young and new to analog.

i'm 22, and am just now getting into analog sound, and was wondering if anyone in the baltimore/dc area could recommend a shop that i could find decent turntables. and suggestions as to what turntable to start with. with my current income situation, i'm looking to spend in the area of 300-500 bucks (if i get the job i just applied for, probably more) and i was looking at (based on reviews) that a pro-ject debut III with the speed box mkII would be a good way to get into the game. any other suggestions welcome.

also, as far as recievers, phono stage, and speakers go, i'm looking at those in the same price range, and have yet to decide. any help would be appreciated!

Read this site:

Kevin at Kab audio makes a great case for why the stock Technics SL-1200 direct drive turntable beats out the so-called 'audiophile' tables costing much more. You can get a new or used one w/in your price range and it's super easy to set up. If you want to upgrade slowly, Kevin at Kab can do it for you in steps. He also has recommendations on phono stages that will suit your budget.

i bought the limited edition gold version of the 1200 and had Kevin do the full mods. the work was excellent. i haven't compared it to anything because i moved out of the country before i had the chance but for the money you're talking about i can't imagine anything that could be better.
thats something i didnt even consider, wow, after reading up on this it seems that may be an excellent way to go for me
I found myself in your exact position not too long ago. What is the rest of your system like? I would recommend that you buy used so that you can try out a table without losing too much if you decide you want to sell at a later date.

I initially bought an older VPI jr in your price range and played around with it for a few months before I decided it wasnt for me. I then tried out a Michell Tecnodec and came to the same conclusion (plus couldnt justify the price). Finally I ended up with the Technics SL-1210 and I do not think it was a downgrade at all.

I'm not saying that you should rush out and get a Technics, but dont discount it either. See if you can sample at least a couple tables in your price range before you come to a conclusion.

Some places you can visit in the DC area are United Home Audio (they carry pro-ject and clearaudio), Gifted Listener (Rega tables), and Deja Vu (a lot of exotic analog stuff).
I too am young (23) and in the DC area. I've been into vinyl for about 5 years now and I find Deja Vu to be the best shop in the area. They have let me, as young kid, play around with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Vu is very friendly and knowledgeable to boot.

When I was in your shoes I went with an MMF-5 I found here on audiogon. If I had to do it all over again I think that I would go the KAB Technics route. Definitely give Kevin a call, he's a nice guy as well.
well, im not gonna run out and do it right away (im terribly broke right now) but within the next couple of months probably. and since united home audio is closest to me, ill probably check that place out either this or next weekend. thanks for giving the newbie lots of help!
I too went with the VPI HW19 JR route. I actually liked and still have it today (10 years later!), although I am looking to upgrade now. I have never listened to the technics tables, so I can't speak for those. Just thought I would throw out another suggestion besides Technics, although those may be fine tables.

I suggest calling or contacting various TT manufacturers and trying to locate the nearest dealers. Then you can make a trip and listen for yourself. Most of all, have fun with it. Some of the dealers may have used tables too! I bought my JR used from a dealer.

and as far as the other components go, any recommendations for what to check out? i don't plan on using anything but a turntable, as i dont normally listen to the radio, and the only cd player i need is in my car (which i have rarely used since i have had an ipod for the past year) so i guess a pre-amp, phono stage, and speakers is what i'm looking at here? (any other suggestions would be kindly taken) and cables? i have no clue about the quality of these things, since ive never really had the need for it. thanks again for helpin the newb out!
i should also add that this is my first attempt at building a system.
You'll need a power amp too, but the best route for you to go might might be with an integrated amp (pre and power in one box). You'll save money and room. I've been using a Rotel 1062 for the past 3 years and have gotten some great use out of it. It's also got a decent phono stage. It's definitely not the best out there, but for the money it does a decent job. You might be able to pick up a used one here fairly cheap. Maybe check out Arcam too--theirs might sound a little better than the Rotel. Separates will almost always end up costing more money than an integrated.

I will also remark that you should consider a Technics SL-1200MKII, with or without KAB USA mods. If your budget allows get the arm rewired and then the fluid damper. You can mount the damper yourself but have Kevin at KAB USA do the rewire.

