Six hundred dollars on a Music Hall is a waste of money. Chances are your old Pioneer sounds better!
Disclaimer: I am a direct drive/idler drive advocate.
Disclaimer: I am a direct drive/idler drive advocate.
The scratches won't harm anything. As far as what table to own you will get a lot of different suggestions. I've always felt that (especially with vinyl) one is best served by finding a few tables that meet your performance standards and then saving your money until you can buy one of those. It's much cheaper doing it that way than multiple upgrades. A vacuum cleaning system for your records is really mandatory, IMO.
The Music Hall is a good table and I think you will be pleased. The scratches on your records will not hurt anything except the sound.
One thing, though...do you have a phonoamp or phono input on your amplifier? These days (versus 20 years ago), most new systems don't include the amplification and RIAA equalization stage for vinyl and if that is the case for you a phonoamp will be an additional expense.
At this point, clean records are the next thing to focus on. As Lugnut pointed out, a vauum-based machine would be great. If the cost bothers you, you can start doing them by hand w/disc doctor brushes. I highly recommend the Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions fluids. Buy a new dish rack at Target for $1.99, and a couple nice cotton bath towels to cover your table, and you're set. Clean the LPs w/the fluid and brushes, air dry in the dish rack. Put the clean LPs directly into new sleeves. Check the archives, there's tons of posts on details of cleaning regimens. Cheers,
First, welcome back! I've been doing vinyl again after a 15 year absence. Other than the preoccupation with these audio sites that developed when I started seeking info, the habit has been pure pleasure. Now, I want ot say that anyone who says you "need" or "must have" an expensive record cleaning machine isn't using those words carefully. None of these items in this hobby is a "need." They're all "wants" and they feed our desires. I've been cleaning records with one of the homemade brews recommended here, using a magic brush to scrub and lint-free cloths to wipe. I've invested perhaps $15 and I've found that this works very well to improve the sound on about 90% of the records I have. The rest are in worse shape and still sound noisy after repeated cleanings. Those I toss. Then I look for replacements on the used market. If it's an LP I truly WANT, I pay premium for it. Otherwise I wait until another cheap one comes along. That's the way, for example, I came upon a $1 copy of Robert Palmer's Sneakin Sally Through the Alley that is pristine and wonderful. Same with a $.50 copy of Schumann's Cello Concerto with Leonard Rose. To me, this is a far better use of my time and money than forking over hundreds of dollars for an audiophile record cleaning machine. Good luck with the vinyl. Enjoy!
As Winegasman said, welcome back! The vinyl revival lives and grows. You won't regret it, though your bank balance might!
Scratches, unless they're truly Grand Canyon like, will wear your stylus only slowly. Not a big concern. Of course it would be better to find a clean copy of that record. Depending on what you listen to there's often tons of used vinyl out there.
I strongly agree with Lugnut and Sbank. A good record cleaning regimen is essential, and that means some kind of vacuum cleaning. This can cost anywhere from $50 for a DIY to $2K or more for a truly topnotch unit. You don't need to spring for one of the top machines, but you absolutely must spring for something. This is not optional.
Surface noise and deteriorating records are the reason many people (including me) dropped out of vinyl when CD's became available. Progress in the last 20 years has been phenomenal though, particularly in cartridges and cleaning machines. The cleaning machine is more important. Without one you damage your records with every play. The best rig and cartridge in the world won't make a damaged LP sound good.
Speed stability in a turntable is vital. Without it music has no life, no punch and instruments just don't sound real. This is why Psychicanimal pushes direct drive and/or idler wheel drive. At entry level price points those technologies do speed stability better than most belt drive tables. Some entry level belt drives are excellent of course, perhaps most notably the Nottingham Horizon. If you can stretch your budget to $1200-1500 for table and arm, a Horizon or Horizon SE with Rega RB-250 arm would be a huge improvement over an MMF-5.
I must respectfully disagree with Dougdeacon's use of the phrase "entry level" in reference to a $1,000 turntable. $1,500 exceeds the annual income of many citizens of small nations. "Entry level" might be more akin to the $50 or so that you might spend on a used Dual table in good working condition. I spent $35 on a functional Yamaha table 2 years ago to see if I still liked the flavor of vinyl after 15 years. When I decided I did, I read up some, decided that used Thorens seemed to have a reliable track record, and started keeping my eyes open. A few weeks later I bought a Thorens TD-320 for $199. I've had various carts on it, and have settled on a lightly used Grado Reference Sonata that cost $225. I took the table to a technician who lubed it, changed the belt, and replaced the stock (deteriorating) RCAs with Audioquest interconnects. This set me back about $120, including interconnects. I'm sure that this rig is not the last word in timing or detail or PRAT or whatever other categories of expectation audiophiles can come up with. But it sounds remarkable to me and to friends who hear it and, on my real-world middle-class budget, it doesn't break the bank. When people throw out the phrase "entry level" in reference to $1K or more pieces of equipment they're (a) not using the words accurately, and (b) scaring away people who it would make more sense to encourage. After all, the more people on the vinyl bandwagon, the more likely that LPs and equipment will be plentiful.
