I would seriously question getting into vinyl if you have nothing yet. If you don't have a big vinyl collection already, and don't like to tweak for the fun of it, getting a great digital rig will probably prove to be much more enjoyable. I have read all the talk of analog supremacy, but having spent several thousand on a vinyl rig, I find that my Theta Gen VIII dac and Sony ES player used as a transport is so far superior it isn't even funny. Far more relaxed, musical and involving, a bigger musical library to chose from, and the ability to play songs in any order, and eventually get a music server. I do enjoy the novelty of playing records, and the look of the equipment, much like I enjoy the novelty of a 150 year old clock. But when I want to know what time it is, I look at a quartz clock, and when I just want to enjoy music, I listen to digital. I'm sure when you get to the top of the analog world, the sound is truly wonderful, but if you have no intention of investing at that level, I would say make sure you truly understand why you are doing it, and that the results will provide what you are seeking.
Expect to spend far more than you expect to spend.
Thanks for your thoughts Honest1. I'll toss out a couple of my reasons for wanting to get into a bit of analog.
I tend to agree with you on the digital aspect. Right now I have my entire CD collection ripped to a PC as WAV files using EAC. Since WAV doesn't support metadata I have painstakingly added each album to the windows media player library database. The PC outputs bit perfect digital which my Rotel AV receiver does the DA conversion. I only went this route after hours of A/B comparison againt my Rotel CD player. It's all very nice and neat, but a bit detached.
So here are my reasons..
1) Poorly masterd/remastered CD's. The loudness war and compression artifacts are becoming annoying and difficult to ignore. I do listen to a fair amount of classic rock, hard rock, and metal. Even older material that was originally recorded on analog is getting the "digitally remastered" treatment.
2) I have a number of great/cheap vinyl sources locally. It should be easy to grow a decent collection on the cheap. Of course I'll probably go broke cleaning them, but what the heck.
3) Although I don't want to have to fidget with a turntable for 15 minutes just to play a record, I do want a more interactive/organic process for playing music when I feel like it.
Right now I fire up the computer, turn on the 54" plasma, and use the air mouse to queue up a bunch of songs. It's very convenient, but a bit sterile. It's not like the old days where put on a piece of vinyl and listened to a whole side at a crack.
4) The unknown.. Who knows.. I may learn that I want/like to tweak :)
I hope this helps to know where I'm coming from.
If you're not really wanting to do any tweaking, I would strongly recommend that you do not mail-order a TT. Find a local dealer or a local A-gon member who'd be willing to help set up your table. I enjoy the whole process and am capable of setting up my deck and making adjustments, but it's not something to attempt on your own without any guidance.
As for the gear you listed, the V-LPS is a great choice for your budget, and I'd probably go with an RP1.
Congratulations on your decision! There are many folks here who enjoy playing vinyl so you're in good hands; lots of opinions too you can be sure. I have owned Rega P3 ad P25 tables and currently own a Music Hall MM7. which I personally prefer over the Regas, but that's a matter of personal choice. Provided you install a decent catridge iin any of these tables, they will suit your needs well. I have also home auditioned the X-Cans phono stage by Musical Fidelity many years ago and found the sound to be highly agreeable and rewarding. I don't think you can go wrong with your proposed options. Welcome to vinyl!
Congratulations on your decision! There are many folks here who enjoy playing vinyl so you're in good hands; lots of opinions too you can be sure. I have owned Rega P3 and P25 tables and currently own a Music Hall MM7, which I personally prefer over the Regas, but that's a matter of personal choice. Provided you install a decent catridge in any of these tables, they should suit your initial and near term needs well. I also home auditioned the X-Cans phono stage by Musical Fidelity many years ago and found the sound to be highly agreeable and rewarding. I don't think you can go wrong with any of your proposed options. Welcome to vinyl!
I see we can't edit like we used to...sorry for the double posting. I was in the process of trying to correct my typos.
Congrats on wanting to take the vinyl plunge! The Rega RP1 is a safe bet as far as the TT is concerned, and as for affordable phono stages, I really like the Cambridge Audio 640P (I reviewed it in Vinylphile one or two issues ago). As a bonus, the 640P is MC-capable.
$$$ aside, stick with your gut. Vinyl (well sorted) blows digital away. Plenty of good sounding re-issue records are available (acoustic sounds, elusive disk) and ebay is your friend for out of print stuff. You will spend alot more doe on analog than digital though when all is said and done.
I second the local analog / turntable shop for demoing and setup. As for phono preamps, I really like my Pro-ject phono tube box II. It matches up well on the Ortofon MC-3 turbo (a high output MC so you run it on MM phono stage settings). The MC-3 turbo also has a fine line stylus that I really like as a great tracker with new and used records of varying conditions from my local used record store. The rest of my TT gear includes a Pro-ject Xpression III and Pro-ject speedbox I going into Audio Refinment preamp and amp using Mogami interconnects (all a great bang for the buck!).
