I'll let others recommend the equipment. For record cleaning machines, you can't go wrong with the Record Doctor II cheap and effective.
I've used mine for 2 years now and it works like a champ.
You will not be disappointed with the choice of the Scoutmaster.
Cartridge : Dynavector 20X or 17D MKII
RCM : VPI 16.5 The Record Doctor is a great value at 200.00 (I used one for several years), but the 16.5 is much better.
Record cleaning fluids : Audio Intelligent two step, by AudiogoNer Paul Frumkin.
Brushes : Record Doctor, or the Music Direct clones.
Phono stage : depending on your budget, Aesthetix Rhea, Graham Slee, Lehmann Black Cube
I left out the very good Whest 20 from my recommendation above on a phono pre. That should be on your "short list" as well...
What is your budget on a phono pre? The Scoutmaster TT would be a good choice IMO. You could mate a nice ZYX R100 from Mehran (Sorosound) and have a great rig (assuming you are going with the package and doing the JMW 9 tonearm). A Grado Sonata would be another good cart too for that TT/Tonearm.
Now the part you may not want to hear; I would strongly recommend a two chennel preamp and a phono pre to bypass your HT. Again, depending on your budget maybe an ARC LS16 and PH3 (around $2500 for the pair). I think the LS16 has an HT "passthrough" so you could have dedicated two chennel and still play with surround all in the same system. Just my opinion but, I don't think you can realize the full potential of a good analog rig running it through an HT pre-amp.
Look for a VPI 16.5 to clean your records. I wouldn't worry about balanced connections, but don't forget phono cables (I have heard very good things about the new Cardas for around $300).
It's realy a case of what is your budget.
Usual recommendations for the Scout Master/Scout are the Dynavectors as mentioned by Slipknot1, the Sumiko Blackbird. Maybe the Lyra Dorian. The best cartridge I have used with my Scout is the Benz M0.9, but this hasn't been in production for several years.
As for phono stages - Trigon Vanguard II, Monolithic Sound, Rogue Audio Stealth all go well with the 20XH, as I have owned all three (and the 20XH)
For accessories, I would recommend the KAB Speedstrobe. Very easy to set the correct speed. I have the Wally Tractor and VTA guage coming, so I haven't tried those yet. I use the protractor from the Hi-fi news test record for now.
Get yourself a nice set of Imperial hex drivers, as they make adjusting the tonearm much easier. McMaster-Carr will have these.
Get a bubble level from Home Depot to level the turntable.
I have the Scout, not the Scoutmaster, but the key with the Scout is to isolate the motor vibration from the rest of the turntable. There are a few posts - possibly here, but for sure st the Audio Asylum on this topic.
That's all I can think of for now.
Hello Macdadtexas, I agree about the scout/scoutmaster, they are hard to beat at that price point. A couple other tables i would check out are the Nottingham Spacedeck, and Well Tempered Turntable[classic]. I have a WTT and love it, most cartridges are compatable, it sounds great, has superb imunity from vibrations, etc., and probably the quietest bearing design in the industry. As far as phono stages are concerned the above recomendations are worth checking out depending on your budget. I have a Audio Research PH3SE for sale/trade if interested. Dynavector, Benz,Shelter, Sumiko Celabration[often overlooked], Grado statement series,and Denon are what I would try to audition. Good luck. Thanks for listening, Alan
Reponses below, in CAPS:
1) Cartridge (type and make)
I SECOND THE CHOICE OF A GRADO SONATA MOVING-MAGNET CARTRIDGE, WHICH LISTS FOR $500. WELL-BUILT, DOES A LOT OF THINGS RIGHT, AND IS APPROPRIATE, PRICE AND PERFORMANCE-WISE, FOR YOUR TURNTABLE. I USED ONE ON MY VPI ARIES FOR AWHILE AND IT WAS GREAT (NOW IT IS ON MY PLANAR 3).
2) Phono pre-amp (it will be going into an Anthem AVM30, or I may upgrade to the D1 Statement). I would like to get one with XLR output if possible, or does that really matter?
I DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION TO KNOW IF YOU REALLY NEED XLR OUTPUTS. THAT SAID, THE BRYSTON BP-1 MOVING-MAGNET PHONO STAGE HAS RCA AND XLR OUTPUTS. IT USED TO RETAIL FOR $700 AND I BELIEVE IS NOW ONLY AVAILABLE BY SPECIAL ORDER (IT IS BASICALLY A PRO UNIT THAT WAS MADE FOR RADIO STATIONS). WHILE BRYSTON IS NOT KNOWN FOR THEIR PREAMPS, THE BP-1 IS AN EXCEPTION (I ACTUALLY PREFERRED IT IN SOME WAYS TO THE TUBED PHONO STAGE IN THE CAT MK. III PREAMP I WAS USING AT THE TIME, WHICH IS A REALLY FINE PHONO STAGE). BUILT LIKE A TANK AND COMES WITH A 20-YEAR FULLY TRANSFERRABLE WARRANTY.
