Buy both, listen, and sell the one you like least.
I have owned a Rega (not the P-10) before and now own a Garrard 301, my experience is I would prefer the Garrard.
Buying both is out of my financial reach as i wouldn’t want to take the hit of depreciation for the one i sell. Regardless i appreciate your input. I’ve read that the 301 has slightly superior sound to the 401 but both are well regarded.
It would appear that both the Rega P10 and Garrard 401 would be notable steps up from the P3. I don’t want to hide the fact that i do prefer a “classic” look of the Garrard vs the modern P10. I just don’t want to sacrifice sound quality. I also want to be mindful of long-term maintenance, accessibility of parts and cost to repair.
Again thanks and all help welcome.
You'd lose nothing on the Garrard, if you were to decide to sell it. And probably the same goes for the Rega, if you can find one for the right price. But these are very different philosophies of how to play a record. I would expect that one's a priori bias would more than anything else determine the outcome of such a comparison. Which is why you may want to do some more research in advance, by listening to turntables that employ different types of drive mechanism.
Go strait to the Garrard, it is in another league, and probably in another sport.
Surely has tons of fashination over the Rega.
Rega makes a very good table I owned one for a few years then I upgraded to Clearaudio Performance DC love this table you should look in Performance DC or if your budget is bigger the Ovation in my humble opinion I think they are a much better table then both
thanks. The 401 is a rebuilt being sold by SkyFi for $9k. I’m trying to keep under that amount. I’ve looked at Thorens as well. The older vintage or vintage looking are very appealing to me as just like the look but sound quality is of paramount importance.
Any thoughts on cartridges? Again, erring to more alt-rock, new wave as opposed to classical or jazz? Seems Ortofon 2m Black would be good, and I’ve been happy with Ortofon’s I’ve had over the years.
Man, I wished I'd had your resources when it came to doing my Garrard 401. I bought a working turntable on Ebay UK, and had it shipped to Washington State, where I live. I rebuilt the table, built my own plinth, and mounted my choice of tonearm.
I couldn't be happier with the outcome, it's a far cry from the VPI Scout Signature I moved on from. The 401 has a better motor than the 301, from what I've read. I love my table and arm, a Dynavector 501. 9K is a lot to spend, to my mind, for a 401. Talk to Chris Harban at Woodsong Audio, and see what he would charge for a 301 or 401.
Thanks Dan. Yes it is a ton of $, period. I really would prefer to spend closer to half of that amount. I will check out your contact as well.
The one I’m referencing was completely rebuilt in the UK but i believe the plinth ( a beautiful piece that matches my speaker’s wood finish) was made in US. It is way more than i would like to spend but want to have something low maintenance once i have.
I guess I will be castigated for saying this, but my impression is that Garrard work done in the UK is on average lower in bang for the buck than similar work sourced in the US. This could be in part because Garrard and other UK products have such a loyal following in the UK. Also, I am probably influenced by the prices at Loricraft, which are very high, IMO.
Do NOT buy from SkyFi. Their mark-up is huge.
AudioGrail 401 $2200
Jim Campbell slate plinth $800
AudioSilente idler (AG may already fit one) $110
SPH bearing $250
PAC platter $750
Jelco 12" 850 tonearm $900 from George Merrill.
Consider what you’ll mount it on. It’s important.
This will cost you $5k.
Many thanks Noromance. Sort of what i thought but wanted someone to confirm.
Was about to say just what Noromance did.
Avoid Skyfi as their prices are well , SkyHighFi!
A good rebuilt 401 should cost you no more than 3k to 4k.
Mine came fully rebuilt with new aftermarket bearing and idler in a massive birch and curly maple plinth.
Cw with a Micro Seiki ma505ls tonearm with cryo wiring.
Basically ready to rock, just add cartridge.
All for $2800.
See my system for pictures.
As far as carts go I have run everything from a cheap Nagaoka mp150 up to a Koetsu Black Goldline and varying levels in-between.
The better the cart, the better this table and arm responds.
I have an Ortofon Black Cadenza to try once I get the additional counter weight for the Micro Seiki.
Btw I have not regretted moving to the idler drive from traditional belt drive one jot.
The drive and energy it imparts to my music is thoroughly addictive!
Funny you mention Skyfi, I am blocked from purchasing from them because I pointed out they were misrepresenting an item they were selling. Their loss.
