Ready to try vinyl

I would like to buy a turntable just to see what all the fuss is about. Since I remember the pops and scratches all too well, I do not want to spend alot just to satisfy my curiosity. I want a turntable that is capable of giving me a "taste" of what the vinyl sound is all about without going overboard. I can always upgrade if I like what I hear. I would also like to avoid deciding against vinyl because the turntable was not capable of capturing at least the basics. What turntables should I be looking at and how much should I spend? I would prefer to buy used due to the experimental nature of this adventure. Current gear is Sunfire processor with phono input, a pair of Classe M 701's, and B&W 800N. I am relying on your responses since I don't know squat. Thanks for your help.
rega planar 3 and a dynavector 10x5 cartridge
First off, it's good to rely on others responses (actually...ignore everyone elses except mine...j/k) and to read reviews of the products they recommend, but if you're willing to take the plunge into vinyl then you should do yourself the favor of at least buying a few good quality records in good condition (doesn't have to be 180 gram vinyl but it doesn't hurt) and auditioning some tables yourself. Take advantage of places like that offer 30 refunds, that way you can get an idea of different tables in different price classes. I have a music hall MMF-7 which I love (you can get these used, but the price is still about 700, which you can find for new decks if you're enterprising) but will sell at some point to get a VPI Aries 2 (or Scoutmaster...recommendations anyone?). How much you should spend depends on how much you like listening to music, and how much money you're willing to fork over, which really only you can answer. I think the MMF-7 is a good bet because it's good enough that you can put off upgrading immediately, but still leaves room for you to throw your money away on other expensive tables later, which is really what it's all about, right? Actually, even if you're not thinking of becomming an addict, then this is a very satisfying turntable with great sound, and nice looks to boot. I'm sure other (and more knowledgable) members have different recs.

have fun.
Oops, my amps are Classe M 700....not 701.....I suppose everyone knew that but me!
Mimberman......Thanks for your advise. I did not know there were different kinds of vinyl (180 gram??). I do have about 100 old records that were given to me. I have never heard them. Probably not good to play on a new turntable. So, my next question....where do you buy vinyl records these days? I feel the beginnings of a new addiction rumbling from within. All of you enablers should be ashamed of yourselves! that advise coming!
Well, now you're really screwed. If you think the tables ar expensive, just wait till you start buying software. hopefully a lot of other people will pick up on this thread because while I know a thing or two, this site is awash with some truly knowledgable vinyl addicts who have all sorts of amazing tips (many of which you can find by looking through old discussion posts or reviews). If you're buying vinyl online (which is still second in my opinion to hunting it down in a store where you can listen to it...but not everyone has Academy Vinyl, god bless them) then there are a ton of sites (do a google search and see what happens. Two of the sites I use are:


BTW, 180 gram obviously refers to the weight, and you get even heavier...tracks better, probably less succeptible to warping, etc. When you hold a 200 gram in your hands you realize how wimpy your old lps feel. Anywho, like I said I'm no expert, and this is all a starting point. If you're going to buy a turntable though you'll not want to be ruining your new cartridge by playing dirty, warped, staticky old records on it. My suggestion, buy a few titles you know well that you can pick up new or in very good condition, buy a table from a place that has a 30 day return policy, and see if you like the format first before comitting any serious money. Some people find it a hassle performing the vinyl ritual when they want to listen to music (and belive me, between all the wiping, dusting, cleaning, etc, it can be arduous) but this isn't for the instant gratification type anyways, since searching out the media can be a challenge alone.
woops, while I love amusicdirect, the other site should have been.

happy hunting
Regardless of the TT you decide upon, make sure you have a good vinyl cleaning system....I would recommend a vacuum record cleaner like the basic Nitty Gritty. Clean records make a huge difference....and you don't ruin your cartridge.

I started with a VPI Scout, Dynavector 10x5, and a Nitty Gritty machine. Have since upgraded to the Scoutmaster, and as money allows, will be working my way to Nirvana (not the band).

Good Luck.
What is going overboard?
First I'd like to reiterate the suggestion of testing the waters with new or very clean LP's. Good condition, properly cleaned vinyl is very quiet. Listen to some LP's of music that you are very familiar with, of course.

As a first step, try to do some auditioning at a dealer. I'd recommend doing some listening on tables that would be within your individual budget. If that gets the juices flowing, take a "reasonable" plunge back into the analog waters. You can achieve some very good LP playback for $1200-2000. Have your dealer set the table up for you ( showing you how, of course). Put it on a level, isolated surface, and enjoy the music.

I re-entered the analog world about 4-5 years ago via a Rega P25 and Grado Ref. Platinum cartridge. When the Platinum is ready for replacement, I'll move up the line a step or two. The table, cartridge, and basic Nitty Gritty cleaner set me back $1,700. I've gotten my dollars' worth many times over.
You can get more than acceptable results without a record cleaning machine. Take a look at "Last Record Products"; I use their stuff now and no machine; just a supplied little plastic wipe thing with soft material on it works great.

I spoke to Nick Gowan of Truesound about record cleaning machines. His thought was that unless I was ready to pop for the very expensive, and large, Clearaudio unit I should go with the Last Record cleaning products. Save the money and buy some records.

Nick handles Audio Note (UK and Kondo) and has been doing this for over 20 years and I put his advice in the bank. He has never steered me wrong.
For the TT, arm, cart, and accessories, I reckon around $2500 for a rig that doesn't have large drawbacks relative to cd playback.
I to recently returned to vinyl and after lots of questons bought a VPI SCOUT with a Dynavector 20 high output cart.
ALL THE ABOVE ADVICE ON CLEAN VINYL is very important and makes a big difference in overall sound quality. So keep a portion of your budget for a record cleaner and fluid.
I am enough of a rookie that I have picked up some tips just reading through this thread. But I would second the vote for the MMF-7. They do show up hear from time to time for $6-750. It is a great entry level table that you will be able to live with for a while to make up your mind about joining the cult. If you decide otherwise, you can resell it for probably the same price. If you do grow to like it, you may want to trade up to something that allows the tweaking and modding. Or you could be just as happy continuing to enjoy the MH.