3) Reasonbly priced cleaning machine.
THE VPI 16.5 IS THE SAFEST CHOICE.
4) Other "extras" I will need.
RICE PAPER SLEEVES FOR YOUR LP'S (YOU SHOULD CLEAN AND RE-SLEEVE YOUR ENTIRE LP CATALOG). A CARBON-FIBER BRUSH TO TAKE OFF DUST BEFORE AND AFTER PLAYING AN LP. OF COURSE, YOU NEED A GOOD SHELF FOR YOUR TURNTABLE, BUT THIS IS A GIVEN, NOT AN EXTRA.
Lots of good stuff above, imho.
How does the scoutmaster price out against a used HRX is a question I'd be pondering.
I've enjoyed the dynavector 20xh & the Lyra Helicon sl on my Aries, depending upon how much cash you want to throw at it. (I also liked the Shelter 900 but that is a guilty pleasure because everyone sez it is a missmatch and honestly it was a bit exagerated on top and bottom but I loved it with rock and roll).
For phono stages, I'm very happy with a Hagerman technology trumpet & step up tranny & have read good reports on Jim's lower priced stuff also.
The VPI scoutmaster is the way to go
I would second the recommendation on the Dynavector 17D MKII -- I use it on my VPI Aries/JMW combo and it is a wonderful cartridge; I like it a lot better than my previous Benz Glider
The VPI 16.5 is the way to go for record cleaning -- can't recommend a cleaning fluid at this time; I've tried several and have no clear preference.
Phono preamp depends on your budget and the cartridge chosen, but I would recommend a tube unit (this is strange, since I use a SS phono preamp, but the Dynavector has an incredibly low output (0.2mV) for which you need at least 60db gain and the rest of my system is tubes)
Good luck on your choices and wellcome back from the "dark side"
Much thanks to all. Great suggestions. I have loved the Bryston amps that I have had, so I am very interested in trying that phono-pre to start. Going to start with the Dynavector 17D MKII as well. Lots of positives on that, and the VPI 16.5 it is!!!
A lot of great recommendations above...
After a year and a half of the "merry-go-round" I've finally settled on the following and feel no need to upgrade anything at this point...
Cartridge: Dynavector 20xL
Phono-Stage: Dynavector P-75 (operating in Dynavector's "PE" Mode with the 20xL this is pure magic...)
RCM: VPI 16.5 (I've run the Nitty Gritty's and this wipes the floor with them...)
Other: AIVS Record Cleaning Fluids and Disc Doctor Brushes; Last Stylus Cleaner and a bottle of Stylast
Prepare yourself to question all that money you've spent on digital gear and software over the past two decades...
The VPI Scout is a good choice but it's arm has no antiskating and is in serious need of damping. Music Fidelity makes a decent phono stage for around $400. Gotta get a good record cleaning machine like a lot of people have said. VPI 16.5 Also check out Last products. Especially the record preservative and Stylast. Good Luck!!
OK, I ended up with a McIntosh C2200, Clearaudio Solution with RB300 tonearm, BenzMicro Glider H2 cartridge. Still not all hooked up.
One way to approach the cartridge thing when starting out (like what I'm doing right now) is to find a basic good cartridge that every one can agree is the best bang for the buck, and go from there. In my case, I'm starting out with the Denon DL-103, not expensive at all, and there is quite a bit of positive reviews on the net about it. I figure the sky is the limit for cartridges, so start at the begining and work your way up in the cartridge department. I did the same thing with the phono pre, I went with a Graham Slee. I'm still waiting for my rig to be assembled, so don't ask me how they sound. For the step up I have a pair of Peerless 4722.
Dynavector P75 at 595 is an excellent phono stage that accepts both low and high output cartridges. It also has switches to adjust the unit for the specifications of different cartridges; good value for 595.
The Decware phono stage is about 1500 when equipped for both low/high output cartridges. It is an excellent unit, tubed, and you can order it and send it back within 30 days for a refund if you do not like it. Wonderful unit.
From here it starts getting quite expensive.
great choice of table, get the outer ring clamp if you can afford it! in terms of cartridges, i'd recommend shelter and the benz micros. in my best opinion, the Shelter 301 is the best entry level cartridge. if you play alot of rock, i might go with a Benz Micro Glider. if price is not a huge obstacle i'dc onsider the Benz L2 or Shelter 901. i've heard them all on my Scoutmaster and they are all great. my scoutmaster originally shipped with a Dyna 20xL and i found it to sound a little thin. then again cartridges are very personal choices. in terms of phono stages, take a look at the low end Accoustech, killer phono stages! if thats too high, consider Creek. if price is no object, get the TOTL Whest Audio!