I would say you came out of that one best of.
another vote here for Woodsong Audio (Chris Harban). check out his website - the 401 with the blue plinth is mine.
my recommendation for the cartridge would be the Ortofon cadenza bronze, or the cadenza blue (depending on your budget)
Yes, prices are too high on every Skyfi ad I've seen.
Have you considered a Fern & Roby table?
Not familiar with Fern & Roby. Will investigate. Thx
mdalton i see your rig. Nice blue!
You might want to reach out to the 401 refurbisher to check upcoming stock. I've a feeling SKiFi and others like them are buying up supplies.
Can’t really speak for Rega’s new P10, I’ve only seen it at a hifi show and the look isn’t quite to my taste tbh. I’m sure it’s a great TT though, they have spent a lot of time refining the lighter and stronger design concept and I’d love to hear one in my system.
I use a Garrard 401 with Wand Master (NZ) tonearm and solid bamboo plinth, running from my own synthesised sine wave power supply and Townshend seismic isolation pods for feet. Currently running a Dynavector XX2, it’s by far the best TT I’ve owned. And I’ve had a few over the years. My trusty 301 has been there throughout, but it’s just wearing out after 30 years of service and although spares of everything on it are easy to come by I thought I’d put my immaculate condition 401 into service. The 301 has that dynamism as well, like the 401. Both great turntables. My other TT’s were Sota, VPI and Basis. Very good turntables to be fair, and quieter than the 401, the build quality on each is excellent. But the liveliness and dynamism coming out of the 401 combo is so endearing and satisfying. I think the Wand arm and bamboo plinth are synergistic and elevate it to an altogether higher plane of sound quality. And I just love the way it looks!
I’m interested in using an MM cart as well as MC and have an Ortofon 2M black coming shortly, so will update soon.
Fremer really seemed to like the P10, I dunno...................
Easy, If you don't like rumble get a P10. Idler wheel drives were the necessity of the day. They needed torque so the radio stations could cue up records and they needed to be able to change between three speeds quickly. Electronic control of motors had yet to be developed. Bass below 50 Hz did not matter as it was not broadcast and very few systems could reproduce it. Direct Drive tables put the old idled wheel tables out to pasture. Then they started show up super cheap on the use market and audiophiles on a budget bought them in droves, started hopping them up and deluding themselves into thinking they sounded better than modern turntables. They are very cool and in many instances much sturdier than some modern tables. But, they can not get away from the fact that there are too many moving parts and moving parts make noise regardless of how well they are made. At the speeds these bearings run at the resultant noise is rumble. Anyone with a good subwoofer system powering their room at close to realistic levels will not be able to tolerate this. If you think you can your subwoofer system is not functioning well.
If you were to build a new idled wheel turntable to aerospace standards it still would not be able to perform as well as a modern belt drive. It might come close when it is brand new but it will not last long as the idler wheel wears.
If you want to get an idler wheel table as a conversation piece, wonderful.
Otherwise stick to the modern table. The P10 is a great table but for almost the same money I would get a SOTA Sapphire with an Origin Live arm on it. Isolated tables rule.
All who put me onto Woodsong Audio....a big thanks! If I go the vintage route that is a great lead. Again many thanks.
Again, sound quality is of paramount importance, but I would ideally like to have something that feels has a more vintage look to keep with how I will eventually set up my music room.
I appreciate the comments re: belt drive v. idlers, and I've read several articles about how the idler TTs have been able to significantly reduce the noise associated with the movement, but I don't recall it being expressed that it entirely goes away. This does slightly concern me as (I failed to mention) I am driving a sub as I feel the Harbeth's just don't give me the deep rich base I was looking for. Upgrading my amp a few years back significantly helped, but the sub has been god send.
I've just been so pleased with my P3 but I would really prefer a wood plinth, and overall larger size.
Thanks for several other leads such as Fern & Roby. I like the solid iron look, but probably looking for wood. Thanks for SOTA lead,...I will investigate.
I also run a pair of subs with my 401 and despite what some here might try to have members believe is gospel, I cannot see/feel/hear any rumble evident at the subs.
I own a Artisan Fidelity Lenco that I have enjoyed for 4 years. If you are interested I will be selling it soon to move up the Artisan Fidelity line. Certainly idler over any Rega.
