Recommendations For New Table/Arm Under $4k

Greetings All-

I'm in the midst of reconfiguring my system and I'm interested in your recommendations for a table/arm combo in the less than $4k range (new). I have a Shelter 90x cartridge from my last analog rig and an EAR 834P that I had modded by Great Northern Sound Company that I will be using as my phono section. I've previously owned a VPI Scout and a Basis 2500 Signature. I'm looking for that best bang for the buck table...

Galibier Serac

You can even get it with a cartridge for just a smidge more than your budget.
I second Dan_ed's suggestion.
Thanks Dan-ed & Tvad. I'll check into the Serac table. Looks intertesting... Anyone else?
You should take a look at the Acoustic Solid "Wood" (Large Platter Wood Plinthed 'table). Massive (mass loaded) table with oversized platter, extraordinary motor w/microprocessor controller, rb-3oo, and Ortofon HOMC cart at app. $3300 (last I looked), I own this table and use it alongside an Oracle/Graham/Nightingale set-up. Once I swapped out the (more than decent Ortofon) for a Lyra Dorian the gap between the tables got quite narrow, IMHO, this is a killer deal.

Good Luck

Well within your budget, you can buy the Pro-ject RM10, which includes a 10" carbon fiber arm, thick/heavy glass platter with magnetic repulsion bearing to reduce inertia. The included isolation bass is very effective and a must-have type component for best analog performance. If you add the Speed Box II you'll have an excellent TT with great customer support from Sumiko in the USA. The RM10 competes with much more expensive TTs and has to be on the short list of best buys in the price range.

Dan Ed: Question? What are the two control knobs on the motor for? Also it seems that I read where you compared the Teres to the Galibier and chose the later but I cannot remember your reasons for choosing the Galibier over the Teres. Can you give a short answer concerning the differences or give me the link to that thread? Thanks
I was really impressed by Nottingham 294/Ace Space 294. Hung in there with TTs that were more expensive.

The controls on the motor pod top plate are:

a) a 3-position switch: 45 rpm - off - 33 rpm
b) 2 knobs: to find-trim the speed of 45 and 33 independently

Thom @ Galibier
Hey SD, good to see you at A'gon.
What do you guys think of Basis tables?
The Serac is a great suggestion.

It's a far better table than the RM-10 and VPI Scout which are a touch above entry level.

Additionally you choose the arm of your choice.

Another plus regarding the RM-10 and Scout.
Well Bill, except you're not going to get a comparable arm in that price range. Actually the RM10 is far less tweaky and gives a lot more value in this price range.

Actually the a lot more value in this price range.

Dcstep (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)

Will you please specify what you mean by more value in this price range. What criteria are you using?

Sure Tvad, the Serac is over his price range for one, costing more like $4600 currently with a decent arm, so far as I can tell without getting a fresh quote. Included in the price of the RM-10 is a 10", carbon fiber tone arm, highly effective isolation platform, low friction magnetic repulsion bearing offsetting much of the mass of the heavy acrylic platter. Add the Speed Box II and you've still got substantial funds left over toward the cartridge within the OP's budget.

Some people, like Bill, like to switch TTs and arms regularly (he claims to have owned more than 100 TTs). If the OP is in that category, then the Pro-ject would not be a good choice; however, someone seeking a great sounding, high value selection should consider the Pro-ject.

Hopefully the OP can listen for himself. Few are as lucky as me to be so close to all this high-end audio sources in Colorado. There are several leading makers within an hour of my house and the RMAF is two blocks away, so I'm really blessed with being able to hear a lot. Still, ideally, the OP will take a few leads and find ways to audition a few leading candidates and not buy blind.

07-25-08: Dcstep
Sure Tvad, the Serac is over his price range for one, costing more like $4600
currently with a decent arm.

The Galibier Serac package for $4045 includes an Artisan Audio tonearm.
What specifically about the Artisan Audio tonearm makes it not decent, in
your opinion?

Few are as lucky as me to be so close to all this high-
end audio sources in Colorado.


Since Galibier is located in the Boulder/Denver area, have you
visited Galibier to hear the Serac (or other Galibier offering)?

The OP states he already owns a Shelter 90x cartridge and an EAR 843P,
and is seeking a table/arm for his budget.
Well the price I saw was $4600. Unfortunately, Galibier's site made it hard for me to validate the price, so I went with another recent quote that I found on A'gon. Evidently the price I found was not the lowest available. Still, you need to factor in the cost of an isolation base.

I've only heard Galibier at RMAF, not in a home system or at their shop.

Have you been able to compare the RM-10 with the Serac? If so, what difference did you hear?

$4600 or $4050 the Galibier Serac rig is hard to pass up.

If you want to set your budget dollars a little lower A Scheu Analog with battery power supply could be an option.
Dcstep, what about the Artisan Audio tonearm do you not consider decent, as stated in your earlier post. I'm trying to learn here, so specifics help.

I have not compared the tables.

