Seeking Turntable Advice

Hi TT mavens: I'm lookong for some turntable advice. Actually, it's for two stereo systems -- one is my son's and the other is mine.

In my son's case, his equipment is very basic, to wit: an ARC SP-9, a Crown DC-150A2, a pair of "starter" Rega speakers, an old CD player and my old Thorens TD 160 Mk II that I bought in the mid-70s. I need advice regarding the the Thorens TT.

Specifically, the TT has NEVER been serviced since I bought it, but it runs. There is a hum in one channel. My question is whether it makes sense to put any money into restoring the TD 160 or should I bronze and donate it a stereo museum?? If the former, are there any upgrades or improvements that I should think about? Also, any thoughts about who could do the work?? I live in the greater Philly area. If the latter, any suggestions for a new TT and cartridge for my son?? Perhaps a used Rega, e.g.,an old P1 or P2.

In my case, ironically, I have maybe 75 to 100 old records (many of which are scratched) that I acquired in the 70s and 80s. My system is centered around a CD player. I have tons of CDs, so I don't think I want to go crazy with a TT. By way of background, my rigs is made up of the following equipment: ARC Ref CD-7 CD player, an ARC Ref 3 preamp, an ARC VS 115 power amp and Paradigm S8s (v.2 with the Be tweeter - unreal!!) and the Paradigm Signature Servo sub.

Personally, although I like vinyl and am willing to buy more if I come a cross a great platter, I believe that CDs are here to stay. Further, I think that SACD or some other high-def digital format is coming. With that said, what advice do you have for me regarding a TT (used is ok) and cartridge. As regards a phono pre amp, I would like to stay with ARC, but can go cheap on a phono pre amp for the time being.

Sorry for the long message. Thanks for the advice!! BIF

Your sons 160 is great. Have it professionally serviced and maube a new cartridge. Replace his amp and cd. Crown never impressed me. Cd quality has come a long way. For you, arc phonos are great. Tons of great tables out there that will beat almost any cd. Old can be better than new.
Elevick's advice is spot on (the Crown needs to go). Given your investment in ARC gear I think you might like a Linn LP12 at the Cirkus level with a Linn Ittok LVII and a Shelter 901 MkI if you can find one. You could find all this on Agon.
Thanks for the Big Picture advise. As regards my son's system, any suggestions of a shop which could service the TT and install upgrades if any??

As far as my system is concerned, how much cost to step up to Linn 12/Cirkus, w/ Linn Ittok LVII and Shelter Mk I arm?? As I said above, "although I like vinyl and am willing to buy more if I come a cross a great platter, I believe that CDs are here to stay. Further, I think that SACD or some other high-def digital format is coming. With that said, what advice do you have for me regarding a TT (used is ok) and cartridge?" Thanks for the help. BIF
What is your budget for a TT, cartridge, & phono stage, and do you prefer SS or tubes for the phono stage? Knowing this information will help focus any advice offered.
Hi 4musica44107: Thanks for responding. First, let me state that I strongly believe in buying used equipment where possible because our hobby is so expensive. Of course I recognize that it is unlikely that I will be able to pick up a used cartridge.

Second, I like tubes, ergo my choice of ARC equipment. However, tight now, my thought is to buy a low end SS phono stage to get into vinyl. The SS phono stage would feed into my ARC Ref 3 preamp. Later, IF I like vinyl, I would like to upgrade to an ARC PH-7. Perhaps even the newly released ARC PH-6 after units start hitting the used market.

Third, because the bulk of my INITIAL $$ will be concentrated on TT and cartridge, I would like to limit my overall investment to $1500 (not including phono section).

Thanks again. BIF
Vinyl is the best value IMO for increasing your music library. Most of what you'll run across when looking for used vinyl is not available on CD/SACD. Vinyl adds a completely different dimension to our hobby if your not participating in it presently. It requires some dedication, time, patience and money. To begin with you have to have a good source for vinyl ie. used book stores/record stores, flea markets etc or it's not worth it. Then you have to have a record cleaning device. You might be surprised at just how good those old albums sound once they have had a good cleaning. Philly will certainly have places you can shop. Also, find the thread here titled Tips for buying used vinyl here on the Gon. If all that is a GO then I can guarantee you there are some excellent deals on TT's available here.
Thanks Cio52. Any recommendations for a good used TT, new cartridge and SS phono stage? Also, any thoughts about who could service/upgrade my son's Thorens TD 160 Mk II? I strongly suspect that the unit needs a complete overall, cleaning, lube and phono wires. BIF
I agree with Cio52 that Vinyl is a great value. I would also say with a good table in your price range, the sound will either rival of exceed your CD7. Until my table & Phono stage upgrade, I had a Rega P3-24 with the TT-PSU and used a Clearaudio Nano for the phono stage. I was very happy with the sound and would recommend that set-up as a great way to start. It was used in a system with an ARC Ref 3, VS-110 and Vandersteen Quatro speakers. I think you will end up enjoying Vinyl with either the Rega, or another table in that price range
I've read good things about Rega, Musical Fidelity, Project, etc as great starter's. I'm using a moving magnet pickup and the phono stage in my preamp with great results. MM as you know is a great value but there are very good step up transformers/mc phono stages like Bob's Devices, Ortofon, Clear Audio and others. I use the Ortofon 2M Black.

