Turntable Advice Needed


I am looking to move my existing Rega RP3 to a secondary system and upgrade to a new turntable for my primary system. Current setup is a Plinius Hiato integrated with Dynaudio Contour 3.4 speakers. I stream via an Innuous Zenith server and a Lumin T2 streamer. I am extremely happy with the sound I am getting from this setup but think a turntable upgrade might be in order. Since I’ve had the Rega P1 and P3 my first thought was to just upgrade to the new P6. As I know nothing about the “sound” of different turntables I really don’t know what I might be missing. I’m not a big tweaker but just want something that sounds good.  Spending range is probably in the $1,500 -$2,500 range and I will also need a phono preamp. I can be persuaded to spend a bit more but am looking for the best sound/value ratio I can find. I’ve read in some threads that Rega lacks a bit in bass but I really don’t have anything to compare it to.

I would very much appreciate any thoughts/advice folks might be willing to share.

Many thanks


Ag insider logo xs@2xpuppyt
Technics 1200GR, Nagaoka MP500, Schiit Mani.

Hi Puppy,
The Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck is a great value and comes fully set up.
I do not think you can beat it for the money. 

Mike
Nice gear by the way. I'd love to hear it with the direct drive 1200GR!
I’ve heard others mention the Technics 1200GR. What is the appeal of this turntable? The dealers seem a bit odd: Sweetwater, Crutchfield etc. Not trying to sound snobbish but not what I would have expected.
A lot of those dealers sell DJ equipment.

The Technics SL1200GR may look like a DJ rig and can even be used as one but I think it’s geared more towards the audiophile.

I just got one recently and couldn’t be happier.

No more belts to fiddle with.

No more external power supplies or speed box.

No more wondering if my table is running at the right speed.

And, I can easily change cartridges.

Also easy to adjust VTA.

Let’s not leave out the most important thing, it sounds great.

Just my opinion of course but I'm never going back to a belt drive tt.  Life's getting too short and I just want to listen to music. With a good cartridge, the GR makes good music.

1K more Dr Feickert Volare so much better than anything in the same price range. If you are near MD I know a dealer that has it on display.                 http://www.feickert.org/index.php?id=34&L=1
Post removed 
Thanks @nick the knife.  I appreciate your views.  Very helpful
Vpi scoutmaster or possibly vpi prime. For cheaper maybe the Marantz tt15s1 if you need a decent cartridge too.
I suggest that you spend most on the turntable, a third of that on the tonearm, and much less on the cartridge. I did it the other way around, against expert advice, and ended up spending much more than necessary.

Thing is, turntables and tonearms don’t wear out. Cartridges are positively ephemeral by comparison. Also, no matter how good your cartridge is, it must be properly oriented and properly secured and properly adjusted to do its job. Otherwise that fine cartridge is a total waste. What orients and secures any cartridge is the tonearm.

Get used to setting up a cartridge in your new tonearm. Practice with disposable stuff. A valuable cartridge is probably more fragile, so practicing with that is a bad idea - more costly to damage, more likely to damage. Set-up is really, really important, because a well set-up front end will out-perform something poorly set up, even if it’s worth several times as much. Ask me how I know.

I suggest that you look into small boutique brands like Nottingham Analogue (turntables). The money goes into the product, not advertising. For a tonearm, consider the Trans-Fi Terminator air bearing, probably the best value in high end at $1000. I use two, one for each turntable.

And good luck!
I have had excellent experiences with ClearAudio and Basis. Not a huge fan of the Rega models below the P9. I am not tweaked either after initial dialing in. Agree that cartridge set up is paramount. No your compliance’s and get the proper Phono pre and quality shielded cables and isolation feet.
Technics 1200GR....I have owned several tables including your Rega tables and the Technics are wonderful tables to use....easy setup, the detachable headshells are a plus and allow for easy cartridge swaps....
my current tables are a Woodsong Audio Garrard 301 and STS Thorens TD-124 for Reference.  I have owned the SL-1200g so can speak for the Technics tables and you can’t go wrong with the GR model.  Table and Arm combo is the most important and phono should be bought based on what direction you decide to go with on cartridge choice MM vs MC?

