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  1. #1
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    going retro...need advise

    i'm dusting off my old albums and want to hear them again. Can someone recommend a decent player w/ a modest price. I can't afford audiophile quality, just need something reliable. Budget is <$100. If buying used, is there anything I should ask the sellers? Thanks...

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    Look for used

    If there is a new tt with cartridge for under $100, it might sound so bad that you would regret buying it in the first place and would never understand why anyone listens to vinyl. If your albums are in terrible shape, you might not want to pursue this anyway. If they clean up reasonably well, go for it.
    Even used, under $100, with a serviceable cartridge might be a toughy. Thorens, Dual, Pioneer, Phillips all made decent manual or semiautomatic tt's (I don't like fully auto, too much to go wrong and they don't sound so good) and you might find one on ebay in your range. There are many others but there were many bad ones by most companies so I narrowed the field. Listen to others if they have a specific model for you. I would avoid any direct drive in this price range as I'm not aware of any that were made very well unless you spent more. So, look for belt drive, guaranteed to work and hope it comes with a cartridge that is good enough to enjoy at least for awhile until you decide to upgrade or discard your pursuit. Good luck,
    Bill

  3. #3
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbangelfish
    If there is a new tt with cartridge for under $100, it might sound so bad that you would regret buying it in the first place and would never understand why anyone listens to vinyl. If your albums are in terrible shape, you might not want to pursue this anyway. If they clean up reasonably well, go for it.
    Even used, under $100, with a serviceable cartridge might be a toughy. Thorens, Dual, Pioneer, Phillips all made decent manual or semiautomatic tt's (I don't like fully auto, too much to go wrong and they don't sound so good) and you might find one on ebay in your range. There are many others but there were many bad ones by most companies so I narrowed the field. Listen to others if they have a specific model for you. I would avoid any direct drive in this price range as I'm not aware of any that were made very well unless you spent more. So, look for belt drive, guaranteed to work and hope it comes with a cartridge that is good enough to enjoy at least for awhile until you decide to upgrade or discard your pursuit. Good luck,
    Bill
    without trying to sound like a moron...what is a cartridge and what is its purpose? My albums should be in great shape since they've been stored for over 13 years in a climate controled environment (closet). You brought up some good points, i may not bother with it, i was hoping to understand and benefit why people love vinyl without investing much money. Decisions, decisions. I've had great luck w/ Technics over the years...any decent models from them to consider? Thanks for the info!

  4. #4
    DMK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    without trying to sound like a moron...what is a cartridge and what is its purpose? My albums should be in great shape since they've been stored for over 13 years in a climate controled environment (closet). You brought up some good points, i may not bother with it, i was hoping to understand and benefit why people love vinyl without investing much money. Decisions, decisions. I've had great luck w/ Technics over the years...any decent models from them to consider? Thanks for the info!
    A cartridge can also be called a "needle" for simplicity's sake. It rides the grooves and reads the "squiggles" and then sends this info to the cartridge body which then sends the signal (louder) to your amp. That's overly simplified but it's basically what happens.

    Where you stored your LP's doesn't make nearly as much difference as how you handled them when you were playing them - although kudos for being proactively smart and storing them wisely! Did you clean them regularly with some type of wet cleaner? You'll need to do so now. Dirt gets into the grooves and is basically fused into them which causes the pops, clicks and noise.

    If you can find a used Technics SL-QD22, buy it. It'll probably set you back less than $75, possibly with a cartridge attached. That unit has a great tonearm and performs ahead of its class. I still own one that I'm currently not using but it's not for sale! My kids will get it when they get a little older.

    As jbangelfish said, you may find that you're not crazy about vinyl using a cheap deck and dirty records. But on the other hand, you might hear a glimpse of the superior sound LP's are noted for and wish to upgrade at some point. But before you re-store your LP's, you might try buying a couple of brand new ones to help you see what the fuss is all about. I can tell you this: when LP's are played on decent gear and are clean, CD's cannot compete sonically, 90% or better of the time, IME. Good luck and enjoy!

