i know zilch about TT...but you have a great system and have clearly invested a fair amount into it.
Linn, Wave Kinetics, TW, Avid are ones that locally are spoken very well of here or in the forums that i have watched.
Budget? The Well Tempered served me well for years. They have a current model that, if memory serves, is relatively inexpensive. There is a VPI Classic that is supposed to be great. It's not crazy money either, and I believe is sold with a good arm. I very much liked the Kuzma Reference before I bought their big table- the Reference is the one that has a built in adjustable isolation system and is easy to set up and sounds great with a high quality arm. I always loved the look of the Oracle- the old ones required tweaking to get right, not sure if that's the case with the current table. TW Raven, but I think you might need to get up in price before you get to the ones that people jump up and down about. Beyond that, you are getting into more serious money: SME is one that is bullet proof. Also, getting into more money, Brinkman(n), who make an optional tube power supply for the table. There are others, including some direct drive tables, vintage tables that have been restored, and some that are pretty stratospheric in price. I never heard a Platine Verdier, but that was also regarded as a good table. There are so many tables out there today, I think in part because the overhead for manufacture is not as great as say, a digital component that is actually designed and built from parts as opposed to being rebadged. The hard part is deciding on the 'sound' of the table which is going to be pretty impossible to discern, in a dealership context. Leave room for a good arm and cartridge in your budget, but the table makes a huge difference. Even though I thought the Kuzma Reference was a fabulous table, particularly at its price point (it's been around for a while), when I upgraded to the big Kuzma the difference, in part was the absence of things- less of the sound of something at the front end delivering the signal, as well as depth and bass tonality that I didn't know I was missing until that table was set up in my system.
Also keep in mind that you have to address isolation issues, so that should be part of the equation when you are considering tables. Wall shelf mountable? Not the big Kuzma, unless you have I-beams in your walls. Floor stand? The good ones can add up and have to be part of your budget too. You could probably get away cheaply on that aspect, if it is well thought out, but you are going to have to focus on that as part of the equation too.
I'd like to hear a Denon dl103R cart on one of the new VPI Traveler tables.
I use dl103R in Linn Axis with Basik tonearm with ARC sp16 and could not be happier. A good step up transformer is needed in that particular configuration though.
Hey, Map. I didn't get into phono preamps in my earlier posting. Vdosc, are we to assume that you have a good line stage and just need a phono stage? Sorry, i didn't look at your system before asking. I had a very well regarded, pretty expensive phono stage for several years, did the whole tube rolling thing with top grade (read expensive) NOS tubes, etc. and despite the fact that this was a serious, highly regarded stage, my system (given its particular idiosyncrasies) now sounds dramatically better with a different stage. So, it ain't just what's good or expensive - it's gotta work in your system. Isn't the ARC Ref stage about 6 grand used? Given that you use other ARC components, that may be the ticket.
My primary recommendation is find a dealer who can assist you.
Tts are something whichneed a little local TLC.. so finding a local dealer whp can help you out is more important than the brand of TT.
You need a dealer familiar with TTs and what goes well with which.
Problem is most dealers have lost all those skill sets..
If no local dealer, than one of the big internet sellers with a great reputation on TT setup.
The OP is asking for a turntable recommendation for a "beginner" and people come back "I know ziltch about TT" and a list of mega bucks tables. Don't forget to get the Talos tonearm and the Atlas cart to go along with that beginner table. Come on people.
Seriously, I second Elizabeth advice since you might need help with the set-up and adjustments and it's much easier if you buy locally. It would also be helpful to know your budget.
Act- with all due respect, he said two things: beginner, and want stuff comparable to the ARC/B&W,etc equipment he has. As you will note, I started with relatively low budget- I think the WT is under 3k and the VPI less than 6. I'm sure there are cheaper tables, new, but frankly, I think when people start with a 1500 dollar turntable package and then wonder what the hype of vinyl is about, the answer is obvious.
I do agree that having competent set up help is a must. I still rely on set up people to help me, and I've been doing this along time.
Not trying to stir up trouble here, because you'll see that's not my style, but as they say "I want to make it clear for the record." (pun intended).
VPI has a new turntable - "the Trveler" that sounds way better then its asking price. You could get a cartridge installed perfectly by the factory and be done except for the listening.
