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  1. #1
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    Budget turntable suggestions

    I've been looking for a good turntable for around $300 and have been trying to figure which would be the best bet...the Music Hall 2.1, Pro-ject Debut II or the Thorens TD 170. It's slowly driving me insane as it's a long-term investment and I can't seem to decide. Help! Please.

  2. #2
    Turntable anorak!
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    Nothing wrong with any of your choices - personally I would go for the Project Debut 2 over the Thorens. I'm not familiar with the Music Hall (being on the wrong side of the Atlantic - you rarely see them here in the UK) but, having had a look at the website i can't help thinking that they look INCREDIBLY similar to Project decks...............!!!
    The decision is yours - find somewhere that sells them all, take along a few favourite records and go with what your ears tell you.
    Happy auditioning!
    Adam.
    Never test the depth of water with both feet.

  3. #3
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    One more choice

    Quote Originally Posted by Garrardman
    Nothing wrong with any of your choices - personally I would go for the Project Debut 2 over the Thorens. I'm not familiar with the Music Hall (being on the wrong side of the Atlantic - you rarely see them here in the UK) but, having had a look at the website i can't help thinking that they look INCREDIBLY similar to Project decks...............!!!
    The decision is yours - find somewhere that sells them all, take along a few favourite records and go with what your ears tell you.
    Happy auditioning!
    Adam.

    Thanks for the tip! Need your input once more. Which of these would you recommend...the NAD 533 or the Project 1.2? The latter is 80$ cheaper.

    Thanks again.

    Kiran.

  4. #4
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Have you considered the Pro-Ject 1.2? It's supposed to be a step up from the Debut II. The 1.2 lists for $319, but can be found for $285. I got my 1.2 a couple of years ago and orginally thought about the Debut II based on write-ups in British mags. I found out that at the time the Debut was not available in the US. Sumiko is the US distributor of Pro-Ject turntables. The 1.2 came with a Sumiko Oyster which I didn't care for, but the table and arm are built a little better than the Music Hall 2.1(imho).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    Have you considered the Pro-Ject 1.2? It's supposed to be a step up from the Debut II. The 1.2 lists for $319, but can be found for $285. I got my 1.2 a couple of years ago and orginally thought about the Debut II based on write-ups in British mags. I found out that at the time the Debut was not available in the US. Sumiko is the US distributor of Pro-Ject turntables. The 1.2 came with a Sumiko Oyster which I didn't care for, but the table and arm are built a little better than the Music Hall 2.1(imho).
    I have considered the Pro-ject 1.2 and now it's a toss up between the 1.2 and the NAD 533. The 1.2 comes with the Sumiko Oyster and the NAD with a Goldring, both pre-mounted. I could also cough up a little more and go for either the Pro-ject RPM4 (with Grado Blue) or the Pro-ject 1 Xpression (carbon arm with Sumiko Oyster). Am leaning towards the NAD. Would you recommend otherwise?

    Thanks.

    Kiran.

  6. #6
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    It's my understanding that the NAD 533 is very similar to the Rega P2. (Some say it's a "re-badged" P2.) It probably has the highly regarded Rega 250 tonearm w/maybe a couple of mods. Your best bet is to get some Rega or NAD 533 owners to answer up by starting a new thread. (There's not enough action here so it couldn't hurt.) I know one poster RGA has a NAD 533 and I believe there are a handful of Rega owners around here. The Pro-Ject 1Xpression wasn't around when I was searching for a table so I don't know much about it. The Pro-Ject RPM4 was highly regarded on this board for a while 'til someone with a Linn Sondeck started bashing it.

    I think you've done your homework and have narrowed the field to some excellent choices. If you go with one of the Pro-Jects that comes with the Oyster, you might want to factor in the cost of a cartridge upgrade. Some people like the Oyster's sound, but I think it sounds like a poor attempt at trying to copy digital/cd sound which defeats the purpose of getting a turntable.

    I think the RPM4 (RM-4 in the U.S.) is interesting because it comes with Pro-Ject's best arm, a record clamp and I believe you can swap out interconnects. Here's something you might try: Spend the extra money on the RPM-4 IF you can get the dealer to swap the Grado Blue for a Grado Gold or Grado Red for the same price - go for the Gold first (cheesey Olympics reference). The cart upgrade for the same money might make this the better deal. If they won't do it, then no harm done. Spend the money you save by getting the NAD on vinyl.

  7. #7
    Turntable anorak!
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    Dean_martin is right - the NAD 533 is just a rebadged Rega P2, so i would still personally go for a Project.
    He is also quite right in that the RPM4 is an absolute stunner if your budget can stretch to it. I can quite well believe a Sondek owner didn't like it - it's a stylish, reliable, well designed and great sounding deck and thus is in complete contrast to the Sondek!

