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  1. #1
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Yep, it is time to buy a turntable - suggestions?

    Hey there all,

    Today I went and heard the Audio Note AN-E and AN-J speakers and was able to compare the same CD and vinyl record and the difference was ear opening.

    Vinyl is the sound I want.

    I know nothing of turntables, tonearms and cartridges, please help me start.

    I believe my Van Alstine Omega III pre-amp has special inputs for a turntable, but what to get?

    Is there something in the $200-$500 range, new or used, that would be worth while.

    If there is some good threads to read on this subject already....I'm sure there are, I'd be happy to know. Or guides or anything.

    Thanks
    -adam

    How about a few starter questions as well.

    How to know when the media itself is good or bad. How many spins around can a record take before the groove wears out?

    What about record care? Put them flat down or on the side?

    What is the most important feature to look for in a record player?

    Can tonearms and cartridges be upgraded? Should they be?

    Belt drive or the other way, which is best?
    Last edited by atomicAdam; 08-07-2009 at 09:18 PM.

  2. #2
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    First...the easy answer...take a look at the turntables in your price range by Rega, Pro-Ject and Music Hall:

    http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-S...ect-Turntables

    http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-S...ega-Turntables

    http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-S...all-Turntables


    And for the starter questions, I'll say:

    You won't wear out the groove if you don't use a worn or damaged cartridge. Play it and play it. I don't think I've ever worn one out.

    Records should be stored on edge without much pressure from leaning records.

    The most important feature is sound quality. Sure you could look for something tangible, but you won't need it. The turntable just needs to make music.

    Yes...tonearms and cartridges can be upgraded. Before I'd upgrade the arm, I'd probably upgrade the whole turntable...unless I was into the high end. Cartridges should be good, but a great one can't do its thing on a poor turntable.

    I'll say belt drive on this one. It's generally the way the audiophile turntables lean. Isolating vibrating is one of the good things about it. That's why things like cushioned feet or upgrade platters and mats can help. Quartz-controlled direct-drive turntables are steady, accurate and reliable, but there's a musical quality missing from many of them.

  3. #3
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Thank you sir.

    What is it you like about the Rega turntables? I see there are several in my price range, two are belt drives.

    The Music Hall MMF-2.2LE Turntable

    Rega P1 Turntable

    For non belt it appears to be:

    Pro-Ject Debut III in White


    Question, does belt / no belt really make a dif at this price point?

    And what do you mean by "musical quality missing from many of them"? Are you trying to say that the belt adds some small fraction of unequal timing which sounds more real? Or is it just the way the motor spins the record and interacts with the whole unit that with a belt drive sounds more musical?

  4. #4
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    LOL -

    At least the owner is funny - and I do like the color - but is it really a 'honey'?



    Oh the big block words that flash are just classic! He does say there are other cheap turntables similar this but the tonearm and 'music hall' cartridge ---- are they really better? Any experience anyone?

  5. #5
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    It's just the sound

    The Pro-Ject is also a belt-driven turntable. The information at that vendor's website might be a little confusing. Of course, they just get that info from the manufacturer, so it is probably confusing on the Pro-Ject website, too.

    The direct-drive turntables can do a nice job. My Marantz 6300 is direct-drive, as is my Technics SL-7. They spin accurately and that's a obviously a good thing. My Technics is a linear, so there's minimal tracking error and no need for anti-skating. It's also impossible to set up the P-mount cartridge wrong. But direct-drives are uncommon at the high end and they're even uncommon at the low end of the models made by manufacturers of high end. Take a look at these from Thorens. They're belt-driven from top to bottom:

    http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-S...ens-Turntables

    The musical quality that's missing from many direct-drive turntables and the quality to like about the Rega are essentially the same answer. It's like my Music Hall MMF-5, too...another belt-driven turntable. The belt-drive certainly isn't the only characteristic that separates Rega and Music Hall from the direct-drives. When you listen to the audiophile turntables you'll hear a more engaging sound, more dynamic, life-like, etc. I have had mechanical issues with my MMF-5, but it produces fuller bass, smoother highs, clearer and more life-like midrange than my direct-drives.

    That said, I was showing off the MMF-5 to a friend two weeks ago and he asked if the Technics played as well as the Music Hall. And I really couldn't say the Technics can't compete. After all, it was a $400 turntable in around 1980. It should be good.

  6. #6
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Analog is great, but expect to spend some cash......

    Quote Originally Posted by atomicAdam
    Thank you sir.

    What is it you like about the Rega turntables? I see there are several in my price range, two are belt drives.

