I think your two criteria-less than $1000 and competitive with your digital are impossible.
23 responses Add your response
I would find a friend with a good analog front end and try out in your system. You don't have to invest a ton of money in TT,arm,cartridge and phono pre but $1,000 is not going to do it. More importantly getting your analog front end to perform up to its capabilities takes alot of education and time and you have to enjoy the process. I converted to anolog about two years ago and rarely listen to CD anymore.
You are too kind and fair beyond description.
You got your new Porsche, special order and it`s guaranteed to do 0 - 60 in 4.0 sec flat and 180mph.
you want to see how an American car stacks up, BUT you only want to spend $1000, you could get a nice 97 Chevy Cavalier with 150K on the odometer for that.
Besides that turntable you will need a Phono Stage, cartridge, phono cable, "rock of Gibralter" rack to put it on, and some lessons on how to play those Lp`s.
Please don`t do this, nobody here wants to hear you brag how your see-dees blow away vinyl, or whine about the $1000 you wasted on a "Vinyl Rig"!
You have no idea or knowledge about what you are attempting.
About $2500-$3000 would give you a sound that would be at least completive with your digital. Are you sure you want do do it? LP costs have gone way up since I amassed my collection. The above does not include a phono stage and was figuring buying used. There is no use comparing a cheap TT to your current digital gear. I prefer LP but I have several $K in my digital and bought it at low prices at that. Save your effort on the Micro, they made good tables [I was one of their dealers] but this one is not one of them.
I dont have an equipment recommendation, but I agree with Tbg et al. I tried a budget analog setup (spending about your budget, but new) and have to say it was very disappointing for the most part.
My second attempt cost quite a bit more, but it is a MUCH different, dramatically better experience. I am coming to prefer it to digital more and more (as i get better at setting the table up, acquire more LPs, dropped more $ on a cleaning machine, etc), but there is still a lot of room for improvement in my analog gear.
Bottom line is - I think you gotta pony up to get the most from analog, especially if you want it to improve over an already good digital setup.
Assuming your Atmasphere pre has a phono stage (if it does not, all bets are off), I would suggest getting a "vanilla" Technics SL1200 (or one of the variations of that table) for around $400, maybe even less if you buy it used. Then get yourself a lightly used Shelter 501, and you will have less than $1000 invested, which you should be able to recoup if you "bail out." In my opinion, while this may not equal, much less surpass, your digital rig, that table and cartridge combo will tell you pretty quickly if you want to pursue vinyl or not. If you do, that's a table and cartridge that is way more than tolerable until you can afford to upgrade down the line.
Don't worry too much about the rising cost of vinyl. Part of the fun of vinyl is finding good used records for a dollar or two on eBay or in your local record shop. You'll hit some duds from time to time, but many of them are perfectly playable, especially if cleaned properly. Of course, you will need a good cleaning machine before too long. The VPIs do a pretty good job for $300-400 used.
All of this, IMO, of course. Vinyl takes some time and effort, but it is worth it to me. By the way, I lived with the same combination I just suggested to you for quite some time before I upgraded to the Well Tempered Amadeus. I thought it was a ridiculously good value.
Get something GOOD used that you can resale if you find you do not like it. I'd suggest a fully loaded VPI Scoutmaster or Super Scoutmaster (or something even gooder!)as they go for about 1/2 of their new price on the used market. Resale it for the same or there-about if you do not enjoy it. You have some great gear to try it alongside. I'd also recommend buying used LP's to start. IMO most sound quieter than the audiophile pressings that cost 15X more. I realize my suggestion is not in your $1000 price range, but from the other replies here I'm sure you realize that a grand ain't gonna' cut it in your rig. HTH!
Turntable is a bad idea. You gotta start searching the used vinyl bins at Goodwill. Getting all that BLACK MOLD all over you, your clothes and on the ones you take home, into your toilet (forever, and ever), and lungs. I never HAD black mold until I bought a collection of used classical LPs. Then I had black mold. I still have it. Once you get it, it's yours for life.
Then you gotta worry about the cartridge, and the needle.
Oops snagged that sucker, $500. down the drain in a flash.
Have to reinforce the house foundation, when you walk across the floor the record skips.. $30,000. for the work.
Then you got storage for those LPs. soon they will take over ANYPLACE you put them. You will have to buy new shelves.. more new shelves... shelves that can actually carry the 20,000 pounds of LPs.. Your evicted from your apartment because your LPs are causing the ceiling below to buckle (true story, but not mine)
Then you gotta complain about the ticks, pops, and scratchiness, and buy a $1,000 cleaning machine that will make you deaf in a week, to clean the damn vinyl.
You will become furtive, and bang into the other person browsing YOUR favorite place to buy records. You will not apologize.. after all, they are YOUR secret stash place to buy rocords.
Run while you can... You are a CeeDee person.. you will never be happy with a TT. It is a bad dream.
