OK, I made the leap...

Now that the kid is grown and gone (boo, hoo) I’ve decided it is time to get back into analog. I’ve been into this sport since; hum, ah, 1967, how ever long that is. I’ve had 500-600 albums, (I’m not going to count), that have been in storage since 1989. I know that year since that was the year my ex and I split the sheets and I managed to escape with the vinyl.
Anyway, I went to a used stereo store in Seattle today and purchased a used (old) turntable and a cheap phono pre, and I am like a kid in a candy store. I literally had not even looked at the albums since they were packed and stored years ago, in spite of moving several times. Holy crap, I’ve got a lot of good music. In spite of all the smoke and booze, I really did take good care of these albums. Yahoo. While I’m having a blast listening to my old stuff, it does not sound as good as my digital setup. There just seems to be no bottom end, and kind of a harsh top end. Sounds like an old receiver with tone controls that someone had turned the bass all the way down, and the treble all the way up.
Now for my question; how much do I have to spend on a table/arm/cart/phono pre setup to at least match what hear with my CD player? I do now, especially after listening to, and looking at what I’ve got, want to get back into vinyl, but not just as just a novelty. From what I’ve read here and other places, I should be able to have this sound as good or better that CD’s. All reasonable help/suggestions will be appreciated.
My system is as follows: (I can’t seem to make the virtual system thing work today)
Speakers: Osborn, Grand Monument Reference
Amp: Redgum RGH900
Pre amp: Consonance Reference 1.1
CD player: Sim Audio Moon Eclipse
Table: Sansui SA 4050C
Phono pre: God knows what it is.
Cables: Analysis plus, Harmonic Tech. Some other things I can’t remember.
Hello Bnc

First off, congratulations!!! Your move will evenutally bring you much happiness. There a lot of good turntables out there, which would answer you quest and bring you much joy, I recently purchased a new VPI 'Scout' table w/arm and I have been very happy with the results. The cartridge used would really be up to your own preferences, there are many Grados, Dynavectors, ClearAudios etc. for consideration.

Regardless, of what you purcase however, to really bring out the life and dimimish the noise factor, you should really pick-up a disk-cleaning machine. I have a VPI 16.5 and I'll tell you they really are worth the money. They (any brand) will lessen the surface noise and bring you a more dynamic sound with less background noise than you have previously experienced.

So any good turntable and arm coupled with a disk-cleaning machine will bring you hours of enjoyment with your old records.

Good luck and good listening.


Well, you have a pretty decent CDP, so you are probably looking at about $2000 - $2500 to get past your Eclipse. Your best bet to keep things in the "real" price range would be to base the whole setup around a Rega RB250 or RB300 arm, relatively inexpensive but VERY effective.

Match it with either a Project or Rega turntable, and an inexpensive Denon, Dynavector, or Ortofon cartridge and you're most of the way there.

You can get an NAD phono stage for about $100, and they are reasonably good, especially for the dough, but you will want to consider something a little more advanced later on.

You might also want to consider a VPI Scout, since it comes with an arm. Solid little table with a great rep, and readily available new or used.

VERY IMPORTANT!!! Check the analog archives here - this subject has been touched on a number of times, and there are probably threads listing the best buys in all four categories: turnable, arm, cartridge, phono stage.
Bnc, I'm not going to low ball you on a recommendation. If you're serious about getting into analog at better sound quality than your Moon Eclipse, you probably ought to plan on a budget of $2500-3500, and it goes up from there.

Here's one option, you'll probably get lots of others, some at lower overall price points:

...VPI Scout Turntable with JMV 9 tonearm $1600 retail (I wouldn't hesitate to purchase this on the used market at under $1100. Also, this table can be upgraded at any later time to the Scoutmaster.) (The VPI Scoutmaster is even better, but at $2400.)

...Cartridge possibilities that work well with the VPI tonearm: Sumiko Blackbird ($750) or Dynavector DV-20Xcartridge ($525) or Grado Sonata ($500)

...Phono stage at low cost. There are several threads here you can review about inexpensively priced phono stages. More expensive phono stages will sound better, but any of the following would get you started and you could consider upgrading later on for significant improvement in sound:
Grado PH-1 ($500) or Lehmann Black Cube ($460) or Creek Audio OBH-15 ($400). All of these have switchable gain settings for MC or MM cartridges.

As with anything else audio, each of the phono stages and each of the cartridges will have it's own sonic strengths, weaknesses and character. So do the turntables/tonearms.

Buying a used VPI Scout turntable or phono stage will save you 40-50% off retail. With the VPI, buying used is a pretty safe bet, there's not much that can go wrong with them.

