"Beginner" audiophile Turntable for $200-$300?

I'm yet another "newbie" wanting to listen to my long-time stale album collection (primarily pop). I don't see myself being a tweaker, at least in the beginning - I just want a "plug & play" turntable, I suppose, for now. I just want to set it up and play my albums - but I do want the most accurate reproducibility of the information on my albums as I can get with $200-$300 (my budget, more or less).

It's the techie/perfectionist in me to make sure that I get a good deal (which means I can upgrade parts - rather than the whole thing...so that I could spread the costs across many paychecks ;-). This is how many of my other hobbies are (Ham Radio, PCs, etc.).

It would seem that if I only wanted "plug & play", and since I'm just a newbie in this, I would go with the less expensive Music Hall MMF-2.1 (which is NOT upgradeable). No one recommends the even less expensive Sony PS-LX350H (or anything from Sony) which is where I began my journey researching this topic. The MMF-2.1 seems to be THE entry-level/beginner audiophile turntable. But, based on reviews and posts, I'm worried about Music Hall's apparent lack of quality workmanship throughout; lack of a good manual (especially for a newbie that doesn't know how to properly setup a more "audiophile" like, manual turntable); and the fact that "just" another $100 (or so) would get me a much better sounding turntable (based on my research so far) that is at least somewhat upgradeable (NAD 533).

The reviews and posts on the NAD 533 are much better than for the MMF-2.1 - and I understand that the tone arm is "basically" a Rega RB-250. In deed, the entire turntable is OEM'd by Rega for NAD and is slightly different than a Rega P2. Based on reviews & posts, I also plan to upgrade to a better cartridge than the one that comes with the NAD 533 - but that's another $100! ARGGG!!!! Oh well, maybe later (I just want very good reproducibility - so I lean toward purchasing a new cartridge before I spend any effort on listening or transferring my album collection to CD - at least for in-car listening).

The VPI HW-19 Jr looks like the ultimate in upgradeability, especially in that it can be upgraded to a full-blown TNT Series 5! But, I cannot see paying $600/$650 (at the minimum, for a used one) right now.

So, I'm strongly leaning toward the NAD 533 for now!

I appreciate any suggestions/recommendations/feedback.


Can't go wrong with the MMF-2.1
Someone is selling two new ones on AudiogoN for $229.
They have decent resale value on eBay if you get the upgrade bug later.

But then, I am sure you'd also be happy with the NAD...
For maximum bang for the buck, you'd have to look at used equipment. The Nad 533 would be a good choice along with a P2 or even a Technics SL-1200. All of these can be had for around $200 used and all can be tweeked. One of the members here (member name 'Psychicanimal') reports good success with various tweeks on the 1200.

Of course, as an investment, you'd rarely, if ever, get anything more for upgrades and tweeks when you go to sell, so be careful about spending a ton of dough on tweeking.

If it were me, I'd hold off and get a used P3 for around $400 because of resale considerations, then start saving up for a mid-priced table. It would be less expensive and more satisfying in the long run.

I was in the same spot you are a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to decide between the mmf5 or the NAD533. At www.saturdayaudio.com they were running a special on the NAD533. I think it's about $360 plus shipping. I ended up with a Rega P2 and I'm very pleased with it. Have fun!
Wait and save your money until you can afford the Rega Planar 3. You should be able to find a used one for 350-450 dollars. For its asking or used price, there is no better table. The Rega will give you a real sampling of what a real high-end turntable can do. All you need now is a good MC cartridge. AT OC9 is cheap and an excellent performer. Used Benz Gliders and Sumiko Blue Point Specials are also good bargains. Let me tell you that if you skimp now, you'll regret it later; because once you've heard how good analog is, you'll end up upgrading anyway.

