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  1. #1
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    Another starter TT thread...

    Turntable newbie looking to get into vinyl. My only experience is w/ my DJ buddies and their SL1200's.

    I'm not looking to spend more than $200 to $300. I like the idea of the Rega P3 but not ready to spend that kind of coin yet. I have a couple of questions and requests for opinions on choices.

    1) Curved arm vs. straight arm. I've seen some mention of this on various threads but what difference does it make?

    2) As a starter TT, what difference does it really make if I get a DJ table?

    3) Any thoughts on the list of TT's below?

    Stanton STR8-30 Direct Drive Turntable
    Pro-Ject Debut III w/ ORTOFON OM-5 MM CARTRIDGE
    Music Hall- MMF-2.1 Turntable w/ Tracker MM cart
    Music Hall Goldring GR-1 Turntable with RB-250 arm and Electra Phono Cartridge

    4) I know the Stanton is the half the cost of the others, but am I really going to notice that big of a difference as a newbie?

    5) Can someone explain the differences btw the MMF2.1 and GR-1?

    Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
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    I can kinda answer the last question. The MMF 2.1 is a turntable made entirly by Music Hall. The GR-1 is made by Goldring. The GR-1 is outfitted with Rega parts and is essentialy a Rega table. However, the plinth has been changed. As far as performance goes, I haven't heard the two yet. I'm scheduled to hear a GR-2 this week at my uncle's friend's house and the Music Hall sometime in the near future.

    Good luck, you're in the same boat as me. At least its not sinking...
    -Shwamdoo

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shwamdoo
    I can kinda answer the last question. The MMF 2.1 is a turntable made entirly by Music Hall. The GR-1 is made by Goldring. The GR-1 is outfitted with Rega parts and is essentialy a Rega table. However, the plinth has been changed. As far as performance goes, I haven't heard the two yet. I'm scheduled to hear a GR-2 this week at my uncle's friend's house and the Music Hall sometime in the near future.

    Good luck, you're in the same boat as me. At least its not sinking...
    Cool. They're about the same price but it seems that the GR-1 has some better components, at least that's my impression spec-wise.

  4. #4
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    The Music Hall 2.1 is very similar to the Pro-Ject 1.2 which I have. When I had to decide between the two, I chose the Pro-Ject due to its slightly better build quality (even though the cart that came with the Music Hall was supposedly better than the Pro-Ject's - I figured I would upgrade from either entry-level cart anyhow).

    The GR-1 may be based on the Rega P2. NAD's 533 table is also based on the Rega P2. IMO, the things to consider among the Pro-Ject, MMF2.1 and GR-1 are their tonearms and whether they have fixed interconnect cables or inputs that allow you to change out cables. The Rega RB250 is a well-respected tonearm and a re-badged version might come with the GR-1 table. I like the tonearm on my Pro-Ject, but I'm not sure whether the Debut has the same arm or a lower-end model.

    I'm not sure about straight vs. curved arms. I've observed that most vintage tables came with curved arms. Today's tables for home use are more likely to come with straight arms. DJ tables appear to continue to use curved arms. I do know that most if not all the high-end, ultra-expensive audiophile arms being produced today are straight, e.g., Grahams, SMEs, etc.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    The Music Hall 2.1 is very similar to the Pro-Ject 1.2 which I have. When I had to decide between the two, I chose the Pro-Ject due to its slightly better build quality (even though the cart that came with the Music Hall was supposedly better than the Pro-Ject's - I figured I would upgrade from either entry-level cart anyhow).

    The GR-1 may be based on the Rega P2. NAD's 533 table is also based on the Rega P2. IMO, the things to consider among the Pro-Ject, MMF2.1 and GR-1 are their tonearms and whether they have fixed interconnect cables or inputs that allow you to change out cables. The Rega RB250 is a well-respected tonearm and a re-badged version might come with the GR-1 table. I like the tonearm on my Pro-Ject, but I'm not sure whether the Debut has the same arm or a lower-end model.

    I'm not sure about straight vs. curved arms. I've observed that most vintage tables came with curved arms. Today's tables for home use are more likely to come with straight arms. DJ tables appear to continue to use curved arms. I do know that most if not all the high-end, ultra-expensive audiophile arms being produced today are straight, e.g., Grahams, SMEs, etc.
    Thanks. I liked the Project Debut w/ the red table but I'm trying to avoid buying it stricly for looks since this will be placed in a cabinet to protect it from kids anyways. Apparnetly, the GR-1 is basically a Rega Planar 2 with a different brand name and comes with the RB250 arm.