Really don't know much about the value/expense of repairing the Thorens. If it has great vintage value then you might try Jerry Raskins Needle Doctor for repairs. I've done retail business with them and was satisfied with the service.
Bifwynne - You should be able to pick up a used Rega P3 or P5 with the standard arm, a new Ortofon 2M Black cartridge, and any number of good used phono stages for your stated budget limit of $1.5K. Rega makes a good entry level SS phono stage. But if you really would like to try tubes without breaking the bank, the Jolida JD9 sounds better to my ear than the Rega phono stage, and the Jolida gives you greater flexibility in terms of cartridge selection.

I use the Jolida JD9 and an Ortofon 2M Black on my Linn LP12 and I am very pleased with the result.
The hum in your sons thorens could just be a bad cartridge. Try a different cartridge and see if that helps. Also u need to check the ground from the turntable and make sure it is still attached to the preamp ground. If this doesnt solve it then u may have a loose connection in the tonearm or tonearm cable wire. You have a lot of good equipment. You really dont need to buy anything extravagant to enjoy it. If u decide to buy a new turntable the cheapest Rega is a very good sounding unit, I have heard it at a dealer. It also comes with a free cartridge to boot. I would stick with ARC gear for the phono preamp since u know u already like their gear. I hope this helps u out and I hope its a simple fix for the Thorens it would be a shame to get rid of it. Merry Christmas! Shay
Shipping a table can be extremely difficult and getting it set up after can be a real art. Where are you located, as us about someone local for you.

For you, I'm a fan of used Sota tables. You can get a sapphire with arm and cartridge within your budget. The vacuum pump ones will run more. I'm using my Sota with a Cambridge 640 phono pre. Personally I think it's the best of the budget pre's. Getting proper alignment on your arm and cartridge is worth way more than a good pre.
Try Quest for Sound - they are in Bensalem just up route 1 - good shop - good service. They know analog...

That is where I got my turntable serviced and purchased a new cartridge.

You can purchase a new cartridge there and they'll do a good job installing it.

Princeton Record Exchange is well worth the 45 miles or so outside of Philly... tons and tons of used records.
There are usually a few Linn LP-12 turntables and Ittok tone arms listed on Agon.

Here is one, for example:; it has a slightly older style dust cover.

This example fits roughly within your budget - although this one would need a cartridge; you could start with a moving magnet and move to a moving coil (like the Shelter ) later depending on what you perceive to be the value from the first step. I think with your ARC gear you could easily resovle the audible differences of good/better/top shelp analog gear.

Linn's come in lots of different evolutionary configurations; don't know how hard it would be to find a Cirkus level unit within your price range but it's worth exploring. In general, you can't go too wrong with a Linn LP-12; there is always a re-sale market for them - but it would be hard to imagine wanting to sell one after listening to it in a good system. It's a classic (as is the Ittok).

Let us know what you wind up doing.

Good luck.
The hum is probably due to a poor ground somewhere. Sometimes it is beneficial, as someone else said, to ground the tt to the preamp; sometimes not. The tonearm also may or may not need to be grounded. And cartridges usually do not hum unless the hum is due to interaction of the cartridge with the tt motor. This happens with some Grados, but not to many others. There is probably nothing at all wrong with the TD160 per se. Acquire a cheap strobe device to check speed. If you find it is off-speed, possibly a new belt is needed, at most.

Several of your preconceptions are open to question: (1) CDs and hi-rez disc formats like SACD are no longer "coming". Instead, they are going. SACD is hanging on by its teeth and the other hi-rez format (DVD-A) is pretty dead already. The coming digital technology is downloads via your computer; (2) You mention that you don't think you could buy a used cartridge. Used cartridges are all over the place and you can buy a low mileage one on Agon and save a great deal of money.

There are a myriad of choices in a new/used tt and phono stage. It would help if you could state your budget. However, with all due respect to the Linn LP12, it would not be my choice for someone like yourself. It is a very fiddly device; you have to sort of love the ritual that goes with ownership. Also, since it is suspended chassis type, you need a really good support system. (Actually that goes for any tt.) I think you would do better with a mass-loaded unsprung tt, either direct-drive or belt-drive.
Thanks to all for the great advice. I'm trying to apply as much as I can. Per Elevick's advice, I found an Audiogoner who does vintage Thorens TT repairs. He will service my son's TD 160 Mk II for a very fair fee. Per Lewm's advice, I picked up a USED Grado Sonata. I should receive the Sonata early next week. I'll report back as soon as I get a listen.

I would also like to pick up on Lewm's comments about CD and other so called "hi rez" media formats. Specifically, Lewm wrote that "SACD is hanging on by its teeth and the other hi-rez format (DVD-A)is pretty dead already. The coming digital technology is downloads via your omputer . . . ."

Lewm, you may be right. Admittedly I do not understand the technology behind the various digital media formats. However, one thing I DO understand quite well is whether the media in question (e.g., CD, vinyl, etc) sounds good on my rig. IMHO, one of the biggest barriers goes to the quality of the recording and mastering.

Do you think computer downloads, from a practical and commercial perspective, will be well recorded and mastered or, alternatively, packaged for "the kids" for playback on porta-players??
Oh, btw to all: Sincere wishes for a Merry X-Mas and Happy New year.
Dear Bifwayne, I have no personal experience of computer downloaded music in my own system, but I have heard it elsewhere in very good systems. The idea is to download to a high quality outboard DAC (digital to audio converter). Via the DAC upsampling, you can get very very hi-rez recordings and you can store them in a dedicated hard drive, if you wish. This technology is competitive with good vinyl, as far as I can tell, although good vinyl reproduction continues to have that je ne c'est quoi. As you may know CD sales have been dropping like a stone for the last several years due to junk like MP3, etc. But this new stuff will appeal to true audiophiles.