Good luck.
Understand that you must drop a bit of cash to get a turntable that will do the trick. The Rega 3 with a Dynavector was an excellent suggestion. Matching a TT and tone arm is a lot like matching amplifiers to speakers. A definite synergy is called for and deserves good research. There are so many ways to go and most of it all comes down to how much cash you are able spend on this venture.
If you buy something of quality used chances are you will not loose too much in the case that you fall in love with analog but want to move upscale. Considering the relative quality of what your other equipment is you might look at lending a TT from a dealer in the range that you ultimately would be willing to invest. The benefit here is that you get some support and at “no obligation” get to try some things and in the end you don’t undersell yourself on the analog and then walk away dissatisfied.
Understand where I’m coming from. I have had a Linn Sondek Lp12 with a Linn Ittok LVII tone arm since 1983 and have had nothing but excellent analog performance with little interest in changing decks. I have done a number of upgrades to the table over the years and imo it has kept it competitive. Are there better tables out now? Sure, I guess. Do I care? Not in the least.
Bottom line is I find vinyl superior in many ways and so do a lot of other A’goners. I would hate to see you miss out. As for the answer to your question… there are so many good or even great choices. It is going to take some looking and listening around on your part and a dollar figure in mind before you should jump imo. Best of luck. Enjoy!
If it were me, looking back I would get the VPI Scout (I didn't have the money at the time, so it wasn't a possiblity) because it's something which you can upgrade if you choose (scoutmaster...superscoutmaster, etc.), but is truly stellar in its stock form. Don't get me wrong, I love my MMF-7 and you wouldn't at all be sorry buying one, but if you _do_ have the cash to spend and _do_ decide you wan't to get into vinyl (which is a decision that shouldn't be taking lightly, otherwise you have a very expensive paper weight on your hands, not to mention a hundred or so expensive frisbees) then I think the Scout has great longevity than the MMF-7. And all this coming from an MMF-7 owner. Anyways, I'm sure people are sick of my terribly long-winded and tri-fold resonses.

Wow, Nick Gowan at Truesound eh? Basically dismisses the usefulness of RCMs (almost specifically VPI and Nitty Gritty) overall but then endorses an expensive Clearaudio? Any agenda there? Glad he doesn't steer his customers wrong.
Music Hall MMF-7. Get a used one. Enjoy....................
Thank you one and all. You have all been extremely helpful.
What I have learned so far.....price of a quality mid level TT.....about 2000.00.....advise on Audiogon......priceless!
I am looking at the recommended TT's and trying to decide new or used. Which brings me to one last concern....are the stylus and the cartridge one and the same? Can you replace one without replacing the other? How often do these items get replaced due to wear?( let's say listening on average 10 hours per week) I would not want to buy a used TT and then have to buy new stuff just to make it sound like it is supposed to. Seems to make a good case for buying new. Waddya think?
Well, since you're just getting into this I agree that you probably want to buy a rig with a working cartridge that's already set up, that way you don't have to do all the mounting and aligning yourself. The cartridge and the stylus are seperate and you can have a cartridge retipped (given a new stylus) but it's rather pricey. If you can find a used unit where the cartridge and stylus have low hours and are said to be in good condition, then just check the sellers feedback. Most (but this doesn't always hold) sellers here are just like you and aren't looking to sell you a piece of junk. If you get a really good deal on a used table but the cartridge isn't included or isn't up to snuff, then I'd still buy it because you could always find someone to mount a new cartridge (or really, do it yourself, it's not that hard) and then you have the added fun of getting to shop for a cartridge. (maybe I am a glutton for pain).

What you'll find if you do like vinyl is that you may decide to switch your cartridge way before it dies out, because the cartridge alone dictates much of the sound, and there are so many different types, ranging from 50 bucks up to 100,000. The stock MMF-7 comes with a Goldring Eroica (a very competent cartridge). If you started with the MMF-7 (read the reviews in the absolute sound and elsewhere, because it does compare with all the $2,000 rigs and some higher than that) then you would have to spend much more to hear significant difference in sound. Same thing with the VPI Scout, but the scout you can send back to VPI for upgrades as you desire.
A used MMF-7 is a good recommendation to start. However, if you like what you hear, it has severe limitations and you will upgrade quickly so wait for a good price.
As mentioned by many, a record cleaning machine is essential. Don't waste money on an expensive automatic machine; you can buy a nice manual unit and spend the saved money on some nice vinyl. Your vinyl will never know the difference.
I will also recommend the MMF-7. I bought one a year ago, brand new w/Channel Island phono pre, for around $1200. I found vinyl to me MUCH quieter than my recollection. I will probably be upgrading in the next year or so, but I know I can recoup much of my initial expense.
What I have learned so far.....price of a quality mid level TT.....about 2000.00

That's a myth, not truth dude! I have a killer high end deck that's in the multithousand dollar category for about $900, not including cartridge.

You must not go the belt drive route or you'll waste a LOT of money and end up with frustration. Idler drive or direct drive will take you there--and cheaper. There's a thread on idler drives w/ over 2,000 posts and a freak that modifies Technics SL-1200 decks.

While pshcyicanimal is right in saying tha tyou don't have to spend around 2,000 to have a nice turntable, I disagree with his following comment:

"You must not go the belt drive route or you'll waste a LOT of money and end up with frustration"

Don't you love it when people make HUGE declarations and then don't elaborate. First off, what is this amazing 900 direct drive table you have, and what have you compared it to in the multithoushand dollar category. Secondly, what, juding by _your experience_ is such a waste about using a belt drive system. What exactly is the frustration?