    The Music Hall MMF-2.2LE Turntable

    Rega P1 Turntable

    For non belt it appears to be:

    Pro-Ject Debut III in White


    Question, does belt / no belt really make a dif at this price point?

    And what do you mean by "musical quality missing from many of them"? Are you trying to say that the belt adds some small fraction of unequal timing which sounds more real? Or is it just the way the motor spins the record and interacts with the whole unit that with a belt drive sounds more musical?
    ...but they are truly worth it in my book.
    If you live in California, you should have access to tons of record stores.
    I'm jealous and makes me wanna get out of this lousy city I live in.

    ***Software***
    Record Shop-
    This is the most important part of this hobby, but I think you are covered.
    You lucky bastard!!!!


    ***Record Care****

    LP Sleeve -
    If you purchase used LP and comes with moldy paper sleeves, throw them away. It just contaminates your LP. Sleeve City has some inner sleeves. I especially love Diskeeper Ultimate Audiophile Inner Sleeves.


    Dry Brush -
    Get a cheap carbon fiber brush by LP Gear or SleeveTown. They are pretty stiff, so break them in by running in hot water. No need to spend $20+ on a same brush that says Audioquest or A


    Wet Record Brush -
    Record Btush by Mobile Fidelity. Nothing is better and replacement pad can be had for cheap (2 for $5).


    LP solution -
    You can choose to buy some expensive solution, but 90+% isopro and distilled water will perform 99% of expensive stuff. If you end up with a Record Cleaning Machine (DIY or Purchased), your wallet will appreciate the Isopro-H2O solution.


    Stylus care -
    I love Zerodust by Onzo. They work great without expensive liquid, and should last a lifetime. I don't think I can live without it.
    Or you can just use a small piece of Magic Eraser by Mr. Clean. Soak a piece in Water, drop down your stylus onto the surface, and use your clueing level to lift it up. It works pretty good and is probably the cheapest option there is.


    ***Turntable***
    As you know, Rega makes some great tonearms, but their entry level decks are crap. Maybe "crap" is a harsh word, but they can't even spin LP at acceptable speed. I was hoping they had fixed the issue with P1, but that still isn't the case. I don't know this for a fact, but I've read they are spinning at more than 1% faster at 33rpm setting. Used P25 and and New P5 and up have remedied that issue, but they expect you to spend more than $1400???

    PJ or MH spins nicely and speedbox can be had for $150 if desired in future. The tonearm I had on my Xpression was bit picky on cartridges I used.

    At your price range, I would look for a used TT in a nearby city. Go audition and get a great deck for half the price. Plus you can eliminate potential damage by a commericial carrier.... New 2.2LE looks like a great starter deck and may even be your final reference deck.

    Have fun,
    JRA

  7. #7
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    New 2.2LE looks like a great starter deck and may even be your final reference deck.

    Have fun,
    JRA

    Hey jrhymeammo -

    Thanks for all the info - I hardly know how to start asking more questions - but I'm sure I will.

    I do have one though. I know the TT that got my fire burning probably cost more than I would possibly afford - so hear is the question -

    Is there a price point at which TT will be.... I don't want to use the word better... but will offer more of the record body full body sound that the CD doesn't?

    Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to start a 'what is better' war, but is having a price limit of $500 for a TT selling myself short?

    I've got my eye on the Music Hall MMG 2.2LE - good user reviews and the paint is obviously attractive, but would it be worth it for me to just suck it up and wait to get a better one? I guess, is there a price point at which TT really start to shine versus just being a TT?

    Thanks
    -adam

  8. #8
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomicAdam
    Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to start a 'what is better' war, but is having a price limit of $500 for a TT selling myself short?
    -adam
    Absolutely not. But you may want to avoid Debut III. I would Look for a used Xpression with your budget for below reason.
    I don't know about 2.2LE, but the Debut III comes with steel platter and that's not ideal for Moving coil cartridges. Remember, cartridges are magnetic (MM cartridges too? I can't remember). This will lead to improper vertical tracking force resulting to more wear on LP and stylus.

    Also, 2.2LE spins at +/- 0.9% speed deviation. Most of MH TT can be matched with PJ Speedbox, but not sure whether 2.2LE can be plugged in.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Adam, I must vote for the Rega P2 or above in the Rega line. The Rega's are great and there are so many after market performance upgrades available. My 10 year old Rega Planar 2 has never sounded better than it does today. The Michell Technoweight counterweight is an upgrade that greatly improves the arms tracking ability. The machined metal subplatter such as the DeepGroove adds mass for better rotaional speed and stability. The tonearm rewire gave me better, more open high frequencies. The Ringmat is superior to the felt mat. My combination of cones and Rega feet drains the motor vibrations from the table making for a more focused less confused soundfield.