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    Tarheel, whatever else you do, as far as...

    asking the seller anything - if the table is being shipped, get insurance, and make sure they engage the transit screws! A couple of years ago, I bought a Dual on eBay, and it was DOA, as the transit screws were not tightened down. The speed control was smashed and so the whole unit was useless - but it was insured. Don't let that happen to you.

    Laz

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    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    i'm dusting off my old albums and want to hear them again. Can someone recommend a decent player w/ a modest price. I can't afford audiophile quality, just need something reliable. Budget is <$100. If buying used, is there anything I should ask the sellers? Thanks...
    Hi Tarheel,

    Ebay is the place you want to go. Get a used 80's vintage direct drive turntable. Stay away from belt drive, as it's really hard to find replacment belts.

    Here's one that caught my eye; http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=48649.

    The sellers got 200 comments with a 100% rating, so you know he's doing the right thing.
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  7. #7
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    Hi Tarheel,

    Ebay is the place you want to go. Get a used 80's vintage direct drive turntable. Stay away from belt drive, as it's really hard to find replacment belts.

    Here's one that caught my eye; http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=48649.

    The sellers got 200 comments with a 100% rating, so you know he's doing the right thing.
    Gotta disagree with you on the direct drives! Most of the ones I've tried in the past introduce audible noise into the signal path, with some of them exhibiting audible rumbling sounds. The only ones I heard that did not do this were Denon's direct drives. IMO, the main application for direct drives would be for DJing because the higher torque direct drive motors are better for quick starts and stops, and backcuing. Otherwise, belt drives generally run quieter, use low torque motors (which reduces potential for electrical interference), and you have a lot more options with regard to isolation platform designs since belt drive turntables are basically all you find in the high end market.

    Not sure if I would go the ebay route on a turntable for the aforementioned shipping problems. Turntables are a lot more delicate in general than other audio components and don't take abuse very well.

    Finding belts is actually not all that hard. I order mine directly from PRB, who make belts that can fit just about every turntable ever made. A lot of electronic parts vendors stock PRB belts and you can order them online as well. The Needle Doctor also sells belts, and can even do custom orders if your turntable requires an unusual belt size.

    http://www.russellind.com/prbline/index.html
    http://shopping.netsuite.com/s.nl/c....category.12/.f
    Last edited by Woochifer; 12-15-2003 at 07:04 PM.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    i'm dusting off my old albums and want to hear them again. Can someone recommend a decent player w/ a modest price. I can't afford audiophile quality, just need something reliable. Budget is <$100. If buying used, is there anything I should ask the sellers? Thanks...
    At $100, your options are limited to nonexistent. That price will barely buy you a decent cartridge (IMO, the most overlooked part of the turntable ... makes more of a difference in the sound quality than the turntable itself in my experience). The thing about good turntables is that they retain their resale value, and if they originally sold for $500 or more, you're generally not going to find them on the used market going for under $100 unless they're in less than ideal condition.

    As far as new turntables go, Music Hall and ProJect both sell well budget regarded turntables for under $200. The most frequently recommended budget cartridge are the Grado Prestige series models, which start around $40. I would not go with a low end Sony or other $100 options that you might see at Best Buy. Their isolation is practically nonexistent (with turntables, the isolation quality makes a noticeable difference in sound quality), and the platters are poorly made.

    Otherwise, if you're not too picky about the sound quality, Technics turntables are pretty rugged and generally come with P-Mount cartridge mounts which are about as close to "plug and play" as you can get and don't require tinkering with the overhang angle and offset. (Only drawback with P-Mount is that a lot of the better cartridges are not available in that design) The Technics' sound quality's a step down from the better turntables, but they're simple and readily available.

  9. #9
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    I've still got my old direct drive turntable that I bough many, many years ago. It works great, with NO audible rumble at all. It's a Realistic LAB-400, top of the line for RS circa 1978. My cartridge is a vintage Stanton 681eee, that I got at my first job working for Stanton Magnetics.