Good luck on your journey!
When I got back into audio my first source component was a Sony ES777sacd...a really fine player. Before long I got the bug and bought a Rega P25 here on A'gon. That table along with a Grado low output Reference Sonata cart and Lehman Black Cube cost me less than 2K and blows my cd player away......John
Welcome to the club. Rushton has some good points and recommendations for you. Definitely go with a used table and either save the 40-50 % or get a much better table.
Here is a link to a review from fellow Audiogoner TWL on a good value for a cartridge. You will have to make sure that you match the cartridge and tonearm well.

Spend the most on the table your budget will allow and then buy the best tonearm / cartridge combo. You can upgrade the tonearm and cartridge as you go and come to understand your preferences.
Teres (used or new) is also a great value with fabulous sound with great build quality. check out www.teresaudio.com
Best of Luck.
Rgds, Larry
Rushton, you need to stop doing that! You are making us all look bad. But, I want to second AEW's recommendation for a cleaning machine. I think it is an essential part of your analog budget. I've tried every low-dollar cleaning method known to man, and the VPI 16.5 clearly betters them when used with good fluids. Cleaning is a pain in the ass, but a good machine makes it less of one.

Also, I'd recommend a Teres. You would be starting out well over 2 grand, but IMO, as far as looks and especially perfomance goes, a well set up Teres will spank a Scout any day. I think Rushton is right, a lower end setup is not going to make you happy. You would be looking at 3 grand minimum to get into a 245, and that is with a Rega variant arm and a Denon 103r. The main problem with going the Teres route is that you can't save any money on the table by buying used because, well, nobody lets them go.

You do have a ton of options, and the search for the right table is fun (it was for me, at least). Keep us posted as to how it goes.

Sounds to me like the VTA is pretty far off on that table you have, but maybe there are other things going on that I don't know about.

Anyway, there are a variety of tables, arms, and cartridges out there, and it can be confusing.

I'd recommend reading some of the analog archives in your spare time to bone up on the particulars of analog, and read some reviews and threads on some of the items you may be considering. Study will take you a long way to making a good decision.

Making correct matching decisions is a big part of getting your analog system right. The stuff has to work well together. You can't just plug any cartridge on any arm and put it on any turntable and expect great results. However, as most analog gear in the higher end market is quite good, you'll have a good chance of getting it pretty close to right if you pay even the least bit of attention to matching.

For a newbie, I think that staying in the medium range of cartridge compliance(15cu) and medium mass arm(~10-11grams) will get you into the ballpark without too much room for error. Stay out of the low compliance stuff until you have enough knowledge and experience to make some educated choices there. Or, if you want to go there, then use some of the information in the archives to find out what cartridges and tonearms are used together commonly and are popular with good comments. That could help. Also, you could do the same things with turntables and arms. Some arms are more suitable for certain turntables than others are. The archives will be good for this too.

Another thing you'll have to deal with is cartridge output vs phono stage gain, to get that matchup right. One way is to get a very flexible phono stage with many gain settings, and just try some of them to see which gain works best with your cartrige in your system. Use the cartridge loading that the manufacturer specifies, or consult the archives.

You'll need some setup tools, and you can buy a mirrored protractor for about $20 and a stylus force scale for about $20 from http://www.turntablebasics.com. These are acceptable quality and inexpensive.

Make sure that your tonearm either has a VTA adjustment, or you can get an "add-on" accessory VTA adjuster. This is important. If you can't get the VTA right, your rig won't sound good. There are so many different tonearms and cartridges on the market, that there can be no "one size fits all" VTA setting for a tonearm. You have to adjust the VTA for the cartridge that you are using, and that's all there is to it. Make sure you can do VTA adjustment with the arm, with either the factory adjustment, or by adding an aftermarket adjuster.

I have a Teres turntable, but there are plenty of other good turntables out there too.

You can post some particular questions on the forum that relate to some decisions you are making, and the crew will give you some guidance. Often there is no consensus on a particular issue, so the final decision is yours.
I want to commend Rushton on the pictures thing. Damn showoff,
y' makin' the rest 'f us look lahk IDjits!

Excellent advice from all those above, particularly the part about spending some quality time in the archives before dropping major cash. I spent three months doing that before choosing my TT, arm and cartridge. As Twl rightly pointed out, component synergy is critical for an analog front end. Much more so than for digital. I've heard some very fine cartridges play pretty badly when mounted on the wrong arm, and vice versa.

I don't think anyone has mentioned that you'll have to decide between Moving Magnet and Moving Coil cartridges. MM's are less expensive, easier to set up and will match nearly any phono stage. Your flea market Sansui probably has one. MC's range from slightly to obscenely more expensive, are often very finicky about setup and require perfect matching to phono stage and/or stepup devices. Guess which type everyone on this thread listens to? It's worth the hassle, but it is a hassle.