I once owned a MMF-7 table with a Pro-ject arm of similar design to that found on the RM-10 table, but made of a different material.
I never mentioned the Artisan Audio. As I said in my earlier response, I thought that the lowest price for a Serac with one of their offered tonearms was $4600. Apparently that was incorrect.

Right, that MMF (Pro-ject really) tone arm wasn't 10", wasn't carbon fiber and had different gimble and bearings; otherwise it was similar to the RM10's arm.


Dcstep, you wrote:
07-25-08: Dcstep
...the Serac is over his price range for one, costing more like $4600 currently
with a decent arm.

Is the Artisan Audio tonearm (the arm included in the $4045 package) the one
you were referring to when you mentioned "a decent arm"? If it
wasn't, which arm was?
I haven't heard the Artisan arm, but I'll still cast another Serac vote. The bearing and motor alone are head and shoulders beyond any other table in this price range, as were the Teres offerings before they dropped out of the sub $5K market. Pro-Ject and VPI offerings don't come close in either of these key components.

The fact that Galibier uses a mylar belt, instead of rubber, thread or some other non-linear material, is of enormous importance - and this factor is not appreciated as widely as it should be. A Galibier maintains rock steady speed through transients that puts most belt drive tables to shame, while its high mass provides a solid base and black backgrounds that DD and idler wheel tables can only dream about.

If the arm turns out to need an upgrade at some point, the Serac will still provide that rock solid base, and Thom can make an armboard for any tonearm.

You won't get all this from any other rig in this price range AFAIK. (Note: no affiliation, ownership interest or any interest beyond calling Thom a friend, just reporting what I've seen/heard).
Dougdeacon said:

"The bearing and motor alone are head and shoulders beyond any other table in this price range"

I don't think this is accurate. The bearing has to be considered in combination with the effective mass of the platter. I don't know about VPI, but Pro-ject has lowered the mass substantially (it's not zero) with magnetic repulsion.

Still, all these discussions are mute when the OP listens for himself and makes a decision based on sound vs. value. Also, consider "street price" vs. "list price."

Pro-ject has lowered the mass substantially (it's not zero) with magnetic repulsion.

With magnetic repulsion the designer has to account for vibrations within the platter. Otherwise all that energy is going to wind up in the tonearm and you will hear it in the speakers. I'm beginning to understand why you insist on springs under your table.
Dcstep, Is the Artisan Audio tonearm (the arm included in the $4045 package) the one you were referring to when you mentioned "a decent arm"? If it
wasn't, which arm was?

I'm trying very hard to learn from your comments, but you're use of the word "decent" as it relates to Galibier tonearm offerings is not clear to me.

Tvad, as I've said several times before, I thought that the Serac with the recommended arm pairing was $4600. The company's web site doesn't give any pricing info so I searched around and found a couple of references to $4600, so that's what I thought it cost with a "decent" arm. ("Decent" meaning what the marketer recommends).

Apparently that was either a different arm or you know of a lower price. It's that simple, nothing mysterious. If their web site clearly stated prices I might not have gotten confused.

"Decent" meaning what the marketer recommends.

Dcstep (System | Reviews | Threads |
That's what I wanted to know. Galibier's recommendation as opposed to your opinion of the quality of the arm.

Thanks. That's helpful.

07-26-08: Dcstep
The company's web site doesn't give any pricing
Actually, Galibier does provide pricing info. Click on "Products"
from the menu near the top of the Galibier main page. Then, on the Products
page, click on the photo of the product to wish to research. Each product's
page has complete pricing info, if applicable.

The Serac pricing is here (scroll down)..
Thanks. How could I miss that? I retraced my steps and I was looking around on the "Order" page and saw references to the Euro/$ exchange rate and delivery backlog estimates, but no pricing. I guess I got waylayed in scrolling down the "Serac" page by clicking on the "Bearing" or some other button before I got low enough on the page.

Unlike Bill, I'm not constantly in the market for a TT, but I'll give another listen at this year's RMAF. Maybe the room will be more helpful this year.

I would concur with previous advice. I am a new Galibier owner and can chat with you off-line regarding my experience (it was excellent).

If you are willing to stretch your $4000 'limit', you might also consider the TW Acustic Raven or the Teres 260/265. I've been fortunate to audition them all and each is outstanding in bringing you closer to the music. It's simply a matter of finding the one that matches your taste.

If you are thinking about going down this path, you're investing in the person behind the table. Fortunately you can't do better than the three principals: Jeff Catalano at Highwater Sound distributes TW Acustic, Chris Brady the designer of the Teres and Thom Mackris at Galibier are passionate about music and they treat their customers well.

I've also had the opportunity to spend some time with Ralph Bagge from Artisan and he is also first class and he gets extra points for being a White Stripes fan! I haven't had the chance to listen to the Artisan arm.

One final thought: if you purchase one of these tables you won't worry anymore about analog. You might trade of up for a better Teres or the bigger TW Acustic, but you'll stop thinking about other turntables and you'll just enjoy the music.