    Adam.
    Never test the depth of water with both feet.

  8. #8
    Vinyl Junkie slate1's Avatar
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    Buy A Nice Used MMF-5 On AUDIOGON

    I've owned several of the tables you've mentioned in one form or another over the last few years. The one thing I'll warn you is that you're probably destined to get the vinyl bug once you get a decent budget table in your system. The problem with that is that it's going to leave you wanting for much more!

    I owned cookie-cutter turntables as a teenager in the early 80's, but my first "real" turntable was the MMF-2 and it was an adequate performer. It's basically a rebadged Pro-ject 1.2: the motor is the same, the tone-arm is the same - they're going to perform on a fairly equal field. I then got a really good deal on a Rega P2 with the Rega RB-300 arm installed. This would be similar to the NAD you've been looking at. I liked the tonearm better than the Pro-ject/MMF tonearm, but the table was essentially of the same caliber as the MMF-2.

    Since I didn't see a dramatic improvement by moving from the MMF-2 to the P2, I sold the P2 (for more than I paid for it!) and picked up a MMF-5 on www.audiogon.com. Now here's where I really started to get a taste of what is possible with a nice turntable and cartridge! The improvement over the MMF-2 and the Rega table was dramatic.

    You can pick up a really really nice used MMF-5 on Audiogon for not much more money than you're looking to spend ($350 - $450), and if I had to do it all over again - I would have just done that from the start. Audiogon is an online classifieds for mid to high end equipment - I'm fairly certain Stereophile is involved in running the site. You'll find great equipment and you generally won't have the worries of buying something ill-described as you would on e-bay.

    The MMF-5 was so great, that I have upgraded again in recent weeks. This time to a Roksan Radius 5 with a Rega RB-600 arm and the Goldring 1042 cartridge. I got the table and the arm off of Audiogon for a really great price and this will probably be the end of the line for me for a while as it relates to turntables.

    I really can not encourage you enough to look at buying used. Just look at Audiogon and try to find someone with good pictures of the item and someone who has a good solid rating. Good luck with your quest for a good budget table, no matter what you do youíre going to love it!
    Cayin A-70T Integrated w/ Gold Lion Tubes ∑ PS Audio GCPH Phono Stage ∑ Pro-Ject RPM-9.1 Turntable w/ Pro-Ject Ground-It and Pro-Ject Speedbox II ∑ Dynavector 20X2H Cartridge ∑ Usher Audio X-718 Monitors ∑ Ultimate Cables C4 Interconnects & Speaker Cables

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by slate1
    I've owned several of the tables you've mentioned in one form or another over the last few years. The one thing I'll warn you is that you're probably destined to get the vinyl bug once you get a decent budget table in your system. The problem with that is that it's going to leave you wanting for much more!

    I owned cookie-cutter turntables as a teenager in the early 80's, but my first "real" turntable was the MMF-2 and it was an adequate performer. It's basically a rebadged Pro-ject 1.2: the motor is the same, the tone-arm is the same - they're going to perform on a fairly equal field. I then got a really good deal on a Rega P2 with the Rega RB-300 arm installed. This would be similar to the NAD you've been looking at. I liked the tonearm better than the Pro-ject/MMF tonearm, but the table was essentially of the same caliber as the MMF-2.

    Since I didn't see a dramatic improvement by moving from the MMF-2 to the P2, I sold the P2 (for more than I paid for it!) and picked up a MMF-5 on www.audiogon.com. Now here's where I really started to get a taste of what is possible with a nice turntable and cartridge! The improvement over the MMF-2 and the Rega table was dramatic.

    You can pick up a really really nice used MMF-5 on Audiogon for not much more money than you're looking to spend ($350 - $450), and if I had to do it all over again - I would have just done that from the start. Audiogon is an online classifieds for mid to high end equipment - I'm fairly certain Stereophile is involved in running the site. You'll find great equipment and you generally won't have the worries of buying something ill-described as you would on e-bay.

    The MMF-5 was so great, that I have upgraded again in recent weeks. This time to a Roksan Radius 5 with a Rega RB-600 arm and the Goldring 1042 cartridge. I got the table and the arm off of Audiogon for a really great price and this will probably be the end of the line for me for a while as it relates to turntables.

    I really can not encourage you enough to look at buying used. Just look at Audiogon and try to find someone with good pictures of the item and someone who has a good solid rating. Good luck with your quest for a good budget table, no matter what you do youíre going to love it!

