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krodista
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~$1500-$2000 build need complete help

{Ill preface by apologizing as I know you guys get a lot of this sort of request, but I don't want to piggyback on someone elses post}

Ill be honest, I know nothing. Ive tried to do as much research as I can, but I still feel like a complete novice. I want a complete turntable setup (at some point I may add the ability to play CDs, but thats for a later date).

I know that I need a turntable and it would seem people are really pushing Music Hall these days (any other options to consider?). I would simply prefer something belt driven compared to direct drive. Also, any cartridge recommendations as most people say that makes the best upgrade to your system.

From that it goes to a pre-amp I believe and then on to an amp and then to speakers. I need advice on all of those. Also, what wiring will I need?

I think the amps which show the tubes are really neat, but I doubt those are in my budget. Also, as to speakers, I will probably need something I can put on stands because I dont have bookshelves to place them on. Prefer stands that are sturdy in case cat decides to jump on them. Possible Wharfedale Diamond 10.2, I hear them being tossed around a bunch.

Am I missing anything and thank you in advance for anyone willing to take the time to help me!

JoeE SP9
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Advice

Make the effort and visit a brick and mortar store and actually audition some gear. There is no better advice that anyone can give you.

commsysman
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System Choices

In 50 years of audio experience, I Have learned one thing above all; A brick and mortar store, or ANY audio store, is the very WORST place to audition gear.

The ONLY place to audition gear in a useful way is in your home.

The acoustics are totally different in a store, and the chances of even getting the combination of source, amplifier and speakers you NEED to listen to all together in any one store is nearly ZERO! What you hear in a store can be VERY misleading, at best.

Dealers will often optimize the sound of one thing you want to listen to by connecting it to other components costing many thousands of dollars. This does not give a result that is relevant for you.

The synergy between speakers and amplifier is very important, and the source equipment and acoustics are also a large part of the sound you hear.

The best thing to do is buy the equipment from some online retailer like Audio Advisor or Music Direct that will give you at least two weeks to return it for a full refund, and LISTEN to the whole system carefully it in your home for at least 4 or 5 days. Either that, or find a local retailer that will give you a one-week unconditional return privilege.

For your budget, the Pro-Ject or Music Hall turntables for around $500 is what I recommend. The Music Hall MMF 2.2 is very good. I had one in one of my homes for a few years, until I sold the home and that system, and it is very good for its price.

The Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 is also something I would recommend, but Music Direct has some Focal speakers on special in that price range that may be even better. Focal makes excellent speakers.

Music Direct has the Focal 806V speakers marked down from $1000 to around $650, and that would be my first choice.

For an amplifier, I think the best one by far would be the Music Hall 15.3 integrated amplifier. It is $550, and there is nothing else as good for that price IMO. It also has a good phono preamp included, which will save you $150 or so.

Separate preamps and power amplifiers that would be significantly better than the 15.3 are way way beyond your budget limit.

Speaker stands need to be rigid and relatively massive. Wood stands seldom qualify. The Sanus Steel Foundations are good and can be had for around $150. Fill the center post of your stand with sand or steel birdshot from your local sporting goods retailer. This will make it much heavier and have a very desirable damping effect.

krodista
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Its just as well that brick

Its just as well that brick and mortar stores are not the ideal place to pick up equipment because honestly the distance to the closest is quite extensive. There are a few record stores within 30-45 minute drive from where I live, but nothing that sells equipment to any extent. Im not surprised that place optimize certain systems or setups to push sales. I know someone who worked at Circuit City years ago and they did the exact same thing to push certain TVs. "Look how much better the colors are...how much brighter it is, etc.". 

 

When I was looking into a record setup a year or so ago, the Rega RP1 was all the rage, so I am glad I asked as it seems its not being recommended as much these days. Also as a question, would it be worth looking into grabbing a used turntable or getting a new one? Not sure if newer tech is better than a higher end used turntable. Also, of any of the components, which would give the most potential performance increase if upgraded? Im making an assumption here that the turntable is the best place for a performance upgrade and have included three thoughts I had as far as if I could step up a bit.