Good Luck!
All good advice, but don't forget the phono stage / section... just like a poor cartridge, a mediocre phonostage can completely hide the highest talents of even the lowest of introductory audiophile 'tables.
I think he asked for "plug and play" solutions. It can be a lot of work buying various separate parts, and then mounting and aligning the arm, cartridge, etc..; for a beginner it's maybe too much....
Listen to Aisip and spend the money now rather than playing the upgrade game and losing a bunch of money in the process; after going around with used vintage Jap turntables I bought a new Audio Note TT1 with Audio Note ARM2 and am looking for a cartridge now. A VPI Scout jr with RB250 is might attractive and will satisfy you for many, many moons.
I tend to agree with Sugarbrie. I could be misreading him, but Wes does not sound like the kinda guy who's quite ready to be playing with VTA adjustments. (And there's nothing wrong with that--we all started that way!) While upgrades can be an economical route, they also require a certain amount of hands-on tinkering.

So my suggestion, Wes, would be to go with a new unit that comes all set up, and then save up for a better rig while working your way up the learning curve. The Music Hall 2.1 would qualify. An alternative would be a Technics table with a p-mount cartridge, which is as easy a set-up as you can get. That way, you'll get to listen to your LPs now with minimal hassle, and look forward to something better down the line.
I thank everyone for their suggestions/recommendations!

Bomarc, you think it would be ok to get a low-end Techniques turntable with a p-mount cartridge? You don't think this might "damage" my albums?

Here are the one's I've seen at Crutchfield (the Technics SL-BD20D or the Technics SL-BD22):


If anything, after performing some early research, I was leaning toward the Sony PS-LX350H or the Music Hall MMF-2.1 (since they both had similar mid-fi like features). I was thinking about getting the less expensive Sony (I can find it for $180 new) and maybe getting a much better cartidge - like the Audio-Technica AT440ML moving magnet phono cartridge that Crutchfield lists as an accessory to the Sony PS-LX350H here:


I was hoping that would bring the quality of the Sony closer to (or better than) the Music Hall MMF-2.1 with it's default cartridge.

One thing that does bother me though is the reported numbers for wow & flutter of the Sony vs. even the cheapest turntable at Crutchfield (the Sony's is the worst!). But, I was told, by some audiophiles on another message board, that the Sony (didn't mention the Technics at the time) would further damage my albums (being a cheaply made turntable for the masses), as I assume both models of the Technics are (even more so since they are more "automatic" than the Sony, with none of the adjustment capabilities of the Sony...much less the Music Hall).

So, should I buy the...

Technics SL-BD20D
Technics SL-BD22
Sony PS-LX350H
Music Hall MMF-2.1
...and what about that Audio-Technica AT440ML phono cartridge (or something similar)?

Thanks, I really appreciate the assistance!

If your really looking at saving some money and want a plug and play go to Audio Advisor, they have Music Hall MMF-1 for $179.00. Thats what I did for an entry level table. Haven't had any problems yet.
Wes: No, a cheap turntable will not damage your LPs. What will damage your LPs is a cartridge that requires a high tracking force. I'd stay away from any cartridge whose maximum recommended tracking force exceeds 2 grams. But p-mount carts track at 2 grams, if I'm not mistaken, so your records should be fine.

I also wouldn't buy a table with a no-name cartridge, like the Sony. And upgrading the Sony means dealing with a standard-mount cartridge. Welcome to the finicky perfectionist side of audiophilia! (It's quite doable, but you have to learn how to do it.) By contrast, the p-mount on the Technics (I'd go for the better one) really is plug-and-play.

The Music Hall 1 that Dbx mentions takes a proprietary cartridge. You can't upgrade it. If Music Hall goes under two years from now, you'll probably be able to get replacement styli for it, but there are no guarantees.

Finally, take all specs with a grain of salt. Sony's numbers may be worse because they're worse, or they may be worse because they measured more "conservatively," shall we say.

Can't tell you what to buy. You've got to decide how to weigh:
--ease of set-up
--ease of upgradability
--build quality
--brand reputation
Dbx & Bomarc,

Thank you both very much!