Any thoughts on Woodsong audio’s Linn LP13 anyone?
LP13? No. But I ran an LP12/Ittok/Valhalla/base cover removed for years. I have done side by side comparisons with my original unmodified 401 in the birch-ply/walnut plinth.
The LP12 had somewhat more inner detail and nuance which I liked. However compared to the timing, dynamics, soundstage stability, ability to follow individual instruments, and most of all, the clarity of vocals, the 401 was in a different league. The Linn sounded good but colored and anemic in comparison. The Garrard just sounded correct, like live music -the Linn like the best radio you ever heard. My current 401s are substantially better than the old one so I’m going to infer way ahead of the older LP12. In fairness, the new LP12 has apparently come a long way. If you can audition and like what you hear, then go for it.
The Rega, the Lenco, and the Linn LP12 probably speak 3 entirely different turntable languages. The SOTA might even speak a 4th language. So if you are a buyer, the best thing to do a priori is to figure out which characteristics you like best and which of those types gets closest to that. The answer will be different or can be different from one person to another. Do not believe the absolutist approach preached by Mijostyn at ever possible opportunity. If you're interested, I will tell you what I DON'T like about a Sota Sapphire, but why bother?
I was faced with this exact choice. The new Rega P10 or a rebuilt Gerrard 301/401. When I found a beautiful a Woodsong 301 used on US Audio Mart it was a God Send! Chris at Woodsong does an amazing job. And as good as the Rega is, the idler drive reproduces the impact and physicality of music that is a greatly different and addictive presentation from any belt drive table.
I am a long time fan of the Rega Sound. Natural and smooth. And the different philosophy of less mass below the stylus really works.
But if you can find a used 301/401 that has been transformed by one of the handful of these great rebuilders, grab it.
Check out the YouTube titled Gerrard 301 vs Studer Reel to Reel.
An amazing video using the new SME $23k 301. The best sound quality YouTube I have heard from the UK Audio Show!
BTW, If you decide to go for Rega, get a P8. It is 95% of the P10.
I used to be a Rega dealer.
My issue is that I don’t have the means to really do a lot of listening sessions with many of the decks. There is a REGA dealership near me, and I’ve now found a a clear audio dealer. To my knowledge i have way of “test driving” a Garrard. Plus in order to really test i would need to plug to my system. Sorry if I’m being obtuse but not sure how i can really to a reasonable listening comparison
As far as listening to a 301/401 I decided to just buy one and if for any reason I did not like I was fairly sure I could resell very easily for little or no loss at all.
Yes its a bit risky especially in todays economic climate but the chance of ever hearing one on a demo or an in home demo are slim to non existent.
Uber makes a good point. A properly restored 301 or 401 purchased at a fair price is very fungible.
gunners01 where do you live? there may be some 401 owners near you willing to invite you for a listen.
MDalton. I’m in the DFW area.
Uber, et al. Understand and i may well just pull the trigger. Need to noodle on this one.
i took a leap. purchased deck in UK, had it sent directly to Woodsong to be restored and had Chris create custom plinth (kind of blue). relax and have fun.
"Was about to say just what Noromance did.
Avoid Skyfi as their prices are well , SkyHighFi!"
I totally agree Skyfi is OVERPRICE is a joke!!! he think he selling GOLD LoL! you can find better deals somewhere else.
Regarding rumble on a 301 and 401, they don’t put out any subsonic rumble so will work fine with a subwoofer. It’s just a slight background noise like the idler wheel spinning, which it is. It’s very low in level, quieter than the record surface noise on a quiet record, and a solid plinth reduces it to almost nothing. But it never is really totally silent. Belt drives and direct drives are silent by comparison. I have the original idler wheel on my 401 (and 301, it’s wheel is hard from age and wear, and is a little noisier) but there are higher precision new reissue ones out there that work even better. To dismiss the 301 and 401 because of idler wheel noise would be to miss out on all the other virtues it does offer, which are considerable!
Gunner, if you really want wood than it is a no brainer. All SOTA tables are wood. The Sapphire has solid hardwood sides and a veneered top. They will make it out of just about anything you wish including Macassar Ebony. Call and ask for Donna
ndevamp, not my subwoofers. And just what other considerable virtues are there other than the retro aesthetics?
