How about new or used, direct drive, belt drive or thread drive? Where to start?Find a good local dealer or a trusted friend and start to listen. Take your time. It could be a very enjoyable search.
22 responses Add your response
Personally, I would stick to a table with strong customer support. Truthfully, I have never heard the Ayre table, but I know the company and have only the highest praise for their products and their support. That is true as well for VPI. There are many more VPI's/models to be had, but you should see them and do your own evalutaions.
The Tonearm will of course play vital with a reference rig.
Reckon you won't go too far in that realm with a $7K Table, and a $400 arm.
If somebody here would hand me a blank check, I can't help thinking about somebody like Galibier Design. Something about a 40+ lb Platter sounds might sweet to me! lol
Of course their Stelvio II with Arm will set you back a might more than $7K.
I am quite surprised that the range of recommendations is so narrow (except for Peter's), given the highly permissive price range. I would say that, before you spend any money, you should go wherever necessary and LISTEN to a wide variety of turntables that are within your price range, new or used. Also, it would be foolish to exclude categorically direct-drive and idler-drive options. Take 6 months, if necessary. It will be a rewarding effort. It will also be difficult to control for tonearm/cartridge combinations that have a huge effect on sonics. After a while, you will develop some skill to separate the "sound" of the tt from that of the tonearm/cartridge.
You can't go wrong with a used SME 20, which I think sneaks into your price range. I personally like an Amazon Model combined with a Moerch UP4/DP6 (depending on how you like your music, smooooth or present) arm. That's in your price range and as good as anything out there until you get to the stratosphere.
Buy my friend's SOTA Star Sapphire with vacuum hold down system and record clamp and an SME 309 arm. It is in immaculate condition and sounds awesome. When Gary replaced the suspension springs a few months ago it got even better! Killer deal including shipping and Paypal; can't do much better than that. Gary is meticulous and I have bought many great LPs from him. I had the VPI TNT 5 and they are good tables but I think this SOTA is quieter and the vacuum really works to flatten and stabilize LPs during play. Put an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze on it and it will make great music.
Modified Lenco L75. If done properly will run with the big tables and even beat many. Expect to pay $5k and up for a real serious one. Check the forums for others experiences, most will concur - these things are the real deal, puts many more expensive tables to shame. Heard many so so belt driven tables from the likes of VPI, Clearaudio, Sota throughout the years but never any that can do the things one of these modded idlers can do, just take a peek at the Artisan fidelity lenco if you want an idea of what a top modded Lenco looks like. Certain so called hi end tables are alos built poorly (ie. VPI el cheapo) but most people don't know any better. I did also hear a 301 Garrard but it did not quite stack up to the Lenco, but could have been the system or setup, too many factors involved...good luck with your quest. btw If you must go with a new table maybe try a Feickert. peace J
Just a thought about the VPI uni-pivot turntables. If you pull my posts, you will see that I own the VPI Classic 1 (w/Classic 3 arm wand). My bottom line opinion: if you can find a carty that matches well with the JMW unstabilized uni-pivot set up, the VPI sounds great and is a contender. OTOH, IME, many great carties that I tried just didn't work very well. I believe that many other Forum members echoed similar experiences. Check the threads.
I think the next time around, if there is a next time, I would opt for a different tone arm set up. Not sure which type, but something more stable than the JMW set up.
Re Sota Star Sapphire w/vacuum: I owned one for many years. It is a very nice turntable. After that, I have owned a Notts Hyperspace, upgraded Lenco, Denon DP80, Kenwood L07D, Technics SP10 Mk2 and Mk3. ALL of these turntables were and are superior to the Star Sapphire in my system, in my opinion. There are issues with pitch stability and bass response, as regards the Star. However the Star Sapphire costs less, but that's irrelevant to the OP. If Sota is a choice then one should stick to the Cosmos or Millenium. If the OP should luck out and find a Kenwood L07D, which usually can be had for about $4000 or less, that would be my choice on a cost-effective basis.
" just buy a used Micro Seiki and dont worry about turntables anymore; built like a tank and sounds better than TTs costing over 30K USD.
Mr. Ikeda, of Ikeda / Fidelity Research
I agree, if you want my opinion, Avoid SME 20/V turntables,very expensive not justify the price, any Micro Seiki RX-1500G is superior in all aspects.
A VPI JMW 12.7, Graham Phantom B-44, or a Tri-Planar VII ultimate outperforms any SME tonearm.
Bifwynne Are you now happy with the cartridge you have in your Classic? I have a 10.5i VPI arm, and if set up properly (not hard..just do it properly) I haven't come across too many cartridges that won't work. Some like Shelters need additional weight on the front end, some like the Benz LPS, need additional weight on the back end, some like Clearaudio/Grado can use damping, but I found that there are many cartridges an owner can use with this arm.
Stringreen, all is good. I settled on the Sound Smith VPI Zephyr, which I understand was designed with the VPI Classic in mind -- or so I heard. The DV 20X worked ok too, but the Zephyr is better. I suspect that low compliance/heavy carties work best with the 10.5i arm. My first try was the CA Maestro Wood -- damn think rang in the lower registers. Drove Mike and me crazy, but could not resolve it. Even tried adding a 3 gram head weight and stepped up to the Classic 3 arm wand. I bet another 3 grams might have turned the trick. Anyway, that's all behind me now. Glad to hear that there are choices like the Benz LPS. If I ever get ready to switch out, I'll e mail you for some specific carty suggestions.
This info may be of some value to others, I once had a short discussion with Harry Weisfield earlier in 2011.
The discussion was pertaining to the VPI Classic Turntable, and as Harry stated, the Classis can possibly be ordered, and drilled for a Tonearm other than the JMW Arm.
That for whatever personal reasons, there are possible other candidates for a choice of Tonearm on the Classic.
I know no more than this, and such would of course need to be discussed with the VPI Factory. I would then assume that other similar sized Arms of choice could be implemented. Mark