What phono stage are you using and what aspect of the sound are you hoping to improve?
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Pending your answer to Viridian's question, I would say that the Rega cartridge line in general doesn't offer the best value. You could probably find a better cartridge in the same price range from Benz Micro, Denon, Clearaudio, etc. -- again, depending on your phono stage, system, tastes and goals. I would avoid a clamp on this table -- it could damage the platter and bearing. But a Ringmat or AQ Sorbogel mat might bot be bad ideas. All that said, if you have $1,200 to spend, it might not get you much brand new but it will buy you a very nice used Linn LP12 or Rega P25 or even an entry-level Avid, to name a few, and those should all provide a substantial upgrade.
I have a lot of experience with the Systemdek IIX. You were correct in your initial assessment that you wont likely find anything in the $1200 price range to beat it. When configured properly even the Linn LP12 and Upper range Regas wont touch it either. The very best upgrades you can do is to get rid of that glass platter altogether and get a Lexan platter. Next would be to put a simple Rega RB-250 arm on there. No mat or clamp should be used with this table.
As you might already know, Audio Note UK bought the rights to produce the IIx when Systemdek went out of business. They currently manufacture the same table that you have under the name TT-1. There is a two motor version that goes by the name, you guessed it, TT-2. So you can get a brand new Lexan platter through Audio Note UK, and any other parts that you might need as well. Changing the platter and arm will put that table into another level. And it does not sound bad at all stock! The IIx is probably the greatest and least known audiophile turntable bargain ever.
If you really want to bump it up another level, let Audio Note fit the Rega RB-250 with internal silver tonearm wire and silver leadout cables. And drop the stock counterweight and mount one of the Mitchell counterweights on there.
I have had many turntables. VPI, SOTA, LP12 over the years, and I can truthfully say that the one you have once it has the right platter, arm, wire and cartridge will outperform them all. Its hard to believe, because the base is so light and cheap looking, but there is something in these things that have soul. No other way to explain the sound.
Feel free to email me if you have any questions.
I believe this turntable is still available as the Audio Note TT1. The AN version looks very similar but sports an acrilic platter. It looks like it sits on the same inner platter the glass sits on on the original Systemdec. Having owned a Systemdec for many years my guess is that it would be a worthwhile upgrade if the platter is available. That being said, I would not throw too much cash at the Systemdec. You can exceed the Systemdecs potential with $1200 and whatever you can sell it for quite easily I suspect.
Hi! Thank you very much for all the response & info. It was very appreciated. I have decided to upgrade the Systemdek. I have found a Rega RB250 upgraded via Origin Live. The Lexan platter I'll get right from audio note. I have also found a used Goldring 1024. The Goldring has about 300 hrs of use. A question on the Goldring is 300 hrs of use alot in stylus life? For those who wanted to know my phono stage, its a MM only that was a upgrade to my Linn Wakonda preamp. Again, Thanks to everyone for the help and a super big thanks to Mark. Super big thanks as I'm taking Marks advise on this table.
The OL RB 250 is a step backwards from the Opal, IMHO. I also believe, based on experience with Rega tables and not the Systemdek, that plastic platters sound too soft in some systems, compared to the glass platters when terminated with a proper mat.
I think that a cartridge like the Dynavector 20XH or Ortofon Black is the best way to improbe the performace of this front end.
Get a mechanics stethoscope and listen to the motor while adjusting the bolts that fix it to the mount. I have found there is a sweet spot. Also you can get new motors. if you need one let me know.
Other upgrades you want to do
I have tweaked the unit by apply Dynamat to the - plinth, suspension members, motor, motor mount and arm board. The difference can be heard with a stethoscope. (I applied a reasonable amount to the suspension parts - didn't want to add too much weight. Additionally I have taken the bottom panel off and removed the foam from the springs and cleaned them and applied talcum to the rubber bushings.