The upside is all those folks buying TTs and stuff FOR THE FIRST TIME, when they sour on it, are gonna sell all that stuff for cheap and use old timer LP crazies wil LAUGH.
I really appreciate the thoughtful responses.
I supposed what I'm trying to do right now, is see if this (vinyl) is something I want to pursue... It sounds like only 1K may not give me a honest evaluation?
My initial budget estimate is not set -- my thought process is; it has taken me alot of $$$ to settle on a digital set up that did not sound digital - dare, I say analogue - inother words, not bright or edgy / relaxed, natural in tonal character, attack and decay, and so on... But, sense vinyl is already analogue than maybe the investment would be comparatively less -- anyway, obviously an inexperienced thought process.
So back to the topic - my Atma-Sphere MP3 now has the phono stage in it and I have someone who will teach me how to set up the table. I do have several records, saved from my youth and a few more that has come my way over the years - not "audiophile" records but good examples none the less. All in all, I have around 30. Not anywhere near the thousands of CDs I have, but I figure it would be nice to pick up some of the older Jazz and Big Band stuff I like that has never been issued on CD - which is where my true interest stems from. I am unwilling to reproduce my CD collection in vinyl, I'm simply too deep in (same goes for the computer audio stuff).
I think $1000 would give you a "taste" of vinyl, it just won't sonicaly compare with what you have. I had a $300 Music Hall TT which absolutely was more "enjoyable" than my then digital rig, a $6500 MF TriVista SACD player (now a $6500 paper weight BTW). It cetainly did not sound better, but was more musical to my ears. As a result I have a much better TT now, inspired by this revelation. YMMV.
Here is what I did after being away from vinyl for 25 years. I bought a used Thorens td166mkii bought a v-lps phono stage and a denon 103r cartridge along with a spin clean washer system. The set-up sounds very good and I have less than a grand invested. My cd player is a heavily modded scd-1 a Cary sli-80f1 and Focal 1007 be monitors and all HGA silver cabling.
When you are used to the CDP convenients it's my estimation that you better find a fit & forget set-up.
Take a look for a Denon DP80/Reed Q3(12")/Vdh CONDOR if you reconsider the total expense. Other than an added slate plinth & some footers & a mat, I don't think you will ever going for upgrade with this.
If you know little about vinyl, and I'm assuming you don't want to (or can't) employ the services of a good dealer (which you should) I suggest buying a Music Hall MMF5 and about 10 new records from Acoustic Sounds and see how you like dealing with it. It's either going to click with you or not. The MMF5 is not a great tt, but, having owned one, I think it's good enough to let you know whether you want to continue down the vinyl road. If you decide to sell, you'll lose a couple hundred. I would not deal with old thrift-shop records, as they will be noisy, dirty and damaged and will invariably diminish your pleasure at this stage. Better Records also has many sealed or mint copies of older vinyl and their grading system is right on. Mint means mint. Plus, for $5, they'll clean the records for you, saving you the investment in a machine which you WILL need should you get serious about vinyl.
I enjoy my digital setup very much and do most of my listening with it. But I think analog is worth exploring, and when done well, can be a source of much pleasure - or grief. Like everything else in this hobby. Good luck
The "cost" of trying vinyl is not in the friction of buying hardware used for $1000 on Agon and then reselling it for a few dollars less after having spent a few or several months learning about setup, figuring out that your first choice of cartridge (done on a budget) just doesn't cut it, buying another, researching to find another one, cleaning records, wasting Saturday mornings at yard sales, pissing off your significant other with the new mess and distractions, spending more time surfing Agon and the Vinyl Asylum trying to figure out how to spend a few hundred dollars more to reach nirvana, etc. It's the "cost" of the time if you later deem it to have been a waste.
You may have to temper your expectations a bit for $1000. It is not impossible to get decent vinyl sound from that kind of money (assuming the phono stage is already in the pre), but beating an excellent and expensive digital system playing through excellent amplification for that budget is a tall order.
I agree with T-Bone in that a cheap tt with thrift shop records may end up a big waste of time, but I still maintain that a new MMF-5 (There's one up from Underwood) at a good price, and a bunch of new records from Better Records or Acoustic sounds, will give the OP a good sense of whether he wants to continue with vinyl. I agree, buying someones flaky tt and messed up records may well be a waste of time and that's why I recommend against it.
It seems to me, TB, you're advocating not doing anything because it may be a waste of time. I guess the answer to that is - how much time do you have to waste? Some have much more than others.
I am not advocating doing nothing. I am simply trying to point out the nature of the "costs." Based on the fact that the OP has a friend who will set up the TT, and he has demonstrable sensitivity to having too much potential loss if it turns out bad. I would personally suggest something like a used VPI Classic, or possibly the Nottingham Spacedeck here on Agon for $1300. Disclaimer: no connection to anything being sold on Audiogon (as of the day of posting).