Another vinyl route is to try to land a higher quality vintage table from any of the major Japan Inc. companies. Denon, JVC, Kenwood, Sansui, Pioneer to name a few. Back in the late 70's and early 80's each had very good quality direct drive with quartz lock designs. These will give many of the lower priced say sub $1000 turntables today a run for the money.

For amplifiers if you want solid state consider along with others noted here Cambridge Audio integrated amps. If you want to go tubes, do not be afraid of a good China Inc. brand say a Yaqin, Music Angel, Bewitched, Ming Da etc. These are better than many may think and go for very good values today.
i actually thought going used/vintage might be a good idea, but i didn't know what to look for (about all i know is to go for a manual deck)
any specific models from those companies to check out?
(i keep adding to my posts haha) but what about dual turntables? i hear alot about vintage duals being pretty solid
Agreed on an integrated making ideal sense for you. Marantz is one of the few companies that still makes a budget integrated with a phono stage, and it's very decent (I owned a previous incarnation). And it has plenty of power, too--Music Direct sells it. When I was getting into this hobby at 21 I bought an NAD integrated and kept it for nearly 10 years--and I'm still using a newer NAD amp, after I regretted selling the first. You can't go wrong with a C320BEE or C325BEE (they're virtually identical) for a starter--and even keeper--though they will require an add-on phono stage. Go with NAD, Pro-Ject, or Bellari, and you're set for the phono. NAD amps tend to be a little warmer in tonal balance than the Rotel or Arcam. Jolida's tube/solid-state hybrid integrateds are great, too, but need a phono stage as well.

As far as speakers go, I can't recommend strongly enough that you listen before buying if you can. Especially in a starter setup, and given a decent TT such as you're looking at, they're likely to be the biggest factor in your daily enjoyment of your rig, with it putting out the color of sound you want to listen to. The $350 KEFs I bought at the start are still in my system. At the very least find out if you like a bright/detailed, warm/midrangey, bass-heavy/full sound, and then look for speakers that seem likely to suit your tastes (and the size of your room). That said, it's hard to go wrong with any number of decent monitors, new or used, in your price range. You'll get recs galore in the speakers forum, I'm sure.
I disagree w/ suggestions to buy anything new and I'd stay away from the cheaper solid states because i just don't think any qualify as 'audiophile sound.' Audio Research has excellent solid state vintage gear from the 80s.

Technics 1200 turntable

Rip all cds to a lossless format and find a good DAC. Absolutely no need for a cd player and you'll get better sound.

Speakers: Acoustat Model III. Electrostatic vintage classics. There's nothing that can touch these for ten times the price. ~$400 used. Hard to find and they're big. 4 feet tall and about 2.5 wide and need to be 3 feet away from the back wall ideally.

Check out this site for recommendations and be sure to look at the Vintage component and Entry Level component sections here:
My first turntable was a Dual. I think older Thorens are much better for around the same price, if you're thinking of going 70's or 80's vintage. The Dual was made of a lot of plastic and the tonearm was *very* basic. If you go for a Thorens, get one that has a removeable armboard. That way you could perform an easy upgrade in the future by going with a Rega arm or something. Probably TD-125 mk2, TD-145, or TD-160 would be pretty good.
Yes, in theory a manual table is said to perform better, less parts to add noise or vibrate, BUT! in reality a good say late 70's to early 80's vintage table of the higher end types even if they are semi-auto to fully auto will not sound bad and likely be hard to notice as being noisy in 99% of any listening you may do.

You will at times see on eBay better vintage tables of that era, just for example:

The higher end Denon's with the wood grain finish and the often glossy finish types. Some are auto lift (the tone arm lifts at end of play) others are fully auto but are designed to be as capable in dong so as one can get. They have tough high quality quartz lock direct drives and have earned a good reputation for pretty good sound playback. The Dynamically balanced type tone arms use servos to control movement and yes if the table has been beat on or not well used etc. can be an issue but you may find the good buy on these at times.

JVC: They had their line of higher end QL series starting with the matt black finished tables of the late 70's to the high gloss wood grain looking ones till the mid 80's. They have some with dynamic balanced tone arms too and the same issues need to be addressed as with the Denon's.