The Creature (Technics SL-1200MKII thru V) is definitely not entry level. Its beef to price ratio is high because it trickles down technology (and the R&D money) used to produce a state of the art quartz locked record cutting lathe--a lathe that is still used in the majority of current vinyl productions. With some readily available modifications from http://www.kabusa.com the deck is up there in the multi thousand dollar ($4-5K) performance for around $900.
The Lenco idler wheel deck project uses a classic deck with some modern plinth refinements/tonearm changes which take it to high end performance.
Belt drive units simply cannot compete because of sheer volume. Still in the $2,000 range it's impossible to get a decent combination of speed stability, good tonearm and plinth. Just read the Vinyl Asylum archives and read the complaints. The last one I read was a Gyrodec owner complaining of speed instability!
Speaking of salaries, it is pitiful to watch job postings for $5-6/hr for skilled jobs here in the US Caribbean. Should be illegal. Oops, that sounded socialist!
Sorry if I inadvertently pushed some button, but while poverty is important raising it on this thread was irrelevant. Ev314 did not ask, "Should I buy a $600 turntable or donate the money to UNICEF."
Whether you like it or not, most rigs that retail new for $1K or less in 2005 dollars are entry level in audiophile terms. I also own one and that's just reality. It's not a bad rig but compared to my main rig it's - well - entry level!
We're on Audiogon, not the Walmart forum. Entry level here does not mean junk. Entry means the door is open. I suppose some few might still take that as a reason to despair, and to avoid getting back into vinyl altogether because they can't go out and buy a Walker Proscenium. But you, Ev314, I and most other vinyl-philes can and do take it as a challenge to get the most one can with the resources available. You had the good sense and inclination to maximise your dollars by choosing used equipment and refurbishing as necessary. Give other budding vinyl-philes credit for the same initiative you displayed. They won't disappoint you.
Mr. Winegasman unfortunally Dougdeacon is correct in his postings of entry lvl, well maybe a little high, but no sence in splitting hairs. I also concur with him and others if you can afford it, moving up to the Nottingham Horizon or something like it, will be well worth it.
As far as scratched lp's go as others have said depends how bad they are. It is easy these days to find n/m lp's on ebay for cheap unless you want really rare stuff.
If these are the lp's you used when you were a teenager you may want to replace some of them as I have done lol.
Next you are going to have to clean them. Remember you are now used to digital with the black background, dirty records make noise, clean ones don't, well at least almost none / depends on the pressing.
Good luck and remember as Mikey Fermer says the mmf-5 can kick the crap out af any cd player.
Ev314, if you're like most of us you will be upgrading sometime in the not too distant future. Keeping this in mind I would say that the fact that the Rega arm is better than the Pro-ject that comes on any Music Hall table is really not that important. I say this because if you decide to change tables you will most likely want to sell the table with the arm that came on it because you are more likely to get most of your money back that way. The Rega's do have the advantage of being able to handle many more cartridges than the Pro-ject, but I believe that the Music Hall's have better speed stability. You will enjoy either of these and I would venture to guess that you would be happy with the Technics that Psychicanimal is so fanatical about.
I started back into vinyl almost three years ago now. I started with a MMF 7 and used it until about last November when I decided to get real serious. You may also want to consider purchasing a used table. That is what I did and got all but $100 back when I sold the MMF 7. You do need to be careful buying used, but that is where A'gon can help. If you can find a used MMF whatever here in the classifieds you will save big and not loose anything to depreciation. Music Hall go very fast so you really have to check early and often.
As far as record cleaning. IME you can't do any better than a home-built vacuum RCM unless you're willing to spend some serious money on a Loricraft or Monk. The VPI's and the like are perhaps more convenient but a DIY RCM is likely to have much, much better suction and you can build a very effective model for less than $50. Cleaning supplies are essential to getting the most from vinyl, but it is money well spent as you will be able to achieve stunning playback from some records that many would think would be just too dirty to ever sound good again.