resonance issues. What else should I look for?

Also should I buy only 180/200g reissues or look at older records as well?

Thanks again
Don't buy the Expression! Take the advice from above.
There are good used tables available at a reasonable price on AG. I would buy one of them ,then find a good used record store and buy maybe 20 records. Learn to use the table, it takes a little while. See how you like it. If you do you can get a better table when you feel the need and expand your collection. If you don't then you can dispose of your table on AG, sell your records back to the store and be out very little.
Definately get a used table of some sort. You've got good equipment, get a good TT. Otherwise vinyl will not live up to your expectations.

It can be a pain - cleaning records is a real headache - but the sonic benefits are there.

Also, as someone stated above, there is a lot of stufff on vinyl that has never been reissued on cd. Those are the best ones.

If you're looking for suggestions, I've got a SOTA that I love (and will never part with)and they can be had relatively cheap. Bulletproof build quality and you can call the factory and speak with the owner. You can't go wrong. Figure out which one you're looking for, post a 'wanted' ad here on a-gon and you'll get lots of offers.
I grew up with vinyl but had not listened to it in years. I liked SACD's quite a bit and since inferior downloaded music killed all disks and I went to the server-DAC set up, I only recently bought a new turntable, and.... Huge difference.

To be honest I let the turntable sit for a few weeks before I set it up because it all seemed like such a hassle, but I have to say, it's more than worth it.

I laugh at some of the critical reviews of individual pressings. They all sound better than any disc/dac combo I have had, and I have had some good ones. The ritual of cleaning and playing the record is really fun too.

Buy used, buy a good cleaning machine, and be ready to buy and sell some older albums til you find ones you want. Many of the new pressings are just fantastic.

You won't be dissappointed, guaranteed.
If you are a mechanical engineer that likes to tinker, then vinyl should have its appeal. Record players are great machines for tinkering. That's how I got interested in music and audio as a young kid...tinkering with the phono.

I learned how to avoid electrical shocks eventually along the way also.

Personally, I love the physics behind record playing and still find the whole experience fascinating. And it can provide many sonic epiphanies as well as disappointments on a regular basis.

The short play time per side with vinyl is the biggest negative for me. If you just want to listen to music for extended periods without having to muck with anything, set up a music server with a decent DAC.

Also I am partial to Linn tables, but that's just me. I owned a Rega table years ago. It was just OK compared to the Linn.
If you can pick up a used Linn Axis table in good working order for a couple hundred as a start, you would not regret it. I've had mine for 20 years and still going strong with never a thought of changing.

The fun part is going to garage sales or antique marts and scoring older out of print recordings from the 50's and 60's for a pittance. Here is where you can find the great sonic epiphanies from the golden age of vinyl when sound quality mattered to many...recordings that sound like nothing you can buy today.
ahh, if you are certified gear head, you need to get an old Garrard or AR table and modify it yourself. Go to and look around, you will get hooked. You are have the perfect background to become a vinyl-phile.
Man, I have a lot to learn about setting these things ups and tweaking. Cleaning and storing for longevity.

I will say I have decided to go ahead and buy one for myself. I am in Seattle and I hear we have a couple of nice record stores to buy from.

I am heading to some stores to listen to some mid level systems to gauge the sound to my ear.

You just might be disappointed. It depends on the quality of your CD player. If the CD player is not the cutting edge, than the turntable might be better. I have an Ayre CD player which can be more musical than my Superscoutmaster.
As somebody pointed out, you have to get used to the play noise. Sometimes a brand new LP has play noise. Many times used LPs sold in mint condition have play noise.
You would also need to purchase a good cleaning machine.

As for quality/money, Thorens TD145/150/160/165 would be one of the best choices. You can get one without cartridge at around $200. I have TD145MKii and ADC XLM MKii cartridge which costs around $100~$150. It works just as good as my Clearaudio bluemotion and my friend's Sota Comet.

