See if you can find a Kenwood L07D. They usually go for around $3500 in good condition, and that includes the built-in L07J tonearm. Otherwise, look for any number of other vintage Japanese DD turntables that can be had for even less money; if it comes without a tonearm, you can buy a vintage tonearm to go with it as a separate purchase for less than $1000. Or consider a refurbished Lenco. There is a lot of very very good stuff available for under $5000.
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I’d say you are better off forgetting it. In addition to the table, arm, cartridge, phono stage and cables you also need to budget for a record cleaner (ideally ultrasonic) and of course loads of LPs as well. Finally setting up a system takes lots of experience and a set of tools, some of which are not cheap.
In my experience a $5k LP playing system is easily matched by the same investment in digital. I think the analog system would sound great and be very rewarding but you would still find aspects of its performance that digital did better (and vice versa)
Things change once you get into $10k plus when analog starts to really pull away. I now have a very high end digital rig but it’s easily outclassed by my analog system which costs substantially less. Nevertheless I need both as much of the music I want to listen too is only available in one format
So unless you are already committed to analog and given your budget constraints I’m not sure I’d start if I was you
Primarily what is the expense for being squarely in the mix with a more than competent TT array for one, and secondly will the vinyl cut of the exact same digital track ALWAYS be received as noticeably better, if all else in the system is ‘virtually’ the same?IMO, if the second Q is NO. I’d not wish to spend one thin dime on a TT phono setup. Ever. There would be no need.I find that in most cases the LP is going to sound better if the LP playback rig is competent. There are a lot of variables in the playback, but one variable is not which is the recording itself so let's talk about that first.
Most CDs are compressed as there is the understanding it might get played in a car. LPs, even if made from a digital source, tend to have less compression as there is no expectation of automotive use.
In the heyday of the LP, many were compressed simply because the process was expensive and less engineering time is needed if a bit of compression is always used. That is not the standard practice today nor was it the standard practice with older jazz and classical LPs.
With regards to playback in a very small nutshell:
*) the ability of the arm to track the cartridge is far more important than the cartridge itself! You don't have to go super expensive to get excellent results **if the arm is able to do its job**. This cannot be emphasized enough!
*) vibration and damping in LP playback is pretty important; the mounting of the platter bearing must be rigidly coupled to the mounting of the arm and the whole thing should be dead. In addition there should be no slop in any of the bearings employed!! This prevents coloration, since if there is vibration the pickup will be unable to pick it up if it is moving in the same plane as the platter and at the same time. One excellent example of a 'table that achieves this is the new Technics SL-1200G. You can see that outboard arm pods do not.
*) the loading of the cartridge will be important if its a high output moving magnet. The loading prevents 'ringing' in the cartridge, which is distortion.
*) The loading of the cartridge will be unimportant if its a low output moving coil, **provided the phono section is stable** and immune to Radio Frequency Interference (This is because the ringing of low output moving coil cartridges occurs at Radio Frequencies). If the phono section is immune to RFI, an additional benefit will be that ticks and pops will be less audible. IOW phono section stability is a lot more important than most people realize. Nearly all phono sections in older Japanese receivers made in the 70s and 80s are unstable, so nearly an entire generation of audiophiles has grown up assuming that it its an LP, there will be ticks and pops. The point is they don't have to be there and a lot of them are made audible by the phono preamp.
As a footnote, if the phono preamp is unstable, cartridge loading will be important and audible, but even if loaded properly, the ticks and pops will still be there.
*) the platter pad's job is to absorb vibration in the LP so it won't talk back to the pickup. It is also important that the platter be damped (the new SL-1200 has a damped platter but a terrible platter pad; the latter is easily replaced). If the platter pad is harder than the vinyl, it will be bright and will impose a signature. A pad that is too soft will as well. My inclination is to go with the harder platter pads if they offer platter damping properties as well- that's a pretty good compromise.
I find that bass is more palpable with the LP than digital playback, and there is more detail combined with a smoother presentation. Occasionally you find an LP that sounds no different than the CD; as best I can make out these are made from the same source as the CD.
Lewm > very good stuff available for under $5000
Blindjim > very thoughtful and interesting input. many thanks.
Folkfreak > unless you are already committed to analog and given your budget constraints I’m not sure I’d start if I was you
> music I want to listen too is only available in one format
Blindjim > I appreciate the candor.and obvious drawbacks you poited out.
I do have several hundred LPs mainly from the ‘70s. some have only seen one side played. Condition there is another worry.
That last note I pasted from your thoughts is one reason I’m interested in this area.
I do get it there’s more to it all. The idea of just how much is key.
Setting up the TT itself I would think would be done as a paid for service or one provided if the thing was purchased from that venue or vendor locally.
Knowing no more, I’ve the idea once a solid performing TT setup is on board all else can be advanced or elevated incrementally, so the overall impact is not as severe. JMO.
However I do get your inferences. Much gratitude for them.
Atmosphere > I find that bass is more palpable with the LP than digital playback, and there is more detail combined with a smoother presentation.
Blindjim > Atmosphere, Thank you very much for the illuminations. super. Especially the input on that Tecnics model.
I stumbled upon some Mide Fremer youtube videos aimed directly at analog and haven’t been the same since.
Naturally I’ve some physical limitations which do give me some worries with respect to this arena. Merely picking out or better put, inspecting the LPs for example, poses an obvious stumbling block. I believe too there is a work around for that.