    I of course had fun doing this over the years so the expense was spread out. The Rega P2 is fine as it is but it can reach a higher level. If you do go with the P2 I would get the glass platter upgrade.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
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  10. #10
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    The MMF-2.2LE does come with the steel platter, but I would suggest in that case to simply avoid the MC cartridges. The lower-priced MC cartridges are nothing spectacular. An MM in the same price range should be just as good. Another thing to be aware of with these turntables we're discussing...most of them cause hum with some of the Grado cartridges. The Goldring MM cartridges are good options with Music Hall turntables and are shipped with them in a few of the models. The 2.2LE is an exception in that the provided cartridge is Music Hall brand.

    I would tend to agree on upgrading the platter, but I might suggest the acrylic platter on the turntables that have that as an option. I have the glass platter and I'm not sure I'm content with it.

  11. #11
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    Also, 2.2LE spins at +/- 0.9% speed deviation.

    Oach, this really concerns me. I mean, if a source is anything it has to be on time.

    I'm going to assume this is an issue with lower end TT so maybe I should increase my price range and just wait a bit longer till I purchase. Or is this something that all have. Corrections? I googled the PJ Speedbox - and I have to say, if a TT company makes a TT and then an upgrade to make it more on time, one wonders why they couldn't get it right in the 1st place? Maybe I am being harsh, but.....

    Thanks for all the info fellas - I appreciate it.

    I actually took a look at my Omega III and it doesn't appear to have Phono in, or TT in. So I might need a phono-pre-amp as well.

    Well more research.

    Thanks
    -adam

  12. #12
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 02audionoob
    The MMF-2.2LE does come with the steel platter,
    From the specs it says "Alloy platter and felt mat ". But a if the low end cartridge suck..should that be an upgrade to get immediately?

  13. #13
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomicAdam
    From the specs it says "Alloy platter and felt mat ". But a if the low end cartridge suck..should that be an upgrade to get immediately?
    The alloy is an iron alloy...and so is steel. I would consider a low-end cartridge to be an immediate target for upgrade. But maybe the Music Hall Tracker doesn't suck. My preference would would be to aim at least as high as a Goldring 2200, but those can be found cheap enough at needledoctor.com. I bought one even cheaper from a UK vendor.

    As for speed...I think the MMF-5.1 has a speed adjustment screw...can't remember for sure. You might want to download the manuals from the Rega, Music Hall and Sumiko/Pro-Ject websites.

  14. #14
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 02audionoob
    The alloy is an iron alloy...and so is steel. I would consider a low-end cartridge to be an immediate target for upgrade. But maybe the Music Hall Tracker doesn't suck. My preference would would be to aim at least as high as a Goldring 2200, but those can be found cheap enough at needledoctor.com. I bought one even cheaper from a UK vendor.

    As for speed...I think the MMF-5.1 has a speed adjustment screw...can't remember for sure. You might want to download the manuals from the Rega, Music Hall and Sumiko/Pro-Ject websites.

    Ok thanks for the info. I'll check it out.

  15. #15
    RGA
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    STOP STOP STOP.

    Start with the right questions first before you ever go near entering the world of vinyl.

    1) Is there a used record shop (preferably a few) in your area that you can actually buy records from? This helps - prices are higher but the vinyl is usually in better condition.

    If not then seriously rethink going into vinyl.

    2) Avoid all the entry level machines from everyone. That may sound harsh but I've been there and done that and it will not yield happy results long term IMO.

    3) So what do you do if you have number one but only have the budget for number 2 - you buy used - but if you don't have the knowledge it can be a trouble spot. The turntable you heard and liked - buy that one if you can.

    Contrary to popular belief and vinyl myth posters a cheap NEW vinyl rig will not beat a good CD player - if you are buying a turntable for better sound it's not a good reason because you will have to spend - nothing is free. If you want good vinyl then yes a P3 from Rega or the competitors from MMF and Pro-Ject are perfectly fine - but to get great results requires great effort and careful buying decisions.

    Since you auditioned Audio Note you should look into the TT1 turntable which is based on the classic and highly raved SystemDek IIx (finding one on the used market would be a better than average choice since AN has upgrades and parts available. These decks would go for $300 - $500 used. Then again the TT1 if you wait and save might be a pretty darn good choice http://www.audionote.co.uk/articles/...003_an_tt1.pdf

    http://www.enjoythemusic.com/Magazin...udiophile4.htm

    The owner of Audio Note is a dead red vinyl guy owning more than 35,000 rare LP's and has made one of and in some circles considered the best turntable in the world http://www.audionote.co.uk/articles/...s/HFC10_AN.pdf

    I can say that my advice would be to buy the very best turntable you can afford because resale is very poor on turntables and the budget ones you will want to upgrade very soon. And you'll lose cash. I did that twice - d'ohh.

