I am kicking the idea of trying out vinyl. It’s been a long time since I had a turntable and it took a lot of thought whether I can deal with what always seemed like the snap, crackle & pops of an album. Anyway, I’ve decided to take a plunge after all the buzz how awesome it is. Of course before I make any final decisions, I always turn to the Audiogon community for their expert thoughts, opinions and education. I’m also looking for suggestions for a nice affordable table with tone arm and cartridge. Being the fact this is new to me and I may hate it, I’m looking for suggestions on the best affordable set up I can do for a new or used in the price range of $1000/$1500. I’m sure I can get a better bang for the buck going used. I just don’t know anything about these animals. My system is older but I still enjoy it which consist of a Mark Levinson 23.5 amp, Proceed AVP 2+6 used for 2 channel audio, Audio Acoustics model 9 speakers, Ayre DAC for digital with Transparent Audio Ultra mm2 cables. Any input is greatly appreciated!

Since you don't know anything about turntables, it would only make sense for you to buy new, with the cartridge of your choice installed, on their arm.

Rega has models in your price range what ever it may be, excluding the most expensive mega buck tables; order and enjoy, no adjustments to be made.
I will recommend the Technics SL-1200GR.  It has the latest direct drive technology and has outstanding reviews from both actual users and the industry press.
I agree with dhJohnson, get the technics.  On top of being a great TT, it is a wonderful way to learn how to set up and adjust a TT without the use and expense of a bunch of special tools.  On the other hand if by some chance you  hate vinyl, the GR will sell quick. 
@vegasears what special tools you mention? Also, is the cartridge installed on the Rega’s and GR or separate? What’s better, direct drive or belt drive? Also, what the thought on usb or does that defeat the analog benefit?
Cartridge/Arm scale for proper VTF and shims to lower/rise tone arm pivot for proper cartridge alignment.  also note the GR has a removal head shell easy mounting and changes.   DD  or  BD  Which is better?  Both function good, one has a large rubber band called a "Belt" the other does not and both type will spin at the selected speed.  USB that's for computers and such. My best advice do lots of online forum research.

Do I need a separate preamp to run a cartridge other than my preamp? I was checking out a Rega 6 that comes with a Exact cartridge? Does that cartridge need a separate pre or can it be plugged right into an input on my Proceed AVP 2 and play? Anybody?
Hey luvrocker, Does the Proceed have a phono selection? If so, and the exact is a MM (which I believe it is), it will work. If not, you'll need a separate phono amp to plug into the proceed. 
Luvrockin,You will need a a phono stage in all likely hood.  The vast vast majority of AVP players lack a phono input.  Its not a big deal, a phono stage can be bought very inexpensively or you can spend a lot.
@boxer12 & mechans, my AVP 2 does not have anything labeled phono. It has I customizable inputs from 1-8 but none are labeled phone. In the menus there is an adjustable gain function. I don’t know if that would have anything to do for phono operation.
You could pick up a used VPI table and a low hours cartridge. If you want to try a tt that gets good reviews in a lower price range check the Uturn web page, they also have a reasonable phono preamp.
Not sure I agree with the advice to buy new. But either way, you’ll want a reputable dealer who can work on it, and make sure your azimuth and vertical tracking are set up correctly. 

At at one point, it was thought that bet drives were more noise isolating vs that of direct drives. But that was as much the actual engineering as the method of turning the platter. Fine examples of each. Arguably there’s less maintenance with a direct drive, but I wouldn’t know. I got my belt driven table when I was 13 and it’s still producing great sound. 

A moving magnet cartridge ridge will give you a much easier interface to start with. Moving coils introduce new technical issues, but the manufacturers of better cartridges today tend to focus on the coil design. Not sure why that became a fad but it did. 

Good luck.

Oh, a good record cleaner and an anti-static surfactant such as in Groove Glide will do wonders to eliminate much surface noise. As someone who also streams a lot of music, I can’t deal with more than the occasional pop etc. 
luvrockin, You'll need a phono stage. The adjustable gain will not give you RIAA. As mechans stated above, you can get a reasonably priced one if you wish.  
Definitely new Technics direct drive!

If your budget is under $1500 look for a brand new Technics SL1200RG (silver or black versions available). Forget about old Technics and make sure you’re looking at GR or more expensive G models only. This table will serve you for the next 30 years without service. I don’t think any belt drive will survive. Technics is Made in Japan, in terms on usability none of the belt drive come close. Direct Drive is a precision and powerful motor with immediate start/stop. Technics is build like a tank. For your needs this is great start with some decent mid compliance MM or MI cartridge. You don’t have to change Technics turntable/tonearm, but you can change a cartridge when you ready for upgrade. Vintage MM like Grace F14 or Level II, Victor X-1IID, Stanton 881 or 981 , Pickering XSV-3000 or 4500, Audio-Technica AT-ML170 or 180 can be your last stop for the cartridge, top models from these manufacturers are unbeatable today. 

