What to expect in a TT upgrade?

I've owned a well tempered classic table for many years. I've enjoyed it but have always found it a bit challenging to set up. (make sure the cartridge is alligned properly)I think consequently, I've never gotten the performance out of it I should have. Recently, I purchased a new pre that came with a really nice phone stage. (Joule) I've been considering purchasing a new table/arm or purchasing a new cartridge such as a shelter 501. My budget for the table/arm/cartridge would be in the $ 2,500 - $ 3,000 range. Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts about what is the best way to go. If I did get a new table, I would want one that is fairly easy to set up. Thanks for any input on this decision.
In your price range, the Pro-ject RM10 with a Sumiko Blackbird cartridge (under $3000 as a combination) is high quality, yet easy to set up. It's totally non-tweaky. (Just be careful of the extremely fragile stylus. In fact, let your dealer align the cartridge).

The Well Tempered is a fine table, but the RM10 comes with its own isolation base, a massive platter, 10" carbon fiber arm and an easy to get at cartridge mount (fixed on the arm). The platter has magnetic repulsion from the bearing, so friction is extremely low.

Now, properly aligning the cartridge is key. Even the most fantastic TT will not be right without close to perfection in the alignment. So make sure that's right.

The main thing you'll gain will be silence in the grooves and very dynamic, rich presentation of the recording. Isolation is very good, but the improvement you actually see will be contigent upon the location of the table relative to the speakers and how well you isolated the Well Tempered before. NO TT is totally imune to feedback, but the mass of the Pro-ject, combined with its isolation base make it one of the tops in this price class.

Hey Tiger...How did they let a free ad through. I have to pay 6.00 a crack for mine.
Redcarerra: May I suggest that you challenge your Turntable skills by first understanding ,as completely as possible, the reason(s)the Well Tempered failed to realize its potental in your system/audio room. By learning the key(s), future sucess maybe realized rather a duplication of past issues. I personally feel the Well Tempered products represent are a great value . I would break the TT down and carefully examine its parts to ascertain any weakness with the most usuall suspects ; the platter, the bearing or belt. A complete review of the tonearm and cartridge is also in order. The platform your TT sits on should be examined. A slight adjustment for most 'Tables can change the sound from muck to ear-candy. Should all of this sound too complicated hire an expert or call a nationwide internet TT seller asking them for the name of a local troubleshooter they may contract with in your area. Or, just shove it spend a few more grand and hope your problems dissappear with a new 'Table.
FYI : A gentelman named "sharpe" is a 'Goner who states he has 17 years of professional experience setting up turntables . Who knows perhaps a email or so or a recommendation from someone like him could be of assistence. For the record, sharpe is not personally known to me but I just read a cartridge offering where he mentioned his TT experience on AG. What have you to loose ?
I would wonder whether you would be getting an upgrade for that amount of money but it sounds like you're maybe not interested in an upgrade per se but more friendly logistics.
the turntable/arm combo you have is still one that is regarded as the name says 'classic'. change the cartridge, but your table is one for the ages.
I've always wondered what one does when they are new to vinyl, but a TT setup that is initially setup by a pro, and then needs further "service" in the future. Obviously, experimentation is a start, but it seems like a very inefficient way to go. Fremer's DVD would be a good beginning as well, I assume, but when I see retailers talk about their microscopes for ensuring proper setup of the cartridge, I can't imagine how I'd ever get it right without a microscope outside of sheer luck.
Kthomas, I have been setting up turntables for over 40 years for myself but I would never presume to know the last word on the process. I have not yet reviewed Fremer's DVD but I presume that for pivot bearing arms and table combo's he's got a lot to offer. The DVD does not dwell on the linear ToneArm set-up which is important for a segment of the analog crowd. I have friends that actually own those microscopes , a lot of work to use at best. Yet, I have watched and marveiled at Frank Schroder , a tonearm inventor, with narey a tool beyond those commonly available as he tunes-in an errant mess in moments to a thing of beauty. So, I guess the addage "practice makes perfect" can apply if only to frank and maybe all of us in general.Everybody has to start some-where , so now is as good as any and with all the assistance given or purchased.
I have owned a WTT Classic (round motor and black damped platter)for 10 years. Your cartridge is a "good value" but hardly the last statement in sound reproduction. I have used Benz Ruby 2s for all ten years and I use a Signal Guard (sadly out of business)as the isolation platform with Purest Audio Museus Interconnects and a Hovland HP100 MC Preamp. If correctly set up, and you are correct, set-up is tedious because of the viscous fluid in the arm well, the results can be near state of the art. You must use a digital scale and have endless patience over the course of a couple of days to get all settings right while letting the fluid settle between each adjustment. A footnote here, I am finally purchasing another TT/Arm for a lot more money. Some of my friends think I am crazy when they hear my current rig. That's how good the WTT is.
Hello, What Cartridge were you using originally? You fail to mention this? This may have been the culprit, as well as incorrect set-up?