    A TT1 can be converted into a TT2 at a later time. The Arm 1 is the tonearm made by Rega with AN internal wiring and interconnect. This can also be upgraded - the IQ1 cartridge can fit the IQ2 and IQ3 stylus later. A TT1 with arm and cart you're looking at a serious bit of cash at about $1,700 which is why a systemdek could be far more attractive - you can upgrade it in stages.

    What about record care? Put them flat down or on the side?

    Don't put them flat.

    What is the most important feature to look for in a record player?

    IMO that it is a floating suspended design - I would skip all turntables not designed like that. There are many like this by the way not just Systemdek, AN, Linn, Heybrook, the great Voyd tables and some Thorens models among others. You often see some companies top decks will be suspended their entry level is unsuspended.

    Can tonearms and cartridges be upgraded? Should they be?

    Depends on the table. You will see that the Rega 250 is on many turntables - it's a great tone arm for a reasonable price that can be upgraded - buying one and putting it on a SystemDek IIx is a good upgrade over the arm it came with - as is getting rid of the glass platter for acrylic - this applies to the Rega's that use glass as well.

    Belt drive or the other way, which is best?

    I'm a little less convinced by this one but generally it has been said belt is the best way to go with manual speed changes. It happens that the best decks I've heard are belt drive - but whether that is due to the belt or poor direct drive I don't know.

    Also if all of the above is just too much right now then I would try and get an audition with the Technics SL 1200 and 1210. This is THE DJ turntable - easy to use - quite rugged - not very audiophile approved but it's a lot better than it gets credit for - put a nice cartridge on it and you could do worse. Some absolutely swear by them and that's worth a listen.

  16. #16
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    The Pro-Ject Speed Box'es work on the Music Hall TT's. Pro-Ject makes the Music Hall TT's. As for speed boxes in general, the SDS for my VPI made a big difference in the sound. I would get a Speed Box if I was purchasing a Pro-Ject or Music Hall TT. The Speed Box is a lot less expensive than the SDS.
    One of the Pro-Ject TT's is currently selling as an SE Edition with the speed box. It may be a little pricey for some at around $1K minus cartridge. It does look nice though.
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  17. #17
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    RGA had posted some great advice, but not sure if I agree about investing such large initial sum.

    I belive It'll be best for you to try and explore whatever you can get your hands on. You will learn and find out what suits you the best. Our current gear sound great because we've all travelled down that path. Keep buying quality used gear and upgrade as your budget permits. If your style is to take your time and enjoy the journey, then you'll love analog.

  18. #18
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    STOP STOP STOP.
    Hey RGA - Thanks for the advice.

    Whoa - $1,700.00 for 1st TT. Sure it is swell, but that is bit much....most likely. I did see a SystemDek on audiogon for $375 - maybe a good way to start.

    Makes me re-think my plans.

    The TT I heard at the AN AN-E demo is probably so far out of my price range that it would be funny. But I'm not really interested in finding something better than CD format, I want the depth and body that TT produce, that I remember from childhood and just heard again.

    Anyways, I live in the Bay Area, so I've got 2 Amoeba and 2 Rasputin's plus probably a bunch of smaller record stores i don't know of yet. So I should be good.

    Well guess I got some thinking to do.

    Thanks
    -adam

  19. #19
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Who can really say you'd be interested in upgrading very soon, as has been suggested above? Not all of us spend Audio Note money on our audio system.

  20. #20
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 02audionoob
    Who can really say you'd be interested in upgrading very soon, as has been suggested above? Not all of us spend Audio Note money on our audio system.

    You are very right. To go off your deleted post though. I would say, maybe RGA is just trying to save me the trouble. He and I have bee talking on PM and he knows I am currently looking for a system that will last me the next 15-30 years. Last Friday I went to listen to the AN-E speakers and so he knows I have interest in Audio Note equipment. Amazing two-way vrs. the three or more way I've been looking hearing so far.

    I think he is just suggesting, if I am going to get a system to last that time, just get a very good TT to being with, save the trouble.

    One way or another I know I am getting a TT soon and will start my LP collection. Still have my CDs. But the TT was so amazing it is a path I want to go down, to find that sound to have at home, not just when auditioning gear. I think I could listen to it for hours.

    Hell the LP I heard while auditioning the AN-E was the Cowboy Junkies. Not too bad now, but I remember hating the hell out of them when I was younger. I was just so amazed by the depth of the voice and instruments. I'm hooked!

