Newbie looking for cheap dependable table

I have been lucky enough to be asked to "store" about 1,000 of my father's LP's. While growing up he would buy a few new albums every week & we would listen to them over the weekend together. They are in perfect condition, he would always clean them & store them perfectly so I know they are worth having.

My dilema is that as much as I want to get into vinyl playback it seems like a MAJOR PITA. I am intimidated by everything that I am reading here about setting up the stylus, proper cleaning & care of everything. I am not much of a tweaker with my system now unless I get off on a tangent for a little while. I also never get enough time right now to listen to my system as it is, I will need a table that is ready & waiting for me when I have few free hours. Now that being said I was intimidated when I first got into this hobby a few years ago & everyone here was kind enough to help me get my feet wet.

So the question at this point is with about $1000.00 to spend should I purchase a used Rega, Music Hall or refreshed Thorens for about $500.00? I figure with the rest of the money, I will try one of the cheaper phono stages plus necessary tools, cleaners & any other widgets.

Obviously like anything else in this crazy hobby if I find this is for me I will spend way more than I ever expected. For the moment though I am looking for a good table that will let me get used to this new world & hopefully make me want to get in over my head. If I find this isn't where I want to be I will either sell it all or offer it to my father. At this point I am still thinking I will be listening to 90% digital & only 10% analog.
I own the MMF-5 and would highly recommend it as a plug and play unit. The sound is very good also. I have not really been able to listen to a high end analog rig, so I don't know what I'm missing, but I'm happy with the Music Hall MMF-5. I purchased the table and a Music Hall phono-pak pre-amp for under $700 from Music Direct. Use the rest of your budget for a record cleaner.
A used Rega is a good, dependable, low maintenence table. I am not familiar with the others, I've seen and heard some Thorens, and Music Hall, but don't know enough to offere advice.

If you go with the Rega, I would recommend using a Rega cartridge too. Rega arms don't have a VTA adjustment, but are set correctly for a Rega cartridge. Who knows maybe your 90% vs 10% might change! Have fun!
A number of people in your situation are buying Technics DD tables that are still being manufactured mostly for DJ stuff. Try Musician's Friend, the model is SL-1210 or SL-1200 if I recall. If you can stand putting up with the prejudice against Japanese products and DD tables in particular you will probably be quite satisfied and buying new certainly simplifies things. Good luck.
In addition to the TTs already mentioned, you should consider a Technics Sl-1200mk2 (or mk5) modified with a tonearm damper from

Check Ekobesky's review here at Audiogon or the recent review at TNT Audio

Assuming your father has a reasonable taste in music, you're in for a treat. Good luck!

- Harald
I previously owned a Linn Axis table with a factory installed Linn Basik Plus arm and Linn cartridge. It was a very good sounding setup and it was nearly zero fuss. I wish I had not sold it a couple of years ago. I think this setup goes for under $500 used. I've seen them for about $350-$400 at times.


I think the Music Hall MMF 5 would be a good place to start. Used you can find them for abou 500. Otherwise, you could step up to the MMF 7 if you wanted to spend a little more money.

I started with an MMF 5 and thought it sounded good even with the stock cartridge.
SYSTEMDEK IIX is excellent choice & extemely reliable
The Rega p3 is relatively fuss-free. I recently paired mine with an inexpensive Bellari phono preamp so I could move it into my main system where it sounds pretty good.

without question, the thorens. you can buy a td145,147,160,166 all for 300 to 600 dollars and sonically be in the same neighborhood as most 2k to 4k table/arm combos.... ....not fussy and built to last a lifetime and more.
If you want vinyl the easy way, rule number one is, don't buy used. Yes, I know that's sacrilege around these parts, but let's get real. You can buy a new turntable with a decent cartridge already installed, and probably the only things you'll have to do are wrap a belt around a pulley and readjust the tracking weight on the tonearm. This is not rocket science.

If you decide you really want to be a vinyl fanatic (in a good way!), then you can start upgrading. But if you want easy now, buy something that comes already set up.
first things first. definitely get a turntable. with 1000+ records that you used to play during a younger time in your life... i guarantee you'll be happy with at least something to play. something about analog brings back nostalgia when you hear the stuff you grew up with. invaluable.

if it was my 1000... i would consider the following:

rega p2 + stanton 500E mkII cart + rega mm phono. this will be a boogie first approach

technics 1200 (yes, the 'dj' deck + denon 103 mc cart + clearaudio microbasic phono - this system will boogie as well but also have a warmer more lush presentation than the rega set up

rega p3 + stanton 500e mkII cart + cambridge audio 640p phonostage... pretty good amounts of both attributes listed above

the stanton cart is recommended because you can get it for 35 bucks and its quite musical ( i like it better than grado black which i also like)... instead of that, you can use denon 110 with the regas (around 130 bucks) which is more hi fi-ish but still boogies. at first, i'd go with a better table/arm/phono stage combo first and a good value cartridge. later, when you figure out the presentation you like best, you can get a fancy cart.

