I think the Pro-ject turntables sound very good. I have heard the Extension 12 at length and thought it was a great price performer. A friend purchased one and used an Ortoform arm in a Shindo/Devore system with excellent results.
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Yes, Pro-Ject turntables sound quite good. My suggestion would be to consider the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon. Depending on where you buy, you can get demo models for $299. As you go up the Pro-Ject line, you'll find that much of what changes is cosmetic. Spend the savings you generate on the table and fit it with a nice cartridge. Personally, I purchased a demo Pro-Ject Debut Carbon and fitted it with an Ortofon 2M Black MM cartridge. Sweet. Good luck.
Funny; this is the 3rd thread regarding Pro-Ject turntables in a week. I totally agree with Wescoman, the Debut Carbon is the model to buy since it performs as well as TTs at a much higher price.
It comes with a good tonearm and an Ortofon Red cart. And to take it to a higher level, follow Wescoman's advice and upgrade the cartridge.
Pro-ject; Rega; Marantz; Music Hall and VPI (i.e. Traveler etc) are below Hi-Fi entry level TT's that are a pure waste of money.
Anything sold as "Analog Gear" on sites like Music Direct and their ilk are a good indicator of mass produced low quality TT that should be avoided.
You can do much better...
I would like to find one of those 10.1s if only because it looks so dangerous, but my Linn Basik/Akito rig keeps chugging along...Sumiko Pearl, replaced/upgraded tonearm cable (rat bites in the original...seriously). I recently cleaned the dustcover with Windex...is that considered an upgrade? I use the table with the dustcover off, so the smudges only have an impact on the table when it's not running. I think this phenomena is technically known as "visual smudging."
"Anything sold as "Analog Gear" on sites like Music Direct and their ilk are a good indicator of mass produced low quality TT that should be avoided."....
Wow, even the Avid tables that Music Direct sells are to be avoided? Because they handle these too along with VPI and all the other brands you site. Its amusing that you do not think the 26K Acutus SP is not Hi-Fi? I am curious at what price speakers and amps must start at to be considered real Hi-Fi in your world.
To the OP...The Pro-ject tables sound very good for the money and they put together some very attractive table/cartridge packages. The Carbon with an Ortofon 2M Red is an outstanding entry level table. Since you don't site budget and ask which one to get, I normally don't recommend what I have, but if 1K is doable, I suggest you check out the Pro-ject RM5.1 SE. Its comes with a Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 high output MC cartridge that is a $400 cartridge if purchased separately. The 9CC tonearm this table comes with is a $700 stand alone item. In fact, Oracle uses this tonearm on their 5K Paris model and I understand that Linn uses this same arm of some of their tables too. While all good, I really believe the RM5.1 SE is the best value in the Pro-ject lineup. Hope some of this helps.
I believe Pro-Ject falls under the Sumiko umbrella.
Vienna Acoustics, the Pear cartridge, Sonus Faber, all good stuff.
I use a Pro-Ject Wood with a Lyra Helikon and a Pro-Ject tube phono preamp right now and this combo is hard to beat for the money I have invested.
Notec could not be more wrong. Pro-Ject has manufactured some great analog gear in the past and from what I see lately looks like they still do.
I wonder what kind of table Notec owns?
Back to the post:
I've owned more than 15 tables in my 25+ years as a vinyl aficionado. In 25 years I have learned two things:
1. You don't have to spend lots of money to get it right.
2. Like a new car, you will end up trading, selling, or modifying your table/cart a few times before you get "the sound you're looking for" right.
I remember I owned a Pro-ject RPM 6.1 SB for about 2 years with great results. Bought it second hand for about $600.00. Great table for the money!
4.25 kg platter, brass record puck, inverted main bearing with ceramic thust-pad, integrated speed box, gold plated RCA phono sockets, 9"C carbon fibre tone-arm, even 78 speed switchable. It performed extremely well paired with a DV 10X5 and DV P-75 and gave me 2 years of happiness until the trade bug hit me.....again.
Now I'm a big fan of Rega new tables, specifically the RP3 which I find to be the "best bang for the buck" at $895.00 and with an upgradeable path.
Rega's philosophy of light and rigid makes a lot of sense. Always decent tables but now with the new double brace technology, 24V motor, and RB303 tone-arm it's (IMHO) in another league of its own.
I currently own a heavily modified RB3 that now its closer to RP8 standards and I can tell you that I have never been so happy with ANY other set-up, including the late and rather expensive Linn Sondek/Ekos/Akiva/Lingo/Linto.
There are MANY tables out there. Ultimately it boils down to taste and synergy.
The wall wart for the Xtension 10 has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of sonic reproduction. In fact, it keeps a noisy power supply AWAY FROM the tonearm wiring. That fact that it powers the equivalent of the Speed Box SE makes it a moot point: good, clean, steady power to the motor is what matters here. The wall wart is quite high quality, and a clever design which takes slide-in adapters for worldwide use. That and it apparently auto-senses or converts any worldwide voltage.