The phono stage must be JLTi mk5, the price is nice and the quality is outstanding for both MM or MC.

Pioneer PLX1000 direct drive ($700) is THE best TT under $1K! Read HR's review in Stereophile! I have one in my collection. Add a $150 Grado cartridge and a Bellari tube phonostage ($275) for a truly excellent LP playback system!
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There are NO direct drive turntables with tonearm that can compete with Technics GR for its price.

Pioneer (made in China) is not even close, but they just tried to copy Technics iconic design instead of developing their own design from the 70s when Pioneer was a king (not now).

Technics is Made in Japan! 
Technics 1200GR?

I saw a nice used one w/cartridge here on Audiogon earlier in your range.
@asahitoro, can’t find any 1200GR’s on AG. Can you send a link?

What’s the thought on a Rega P6 with Exact cart & power supply for $1125? It’s a demo. The phono stage is a Rega MM for $325. Is that a good deal and good table? Thoughts ? I’m looking into many of the suggestions and thank you for all of them. The whole idea is to get the best bang for the buck new or used.
+1 on the Technics 1200GR. It's built like a tank and is far less fiddly for a newbie than some of the others suggested, especially the belt drives. Some discount Technics as not being an audiophile-approved brand, but with a bit of research you will quickly see that the 1200 series and the SP10 series are serious, proven and frequently beloved.

You can save some money with a used phono stage though. On a budget at half retail, you will be getting a far superior product. With recent vintage solid state, not much risk. A few overachievers that quickly come to mind: Lehman Black Cube, Graham Slee(a number of models), Coph Nia(one here for $429), PS Audio GCPH. Cheers,
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You really found yourself a good deal with that Rega.

In regard to belt drive or direct drive; "Why are so many TT's belt drive, even at astronomical price levels?"
I have a Rega RP6 with Exact and a Technics 1210GR with Ortofon 2M Black. They are both very nice tables. The Rega requires shims to use different carts while the Technics is adjustable.  The Rega with Exact is very musical with strong bass and never fatiguing. The Technics with 2M Black is more analytical/detailed. Depending on my mood I listen to whichever. I also have two other tables and a fancy CDP which I cycle through.  

Viridian, I'm puzzled over your answer; he's not exactly a newbie, he should already know part of the score.
@luvrockin I can’t find it. Somebody probably snagged it up as it was a few days ago. I thought about getting it to myself but my older Denon DP-60L w/Ortofon Bronze is keeping my ears happy so far. I’m new to vinyl myself after about 35ish years. If I went with a modern table, most likely a used 1200GR would be my target. It seems worth it for the premium over the PLX-1000 and that’s about as much I’d want to put into a turntable outside of cartridge and phone preamp for my needs. Again, I’m new so take my advice with a grain of salt. Good luck in your search.
@orpheus10, your correc to a point. I had my last table 35yrs ago but then went digital. It was a Sony, semi automatic, a decent table in the day that was played on my Carver system. Today, I never knew there was so much involved with tables & tone arms requiring protractors, shims etc. I had no idea of that level. Although, I t would probably be a bit before I started thinking about changing cartridges. 

Is is anyone familiar with the Rega Fono MM?


I have enjoyed the Rega Fono MM in combination with a Rega RP25 turntable/Rega Exact 2 phono cartridge combination. Not surprisingly the combination provides excellent synergy, non-fatiguing/musical LP playback and after initial set-up requires little, if any, audio nervosa, tweaking, etc. The RP6 turntable should be a leap forward on the Rega developmental scale.  

+1 for the Lehmann Black Cube. That's a phono stage that performs drastically ahead of its price point. 
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I know a little about tables and tonearms, but I would rather listen to music than play with stuff; that's why my next table will be a RP10, with the cartridge of my choice installed. When I receive it, all I have to do is play music.
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I would recommend buying used. You can turn around and sell it for around the same price it was bought for if you decide vinyl is not your cup of tea. You will be out at least 50% of your purchase price if you buy new and decide to sell.
If your going to dip your toes into vinyl and compare it to good digital and be satisfied you wii need to pick the right gear or it will be a let down. And yes that means a certain amount of $$$ will need to expended or you simply won’t be happy. Ask me how I know. 

The Rega RP6 deal seems to be a no brainer.  And you can’t go wrong. 

 Like someone said buying used has the benefit of more gear for the dollar plus resale advantage if you choose to move on. 

But I believe the credo “buy once, cry once” up to the point of deminishing returns. 

I think the best advice for you is the 1200gr. It a great product at a very reasonable price. Mass production allows them to sell such a product so low. 

So the table is $1700 +/-, you could get a Nagaoka MP-500 cart for $650, then you will need a preamp, budget min $700 used or $1000 +/- new, and don’t forget a decent phono cable at around $150.  That would be my suggestion to you for an initial budget.

im sure there are just as many other combos, but this budget is real if you don’t want to be disappointed.  