You've got a nice system, as others have commented. For most people I would recommend something very basic like the Project Debut or the Rega P1 but that would be an insult to the rest of your system.
I just upgraded from the Rega P5 with exacta mm cartridge to Clearaudio Concept with Concept mc cartridge. For you this might be a great place to start. I would also consider the REga P6 or P9. Regas have great energy but the speed stability issues can be an issue. They eschew heavy platters because they think they decrease the energy in the music. The Clearaudio is definitely a quieter and more detailed presentation, but a tad drier than the REga.
The Clearaudio and the Rega are both pretty plug and play. Most other tables involve a bit more work, ifthat is an issue.
Budget is important. It really defines your options and performance level.
I think we all agree that the budget is really the key here. That said, even thought I agree that $1500 might be not enough to buy a good analog front, I would disagree somewhat with your assertion that "when people start with a 1500 dollar turntable package and then wonder what the hype of vinyl is about, the answer is obvious."
I grew up on vinyl, but with a turntable that was probably worse that the gizmo you can get from an in-flight magazine. That thing got me to love music. I re-discovered vinyl recently, but started with a rather modest turntable (MMF-5.1). This "cheap" table made me never want to go back to listening to CDs again. I have progressed to a much better table and the rest of the system, but I will forever maintain that even a very modest analog system can provide a very rewarding musical experience. In a way, I think the more money you spend, the more you move away from the pure and simple pleasure of just listening to music rather than your stereo. Just look at the majority of threads on this forum...
Speaking of stereos, your set-up is quite amazing so congratulations on that. I can't help but ask you, what is up with the Kuzma Airline tonearm comment? "It sucks"? The best comment I've seen on people's system pages! It gave me a good laugh.
Act- it should literally read 'it blows,' given the air bearing and pump. Love the arm, hate the pump, which spits oil, sends nasty electrical zaps when it cycles and involves mechanical skills that have little to do with audio- only a Slovenian turntable designer would consider using a pump made in Italy. Remember that joke about heaven and hell, where the British are the cooks, the Italians are the administrators...etc.
You may be right that even an inexpensive package is enough to get the magic of vinyl. My perspective comes from having some records that i have owned since i bought them, new, in the 1960's and played them over the different systems I have owned since then. The amount of information in those grooves never ceases to amaze me. Extracting that information is another matter and the differences in what an ok turntable and a really good turntable can deliver are profound. I wasn't even beginning to suggest that the OP consider a top of the pile table to start but.... bear with me here:
having had a few good to excellent tables (the original Well Tempered, which was 'good' especially back in 1990 or so) and the Kuzma Reference (which was, and still is excellent), I was totally unprepared for what a real state of the art table (the current table I'm using) can deliver in terms of information and utter blackness/depth. So, working backwards, I'd place an enormous amount of importance on getting the best table possible. Not 10k dollars, but 5 or 6k? Granted, that's not a budget table, just the direction of my thinking.
Thanks for the kind words re the current system. You are welcome to visit if you are near NYC. I plan to break the system down as soon as this house is sold, and relocate to Austin, which is a whole other story....
Appreciate the tenor of your response, which was in the same spirit as my comments.
Well Tempered Amadeus with a Zyx cartridge
a used BASIS Turntable (clever solution for the coming years)
Denon 47F, with a 103 cartridge. Must be brought as a pickup purchase. Any type of shipping will destroy it, no matter what 'packing experts' will tell you.
If you can get your hands on a new or low-mileage Thorens TD-700 it is very nice for the price.It gets the basics right in a way the Music-Halls of the world do not. You get a substantial and gorgeous-looking thick acrylic platter, electronic speed switching between 33 and 45, a very precise hidden belt mechanisim with a nice motor, a decent tonearm and great sound. When funds permit, ditch the included cartrige (actually not bad) for an Ortofon Blue, and you have a killer package for not much money. It is a joy to use.