Going with a better, more sophisticated Turntable won't necessarily mean easier set-up, but usually better Arms have better features, and that's probably what you pay for in part when you buy better Arms. Things like VTA on the Fly.

Stillthough, with any Pivotal Tonearm, the same pricipals apply regardless, and they are proper Cartridge Alignment, (Overhang, Zenith, Azimuth)

Then VTA, and VTF. If you don't have good tools to aid you, I'd suggest getting them. These tools (protractor, VTF Scale, Test Record) are never a use one-time deal, and then put them away forever. They always are needed to have around.

This table, while I don't know a heck of a lot about it, was said to be a very decent table.

Your money might be most wisely spent on a great Cartridge first, that will be compatible with your new Phono Stage, and work well with your Arm. The Shelter 501 might be fine, and an improvement from where you are at right now, but you might gain even further performance going above this?

The good Cartridge won't be a waste of money, provided it will be compatible to the Tonearm's Mass-Compliance, and be a good match with your Pre-Amp. If you should then decide to upgrade Table-Arm, the Cartridge will be on hand to be retro-fitted. Mark

Can you all really hear a substantial difference between a $1000.00 and a $10,000 TT/Cart system. Are we listening to the music or the equipment? Granted there may be some differences in the sound but are these differences better or just different?

I have a Denon 103R cart with the Denon DPM 500M Table and it sounds great to me with my Thiel 2.4 spaeakers and Cary amps. I feel no need to spend more, I guess I'm lucky.

good listening

01-31-08: Larry510 said:
"Can you all really hear a substantial difference between a $1000.00 and a $10,000 TT/Cart system. Are we listening to the music or the equipment? Granted there may be some differences in the sound but are these differences better or just different?"

I don't know how we got on $10k TT systems, but yes, the difference is very clear. Going to just $3000 gains you a ton in resolution.

There are good reasons to limit oneself to $1000; however, the next step up yields pretty substantial gains in quality. I think there is a point of diminishing returns that steepens at the $3000 to $5000 range, but you still continue to gain.

Of course, this is all dependent on proper setup and the total system interface is relevant. But, done right, you do gain substantially at higher price points. The OP gave us a target range and I think he's the only one in position to judge if it's "worth it" to him.

IME, it's more like the Law of Increasing Returns. As the system gets better the differences become more and more apparent. ...and they are very musically significant, assuming the "improvement" is truly an improvement and that your discernment is up to the task.

It takes a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience, engineering, time and consequent expense to "get it ALL REALLY right." Assuming you want tonal neutrality, frequency extension, coherence, ultimate transparency, full scale volume and effortless dynamics, you better believe that SOME systems in the $200k+ range are virtual miracle workers. You may call the differences between a system like that and a cherry picked $20k system subtle but they are profound.
Hello Larry, Yes, I can picture your set-up, this is a very attractive Table. Many followers of the Denon 103R as well, as being a great value.

I understand your analogy, and I'm sure basically every other forumite does as well. I would say a large percentage "came up through the ranks" so to speak, and didn't "wake up" into Analog with a cold start, and then with the very first Turntable they bought, went out and sprung $10K-$30 for it.

But there are quite a few Forumites here who have multiple tens of thousands of dollars invested, and basically have no regrets.

Some people spend $40K for a Bass Boat to use twice a year, buy a vintage Vehicle-Show Car that might have 500 mi. per year placed on the Odometer.

And then us music lovers I reckon, who work hard for thier money, and go through hell at times to make it, want to come home, sit back, and get thier socks blown off, by a system that has the least amount of compromise. This of course is where the big bucks can come in.

Of course as you, and others know Larry, a Turntable, or an Amp, of whatever, that let's say cost $10,000 doesn't sound ten times better than a $1,000 one.

I guess many here "have had the rest, and now want the best". Or at least the best they can afford.

Sometimes with certain hobbies, one goes without, and deprives themselves of other things, to fund these "idiosyncranic" hobbies.