Well, Bomarc, based on the criteria that you have stated:

--price (The MMF-1/2.1 wins here, although if I looked hard enough, I could probably get a NAD 533 [used/demo/other] that would narrow this gap - for a turntable with much better performance, upgradeability, etc. --> MMF-1/2.1)

--ease of set-up (The Music Halls and the NAD are probably very similar here, both are between "plug & play" and "tinker". But, based on reviews, the manual that comes with the MMF-2.1 leaves much to be desired [especially for a "newbie" like myself]. --> NAD 533)

--ease of upgradeability (Here, based on my research, the NAD 533 wins hands down! --> NAD 533)

--build quality (Again, one of the most disturbing trends in the many reviews/posts that I've read about all of the Music Hall's is their "lack" of quality of workmanship. --> NAD 533)

--brand reputation (Some have stated and/or heard bad things about the Music Halls, whereas the many more reviews/posts about the NAD 533 are much more favorable, and more consistently so. --> NAD 533)

...I would have to pretty overwhelmingly put my money on the NAD 533.

My only other perfectionist "potential" issue with this decision is the fact that the MMF-2.1 has a VTA adjustment whereas the great Rega OEM'd RB-250 tone arm on the NAD 533 doesn't...should I be concerned about this?


Wes- Please let us know what comprises rest of your system. Also, what kind of phono pre are you going to be using?

As you can read in the specs, the Technics 22 is a Frequency Generator (FG) Servo Belt drive. It is a FAR better motor than any of the other TTs have. Also, that Technics model has a decent suspension and arm. It should outperform all the other TTs and some even more expensive ones (2-3X more).

Now, Crutchfield seems like an expensive place to buy that unit, I'd say...
If price is a big concern, the Music Hall MMF 2 has a lot going for it. It's supposed to be quite decent, and it can support better cartridges later on.

However, the NAD 533 would probably be a big step up. The lack of VTA on the NAD 533 isn't that big an issue. It should work fine with the cartridge provided. If you change later, there are various methods of adding adjustable VTA to Rega arms that should work on the NAD 533 (at least as far as I know). The arm should also work on another turntable, if you decide to upgrade later on. And, since the 533 is really a Rega P2, Rega P2 tweaks should work on it.

Another option might be a Music Hall MMF 5, although a used MMF 5 would be a bit out of your range. But, I've heard a lot of good things about the MMF 5.

I have had no experience with Technics. But, there are some practical things to keep in mind about a p-mount Technics. First, it might be hard to sell a used p-mount Technics later on. Secondly, there aren't as many p-mount cartridges available as standard 1/2" mount. Finally, p-mount cartridge arms (at least the ones I've seen) don't allow you to make adjustments. Some adjustments (like tracking force) are easy, and can make a very big difference. Personally, if I was interested in Technics, I'd jump to a higher model.
The Moth alamo is similar to a NAD 533. They come up on this site from time to time. Made by Rega.
JC is right about the non-adjustability of p-mount arms. That's the whole idea, in fact. Every p-mount cartridge is made to the same weight (part of the standard), so you'll get the same tracking force whichever p-mount cartridge you use. It's simple, which is its virtue. Sucks all the fun out, of course, and you can't decide to experiment with an extra quarter-gram, up or down.

If resale value matters, Technics is definitely not the way to go, as JC says. I wouldn't go to a higher model Technics, either, the MH and NAD options are much more appealing.
I appreciate the feedback everyone.

Jimbo3, I was afraid this would come up eventually. Afraid because I have what would no doubt be considered a "low-fi" Kenwood system (made for the masses). It's a fairly basic Kenwood A/V integrated receiver that cost about $350 6 years ago and only has Dolby Pro Logic (at the time Dolby Digital was way too expensive for me).

I understand that both Music Halls and the NAD are much higher grade ("mid-fi"?) than my entire system, currently. But, I didn't want to play the upgrade game (losing even more money) with every component in my system and another turntable. I am fully prepared to wait a bit longer in order to save up a little extra now for a better turntable. So that I can enjoy it longer before upgrading it again in the near future (like I will have to do for the rest of my A/V components, already).

My current A/V Receiver DOES have phono inputs, but probably not on par with what either the Music Halls or the NAD can produce. This leads me to a question, if I were to upgrade my phono stage (isn't that what we're talking about here?) to say a PP-1 Phono Preamplifier for example, do I then simply plug its output into one of my Receiver's AUX inputs (standard RCA jacks)?