Certainly something pretty formidable has to be on the side of analog for folks to sprint down that road as fervently as so many TT people seem to do.
I’m curious enough to examine things sufficiently so once a financial sector can be determined I can then hopefully figure out how to overcome any other possible physical twists or pitfalls.
One possible unknown regards the fact everything is rotating and rotation along with friction means wear. Enough wear means something at some point will need adjusting or replacing.
What then would be the more common items a TT would needs be adjusted, and how will you know prior to a disasterous situation? Ie., arm tracking, tracking force, or ??
is MM the prefered path or is it MC?
Jim, about eight years ago now, I decided to go back into vinyl. All those years, and all those dollars, have gotten me a more than competent, and satisfying, analog front end. Much of what you will do to achieve the result you desire will be dependent on the amount of your obsession with sound quality.
Being naive, I thought an inexpensive TT, phono pre, and cartridge would do the job. It didn't even come close (a $900 Project TT, POS Sumiko Bluepoint cart, etc.
A VPI Scout was next, definitely an improvement, though I tired of having a tonearm that acted as though it had palsy. What I have now is something special, and to me, expensive, even though I did the restoration, built the plinth, etc; etc; myself. Probably my biggest hurdle was having to learn how to achieve proper set up, which caused me to spend more than I intended on upgrades I didn't know how to make the most out of.
I enjoy my vinyl tremendously, and even built a DIY ultrasonic RCM ( cost $200, works fantastic). After all that, vinyl and digital are nearly neck and neck, as digital has improved a great deal in the last few years. Analog though, has its own rewards, as it is very satisfying to finally get the results you were after, and I am a DIY hound anyway, and enjoyed all my projects immensely. It's a very personal thing, how deeply you are prepared to involve yourself. Once you're there, it's rewarding, and something you can be proud of, depending on how much you actually do yourself to get there.
So, this is somewhat of a cautionary tale, though I would probably do it again, but I'd want to know what I know now first.
Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.
Much good input above, with the key takeaway being that the ultimate answer is the one being the best solution is the one you like the most.
I have a high end turntable, arm, cartridge, phono section and IC. I have a high end universal disc player. I have a DAC in my preamp that's better than most of the hi-rez downloads out there. For me, in my system, in my room, with LP, CD, SACD and hi-rez files of the same material, vinyl is clearly still better. That's not to say that digital isn't good, it just isn't as good IME.
With a $5K budget, you can be into a very high end vinyl rig with these two postings that popped up today: https://www.audiogon.com/listings/turntables-vacuum-with-warranty-factory-refurbished-2017-10-19-ana... and https://www.audiogon.com/listings/tonearms-9-inch-armwand-2017-10-20-analog. The table itself is actually a bit higher end than mine. The arm is one of the very best made, period. All you would need is a cartridge and an IC to finish the system. Contrary to some, I don't believe a phono section is part of the turntable expense; many top-flight preamps come with very-good-to-reference level integral phono capability.
So, you pays your monies and takes your chances. It was the right path for me and has been hugely rewarding every step of the way. Take your time, do your research, ask questions and whenever possible, take the opportunity to audition. At the end of the process, you're the only one who has to be satisfied, so decide for yourself after all is said and done.
Good luck & happy listening!
Islandmandan > … tonearm with palsy
> It's a very personal thing, how deeply you are prepared to involve yourself. Once you're there, it's rewarding, and something you can be proud of, depending on how much you actually do yourself to get there.
> DIY hound anyway Dan
Blindjim > I’m still laughing on the skittish tonearm note. lol
…and there’s the rub.
My intricate D.I.Y.-ing days are behind me. Way behind me. I can slug stuff around, carry this or that in significant poundage, make necessary cable connections, apply footers, etc. after that? Nope. Not gonna happen. I’d simply not trust myself swapping in or out a cart, and just can not do any tonearm adjusting, aligning, etc. that would have to be done by someone with exp and the right tools. I suspect this is a major concern.
Or, at least, mo’ ‘spensive.
Which is why I alluded to a setup which needs next to no adjusting after its installed properly.
Your input was outstanding. Many thanks Dan.
Effischer > many top-flight preamps come with very-good-to-reference level integral phono capability.
> Much good input above, with the key takeaway being that the ultimate answer is the one being the best solution is the one you like the most.
Blindjim > sensible words. Golden in fact. Many tanks.
Sadly, not the preamps I’ve so far considered. Although some of the INTs I’ve run across do have something by way of phono resources. MM or MC dunno.
I’m fast coming to a conclusion the analog playing field is a far more intimate affair. Way more tactile than merely the sum of its parts. That there is a pre-requisite need for physical contact between the user – owner, and the hardware as well as the media. A relationship that develops not just from tangible interaction or interest but comes from a deeper place in one’s humanity.
It sure seems far greater intimacy is a primary facet of the analog experience as one at the very least, must attend to the media episodically, rather than if at all. only brief respits from one interaction to the next delay that interval.
So, exactly how much are ‘jukeboxes’ going for these days anyhow? lol
Incorrect tonearm link in my post above. Use this instead: https://www.audiogon.com/listings/tonearms-client-inventory-wow-2017-10-20-analog.
You're correct in your understanding that analog is a more involved aspect of the audiophile hobby. If you don't particularly enjoy extracting value from concentrated effort, it may not be for you.
Like I said, it's been immensely fulfilling for me, and for many of us. Others don't find it quite their cup of tea. Only you can decide.