Turntable selection advise

I have to admit that I am no audiophile nor do I have the funds to purchase some of the extravagant systems out there, I'm just a simple guy looking for simple advise. So far, I have looked into 3 turntables and I am wondering if some of you could assist me with my selection process. I just want to play vinyl that's all, hmmm audio nirvana ~!

So far I have looked into various TT and my selection is as follows.

1) Technics SL1200MK2
2) Technics 1210M5
3) Audio Technica AT-PL120

I like the fact that the Audio Technica has a built in phono pre amp and it plays at 3 different LP's speed rates (33, 45 and 78)

Could someone please advise the pro's and con's of my above selection?
No! None of these is a good choice if you are interested in sound quality. Are you REALLY going to play 78s? Do you have a large collection of the 45 rpm 12" records that came out in the late 70s and early 80s? Any preamp that is built into a turntable is unlikely to be suitable for hi-fi use. This sounds like a DJ's table; they have entirely different design priorities than hi-fi users. Look for a good used belt drive table. The direct drive VS belt drive war was fought in the 70s; direct drive lost. You don't say how much you want to invest, I think that VPI represents the most for the money if you purchase new. I have just resumed being a dealer for them after a lapse of 14 years when I was out of the retail end of audio. I did this not to make money, I never have selling audio equipment, but because they represent an attractive , easy to set up package that gives high value. I don't do mail order so I am not trying to sell you one. But there are many other good choices. Have no fear of buying used from someone with a track record.
I checked the tables for sale and VPI Scouts are available at around $1100,A VPI Jr with cartridge for $800, a Rega P25 for $795. These are all very good. If these are too high there are older Thorens at lower prices and Rega has a table for about $400 that will outperform the tables you mentioned.
If you're not looking for the ultimate hi-fi experience the Technics 1200 (or 1210) would be excellent choices. They're really easy to use, dead stable and very reliable. There are also a lot of mods available from KAB if you ever do want to upgrade. They are also an excellent value.

A lot of audiophiles look down their noses at the Tech-12s because they're not hi-fi enough. I wouldn't let that kind of snobery put you off these machines if you just want to play some records. They're really quite good.

I would not mess the with the AT table, but their cartridges are very good. I'm listening to one right now (AT-OC9).

If you're willing to buy a used machine there are lots of great tables out there. Personally I'm a big fan of Sota tables which can be very reasonable here on A-Gon.
all will get the job done...a vintage dual will too,,, go for it.
Doubtful you'll find a better table for the money, than a Technics 1210 MkII, or Mk5. They're loaded with good, usable features, and will surprise you, that they are a good sounding table.

One of the reasons Belt Drive became more popular, was because of its cost, being much less expensive to implement an AC Syncho Motor, rather than a sophisticated DC Servo Direct Drive Motor.

Implementation is the key, and the quality of the sum of parts. Remember, Technics use Direct Drive Motors on thier Record Cutting Lathes. Yes, it's an age old battle, but this doesn't mean one of these Technics Tables, with a very good Cartridge, and Phono Stage cannot produce very good sound.

Not sure how important this is to you, but I believe there is a 78rpm mod-kit from KAB for the Technics, as well as a large slew of other worthy upgrades from them, which will greatly improve the performance of these bulletproof Turntables. Most of the mods can be installed by an adept end user. Things like a Cardas Tonearm rewire might be best left to Kevin at KAB.

You can modify-upgrade the Technics as funds allow.

About a phono stage, I again gather you have none in your current component arsenal, and if you wish to stay with a Moving Magnet Cartridge, these don't necessarily have to be prohibitly expensive to acquire a great sounding Stage.

I think a nicely set up Technics, with a good MM Cartridge, something like the AT-150MLX, and a good Phono Section will give many years of great enjoyment. The entire package (Table-Cartridge-Stage) should be able to be purchased new, for around $1K.
Stanwal, thanks for the advise but let me explain myself. As you may know our current market is down, economy wise, gas is up, salaries are down etc. You know the endless stories out there, anyway, I got hurt at my job. Got struck by an SUV on a fire truck. I'm a Firefighter here in the City of Chicago. I don't make the best salary but I do make a decent amount for my standard of living. I also work 2 jobs, but for the past 3 months I haven't been able to work due to surgeries, physical therapy etc. So my money is very, very tight and I wont be able to go to work for another 3 or more months, sad because I need to work, make overtime and work my part time job and as well the Army Reserves.

