Try a different turntable?

Ever since getting into audio, I've owned a VPI turntable (HW19 upgraded with heavier platter, SAMA, JMW arm). It sounds good, without question. But I've been curious about other TTs that (folks say) come from a different design philosophy--Linn and Rega are often mentioned in this connection.

For the next two years, I am in the fortunate position of having two stereo systems; then I will retire and consolidate into one house and one system. I've set up my second system except for vinyl. What 'table/arm combos would folks recommend as an alternative to the VPI (at about the same price)? Ideally also it would be a tad smaller than the big VPIs since I have less space in the retirement home.

I listen to a little of everything, but like acoustic music (classical, folk, jazz) best, and am looking for a setup that will really connect with the music.

Thanks for suggestions!
HW19 upgraded with heavier platter, SAMA, JMW arm)is not only a great table but in many ways better than most of what is being offered today.Most players and that includes VPI are cutting corners and using non suspended tables as their offerings claiming that non suspended is best.The suspended tables are more expensive to manufacture and to maintain. I would stick with the Hw19 and enjoyit and just work on better ways to isolate .
While I agree with Schipo on retaining the VPI (and its underscoring quality), you do seem to be in a position to try other tables just for the sake of it so why not. Maybe you can convince a local dealer or two to let you trial some tables in the other system, and with the wide open resale market, you could probably buy and sell some of the fad alternatives (ie direct drives and rimdrives) being touted. Who knows you may become a debunker in the process...
However, If you want to just try something similar in design and concept, maybe a used similar vintage SOTA Star, however they still have a largish footprint and real heavy.....
Dear Magister: I assume that you want to improve the quality performance on your analog rig and if this is true maybe is a better " road " make a change on your cartridge or tonearm or both, other possibility is to up-grade/migrate to a better phono stage. Not knowing your system is hard to say which could be a good " road " to take.

regards and enjoy the music,
Suspended tables vs non suspended in my humble opinion neither is a better of the other design. Both designs are dependent on the choice of arm you mate with it and the cartridge you mate to that arm. Both set up properly and with an arm not dependant of cost but weight and design for a given table will ultimately yeild great results. The phono stage is oft not given the attention it deserves especially if one is using a quality high end low output MC cartridge making the phono stage that much more critical. Isolation is important for either suspended or non suspended tables.
I have tried out a several of VPIs and several of the Sotas and both are great tables. I tend to like the SME arms over the VPI arms and lean towards the Sota turntables for that reason. The SMEs are easier to set up and in my opinion sound better too. The best VPI I heard had a highly modified Rega RB 300/300 tonearm. It was scary good and blew the doors off the same table with a VPI arm. It was years ago and I do not remember the which VPI table as they have had so many different offerings over the years. I getting ready to audition a Thorens TD 2030 with a SME IV.Vi tonearm. I currently own a completely re-built Sota Star Nova Series 3 with a SME V. I did try the the SME IV.Vi on my Sota Star Nova and it sound much better than the SME V. I think the IV.Vi has better tonearm wire and does not have the static spring adjustment of the V for VTF the IV.Vi only allows VTF adjustment via adjusting the counter weight as opposed the spring and counter weight set up of the V. I am now starting to be a big fan of simple is best. Simple in most cases does sound best. The only real problem with the spring suspended Sotas is that you will have to replace the springs and when you do it is a real pain! Another good table that I set up for a client was an Origin Live and it is compact in size and it does sound real good. Hard to beat for the money.
I would go with a Rega P3-24 with ttpsu or a Rega P5 with
The optional psu. It is hard to beat the British at what they do best. Smaller components for their generaly smaller living spaces. In light of your impending move to a
smaller home it is something to consider.
YMMV . Just my 2 cents worth.
Thanks for all the replies. I may very well end up keeping the VPI, but -- as Mickeyf said -- I'm in a position right now to experiment and would like to do. Thanks to Thesoundhouse for comments about the SME arm; I have heard of them, of course, but never had one, so that's definitely worth a look. I also recently learned about Origin Live; do you happen to remember which model you set up? I looked at their web site and they have quite a range.
Being you are in a position to experiment, I would purchase a used LP12/Ittok IF, and only if, you have a local person who can set it up for you. I'm not suggesting it will sound better than what you have, but it will sound different and not cost much money, especially if it has the internal Valhalla power supply. Additionally, it is relatively compact and fits perfectly on a $150 Target wall shelf, which is an excellent way to isolate it from vibration. Best of luck.
Why not a re-plinthed idler like a Lenco? I did and don't regret it for a second. I don't think I'll ever go back to a belt drive TT.
Avid Volvere TT,Origin Illustrious arm, Ortofon Windfield Cart.
Suspended BD table for me, just my preference as i have heard great sound from both suspended and non.