As for the plinth, I can assure you it's about as dead as it can get. It is filled with metal "sand" and is very substantial in mass. It's about as uncolored as I've ever heard a turntable get, at least in its price range.
Dave 72-I did a lot of research regarding affordable but true high-end decks. My research told me the Acoustic Signature-Challenger mk2 had the most potential but customer service issues made me shy away. I settled on a one owner Rega P9 due to the RB 1000 tonearm, which gives me the opportunity to upgrade to a first class cartridge. Hope you consider a used P9 because IMO you can't get better sound for around $2500.
I've heard the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon. At $399 it's crazy good.
I bought my first stereo in 1972. The Debut Carbon (with Ortofon 2M Red cartridge) at $399--adjusted for inflation--would have been $76.72 in 1972 money. Back then $76.72 would buy you a mid-pack Garrard with 10" aluminum platter, plastic base, and entry-level Grado cart. with conical stylus. If we'd have the Pro-ject Carbon by the mid-'80s, CD would never have overtaken LP.
$2500 can buy you a pretty sweet rig, but don't forget to factor in the cost of a good phono stage. If your budget is for table, arm and cart, now you should start to research phono preamps.
If you are just starting out with vinyl and do not have an existing collection, then there are many good budget units available. And BTW, keep in mind that the cart and phono stage need to be a good match.
I have the exact same turntable, but I've gotten significantly better performance out of it with some tweaks--the KAB tonearm fluid damper, a Sorbothane mat, tonearm wrapped in Teflon plumbers tape, an LPGear ZuPreme headshell, and a platform made of some gel pads, a heavy 3-1/2" thick maple butcher block, and some Vibrapod cones and pads. Here's a picture.
However, if you're considering the $2500-5K range, you can do better a couple of ways. One is to get an SME armboard for your Technics and mount an SME tonearm. Tone Publications did just that and the review is here starting on p. 15.
Another alternative is to go for one of the overachievers in your target price range. My nominees would be something from Well Tempered such as an Amadeus or Simplex, or the $3K-ish Townshend Audio Rock 7.
Ok, thanks again. Much appreciated. There's so many options in the $2500-$6k range, that it's a bit confusing to me. You have Avid, Clearaudio, Luxman, Nottingham, SME?, Transrotor, etc.
I personally like the Luxman out of those at the moment. It has the functionality of my Technics with better build and is belt drive.
I could change my mind, which I usually do, haha.
My phono stage is internal in the Bryston BP6 preamp. Bryston says it's broadcast quality...
I started with a Project Xpression, which I believe used to cost less than it does now, and I loved it.
I Just had one of the wood bodied Grado carts on it with the Grado phono pre....of course all of this snow balled into my currently $10kish Garrard 301 rig, but my little brother is still using my first project setup and I have to say I still like it.
It was just easy to listen to. Nothing super hifi about it but it still had good sound stage and with that cartridge combination it delivered warm natural sounding vocals, which for me is pretty important since I don't listen to a ton of instrumental records.
That being said I was not a fan of their pairing with the stock Blue Oyster cartridge, or whatever it was. That cartridge with the carbon fiber arm was a little harsh sounding and lacked body.
I'm a BIG fan of Rega tables and I cannot recommend the RP8 enough for $3,000.00 but I will throw in 3 other extremely reliable and well built brands/tables just for fun:
Acoustic Signature WOW for $1,600.00 w/out arm.
Well Tempered Amadeus for $2,850.00 w/arm.
Townshend Audio Rock 7 for $3,000.00 w/out arm.
The WOW is a "steal" at the selling price of $1,995.00 with a Rega 202 included. As I said, I'm a BIG fan of Rega products and, IMHO, Rega tonearms are amazing when you take price/performance into consideration:
The base is constructed of a MDF and acrylic sandwich with their proprietary Tidorfolon bearing and a 24 mm polished aluminum platter. The motor is fully separated from the plateau to minimize unwanted vibration. The major highlights of its design include:
same Tidorfolon Bearing design used in all Acoustic Signature turntables, with 10-year warranty;
same AC motor used in all Acoustic Signature models;
heavy 9 lb. CNC-machined platter with leather mat;
high gloss acrylic black or white finish and;
Rega 202 tone arm.
You get to choose white or black finish.
Now the Townshend Rock 7 is in another league of its own and you will be hard pressed to find a better sounding TT in its price range. Everytime I visit my friend Larry at Hollywood Sounds I have to listen to this table. To my ears, you will need to spend up to $10,000.00 to match the sound:
The Townshend turntables incorporates a unique approach to arm-damping, involving viscous damping at the front end of the arm, right next to the cartridge, using a distinctive damping trough.
The trough-damping gives a solidity to the sound that one seldom encounters in vinyl playback. The arm in the Well Tempered Amadeus, with its bearing via damping only, comes close.
The cartridge is supposed not to vibrate at at all, to sit still except for the motion needed to remain centered over the groove as the record plays.
So based on this unique approach, the tonearm is not as important, an old Rega RB250 will do justice just fine.
Caveat? Extremely fuzzy to set up but once its set up properly, satisfaction will be endless!
Hope this helps in your quest for the right TT for you.