Do I understand you properly...are you saying that, at least in your opinion, the Technics SL-BD22 is a better turntable than both the MMF-2.1 and the NAD 533?

Also, I don't buy much from Crutchfield - I just use them as a source of information (a starting point). I can almost always find the same product cheaper elsewhere (especially online!).


After re-reading your post about Sony vs. the Technics, when you said the following:

"I also wouldn't buy a table with a no-name cartridge, like the Sony. And upgrading the Sony means dealing with a standard-mount cartridge. Welcome to the finicky perfectionist side of audiophilia! (It's quite doable, but you have to learn how to do it.) By contrast, the p-mount on the Technics (I'd go for the better one) really is plug-and-play."

Are you then saying that changing a standard-mount cartridge (which the Music Halls and the NAD have, don't they?) is fairly complex (at least for a "newbie")?

If this is what you were saying, then I agree with both you and Psychicanimal that I should start out with the ease and "plug & play" of the Technics turntables (and their p-mounts). And see if I think I want to be a "tweaker" audiophile in the future (and hence upgrade to a more "standard" audiophile turntable, which will be more complex). I really don't care about resale value. Heck, I might even give it away to a friend...if I even upgrade at all.

Maybe I should do some more thinking about this...

Wes- Fear not!! You're system is light years ahead of my first system. Most of us have been where you are. Haven't looked lately, but Kenwood used to be pretty good sounding gear for the dollar- much better than most of the other mass marketed brands. Reminiscing for a second, I used to have a Kenwood 40 wpc integrated amp which blew the socks off a friend's 120 wpc Pioneer recvr.

Given your system and assuming that you plan to upgrade other components along the way, I'd stick with my original suggestion of a used P3, especially if you can find one with the Rega cartridge included. (No fussing with VTA or alignment as it's virtually fixed in the correct place.) For an extra $150 now, it would leave you free to upgrade other components a step or two and not be compelled to upgrade the table to take advantage of those components.

To answer your question about hooking up an outboard phono pre, you are correct- you plug it into "AUX".

A potential sytem upgrade path for your situation would be to then use the Kenwood's pre/pro output to a separate amp, then get an outboard phono amp and a cartridge upgrade. You didn't mention what speakers you had, but, after the amp, you might dive into a pair of main speakers. Then you could sell the Kenwood and pick up a separate pre/pro.

Speaking from experience, making one bigger step with each component is easier and much less expensive than making several 1/2 steps. You'll reach your goal quicker, easier and far less expensively. Plus, as you upgrade other components, you can immediately take advantage of the better quality you have already purchased along the way. The basic lesson is to PLAN and TAKE YOUR TIME! (Heck, up till a couple of weeks ago, my speakers were only less than 10% of the cost of my system and worked fine till I finally upgraded them two years after upgrading everything else!)


Well, I have 6 (probably low- or mid-fi) Infiniti speakers. The usual for Home Theater (my primary reason for purchasing my system, at the time)...2 fronts, 2 rears, center, and a powered Infiniti subwoofer. Not bad, but I would guess it would make most people who post on this forum laugh. ;-)

Well, I definitely am taking my time to plan. Dude, I'm a perfectionist...it's one of the things that I do best! ;-) This is why I'm posting such a question on a few message forums and doing research...probably over-analysis (again, one of the things I do best ;-).

I'm just trying to make sure that spending even $200 makes sense for "just a turntable"...much less $400+ - especially for a "newbie". If I get close enough to that $600 figure, I will have to wait and save just a little bit more and go the VPI HW-19 Jr. route...it just sounds like the way to go at that price point.

Funny enough, in doing a little more research on the Technics SL-BD22, one reviewer at Epinions.com had some quality issues with his and replaced it with a NAD 533 - which he said was a "major improvement!". :-)

Thank you very much for sticking with me and helping me (indecisive and all) to make this all important decision (at least to my pocketbook ;-).