Remember, if you buy the best it only hurts once!
Tables from TW Acustic and Acoustic Solid in addition to the Serac are much better than the RM-10 and upgraded Scouts in that 4K price range.

And you aren't stuck with a JMW-9 or Pro-Ject tonearm.
As the proud owner of over 100 TTs in his audiophile life, Audiofiel clearly comes from the school of constant change and fleeting satisfaction. That's a fine school and I have friends deep into studies there; however, getting "stuck" with a good tonearm is not a bad thing for those of us that stay off the treadmill of constant change.

I'm not saying that Galibier, Teres, TW Acustic and Acoustic Solid are not all fine devices. I love Jazdoc's post, which seems to point toward a "final solution" that you won't regret. With a budget of $4000 (or more) the OP should certainly investigate these options. A trip to the RMAF will allow comparison of almost everything mentioned in this thread, and then some. Plan on spreading your listening over at least two-days as it can be quite overwhelming.

Jazdoc, I love your last post.

If you have the Galibier, why would you move to the Tere's or TW Acustic? Why not stay within the Galibier line? Do those other TTs sound better to you, but didn't fit your initial price range, or what?

The reviews of the Serac (you didn't say which Galibier you own) indicate that it'll do justice to the very best tonearms and cartridges, so it seems that where I'd incredmental budget, if that's true.


Sorry if my last post was confusing. Hopefully this will clarify. It has been my observation for the turntable brands I listed, that an owner is highly likely to stay within the brand if they decide to upgrade. For example, I know a new Galibier Serac owner who plans to upgrade to the Gavia platter. I have observed the same phenomena for TW Acustic and Teres.

I think that this happens, because the turntable brands are uniformly excellent, owners like the particular house sound of 'their' turntable, and the trade up policies are generous for all. Importantly for a handmade item, I also feel comfortable recommending the people behind all three brands.

BTW, I bought a Stelvio with Triplanar and Dynavector XV1-S and could not be happier.


Dear Cbd: here are some second hand options that seems to me could be very good choices:

For a new unit I agree too on Galibier.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I would put in a good word here for the Rega P5, with an Exact 2 cartridge and the outboard power supply. I just purchased this combo and am very happy with it. In my opinion it is far better than any of the Project or Music Hall variations I saw recommended in this thread, particularly in regards to soundstage and imaging, which is very important to me as a listener.
I'm seconding all the recommendations for the Galibier. I received my Serac at the end of June and am very happy with it. I'll give a bit of background, which might provide a few answers to some of the questions on this thread.

Before buying the Galibier, I had an Acoustic Solid "Classic Wood," with the Acoustic Solid WBT211, which is very similar to the Jelco-based Artisan, and an upgrade from the Rega RB250 sold with that tt (the Classic Wood is not the "Wood" mentioned above, but a lower, less massive model; still, at today's prices, with the WBT arm, it costs over $4000--don't know what the "Wood" costs, but more for sure).
The Acoustic Solid is a fine turntable, but there's no comparison with the Galibier: the Serac (with the Artisan as well as the Tri-planar) has more extension, greater dynamic range, much better layering and provides quieter, deeper background. As a result, the sound is a more "solid" in all aspects.

I first heard the Serac with the Artisan arm at Thom's place in April. I auditioned it with the Serac platter and the Gavia platter; I also heard the Gavia base/platter/motor pod combo with the Tri-Planar arm (although with different cartridges: Serac with the Universe, Gavia with the Dynavector XV-1s). One thing that struck me as common among all those permutations was the quality of the background and the remarkably solid layering. Moving from Serac to Gavia platter increased the amount of detail and the differentiation between instruments in space, which is alreday remarkable with the Serac. Going to the full Gavia combo made that even more striking, although the Dynavector is so different than the Universe that I wasn't so sure who was doing what at that point (and most of my listening time was on the Serac). I didn't hear the Serac with the Tri-planar at Thom's but since that's the arm I got with my Serac, I can vouch for a great match. The Serac is really worth that great arm.

One last thing that I find particularly attractive in the case of the Galibier tts, is that one can move up incrementally to the higher models: start with a Serac base with Serac platter, then move up to Gavia platter or Gavia base (note that nobody is quite sure yet which part is best to upgrade first, the base or the platter--I know what Thom used to recommend but he's going to do some more testing), Stelvio amrboard, etc. The process is very easy and is well documented on the Galibier site--you can also see what parts are similar in all models. So you spend ca.$4000 today, get great sound, and sometime later can end up with a top-flight analog rig. I'm not comparing with other brands (I don't know who else has this type of modular approach), but that's a point very worth considering.
And, as mentioned above, it's such a treat to work with Thom!

Hope that helps...

Good report. When the dust settles and you're in the mood for a cheap, incremental upgrade, check out this thread: Uprade for users of 1/2" mylar belt"
Thanks, Doug.
Yes, I've read your report on belt "cleaning" some time ago, most instructive, thanks a lot for sharing your experiment!... and I already have my bottle of Etchall. I haven't tried it yet, I'm waiting for my current belt to show enough wear, shouldn't be long now.