I would LOVE to have the money to spend on better cables, interconnects power cords, better turn tables, cartridges etc but to be completely honest I just don't have the funds for at least now until things get better and I get more healthier. God willing of course. I have other reasons as well but I won't post them here on a public site.

Thanks for the advise, Robert
If you match the tone arm (stock technics is fine) with a good cartridge and decent phono pre the technics will give you excellent performance. I have my 1700 mk 2 set up properly and it can give my Sota nova a run for its money as a matter of fact many times I prefer the technics as it lifts the arm after play.
I use to sell Technics , so am not prejudiced against them. As to the belt drive being cheaper, if you look at top end turntables available today, they are belt drive. The governing factor is the isolation of the platter from the motor. What the cutting lathe uses has no bearing on playback. You build a road with a bulldozer but it's not the best vehicle to navigate one already built. So much for theory. If I wanted the best performance at the lowest cost I would look on ebay at the Technics SL-10 or SL-15 [not the 25]. They were some of the neatest tables ever built, linear tracking, automatic, and they sounded better than many of Technics pro tables. Cost will be under $200, probably under $100.
I had a VPI Scout with a Dynavector 20x and VPI 16.5 cleaning machine. I never used it because teh machine did nto clean the records well (I even bought the magic record research liquid) and the VPI was just a pain to use.

I replaced it with a Technics SL1200, Denon DL160 cart and Walgreens perfection steamer. Easy to use and happy as can be. I now almost always listen to records.
I just read your response about funds. A good friend just bought a Technics SL 1300 in mint condition for $150 on ebay and he is very happy. He added a Denon Dl160 cart and Sumiko headshell (same as what I am using).

FWIW, we both have systems in the $30,000 to $40,000 range are are very happy with the Technics tables.

One huge reason that tables are belt drive (besides the stigma DD tables) is that the cost to gear up to build a quality DD table is very high. Technics spent the money in the 1960's and sells the table for the same price that it has sold for a long time.
be sure you check out KABUSA dot com. they offer all kind of real technics TT upgrades. The two I would pop for are the cardas arm re-wire and the dampening trough.

All the best;

John (up in Lake County)
I agree with others that recommend the Technics SL1200MK2. I also suggest an Audio Technica AT150MX cartridge and Bottlehead Seduction phono stage. This should give you plenty of listening enjoyment. I don't think you'll be able to do better for the price. Some forums to check out:

I just went up two notches in resolution
Bottlehead Seduction Phono Stage question
Thanks to all for all the help, my budget currently is not the best so I will keep my options open until I can hit the road running again.
I would second the Rega recommendation. I believe you can get the P1 for under $400. This would be a much better option than any of the cheap motor-driven Technics, etc. Belt-drive is the way to go.
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you might want to check out audioasylum. They have a lot more vintage table strings than you will find here. There is a lot of folks on that forum that get a lot of enjoyment from the older and cheaper tables and a lot of fans for the moderate priced vintage MM cartridges. I suspect you will get a much different range of responses. I like the high end tables and get a lot of enjoyment our of my investment so I am not talking down the higher quality tables but I also know a lot of folks who get similar enjoyment out of a lot less investment. As specifically to your question, the technics tables are typically better built than the AT table you mentioned IMO I would also consider a vintage denon, pioneer, yamaha, etc.
Unless you already have a substantial vinyl collection, it may be a bad idea to start from scratch.

Ever see the movie, "The Money Pit"?

There's a real life analog version and you can find many testimonials in the threads.

Good luck.
bill is right. its amazing how many stereotypes jump into a turntable and all the trappings of record collecting, without having a record collection. before jumping in, just know vinyl is expensive, imperfect, and interactive in a variety of ways.
I will add to the Technics SL-12XX series. For the money they are no brainers. Look you will find most who have had these with an open mind will state they are knockouts to anything you can remotely get in their price point. Add some KAB USA mods and you get a real champ.

