Turntable help/recommendation with specific setup


Hi all,

I've been recently lurking here as I'm just starting the hifi journey. I thought I'd join and try to get some guidance on a decent turntable that pairs well with the system I'm getting. I'm going the low wattage/high sensitivity route as my setup will consist of a Luxman SQ-N150 integrated tube amp and the Omega compact alnico monitors.

What are some good turntable/cartridge set ups ideally under $1500 ($2k at the absolute max), keeping in mind the Luxman also has a switchable MM/MC phono stage? At this price point, should I just stick to MM cartridges? And is there anything else I should keep in mind or look for to keep synergy in the system or, at this level, should I just not overthink it and get something like the P3?

Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
philoh
philoh, MM cartridges are a much better value and given the amount of money you have to spend you definitely should stay with a moving magnet or moving iron cartridge for the time being. The P3 is fine as is the MoFi Studiodeck. 
Thanks for the reply.

Would it make more sense to get something like the P3 with a $2-300 cartridge or commit less money to the TT and spend more on the cartridge (e.g. get something like the U-turn Orbit Special at around $500 and spend $1k-1500 on a cartridge)? 
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or commit less money to the TT and spend more on the cartridge (e.g. get something like the U-turn Orbit Special at around $500 and spend $1k-1500 on a cartridge)
No. The other way around.
Find a nice used VPI HW-19 mk iii or iv
+1 noromance.
TT/ arm, you start from there. Around 500$ you can get pretty good mc and mm cartridges from, Dynavector, Hana, Goldring, Audio Technica....
I just bought that Luxman 10 wpc amp, and am using it with Wharfedale low efficiency speakers (87) in my small home office. Using it's MM input with my AT440ml cartridge, it sounds terrific.

Your high efficiency speakers (94.5) were born for this or any low powered amp. The efficient speakers allow you to choose a MM cartridge with lower output than I could.

Here's the currently available similar AT MM cartridge I recommend

https://www.audio-technica.com/en-us/cartridges/type/moving-magnet/vm740ml

IF you go MC, I chose this one

https://www.audio-technica.com/en-us/cartridges/type/moving-coil/at33ptg-2

Whatever Turntable you purchase, it's true sound potential is ONLY revealed if the arm/cartridge/alignments/tracking/anti-skate are properly done. How are your alignment skills? Do you have the basic tools for alignment? If not, we can help you get ready.

TT, I prefer Direct Drive, and Quartz Locked for instant and Constant perfect speed.

Are you considering used, or new only?
+ one on the AT 440ML Cartridge. So good I moved on to AT ART 9 Moving Coil. That's a lot more money but it's a lot more cartridge. But the AT 440ML blew me away, so I figured I would really like one of their better moving coil carts, and I do

Dan.
Pioneer's versions, 500, 1000

Keep in mind, these DJ TT's have features we never use, so the comments need to be understood in that context, i.e. makes no difference to us.

500 = $350. black; $500. in white

https://www.musicradar.com/reviews/tech/pioneer-dj-plx-500-646914

1000 $700 black

https://www.turntablelab.com/products/pioneer-plx-1000-professional-turntable?variant=31958776578138...

attached/detachable rca cables is one difference
Make sure you can get a tonearm lift from VPI 1st. Otherwise good buy & TT
VPI Industries Aries Scout JMW9 with Ortofon Quintet Blue | Turntables | East Hampton, New York 11937 | Audiogon

This may be the best of the lot
VPI Industries HW-19 mkIV w/new Jelco 750EB and SAMA! | Turntables | Manchester, Missouri 63011 | Audiogon

Generally a good brand
Pro-Ject Audio Systems 2Xperience SB Turntable - Beautiful Walnut w/ Sumiko Blue Point #2 Cart. | Turntables | Ormond Beach, Florida 32174 | Audiogon

Ive had several VPI’s and the Music Halls which are rebadged Pro-ject . Can't go wrong w/ the VPI. Scout is the newer model and got rave reviews when it came out.  Take your choice. Also look over in Us audio mart
For just starting out and at this price level buy the one you like the looks of the best. I am not kidding. Totally serious. Because this is something you really only learn by doing. I can tell you that Rega are light and fast which is great if you like that but also what nobody will tell you light tables are more susceptible to vibration and what you put them on, but you will only really appreciate this after having experienced it for yourself.