Wes: Just about any table that comes "with" a cartridge will come with it mounted properly (or at least reasonably properly). So if you buy a new NAD or MH, you don't have to worry about cartridge mounting until you are ready to upgrade the cart. If you buy used, and the table doesn't come with the original cart still in place, you'll have to check the alignment (or trust that the seller knew what he was doing).

As for Psychic's claim, it's a bit outre in these parts, but not implausible. Technics has been making turntables for decades--pretty good ones, though lacking in high-end appeal--and as a large company it enjoys the benefits of economies of scale. It's a bit of an audiophile conceit that the little guys always make better product. This is often true, but certainly not universal. And you yourself have noted some Internet comments about the MH's build quality.
Wes- The HW-19 Jr is a fine table. The plinth and motor is probably better than the P3, but most of the arms that were mounted to the Jr were considerably less than the RB-300 found on the P3. On balance, they are about equivalent, IMHO. Upgrading the Jr, just like upgrading most things, is a fairly expensive route. If your decision comes down to those two tables, I'd ask around about comparing the two before leaping. I'd tend to believe that the P3 might be more bang for the buck in used equipment, but don't have first-hand experience.

I think you'd be surprised what your Infinities would sound like with a nice amp and a good source signal, be it analog or digital. When/if it comes time, a pair of main speakers could replace your left and right speakers for both audio and HT and keep the other speakers for HT.

BTW- Darn few on this forum even think about snickering at someone else's system. Virtually all have started out looking forward to upgrading to what you now have. This generally isn't a "keep up with the Jones'" crowd, so don't concern yourself with that.

Well, given all that...this puts me back into my original position - leaning toward the NAD 533 (or the MMF-2.1, if I just can't wait or justify the added cost).

Jim, I am more inclined to go with a "new" turntable for the reason brought up by Bomarc, it would already be setup correctly (or closer than I could/would be willing to do at this point). So, while I understand what you are saying about the Rega P3 (and I do understand that it would be an upgrade to the NAD 533, since it's base on the P2), I want that "plug & play" for now. I can tweak later (if the urge arises).

Bomarc, I was just stating that about what you said with respect to standard vs. p-mount because based on most reviews of all of these turntables, everyone saw the cartridge that ships with them to be the weak point in the system and replaced/upgraded them immediately. I would be inclined to do the same, being the perfectionist that I am, now that I know this to be the case.

BTW- Darn few on this forum even think about snickering at someone else's system. Virtually all have started out looking forward to upgrading to what you now have. This generally isn't a "keep up with the Jones'" crowd, so don't concern yourself with that.

This is a surprising statement. Thanks for the info, that (and this exchange) alone will keep bringing me back to this site and forums!

Thanks again, ya'll (yep, I'm a Texan...if it wasn't already obvious ;-)!

Wes- I'm in San Antonio just north of the airport. If you're in the area, c'mon over.

Wes: Audiophiles are a finicky lot, and they like to play. So of course the first thing they want to do when they get a new table is to change the cartridge! It's the quickest way to make a meaningful improvement. But the Goldring Elan (which I think comes with the MH 2.1) is a long-time budget cartridge favorite, and the Elektra on the NAD is a step up from that. Either is as good as or better than most p-mounts, at least in your price range.

I've got a NAD with the original cartridge, and it's quite good. Had I the money and the vinyl collection to justify it, I know I could do a lot better, but it's good enough for those times when I want to listen to an oldie.
Wes, the same offer from me as from Jimbo.

If you are near Dallas or travel brings you through here, give me a call. You are welcome to join our group of music lovers for an evening of food and good tunes.
Wes- If your looking for new, the P2, NAD 533 and Moth Alamo are all essentially the same thing and are probably the biggest bang for the buck. Any of them would keep up with your system if/when you upgrade other components. If you should consider purchasing used equipment, I've had nothing but great experiences buying from folks here on A'gon- it's definately WAY better than dealing through that large E auction company. (You know the one.)

If you get a chance, by all means, take Albert up on his kind offer- it's a great group of folks and a very pleasant way to spend a Tuesday evening.