I have many friends into the Amateur Astronomy Hobby, with large Triplet Apochromatic Refractor Telescopes that cost what a "good" Automobile cost, state of the art Mounting Systems with GOTO Operation at the push of a button, Elaborate Personal Observatories, CCD Camera Equipment that cost multiple $1,000's. One fella I know spent $45K for a CCD Camera to go on the back of his own 24" RC Cassegrain Reflector Telescope housed in his own personal Observatory up in Cloudcroft, NM.

As I close Larry, I reckon it's what floats your boat! ;-) Take care, Mark
Markd51# .....excelent post, and right on the money.
Thank you all for these responses. The discussion has drifted a bit from my orignial inquiry. For the record, I have decided to increase my efforts in optimizing my current TT set-up that would included purchase of a replacement cartridge as my "cartridge man" was damanged, badly bent stylus, who knows how,(sad story) and I am currently using a sumiko blue point naked. Also, I will get out my Hi News cartridge tuning record, my protractor and sure stylus scale (maybe go about purchasing a digital if that is considered worthwhile, and tweak away. Finally, I may look into some additional isolation. When I purchased the stand (Richard Green) the table now resides on, that made a very significant difference from the Target stand. I clearly remember that. Thanks again.
Hello redcarrera,
If I was one, who perhaps drifted off on another Tangent, adressing another poster, then I hope you can forgive me.

Every now, and then we all toot our own horns a bit here, but I know of no better group, for straight, good no BS advice. The Asylum has some good info, but sometimes seems to more often stray from the good stuff lately.

I would suggest taking it to the next level, kicking it up a notch as Emeril would say!

I used a Shure VTF Scale for years, While I later found against other, better Scales that it was fairly accurate, without this confirmation, ti was always a guessing game, wondering just how accurate it was?

Other people here can direct you to good websites that sell high quality digital scales that don;t cost an arm, and leg. Places like Scales For Less I think, and another place I personally found, called "Will Knot Scales".

Just recently, I believe I have bought the exact same scale as the Clearaudio Weight Watcher Scale, which sells for $200-$225 at places like MusicDirect-Audio Advisor, for only $29.90 plus shipping from Will Knot!

This Scale if you would like to search, and compare is called the Proscale LC-50. It is a 50g Scale that reads in .01 increments. The Clearaudio Weight Watcher professes .02g accuracy, which is probably about right.

Dowsnside of this Scale, which I have checked with lab calibration weights, and have found very accurate, and repeatable with its reading, is that the Weighing Platform is .6" high, and this is no good for accurate Stylus force with the Tonearm. One needs a Scale that will read exactly at the same height as an LP sitting on the Platter.

As Doug Deacon has suggested to me, a small fabricated non-magnetic ledge (Brass-Alu), that attaches to the weighing platform (Glued perhaps), that is at LP height would be ideal.

As for Cartridges, I cannot expree enough to do as much homework as you can. This forum is free to use, and you should read about the qualities of Benz, Dynavector, ZYX, Lyra, Sumiko, Grado, Ortofon, Koestsu, and so many other quality Cartridges which you might be able to afford?

If I were you, I would look at Cartridges such as the Lyra Dorian, ZYX Fuji, Dynavetor, Sumiko Blackbird, possibly Benz if you like a warmer presentation, and have a system that is perhaps highly analytical.

Do get some good tools, perhaps the Cardas Sweep, and Burn LP, a good Protractor, like either the Mo Fi Geodisc, or Turntable Basics Mirror Protractor.

Again my friend, do educucate yourself which will be the best match for your Phon Stage as far as Gain, and Loading options. Mark

I am also into amateur astronomy and ccd astrophotography. I've spent much more on telescopes & ccd cameras then on audio equipment. FYI my astro web site address is www.starryforge.com.

That does not mean audio takes a back seat to astronomy, bo are essential to my sense of well being.

For audio I spend most of my money on LPs and CDs. I tend to keep audio equipment for a long time ...I have three audio systems and I'm thinking of replacing my AR 2a speakers with Harbeth Compact 7s or Monitor 30s. I think it's about time the ARs are about 37 years old :).

good listening

Redcarerra: One last mention , your Music Maker cartridge can be repaired ; look @ www.soundsmith.com . Peter Ledermann is one of the finest person's to do business with in audio. I have several friends that own his cart/refirbs and cartridges of his own design including the ($$$$) strain gage(s). No one recants the purchasing his work. All the Best