Totally agree with AEW and Jphii on the record cleaning machine. Doing vinyl well is neither easy nor cheap. But it can be time-consuming and addicting.

Like many others here I ended up with a Teres and have no regrets at all, but there are fine tables from many manufacturers. I'll throw one possible rig out, just to give you some meat to chew on:

TT: Teres 160 ($2250)
Arm: Expressimo modded Rega RB-250, 11g eff mass ($635)
Cart: there are many good MC's < $1K (budget $750)
Phono: defer to others with more experience (budget $750)
RCM: VPI 16.5 ($500)

That's $4885, $110 less than the list price of your Eclipse. Buy some setup tools and a carbon fiber brush. I guarantee your CDP will soon have more dust on it than your LP's.
for the most trouble-free way to solve your problem just go to The Audio Connection (in Seattle! 524-7251). John is very knowledgeable about TTs PLUS he has an in house technician (Bill) who will look at your TT to see what's up with it. John is very opinionated but a great resource. Highly recommended!
Thanks everyone for the responses. It really helps to get the specific recommendations and pricing to give me an idea of what I can expect to spend to equal or better my current dig. system. Unfortunately, it’s not a good time of year for me to be making any purchases (construction worker); however, I now have an idea of what to save for. I think it’s clear that there is no use in just kind of upgrading. Might as well bite the bullet and go for broke when fund become available. I’ll be keeping an eye on the used market. Actually maybe I shouldn’t right now, it’ll kill me if something comes up and I have to let it go. Crap, I knew I shouldn’t have drifted to this side.
I have done a lot of reading in the archive threads already. What a hornets nest. Many there seem to be rather opinionated. After reading for many hours, I was more confused than when I started, which is why I started this thread. It turns out that I’m not only a construction worker, I also own the company. I added this just to let you know how much I appreciate recommendations of specific combinations that work well together. By the time my day is over and I make time to listen music, I just want to listen, not have to fool around trying this and that to hear what seems better. I get enough stress at work, I just want to relax and listen.
Thanks once again, I knew I could count on you.
I'm going to offer a contrarian's opinion on the record cleaning machine. I own a one (VPI HW-17) and I use it all the time. But, it is not *necessary*, imo. Convenient, yes. Necessary, no. CLEANING our LPs is necessary, but this can be done very well manually (using the Disc Doctor cleaning method, for example) without the expense of a multi-hundred dollar machine.

I'm offering this alternative viewpoint because suggesting that someone new to vinyl, or just getting back into vinyl, needs to buy an expensive RCM seems to me like a good way to scare people off from enjoying vinyl.

My recommendation to someone just getting (back) into vinyl: keep it high quality, but keep it simple. Grow from there.


P.S. - Sorry about the pictures. Should I stop?
The moderators would probably appreciate it. :-)
I think you need to really think about the leap to vinyl.
I did it a few years ago, and I am glad that I did. I listen to 99% vinyl. But it is addicting and expensive.
If you don't want to mess around with your system just like you said, then you do not want to get into vinyl.
Throw on a CD and enjoy your evening. Once you enter the vinyl world, nothing is the same anymore. Not to mention the up keep and adjustments needed to keep everything in working order.
You will always be looking for used vinyl.
You will buy a record cleaning machine.
You will upgrade everything after you start.
Just be carefull what you wish for.

Keep it simple? I may take some heat for this, but with 600 lps IMO hand cleaning is not an option. After coming out of storage they all need to be cleaned, and doing it by hand will take about 33.9 years. Why use this:

or this:

When this:

makes life so much easier? Because as Brad said:

By the time my day is over and I make time to listen music, I just want to listen, not have to fool around trying this and that to hear what seems better. I get enough stress at work, I just want to relax and listen.

If anything would scare me off it would be cleaning all of those lps by hand!

Doug is pretty much right on with what I was thinking, but for $200 more I'd go with a 245. So i'd say this:

Teres 245: $2450
OL OL1 MK2: $570
Denon 103r: $250
VPI 16.5: $425 (Galen Carol)

which comes to $3695, leaving well over a grand to get "even" with the Eclipse. Sould cover a phono stage and some other supplies, and a few lps. And the TWL Hi Fi Mod and Paul's VFT Tweak, of course!

Brad, once you enter the dark side, well....

Good luck,

I think that many of the above posters are going overboard with enthusiasm and detail. Here's my advice:

(1) Buy a used Rega Planar 25 turntable (+/-$750);

(2) Buy a new Benz-Micro Glider MO cartridge and have the dealer install it (+/-$750);

(3) Buy that VPI 16.5 record machine (essential), cherry pick your LP's for cleaning, and pay some kid from the neighborhood to stand there and clean them ($400 for machine + labor); and

(4) Buy an Audio Research PH-3 phono preamp used (+/-$850).