I may still stick with the lower end two builds as It would be less of a financial hit, but I simply want to narrow everything down to make a game plan. I was reading up about the two lower end turntables and there was a lot of mention about the tonearm being better on the Pro-Ject, not sure if thats true. I still may end up heading up market a bit and getting the higher end turntables, I just havent decided as of yet. None are outragiously out of budget.

 

Regardless, I plan to pick up the Focal gear pretty quickly here so that I can get it while its on sale and have one thing checked off the list. Then Ill start grabbing the rest of the setup once I get it narrowed down.

 

Build as I am looking at right now

 

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon - $399

Focal - Chorus 806V - $600

Focal - S800V Stand - $249

Music Hall 15.3 - $549

Cables - $?

--------------------------------------------

Total (minus cables/taxes) - $1797

 

 

Music Hall - MMF-2.2 - $449

Focal - Chorus 806V - $600

Focal - S800V Stand - $249

Music Hall 15.3 - $549

Cables - $?

--------------------------------------------

Total (minus cables/taxes) - $1847

 

___________________________________________________________________

 

Rega - RP3 - $895

Focal - Chorus 806V - $600

Focal - S800V Stand - $249

Music Hall 15.3 - $549

Cables - $?

--------------------------------------------

Total (minus cables/taxes) - $2293

 

 

Music Hall - MMF-5.1SE - $1095

Focal - Chorus 806V - $600

Focal - S800V Stand - $249

Music Hall 15.3 - $549

Cables - $?

--------------------------------------------

Total (minus cables/taxes) - $2493

 

 

Pro-Ject 5.1SE - $999

Focal - Chorus 806V - $600

Focal - S800V Stand - $249

Music Hall 15.3 - $549

Cables - $?

--------------------------------------------

Total (minus cables) - $2397

bierfeldt
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The Rega

Unless you found a great deal (which can happen), that RP3 price of $895 typically excludes the catridge.  Double check the device you are looking at and make sure that a cartridge is included. 

If you can get an RP3 for that price with an Elys 2 included, that is a great deal and is the best sounding table in this group.  It is a BIG upgrade over the entry level tables.   

If the table doesn't include a cartride, you can get a factory mounted Elys 2 for $200 (which is a good value as it retails at $300) or go with something else like an Ortofon 2M Blue which would keep you at the same price.  That being said, the Rega Tone Arm is designed with the Elys 2 in mind as the cartridge and will perform very well for you.  

If you do inch up to that $1100 price point, the two tables to look at are the Rega RP3 and the VPI Traveler.  The other tables in that price range will all be a bit of a step down from those two and either will make you extremely happy. 

 

commsysman
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SYSTEM CHOICES

I don't think the MMF 5.1 is all that much better than the 2.2.

The big step up is when you go to the 7.1, which has a fully isolated motor and other upgrades.

I suggest the package for $1847, plus a cartridge upgrade for $250 or so.

Buying a better cartridge would be the best way to improve the basic system. None of those turntables come with a cartridge that is all that good.

The Audio-Technica 440 is around $250 and would be good to consider. Check Needle Doctor.

 

P.S.- The Music Hall and Project turntables are both made in the same factory with a lot of common components. 

Steely164
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1500-2000 dollar Build

   I have to go with Commsysman on most of this.  I have never made a good descision in store on quality sound for my home.  I have had lots of good experience getting to know some of my local sales guys.  They will push what ever is on the commision board to be sold, but if you bug them enough, they can be a wealth of information on audio systems.  I would consider an entry level integrated to get started on your budget.  If the amp you like doesnt have a phono stage you will need a phono pre-amp but those are reletivly inexpensive. I like the Music Hall equipment a lot.  As far as money to performance ratio goes they are hard to beat.  There are a lot of inexpensive speaker options as well.  Pioneer put out a speaker this year under three hundred dollars that the magazine was cheesing about.  I haven't heard them but they might be worth a listen if you can audition them.  Most importantly don't let a salesman tell you what sounds good.  Your ear will change and mature as you start listening more.  I think for the money the Dynaudio Excite 14 sounds better than a few speakers costing 3 or 4 times as much.  I have heard the Focal 806's and they are an amazing entry level speaker. Do your research, get some prices, talk to a few salesman and then make your decision. This is part of the fun of being an audiophile.  Enjoy your search!!