Hopefully others will weigh in, but I think you'd be hard pressed to prove Psychicanimal's reckless assertion that belt drive is the lesser drive technology. This guy must be a DJ, my suggestion would be ignore him unless he substantiates some of his, in my opinion, false claims
Ahh, yeah, NEED CLEANING machine, #1 on the list, it will be huge improvement even on that 60 dollar Plastic sony table with P-mount on Ebay.. But anyway... A good cleaner, Highly suggest the VPI 16.5, will make any table sound like its high end in the comparison to not cleaning the albums, trust me I was not a believer and had a credit at a store with nothing else to buy so I got one and I WAS mad at myself, cause now its my favorite component. Also a GOOD 500-700 used table is pretty nice and a good 200.00 cartridge like Ortofon or Shure at a nice discount online for under 100.00 will definatly be keepers... but then I say skip everything in between, cause then you need to drop 2500.00 plus to really kick it up a notch. from what I have heard anyway...
Psychicanimal might be on to something here. Perhaps Linn Sondek, VPI, Galibier, Teres, Amazon, Nottingham, Forsell, Rockport, Walker, Oracle, Sota, Origin, Verdier, Audiomeca, Thorens, Clearaudio, Rega, Kuzma, Michell, Roksan, and Wilson Benesch have it all wrong. Whoda thunk it?
Nick's response was more along the lines of "if you must have a mechanical record cleaner then the clearaudio works the best"....and then he proceeded to advise me the Last Record solution is the way to go.
all things being equal I would prefer direct drive, too. Problem is that true high end direct drive decks are no longer offered by anybody. The cost of designing and tooling for such a product is prohibitive given the level of sales. I do see that Brinkmann is introducing a direct drive high end turntable; will be interesting to see how it goes.

Belt drives are the most popular and marketed due to their simplicity. The motor is sourced from some company and then really all you have to worry about is the AC control and a bearing. A direct drive is a very complicated and sophisticated product.
In fact, Linn Sondek, VPI, Galibier, Teres, Amazon, Nottingham, Forsell, Rockport, Walker, Oracle, Sota, Origin, Verdier, Audiomeca, Thorens, Clearaudio, Rega, Kuzma, Michell, Roksan, and Wilson Benesch DO have it all wrong, a case of the usual orthodox dogma not being questioned and everyone blindly following without re-examination. Did ANY of these companies say "Gee, I think I'll try out a Garrard 301, and then a Technics SP10 MKII, to decide for myself which approach I should adopt"?, or did they say "Gee, even if they're better, the cost of manufacturing would be too high and the project too complex and intimidating"? or finally and most likely "Idler-wheel, direct-drive, say what?". The same happened with tubes long ago when solid state was deemed superior and tubes largely abandoned until, hey, someone actually decided to go back and listen and found it actually DOES sound good! Similarly, the world's "best" scholars for centuries believed the sun orbitted around the earth (thank you Ptolemy, you dunce), and those who claimed otherwise were threatened with incarceration, torture and death, which is why Galileo recanted despite the evidence of his telescope, while his peers the professors of Europe cheered the Church on. Centuries before Ptolemy, most cultures around at that time believed the earth orbitted around the sun (for instance the 7th-century BC Pythagoreans, who received their knowledge from the Egyptians before them), orthodox wisdom notwithstanding. So, to sum it up, the long list you provide is meaningless, simple argument by authority, one of the cardinal sins of scholarship (which should be ruled by logic and evidence), and only serves to prove the power of dogma and the willingness of the majority to not question. Though idler-wheels in fact had better rumble figures than the belt-drives of the time, we have been told for years belt-drives "won" because of rumble figures. Belt-drives are cheap to produce, same old story, allow larger profits, and yadda yadda yadda. Even the idler-wheel manufacturers saw the possibilities for increased profits from vastly lesser manufacturing costs (finely judged complex mechanics and massive motors vs rubber bands and tiny little VCR motors) and jumped on the belt-drive bandwagon, abandoning idler-wheel technology. Sometimes capitalism sucks, as today, with reality television dominating the airwaves, and damn that issue of "quality" and "integrity" anyway.

Of course, our fellow here can still get good sound, which is to say musical, from a carefully-chosen belt-drive, just not as good in many ways (or most, or all) as technologies which provide more stable speed (and thus better rhythm, and better bass, and...). And $2000 sounds like too much for me for a bottom line, but then I already prefer the sound of analogue to the sound of a computer chip. I think you could do very well for just a few hundred bucks, stretch it to $1000 including good tonearm, cartridge and phono stage. Since he does have a phono stage, then another underrated turntable - other than the Lenco ;-) - are the Aristons, specifically the RD11S (in the same league as an '80s-version Linn LP12), which is often for sale with excellent audiophile arm for only $300 or so. And the Technics SL1200 IS a current turntable, which with some tweaks will play excellent msic hassle-free for years. Of course, there's my favourite the Lenco (only if you absolutely MUST have $10,000+ of sound quality for only a few hundred bucks), for those with a hankerin' for DIY, and hankerin' to find out for themselves what all the hubbub about idler-wheel technology is about. Must end with the tried and true Rega turntables, elegant, simple, musical, plug'n'play.
Not to mention Avid, Basis, Brinkman, Pro-Ject, Well Tempered, SME, Musical Fidelity, Amazon, Microseiki, Acoustic Signature...etc.

Jeeze, I keep forgetting how these are all faulty and have horrible sound compared to the Technics SL1200. ;-)