I fell into the direct drive being bad cr@p when I got back into vinyl in 2002 and let m tell you the arguments against good direct drive is cr@p. The drive system on the SL-12xx series is excellent and dead silent. I have a KAB USA distributed SL-1200mkII with the Cardas arm rewire and it's a beauty with my Denon DL-110 H.O. moving coil cartridge. I will add the fluid arm damper down the road.
As to the belt drive being cheaper, if you look at top end turntables available today, they are belt drive (10-28-08: Stanwal)

That's because no one of the world famous TT producers has money to invest studing and building such wonderful motor inside the Technics SL1200 , no enough numbers of TT sold to justify the amount of $$$ , a cheapo little belt motor is perfect for them

God save the Technics SL1200!
Definitely get into vinyl. It can re-ignite your music passion.

You will have fun building a collection. And it is worth the money if you truly appreciate the vinyl sound.
I recently purchased an SL1200MK2 from KABUSA with the Cardas rewire and the Fluid Damper. I have been very happy with this table. So easy to use and sounds wonderful (yes I did audition several other tables from other manufacturers. In the end I chose the KAB technics).

Anyway, as someone mentioned earlier, KAB does offer a mod for 78's. If you are serious about collecting/playing 78's I would recommend you call Kevin and discuss which table and what mods would be best for you.
technics is great for the price but get a used mk5 because better tonerarm wiring
Thanks to all ~! Technics from KAB USA sounds like an excellent choice
Technics from KAB USA sounds like an excellent choice
- Chgolatin2

The SL1200 (or the SL1210) not only is an "excellent choice" but is the cheapest best sounding TT all over the World!
Second you don't need to recheck .. just two oil drops every 2500 hours! :-) and summer/autumn/winter/spring/ you have your TT always perfectly running without to care about temperature
Third you can put your TT everywhere you want because the SL1200 doesn't need ultra-expencive and esoteric platform
Just level it!
You don't need a strobo test to check for the belt health and the relative speed
You don't need to clean it because it own its plexi cover..
.. and bla bla .. much good more :-))
After 50 years in this hobby business and have owned far more turntables than most on this site. My opinion is go with VPI, Sota or Rega. These offer a clear upgrade path when time and resources are available. The VPI and Sota are made in the U.S.A., while the Rega is a UK import. You can spend wisely or poorly. If you spend poorly the vinyl medium can burn you out very early indeed.

My preference is VPI and currently using a HW 19 MK IV, which at my age now is my bucket list turntable. Why do I recommend VPI. Very simply, customer service. They are there when you need them, they answer the phone, always helpful. Parts and service if and when needed just a [hone call away. The product itself from their entry level to their flagship has a build quality, that has few if any peers. From a sonic point of view, these tables play vinyl with a resolution that will astound you. In my opinion when it says VPI that pretty much says it all.

Sota as well makes a fine line of turntables, also made in the U.S. Superb quality and very finely built, excellent parts. However my only qualm with Sota I have found is that their customer service is not on par with VPI. Others may have a different view of their customer service, but my experience with them, while good, is lacking as compared to VPI. Nonetheless they produce very fine turntables, that deserve to be considered.

Rega is a UK import with excellent U.S. support. Parts and service is readily available, wide dealer base in the U.S. from their entry level turntable to their flagship the Rega's offer a level of performance not often found in todays analog offerings.

These audiophile turntables offer in my opinion the biggest bang for the buck. All have a clear upgrade path, have excellent customer service, parts are readily available, with staff that can help you if and when needed.

As far as the three you have listed, I find no enduring quality in any of those. Yes they will play records and if thats all you want then get one of them. If you want to experience analog as it can be heard, then choose any of the three I have menetion. Any of these brands are available here on the Audiogon website from dealers as well as private members and prices can be very friendly indeed from the membership.

As for dealers I use Larry at Hollywood Sound. I have known him for years and he is one of the most knowledgeable dealers in analog playback, that you will find. Although both Gene Rubin and Bill at Audiofeil are fabulous resources as well.

Ultimately the choice is yours - spend wisely
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