I haven't heard an idler wheel table in 35 yrs so cannot comment...
Get a Lenco! (I have one for sale, please don't consider this a pitch).
But, having an idler -wheel and your belt drive will bring hours of fun and revelation as to which you think is better. I am biased. I've seen Nottinghams, Linns, Avid, VPI, Teres, Regas on the auction block once a Lenco is brought into the mix.
The Lenco is a KILLER when it comes to stable, rhythmic, emotional vinyl playback.
The Lenco table alone will not get you "there". The table must be cleaned, lubed and adjusted. Then placed in a proper plinth.
The result is tremendous!
Beware. There are lots on non-believers.I understand, though. I doubt they've heard one.
Lenco, Garrard, direct drive (best of the Denon, Sony, Pioneer, Yamaha, Kenwood, Technics, etc). Try something REALLY different, and you won't go back to belt-drive. Life is short.
The Origin live table I set up was the Sovereign. I hear their tables all have very similar sound.
Well, first of all :
I know you like your VPI, you are satisfied, e.t.c

--------------[ GET RID OF IT WHILE YOU CAN ]---------------

Today not tommorow ! Because people are starting to recover from the Belt Drive illness & tommorow it will be late.

Get a new start with :
1). Heavily modified LENCO L75

2). Replinthed - restored GARRARD 401
3). Replinthed - restored THORENS TD 124 II

4). DENON DP 80 / SME 312 S


Yes ! Everything you've heard about IDLERS & DD is true !!!
I wish that I could trade my Symphonic Line RG 6, for a Jean Nantais LENCO REFERENCE ... But there are no any suckers around ... (and I don't have the time, the knowledge, or even the strength to start this project).

Best Regards & Good Luck
keep your table.
This is very interesting! I knew there had been a resurgence of interest in direct drive turntables -- and that's clear from the replies here. Lots to think about.

Thanks - David
LOL.. :)

So Belt drive is now bad, idler wheel tables are good .....