Here are some knowledgable Dealers in the Forum with good help for Starters. Try to get in contact with Audiofeil, Stanwal & others. They will help you to get the right stuff.
Don't want to burst your bubble but I think you would be better served staying in digital unless you plan on spending about $3K+ on an analog set-up (assuming new). In my humble opinion, this is the range when analog starts to separate itself from digital. Do not underestimate the importance of the phono stage. Many people skimp here and it will ends up hurting them.
I would also recommend buying your first analog system through a local dealer rather than buying through mail order or audiogon. Analog set up (VTA, VTF etc..) is critical and this is some of the value add of dealing with someone locally.
Most people I know who jumped into entry level analog ended up either upgrading to higher level equipment fairly quickly or moving back to digital.
Rega RP1 and MF V-LPS Mk. II should be a very nice combination. You'll be able to enjoy the wonderful sound of analog music through your Vandersteens, and have $$$$ to start a nice LP collection. There are many A'goners who will try to discourage you and tell you that you need to spend big bucks to enjoy vinyl. Sure, the more you spend (up to a limit) the better your LP's will sound...... but, believe me, you can really enjoy yourself with a good starter system like the RP1/V-LPS. I started with an NAD 533/Goldring Elektra front end years ago, a system that a "hard core audiophile" would have laughed at. But, ya' know what ?.....I loved that little system, and it enabled me to really enjoy the music and have enough money left over to buy a lot of records. Then, as time went by and my "audio budget" expanded, I upgraded to what I have now. Vinyl is a fantastic medium, a great way to listen to music. Start small, enjoy yourself, and upgrade later on, as you are able. Happy Listening.
You might want to consider the Rega RP-1 with a Goldring 1042. It will retain the 2ce sig. smothness but will also wake up the laid-back sound. The 1042 is good enough to survive several table upgrades so the $500 is well spent. You will also need a record cleaning machine. I know it's not fun to purchase an "appliance" but a clean record preserves your cartridge and will let your system reach it's potential.
While I wholeheartedly believe that vinyl is superior to CD on every level, buying a cheap turtable, arm and cartridge might disappoint you. A vintage turtable at the same price will open your eyes to the joys of vinyl. A VPI HW-19, Oracle Delphi or Alexandria, Sota Sapphire or Star, Townshend Rock 3, Well Tempered or even a better Rega3 or 5 will greatly outperform a Rega 1 and its like. And dont skimp on the phono preamp. At least a Cambridge 640p or PS Audio GCPH.
Vinyl Classic Rock from the 60s and 70s sounds like its supposed to, when people listen to entire album sides, not cuts.
I agree with Sibelius and Audiofeil but it is a fun aspect of the hobby that I am very glad that I took the plunge into a few years back. I bought my first table (in years) from a local dealer but I set it up myself right from the box and it was a worthwhile experience because you really are forced to understand the various rules of engagement with your TT set-up. I started with a decent TT and cart using my MM phono stage on my integrated and over time upgraded to a good stand-alone phono and MC. I will likely try to upgrade the table next but it has been a blast along the way. Don't forget to factor in a record cleaning capability of some kind (lots to read in the archives on that).
Congrats on getting into vinyl. Much like you, I started out my vinyl collection from nothing a few months ago because I liked what I heard of vinyl playback at a friend's place and now have about 20 LP's with the collection continuing to grow. Have a Rega P3/24/Ortofon Blue and phonostage via a Van Alstine T8 preamp. Yes, playing records is a fair bit of work (cleaning mostly), but frankly I find the sound to be very engaging especially for stuff recorded in the 80's and 90's. It's also a blast going to the local record stores and finding good used finds or even picking up new releases.
I would agree with the posters above in finding a good local dealer who can help you get things set up and teach you some things along the way.
Buy what you like and have fun. It's a hobby after all...... Some will say that going the cheap route isn't a good way to go, but frankly I think it's not a bad way to figure out if you want to deal with the additional attention vinyl needs and if you decide it's not for you there are plenty of other buyers out there of gear in that price range.
The Rega RP1 is a better deck than the others you've listed IMO. Better table, tonearm, etc. I'm not bashing the others, as I've owned a Debut III and currently own a 1Xpression. The MH 2.2 is probably the only MH deck I'd consider, but I'd take an RP1 over it any day. Personal preferences, but I've seen and heard all of them side by side.