Kenwood: Has the marble like concrete resin tables which get good reviews from vintage owners. The higher end ones were well thought out and solid performers.

Sansui: SR series of tables from the late 70's to early 80's were like the others here well designed and offer great playback qualities.

There are more choices, most of the Japan Inc. manufacturers from the late 70's to mid 80's had a few higher end and better designed tables which are much better than the cheaper stuff they also sold especially once the CD became popular and Japan Inc. stopped caring about good turntables.
There is a wealth of previous threads that cover this topic you might want to explore.
Chuckelator - If you go to United Home Audio, you might get to experience another audiophile phenomenon ..The snooty condescending salesman.

I went in there to purchase the PS audio power plant, and asked about some turntables. After saying I had a Musical Fidelity A5 CD player, he dismissivly snorted 'they sound awful', he then derided my choice of a boutique preamp (the Supratek Chenin) as crazy risky.
I didn't take it personally, but haven't been back since.
ahh...defiantely not what i'm looking for in a helpful sales person..haha. i probably won't buy new. i just wanna run some of these ideas you guys threw at me to them (not disregarding anything you guys have told me) but i figure ill get a really good idea of what to go for if i talk to an audio expert dude.

i just figured since thats the only one you guys mentioned in maryland thats where i would go (i hate driving thru dc and in virginia haha)

i spend most of my free time in baltimore, though i'm from southern md, i was looking for somewhere around the annapolis/I-97 area.
and does what music im listening to matter greatly? i listen to alot of punk/metal and some classic rock, and folk. and ive already collected a few 7" records. really not gonan be doing any 45's, just mainly lp's and 7s.
There may be others who say so, but I don't think music preference should really be an issue.
There are some systems that will do very well with some music and not others, and some systems that will do everything well. Yours will at least need to be able to play loud and have good deep tight bass by the sound of it. Many systems will not be optimal for this. In addition, many of the recordings you like may not sound good, at least to my ears, on a system that tends towards brightness and/or thinness.
i think i've decided, i think i want to go tube for my integrated amp...being that im a guitarist and i love the way a good tube amp sounds, if i can get my music collection sounding that way, ill be pretty happy. as far as tube amps go though, is there anything specific i should know about them before i dive in?
and i have another question as well...will adding a power conditioner to my setup really make my system sound exponentally better like all these things ive been reading say?
The amp question should be considered in tandem with your speaker choice. I would keep to the higher impedance with a relatively flat impedance plot and higher sensitivity end of the spectrum, such as a minimum of 89dB sensitivity and preferably 8 ohm impedance. That will mate well with tube amps and particularly single ended triode amps if you choose to go that route.

A good conditioner can make a big difference, particularly in high resolution systems. If you are keeping the budget low, it may not be a priority, at least at first. You can always add one later. My advice is always to stretch the budget on what you absolutely need, one piece at a time, then upgrade things like cables etc. later.
Klipsch Heresy speakers are GREAT for rock, GREAT with tubes, easy to pick up used and I save the best for You really need to keep this speaker in mind.
thanks for the suggestion synthfreek!
so i did get the job, and once my bills are paid off (and buy myself a new acoustic guitar) im gonna make the plunge!

so (and im gonna listen to them before i decide) i think im gonna go with the music hall mmf 7.1 (especially since i can get one here much cheaper than new), don't know yet about the integrated, and definately would like a tube preamp, possibly the bellari? and as far as speakers go, im just gonna go out and listen and see what i like the sound of best. my income is gonna be going way up in the next few weeks so i would definately be able to afford spending a bit more money to get myself started. the way i look at it, i am the type of person who is always looking to the bigger better things, so i want something that would keep me happy for a good long while. thanks for all the suggestions everyone, and if anyone does have anything to suggest further, please let me know!

Chuck, there's a nice SOTA moonbeam listed now that you should consider snapping up...
ill check it out, but i can't afford right now...haha ittl be a few months before i can drop this kind of money. thats what i get for being young and stupid with credit it turns out, its not really your money *gasp* haha j/k but yeah...thats where i am right now
wow...just looked at it...looks like a hell of a deal. if it was around a bout a month and a half from now, id snatch that up in a heartbeat.