(and for the record, psychoanimal, I have owned 2 1200s in my time, and while I think they're built like tanks and perform well, I don't think they sound as good as my lil ol' mmf-7 in the same setup)
Thanks for the history lesson. You'll find sobriety that sobriety is not a bad thing.
Johnnantais, I don't know you and I don't see or here your point. What is your point in this tie raid ? Please, you could start by giving everyone here a break from your blah, blah ,blah (history?) lesson. Someone other than you on this flat earth may just have listened to, and tweaked with, a few decks before they started peeling off the hundrees. Where do you get off telling others that they don't know what they hear? Have a little respect and express you point (whatever it is)! Be a gentleman and if you have a comment that is value added, state your “preference”. Because, what it is all about here is helping out the person who started this thread. And by the way, what is the name of the TT that you have designed and manufactured? Just for our point of reference… Peace
Jeez, the short form then. Once upon a time, everyone in the world, including the world's "experts", believed the sun revolved around the earth. Did this mean the sun revolved around the earth? No. Now, everyone in the vinyl-spinning world believes belt-drive is the way to go, including the world's "experts". Does this mean belt drive is the superior system? By itself, majority agreement, including the "experts", means nothing, the only thing which does mean something are facts in an argument of this sort. And science, which is to say actual testing and comparisons, is the only way to it, or we'd still believe the sun revolves around the earth and be none the wiser (Galileo used his telescope, you can use a Lenco). This is the much the point of my "Building high-end 'tables cheap at Home Despot" challenge, that and reasonable pricing and fun. For those who want to exercise a little thing called "independent thought" and who like hands-on experience, then I invite you to try the Lenco Challenge. Musical results can be had with a variety of technologies and company products, but argument/belief from authority is wrong wrong wrong and should be abandoned by those who don't want to be slaves, which is why I jumped into this thread, as I can't stand willing abdication of brains. Idler-wheel technology is receiving a fair bit of press these days, for a fee in Hi Fi Worlde (who also listen to and compare top-of-the-line direct drives from yesteryear to current high-end belt-drives with "surprising" results, as well as the big Garrards) and for free in 6moons: "They suffer from that common misconception that sociologist Robert Bierstedt (1913-1998) called temporocentrism. It's the belief that the present day represents the pinnacle of achievement for all things and one whereby people equate newer with better. Of course the marketing folks delight in taking full advantage of temporocentrism to sell the next great breakthrough. Sometimes newer is better but often it's just different."
Johnnantais, by the way you're beloved Art Dudley of Listener fame (also a personal favorite of mine) has several reference turntables. One is a Linn Sondek Lp12 with a Ittok LVII tonearm and Lingo power supply (as do I) and another is the Linn Sondek Lp12 with a Naim Aro tone arm and Naim Armageddon power suppy. In his associated equipment list I have failed to see a TT with training wheels errrr I mean an idler-wheel... another foul and his money have gone separate ways. Last I heard he was in hog heaven with those old shoe-boxes from Scotland. Just having fun with you!
Gee, I didn't see anything ungentlemanly in my reply R f sayles, I hope you can understand my "short form", and I had in fact addressed the gentleman's request, this is an ongoing thread with twists and turns, which is how discussions work, perhaps you could try to keep up and refrain from unwarranted personal attacks. I was answering two posts which were specifically on this thread, I don't remember telling anyone they don't know what they hear, I do however remember saying they rely too much on "experts," my point being that even the experts don't question universal assumptions. As to answering the gentleman's request for a reasonably priced turntable, perhaps you could explain to me where Galibier, SME, Amazon etc. fit in. You'd better show some fairness in your attacks and go after Judy426 and Mimberman as well. "Peace" LOL

I thought your posts were interesting if a little labor-intensive to read (and I'm sure to write). I don't disagree with you on principal, and I've been lurking on your Lenco forum now for a few weeks now (but now writing) with great interest. Since I don't have the time to address everything you said, I'll just bring up a few of your points I'd like to discuss:

You wrote that hi-end belt drive makers "DO have it all wrong, a case of the usual orthodox dogma not being questioned and everyone blindly following without re-examination"

So, I'm sure you are intimately aware of the R & D of all of these companies in their decisions to use belt drives, correct?

You were correct in saying that most of the TT makers on the list Judy and I compiled (very tongue in cheek I might add) don't fit into the buget of the entry-level tables we're talking of (let alone most people's bugets at all). I'm not saying that companies haven't in the past tried to sell lesser technologies as better than they are because they want to keep costs down, but I find it very hard to believe that given the high price tags of so many of these players (SME, Nottingham, Brinkman, etc.) that none of these companies have realized what you, in your infinite wisdom have, and moved to DD or idler motors. I mean, these companies are selling so few units a year for such high price tags, that they seem to jump on any even perceived tech edge they can. We weren't making that list as a set of recommedations to the original poster, but rather being smart-asses, and pointing out how unhelpful pshcyicanimals orignal post was. I never made a post saying "belt drive is better than everything else on earth and everything rotates around belt drive". Psychicanimal made a post saying belts were a waste of money and that idler/dd drives were amazing, but didn't give any examples of tables or even say why. It just seemed that was an irresponsible post, and highly unhelpful and even misleading for the original poster. Granted, we're all a bit off of topic now, and this really shouldn't be a debate over DD/idler vs. Belt.

The last point I'll address (so much for being brief, eh?) is in regards to the following comment you made: "For those who want to exercise a little thing called "independent thought" and who like hands-on experience, then I invite you to try the Lenco Challenge"

So you chided R_F_Sayles for unwarranted personal attacks, but it's midly hypocritical then to call anyone who can't be bothered making their own TT (your Lenco project) or who buys a readymade product a "slave" as you put it.
So anyone who buys a plug and play or belt drive table doesn't use independent thought? o i c.

In any case, I enjoy your Lenco project, and I haven't above, nor here, criticized the idea of DD or idler because to be honest I don't know enough about them, I was only chiding psychicanimal for his largely unsubstantiated post. I think you have some valid points, but you're a little heavy-handed/conspiracy theory about it all, no? You honestly believe that all the belt drive biggies are sticking to it because it's cheaper for them? I'm cynical of capitalism, but when you're talking about a record player that cost more than most cars, c'mon!
Egad I'm being teased into paroxysms of rage! I will long mourn Listener magazine, and still admire Art Dudley for daring to stand by musicality as identifiable and more important than mere information, even if his Linn LP12 could use training wheels! That's another recommendation to add to the list, a used Linn LP12 for a good price, upgradable later if he so wishes. After idler-wheels, servo-controlled DDs (but good ones like my Sony 2250) and classic 3-point suspension belt-drives like my Scottish Ariston RD11S are my favourites.
Johnnantais, Point taken. I found you just a bit quick on the hammer to dismiss a lot of previously held research and knowledge as simpleminded belief. True genius and raving lunacy both come from those beginnings (the ones of dismissing...). And look, if I was a bit curt, well tough, but if you feel I personally attached and/or offended you I truly apologize. I mean it. I still feel from everything I’ve seen and heard in TTs that idler-wheels will come to Hifi right after I see pigs fly! Best of luck.
re: Direct vs. Belt -- I have had more than 20 different turntables of all sorts over the last 7 years - I was "collecting" them for a while - until I got married! And here is why I agree with Johnnantais (for the most part):

What exactly does a turntable do? It's a platter spun by a motor that we put a record on. The ABSOLUTE BEST thing it can do is turn at an accurate, highly constant 33rpm and not impart any vibration to the lp. It cannot "add" anything positive to the playback. Unless you believe in voodoo (which is not uncommon here) there are only 3 factors in the performance of a turntable:

1. The degree to which it maintains a constant, accurate speed
2. The degree to which it manufactures and imparts any "noise" of it's own to the lp. More a function of the main platter BEARING quality - NOT the motor type or location. Good electric motors don't make noise and don't vibrate - bearings do! Belt drives are not relieved of having bearings.
3. The degree to which it isolates the lp from external "noise" - primarily acoustic feedback.