Unlike other components that are plug and play turntables are all about setup. Yes you can plug and play and maybe even get quite good results. But the difference between the same rig plopped down somewhere vs carefully set up is night and day. What this means, you can wring tremendous performance almost regardless of what you buy, if you put in the effort. Along the way you learn so much that buying the next one becomes a whole lot easier.

You are off to a good start by the way. Way too many guys ignore speaker sensitivity, and get trapped into high power. You have made some pretty good choices so far.

Most important thing now is take seriously the little things. The easy way seems to be spend as much as you can on a table, get a good cartridge, and enjoy. But all kinds of little things like Townshend Pods or Synergistic PHT make so much difference you won’t believe. Whatever table you get, add Pods and PHT and it will be way better than the same total money spent on just a table. So buy whatever you want, just keep all these other things in mind, you will be fine.
Wow, thanks for all the helpful responses and insight. Some really great suggestions, especially that Marantz TT; seems like great value.

Elliott and Dan,

Those look like nice cartridges. I’m open to new and used. I’m still trying to piece together how to best match cartridges to the Luxman but I’m assuming those should obviously work fine, right? And I don’t have any alignment tools. Other than my old roommate who had a basic TT, this will actually be my first TT, so a whole new world for me. A little in over my head but I’m trying to explore all the options and get a feel for everything turntable related.

Artemus,

These are some good deals -- and that Pro-Ject looks nice with the walnut. Hard to decide whether to go new or used especially without really knowing what I’m looking for but there’s undoubtedly a lot of value in going the used route. I’ll keep checking the marketplace.

Miller,

Thanks for the advice. Truthfully, I do care about looks a bit and would ideally have a TT in walnut or matte silver, but it’s not an absolute must. I’ll admit, it’s all a bit overwhelming trying to get all the information I can before making a decision -- and thinking about having to carefully set up a TT for the first time is even more daunting, albeit exciting. Perhaps I’m overthinking it and, as you say, need to just learn as I go, but it’s hard not to want to make the "right" choices right out of the gate. My main concern is keeping synergy throughout the system and making sure all the components are happy together, but obviously a large part of that is learned through experience/trial and error, as you alluded to.

I realize a majority of this post consists of me basically saying "I don’t know what I’m doing" haha. Nonetheless, thanks again, everyone.

If its worth doing well, its worth starting now when you aren't good at it yet.

Enjoy the journey.

I like the Rega P3 because there is an upgrade path with it.  And you may find you like what you got or you may look to upgrade your system so you have options.
The p3 rega would be just fine in your case but you will want to get a good cartridge for it do not bother with a rega cartridge at all go for something better like a dynavector 10x5 for now.
+1 on the Rega P3. I like Rega TT's and the P3 is a great value.

However,  if you can push your budget to $2K, the Rega P6 with the Exact MM cartridge is, in my opinion, the better way to go. I really liked the P3, but by the time I had added the upgrades I eventually wanted I was in the price territory of the P6 and the P6 was still the better table. 
+1 for the Rega P6.  Put a very nice phono cartridge on it, of which several good choices are mentioned above, and you are well on your way.  And it looks very nice, too.  As you get on with it then eventually you will want to upgrade to a higher level cartridge and your turntable/arm will be very well capable of revealing the sonic benefits.  I hope this helps you.
Get the music hall mmf-7.3 with the included 2m bronze....best deal out there. The walnut version is beautiful. $1795
We all have opinions and nobody is necessarily right or wrong.  That's why this is such a fun and personal hobby.  The Music Hall mmf-7.3 is a wonderfully built turntable and is in the very same price class as the Rega P6.  My opinion, however, is that the power supply unit and the plinth construction materials of the P6 are the better way to go.  The Music Hall uses sorbothane in the mid-layer between their two-plinth concept.  It is well documented that sorbothane detracts from the lively sound in music reproduction.  While it well serves the purpose of damping vibration it also creates another problem for the music.  Some people say that it sucks the life out of the music.  That may be a bit drastic, but you can easily research the effects of sorbothane and come to your own conclusion.  I still say that the Rega P6 is the better choice.  My opinion, of course.  There certainly are other options in this price class but should you choose a Rega P6 you are in for owning a very nice turntable that can easily take you well up the range of phono cartridges.  
I'm gonna throw in my 2 cents.