  6. #6
    nerd ericl's Avatar
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    whattup OldSkool,

    If i was in your position, I would look for a nice condition used SL1200 like your DJ buddies. If you can find one that hasn't been DJ'd upon, great.

    I've used a few of these as well as a Music Hall MMF-5, an Ariston RD-40, Linn LP12 and am now using a Thorens 126mk2. I feel the Technics is a truly solid table. Maybe it will not going to give you that last inch of refinement, but it plays music reliably and without fuss. They are bulletproof, easy to use, and sound good.

    The easy ergonomics and quartz speed control make it easy to listen to a lot of records. It gets up to speed very fast so you don't have to wait around for it to play records, unlike belt drives, which take seemingly forever. When using a Technics i always end up listening to more records, for this reason.

    Another thing about inexpensive belt drives that bothers me is that you never know if your table is truly running at the right speed. I always had a hunch my Music Hall was running a bit slow but never had anyway to tell short of purchasing some expensive doo-dad.

    Match it with an inexpensive Grado cart and you are ready to go. Technics also have excellent resale value.

    good luck,
    Eric

  7. #7
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldskoolboarder

    1) Curved arm vs. straight arm. I've seen some mention of this on various threads but what difference does it make?
    The turntables with curved arms are DJ decks, and the arms there are curved primarily to provide space for DJs to backcue and scratch without bumping the tonearm. For regular consumers who just listen to their LPs and don't do any backcueing or scratching, the curved arm just adds unnecessary mass.

    Quote Originally Posted by oldskoolboarder
    2) As a starter TT, what difference does it really make if I get a DJ table?
    That really depends on the quality of the turntable itself. The Technics SL-1200 is the deck that all of the top club DJs use, and has been the standard in that market for the past couple of decades. The sound quality of that turntable is surprisingly good (it was originally designed for home hi-fi use before Technics modified it with a more powerful motor, wider pitch range, and marketed it to the growing DJ market), the build quality is very durable, and that particular turntable model probably has the widest range of parts and accessories of any turntable on the market. But, for that kind of quality, you pay for it. The list price on that particular model is now $600.

    In general, I would say that DJ turntables are built for durability, pitch range, hands-on handling (backcues and scratches), and greater torque in the motors. The sound quality of DJ turntables is generally a step down from similarly priced hi-fi turntables. However, low end hi-fi turntables can sound every bit as lousy if they are poorly designed and cheaply built.

    Quote Originally Posted by oldskoolboarder
    3) Any thoughts on the list of TT's below?

    Stanton STR8-30 Direct Drive Turntable
    Pro-Ject Debut III w/ ORTOFON OM-5 MM CARTRIDGE
    Music Hall- MMF-2.1 Turntable w/ Tracker MM cart
    Music Hall Goldring GR-1 Turntable with RB-250 arm and Electra Phono Cartridge
    Not familiar with the GR-1, so I can't speak to that, but as others have indicated, it sounds like a retagged Rega. As for the others, they are low cost entry level turntables because they provide minimal isolation and come fitted with low level cartridges. Their build quality's also a step down from the better turntables.

    As evidenced by my recent cartridge upgrade, the cartridge can make or break what you hear with vinyl records. And in general, you're really missing out on a lot if you're listening to vinyl through an entry level cartridge. The best turntable in the world will still sound dull and uninvolving if the cartridge is not up to the task. Just from personal experience, you'll get a major step up in sound quality if you get the Pro-Ject turntable and simply switch out the needle that comes with that Ortofon OM5 cartridge to the 20 stylus used on the OM20 (the OM5 and OM20 use a nearly identical cartridge body, but come fitted with different needles). Replacing the stylus will cost about $80 from LP Gear. Not sure about whether the other cartridges allow you to make that kind of simple upgrade by swapping to a different needle while using the same cartridge body.

    Unlike with CD players, where the sound quality difference between a bottom-rung portable player and a top-of-the-line audiophile component is more subtle than obvious, the steps up in sound quality as you move up the chain with turntables, tonearms, and cartridges are a lot more clearcut and obvious.