I’ve heard others mention the Technics 1200GR. What is the appeal of this turntable? The dealers seem a bit odd: Sweetwater, Crutchfield etc. Not trying to sound snobbish but not what I would have expected.
The Black 1210 is sold thru online, musician, DJ outlets. The silver 1200GR is sold thru audiophile or Technics home audio dealers. You can get get discounts on the Black 1210 thru places like Guitar center, etc. Audio dealers CAN get the black 1210GR however, the music, DJ dealers CANNOT get the silver 1200GR's (although I'm sure someone knows of an exception or two). There are much fewer silver 1200Gr's and most audio dealers have low or no stock. There are a couple places like Value Electronics and USA Tube Audio that seems to buy at larger volumes. 
Thanks very much for these thoughtful recommendations and great advice.
Redundant at this point but I also suggest the Technics 1200GR in that price range. Very nice bass!
The upgraded Goldnote Volare, based on what they learned doing spec work on the Bryston tt is currently on sale and in your range. Ive got the Bryston and at 4 k it compared in an AB with the Clearaudio Ovation (8k). So for $1400 you’d get a really stable rock solid sound that after set up needs nothing. 
Barring that, yes the MoFi tables sound good. 
Audio Technica LP7, Schiit Mani, Nagaoka MP500 or Ortofon 2MBlack or Goldring 2500
As some have mentioned, I like VPI and Clearaudio, both make really good TT's. Right now I think I would go with the VPI Prime Scout. Upscaleaudio.com has a VPI Prime Scout with the upgraded 10.5" tonearm for $2.9k. A little outside your price range but it's an absolute monster of a TT and that tonearm would give you the flexibility to equip any cart you wanted. 
One thing to note, however, both VPI and Clearaudio TT's do not come with dust covers. You can find them sold separately but it does add to the cost
@jimmy225.  Thanks for the recommendation. Two questions. How does the VPI Scout compare to the Mobile Fidelity, Technics or Rega Planar 6 in your opinion. And if I start pushing the budget up a bit, do you have any thoughts on the Rega Planar 8?

@aberyclark Are there any differences between the two tables?

The Black 1210 is sold thru online, musician, DJ outlets. The silver 1200GR is sold thru audiophile or Technics home audio dealers.

A Technics SL1200GR ?
Do yourself a favour son & by yourself a real turntable.Used Oracle Delphi's are going for a song.

https://www.ebay.ca/itm/333417045503
https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649573125-oracle-delphi-mk-i-with-audioquest-arm/
Later on you can replace the arm if you like with something more esoteric (used A.C.T., Graham, Zeta, or a modified Rega, ect, ect), the variations are endless. And buy a spare belt that you can change in 20 years.
Enjoy the music.


Gold Note for your price range or Pure Fidelity for a bit more.
jjaudiosolutions.com
Just saw a VPI HMW-19/ IV using an original Aries platter and JMW 10.5 inch arm.  includes an SDS.  $2500.  

IMO, that's the best platter VPI ever produced.  Arm works best on an unsprung table, which is a favorable mod for an HWI-19 (replace the springs with sorbothane pucks).  

It's on ebay.
I appreciate all of the thoughts and comments.  As I continue my research I am realizing I need to up my price point a bit to get a significant improvement over my current setup. I am also coming across some terminology I am not completely familiar with.  What does it mean when someone says a turntable "plays fast"? My literal mind says that is not a good thing as I assume the perfect world has the platter spinning at 33 1/3 rpm.  I'm sure I am wrong though.  Also, what is VTA? Finally as I continue searching I keep coming back to two turntables: the VPI Prime Scout and the Rega Planar 8.  They seem like two ends of the spectrum. The Rega looks strange to me but I care little about looks and more about satisfying sound.

Thanks again.  As always, insights, commentary and thoughts are greatly appreciated.  This forum has been and continues to be a great resource.

puppyt 

FWIW, Have owned the upgraded (Superscout) VPI Scout from Upscale now for a little over 12 months. To my ears and after a few hours to properly set up the Ortophone M2 Black it is superbly reproducing all my Records in my collection. I am very happy with this turntable and see no changes in the future. It’s been a flawless performer in every regard, for my purposes, which is enjoying my music. Associated equipment are, Rogue Pharaoh Integrated and B&W 803D Speakers and a dust cover (must have). Approximate useage is about 17 hours a week. Performs well above its price range IMO. Not plugging for any product, just stating my experience.
thanks Gillatgh,

 A few questions if you don’t mind:

1. How did you decide on the cartridge?
2. What type of music do you listen to?
3. Do you find that the turntable requires a lot of tweaks and adjustments?
Much appreciated!
Puppy, much like you I had a budget in mind, which I exceeded by a little. After much research into a variety of brands I settled on VPI. I wanted the biggest bang for my buck. As I already spent more on the turntable than anticipated I chose the best compatible cartridge I could afford. It was a great decision.
Most of the music I listen to is Rock from the 60s thru 90s but also some country and classical, even a little big band stuff (inherited from parents). The turntable and cartridge combination does justice with all genre’s I have tried.
Initial setup was done by upscale and was close but not perfect. I spent probably another 5 or 6 hours over the initial month tweaking the setup, things like Tracking force, Azimuth, VTA until I got it to where it was as close to perfect as I could make it. Actually it was enjoyable as I learned about the table and the possible adjustments and how each affected SQ.
Since then I have not changed any settings. I just listen to the music. One point I’d like to make is that I set my VTA at a setting that I was happy with for all record thicknesses. I did not want to adjust each time a record thickness changed. I’m quite satisfied.
For clarity, I am referring to the souped up VPI Prime Scout only available from Upscale Audio. It is not the standard version Scout.
Hope this is helpful.
@puppyt  Here are a few definitions:

