Would telling you make it so?! Consider saving a little longer for a Pioneer PLX1000 at under $700. Add a Shure M44 or Nagaoka MP110 for a really good TT that will give you more fun than anything cheaper. Failing that look at the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon at around $400. If you want to low-ball yourself the Audio Technica AT120 is okay at $300. You will need a phono amp with all but the cheapest unit.
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I worry a lot about getting into vinyl at too low a quality point. I visited CAF over the weekend and the show was dominated by vinyl systems -- some of them were outstanding. The MoFi setup with the TADs was particularly amazing at "only" $2k for the table and cartridge, and $425 for their little phono stage.
But these 11-14 lbs turntables for under $1k are highly suspect to me. Are they really going to provide the resolution, sound stage and drive of these better tables?
I also recently had a dealer tell me that $4k is the approximate "bang-for-the-buck" target for a vinyl setup (table, arm, cartridge, phono stage and interconnects).
audio gods bear with me....why would i want a dj turntable? it is an aesthetic and philosophical turn off to me. I'm a pro musician (with serious high range hearing loss - but that is another story)
And isnt the cartridge more of a deciding factor for sound?
I realize i am way out of my depth on this forum but i appreciate any advice.
Brian, Not recommending them because they are DJ tables but because they are good. Pioneer and AT have the resources to develop a good table at a good price and these fit that bang for the buck. If you are put off by the aesthetic, there are lots of pretty decent budget tables like the Rega RP1. Your other point about cartridges: a cheap good cartridge in a top tier table will sound better than an expensive cartridge in a cheap deck. It’s the physics. As you have lots if vinyl, my prediction is you will want to upgrade your possible budget table to one you are unwilling to invest in at this time.
Yes the cartridge is the most important part for sound quality, but if the arm is not good enough the cartridge cannot track properly (not to mention other issues). As for the drive system, you want it to be quiet (no rumble) with a stable speed (no wow and flutter). None of this is mechanically easy. Digital represented a real leap in quality (whatever romantic audiophiles may claim), and for a lower price.
At the lower price points best to look in the used market for mid 70's to early 80's workhorse tables that can often be had for reasonable prices in decent shape. If you're not confident in looking for yourself, perhaps you could enlist the help of a friend who is knowledgeable in your search.
In a secondary system I have a belt drive Pioneer PL 12D that I picked up for a song at a garage sale quite a few years ago and put an AT 120E on. That running through a DB 8 Systems phono preamp that I bought used for $55 provides quite decent sound quality. Pioneer PL 112D or 115D is also worth seeking out.
I also helped a friend set up a Technics SL D2 direct drive a few years ago and thought that it was quite a decent budget table.
FWIW, my front end in my main system is a Michell Gyrodec with a Sumiko FT3 and rebuilt Ortofon MC 20 Super strapped for mono and a Jelco 750D with upgraded mounting collar and headsheall with another rebuilt MC 20 Super (sapphire cantilever and microridge stylus) for stereo.
No, the above budget tables are not going to be as refined or as resovling as the better gear, but they are suprisingly good in terms of the amount of money invested in them and certainly capable of providing a reasonable experience if properly set up. They would also give the modern day budget Regas and Projects a run for their money IMO at a fraction of the price if picked up reasonably.
All great replies. Let me caution you on "vintage" turntables which can often be relics from Grandpa's attic that have had no TLC for many years. I've been down that route and now I stay away. Good values in a TT that all satisfy you in your system would be the U-Turn (I own the tricked-out version) or a Rega 1. Sure, if you want reference quality sound then be prepared to spend a lot more. Then again, that applies to any element of all systems. Personally, I'd buy new and forget trying to find a diamond in the rough from Craigslist etc....
Turntable gives you a quiet background and stable speed, and therefore low distortion. Or not.
Tonearm allows your cartridge to track properly and give its best performance. Or not.
Cartridge accurately converts the information on the groove into electricity, when it's allowed to. Or not.
Turntables don't wear out. Tonearms don't wear out. Cartridge styli (in your price range) wear out faster than toilet humor. Where to spend the money? I suspect you know.
This is all you need (all in one), for your budget you can have this turntable for $400-500 if you’re lucky along with p-mount Technics 205c mk4 cartridge or with Technics 310MC cartridge, there is a build-in MC/MM phono stage and LINEAR TRACKING tonearm, they are easy to ship (compact size). You don’t have to mess up with set-up and so on ... Amazing design, fully automatic. Nothing can beat it in this price if you will count the cost of turntable, decent cartridge, linear tracking tonearm, phono stage. Check this out:
I have seen good reviews on the Pro-Ject line of inexpensive tables. They definitely looks like cost-effective solutions. You might also do some research to score a pre-owned Denon or Sony Direct Drive table. A neighbor has the Denon with a Zu cartridge that sounds amazing.
"Lets take a listen" Eddie Murphy