The Technics 1200 specs as well or better on factors 1 and 2 as any high-end belt drive ever can or will. And the 3rd factor is easily controlled by the user and the installation as much as by the design of the deck itself. And the SP-10 just blows the vast majority of them away. (The wow/flutter , speed, etc. measurements are all Google-able so lets not get into a debate about that.)

So why do so many people think they need zillion dollar turntables? IMO it's because the zillion dollar decks all have great arms and cartridges (usually matched to each other properly), whereas the older Japanese DD's that you're comparing to usually have only "acceptable" cartridges and for the most part terrible to mediocre arms with no thought applied to which cartridge was put on what arm!

My main table currently is VPI/w SME 309 arm, not a radical $$$ set-up, but by no means a cheap combo - and I don't think it sounds tremendously better than 1200 with the same cartridge mounted and properly set up. A little better sure, but going back to the original poster's question - they wanted to try out vinyl inexpensively. I'm absolutely certain that if a nice clean lp doesn't thrill 'em on Technics 1200, then it wouldn't on a TNT either.
Hi Mimberman, again I never posted I believed in a "conspiracy theory", I thought I had made myself very clear that assumptions were being made and never investigated, which means no conspiracy of the sort you mean. So, to make it short, when idler-wheel drives were murdered by a concerted effort by the press and industry (and indeed we've seen this before: a concerted effort by the press and industry to promote CDs and murder vinyl simply to increase profits, which actually happened by the press unquestionably accepting the grand claims of the profit-hungry corporations: "Perfect Sound Forever" ring a bell?) because, yes, the profits were larger in building belt-drives because they were simpler to manufacture, and also allowed smaller companies to enter into the fray (i.e. Linn) because they could never hope to start building idler-wheel drives while they COULD attach a small motor to a platter via a rubber band, then it became common "wisdom", as indeed it is largely common "wisdom" today that digital technology is superior to analogue (we vinyl lovers are dinosaurs), that belt-drives were in fact inherently superior to idler-wheel drives and direct drives. This, becoming "common wisdom" or to put it another way, dogma, became the fundamental assumption on which all later work was done. Then, it became simply development work into perfecting belt-drives, because direct drives and idler-wheel drives were simply discredited and "proven" inferior and were not to be re-examined. This is the road tread by all the legends you list. Maybe even some of them did have their doubts, but if everyone wants belt-drives, why argue, sales are assured. In fact, this type of scenario goes on now in all the sciences all the time, with new practitioners of each science being inducted into current dogmas, and never having the imagination to re-examine what has gone before. Case in point from earlier, which was my point: mankind did believe the earth revolved around the sun, until the Greeks came along. This was rectified by Copernicus, who investigated earlier writings thanks to Aristotle's diatribe against the Pythagoreans who believed the reverse. When dinosaurs were first discovered and examined, they were believed to be warm-blooded, which is now a daring new theory. And you can bet that all kinds of current theories will be supplanted by older ones revived by re-examiners.

"...none of these companies have realized what you, in your infinite wisdom have, and moved to DD or idler motors." Classic argument by authority. Given my explanation so far, then it should be clear that they did not realize this because they never questioned the fundamental assumption: belt-drives are superior (and don't deny this is the current dogma and has been for decades). And your "infinite wisdom" remark is just another "argument from athority" in a different flavour, always leveled at those who dare to question "common wisdom", as in "How dare you question all these experts?!" I dare, because I heard. My "infinite wisdom" is my ears, I trust them, and I will not deny my senses or agree 100% with a writer or designer until I've heard for myself and compared (at least, I try to live by this principle). Say what you like, a small low-torque motor is very affected by stylus drag, and a rubber band exacerbates the situation by always reacting and this reaction is not eliminated by resorting to high-mass platters but only lowered in frequency, which is clearly heard if only you would sit down and listen to a proper idler-wheeel drive. The fact that stylus drag grossly affects speed in belt-drives is in fact admitted by these designers, who devise various ways to combat it from multiple motors to the simple use of massive platters. Idler-wheel drives and DDs were designed from the initial point to eliminate stylus drag first, and in doing this, they are superior to belt-drives in various audible ways, and in the case of idler-wheel drives specifically, I believe in every way (not that DDs couldn't be further perfected). In fact, already owning both an Audiomeca turntable and an air-bearing Maplenoll at the time I first tripped over idler-wheel drives, it only took exposure to a tweaked Garrard SP25 (little cheap crappy spud, but idler wheel) to convince me, as it had slam, presence, an intense musicality and bass I never got from my belt-drives, I was convinced.

"So anyone who buys a plug and play or belt drive table doesn't use independent thought? o i c." No, this isn't what I wrote at all: those who buy belt-drives for enjoyment or in ignorance of the whole debate about DD and idlers do not fit this bill, but those who blindly defend belt-drives without having heard a properly set-up idler-wheel drive (argument from authority which is ideology not science: evidence is scientific), or to put it more simply dismiss them out of hand, do fit the bill: they are mental slaves.

"For those who want to exercise a little thing called "independent thought" and who like hands-on experience, then I invite you to try the Lenco Challenge" This is written tongue-in-cheek, but it is also a genuine challenge: test your preconceptions against a reality to see what they're worth, and free your mind. At least, even if you come out of it favouring belt-drives, you'll have come to this decision under your own steam.