I used that buy used philosophy back in 2008 for my return to analog after 20 - 25 years. I bought a used VPI Aries for about $1600.00. Long story short, I am still amazed by how crazy good this table sounds. 10 years later it is still in my system. I can't imagine any table sounding better (nor do I want to) and  have no plans to ever get rid of it. And you get a lot more table for your money buying used. Do what's best for you.
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Never buy an automatic turntable. All these automatic parts normally fail in time and must be repaired.

Technics will serve you for 20-30 years without service and it’s manual turntable.

If you’re new to turntables do NOT buy used old turntables. Look for Direct Drive only! 

Seriously i think all you need is Technics SL1200GR or "G" if you ready to pay more. And if you want to sell it later with discount let me know :))

I snoozed and loosed yesterday on the R6. we were busy and I didn't go to reply until night and it was gone. Oh well, there'll be another lol. As for the 1200, I can't find one of them used. Everyone I see is new and by the time I ad the cartridge and phone pre, Im well over budget. Im looking at a VPI Scout on another sight. Thoughts?
A no brainer is a closeout Music Hall 2.2 from Music Direct for $250, you can pay more for a better cart. Used carts are controversial worst than used cars.   Anyway I heartily second the Graham Slee  Phono stages I had on the the Graham Amp 2 SE that was great.
A Scout is a great table. I had one, but they hold their value. I don’t see how you can get a Scout/cart/pre/ for your $1500. I suppose you could buy the Scout and really cheap ancillaries but you will get what you pay for. Remember ALL the components of a TT set up are important for good sound. Even the base you sit it on. 
No, I get it. I may have to dip a bit higher. I'd just rather NOT have to deal with the "war department" ( my Wife) to spend more funds.
As for the 1200, I can’t find one of them used. Everyone I see is new and by the time I ad the cartridge and phone pre, Im well over budget.

Why do you need used one if the new one with warranty is about $1500 in the USA ? It’s a brand new product, so do not expect to buy it used, some people sell them to buy more expensive new Technics, but not often. GR was released earlier this year.

My advice is to drive to the local store to see/try it, once you will touch it you will realize why this is iconic Direct Drive turntable. Then you can compare it to anything else on the market. Most of the modern turntables looks like a plastic toys compared to Japanese Technics DD.

Watch this video from Japan
Here is another one from USA

This Technics is a bulletproof turntable. You will find many reviews here on audiogon about it. The reason why this Technics is not super expensive is just because it was made by Matsushita, previous generation of this table reached 3 000 000 units. When the manufacturer can sell millions of units the price is more than reasonable.

Who else can sell a million turntables ?
I just don’t know anything about these animals.


I know personally of six people in the last two years that tried vinyl. Four were out within 6 months. Of the other two - one has the setup still, but does not use it much,  the other fellow does. Now six people is not a high sample number, but according to my experience 16.6% will stick with it.

Learning vinyl setup is like learning to drive stick. In both cases the C's - Clutch and Cartridge are the victims. So for this reason whatever you decide - if you do decide to try it out, my recommendation is to go cheap on the cart to start. Whether by an accident, or improper setup (i.e. antiskating) it will take some abuse. Also a good table and tonearm and cheap cart, set up proper, will, out perform the same table and tonearm with an expensive cart that is not set up good.  
Turntables are not plug and play going forward either. Your settings can go out, on some designs, if the table is moved or bumped. This all means having a turntable long term means learning how to do proper setup yourself at some point. For the 1) turntable, 2) tonearm, 3)cartridge, and the type of 4) connection and loading to the phono stage. Four very different things that need to work together.
Hope this helps.

I have a new Thorens TD-203 w/ Ortofon 2m Blue cartridge. Very detail, musical with excellent pace and rhythm. I’m so impressed with what I have that if I steped up to your price range I’d get the Thorens TD-309 w/ Ortofon 2m Bronze or Black.

I bought mine from Rutherford Audio, the US importer which sells the TD309 for $1500 w/ 2m Bronze. Highly reviewed table and highly rated dealer. My 2¢.

@chakster - The reason I was looking for used is because I was in a budget of $1500 hopefully complete. As I stated initially, I'm new to vinyl so I really wasn't aware of all the in's and out's. $1500 was hopefully a table and cartridge to plug and play. I can't buy a new Technics 1200 alone for $1500. @ Guitar Center which sells them they are $1699 plus tx. At the boutique audio store I deal with, they are $2k. Now add the cartridge and I found out I need a phono pre. Im at $2500 to $3k. I can't do that especially if I'm just jumping in. I have pretty awesome digital and I'm hoping vinyl is going to rock my analog world. If it don't, its gone as quickly as I bought it lol! I get your a huge Technics guy and if found a SL-1200G/GR for $1000  or $1100, adding the extra's (cartridge & phono pre) on top are more achievable. I hope this makes sense.