Teres 255 (used from Teres, $2,675-2,875 depending on finish)
Graham 2.x ($2,000-ish)
The tables on the Teres "Scratch 'n' Dent" sale page are a screaming bargain. Heck, even the new ones are a bargain, and there's no more "set and forget" TT in the world than a Teres. I haven't adjusted anything on my 265 in months, because there's literally nothing to adjust.
The Graham is by far the easiest of the top arms to set up and adjust, and it's suitable for a broad array of good, medium compliance cartridges.
That leaves just under $500 for a cartridge. The best choice will depend on the gain in your phono stage and your tastes in sound and music.
Hard to go wrong with a VPI Scoutmaster and VPI JMW9 tonearm ($2300 new) and VPI or Walker Audio motor controller ($950-1700 new), and still have a good portion of your budget remaining for a very good cartridge (e.g., Dynavector Karat 17D2, $750). The VPI will also fall in that "set and forget" category.
Here's another idea. You put $5K aside for my bail money and I'll 'borrow' Rushton's rig. You can come listen any time!
Both of the above recommendations are very good and I believe the posters have broader experience than I do with turntable systems. I'd still recommend a refurbished SOTA Cosmos, $3450 with several new parts directly from SOTA (http://www.sotaturntables.com/Refurbished_Tables.htm). That leaves plenty of budget for a good tonearm and decent cartridge. SOTA can do it all as a package within your budget.
I've been extremely pleased with my SOTA Star (with vacuum). I bought it new in 1990 with a Sumiko Premeir FT-4 tonearm. It has never needed any maintenance and holds settings like a rock. Also, the SOTA hung suspension works wonders on the suspended wood floor we have. I can jump up and down in front of the system rack (Sanus) and it has zero impact on a playing LP.
I recently upgraded the tonearm to an Origin Live Encounter, largely based on posts in A'gon from members, especially dougdeacon and twl. Thanks Doug and Tom! Although I don't know you, you've enriched my enjoyment of music with your sharing of knowledge about the importance of tonearms in general, and specifics about the OL Silver tonearm . My decision came down to that one and the Encounter, which is as you know, very similar.
I selected the Encounter because I do not like to screw around with tonearms and it had a few more of the set and forget features I wanted -- e.g., VTA, no mods required.
The OL Encounter raised the performance of my SOTA Star to remarkable levels -- a full 3-dimensional soundstage, much better timbral accuracy, and added tremendous weight and authority to the music that was not there with the previous tonearm.
So here is a third option, the refurbished SOTA Cosmos and Origin Live Encounter or Silver tonearms with an appropriate cartridge that meets budget considerations. I've heard the Shelter 501 is a good match and you'll want to check on a package discount from SOTA.
Finally, the Teres clearly has the lead in eye-candy followed by the VPI. But the SOTA classic quality all-wood cabinet is preferred by some.
Almost forgot, since you are getting back into vinyl. I recommend that you get a record cleaning machine. As I went from the Technics and Dual world to higher-end LP systems 18 years ago I bought a NittyGritty RCM based on advice of my dealer. Whoa! It makes an amazing difference. Its not really much extra hassle because you don't need to clean an LP for every play if you put the LP back into one of those decent aftermarket ricepaper (whatever) innersleeves immediately after cleaning/play rather than the original paper sleeve.
Thanks for the kind words.
I've never heard a Sota. I've never heard anything but good about them either. I'll confess we fell for the eye candy appeal of the Teres 265, but we're quite satisfied musically too.
We recently upgraded from our Twl-modded OL Silver to a TriPlanar. That was a huge step, price-wise and performance-wise. The OL's are excellent arms and stupendous value for the money. Twl was and is our fearless leader of course. His HIFI Mod thread was the most brilliant and influential analog discussion I've ever seen. The little $900 Silver, when so modded, actually outperforms four of the most expensive pivoting arms in the world for leading edge transient response. IOW, these arms rock, and Twl reported the Encounter did about the same when he A/B'd one against his modded Silver, and the Encounter was clearer/cleaner. Nice move you made.
Its always nice to hear that others concur with an audio purchase decision!
The Encounter has reignited my love of vinyl. Just today I purchased a demo Plinius Jarrah phono stage (here on A'gon) because I've been listening with the built-in phono section in my Plinius 9200. The built-in on the 9200 is quite good for a built-in section on an integrated amp but not really optimized for MC cartridges (amongst other things such as budgetary tradeoffs).
After your Triplanar burns-in, an interesting post would be your comparison of it to the modified OL Silver. I'm interested in what areas a top, expensive arm betters a top, intermediate priced arm. I've never heard one that high-end except for a very short time at a dealer.
Its great that you enjoy your Teres so much. It seems that everyone on A'gon or AA who owns them, loves 'em.
I hope to hear one someday but there's very few audiophiles where I live.
Almost everyone loves their Teres but of course there are exceptions. One guy here preferred the sound of his Michell for example. There's no perfect component, but Teres does seem to offer exceptional performance for the price.
There's some discussion of arms on my system thread. Check it out and add any questions you want.
Paul and I have heard our Shelter 901 mounted on:
- our Twl-modded Silver
- Cello's Graham 2.2
- Chris Brady's Schroeder Reference
- Cello's Basis Vector (actually Cello's 901 on this one)
- our Tri-Planar (broken in B4 we received it, dealer demo)
Hearing the same cart on five different arms gives us a reasonably good feel for each one.
Doug pretty much sums up my opinion, and since this time he remebered the sale page, I'll let him slide! I heard a similar Sota setup briefly, and while it did sound very good, I (personally) like the Teres better. And so much better looking.
Of course, IMHO.
PS, Mang53, if you are anywhere near Eastern North Carolina, email me and you can come and listen to mine.
Joe, I took a look at your system. Sweet!
Joe and Doug - How much trouble did you guys have setting up your Teres? I'm not unhandy, but I am not especially talented in setting up turntables either. I've read a few horror stories but they may have been from much earlier history of the Teres. The thought of getting a Teres someday is enticing.
No trouble at all. The tales you remember are from the original D-I-Y days, when men were men and Teres TT's were being designed and built virtually from scratch. Joe is capable of doing that. I'm not.
Like any model 2xx or 3xx Teres, my 265 arrived ready-to-assemble. Any concientious twelve year old could do it, honestly. The only tools I had to provide:
- adjustable wrench
- bubble level
- 1" of scotch tape
- syringe (optional)
The syringe is for filling the bearing with oil (provided) without smearing any on the sides of the shaft (important). The patience is to wait 4-8 hours for the bearing to settle. Spinning the platter before that could score the bearing surfaces. Except for this waiting period, the entire assembly takes maybe 20-30 minutes. Aligning a cartridge is more difficult. The complete instructions are on the website if you want to review them.
Obviously if you chose one of the unfinished 1xx models there would be some light sanding, finishing or painting. But that's strictly at your option.
I was in the same position as you and finally went for a Scheu/Eurolab Premier MkII with the new Tacco-tonearm, which is supposed to be as good as a Schroeder-arm. Price for this combo is about $3500. Scheu offers excellent Benz-cartridges, too.
Take a look at http://www.soundscapehifi.com/eurolab.htm and
Eurolab-tables are widely discussed over on the Vinyl Asylum, too.
Thanks, to all who have taken the time to help out. It looks as though the "Teres" is in fact the front runner thus far...film at eleven, I'll keep you posted. Craig