Thank-you Buscis. Very helpful for me.
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Eeerie1, Turntable setup is something that many first time turntable users feel a reluctance towards. It is really very simple and only requires a couple of inexpensive tools to assure that the settings you are making are correct. These tools will also assist you in fine tuning the sound.
Remember, the initial setup of a turntable is what will be the most time consuming. For the average person, about one hour. After that, fine tuning the sound will not take long, because you will only be making very small adjustments in tracking weight or vertical tracking adjustments.
Many entry level rigs won't even have a VTA adjustment, so that's one less adjustment to be made. If the cartridge was initially installed properly, the only real adjustments you will have after that would be tracking weight and, or anti- skate. Either one of those adjusments can be made in less than ten minutes.
A simple stylus pressure gauge (approx. $30.00), and a cartridge alignment tool (approx. $50.00), are really the only tools you will need. And, those tools will be all you need anytime you upgrade. So, the investment in the correct tools will benefit you throughout the life of the turntable.
In general, most people who I have assisted in doing their initial turntable setup, were quite surprised at how easy it really is.
Don't let those settings intimidate you. You will be a pro in no time. And you will also find it interesting how the most minute changes in tonearm setup can and will alter the sound.
I'm a vpi diehard. The mk IV is a great value, but so is the MK III and the basic jr. I see and hear other tables that sound better, but then there is always an upgrade for the vpi, and the upgrades are very reasonable priced. It is also worth mentioning the bulletproof reliability of vpi's, and besides the fact that they are easy to upgrade, swap parts, and set up, they are easy to treak. I like the fact that often times, comparisms are made to the vpi, and I know of no arm or cartridge that does not work great or is mismatched with the vpi.
Basement, Ditto. As I had mentioned, there are numerous turntables available today in the marketplace. But I think anyone would be hard pressed to find one that could bring you from entry level to high quality/high performance without actually having to completely change turntables. VPI had their thinking caps on when they designed the HW-19 series. I have owned mine since 1994. It is now a full blown MK-IV with a Rega RB-900 arm.
Interesting note, this winter I installed the Incognito wiring kit into the RB-900. WOW, what an incredible difference in sound quality. Also, as I looked through the equipment listings today, I noticed a HW-19 MK III for $650.00. Now that's a bargain.
I know this is an old thread but I appreciate Buscis for starting it. I have been interested in expanding my audio hobby into vinyl but am reluctant because it seems more "high maintenance". I've looked at the Music Hall series and the Pro-Ject series as well as they are fairly inexpensive. I'm still looking and researching. Hopefully one of these days I will fulfill that wish!
I have to admit that I cam very, very close to buying a VPI mkIII as my first "nice" turntable. Other choice was a Gyro SE. I did my homework and weighed out my options. It was a tough decision. In the end, I found a nice used Gyro and went that way. I have to admit, though, that part of that decision was because I really wanted to learn the ins and outs of turntable setup. The VPI is relatively "easy" once the initial setup is done. Doesn't need so much attention.
The Gyro, on the other hand, likes to have my attention. I periodically re-level it and check things out. Getting the cartridge aligned has been quite an adventure. I've finally given up completely on the paper alignment template that came with my OL Silver--and I think my cantilever might be skewed a little to one side, which makes that template even more useless. Soon I'll be looking into proper alignment tools, though I do have a Shure force guage and have been interested in experimenting with different stylus forces. The anti-skate is still kind of a mystery--I can't figure out where I like it, especially since I keep changing other settings...but again, experimenting has been quite educational and I'm starting to learn the ins and outs of all the little adjustments and how they affect each other. The Gyro seems to be a tweaker's intrigue! It'll also impress your friends--mine just love the appearance (though my personal fave is my preamp), and we have a theory that the Gyro is really just a great sounding UFO. One of these days I expect it to fly off to the mothership, ha...what can I say, I'm weird ;)
That said, for the analog newbie who doesn't want hassle, those HWs really are some great 'tables. Well built, no-nonsense, and sound rich, warm, and lovely! I think the VPI is good advice. Sonically, I have to say that if I woke up one morning to find a VPI sitting where my Gyro used to be, I really wouldn't be bummed out. A solid performer. Cheers!
I promise to stop rambling now...