Yeah !!!
No Doubt in my camp DD is the way to go.
I would show a little patience & wait till after the first of the year. There will be a new table & maybe tables at CES.
Good Luck In your search.
If the OP/other is inclined to try DD, two other excellent choices are the Luxman PD-441 and the even better PD-444. Very musical. Somewhat hard to come by, though.
Dear Magister, I am not so dogmatic as some of the others re direct- and idler-drive turntables vs belt-drive ones. I merely suggest that you try one of the other two species to go along with your VPI, if you want something really different from what you already own. IMO, there are many belt-drive turntables worthy of admiration. The nice thing is that if you are less than satisfied, you can usually recoup your investment in a vintage tt. But if you buy a quality dd or idler set-up, I don't think you will be re-selling in the near future post-purchase.
Oh did I say debunker? Just think about how an idler wheel functions or a DD for that matter. Virtually all of these designs are heavily modified in plinth, etc, etc, etc. Also note the size of these nantais designs and the Op's space requirements.
Mickeyf; I'm not sure what your point is in your most recent post re thinking about how an idler or DD functions? Is this supposed to debunk the designs? If I think about the designs, I see a belt driven table having speed stability issues, I see a DD table solve this but have vibration issues (a good plinth can reduce this), and I see (and hear) the lenco idler design in a good plinth solve both these issues.
Also, what's wrong with "heavily modified" and a big plinth if the sound can be improved so much? Isn't that most important?
Incidentally, a good plinth does not have to be as big as the Nantais design.
Sure, in both cases the motor is more or less solidly coupled directly to the platter either through the DD shaft or through the quite solid coupling wheel. In belt drive it is decoupled by the belt., why would a properly designed belt drive have speed stability issues??? where does this myth arise from?
Why do you call speed stability problems with belt drives a myth? Since there is no direct coupling between the motor and platter the motor/belt cannot respond to changes in the drag force from the stylus - with more flexible belts this gets worse. And I have heard this difference directly. Maybe there are belt drive TT's I haven't heard that are better, but I suspect at much higher costs than the rebuilt idlers. And there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that properly plinthed idler TT's are "world beaters" with some very expensive tables losing shootouts to the idlers. But, as I said earlier, my primary evidence is what I heard directly in my system.
Are you telling me the drag force of a delicate stylus at say 2 grams would alter the speed of a moving disc at 4000 gms or 10,000 grams (roughly the weight of my platter). I would bet the friction required to do that would tear the tip right off the stylus.
Do you really believe this?
I can clearly hear this happening on my 24 kg platter !
Re drag force of stylus - When I first read of this phenomenon, I didn't believe it would make enough of a difference to hear, but it's the only plausible explanation for what I am hearing in my system between the idler and the belt drive table I used to have. It was so clear to me, I was stunned by the difference - and I'm not an experienced listener.
I'll stick my neck way out and suggest you were-preconditioned to expect that and you wanted to hear it (without knowing which tables you are talking about), and I am not trying to be insulting, just practical. I do think it is a credit to some of the upgrade/rebuild guys working on Lenco's and Garrards that they can apparently remove a lot of the foibles (wow, rumble, flutter), although I have yet to stumble on any reviews where 'actual measurements' were made using conventional testing equipment.
The question is : Have you ever hear one of the tables mentioned ?
Mickeyf, where do you find "actual measurements ... using conventional testing equipment" of turntables in ANY medium these days? Yeah, I use an idler TT (replinthed Lenco) after it totally destroyed an early VPI TNT. And I loved that TNT for years.
"...and suggest you were pre-conditioned..." Well this amounts to calling me non-objective - you need to have hard evidence before you do that!!! Given this accusation, I'll "stick my neck out" and say you're the one being non-objective and therefore dogmatic in your stance. This is my last post on this issue.
Canam ,

With a high mass platter and big motor the word "Torque" comes to mind with BD, TT and or any TT for that matter.

An idler cannot compensate unless it's motor has a closeloop/ servo/speed control system..


I would love to hear from someone who has only changed the TT, same armboard/amr/cartridge combination.
The word is not "Torque"
The word is : "Ιnertia"
Inertia is from the flywheel effect of the platter, the torque comes from the motor system...
What motor....
You mean the coin size, flea power toy of ALL Belt Drives ?
This is not a motor for this purpose.
It is just an easy-money decision of our corrupted times.
Dear Mickeyf, With reference to your post up the page wherein you assert that the "motor is solidly coupled to the platter" in a direct-drive design and infer that this is a problem, I urge you to remove the platter from a high quality direct drive turntable and really think about what is going on. The platter is riding on the spindle suspended on a bearing, just exactly as it does in a belt-drive turntable. The stator or magnet part of the motor is actually part of the inert platter itself or is firmly mated to it. The rotor or coils surround the base of the spindle but make no contact with it at all. In sum, the drive system has no motion independent of that of the platter, and there is no physical contact between the two drive elements. Please tell me how this is worse than the design of a belt-drive turntable, where in addition to the platter riding on spindle/bearing, we have a belt that in theory can transmit vibrations of a much higher rpm motor to the rim of the platter. (Another advantage of dd is the slower-rotating motor, which can therefore also be quieter than that of a belt-drive.) I don't say that this proves dd is better than bd, but I do say that somewhere along the way a myth has been created re there being a problem with the proximity of the motor to the spindle. I think the myth took root back in the late 80s, when manufacturers started to sell us on belt-drive over dd.
Have to 2nd (3rd?) the idler recommendation. If you like drive & dynamics (and these are pretty important qualities for both jazz and classical) these tables excel and it takes a lot more money in a belt-driven table to match them if it's even possible.

