Turntable advise for an analog novice

I've just started listening to vinyl again and I need some turntable advise. A few years ago, I purchased a Goldring GR1 with an RB250 arm which I paid around $250 for with an Goldring Electra cartridge. I'm really interested in upgrading but I'm not sure if it makes more sense to invest my money in a better cartridge and upgrade the tonearm wiring on my GR1 or buy a good used TT. My budget is about $1200 give or take.

Put it all in the table and upgrade cartridge, phono stage, platform and wiring as funds allow, in that order.
Hi Andarilu:

I think most would agree that the TT comes first, then the arm, then the cartridge. You could probably get into a used VPI Scout with a Dynavector 10x5 cartridge for that budget, maybe a few more $.
Like Arch7 said. Save a few more bucks and shoot for a used Scout.

You may be able to upgrade the cartridge as a first step.
I believe that most will agree that an LP-12 in the pre-owned market is about as good a turntable as you will find.
i own an lp-12 hand me down my dad just gave me and am really impressed with what it will do. i have heard really good things about the sumiko line on turn tables.
I owned an LP12 for about 10 years but could not keep up with the upgrades since these were too expensive for my budget (e.g. Keel, Ekos SE, T-Kable, etc...). I ended up selling my LP12 which provided about 70% of the funds to get a new VPI Scoutmaster, JMW-9 Signature, Dynavector 20X-Low, Dynavector P-75 MKII, Periphery Ring, Center Weight and SDS.

In my system and to my ears, the Scoutmaster provides more detail, quieter backgrounds and deeper bass. I also find the VPI upgrades more reasonably priced.
Get a better cart.
BE AWARE - Before you proceed down ANY upgrade path, ensure the downstream components (in this case the phono stage, amp + speakers + cables) are capable of realizing any potential benefits that can be achieved - otherwise you are just wasting your money!

Having stated the obvious...
Ive just gone through the upgrade process on my 25 yr old Rega Planar 2
Why? - because my newly acquired Raysonic SP120 tube amp allowed me to hear what was achievable!
- The clue: my CD player sounded much better than my Turntable.

So, I added...
- the RB250 arm - $300 - the old "S" arm was toast
- Rega Elys cartridge - $300
- Michell Techno-weight - $150
- replaced the Rega installed RCA plugs with Furutech's - $20 - THE MOST cost effective upgrade EVER!!

And then I built a plinth - $50

The turntable now sounds awsome, but as the other appends have stated, you can get some really good previously enjoyed gear for great prices

It really depends if you want to tinker (like me)or use a great product right out of the box

I had a lot of fun discovering how each upgrade enhanced the sound and it tought me what to look for in a good turntable - I also read a lot of articles.

On the other hand - tinkering can become costly and some changes are not always so beneficial - it's a risky endeavour.

I tinker, because I'm handy with tools and I get a sense of acheivement (when things go right)and, I'm naturally curious

If I had to tinker with your turntable I might try the following:
- Furutech RCA plugs - I got mine for $20/pair + $20 for WBT silver solder - great solder!
....the wire on the RB250 is good! it's the plugs that are garbage!
....huge improvement across the board
- Michell Techno weight - $150
....this one suprised me a lot
....Huge improvement in clarity, dynamics, image and bass & mids
....easy to install and setup
- Rega Elys Cartridge - $300
....with the other two upgrades this cartridge really performs well
....dynamic, balanced and very well controlled

So for around $490 you would get a huge improvement in clarity, dynamics, 3D Image and Frequency Response - not bad!

Please Note - I was working with the Rega plinth & glass platter
- I have no idea whether the Goldring platter & plinth will achieve the same results
- it's one of those risks I spoke of.

If you are handy - I can provide some design details of the plinth I have built, which I found enhanced the details and image even more - well worth the $50 it cost in materials

An Immediate tweek for you...
- if the feet on your turnatable are like the Rega feet - i.e. rubbery, looen the screws until you can rotate the foot - they isoloate better if a little on the loose side.
- if the feet have a cavity in the bottom of them - try placing a large marble under each foot - they make great isolators and cost about $3

So to sum up...
- the other appends make a compelling argument
- but, some of us like to tinker.

Thanks all for the insightful feedback.

As far as the rest of my rig is concerned, its decent but frugal:

MF X-A1 Integrated amp.
MF Tube Buffer.
Parasound Zphono stage.
AMC b8 CD player.
B&W 603 speakers

I really want to get better sound out of my LPs so that's why I've been focusing on the TT. I considered the Mitchel TechnoWeight and Incognito tonearm wiring upgrades. I'm not afraid to tinker (would probably be fun) but my goal is to noticeably improve my listening experience so I'm a little worried about experimenting given my current level of knowledge.

The new TTs I've seen in my price range are:
- VPI Scout - (a bit more than I wanted to spend)
- ClearAudio Emotion
- MH MMF 7.1
- Origin Live Aurora
- Project RM 5

I'll take a look at the LP-12 as well. Any thoughts on the Technics 1200?

I would definitly prefer to get something used and I've been scanning the site for a good deal but I'm trying to make an informed decision and there seems to be a great deal to consider.