As a note, in my book anything under 100 Hz is certainly rumble and my subwoofers are crossed over at 125 Hz so it may be more of a problem for me than people who cross lower. But noise is never a good thing especially when you notice it. Given the now inflated asking price for these turntables and the additional money people have to spend on plinths and fancy idler wheels it is just not worth it. Also none of them are isolated which in my book is the kiss of death. Any good isolated belt driven turntable such as an SME, SOTA, Basis or Air Force will run rings around any of them. Air Force as an example makes cost no object turntables. They could easily do an idler wheel turntable but they stay with belt drive. Even the $450.000 Air Force Zero uses a belt drive.
One assumes from all of your extreme and dismissive views on idler drives in general that you have owned and used them yourself in your system and therefore speak from deep experience, yes?
If not then please ease up as it then remains your opinion only!
All I can say is that I like my 401, flaws and all. I love the dynamic and musical sound, as well as the way it looks.
Sure, other turntables are technically far better and you can go down that road if you like. I’ve owned some of them. But I am happy with the 401 now.
I like driving an Alfa Romeo- fun, quirky, characterful. You might like a Porsche- seriously fast and precise.
Question from the real life
Garrard 401 vs Rega RP8.
Measurement wow and flutter who will be the winner?
Garrard 401 fully serviced but everything is still original (idler wheel also). Rega - 3 days old so as new.
I had such question from my friend who have measured his Garrard against Rega side by side. I can make you a hint clear winner was Garrard. He have pro device for this purpose not mobile app :)
If you look into Rega technical specification and manual you’ll find close to nothing. So how to buy turntable about which manufacturer speaks only about materials used? Of course in our century figures means nothing, marketing means everything.
Here’s where I say (to Mijo) that I owned a Star Sapphire Series III with vacuum platter for about 10 years, as my one and only turntable. I sold it in the late 90s. I replaced it with a Nottingham Analog Hyperspace, another belt drive but an unsuspended one. Then came a succession of direct-drive turntables including a Technics SP10 Mk3 and a Kenwood L07D and a Lenco that I highly modified with slate plinth, massive upgraded bearing, Phoenix Engineering motor control, etc. My cumulative post-Sapphire experience revealed to me early on that the Sapphire had very poor speed stability. The decay of piano notes was frequently "sour". Bass was muffled and indistinct. And etc. Back in the 90s, I thought what I was hearing from the Star Sapphire was simply typical for vinyl reproduction. I realized the deficiencies of the Sapphire very quickly after purchasing the Hyperspace, and the issue was even more clear after I added a motor controller to the Hyperspace. All my subsequent turntables confirmed my initial post-Sapphire impressions of the Sapphire. I think a weakness of that old SOTA design, as I have noted many times, is the fact that the motor is mounted on the immobile plinth, while the platter floats on the suspension. This causes the belt to stretch when the suspension is activated, and may be the cause of the audible speed instability.
I do understand the potential value of suspending the works of a turntable, and I think the way to do it is to take an unsuspended turntable and put the whole shebang on a MinusK or Herzan platform. When you mention megabuck belt-drive turntables, you neglected to include the Doehmann Helix, which incorporates a Minus K stand into its structure. I have had some experience listening to the Helix, although I cannot afford one, and I found it to be the best sounding belt-drive I have ever heard. The Air Force turntables likely also air-suspend the entire chassis, to eliminate the stretching belt phenomenon, but I’ve never heard one. The fact remains that the SOTA Star Sapphire is not a contender. Since I do admire SOTA as a company, I would also mention that their more modern models (Cosmos, Nova, and Millenium) may have dealt with the problem I mentioned. And by the way, my Lenco is as silent as any other turntable I’ve heard, and in that system I run massive dedicated woofers in stereo from 100Hz down. We can argue all day about whose turntable is quiet and whose is not, but the point is that the 301/401 can be made to satisfy some discriminating audiophiles in that regard, your opinion notwithstanding.
@ndevamp The SPH bearing brought W&F down from 0.14% to 0.06% using a mobile app per its manufacturer. My 401 pitch control is dead center.
Mojo....i admit that the SOTA sapphire is very appealing. I really like the simplicity and classic lines of the design. Aesthetically it is up there, but not quite the same as the older Thorens and Garrard. As sacrilegious as that is to say when overall sound quality is the measure I’m seeking.
I will absolutely look into the SOTA. I’m also talking to Chris already at Woodsong re: a 401.