As for Jazz LPs, it is getting harder and harder to get them cheap, I mean at under $1. If I buy bulk from ebay, as much as half of them are in poor condition, even though they are advertised in VG/VG+ or even Mint condition, and I won't play them on my turntable. Still, buying bulk off ebay has been most economical way. Overall I bought over 300 used Jazz LPs from ebay, about $2 per each on the average including s/h, and about 200 of them are in very good condition with minor play noise.
And you will find some good LPs from garage sales and estate sales.
Unless you have a record collection or access to a nice selection, be prepared to spend a fair amount of money and time.

Second, vinyl is interactive. It requires ongoing fiddling, tweaking, and adjustment far beyond the initial set up. There's no way around that so if you are strictly a remote control listener, stop here.

Lastly, as a dealer I can tell you that most folks getting into vinyl grossly underestimate the investment dollars it will take to satisfy themselves. Not all, but most.

Good luck.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Kevin @ He is a very good resource for all things analog and his modded Technics decks are a solid bargain in vinyl playback.
Good idea for modding a Thorens TD 160, if you are a tinkerer, mod it according to the analog dept website. $100-200 plus mods gets you a nice setup. I have a fully DIY modded Thorens and its pretty damn close to my Scoutmaster setup. This table is better than a Rega P25 I used to have.

Audiofeil is correct, if you really get into this, you are going to end up spending more money than you think. The table is only the beginning, isolation, cartridge, phono stage, records, it just goes on and on. You may be lucky and find instant contentment, but if you're a tinkerer/audiophile be prepared for a long journey.
People are suggesting modding an old Garrard or Thorens? They must be crazy. The man said 'newbie'.

I would go low maintanance, which for a TT is difficult. However it is a matter of degree. Maybe pay a Linn dealer to set up a nice LP 12 for you. That way you will be insured of a great table, and you will not have to sweat it out or even do much of anything except buy records.

My 2 cents: get a cleaning machine now, so you can enjoy cheap used LP's. Do yourself a favor and don't cheap out, get a VPI 16.5. It is the standard.
Chasmal, you must have failed to see that Cory mentioned he was a mechanical engineer and likes to tinker, ie. the mod possibility is offered. If he doesn't want to tinker get a Rega, VPI, or other non-suspended tt.
Thanks guys.

I can see how a time/money investment is very necessary for this hobby to work. I have been concentrating so much on HT that I have been missing the possibilities that 2 channels offers.

So here is my plan (please don't hold back!):
1. Purchase a used TT, (Rega P5, VPI Scout)
2. Purchase a VPI 16.5 (everyone recommended it, since I will be buying from ebay)
3. Rogue Perseus Tube Preamp (Does tubes and Vinyl mix well??)
4. Spend about 200-300 bucks on albums (new issues and used), 75 % (classic jazz), 25%(blues like muddy, BB, Otis Rush, Albert King).
5. Spend some hours here reading and other online resources to learn all I can about aligning and maintaining.

Sound like a good plan to get my feet wet?
I'm about two months into my reintroduction to vinyl and I'm having a blast with it, but honestly it has been a bit of a money pit. I would suggest that you add at least another 25% to your budget for ancillary stuff, like cleaning supplies, etc., that you will soon realize you need. Of course, you need to budget for a cartridge. Also, if you plan to buy many new reissue jazz albums, your budget will not take you far. I suggest going to Elusive Disc, Music Direct and similar internet music sites and take a look at prices.
Excellent call!! Sounds exactly like what I did, and I am hooked. I have cleaned a ton of albums with my VPI, but I keep going back to buy new re-issues, they seem much better to me. Some of my used purchases have been great, but I now only go to local shops and avoid the internet. I find internet sales, even very reputeable ones go more on looks than sound. If an album looks great locally, but plays like crap, I bring it back.

Good luck and enjoy. Tell us how you like the Scout. I was set to buy the ScoutmasterSig until a Clearaudio Performance came for sale and I just bought it because of how it looked. After I bought it I found out it was well reviewed, but it was still a bad way to spend a couple of grand. Many of us have learned the hard way, it's a bad way to choose a wife as well!!!
You are right Sns, but I recommend Linn anyway :)