You should throw a used Rega Planar 2 on your short list, somewhere around $250 or so.
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What do you mean by inexpensive? IMHO, if you want the cheapest good turntable, get a Connoisseur(Sugden) BD2A. It will cost between $50-$150 plus cartridge. Next up the ladder is a Rega Planar 2. About $200-$300 plus cartridge. Another good table for about $300 is the Systemdek IIX. Above that is the Rega Planar 3. About $350-$650. All prices are for used, very good condition. A good cartridge for any of the above would be a lower priced Goldring. Under $100 new. You also may consider other tables such as Music Hall, Pro-Ject by Sumiko, etc. These are all manually operated turntables with belt drive. They will give you the best sound for low cost. If you have to spend less than $50, then probably a Dual belt drive would be the best bet. I personally would not go there. I believe that belt drive is the better drive system in most turntables with the exception of a few super-high priced models which will not concern you.
What kind of price are you targeting? There are pretty good choices for most price points. I agree that the Thorens are good at the prices mentioned. If you insist on spending less, the old Duals were well made turntables. I had a Dual 1019 in college and regreted trading it in for a Benjamin Miracord 50H. Fifteen years ago, I was given another Dual 1019, and it remains in service today in one of my systems. (The BM 50H is in a closet.) Among the numerous weaknesses of the 1019 versus modern units are (1) a 10 inch platter provides less support than today's 12 inchers, (2) idler puck drive transmission instead of better isolation from motor vibrations with today's belt drives, (3) inductance motor is somewhat voltage dependant versus line frequency-driven hysteresis designs popular today, and (4) the built-in tonearm is attached under the deck to hardware used for the changing mechanism. For a used unit, key lookouts are the degree of wear of the rubber idler puck and the amount of friction felt from the arm bearings. If these are OK, the 1019 could be a serviceable table that should cost less than $100 (maybe a lot less). You'll have to put up with the sonic imperfections of an old design, as I have described, but I'd say it would be a good deal at a minimal price.
Hey thanks for all the info, in the mean I have a friend who has a Technics SL-B2 that he told me I could have, with a brand new stylus and cartridge! he told me it was middle of the road in the Technics line ( back then ) So we will see how it goes. As far as price I didn't want to spend over $100, but right now the prcie is right!!!!
I'll let you know!
While the used market for turntables, especially older ones seems to be a good place to save money, it can also be a nightmare. Turntables in general DO NOT travel very well, no matter how well they're packed, and it is extremely disappointing to find a nice older one only to have it destroyed in shipping. For the budget conscious, perhaps the very best tables that can be had for very little money are the Music Hall MMF series, many of which are sold by dealers here on Audiogon. Talk to Stephen @ Quest for Sound. He's a great rescource and a terrific dealer.
I give a strong vote for Thorens. Very well made, sound great, etc. HOWEVER, proper setup of the arm, cartridge, VTA, anti-skate, etc. are things best done by a dealer who knows what he's about and has the tools and experience to do it right. If these things are not done properly - and you as a beginner are practically guaranteed not to get it right - the best table/arm/cartridge combo will sound like junk. So while the Thorens is a great table, it may be worthwhile to follow the other suggestion of getting a new one at a local dealer and putting the onus on him to set it up properly. (I do speak from experience here.)
The MMF line is very good, not real expensive. Ditto the Music Hall series.
Yo KT, my comment about older turntables not traveling well was only to point out that, being the relatively delicate mechanisms that they are, without extreme care in packaging, damage is a high probability. New turntables on the other hand, have been factory packed, and are well protected from the elements (UPS, Fedex). I would'nt hesitate to buy a new one, but I would be very certain that if I were buying an older one, it would be very well packed for shipping.
I understand that electronices do not like to be shipped in general, especially intricate pieces. But unfortunately I'm not independently wealthy like some of the audiogoners are. I work for a living, quite hard I might add. Also if you read further back in this thread you will notice that I said I am getting a turntable from a friend. If that one doeas not work I will most likely try one of the suggested ( thanks by the way for suggestions ) and I will most likely buy a used one. If I can get it locally I will buy if not I will buy off the net.