    Got to meet old man Stanton too. That guy was a certified genius. I worked in the Stanton "skunk works", and you would not belive the electonics that he was making/designing for the defense dept.
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
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    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

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    direct drive vs belt drive

    For the most part, I'd agree with Woochifer and avoid the direct drive unless you can find one of the proven performers mentioned. Too many of the lower end direct drives were just junk. Some excellent ones were made but they were not sold cheaply. If you went with direct drive, I'd look for the quartz lock feature, which controls the speed. Micro Seiki made some great ones but they are usually over $1000 used. OTOH, some very reasonbly priced belt drives were made that would sound fine and it's true that most turntables today that are considered high end are belt drive. Replacement belts are available for many of the old tt's. The biggest challenge to all of this is doing it for $100 with a decent cartridge but it's not impossible. Ebay should be fine but make sure the seller has the original box if possible, uses the shipping locks and locks the tonearm in place very securely. It will receive some rough handling in shipping but if enough care is taken to package it and it is insured, you should be safe. Looking for something within driving distance from home is not a bad idea either.
    Bill

  11. #11
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    boy, you guys provided some great information. I haven't been around lately...just don't enjoy the site as much as the previous format. The site just doesn't have the personal touch of the former. Perhaps this post may change my mind.

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    I'm not thrilled with the new format either

    But I'm getting used to it. Good luck in your quest. For me, I'd definately look used. I can't imagine that these new low buck tt's are any better than the old low buck tt's and that's not very good in most cases. I mentioned a few and so did some others, you should be able to find one of them somewhere.
    Bill

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    Hello, Tarheel...

    If you are interested, I have an almost perfect Realistic LAB-440 from either '81 or "84... can't quite make out the date on the original receipt. It has the original box, packing materials, manual, receipt, and cheapie Shure cart. This table has clearly not been used more than a few times.

    In the quest for capturing some of my adolescence (good luck!), I wanted the EXACT table I was using over 20 years ago. I found this one on eBay, and bought it. It was ever-so-slightly different (placement of stobe speed adjuster and the cueing lever slightly different). A month later, the exact model I had was for sale by the same guy - needless to say I have two, old, almost identical tables.

    The only problems are a slight mar on the dustcover (size of a large pinhead) which wasn't there when I got it, the only thing I can think of is might be a spit from an air freshener can. Also, there is a SLIGHT warp to the outer rubber mat... honestly doesn't affect play. Maybe some weight on it would flatten it. The cart is old, but appears to be "like-new"...even if you had a problem, a $20 replacement would do it.

    This 'ole Rat Shack table was top of the line at the time, sales receipt says close to $275, IIRC. Almost new condition. You can check out eBay for a pic of similar model - usually there.

    I paid $120 for this first one, and $100 for the second (that I'm keeping). I'll take $100 plus shipping.

    This is certainly not an audiophile rig, but sounds pretty good in it's own right, maybe a good step into analog to see if you wish to venture further. If you're interested, I'll unpack it and make sure everything is still good. Lemme know!

  14. #14
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy C
    If you are interested, I have an almost perfect Realistic LAB-440 from either '81 or

    This is certainly not an audiophile rig, but sounds pretty good in it's own right, maybe a good step into analog to see if you wish to venture further. If you're interested, I'll unpack it and make sure everything is still good. Lemme know!
    You know, The old LAB's don't look like the radical multi-kilo plattered audiophile TT that are for sale today, but stick a decent cartrige in it, and you've got a hell of a TT!
    Audio;
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    I agree, Geoff..

    ...it certainly doesn't have the weight or scale of my Pro-Ject, nor the quieting of background noises (cart-related, mostly) and a host of other aural goodies, but when the recording is good, this archaic puppy is alright! I have a Grado Green on the one I'm keeping, and might suprise some people (O.K., ... not someone used to a VPI TNT...lol) but maybe to someone that hasn't heard an album in 15 years.