And finally, to answer both you and sayles, from people who took up the challenge:

""This evening is the first chance I have had to play with the beastie. I found (it took me a little while) the Origin Live modified Rega 250 that I bought two years ago intending to mount on an Empire 208 if I ever found one. I didn't.
I also found my little used Denon 103D. An hour later we were ready to go. No plinth. I precariously balanced the Goldring on two lead shot filled plwood boxes that I made ages ago to set a pair of Carver Amazing speakers on. The speakers are long gone, but the heavy little boxes thankfully remain. Albert I don't know what TT you had before the Goldring, but my expectations were certainly not high since I have a heavily modified Linn LP 12 with an Ittok arm and Koetsu Black cartridge. I have to say that the Goldring with the lesser cartridge (the Denon 103D at $225, while a very impressive cartridge is no match for the $1,500 Koetsu), unravelled the music and separated instruments better than the Linn with the Koetsu. At first I thought that was hearing over-simplification of passages, but when I started hearing things in the foreground that were either distant on the Linn or very subdued, I knew this was not the case. Separation of lead and backing vocals and clear enunciation of words seemed better on the Goldring. I think I have to switch the Ittok and Koetsu to the Goldring to be completely fair. But then I think that there would be an even greater bias towards the Goldring."

"I am a long time Linnie. I have own LP 12's for 28 years. My current Linn has an Origin Live DC motor and a Cetech carbon fibre subchassis. On a whim I bought a GL 75 and put an Origin Live modded Rega 250 and my beloved Koetsu Black on it. Holy shit, better bass, much better leading-edge dynamics and pretty remarkable imaging. This is all without a plinth. I'm just resting this beast on two lead-filled boxes. I am about to make a decent plinth and see where it goes."

"I STILL haven't built a plinth for my GL 75, OL Rega, Koetsu Black. But I'm playing it all the time. And I get more impressed with every LP. I should mention that I went from thin, model train oil to Mobil 1 grease and then a combination of the last two. My last choice seems to be the best. When I eventually get around to building the plinth it will be on this site. Just listened to Dire Straits' "Brothers In Arms" and Little Feat "The Last Record Album". I'm hearing things that were not there AT ALL on the Linn. Buggeration. Is that possible ?"

"I fitted my old Fidelity Research FR64s, that my Linn dealer condemned for having worn bearings in 1996. Of course the bearings are fine - some people will say anything to sell a tonearm! First cartridge in is my re-tipped Koetsu Black, again mid-80s vintage. I have had a fantastic evening's listening. The Lenco is everything claimed here and more. As forecast by Jean, there is bass in abundance (not a noted Koetsu characteristic), fantastic dynamics, energy, slam, PRaT, call it what you will, and the detail and clarity are stunning. I have been listening to some serious money turntables over the last few months and the budget Lenco beats most of them - I'm not sure yet whether it's better than a Galibier I heard a few weeks ago but it's pretty close. I'll be better able to comment when I put the DL-103 on the FR64. There's no doubt in my mind that the Lenco is preferable to the Teres 265 and 360, Nottinham Spacedeck and Hyperspace, SME 10, Kuzma Stabi and of course my old Linn."

Now all these fellows who took up the Lenco Challenge in a scientific and fun spirit don't sound too disappointed, do they? Take this fellow's example: "Johnnantais, in response to your 02-20-04 posting: I´m the guy who wrote the VA post you quoted entirely without mentioning your source. I just fooled around with my L78 i just used for 78s and reported my findings at this point. Indeed, with the standard plinth and arm. Not very nice of you to accuse me of suffering from the Dogma that´s obviously becoming an obsession for you. But i´m a good sport and i take up the challenge! I´ve been fooling around with Thorens TT for ± 2 years, stuffing them with damping materials, building heavy plinths etc. I´m already mailing with Tjoeb about the Decca arm(I´m living in the Netherlands, they´re round the corner!). And i´m going to make a plinth, MDF, birch multiply, we´ll see. One question, do you keep the original springs? With the foam inside?" Now check out his website at
Johnmathias kicks ass...
Ummm, I've been meaning to ask, why do you persist in calling me "Johnmathias", is it some secret code?
Hey John-whatever. You have gone well into the range of crankhood. Stop whipping out the overworked and under-defined term "scientific", and stop exploiting the piss-poor inference from "the experts used to think P but now we know that's wrong" to "the experts now think that Q so it must be wrong too." The experts can (famously) be wrong, but the fact that the experts agree on something is hardly a reason to think it's false!!! After all, it was the experts who in the end figured out the world was not flat, and it's only cranks on the margins who now disagree (loudly, and citing, e.g., when the experts agreed there was ether). Clever does not make a good argument, and zealotry does not make a "scientific" case. Making people laugh is not the same a being right (as if there were a right here).

No shock you have Psychic-organism on your side; the properties of DD and idler must be very different, but they do share unporpularilty among the experts in common. Cranks on the margins love company!
R-whatever, you miss the point as so many others, the experts of any given time were overthrown by what were perceived as cranks in their day, as is necessarily so, which were only in hindsight recognized as correct. Galileo was the crank and all those who taught the sun revolved around the earth were the experts. Darwin was the crank and all those who believed in instant Creation were the experts. If you only exercised that over-used and under-defined concept "logic" you might have seen this. As to under-defined science, I've defined it many times, it's really not very complicated, science, which is to say empirical science, rests on experiment and observation. In turntable terms, this means comparison and listening. Too complicated for you? Here's a litle primer from the days when the modern concept of science (as opposed to blowing wind) was being developed: "There is one science, he says, more perfect than others, which is needed to verify the others, the science of experiment, surpassing the certainty, however strong the reasoning, unless experiment be added to test their conclusions. Experimental science alone is able to ascertain what can be effected by nature, what by art, what by fraud. It alone teaches how to judge all the follies of the magicians, just as logic can be used to test argument." (Robert Bacon) In modern terms, take one Lenco and one high-end belt-drive and place them in the same system, plug them in, and listen and compare. Sorry, I can't make it any simpler than this. Is there a right or a wrong? Would you say that it is wrong to assert that a Galibier is better than a Project Xpression? Is there no difference in quality, no superior system? No? Then I think I'll go shovel some coal in my steam-driven 10-ton car, "combustion engine", kooky idea!
I think you guys may be running the risk of crushing the inertia of the original poster, who simply ask if he should venture into the world of vinyl.