Early this year I bought a Thorens 124 II with an SME arm and put it in a lightweight baltic birch plinth. With a cheap Shure V15 (bought with replacement stylus for under $150) it is stellar in all areas. It is very quiet too after relubing.
Hi Paul,
Can you please inform us for your experience between Lenco & Thorens ?

Thank you in advance

I had them a year apart. The Lenco was definitely quieter - it was silent - but it was also in a massive slate plinth and the total cost over the Thorens setup was double. The Thorens is still very quiet.

I can't speak beyond that due to the time difference and the fact that they had different arms and carts.

If you want the top-tier solution (and no effort required) the OMA Lenco might be impossible to top.

I intend the Thorens to be my last table. Unless something breaks that I can't fix or get parts to fix.
quote lewm: "The stator or magnet part of the motor is actually part of the inert platter itself or is firmly mated to it."
I assume this is when it is both inert and in motion, either way how could it be any more directly-coupled than that? The principal problem with direct drive turntables when they were introduced was 'cogging' created by movement between the magnetic poles of the motor. So they reduced the problem by adding additional poles to the motor. I think around 24 was thought to be enough, however that's still 24 cogs in around 2 seconds. I can think of 1 high-end DD turntable manufacturer only(Goldmund) and one other mass-producer that has a quite romantic following (more initially with DJs) and I understand they have announced they are going to discontinue building their tables (notwithstanding the vinyl resurgence). Their romantic resale value should rise even more accordingly.
As far as rim-drives go, this is mostly a market of diy/garage builders based around 40 year old designs
rebuilding salvageable $50 (c 1960)tables. Oh, I do hear VPI offers a rim drive option on one of its pricier setups. Either way, its a wheel, directly driven by a motor and the wheel makes direct contact with the platter.

Anyway, I actually am thinking seriously about trying a KAB 1200 myself in one of my systems.
Thank you for your reply.
Should I asume that you downgrade from Slate OMA/PTP3/3012 going to Birch Ply TD124/3009 ? Why you do that & if it was really a step down, why then you accept the Thorens as your final TT ?
I'm curious 'cause I've went from the Symphonic Line RG6 to the Thorens TD124 II also, & I've had plans to sell it for a (Nantais REF, OMA Anatase, Dobbins L70, Artisan Fidelity DCHM L75) Lenco. Not 'cause I'm not satisfied,(it makes me smile for the negative progression over it's 45 years) but the Thorens provides a more restricted ground for experiments. It is more intergrated & less tolerable to tweeks within it's limits.
(Of course I've allready modified every possible part of it)
But the main reason is that the armboard can't accept my Pluto 9A without been hardly abused, together with the upper platter. I've put the 12" Reed 3Q & it was a real joy, but my beloved Colibri XPP has to go and my Pluto also.
It's not an easy decision : Thorens/Reed 12"/Goldfinger or Lenco/Pluto 9.5"/Colibri ?
Unfortunatelly I don't have the Lenco to compare, and to keep over than one turntable is out of the question.
Anyway I don't expect to solve this dillema without having both side by side. (this requires to trade my S.L RG6 for Lenco). But I really can't figure why you abandoned the OMA Lenco in favor for the Thorens & the 3012 for the 3009 !