good times.
I also recommend the Music Hall tables as a good value. Pro-ject also makes good budget tables.
Don't worry about all the necessary tweaking. It's not really necessary. We mostly tweak because we want to, not because we have to. (However, you will be surprised at the improvements you can make via fine-tuning. That said, you'll want to learn how to fine tune a table BEFORE you act on an upgrade, because the upgrade path is right there waiting for you, and for free.). The Pro-ject and Music Hall tables are plug-and-play. Just set the tracking force and you're all set. I don't think VTA & azimuth are adjustable on these models. The cartridge is usually pre-mounted. Get a good phono stage. They make quite a difference.
I second the Music Hall 5. It has brought me to buying LPs like mad! I would consider it to be the low end, scratching the surface of (dare I say) high end. But for the $ and lack of tweaking, it is a pleasure to my ears. I must admit, that I am constantly looking for something better. Your investment would be minimal and who knows, you might pass it on to your father, son or daughter if you decide to a change is in order.
It sounds to me like a NEW Technics SL1210 would fit your needs. It can be purchased new for $400 from Mate it with a Denon 110 from williamthacker on eBay for $120 and you will be good to go. They have removeable headshells, which makes mounting the cartridge much easier, plus you can cheaply purchase addtional headshells for quick cartridge changes. These are built like a tank and if you decide Analog isn't for you, it can be easily sold with very little money loss. They also have an inexpensive upgrade path thru KABusa if you decide you want to take it further.

Add a Bellari tube phono amp for $229 new or used here on Agon for around $150 or so.

Anyway, that would be my suggestion for a set it and forget it type of system. The Technics 1200's don't get much love amoung the audiophile community, as they have been looked on as DJ tables for many years. I suggest you do some homework and read some of the comments by current owners who have changed their minds about these tables. The vinylasylum is a good place to start reading.

Good luck and I hope you find something to enjoy that vinyl.

All of the comments above provide sound advice. The sole option I'd add is -- given your budget of up to $1k -- to consider a used VPI HW-19. If you are patient and willing to watch the A-gon ads, you can acquire a HW-19 Mk3 (or even Mk4). The HW-19 is a fine TT, and largely "set and forget". My HW-19 (now in the Mk4 version) was originally acquired in 1988, and has performed flawlessly while providing great playback.

With a little luck, you might also be able to pick up a VPI Scout within your budget. IMO, the Scout is a killer-good TT for the money.
One additional comment. Personally, if I were looking for a no-fuss table, I would immediately rule out any turntable with a complicated suspension. You aren't going to want to go through the hassles of leveling the deck and getting the correct spring tension, etc. Look for a table with a very simple suspension. That is why I recommended the Linn Axis in my original reply.

The Linn is the only non-suspended table I've owned, but I'm sure there are many others.


Given your system, and budget, I think you may be better off skipping the Music Hall MMF-5 and going to something more - such as the VPI, MMF-7, or Linn mentioned above, or something else in that class (sorry, I don't have any specific recommendations). I have nothing against the MMF-5, in fact I had one and it's a great value and thoroughly trouble free, but once I really got back into vinyl, I found quickly that I wanted more. Based on the amount of vinyl you have, and the rest of your system, I think spending all of your budget on a good table will be worth it.

As for your concerns with the tweaking aspects, I think you'll find once you get into that it's not such a big deal. I was also concerned/intimidated, but it turns out it's not any bigger a deal than you want to make it (IMO)
A used REGA P9 is about as simple as it gets also if you want to spend a bit more than for a brand new Technics.
Wow guys alot of really good responses. One part of me thinks I should spend more & get the best turntable I can afford but the other part of me is unsure.

The Thorens seem like a good bet used, as I was researching them I realized that Vinyl Nirvana is located less than an hour from my home. It seems he may be a logical first step helping me get started if I wanted a vintage Thorens.

On the other hand I have managed to get this far in the audio world without a local source so should I spend more a table more fitting of my system? The Music Halls seemed to get more support than I expected in this thread, that is good to see. I also have seen & heard that VPI is a good choice as well. I am certainly more worried about spending less vs. more. What a crazy hobby!

I honestly do hope I find analog to be the 90% of my listening. My old man's taste in music wasn't half bad, I picked up some of his tastes myself. The biggest turn off with vinyl has been the fact you have to repurchase music all over again but I would be getting quite the head start if I get to "store" his stuff for a while.
Hi, I would say you wouldn't exactly have to spend $1,000, or up for a decent table which will sound good, and do no harm to your LP's.