But still I don't see the difference between having a new talbe shipped to me. Or having a used table ( in the original box ) shipped to me. But thanks agin for your concern :)
BTW, there is a well known turntalbe expert in my city, who I'm sure could properly tweak my table if needed. Now if he would just start selling used ones I would be happy.
I side with the school that says that phono stage is more important than TT. If you start with a free Technics, fine. Get something like an Ortofon Concorde, change the interconnects, get a bottle of Pro Gold and follow DeKay's recipe of two Rat Shack battery phono preamps. Get the prtotractor from www.turntablebasics.com ($20). Make a good DIY base and record mat (www.tnt-audio.com) and you'll be set. Watch for VTA.
Good suggestions, I have actually been looking into the RAT Shack pre. It runs on a 9v battery? It must run deathly silent. Is there anyone out there who knows how long the battery lasts? I have also considered the phono pre by Parasound that sells for about $199, I have read good things about it as well.
No matter what I do, I'll be sure to post the results......
Kt, I helped pay for college working at audio stores--I know how to make things work right w/in a tight budget...run a search on Radio Shack, or email DeKay. He's got SET amps and is successfully using two Rats. People in the Asylum say it beats everything under $200. It will be good for you to play around with these things. You'll learn how to "mod and tweak" a TT. You'll learn a lot and save a lot, too....
I have a Monolithic phono stage. It's dual mono and has an optional dual mono power supply which I plan to get. My demo unit was $300. If I were you I would wait. Right now I'm using a little ONEAC 2 amp isolation transformer ($15 @ eBay) for my Monolithic. The transformer is plugged to my Tice A/V Solo conditioner, so the electricity being fed to the Monolithic is filtered twice *and* isolated via the ONEAC's virtual ground feature. Talk about good results on a budget...
KT 88: The batteries last 5 days (when using two of the preamps as dual monos). I have 4 batteries and recharge one pair while using the other pair.
There have recently been some people @ AA who have not had decent results with the preamps (though none of them have used the preamps in the dual/mono manner that I do, as far as I know, and one person did not even run the unit in for 50 hours - which is necessary with any new piece of gear). That said, a single unit (used in stereo) still sounded pretty good in my setup, but not in theirs. The 4 batteries and a charger were $46 @ Target (the cheapest price I could find) and I paid $32 for a pair of the preamps which retail for $50 ($25 each). Yes, they are dead quiet (I can turn the volume up all the way in my system with the tonearm raised and barely hear any sound @ the speakers). They should only be used with high output cartridges (due to the gain spec) which is most likely what you will be using.
A single unit, two batteries (to roll) and a charger should run approx. $50 (retail), plus any tax and shipping expense. I have only compared the Rat's (dual mono) to a NAD unit (no comparison) and the phono stage of an Audible Illusions Mod 3A (the 3A was better:-). I also wonder if the odd cabling that I use may be why I am getting such good results, but I do not have any traditional cables on hand to experiment with? If you end up going with the "Rat", send me an email, and I will make up a pair of IC's (based somewhat on the more expensive ones that I have), gratis, for you to use with it (this offer is only for KT 88).
What I should do is start a new thread @ AA in order to gather recent user feedback on the "Rat". Perhaps I can do this later today and/or tomorrow?
Did you get the Technics TT yet?
My buddy is going to drop ( I hope not literally )it off this Thursday or Friday, he lives a ways away. I am defintiely interested in the " Rat " I love DIY even though I have not done anything with audio equipment. But being a technician by trade I think it will be right up my alley.
I do have a Harmon Kardon ( yuck! ) pre that has a phono section that I might bandaid through my system until I get something more permanent. I will look further into the " Rat " and shoot you a e-mail if and when I land one.