VTA - In simple terms, with the cartridge mounted flush with the arm's headshell, the angle between the arm and the surface of the record.  
Azimuth - looking straight at the cartridge from the front, the angle of the cantilever to the record surface.  The cantilever should be at right angles to the record surface.  
VTF - The tracking force exerted by the cartridge stylus into the groove at right angles to the record surface.
Anti-skate - the horizontal outward force against the movement of the arm toward the record spindle.  There is a natural pull inward on the arm.  It needs to be countered with an outward force to keep the stylus centered in the groove with equal pressure on both sides of the groove.
Stylus rake angle - Basically the same as VTA.  (some arguable differences, but for this discussion basically the same thing.)

A good dealer will set up a table and adjust the above items.  A mediocre dealer will mount the cartridge and set the VTF in the right neighborhood.  A poor dealer will give you boxes with parts and a set of instructions.  Make sure you get the "good dealer" package from a reputable dealer.  Or have a friend close by that can help.  
gillatgh/bpoletti

Thank you both very much! Exceedingly helpful! I actually had a short discussing with Upscale Saturday evening right before they closed. I will have a more in depth call Monday. Once again, many thanks for advice and help.


I really appreciate all of the great advice.  I have increased by budget to around $5K all in and have narrowed my choices down to the VPI Prime Scout or the Dr. Feickert Volare.  I decided against the Rega Planar 8.  I’ve had nothing but Rega since returning to vinyl but I am ready to try something different.  (I have to admit paying that much for something that unsubstantial looking is a factor albeit a superficial one.) I’m looking at a variety of cartridge and phono stage options including potentially doing a tube phone stage.  I didn’t realize you could do that if you had a solid state integrated but I have been enlightened.  As always I welcome and appreciate any and all comments from this forum.
Not having owned either brand, I’d go for the Feickert over VPI. You buy that Prime Scout, and then you blink, and BOOM it will be superseded by the "Optimus Prime Ranger Mk 8" and you’ll be running in place on their never ending treadmill of circular design changes and upgrades.
+1 on the dr Feickert




+2 on the Dr Feickert, had a VPI would never go back
@jtsnead:

What did you dislike about the VPI?
Setting up the 3d arm is not fun and you also need the 2and pivot piece and the Soundsmith thing you put on the weight for azimuth to make the arm usable it's just to hard compared to other arms I've had. I think enough people complained then they came out with the gimbal version. I also had a hard time getting feedback from being transmitted through the table, you have to have a really good base under the table at additional cost to avoid feedback like woofer pumping etc.. the metal unipivot arms are better though.
@jtsnead, I can say I have had none of the issues with the VPI you mentioned. Found it to be relatively easy to set up and experience no feedback whatsoever.  Agree on the Soundsmith accessory tho, helps with fine tuning azimuth and tracking force. I do not have the 3D arm so cannot comment but the 10.5 arm suits me just fine. No need for the 2nd pivot. No woofer pumping  etc either.
Again not plugging, just my personal experience  
Once again, I really appreciate everyone's advice and insight.  This forum is an incredible resource.  My motto is never to be the smartest guy in the room and with this forum that is never a concern for me.

I ultimately connected with Kat at Upscale Audio and I can't say enough about the experience.  She educated me and never tried to sell me.  (I had the same experience with Dave Lalin at the Audio Doctor when I bought the Lumin T2 streamer and Innuos server.  I am extremely happy with those choices and with Dave's advice and counsel.)  Anyway Kat and Upscale were very patient and helpful and made the entire experience a pleasure.  Here is what I ultimately chose:

Dr. Feikert Volare
Jelco TK-850S Tonearm
Delos Lyra MC Cartridge
Pro Ject Tube Box DS2 Phono Stage

This was significantly more than my budget but after a lot of research I wanted to make a pretty significant leap and realized each dollar spent doesn't necessarily achieve a dollar of upgrade (anyway that's what I told myself!).  Unfortunately due to some sheetrock work being done in my listening room I haven't unpacked everything and set it up.  I don't want to subject the new members of the family to dust and debris before I even get started.  The wait is killing me but I will report back when it is up and running.