Personally I am slow to suggest that move to anyone who is not already into LP's, its a big commitment and some feel the reward is worth the effort and others do not.

I have multiple sources including CD, SACD, FM tuner, LP and open reel tape. All have merit, but without question my favorite is LP, as it represents the best balance of reproduced music quality and availability of software.

If ABSOLUTE quality were the only issue, master tape dubs played at 15 IPS and 30 IPS on an open reel Ampex 351 is the clear winner, beating ALL turntables regardless of make or design.

That being said, I have owned most of the big names in turntables, including the Lenco, the Gerrard and the Walker. In my opinion, this discussion should center around bang for the buck / best performance.

The Lenco is a killer little table for NO MONEY. I bought mine at EBAY for about $100.00, added a Decca arm and Shure cartridge and had amazing sound for very little investment.

I did eventually sell this rig, not because it was not good, but because I was getting better results from my Walker and my open reel.

Open reel would be a great alternative if you could assemble a decent sized library of music. I will be lucky if I wind up with 300 to 500 titles before I run out of options. That being said, I enjoy my open reel, it's an important part of my high end system and serves as a reference to keep everything in perspective.

On the other hand, a young guy might have trouble finding ANY open reel tapes that appeal, unless he's into Jazz or Classical.

Great LP's are still being pressed and my Walker is better than many of the original tapes of this same music. The master dubs I have are the ultimate quality and the best LP's (45 RPM) offer about 75% of the quality of my best master tape dubs.

The Lenco may not equal this ultimate ($32K) table, or the VERY limited master dubs, but amazing quality at NO MONEY. The investment factor in a new format for a young guy is a big factor. So when we Audiogoners recommend a product to a newbee, remember to keep his investment low and safe until he can decide if this is really the way to go.

He may listen for three months, get bored with what's available and go back to strictly CD.

If it's fun and he can find software that makes him happy, shows what the format can do and connects him to the magic the world of analog can offer, we may have a convert.
Albertporter....the voice of reason! While I enjoy a good debate and have learned a great deal, thank you for bringing this thread back around to my original question. I found a MMF-7 new for 926.00 including cartridge. I decided to buy new so that I will not have to wonder if my used TT is at it's best. I think a TT at this level can give me a true sampling of what vinyl is supposed to sound like. This TT and a shiney new record should be able to tell me if I want to go forward or not. The entry level price is about double what I thought it would be. As related to my other gear purchases, double seems just about right! Thanks for the help.
Apologies to the OP, by the way. My $.02? Big diference between plug and play and tweak/diy/hunt/no dealer support. If you like the latter sort of thing, there are lots of options, but it's a big commitment and involves at least as much obsession and fiddling as listening to music. If that's your bag, go for it. Otherwise, get a Rega P3, get it set up with care by someone who knows what they are doing, and then start tapping your toes, 'cause vinyl sounds great.


I have no doubt your Lenco sounds great. I absolutely agree that blind A/B comparison, done with care and patience, is the most probative way, though hardly foolproof, to decide what one is likely to prefer as a purchase for long term listening.

How did I miss your point? Was it just that the experts may be wrong? Duh. Did I say anything to the contrary?

Your comparison of yourself as an idler wheel crank to Galileo as a heliocentrist crank and Darwin as an evolutionist crank are absurd and ridiculously pretentious. Yeah right, idler wheel vs. direct drive vs. belt drive is a matter of revolutionary science, and you are a revolutionary scientist.


"empirical science, rests on experiment and observation" is not a definition (any logician could tell you that). Looking out the window to see whether it's raining or not is based on experience and it ain't empirical science.

Your Bacon quotation is pretty, and back in the day, it was important in the effort to overthrough scholastic appeal to authority as the gold standard in all matters of inquiry, but its idea of neutral collection of observational evidence was shallow, and hasn't been taken seriouly, except as a target of criticism, by theorists of science for a very long time. Obervation itself is theory laden -- that's the term of art in science studies -- so no observation is a pure foundation for theory.

The Galileo case illustrated the point perfectly. He didn't prove the Earth revolved around the sun. he showed how how one interprets various 'pure observations" will depend upon one's presuppositions, and that various bits of evidence cited by geocentrists against heliocentrism depended for their evidential force on question-begging assumptions involving the stationary character of the Earth. When it comes to "proving" the Earth does move, you need not just observations, but theory as well, and the former can never itself prove the latter. This point can be made as a matter of logic, by the way, which I dare say I understand better than you. If you knew any logic or actual theory or history of science, you wouldn't be so dogmatic in the absolute value of your "observations". And you'd realize that your own conviction that the Earth revolves around the sun isn't based on observation, but on appeal authority -- which is as it must be in most things. Knowing which authorities to trust is an essential epistemological skill, not reducible to some rule, and certainly not a matter of pure observation.