I have a MOFI Studiodeck Table with the Hana SL MC Cartridge.

Pretty nice combo I think for around $1800.
Marantz tt15s1 is a steal.
+1 on the Marantz. It’s built by Clearaudio, one of the better manufacturers, and very similar to the Emotion table I’ve owned (and only now reluctantly considering selling) for a few years. It’s belt driven, speed is very accurate and has a very good tonearm. Lots of other great choices out there, but this is a great value. Also, as mentioned several times earlier, setup with whatever table you choose is key.
+2 on the Rega Planar 6. Rega bundles their cartridges at a discount. For example, the P6 with Ania MC cartridge retails for $2.2k. I'm sure you can find a dealer that will drop the price below $2k.

IMHO, the Planar 3 no longer makes sense. Add the NEO power supply and you're at $1340. Might as well go for the P6 at $1595, a much better turntable for $255 more.
Check out the MoFi turntables
Technics 1200GR ($1700) and Audio Technica AT740ML ($329) 

Great combo.
Thanks again for all the great suggestions. I think I'm leaning towards the P6 but I'm also seeing great things about the MoFi decks here and elsewhere -- tables I hadn't considered before. Gonna take some more time and make a decision here in the next few days. Also, it seems like the P6 is on backorder everywhere right now; might be more incentive to go used.
Hello,
Dynavektor 10x5 MKII. This is a new cartridge. Paired with the P3 you will be in heaven. Rega TT pair great with Dynavektor. This is a moving coil cart. The table will be under $1000 and this cart will not put you over the top.  Due to the problems getting a certain color could be tricky. If you are in the Chicagoland area the store I buy gear from has all of this in stock. https://holmaudio.com/I have been going back and forth over these decisions myself. My budget is a little higher but the question is the same. 
Miller even gave me some good advice like he did for you. If you remain a novice this is a great end game setup. Plus, there are ways to upgrade this table. If you really love spinning vinyl then this will be a stepping stone towards a P8 or a VPI Prime 21. BTW, this 10x5 MKII cart is really good. You will not regret it. I hope this helps. 
Fun journey for you!

Lots of great suggestions from everyone.

When I got back into playing  records about 6 years ago, I was trying to figure out which table to go with. Was a toss up between the P6 and the Clearaudio Concept. Went with the Concept. Served me well for that time and was sad to see it go. 
Had it not been for my aversion to a clear acrylic plinth, the Marantz would have been a serious contender. As mentioned above, great value.

Also, getting the cartridge/arm/TT set up right on the right support, will for sure improve on whichever one you decide on. 
Enjoy!
Op as you go through your journey I hope you can audition manufacturers and their various offerings.

Last year I upgraded my turntable and was considering a few options and specifically wanted to hear the impact on the tables versus the cartridge or phono stage. 

My goal was to bring the quality of my analog source closer in line to my digital source as I find digital music to be more convenient and with my RP1 the sound was less dynamic and musical detail was inferior within my system.

I was looking for an impactful improvement over my RP1 and my budget cap was $5k but I wanted to spend less.  I was considering an LP 12 and wanted to listen to the Rega P3, P6 and P8.

I was surprised on the difference the tables.  We first listened to a P1 with some music I brought.  I sounded 'fine' and I expressed my desire to increase the dynamics of the music and specifically the clarity of the mids and highs.

We listened to the P3 and the change was very evident.  The same needle.  We then listened to the P6 and the change was again very evident.  There was another step change improvement on the dynamics, the 'quietness' of the music and the highs were much more clear and defined.  

I ultimately decided to go with the P8 and the Ania cartridge based on the price and the improvements across the board.  And I specifically didn't listen to the P10 or the LP12 because I enjoyed what I heard and was getting close to the budget cap.  If I planned on spending $2k the upgrade of the plinth, separate motor and tone arm in the P6 improved the sound using a relatively inexpensive MM cartridge.  Upgrading the cartridge in the future is possible due to the quality of the plinth, motor and tone arm.

Other manufacturers than Rega have an upgrade path and I would consider future options if you believe you will want to upgrade.