At 6.8 grams weight and 14cu compliance, the cartridge and arm on the Rega table will produce a combined resonance frequency of a perfect 10Hz. The 0.8 mv. output on the cartridge is ideal for the PH-3 phono stage's 54 db. of gain. All of the above products are very well built and low/no maintence. It will sound better than your CD player.

Good luck.
First things First. The kids come back. Harry (of vpi)says, "Rushton and Jphii royalty checks are in the mail." P.S email pictures of grandchildren to Harry.

Secondly where is Raul?

It was just a short while ago(20years) I B-----d and moaned about a $2500 front end. This was when you got a phono section included in your preamp at no extra cost.
Now let's make that about $10k plus phono section. That was also when cartridges had decent output, a stylus guard, and turntables came with a suspension and a dust cover. I now own a quicksilver transformer ($450.00) that I consider an accessory. More importantly you could actually audition your turntable and cartridge at the dealer. Any self respecting dealer had a tt set up man. A Linn Sondek set up man was revered in a way that only rivaled a Jaguar mechanic. Let's not forget my Sumiko fluxbuster (still works by the way).
If you can afford it, get what you want once and forget it. Those of us who grew up in the high end are so used to being beta tester's we don't even think about it.
A tt should be immune to vibration, turn the record at the right speed and hold the record to the platter. It should also proivde a sturdy platform for your tonearm. Sota Cosmos($5900). It uses both mass and springs to keep out vibrations. The wheaton tri planar($3900). If you have been paying attention at all, it needs no explanation. It's almost never available used. Cartridges- pick one(half the price of your tt) Unfortunateley, picking a cartridge is like going to Baskin Robbins. Each has it's own Flavor. You'll need two. One for your good records, one for your bad. A good price guide is that it should be half the price of your tonearm. I suggest a Shure v 15 or Grado for your bad records.
Go with the VPI 17. You'll upgrade eventually anyway.
Preamp- go with the Manley Steelhead ($7,000). Why? I have not heard it. Hey vinylphiles love to tinker. If not we might as well play cd's. The manley offers more tinkering than any preamp in its class.
One other thing. Rushton does not like to brag, but he owns a walker proscenium gold. Now you have two reasons to hate him. you'll aslo need money to travel around buying vinyl that would have cost only $3.99 20 years ago.
Where are you gonna get this money? Spend the kids college fund or inheritance. Home equity? You want to be insolvent so medicare has to pay for any expensive surgery.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek(my own thank you)!
Well so much for not spending any money right away. After talking to the guys at the shop where I bought the table about the lack of bass and tinny top end, they said that table should sound better than that and suggested a better phono pre. So back to town I go. Geeze, I didn’t even make it 24 hours before I got upgradeitis. I bought a Rega Fono pre. Holy cow, what a difference. In some ways, even this modest setup sounds better than my CD’s do. I never would have believed it. Bells and such just seem to linger for ever. Cool. Now I really can’t wait until I can afford to make the “big” jump. If indeed a real top end type table, arm etc. combo will step it up that much more, I’ll never get anything done. If I didn’t already have so many CD’s, I think I would sell my player to afford the update now. Oh well, nobody said this was going to be easy (or cheap). I’ma thinkin this puts the new tube amp purchase in the back burner.
Thanks once again for the help all. You guys are killing me.

Glad you "fixed" the issue with a modest investment. Now you've got something to enjoy your records with and you can take your time moving up. Half of the fun in this hobby is striving for the next improvement.

If it were me in your current position, I would take some of the advice above and look into record cleaning. You'll be amazed how much you can unlock with well cleaned rekkids! It is possible to build your own vaccum machine for not much cash at all.
dadadum,dum,dum, another one bites the dust.
Did you find that Harry lp? How'd it sound?


Your advice was good, and well-intentioned too, but you obviously got to him too late. He's doomed.

OTOH we have another new friend on the analog forum.
A brand new Scheu Cello with RB250 can be had landed for about 1200 with warranty from Germany. The much better Premier II, which will accept 12" length arms, with a Scheu Classic Unipivot 12" arm was quoted as 2200 US delivered.

The Scheu Premier II is the one that inspired the Teres tables which are regarded as quite good and up there with the best tables. The Scheu must be considered in that category. Hard to beat either one at their price point. For just a bit more money than a new VPI Scout with arm you can have a much better table/arm system.

Other good values can be found with the Sota refurbished tables although were I to spend 2 large I'd go for the Scheu and never look back.