    Do you believe the MMF-5 to be superior to the Pro-ject RM4? Audiogon does have a few MMF-5's available at 2 price points but they're not mint with slight wear. Suggestions?

  10. #10
    Vinyl Junkie slate1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vinylkin
    Do you believe the MMF-5 to be superior to the Pro-ject RM4? Audiogon does have a few MMF-5's available at 2 price points but they're not mint with slight wear. Suggestions?
    I haven't heard the RM-4, so that's a bit hard to say. The one thing the RM-4 has going for it is that it has the Pro-ject 9 tonearm on it, which is an upgrade to the arm that's on the MMF-5. Honestly though, the difference in the performance on both these arms in going to be minimal.

    You can get the RM-4 brand new at needledoctor.com with a Grado Blue installed for $450, which is a great deal. I personally like the Goldring 1012GX on the MMF-5 much better than the Grado and I think you'll find that the cartridge is the one thing in the mix that makes the biggest difference. The Goldring has a higher output than the Grado and I prefer the sound of the Goldring 1000 series to the Grados. The Grado's still a good cartridge though and if you're looking strictly at new, the RM-4 will do you well I'm sure.

    I'm not sure if the Grado Blue is shielded and you might pick up some hum from the motor and surrounding equipment. I know the higher end Grado's (the Reference, for example) are not shielded and exhibited a great deal of hum on my MMF-5. The great thing about cartridges is you can always switch them out.

    Anyhow - I've probably just confused the issue all the more for you! Have fun with it - you'll love any of the tables you're looking at, that's the one thing I can promise you!
    Cayin A-70T Integrated w/ Gold Lion Tubes ∑ PS Audio GCPH Phono Stage ∑ Pro-Ject RPM-9.1 Turntable w/ Pro-Ject Ground-It and Pro-Ject Speedbox II ∑ Dynavector 20X2H Cartridge ∑ Usher Audio X-718 Monitors ∑ Ultimate Cables C4 Interconnects & Speaker Cables

  11. #11
    Vinyl Junkie slate1's Avatar
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    One other thing I forgot to mention is that the MMF-5 has a glass platter on it and the RM-4 has a fiberboard/composite platter like those found on the Regas. I think you'll find the glass platter to outperform the composite platter and will provide you with quieter playback - especially if you couple it with a better mat, like the Herbie's Way Excellent Turntable Mat which you can pick up for around $45.
    Cayin A-70T Integrated w/ Gold Lion Tubes ∑ PS Audio GCPH Phono Stage ∑ Pro-Ject RPM-9.1 Turntable w/ Pro-Ject Ground-It and Pro-Ject Speedbox II ∑ Dynavector 20X2H Cartridge ∑ Usher Audio X-718 Monitors ∑ Ultimate Cables C4 Interconnects & Speaker Cables

  12. #12
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    I've heard that there is a detectable hum with Grado carts on Rega tables especially at the end of records. I've not heard of that problem with Pro-ject tables. The glass platter offered with the MMF-5 is intriguing, but that's all I can say about that. I think the RM4 and the MMF-5 are the best choices in that price bracket, at least they were when I was looking a couple of years ago.

  13. #13
    Vinyl Junkie slate1's Avatar
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    I know the Grado Platinum Reference hummed on my MMF-5. It wasn't terrible, but I couldn't live with it - drove me nuts! The Goldring's don't hum at all and the 1000 series are fantastic cartridges. There are several cartridge companies that use the Goldring 1000's and put their name on them. Roksan, for example, has re-badged the Goldring 1012GX that comes on the MMF-5 as the Roksan Corus Black.

    I've got a Goldring 1042 and it's the best cartridge I've ever used. I love the Goldring 1000 series sound, they exhibit no hum at all and they are relatively high output MM at 6.5mv. I really can't recommend them enough. The best thing about the 1000 series is that the cartridge body is the same on all of them. So, you can buy the cheaper 1006 if money's tight and later upgrade it to the top-of-the-line 1042 by simply buying a replacement 1042 stylus and mounting it on the cartridge body that you used with the 1006.

    Anyhow, I know this is somewhat off topic - but I guess my point was that, in my opinion, the Goldring 1012GX cartridge is a really good reason to lean towards the MMF-5.
    Cayin A-70T Integrated w/ Gold Lion Tubes ∑ PS Audio GCPH Phono Stage ∑ Pro-Ject RPM-9.1 Turntable w/ Pro-Ject Ground-It and Pro-Ject Speedbox II ∑ Dynavector 20X2H Cartridge ∑ Usher Audio X-718 Monitors ∑ Ultimate Cables C4 Interconnects & Speaker Cables

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