    Another consideration with these turntables is that all of them as far as I know require a phono stage on your amp/receiver. If you lack a dedicated phono input, then you need to buy an outboard phono preamp, which will typically run you around $100.

    Quote Originally Posted by oldskoolboarder
    4) I know the Stanton is the half the cost of the others, but am I really going to notice that big of a difference as a newbie?
    The Stanton is built for a different market. In general, I would not recommend low end direct drive turntables because they tend to produce audible noise and rumbling. Plus, that cartridge that comes with the Stanton is designed more for durability than sound quality.
    Last edited by Woochifer; 04-04-2005 at 01:00 PM.

  8. #8
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldskoolboarder
    Apparnetly, the GR-1 is basically a Rega Planar 2 with a different brand name and comes with the RB250 arm.
    I understand that the Rega P2 in its latest incarnation went from a glass platter to an MDF-type platter, but that you can still get the glass platter from Rega as an upgrade. Of course you'll get differing opinions on glass platters, but some of the user reviews I've read insist that it's a worthwhile upgrade (approx. $100). If you go with the GR-1, you might find out whether it is compatible with Rega's glass platter for future possibilities.

  9. #9
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    Thanks!

    Great feedback.

    Yes, my Pioneer Elite 45TX has a phono input.

    The glass platter upgrade would be a nice thing.

    Resale maybe important, in case I want to upgrade. Perhaps the 1200 w/ a good cartridge is the way to go. Would the Shure M97xE suffice?

  10. #10
    nerd ericl's Avatar
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    I've used the Shure M97, v15xmr, and sub $100 Grado carts with 1200 and preferred the sound of Grado over the Shure m97. The M97sounded good and clean but a little flat and lifeless. The Grado sounded more rich (i think i've used grado black and red) and lively.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldskoolboarder
    Great feedback.

    Yes, my Pioneer Elite 45TX has a phono input.

    The glass platter upgrade would be a nice thing.

    Resale maybe important, in case I want to upgrade. Perhaps the 1200 w/ a good cartridge is the way to go. Would the Shure M97xE suffice?
    Well, get the 1200 if you can find a good deal on it. There are plenty of them out there, and lots of places that can fix them, which is definitely a plus. However, if you don't plan on moving the thing around, or doing a lot of backcuing, or messing around with the pitch, you're paying for a lot of features that you won't use. And in the meantime, the 1200 has a relatively heavy tonearm. And you got a high torque direct drive motor, which can add noise and rumble to the playback. At $600, the SL-1200 is a thing of beauty for mixing and club play, but overkill in a lot of ways for home use.

    The Shure is a good midlevel cartridge, and one of the best trackers on the market -- a plus if you have a lot of warped records. It's been years since I've listened to one, but I always remembered thinking that it was very competent but not too exciting.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Well, get the 1200 if you can find a good deal on it. There are plenty of them out there, and lots of places that can fix them, which is definitely a plus. However, if you don't plan on moving the thing around, or doing a lot of backcuing, or messing around with the pitch, you're paying for a lot of features that you won't use. And in the meantime, the 1200 has a relatively heavy tonearm. And you got a high torque direct drive motor, which can add noise and rumble to the playback. At $600, the SL-1200 is a thing of beauty for mixing and club play, but overkill in a lot of ways for home use.

    The Shure is a good midlevel cartridge, and one of the best trackers on the market -- a plus if you have a lot of warped records. It's been years since I've listened to one, but I always remembered thinking that it was very competent but not too exciting.
    Yeah, trying to find a deal on it. There seems to be a few on our local craigslists, but I can imagine those have been beat to s*$t for DJ'ing. It is comforting, though, that it's probably easier to fix since it's pretty popular.

    I agree, it's a lot of features I wouldn't be using since I'm not dj'ing, just listening.

    BTW, anyone know of TT repair shops in the mid-peninsula or South Bay?

  13. #13
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldskoolboarder
    Yeah, trying to find a deal on it. There seems to be a few on our local craigslists, but I can imagine those have been beat to s*$t for DJ'ing. It is comforting, though, that it's probably easier to fix since it's pretty popular.

    I agree, it's a lot of features I wouldn't be using since I'm not dj'ing, just listening.