Best Regards

{ My apologies to the thread for this out of topic reply. }
Mickeyf, It must be nice to know stuff without actually experiencing it. You can get a job in the circus. I know this is a waste of my time, but please tell me how and why a belt-drive turntable motor is immune to cogging, whereas it is a major bugaboo only of direct-drive (and I suppose idler-drive turntables too, since you seem to know all about them as well). And if you think direct-drive turntables are disappearing as a class (at a faster rate than belt-drives), you are mistaken. I don't think Goldmund has made ANY turntable for years save for a revival of their megabuck Reference, so that is not a good example of a trend. However, visit Teres, Brinkmann, or Steve Dobbins' websites for evidence of new and high quality dd's. Plus note that Teres and VPI (as you do mention) are heavily emphasizing the rim drive option vs their standard belt-drive products. Also take a look at the many rim/idler drive turntables now made by TTWeights. Report back after you have actually auditioned the KAB 1200.
The only thing proven is that DD,BD,ID, can sound good..

I don't think i will be throwing away my Wilson Benesch as i did my lenco 30+ yrs ago. At the time an LP12 would walk all over it. Obvious today that people can and do get great sound from DD, BD,ID tables and we can ping pong the advantages back and forth all night it wont change what people prefer and or like.

Enjoy the moment ...

The only advantage of BD over ID is the quiet drive. But is NO more a REAL MOTOR DRIVE that operates the platter, actually, exactly the opposite happens : The inertia of the platter guides the belt to creep on the motor's pulley and the resulting speed is (un)controlled by this mix.
But yes, me too I also hear great sound from Micro Seiki, Simon York, Pink Triangle Belt Drives. The point is that most of the critical design decisions by manufactures, are DIRECTED BY THE PROFIT & this is the only reason that we were stacked in progress for 3 decades.
And please Weseixas, you are not alone doing a wrong move downsising your source, me too I change my Denon DP 80 for an inferior Belt Drive, but today I've found the courage to accept my mistake. But NO. DO NOT mention the F***ing LP12. It is the master of this disaster that we pay for all these years of blindness & manipulation.
"What the people like" is usualy a manipulated zone at all the expressions of human's life. Of course it's sure enough, if the only DD or ID turntables are vintage & ugly & requiring a huge refreshing effort in order to perform their potentials, it's more than expected, most of the people to discard them as nostalgic & antique items.
It's about time for manufactures to understand that people are asking for new examples of DD & ID at last.
Now I want to dedicate "wooden ships" by Jefferson Airplane to those who keep the faith for a better audio world.
It's really a matter of one's personal taste in music reproduction, ancillary equipment, etc. I certainly agree that any of the 3 technologies can be made to sound very good such that there will be some among us who prefer any one of the 3 over the other 2. Funny you should mention the LP12. I heard one at RMAF. It caught my attention because I turned to it to see if I was listening to a Lenco. It has the good qualities of a Lenco in an effective plinth, but the properly set up Lenco might give a bit more of what I like. Still, the LP12 sounded very good.
Yeah...Peace brother.
Life goes on...

Dedication : "Carry On" by CS&N

I can assure you , at the time the LP12 was superior sounding to my lenco ( 77), there were no internet, so we had no collective knowledge nor ignorance as we have today. Equipment were bought and sold after many shootout's and the lesser was then disregarded, nothing was ever purchased on impulse as most seem to do today and almost everyone i knew back then was into hi-fi(there was nothing else really) so most decisions were never blind and the Lenco lost out to the LP12 at the time....

Now today it seems you either follow internet folklore or you are considered stupid, well i have been around this game along time, more than just a casual player and what has become obvious to me is that no topology has a lock on good sound there is no magic wand in tubes,SS,Digital or analog, the real change for me over the last 35 yrs is the "tone" when one disagrees with the flock.

Shout the merits of ID, the condescension to BD or DD TT is not necessary nor warranted.


PS: Maybe in 20 yrs some upstart TT guru will be on the Gon proclaiming how great his LP12 sounds after certain Home depot mods..... :)

The LP12 is still a great sounding table today , a good friend has one and it still charms the soul and a very good deal used i might add.

We should all rejoice that nail dragging thru a groove is still with us 30 yrs after it's imminent death was announced.. :)