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I really like my Garrard 301..... I had a nice VPI Aries before this and have compared it in my system to a couple of others in the 3-6k range - I have always preferred my Garrard. I would really like to hear it up against some of the pricier stuff (i.e. Raven AC, GPA Monaco, etc.). It's most definitely a bit noisier, but it is also very musical and has a great sense of drama and flow that others have not matched.
OTOH, I would like to totally max the Garrard out (almost there now) with a Shindo platter/ bearing and a good PS.
No question in my mind about the superior return on investment found in vintage turntables. While modern belt-drive tables may compete in the area of ultimate performance, they do not compete at all in "bang for the buck" comparisons.
In the days when my Technics SL-1000 MK II was developed, Technics had a huge volume of mass market turntable sales to fund the R&D needed for such a design and perhaps a million radio stations to sell it to worldwide. Nowadays, no manufacturer in his right mind would invest that level of funding in a project that might, if lucky, sell a couple of hundred units. It just doesn't make any business sense.
Some older ones come close to the modern. I have a VPI rig, $6K worth, with all the tweaks. I also have some older TT's, various Sony and Denon. One Sony often comes close to the VPI, it is 800 biotracer with a grace ruby red, lateral tracking. For friends new to vinyl, I suggest the Denon 47F, which is fully audtomated and with the right cartridge, will sound great. The automated arm on the latter prevents user induced cartridge failure. No need to spend ten times as much.
I think it all depends on the tt's being compared. No blanket statement like vintage beats modern, or modern beats vintage is true.
While it may be true that some of the vintage idler arm tables beat some of the modern tables, I doubt they beat them all. A direct comparison of the tt's in the same system is the only means to a worthwhile judgement.
Having said that, my VPI Scoutmaster (Valhalla tonearm wiring, Dynavector 20xl, SDS) sounds much better than my Harman Kardon T60 or totally modded Thorens TD160 (every mod I've seen on the web, plus 3" solid cherry plinth, stock arm and modded Rega RB20-Incognito wiring, Pete Riggle arm stub and counterweight, all new internal wiring with IEC).
I would love to do a direct comparison to a Garrard 301. If anyone living in the Ann Arbor, Mi area is up to one, throw me an email
I set out last year to upgrade a 20 year old high end deck. After the dust settled I am listening to a 30 year old one. Go figure... If you want to do a little work and reep great reward for small $$ rebuild a Lenco or a Rek o Kut, or any other early quality idler. If you have the bucs and no desire to tinker, go with a Garrard and have it rebuilt.
This question is still relevant 10 years later :-)
I have owned my 1979 vintage Pioneer Exclusive P3 for 9 years next week. Its never missed a beat and sounding superb coupled with a Lyra Etna SL.
6 months ago (I bought a SP10mk3) I sold my Pioneer Exclusive P10 to a friend of mine who was not that happy with his higher end Rega table - he sold the rega with a couple of weeks, made a profit and is loving the DD P10 - better bass, better control, better attack, better speed control.
My high end TW Acoustic AC3 table is relegated to playing some 50's and 60's jazz and alike as I prefer my vintage P3 and technics SP10mk3.
There are many vintage mid to high end DD tables from Pioneer, Denon, Luxman, Victor that will wipe the floor of current model belt drive tables. Open your ears to trying vintage DD and you will be surprised.
It's not just vintage DD tables that have this ability to 'wipe the floor'. Last year I decided to replace a TW Acustic Raven GT SE (with AC-3 plateau and Black Night controller) with a Micro Seiki RX-1500 (with stainless steel plateau, R-15 mass loaded feet and CU-180 copper mat), one of the vintage belt drive tables from the late '70's.
I kept the same tonearm and cartridge (Reed 3P and Colibri XPW), so the comparison between both tables was very straightforward. I've never looked back.....
I have ditched modern decks for vintage but with modern arms. I am using a totally hot-rodded Thorens TD124 mated with a 12" Reed 3P and I have a mint grease-bering ivory Garrard 301 being worked on with a 10.5 Reed 3P. The Thorens has a much more robust main bearing that was custom designed by Greg Metz of STS/Classic Thorens and implements a ball on ball design and as you can see, a heavy cast aluminum top-platter. On the Garrard I am also replacing the main bearing with a more robust one made of brass from Peak HiFi in England and also from England is a matching PSU from Classic HiFi in England that will reduce motor vibration as well as controlling speed.
I sold my VPI Avenger after getting an Artisan Fidelity 301 Classic. I have been working on it over the past couple years upgrading it piece by piece. The table is a couple pieces away from the Statement Level. After getting to the Statement level I would like to try the Acoustical Systems Special Decouple Platter (SDP). My goal is to maintain the drive of the idler and get near belt like quietness. At this point the table is more of an ultimate performance quest than a value proposition. Its fun too with a sense pride in ownership.
I don’t care about modern turntables at all, 99% of them are so ugly that i don’t want to use them even for free, also i would like to avoid belt drive and idler drive as well. The prices for modern turntables are insane, except for the new Technics. All i need is direct drive like Luxman PD-444 and Victor TT-101. There are many more things to improve, but those turntables are so good that i don’t even what to think about replacement.
Yesterday i’ve watched this video from Capital Audiofest and recognized that people at Zu Audio also uses Luxman PD-444 with low power First Watt SIT amps and their super high sensitive Druid mk6 speakers with full range drivers. I believe these guys could use any modern turntable, but they are uzing the Luxman PD-444.
I have no idea why do we need those $30k modern belt drive turntables if we have DD like Luxman for under $3k designed for two tonearms?