    Another semi-cool feature: Adjustable lead-in and lift-off arm timing.

    A friend also has a table from the 80s... a Pioneer PL-2. The Realistic sounds W-A-Y weightier and clearer. And that's with the stock cart...

    Welp, I got my EXACT table, but I still don't feel any younger... any ideas why? :^)

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    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Not sure about the Realistic model that you're talking about, but in the late-70s the Realistic turntables were made by BIC, which were very good budget turntables. I grew up with a BIC Model 980, and it's still functional at my parents' house. Sound was decent, but it did not have any isolation to speak of, and the tonearm/headshell was a bit quirky. My Dual CS5000 was a noticeable step up in every category, even with an identical Ortofon OM20 cartridge.

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    Well, Wooch...

    ...some like to damp the vibes, and some like to funnel them. No, there is no elaborate damping system on the LAB-440, and it can skip if someone walks by (on a suspended floor, not slab), but not usually a problem.

    The headshell on the 440 comes apart from the arm, via a set screw. Nice touch - easier to manipulate the f'n tiny screws that secure the cart to the shell. AND - I even did bolts DOWN, instead of up... let's see who can match ME in the "patience" category"...lol. Honestly, I was sweating... VERY tedious. All this without ruining the needle...hehe.

    There is a "440" on eBay right now, if you wanna take a look. Just search under "Realistic turntable". BUT - mine is mint :^)

    Still not sure sure who actually built it, though...

  18. #18
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Thanks for pointing out that vintage LAB on ebay.
    Mine is the 400, a few years older than yours. It has a s shaped tone arm, but most basic stuff is the same.

    Hey, the same guy on Ebay has an old AR belt drive too. That was one hell of a great turntable in it's day.
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

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    A friend of mine...

    ...actually has two of those old ARs - he inhereted one from his dad, and found the other at a local audio shop (coincidentally). The second one was in really nice shape, picked it up for $75.

    Can't comment on sound quality - never heard it pugged into his main stereo.

    I'll never forget the AR demo of "The Turntable" back in the 80s - you could actually hit the plinth with a rubber mallet and it wouldn't skip!

    Actually, THAT rig would be a great table to get into vinyl, but I think the prices are creeping up...

  20. #20
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    Jimmy C.
    I appreaciate the offer, but since my wife gave me the Pioneer dvd-a/sacd player for xmas i've decided to go that route. Very impressive thus far. Although, after time, i'll probably want a new toy. Hopefully, those albums still play. They are old...heck, that means i am too. Thanks...

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    Oh, sure Tarheel...

    ...make me spend my precious time typing all this BS when you're not even interested! Fine - I thought we were gonna be Revel/Realistic buddies... nevermind... whatever...see if I care... :^)

    I just got a DVD also - my first. I think the best part is not having to rewind tapes! The sad part is I suppose my beloved Sony VCR is going to get very little use from now on... I loved that machine! I bought it in 1994, at about $450... has the flying erase head for clean editing and a bunch of other cool features - I hate to pack it up... the only glitch was she needed servicing a year ago to unstick the eject mechanism.

    The good news is the Rotel DVD sounds as good as my Rotel CD player - I can now use the Rotel CD in my bedroom (instead of the consumer-grade Sony CDP)... I'm curious if there are any differences between those two.

    So... is the SACD much better? My only gripe is software is relatively limited... "they" have to figure out a universal format. I'm wondering if there are crappy SACDs like there are redbook CDs... or, are they ALL on another sonic plane? If ALL SACDs sounded at least as good as my best redbook, I would be tempted - providing software is plentiful.

    Enjoy your new toy!

  22. #22
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy C
    ...actually has two of those old ARs - he inhereted one from his dad, and found the other at a local audio shop (coincidentally). The second one was in really nice shape, picked it up for $75.

    Can't comment on sound quality - never heard it pugged into his main stereo.

    I'll never forget the AR demo of "The Turntable" back in the 80s - you could actually hit the plinth with a rubber mallet and it wouldn't skip!