    BTW, anyone know of TT repair shops in the mid-peninsula or South Bay?
    A few years ago when my turntable needed servicing, I took it over to Big Al's Record Barn on Bascam Ave. in San Jose. It's the biggest used vinyl selection in the Bay Area I've seen outside of Berkeley and San Francisco, and they got a small room in the back where they sell restored vintage audio gear (mostly basic mid-fi brands from the 60s-80s, with a few high end items scattered around). The guy who ran that space at that time also services turntables, and the charges are very reasonable. You could also check there for a restored used turntable.

    Another place is the Analog Room, also in San Jose. They're more into audiophile vinyl (180g and 200g pressings, plus used audiophile editions) and high end accessories.

  14. #14
    Forum Regular thepogue's Avatar
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    hey man...once your up and running

    drop me a dime I'll hook you up wiff some LP's for very very cheap!

    thepogue@yahoo.com
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  15. #15
    RGA
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    I was very impressed by the new Pro-Ject tables -- my NAD is a Rega 2 made by Rega for NAD. When the NAD came out it was using a Rega 250 modded and an MDF platter -- Rega then went from Glass to MDF.

    As my signiture indicates I am planning to go upscale on my turntable to an Audio Note TT1 or 2 (Though I will be directly comparing it to Linns). I think you need to be careful about switching platters if the motor was not designed for the weight...I understand for example that my NAD does not like the glass platter and it may also be the case that the new Rega 2 won't like the older platter. Glass is interesting -- a lot of companies have been working together and Audio Note/Rega have combined on a few projects. AN's platters have been acrylic and the table is basically a modified motor spindle assembly and rewiring of the SystemDek IIXs. AN has contracted Rega for their arms rewired them etc. Rega's team took interest in the results and their new line of turntables are acrylic platters.

    I have to agree with everyone else that the cartridge really is the major deal -- I like my Shure M97xe but I have heard better and as such I aslo agree with it being a bit "dull and lifeless" but it is also a safe beginner cartridge because ti tracks extremely well and is very easy on vinyl -- but the sound is not inspiring -- nor is it irritating -- the stock cart was aweful.

    The Project out of box with its ortofon cart from what I heard was a very engaging player - perhaps lean sounding but it does have the foot tapping rhythm and didn't seem dull like the NAD/Shure combo I have.

    If I had it to do over again I would have bought the Pro-ject -- but in my defense when I bought the NAD they didn't carry Project.

    When buying used really try to get something in top shape -- I bought a Duel 7506 and really this stuff is rubbish - though it could be the condition etc I saw a SystemdekIIXs on Ebay sell for $300 US because I was thinking of saving money -- but that seems really high.

    I would suggest though that you either go really cheap now on the table or save and go for a real high end one that you WILL definitely want to keep forever. The reason is that turntables you will take a major bath on if you sell it. If you buy a cheap Pro-ject as a tide me over and sell it you won't do too bad -- but if you by a MM5 or Rega 3 and decide you want an upgrade then your going to lose a goo 70% of what you paid over a short duration -- it's worse if you can't move the arm to the new player.

    That is my dilemma -- the TT1 with the Arm is $1100.00Cdn(and either $500.00 or $700.00 for the carts) the TT2 without the arm or the Cart is $1700.00 but I could move my NAD arm over to it and continue on with my current Shure cart and upgrade all that later. Call me crazy but I really like these floating bouncy chassis of these decks. Sorry but I'm getting excited about getting one sometime this summer -- my dream system is coming together ----- MAN -- imagine if I had a job what I could buy!!!!!!! http://www.hifichoice.co.uk/review_read.asp?ID=399

    I also think the Technics mentioned gets beat up too much by audiophiles -- I have only listened to trance progressive on them but they are functional damn solid and sound good (at least through the headphones I was using). Plus you don't have to take the platter off to adjust the freaking belt to listen to a 45!

  16. #16
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    Thanks RGA

    Good points. I'm looking for some other starter tables, like vintage Denon, HK, etc that can be bought for cheap. My thought is to get a good cart and go from there. If I'm inclined to upgrade, my loss won't be so great.

    Great input on resale too.

  17. #17
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    I picked up a Systemdek IIx for $250 on Audiogon including an Ortofon 20 cart. It works extremely well and I am pleased with it. At least until I hooked it up to my Lexicon prepro (no analog bypass). Now it has digititus. Oh well.

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