Oh, and yeah, some equipment sounds better than others. Duh. Your jumping up and down and screaming that the sky is falling doesn't make it so, however.
>>Ummm, I've been meaning to ask, why do you persist in calling me "Johnmathis", is it some secret code?<<

Maybe he knows something about you that hasn't been outed for the rest of us.
R-xxxx, it was not "experts" who discovered the world was not flat, you miss the point AGAIN: they were, by definition, cranks, since they went against the orthodox opinion which existed at the time. In Galileo's day, the "experts" spent a lot of time and effort working out complex epicycles to fit the observed movements of the stars in a scheme which placed earth at the center. Then the cranks Galileo and Copernicus came along and told them that all those years of belief and effort were wrong (sound familiar?), that if you placed the sun at the centre of the universe then all the movements made sense. It was not only the Church which opposed Galileo, but nearly the entirety of the scholars of Europe. In fact, Copernicus was so afraid of the battle his theory would bring with it that he waited until the end of his life to publish it. And you do not address in any of your posts the issue of an unexamined assumption, and science is FILLED with unexamined assumptions, something which would make scientists nervous should it ever get out. This might lead to a little thing called "independent thought", which would go a long ways to dimishing the unquestioned power of the "experts". Another word for "unexamined assumptions" is "paradigm", and a profound shift in science (or any area of thought) caused by a re-examination and change of fundamental assumptions is called a "paradigm shift". As to Bacon's dicta being quaint, a lawyer's trick, sophistry to defend routine scientific actions denying the results of experiments (often by simply cvalling them "anomalies" and sweeping them under the carpet) to support cherished theories contradicted by them; the increasing reliance on theory with no means of testing them (18-dimensional space which is as relevant and testable as the number of angles which dance on the head of a pin) is an example of the degeneration of science, not its evolution. And as to comparing myself to Galileo and others, this is called an "example", a "precedent", a "comparison". I do not equate myself with Galileo, we're talking record players here. The point is the case of Galileo and Darwin are examples everyone knows, so they understand what I'm talking about: one fellow everyone is now familiar with, says everyone is wrong, and is later declared right, as everyone knows. Should I instead refer to "Dweeble Wainright" who invented a better dough for donuts to make the point for fear someone like you will come along and accuse me of thinking I rank with them? Are we then to always avoid referring to well-known figures in ANY discussion for fear we will be charged with megalomania? No more referrals to Shakespeare in a discussion of literature, because this means you are equating yourself to him, and thus showing your megalomania. Can't have that, so let's make the process infinitely longer, research nobodies no one ever heard of, spend hours and pages of text explaining them, and THEN use them to make a point. These tactics are a standard argumentative device peddled out by scientists and scholars to discredit those whose ideas they don't like: nail them on another cooked-up issue, the history of science is filled with such manipulations. Either you're too dumb to understand the concept of precedent, or you are deliberately trying to represent me in a negative light, and damn that old concept integrity and fairness anyway. As to observation being theory-laden, theory is derived from observations, without observation and controlled experiment we're back to believing horses are impregnated by the wind. There IS no science without observation and experimentation, without them, then it is simple blowing wind, which is my point. In the case of Lencos, they must be compared. And nowhere did I write that the very fact "experts" agree on something is the reason they must be wrong, I used the EXAMPLE of "experts" agreeing on something having been shown to be wrong to suggest they might be wrong in the case of belt-drive, as I have tried to make clear, and thought I HAD made clear, several times: "Did ANY of these companies say "Gee, I think I'll try out a Garrard 301, and then a Technics SP10 MKII, to decide for myself which approach I should adopt"?, or did they say "Gee, even if they're better, the cost of manufacturing would be too high and the project too complex and intimidating"? or finally and most likely "Idler-wheel, direct-drive, say what?"." The same happened with tubes long ago when solid state was deemed superior and tubes largely abandoned until, hey, someone actually decided to go back and listen and found it actually DOES sound good!" Jeez, is it someting in the water, this is turning into a nightmare!

So does this mean that I believe record players are as important as Galileo's work?! Nowhere did I write this, does no one understand the concept of a comparison?!!! Well, let's answer this anyway, because probably the concept of a "rhetorical question" has also faded from the degenerating mind of Western citizens: NO, of course not, but science is science, and evidence (AND logic, an illogical theory is a wrong one) is ALWAYS stronger than theory, meaning if an experiment shows a theory to be false, then that theory is false, this is called "integrity", or do you believe that the principles of science are only to be applied in larger issues of biology and astronomy, but not in other fields of research, and not in lesser points in those very areas of research, or indeed anywhere outside the control of famous scientists?

Finally, if the humble Lenco can humiliate so many highly-regarded belt-drive turntables, as it does when someone actually sits down for a fair comparison, then one must find the reason why (or you could not rock the boat, support the status quo, and sweep the evidence under the carpet, since that Bacon was so primitive in his simplistic beliefs, NOW we're talking modern routine scholarship and science). The Lenco is not a totally stupendous piece of engineering like Albert's Walker is, or indeed even most of its "competitors", in fact it is quite humble, so what can be the reason? This may not be of cosmic significance, but it is EXACTLY what makes science so fascinating, which is why I refer to science so much in promoting the Lenco Challenge, it makes the whole project fascinating and fun, you do understand the concept of fun and fascination don't you? It allows even us little spuds to dabble in and learn about the scientific process, or are you against the general population using their own heads and their own hands to participate in the scientific process to come to their own decisions, rather than allow themselves to be led by the "experts," who will charge them with megalomania should they have the temerity to think they too can apply fundametal principles and come to their own understanding? NOW we get to the theory part you think I've missed in my simple-minded megalomania (or more likely, any port in a storm in an argument): observation shows the Lenco is far better than its simple construction indicates, and what differentiates it from the belt-drives is its idler-wheel system, a system which ruled until belt-drives came along. Now while I am NOT saying this is of cosmic significance, I AM saying that principles are principles, and if evidence at whatever level shows a dominating theory to be wrong, then, especially in an arena which allows so many to participate (this hobby is filled with DIYers, and record players are easily accessible, no lab equipment other than a stereo system required), we should encourage these experiments, not try to suppress them. Should education be limited to children, or are we allowed to continue to learn as we grow older? Or will the scientific world shake and quake becaue audiophiles are tinkering in their living rooms and thinking?!

To the person who initiated this thread, I apologize for hijhacking this thread, I had no idea when I dared to state that since experts in the past had been wrong then experts now might be wrong I would be opening such a HUGE can 'o worms, which I suppose explains why so many (as Copernicus in his day....ooops, not allowed to use "examples", so Frederick Gorbudarian in his day) decide to simply keep quiet. As I wrote far above, I do love analogue (evidently) and applaud your choice in moving ahead to find out for yourself (yes being active in an experiment to come to your own decisions) to see if vinyl rates. I hope this starts a whole new area of enjoyment for you, I know I never stopped loving the old vinyl. Enjoy.