  21. #21
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    RGA's post asserts that everyone else here has posted bad advice, myths, miconceptions, etc. It's arrogant, regardless of what may go on in a related PM. Besides...how many times is RGA going to recommend Audio Note in this forum? I thought about proposing a drinking game a few weeks ago...We all take a drink when RGA mentions Audio Note. I couldn't handle it, though...I have to get up in the morning.

  22. #22
    3db
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    ProJect Xpression II or III

    I never sold my vinyl but I had a Realistic (Radio Shack) turntable that was a POS but I was a student at the the time and that is all I could afford. Even with new needles, I was getting large amounts of inner groove distortion. Well, I finally upgraded my turntable and bought a ProJect Xpression II (new at the time) . Its a great deck and the tonearm/cartridge tracks amazingly well. I've not heard any innr groove distortion with this turntable whats so ever. Is it the last word in turntable? No,,, But is it good enough to keep you happy for a long time? Definately!! I had this deck for two years and I do not feel any need to upgrade at all.

  23. #23
    RGA
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    O2Audionoob

    In this case I posted the TT1 from Audio Note because it has been widely regarded not just by me as one of the best turntables in the industry for the price. I grant you that price is quite high for a beginner turntable.

    There are other fine turntables with a similar - sort of - design but Linn is also quite expensive - more expensive than than the Audio Note by about 50% and everyone I know who has actually bothered to audition both (and owners of the Linn LP 12 I might add) prefers the AN.

    I am NOT suggesting the TT1 because as a first table I agree that's a lot of cash - what I am suggesting is a similar design on the used market - either a used TT1 or a used SystemDek IIX. Many turntables on the used market are problematic - - they're worn out or you can't get parts. A SystemDek has oodles of upgrade paths. Another great used turntable would Pink Triangle.

    If you consider systemdek here are some of the recommended upgrades that Audio Note's boss recommends http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?...er+Qvortrup&r=

    I am sorry that I recommend this brand a lot but remember people this is not really Audio Note - they bought the rights to Systemdek. Unlike most companies who make an amp and a cd player and nothing else and in a narrow price range bracket AN makes products across a huge price range and from cartridge to speakers. SO that is why I tend to post them a lot - plus I have an awful lot of experience with their gear owning a system from them. I also happen to think they're at or near the top of the field in each aspect of the system chain. I can't say that about another company as often the other company like Linn is much better at sources than they are at amplifiers or speakers for example. It therefore stands to reason that I would suggest A) what I know B) what I like.

    AN didn't design this turntable - Peter Dunlop of Systemdek did - Audio Note merely turbo-charged it improved the motor, platter, arm, cart etc - well someone who buys a used Systemdek can do all of those things themselves in stages. I would recommend suspended Thorens tables but I have not owned one - thus, I would rather recommend what I own than what I can only merely speculate on.

  24. #24
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    RGA,

    I can certainly understand your viewpoint. In fact, I appreciate having learned about Audio Note here in this forum. My remarks on the issue were actually a little out of line, but sometimes I post first, think later.

  25. #25
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    I wish I had put at least a thousand into a belt drive table to begin with. But let's face it. If you're a family man with serious financial obligations sometimes the sound system takes a back seat.

    If you go the Pro-Ject or Music Hall route, step up to a model that has the Pro-Ject 9c arm. The "c" stands for carbon fiber. I think you can get it on the latest version of the Xpression but it has an msrp of $699 (you should be able to negotiate for 10-15% off). I'm not sure where the Music Hall line starts with the carbon fiber arm. It may be the MMF-7 which will put you over a grand new. I have the older entry-level Pro-Ject 1.2 which has been reliable but as I've upgraded carts and phono amps, I can tell that it's not as quiet as a better table with better arm and wiring would be.

    Another to consider is the Technics SL-1210 Mk2 from musician's friend. With the right cart it excels at rock music. It doesn't come with a cart but I think you can get the table for $400 and spend another $100 on a cart (like the Ortofon 2M Red) and be at your budget. It's a direct drive and is built like a tank. PM me for a 20% off coupon code that is good 'til the end of the month. (I got it in the mail and it's supposed to be for previous customers, but it's worth trying if you're interested.) The Technics has an upgrade path through KAB, but I haven't tried any upgrades. I am running an aftermarket headshell which is pretty cool and makes swapping carts relatively easy.

    It's probably coincidence, but I'm running two Ortofon carts. One is a high-output mc which seems to mate really well with the belt drive table, esp on jazz and vocals, and the other (the 2M Red) is a mm which does well with the direct drive Technics on down and dirty rock-n-roll.

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