    Actually, THAT rig would be a great table to get into vinyl, but I think the prices are creeping up...
    The AR turntable's a classic. The basic design goes back to the 50s and AR only needed to make incremental refinements along the way. Those mallet demos go all the way back to that era. I know that AR brought it back in the mid-80s as the AR-1 Renaissance (?) for a short time, but it had already gone back out of production by the time I could save up enough to buy a good turntable. I wound up buying a Dual CS5000, which has a suspension isolation very similar to the AR system (and passes the same mallet test) and a quartz locked belt drive.

    The ARs do sound nice (I only heard one, so not sure it's an adequate evaluation), but I've heard that they are susceptible to picking up noise with certain types of cartridges.

  23. #23
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy C
    ...make me spend my precious time typing all this BS when you're not even interested! Fine - I thought we were gonna be Revel/Realistic buddies... nevermind... whatever...see if I care... :^)

    I just got a DVD also - my first. I think the best part is not having to rewind tapes! The sad part is I suppose my beloved Sony VCR is going to get very little use from now on... I loved that machine! I bought it in 1994, at about $450... has the flying erase head for clean editing and a bunch of other cool features - I hate to pack it up... the only glitch was she needed servicing a year ago to unstick the eject mechanism.

    The good news is the Rotel DVD sounds as good as my Rotel CD player - I can now use the Rotel CD in my bedroom (instead of the consumer-grade Sony CDP)... I'm curious if there are any differences between those two.

    So... is the SACD much better? My only gripe is software is relatively limited... "they" have to figure out a universal format. I'm wondering if there are crappy SACDs like there are redbook CDs... or, are they ALL on another sonic plane? If ALL SACDs sounded at least as good as my best redbook, I would be tempted - providing software is plentiful.

    Enjoy your new toy!
    Jimmy Jimmy...we can still be Revel friends...hold hands and swap interconnects and all that stuff

    On SACD quality being on a level plane? No sure yet, i only own 3 SACD and 2 DVD-A.
    The SACDs all sound similar in quality, but they so different musically i cannot directly compare except to say they all 3 sound better than my best redbook CDs.
    Choices are limited...give you an example...I was in Charlotte last week and went to mediaplay (mediaplay.com) and they have the sacd/dvd-a grouped together, but no offical sign...someone had written the signs by hand on a cardboard-like surface.
    Probably...ahh...75 sacd and 50 dvd-a
    (pros and cons to both)
    sacd...SOME can be played through any cd player
    dvd-a..have picture gallerys and some have more sound choices like 5.1 DTS and DD, 92/24 and 192/24...some even have the words on screen -BUT you have to manually scroll with the music?

    And they are expensive...$16.99 for most of the them.

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    Just a note on AR tt's

    I have one called THE AR and it was a very fine tt in it's day. A friend also has one about the same vintage (mid 80's) but a different model, nearly identical in appearance. The both use the same Hurst motor and both have gone bad. New motors can be bought for $100 or so retail or $40 direct from Hurst if you can buy wholesale. They might be tricky to change out as the belt pulley has been glued to the shaft of the motor and it is through the base. Not impossible but tricky. I plan to tackle it sometime.
    Bill

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    This isn't *quite* within your budget, but it's new and, since I owned it, I can vouch for the fact that it's not too shabby. Not at all.

    http://www.crutchfield.com/cgi-bin/S...=0&cc=01&avf=N

    You should, though, upgrade from the stock Technics p-mount cart to something a bit better. Crutchfield even offers a suggestion, I believe. With shipping, I think you could slide in for under $200.



    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    without trying to sound like a moron...what is a cartridge and what is its purpose? My albums should be in great shape since they've been stored for over 13 years in a climate controled environment (closet). You brought up some good points, i may not bother with it, i was hoping to understand and benefit why people love vinyl without investing much money. Decisions, decisions. I've had great luck w/ Technics over the years...any decent models from them to consider? Thanks for the info!

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