The phono stage is very important. I think Rotel has them built in to their preamps and integrateds? If so, that'll be at least as good as what you listed, and most likely better. If you've got an internal phono stage, keep that until funds recover and you can take a bigger step up like the entry level Simaudio phono stage IMO. I've heard the Rotel internal phono stages, and they were quite good. Not world class, but definitely as good or better than entry level external ones like the NAD and MF. I owned the PP2. It was decent, but nothing special. It sounded a bit too slow, veiled and closed in. If you don't have an internal phono stage, the Cambridge 640P (second step up, not the cheapest one) is the best I've heard at that level. It's not much more than their cheaper one, and is quite a bit better.
I strongly recommend buying from a local dealer. Turntables can get a bit difficult to set up. Once you see someone do it once or twice it's no big deal, but doing it on your own can get tricky. If you misalign a cartridge, you can damage it and/or your albums.
Make sure you get a good cleaner. The Spin Clean gets great reviews and is pretty cheap, at least for this stuff anyway. I haven't used one, but I know several people who do. They've had nothing but great things to say about it. After you amass some vinyl, invest in a vacuum cleaner. I bought a KAB USA EV-1 for about $170. It's s Nitty Gritty, minus the vacuum. I attach my home vac, and it's the same thing for quite a bit less money.
Sorry if I'm overwhelming you. Not my intention at all. And contrary to what's been said, you don't need to spend $3k to enjoy vinyl. My Rega DAC and 1Xperssion/cartridge/Speed Box are about $1k each. The turntable definitely has a distinct sound. Both are great to my ears, just different. Even my father's old Technics SL-BD1 that I dug out of his basement which was not much better than a toy Circuit City Audio Technica $20 cartridge showed the heart of what vinyl's all about when I hooked it up in my old system. That table and his old vinyl got me into spinin' the licorice pizza.
One other thing.....as others have mentioned, I would definitely recommend a cleaning system of some kind especially if you want the lowest noisefloor possible. (Which IMO is really the only thing I miss from CD's at this point during playback.)
Buddy of mine has the Spin Clean and while I think it's a good solution, I'm glad I paid a bit more for the KAB-EV1 as the vacuuming of the cleaning solution and debris off the record really seems to make a large difference. Even my friend has commented that he wished he went for the KAB over the Spin Clean as the difference was pretty noticeable in back to back playing of records cleaned with the Spin Clean and then cleaned with the KAB.
I had a KAB-EV1 and it worked very well but I eventually wanted something a little easier to use and got a VPI 16.5, feel like that was a great upgrade. Now thinking about a loricraft. It never ends.
Wanted to clarify my prior message. Don't want to discourage you from getting into vinyl. I jumped back into vinyl after a long hiatus about 3 years ago and absolutely love it. Just making the point that analog can be a money pit and the "upgrade" potential is almost limitless. I originally bought a Rega P3-24 with clear audio aurum and an EAR 384P and thought I was done. I've since upgraded my main set up two additional times trying to reach the holy grail. Of course, it did not stop there. I have also become interested in older idler drives and have commissioned a refurbed Garrard 301. As the saying goes, be carefuful what you wish for!
Do you really think the endless upgrade potential and/or urge is limited to vinyl playback? How many people have gone through amp upgrades? Speaker upgrades? CDP/DAC upgrades? It never ends for a lot of people.
Not being condescending at all here; hopefully it's not taken that way.
I've been looking at whats available here on Audiogon. There is a listing for a Denon DP1100 turntable w/sumiko mmt and custom plinth at $500. He'll include a Denon DL160 Cart as well.
Any thoughts or better suggestions for something between $400 - $600?
Never said the upgrade bug was limited to analog. What I think is different with analog is:
1) Analog consists of multiple pieces- table,tonearm, cartridge and phono stage. Upgrading an entry level analog system to top tier generally becomes more complex because of the interactions between all these components as well as the added cost of having to upgrade multiple items instead of just one.
2) In my experience, the gap between entry level and top tier in analog is wider and more expensive than it is in digital. For $1000 you can get a very nice DAC that may not be the very best but will probably get you 85% to 90% there. The sonic difference between a $1000 analog system and top tier is much more pronounced.
I personally believe nothing beats analog sound. However, trying to get the best analog sound can be hard on your wallet. More so in my experience than with any other component.
Why doesn't everybody own a Music Hall MM5 for under 500 bucks used? Why? (rhetorical question...calm down) Well..I don't, but that's only because I found an old Linn Basik/Akito in great shape for cheap. Sure it has a glued-on motor and like that...but it sounds AMAZING with a Sumiko Pearl (gets no respect, just a great sounding cartridge) on the Akito, and otherwise all I did was put a new cable (Jelco) on it. Running into a Cambridge 640P with a Pangea P100 power supply upgrade. Vinyl can sound profoundly musical and hey...it's FUN! Besides, what the hell else plays LPs? NOTHING! I second the Spin Clean as a budget champion...75 bucks...works really well.
For whatever reason, the upgraditis does seem much worse for vinyl.