Remove bottom and leave off
Remove foam from inside springs
Get a new platter - acrylic - this will let you use a record clamp - weight
Don't use Grado cartridges - not shielded - motor noise
Use a good bubble level with a flat record in place not the platter. (Platters can be concave)
Make sure to clean and oil the spindle bearing (I use synthetic motor oil)
Make sure to use both grounds and tie them together. The one for the arm and the one to the little bolt/nut on the back of the unit
I've had my Systemdez IIX for about ten years now. In the past I've had all manner of turntables - Garrard 301 and 401, various Thorens, a Linn Lp12, a couple of direct drives... and a huge number of arms and cartridges - SME 3009 and 3012, Decca, Linn, Moth arms and Ortofon, Decca London, Audio Technica, Shure... And the best sounding combination I've found so far is the Systemdek with a Rega RB300 arm and a Sumiko Blue Point moving coil cartridge. But that combination only really works if the deck is set up accurately, on a solid wall mounted shelf. The Systemdek is VERY sensitive to vibration - either mechanical or airborne. Personally I prefer the original glass platter and lambswool mat and I reverted to that combination after trying a Lexan platter and various combinations of mat. I don't use a clamp (and nor should one be used with the glass platter). In my opinion the Sumiko Blue Point moving coil cartridge is the absolute budget buy of the millenium (both this and the last!). It has an output that is just about enough to drive a moving magnet phono stage but works best into the MC input on my NAD 1000 pre-amp. The Systemdek needs to be set up correctly - level, with the suspension accurately balanced and with a decent earth connected to the tag on the rear panel (in addition to the arm earthing). Removing the foam dampers from the suspension springs and applying small pieces of sound deadening felt to various points on the sub-chassis is often recommended but I've tried that and can hear no difference. I've also experimented with various mods to the RB300, again with very little audible difference (but considerable expense!!!). I think that Dunlop got it just about right in the first place and so for very little money you get a decent 'out of the box' turntable that can be tweaked and upgraded, and that comes very close to matching the performance of the Linn LP12 for a fraction of the cost.
In my experience, in terms of purchasing "tweaks", I found that a non-felt mat topped by a SOTA Acrylic Supermat gave an order of magnitude improvement over the felt: certainly in terms of detail and noise floor. I've not heard the Systemdek arm but my RB300(Elys2 cartridge) with a Cardas re-wire and a Pete Riggle Brass counterweight made the Profile arm/Grado Green my IIX came with, a pile of...
But the greatest improvement was investing in a HEED power supply. This made the IIX it SO close to an LP12 Valhalla/Ittok/Koetsu Black it's staggering (I know because I have recordings from my old LP12 to compare with on metal tape); just a slight loss of inner detail and Bass "slam".
Interestingly enough the BASIS turntable dealer whom I purchased the HEED from, considered the Systemdek IIX would be a $2000+ turntable(w/o arm!) today! Talk about inflation! Selling the Profile made the cost of my 'dek $250! The Analog OPPO!
Question for this thread. I have this deck in the IIX900. Want to upgrade sound.Currently mated is an RB250 arm with a Michell technoweight and upgraded silver wiring. Using a Grado Blue equivalent from the past (MCZ). (No hums)I sense that leaving the glass platter with None Felt mat is best. And using no record clamping as well. Would better dollars be spent on going PSU outboard with a Hercules/Mose Box (about $400) or ditching the RB250 for a Michell Technoarm (more $)?? Current sound is quite nice. Soon will mount a Denon DL103 and boost my PH3 phono box resistors to 100ohm. Feedback on best $$ spent much appreciated. Cheers, Alex
I have a Systemdek IIX with a Michell branded (Rega) RB300, a new acrylic arm board correct for the Rega mounting distance, and the original glass platter with a Mission Sorbomat platter mat. I use a Michell record clamp. I saw in this thread that one should not use a clamp with this turntable. Why? How could it possibly damage the platter or bearing? Table sounds great to me! Thanks.