Thanks again for everyone's help.

puppyt
Congrats on your purchase. I look forward to your comments after you get it set up.
@puppyt congratulations Dr Feikerts are one of the best turntable lines. I did not mention that my friend is a dealer here in Maryland hope you not close to us because he would of liked to sell the Volare to you and I would of set it up for free since that is what I do for him along with helping out at shows. The Jelco is a great arm you cansee my 850M 10" on the back of my Blackbird, see my moniker
Thanks jtsnead.  I am excited about my purchase and am looking forward to getting everything set up. By the way, I don’t live anywhere near Maryland but I do love crab cakes!


Please follow up with you impressions. Crab cakes are the best.
The Black 1210 is sold thru online, musician, DJ outlets. The silver 1200GR is sold thru audiophile or Technics home audio dealers. You can get get discounts on the Black 1210 thru places like Guitar center, etc. Audio dealers CAN get the black 1210GR however, the music, DJ dealers CANNOT get the silver 1200GR's (although I'm sure someone knows of an exception or two). There are much fewer silver 1200Gr's and most audio dealers have low or no stock. There are a couple places like Value Electronics and USA Tube Audio that seems to buy at larger volumes.

Where did you get that information from?
The DJ model is mk7, not the GR (no matter what color).
The SL1210 mk7 and SL1200GR are different turntables. 
The GR available in two colors S (silver) and B (black).
The mk7 also available in two colors 1200 mk7 is silver and 1210 mk7 is black. The stock availability always change, no matter what model. 

Like it was ages ago Technics supply those turntasbles in two colors, it was always like that with 1210 mk2 and 1200 mk2

 
puppyt, looks like a nice setup that you will enjoy for a long time.  
I wanted to follow up on my purchase after having a chance to listen for awhile. Just to reiterate I purchased:

Dr. Feickert Volare
Jelco TK 850-S Tonearm
Delos Lyra MC Cartridge
Pro Ject Tube Box DS2 Phono Stage

To start, I went a fair amount above my original budget.  At the beginning, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  During my research it became clear that there isn’t a smooth and direct correlation between an additional dollar spent and an equal amount of improved performance received. So I concluded that I needed to spend more than I originally thought to get some really upgraded performance. As it turns out I am really glad I did. The system sounds amazing. I’m not really proficient in all of the audiophile terminology but I am just really impressed with everything. I am hearing instruments and notes that I hadn’t heard before. Playing “Keith Don’t Go” from the Nils Lofgren Acoustic Live album just blew my socks off.  It felt like I was there. For me this is so much better than streaming although I still stream and still play CD’s. I am a believer in embracing all of the formats but I can definitively say that vinyl on this new system is my #1 choice.  It really allows me to just listen to the music which, after all, is the point of the whole thing.

Many thanks to everyone in this forum for their advice and ideas. They were invaluable.  Also, working with Upscale Audio was truly a pleasure. Kat and the rest of the team there know their stuff.
@puppyt Really good move as a Blackbird owner the Feickert tables are one the most neatral with a solid foundation to take advantage of any upgrades you make. I went from a Triplanar VII SE to a Thales Simplicity II tonearm and it was noticeable improvement. I just put on a Delos also, if you are on FB look up Dr Feickert USA and you will find my group just ask to join - Enjoy The Ride
I recently went through the same process for upgrading to my TT set up and eventually purchased a similar setup as the OP:

Dr. Feickert Volare
Jelco TK 850-S Tonearm
Hana MC Cartridge

The setup was more than what I was originally budgeted for but I am very happy with the decision to go with that direction. So far I have listened some of my records for only about 20 some hours and the experience is far more enjoyable than listening the same music/recording on my CDs. Similar to OP, I also purchased the setup from Upscale Audio and the same person, Kat, was very helpful to assist with the purchase. 
Ocean2059:

Great to hear about your purchase.  I’ve had my setup for about 6 months now and I am blown away by the performance of this turntable. It is so much better than anything else I’ve owned. I’ve had the exact same experience you have; I would much rather hear the vinyl version of most music rather than from CD or streaming. I still want to have those digital options but when I am just sitting down to listen (not doing something else at the same time) I much prefer vinyl. A couple of months ago I switched my integrated amp from the Plinius Hiato (a great amp by the way) to the PrimaLuna Dialogue HP Premium. I really like the tube sound with the Feikert.

Enjoy your new toys!!!

puppyt
@puppyt, I am so glad to hear that you're really enjoying your listening with the Dr. Feikert's TT. I fully agree that the Volare TT sounded real sweet and rounded with tube amp, as I am also using tube preamp and tube power amp (Doge Audio) for my system. Happy listening!
puppyt

Glad to hear you are happy with your choice. I agree with your analysis that on large improvement is better than small incremental moves