If you're willing to buy used, one could always buy a clean-mint VPI HW-19 Jr, with already installed Audioquest PT-6 Tonearm for probably 1/2 the price you mention.

There are a plethora of very good Moving Magnet Cartridges available like Grado, Denon, Audio Technica, etc., which will work great in an existing Moving Magnet Phono Stage that is within many recievers.

Other options for a very decent low cost Turntable would be a model from the Denon, Technics, or Pioneer line.

One could probably find a dead mint Denon DP-60L from the bay for about $400-$450, or so, and these were gorgeous, substantial, very heavy fully manual Turntables with Direct Drive, Strobe, Adjustable Speed, generally a very nice tonearm w/cueing control to boot.

Add a new Cartridge of the Brands I mention above, and you should be able to keep costs within $600 at most, and have a very beautiful Set-Up.

I've always admired the Denon DP-60L as one of the prettiest looking tables of the vintage era. Cost for these new I believe was around $850-$900 new.

Try to stay away from any Vintage Marantz Tables. I understand every one of them had their Armboards-Plinths incorrectly drilled by about an inch, in that one cannot ever get Correct Cartridge Overhang-Alignment with these tables.
A design flaw with these I'm afraid, that not many are aware of. Mark
Since Dave from Vinylnirvana is close by, I agree that Thorens will be a very good option for you (a TD150 or TD160 with a Linn Basik arm might be a good way to go). The Thorens requires adjusting of suspension every couple of years, but with good service person close by it should not be too much a problem.

Otherwise a Rega P3 would be a good solid suggestion. If you are willing to spent more you could take a look at Nottingham Horizon, VPI Scout, Rega P5 etc. Rega turntables are really set it and forget it turntables, no hassles at all.

Also, with 1000 records stacked away, it might be worth investing in a good record cleaning machine. I got mine only very late in this hobby but it would have made life much easier from the start.

Good luck,

I have found a VPI HW19 MKII available locally for a good price. It has a Premier FT-3 tonearm (w/VTA), PIB-1 phono interface board, clear dustcover and Promethean Green cartridge. New belt. Manual & box. It is available for a good price $650. How would this table stack up for me in my situation.

In other words should I buy it or not?
Buy it for sure. Don't forget you'll need a phono section with gain structure appropriate to the output of your cartridge. For high output buy the Bellari VP 129 and for low output a Lehmann black cube. You should be able to do all that and stay under $1000.
The price isn't bad, but my impression after 100's of hours of listening to many VPI tables is that they lack dynamics and emotion. I have heard the Scout, 19, and the Hot Rod. I personally don't care for them, but don't do anything based on my impression.

The arm is dated and should be replaced soon to get the best performance possible out of the table.

I don't know anything about the cartridge, so no comment there.

There are lesser tables available, but there are better ones too.
I am not familiar with the cart or PIB-1 phono board, but have heard a VPI HW19 MKI before. It was mounted with a Grado Platinum and Rega 300 arm. PLayed through some Magnepan 1.6's left nothing to be desired in my mind. They sound good and have seen alot of play over the years. I was going to suggest that you spend around the same amount on the preamp as the table. SO look at preamps down the road if you want to know what it's in those grooves, around the $500 range and under. Jolida JD9 starts at $400 new, or I have seen the Dynavector P-75 go for under $400 on Ebay. Both great preamps, at least according to their listeners. The jolida is a tube pre while the P-75 is a Solid State unit. Also in this range is the Monolithic PS-1 usually available used under $300, use to have one great sound. I would suggest a better premap than cart, if you have to compromise. That way when you go to upgrade down the road you just get a better cart, not both cart and preamp.
All in all I would say yes to the table and arm , but don't know about the cart or phono board. Might have to wait till someone else with more experience can chime in. ;)-~
I looked at the VPI & while it was very nice I still couldn't stop the feeling that it may be a little more than I need to get started with. I know how upgrade-itus goes, if I fall in love I will spend more but right now I am taking it slow.
still want more?
Gthirteen, yes, more fish stew :)
lots of good turntables, but the thorens is the coolest and and will always be in demand.
Jayb, the Thorens certainly look cool. I like the "vintage" as well. I am just wondering if there are "better" turntables for the same money all things being equal. I do like what I have seen in the Thorens though, the prices are certainly attractive if they are in fact on par with other tables (which certainly seems to be the case)
OK, I ended up with a completely stock Thorens TD-160 with a Grado blue cart that I picked up here from a local seller. I ordered a Bellari tube pre as well as some other goodies to clean with. The only plan I have for the turntable is some iso spikes & extreme phono mat, otherwise it will remain stock. I am looking forward to getting everything up & running this weekend, I will let everyone know how it goes for me. Thanks for all the help.