Like they say, "the journey is half the fun..."

Thanks again
You might add Rega and Funk Firm to your short list. The Technics is excellent value and very appealing from some standpoints but not the be all and end all that some would have you believe. My own bias would be to shoot higher if you can, but by all means look into it to see how it strikes you.

dealer disclosure.
I disagree with Williwanka. If I had the worst system in the world, amy upgrade would be noticeable. The final sound out of the speakers is the sum total of the whole system.
Any of the above are probably good choices. IMO, it doesn't matter which you choose because you won't stay with the first table for long before you start upgrading either the entire table, or pieces here and there.

IMO, the KAB Technics SL12XX with one or two of the modifications will provide you with the longest lasting back-to-vinyl experience before you feel the need to spend more money. The KAB Technics also offers many very reasonably priced performance upgrades that can be added as time moves on (power supply, tonearm wiring, isolation...etc).

You also have the option of adding a Rega RB250 arm at some point if you are so inclined.
Andarilu - One last thought....

Having reasearched some of the RB250 upgrades that are available (e.g. rewire + Techno weight may cost around $600 on your existing RB250), I would opt for something like the Michell re-engineered RB250 which comes with...
- Silver wire + better interconnect & plugs
- Upgraded bearings
- vibration deadening foam
- Techno weight
- VTA Adjuster

If you order from the UK you can get it for around $700+duty

I ordered my Michell Techno-weight from Trichord Research - who were very responsive, but it took around 2 weeks to clear Canadian customs


Since my last posting, I decided to upgrade my cartidge as a first step. Whether I upgrade my table or not, I figured I'll need a new cartridge anyway. I borrowed an old Signet just to see if it really makes a difference. I was blown away by how much more detail I was able to hear. The bass seemed a little lacking but the overall improvement was significant.

I read some of the cartridge reviews and decided to go with Sumiko BP 2. I just ordered it from MusicDirect for $299 and I should be getting it in a few days.

I'm still on the fence about upgrading the tonearm but I did find a tecnoweight/incognito upgrade combo for $335 at http://www.gcaudio.com/cgi-bin/store/showProduct.cgi?id=302.Adding VTA would be another $50. So even if I don't upgrade the table itself right now, I'll have a decent tonearm and cartridge I can reuse on my next table (whenever that might be).

Anyway, I'll let you know how the Sumiko works out.
Andarilu - if you are content with the GR1/RB250, then at least upgrade the Crappy Rega RCA's to Furutech - it really is worth it!

I get the Furutech FP126 for $20/pair - and now use them on all my cables - superb details for such a very reasonably priced connector.

The FP162 was only $10/pair - also better than the Rega

Just make sure you use good quality solder - this makes a huge difference at the Phono Stage

Furutechs will give you much more detail and better imaging than what you are getting with the standard Rega RCA's.

The Michell/Incognito upgrade you wrote about is a deal - except - it's a kit which means you'd have to install the wire yourself - not something I'd try - I no longer have a steady hand or good eyesight.

The Sumiko looks like a very good cartridge - I'm currently a MM guy myself, but looking to get into the MC market since I hear they provide lots more detail.

Let me know how it works out

Williewonka - The nice thing about the Incognito wiring kit is its a continuous run from the cartridge tags to the phono plugs which will take care of the "crappy Rega RCAs". No soldering required.

Andarilu - my apologies - I didn't think you were going for that upgrade just yet, but on re-reading your append I see I was mistaken.

Keep me posted on how easy it is to install.

I tried fixing the wiring in my old "S" shaped tone arm once ...
- that's why I now have the RB250 - say no more!

Just wanted to post an update on my progress.

A couple of weeks ago, I upgraded my cart to the Sumiko BP 2. This was a huge improvement to what I was getting out of the Grado Red.

A couple of nights ago, I sat down with a glass of single malt and the Incognito rewiring kit (good thing I had the scotch). It took me about 3 hours to complete the job. The biggest challenge was threading the guy wire through the arm and pulling the new wires through. Since I was rewireing an RB250, I didn't take the arm apart as suggested so making that 90 degree turn took a while. After getting the wire through, I soldered the 4 new wires to the end and tried to pull them through. The problem I had was that the slight bulge at the soldering point would get stuck in the small hole between the bearing and the arm. It took 3 attempts to get the soldering point just right.

After that, it was pretty easy. Getting the clips on just required a steady hand. I used the heat from a match to strip the wire ends and used a wooden toothpick to hold the clip so that the connecting end would not fill with solder.

I've been listening to the results for a couple of days and so far I'm very happy with the results. The music sounds very clean and I'm hearing a lot more detail.

One thing I found was that while before I was able to toggle my phono stage between MM and MC and just get more or less signal amplification, now if I switch to MC, I get a lot of static. The cartridge I'm using is a high output MC so I guess I'm OK keeping it set to MM but I'm still wondering what the cause is.

Anyway, it was a fun project and I'm thinking my next upgrade will be the Michell Technoweight.

I'm not sure how far I should go with these upgrades, but so far, the improvement has been significant.