I'm in the exact same boat as Jim with the same hesitations and budget. What about the Regas running 1% fast? How does that affect the sound? What about the MH 2.1's arm, I know it can't compare to the rega's, but again how does that affect the sound? Last question, will I be able to just sit back and enjoy the music or will motor rumble and budget cartridge really detract from the sound? These are all concerns Ive seen posted on this site and others like it.I want to get into vinyl, to discover music thats out of print. I want it to equal or better my cd setup. Cuz thats what it comes down to, the music coming through right?
Wes, I was very clear about the SL-BD22. Kevin Barrett of KAB electroacoustics has told me it should be up there with anything up to $700 retail. Read the ongoing thread about turntable power supplies and you'll understand better. Speed and rotational stability is crucial. The BD22 has a *frequency generator servo*. Its speed will be more accurate that that of its competitors.
Again, thank you everyone for your assistance and kindness!

Jim, I appreciate the offer. If/when I make it down to San Antonio again, I might just take you up on your kind offer! ;-) Based on the assistance I've gotten from this message forum already, I would probably come here first for used equipment. For now, I'm just afraid of what I might get (without the proper knowledge) in the used equipment arena...especially since I'm just an analog/turntable beginner (including proper tweaking knowledge). ;-)

Albertporter, I live in the DFW area (south of Dallas, for now) - so I might just take you up on your offer. Something I have been looking for, unsuccessfully (albeit, I haven't really tried that hard as of yet), is a local store that carries turntables so that I might be able to listen to some of the turntables that I've got on my list ("beginner" audiophile) - to help me decide (and to possibly purchase from locally, and learn more from, etc. ;-).

Psychicanimal, well you don't have to get "snippy" (sp?) about it! I was honestly asking the question of you. But, since the sound coming from the turntable is more important than specs alone, it's interesting that, as I posted earlier, a reveiwer at epinions.com posted that after replacing his Technics SL-BD22 with a NAD 533 (which costs ~$400 new), it was a "major improvement!". Now I'm assuming he means in sound quality. :-)


Wes, Im in the same boat you are and still none of the very pertinent questions I asked above have been answered. Oh well so much for help. I might go pick up an MMF 5 tomorrow because no one in NYC has an mmf 2.1 in stock, its also a better TT . Oh well again.
Bundee- I wasn't aware that Rega's ran 1% fast. Mine ran at the correct speed. If a table did run 1% fast, the sound would be pitched ever-so-slightly higher.

Better quality arms will improve soundstage, background quietness, dynamics, distortion, and retrieve more music information.

With a reasonably good table and cartridge set up properly (i.e. stable, level, aligned, tracking force) you should be able to sit back and enjoy with no problem. Without knowing what the rest of your system is or your plan or budget, it would be difficult to suggest tables, but I think that the biggest bang for the buck for most to get started in analog would be in the $400 to $700 (retail)range for the table & arm and around $300 to $500 (retail) for the cartridge . Good combos can be had for around $5-600.

Bundee, it sounds like you've done a fair amount of homework, so the most important thing to do is to get started! Get a good clean record and take it to NYC to try a few tables and decide!!

Thanks for helping out Jimbo3. They compared 3 tables in Stereophile, one of them was a Rega P3 that ran 1% fast. Thats the only thing holding me back from a used Rega. I know the Music Halls arent built as well as the Regas but they do run at the correct speed and are about $200 cheaper. Im like WES, caught between simplicity(realistically I'll probably only listen to records once a week) and better quality/tweakability (If I like the sound I will probably want to upgrade immediately). My system is in my profile. Thanks again for the help and thanks for starting this thread WES.
Bundee- Seeing how, if it turns out you like analog, you'd probably upgrade immediately, why not jump into a used P3 or one of the better Music Halls (also used)? Either of these would give you a fairly accurate portrail of the analog experience and, if you don't care for analog or would like to upgrade, you could sell it very readily for about what you paid. Looking at your system, either of those tables would fit in nicely. You might run the risk of being disappointed with something less, plus you could look at other areas to upgrade before changing out the table.

Separately, perhaps the one P3 that Stereophile tested just happened to be a little off-speed? What other table did they test and what were their findings?