I can tell you I just started getting into it and I'm pretty happy with my sota sapphire, and grado reference sonata. The table is easy to set up, and the cartridge is good out of the box and gets better with break in. If you go with the dl103 or most low output cartridges you need to keep in mind that they NEED their breakin time. The dl103 will need a Stepup device in addition to whatever preamp you go with (unless you get a klyne or something with a head amp built in). Moving iron and moving magnets go right into the preamp with no stepup device. They are completely different sounds in my experience. Most would likely go with the dl103, for the money it is hard if not impossible to beat. The vpi hw19 mk3 (with the armboard) is another great table though a little harder to find. I've heard nothing but great things about well tempered as well. Generally you will get close to what you spent when you sell the table and arm and preamp if you buy used and barring accidents. So look at those as investments.
Just because the OP is a beginner to vinyl again doesn't mean he has to start out with a beginner turntable. I am new to vinyl after the same peroiod of time. I bought a VPI Superscoutmaster and Zesto Audio Andros, I couldn't be happier and don't have to go through endless upgrades.
The recommendation of the VPI Classic is a good one.
The Zesto has gotten wonderful reviews. I firmly believe that to get what vinyl really has to offer, you have to go to a certain threshold. Admittedly, I have not heard the recent small VPI or any number of others that are in the 2-3000 dollar ballpark. But, as you note, Moonguy, the phono stage is also important. I'd rather see somebody look for a used higher quality phono stage than buy a budget one, just to get in the door. At the price of the Zesto (and also, I gather the Fosgate has gotten a good reception, although i haven't heard it either), the price of entry for a very high quality phono stage is, if not cheap, more accessible.
I've got a used HW-19 III with a Premier FT3 that would be a nice table for a first timer. I was using it with an OC9ml (1) with good results. Always performed well.
The Grados were always wonderful. It was a go-to cartridge for me when i used
an ARC SP-10 preamp. While that preamp had a wonderfully juicy phono stage,
it was quite noisy, and didn't like low output cartridges. I still have a couple of
old Grado Signatures sitting in a box, must be 20+ years old. I think
Soundsmith may also be doing something in this vein, I'd have to check. Step-
ups will add additional expense although I think some of these newer stages
have enough gain to run a low output cartridge.
PS just quickly looked- seems the Zesto has built in step ups?
I strongly 2nd the Denon DP-47 and 103 recommendation. The Denon tables of that vintage were incredibly well-built and are very good turntables all-around. And they are very easy to setup and use. They also *look* very good, very solid bases and smooth, elegant controls and switches.
The Denon 103 cartridge is one of the most popular in the world. You'll need a step-up transformer because of its low output, but there are plenty of those around for $200-300.
A setup like this will serve you well for many years and you can probably put it all together for less than $800.
Tables are a great source of debate.
For years, the rega offerings were affordable, solid performers without needing to have a PhD in engineering to set them up.
I have a LP12 with the old Grace 707 and with a Benz Ace cart, the results are very very good...
Don't fall into the "never buy a used table" or "performance is directly related to money spent" myths.
Synergy is what makes good music great.
My advice, get a used table that you like...build your collection up a bit and shop at a slow pace.
It is hard to get it right the first time out.
Strongly 2nd the rec for a Well Tempered Amadeus.
Thanks for extending an invitation, and I'm sorry to hear you'll be leaving NY. As a former New Yorker, I have a special place in my heart for NY. Many of my friends and some family are still there. I traded NYC for San Diego a few years ago, but still miss the City and would probably go back if a lucrative opportunity arose. That said, I understand Austin is an awesome place, and has a great music scene. Plus much milder winters!
Funny about the Kuzma arm. Your turntable is one of those tables I have on my list to audition when I finally win the lottery, or when I get that that big promotion in that great job I'll get one day...So I was thinking about that linear arm and how many audiophiles consider linear arms superior to pivots. But for me, it's precisely what you've experienced that makes linear arms less attractive than pivots. I'm sure there are other designs that probably don't exhibit the same problems, but you'd think that if anyone could make a great linear arm, Kuzma would be one of them.
Good luck with the move when it happens. If I make it to NY any time soon. I'll let you know. Perhaps we can visit Mr. Lamm in Brooklyn :)
Act- the arm itself is phenomenal and is really little trouble, once it is properly set up. It is well machined, well designed and pretty trouble free to operate. It needs to be absolutely level, and I occasionally clean the tube that the bearing travels on, so it doesn't get 'stuck' due to 'dust.' The pump is a whole other matter. In talking with SIL in the States, they think the pump is too small for the application, and that its behavior is due in part to having to run too many duty cycles. The Kuzma US distributor does offer a bigger SIL pump, with a larger compressor and surge tank, and i might try that once I relocate.
