I wouldn't start building my first system around a turntable. I would get out and listen to some systems at a brick and mortar first. Find what combination of amp and speaker will sound good to you in your listening room. Monitor or full range, tubes or not. I would do a lot of listening first then you will be much happier with your purchases.
14 responses Add your response
Welcome to the hobby. If $1500 is your combined budget for an amp & speakers, no sense in looking at a used VPI model higher than a new VPI Traveler at $1300. Also, being new to the hobby, I would strongly suggest new rather than used. A turntable is as much mechanical as it is electrical and you don't always know how gentle the previous owner was with it. Also, you may not have the skills to re-calibrate it.
That being said, I will not go into why you have such a high TT budget vs amp/speaker budget but will give you opinions in the two tables your looking at. I have a Pro-ject RM5.1 SE and at $1000 including the pre-mounted Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 cartridge, IMO it is the the best value package out there. You get a lot for your money. I would recommend adding the optional speed box (it really does tighten up the bass and makes changing speeds very easy) for another $160. Total cost $1160 and your done.
However, from what I have seen, heard and read of the VPI Traveler, this table is in a whole different league. Much better build quality and while I did not consider the sound quality any better (could have been the cartridge when I auditioned it), the feel and quality of the table was enough to make me want to upgrade to one. Without a cartridge, its $1300. Add a cartridge, its $1500 on up.
Thats my take on both. In your case, I think the Pro-ject would suffice given your overall budget and that it already comes with a cartridge. Good luck.
You might also consider a factory refurbished Sota Sapphire in that price range, especially if your table location is not on a concrete floor and you need suspension. As to speakers, the PSB Image line offers the best bang for the buck IMO. Your amp allocation of $500 seems light, if you are including a phono preamp, but there are some nice integrated amps that would work, like the Marantz.
I really like my Tekton 6.5t monitors (sound best with rigid stands) from tekton for $600. That way you can put more money into your (integrated) amp (exposure, audio refinement - both used?) and also more money into a phono stage (love my Jasmine 2.0 mkII).
You might want to check out my Traveler vs. Pro-ject Xpression III post here.
I really appreciate all the responses. I accept that my Amp and speaker budget is light but I wanted to get a TT that would last me atleast 10 years and capable of keeping up with upgrades to my system over the next few years. My in laws recently upgraded their home system and I was planning to go through their old speaker/amp and salvage what I could. They tend to get really expensive systems and even though I'll be getting something 5 - 10 yrs old I'm sure it will be decent.
Reading your responses I feel a new TT is probably the way to go. I just have to dealers for VPI etc in Toledo!
I can't locate the turntable you left the address for.
Try using the highlighted markup tags (located below response box, highlighted in blue)to leave a clickable link. I have owned the table you are looking at on e-bay and also have the Traveler. The Traveler is a much better all around table and the arm is light years ahead of the MK3.
Have you looked into the Clearaudio Concept turntable? It got good reviews and is in your price range. I have been using Clearaudio tables for many years and they last.
I had Project Xpression and Rega P5 for my small room. I like the P5 better. I don't have any experience with the Traveler.
I am positive that all of the tables you mentioned above are nice performers. A few years down the road, you may be upgrading again. I don't think you have to commit yourself to a table at this point for so many years.
After touching and feeling (and hearing)the Clearaudio Concept at shows I would put the build quality in the same range as the Traveler with Rega not built as well(but sounds as good). The Clearaudio sounded fine and I could live happily with it. I also think the Traveler sounds great but in a more musical way, maybe not as flat across the board. I can hear notes etc. in the Clearaudio that I can't hear in the Traveler. But the Traveler was more fun to listen to my albums, really got me into the music with more pleasing sound overall, but certainly rolled off, as they would say. Think Clearaudio = MBL Radialstrater (sp?)techno perfection type sound and VPI = MacIntosh/Wilson just sounds right type sound