Hi Bundeel,

Glad to be of service...I hope this post (and my indecision) can be of help to others who are new to analog, like me.

I have also seen that the Regas run 1% fast, but based on my research that is far outweighed by the fact that:
1) The Regas/NAD have gotten much better reviews than the Music Halls (based on my research - check out the reviews of all of them on AudioReview.com).
2) The Regas/NAD are much more upgradeable (again, this appeals to me)
3) The tonearm of the Regas/NAD are considered some of the best, and are used on many other turntables. They are often used when upgrading one's turntable to a better one.
4) The poor quality of manufacturing/workmanship of the Music Halls (I've read how many state that the wiring falls off of the headshell when changing the cartridge - the first time! and other issues).
5) The manuals that come with the Music Halls are that good, it would seem - especially someone new to analog/tweaking/setup - that they don't assist well enough in the setup of all the adjustments.

This is still why I can't seem to bring myself to spend $260 on what is considered by many THE entry-level, "beginner" audiophile turntable...the Music Hall MMF-2.1. Instead, I'm strongly leaning toward the $370 NAD 533, which is actually more of a competitor to the MMF-5...I believe (or at least in between the MMF-2.1 and the MMF-5).

Just my $.02!

$450 will get you a brand new 1200. It is a far better deck than the glass and particle board bunch. Besides, it it upgradeable.

I just talked yesterday to an audio industry personality. She told me she has two TTs: a Basis and a modded 1200 w/ an SME arm. There's some serious people out there using modded 1200, yours truly included.
I just picked up an mmf 2.1 today but havent opened it yet. I got a good deal from my usual dealer (Sound by Singer). Even though my regular salesman just left on an installation call, they were able to reach him to ok my usual deal with him. Thats nice service. Aside from being my regular place to shop, they were the only place in NYC with the 2.1 in stock. Lucky me. Im so excited about setting it up and scouring the city for vinyl. I got a good enough deal, where if I want to sell it in the next year, I wont lose too much dough. Thanks for all the help guys Ill post a short review when I get it setup and run in.

You asked me to comment on your consideration of a Technics BD20 vs. VPI, as I purchased VPI to move away from the same Technics. Here's my comments:

Disclaimer: Many here on Audiogon have been involved longer and to much deeper degrees in this sport than I (and some are dealers, resellers and manufacturers), so the most I can offer is anecdotal comments based upon my own limited experience. Also, realize I am a recording and performing musician, and my needs and priorities may be in some ways atypical compared to yours (as well as other non-musician audiophiles).

All that being said, my story: I had for many years resigned myself to the compromise that the only place I would enjoy accurate, musically rich reproduction was in the recording studio. I had never had a stereo that approached the level of resolution and detail that is a given in the studios I had worked at. My stereo (a wedding present) at that time consisted of Infinity monitors, Yamaha receiver, Kenwood cassette deck and Technics BD20 'table. Your basic Good Guys starter system.

I got into hi end by accident, after stumbling into a stereo store while window shopping. I was attracted to the beautiful tube amps in the window. That's when I first heard Magnepan 3.6 speakers, which was a musical (and I emphasize MUSICAL rather than technical) experience I hadn't had before, not even with typical studio playback systems (you other recording musicians will realize why).

So I eventually purchased a used pair of Maggies right here on Audiogon. But my Yamaha was far outclassed and underpowered to drive them. That led to a used Plinius 8200 integrated. Which proved so revealing compared to the Yamaha that it led to complete dissatisfaction with the Technics. (I bet this sounds depressingly familiar to a lot of you....)

At this point my wallet was weeping but my ears were ecstatic. So I came here to the Audiogon Analog Forum for advice. I asked the same kind of question you asked, as countless other threads here have asked, and received the same advice I noted on the other thread you saw...the Music Hall and Rega are good 'tables, but the VPI gives you an upgrade path.

You may not think you're a tweaker now, but my money is riding on you getting the itch after you get into this sport.