The Kuzma 4 point arm is supposed to be fabulous, and I might install a second arm at some point- easy enough to do- just buy an additional arm 'tower' and line it up properly next to the TT. The TT itself is a beast, and the biggest issue is setting it up for isolation. It is very heavy, and adding the weight of an HRS isolation platform beneath it makes it heavier still. The room is at the top of the house, with wooden floors, so you can imagine the challenge. I tried the big Finite Elemente floor stand that was made for the Kuzma XL and it just didn't work- the floor was too much of a challenge. Right now, the turntable sits on the HRS platform which, it turn, is mounted on top of a very heavy old Asian prayer table that is about 10 feet long and has to weigh several hundred pounds. My dealer helped- adding huge chunks of sorthbothane under the table and it works well.
Definitive Audio (if I remember the name right, the people in the UK that build those Living Voice speakers) have their Kuzma mounted to a wall, but the space is an old factory with much stronger walls than sheetrock.
I'm looking forward to Austin- and am planning to do a dedicated room there, with some basic acoustic design, balanced power and the rest. I think the system will sound better in a bigger, better designed room than I have now.
Always try to visit Symbolic Motors when I'm in San Diego, but it's been a few years. Here's my email if you want to stay in touch: email@example.com
The whole Kuzma package is a beauty. It must give you a lot of pleasure to look at it while it makes beautiful music. The 4Point is definitely up there with the top Tri-Planar and Graham. If I recall correctly, Fremer thinks it beats the top Graham and the Cobra on his Continuum turntable. I think it's great idea to complement the XL with the 4Point.
Thank you for your contact information. I'll forward mine directly.
Classic 2 plus an OC9 would work well. Properly set up, it would perform very well. I've heard an OC9 in a Classic 2 and 3. It's a very good match. Classic 2 to make VTA adjustment easy.
Should have some kind of hi-gain mc phono stage if one isn't built into that ARC preamp.
Hello and thank you for all the responses. It is strange to me as I know a great deal about audio (I am a audio engineer as a profession) and have bought and traded my gear around to the point of where I am very happy with it. But I know nothing about turntables, and all that goes with them such as tone arms, cartridges, and phono pre amps! I would like to "start" with a simple one that can be "plug and play" but also could allow me upgrade parts (such as the cartridge ) as I learn more about them. I don't want to buy the "last one" now but more like one that would be fun for a year or so.
And my pre-amp does not have a phono pre so I will need to get that too, I have considered the ARC PH-3 or older, but open for any suggestions.
And if interested my other gear is:
ARC LS 26
B&W 801 (the old ones! )
Transparent Ultra Bal interconnects
Shunyata Power cables
There will be a 10% increase on the Zesto Audio Andros PS1 in September, although their tubed pre amp will remain at the same price.
Thanks Moon, I ain't in the market. Just bought an Allnic H3000 and couldn't be happier.
Vdosc: you've gotten a range of good suggestions, but now that you have
narrowed it to a decent starter table, my vote, for set and forget (once a
dealer does the set-up competently), would be the VPI Traveler. VPI makes
no nonsense tables (including some very serious ones) that have had few
complaints over the years, and this one is truly an entry level table. I
haven't played with it, and no doubt, some of the more expensive VPI
tables (and others) will better it, but it will get the basics right.
I'll link to a recent review (the table just came out) where the reviewer also
touts a relatively inexpensive phono stage that may be just the ticket, and
would enable you to use a range of cartridges. I'm not sure I'd go with the
cartridge option that is offered with the VPI. You might look at some of the
less expensive Benz Micro cartridges as a possibility.
Keep in mind that the turntable will lend a character to the sound, and the
phonostage and the cartridge may have even more pronounced sonic
characteristics. (The difference in turntables is often the 'absence' of
grunge, or low level noise in the background, not hum or grinding, but sort
of a veil that you only notice when it is no longer there). Vinyl devotees will
spend alot of time (and money) getting it right. Here's a link to the review of
the table and phono stage, combined you are done for a little over 2 grand,