So I gotta tell you, the VPI is, IMHO, in a completely different class than the Technics. For me, it's an order of magnitude kind of difference - apples and oranges. So I would suggest you save for a while and go VPI.

Now, I haven't listened to ANY of the other 'entry' tables recommended here. I took a leap of faith based upon the advice here on the forum, and was rewarded greatly.

Also, your mileage may vary:

1) Only you know what you can really afford
2) The rest of your system may not reveal the differences in sources as much as mine did
3) Your listening habits and tendencies are unique to you. I listen as a recording musician; you may not. My choices of genres is extremely eclectic. I have certain timbral expectations from particular instruments because I play them or have played with them for years. I typically listen at near live performance sound pressure levels. I have a large listening room with a vaulted ceiling. Most importantly, my wife of 17 years understands what it means to live with a musician (and my two sons both play instruments as well).

None of this is intended to elevate my expectations over yours or anyone else's...my system is most certainly pedestrian compared to many other's. It cost me what I feel is an exorbitant amount of money; others have paid twice as much or more for one monoblock. Others are far more particular about soundstage, imaging, etc., etc.

All to say I don't know if my comments really help you much in the end. I would wholeheartedly recommend saving and waiting for the VPI instead of buying the Technics now, but all the caveats above should carry far more weight for you than what I can offer.

Hope this helps you to some degree, and let us all know what you decide to do.


I have a simple question for you... I have 2 turntables in the house (one was my wife's before we got married, the other was mine). One is a Technics SL-QD35 direct drive, and one is a Technics SL-BD22 belt drive.

I know both are cheap, low-end models, but which is the better of the two turntables? Since I can't afford a new TT at this point, my plan is to put a Grado Prestige Blue in one of these... I just need to know which one is the better choice. I want to squeeze as much quality out of it as I can.

Thanks for the advice,

(If it helps to know, the other pieces of the puzzle are a Parasound PHP-850 into a pair of Wave AV8 mono blocks and B&W DM-302 speakers. Not exactly "audiophile", but better-than-average-Joe, I hope.)
High end is who you are, not what you buy.
Be that as it may... which of these turntables is the better choice?
Hi Brad- You might be better off starting another thread to pose your question. This thread has pretty much run it's course and a carefully worded title on a new thread will attract the attention of those who may know of your two tables.

On the other hand, you could try your cart on both tables and see which one you like better! If you don't have an alignment protractor, now is the time to get one. a basic one costs about $5-10.


A basic protractor is free.
Thanks for the suggestions, Jim. I usually feel that people start too many superfluous threads when an existing one will do fine, so I thought I'd post here & perhaps revive it a bit.

I'm going to sound very naive here, but I have no idea what an alignment protractor is or how to use it. I'm 39, been collecting albums (first LP's, then CD's) for YEARS and worked in a record store in my youth, but I've NEVER aligned anything on a turntable. HELP! Can anyone point me to the proper instructions on what to do?

Back to the turntable question... I *have* tried to compare both turntables with the same cartridge (not a Grado, but with a pretty decent Shure) and I can't tell much difference in the sound. I guess my ears just aren't "articulate" enough yet.

So, I'd love to hear opinions & suggestions from everyone here. Which turntable sounds "better" to YOUR ears? Which technology is better? Which is more reliable?

Again, my guess is both are fairly close, but if these were your only choices, which would you pick?

Brad- Go to for an idea of what an alignment protractor is/does and how to use it. You'll alo need a good level (the one in your toolbox will do just fine) and the stylus force gauge (the dial force adjuster on the tonearm is usually not very accurate). I got a basic laminated protractor from the folks at Well Tempered Labs for around $6. Protractors that you print from a wedsite are usually not accurate due to various distortions (no such thing as "perfect protractors forever" in the digital domain!), so let loose of a couple of bucks.

Please do try to start a new thread- you'll have an infinitely better chance of finding someone who knows about your tables with an appropriately-titled thread.
I suspect that there probably isn't too much difference between the two.

Brad- sorry, this site seemed to block out the web address of the site I was directing you to. Let's try it again-

Go to turntablebasics dot com.

I'll help you out there, Jimbo.
Here's the link