JoeE SP9
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Audition

Sure a B&M store may not be the best place to audition gear. However it's a hell of a lot better than no audition at all. The whole internet thing has made many of us think that perusing the internet and getting a few recommendations will result in a satisfying system. NOT. No way not ever!

Commsysman and the others who have posted all have extensive experience and consequently know exactly what they want. This is not the same for someone new to this hobby. Sure, you can listen to everyone recommend their favorite speakers or whatever. However, there is no substitute for making the effort to actually audition some gear, especially speakers.

All the dealers in the Delaware Valley (where I live) allow home auditions of most of their gear. It's likely that dealers in Florida have the same policy. As for time and effort for auditioning; the internet seems to have made a lot of people quite lazy. I have ridden the train from Phila to Washington DC (180+ miles) to audition gear. Is a drive of an hour or so, so much of a bother that you'll spend several thousand dollars on a recommendation from someone you don't really know?

Buying audio gear especially speakers on someone's recommendation is akin to letting someone else choose your mail order bride. There is little if any chance you'll end up with something your happy and satisfied with.

Please note; I'm not saying that anyone has given bad recommendations. I'm saying that what someone else likes and what you (the OP) like are probably not the same thing. This is especially important with speakers. They are so different from brand to brand that they might as well be made on different planets.

Bill B
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brick

although I do my fair share of buying audio gear over the internet, I bought my main speakers from a STORE, when I was auditioning speakers at different places.  At the time, I had never heard of them (Vandersteen) before but they opened my eyes.  And they did upsell me to the next higher level - and I am so grateful for it.  They didn't have to really sell me - they just played the models one "up" from what I was auditioning, and I was hooked.  Those speakers continue to serve me well, so thank goodness for the option of brick & mortar stores.

krodista
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@JoeE SP9 I agree that with

@JoeE SP9

I agree that with the advent of the internet, a lot of music stores along with many other sales types have gone away. Sadly my area literally has nothing remotely nearby to test out equipment (at least not that I can find, yet). Im not exactly sure how to find one nearby to be honest, but ever place I call either sells just records or dont really specialize in home audio. I can accept this however and as such am doing the best I can to make the best of what is available to me. The internet.

The internet in my eyes makes for a more knowledgeable consumers, not a less . Lets say a certain certain brand of vehicle breaks down in a few years compared to the competition. If you are at a dealership, the salesman isnt going to tell you this and you wont know till a few years when your car breaks down prematurely. If everyone said to buy 1 specific car, wouldn't you put it on the top of your list to at least check out. 

 

My point of asking for advice wasnt for someone to shop for me, but for people who are in the hobby with a whole lot more experience than I have to give me some insight and help me significantly narrow down a list. After that, its up to me to research the snot out of each item on numerous sites to narrow down to exactly what I will purchase and try. If a certain item makes the top pic of numerous lists and peoples personal opinions, its probably worth checking out in my eyes compared to going in knowing nothing about which brands to trust and which items will more likely serve my needs. Even if I could find a store to demo things, I would still want to go in with an idea of what was out there and what i wanted first.

 

As to peoples refrence to return policies, the great thing in that if you get an item and its garbage, you pack it up and send it back. An excellent return policies is exactly why I shop at Newegg.com for all my computer needs.

@all, thank you for the advice and thoughts...its been and continues to be sincerely appreciated!

JoeE SP9
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Advice

I understand the difficulty of finding a suitable B&M store or stores in these days. I'm fortunate in that there are half a dozen very good B&M stores within an hours drive from me. Even so I've still ridden the train to NYC and Washington DC to audition gear and I know what I'm looking for. I've had 46+ years practicing.

The main thrust of my original response was in reference to speakers. Everyone will always recommend their personal favorites. Unfortunately this has absolutely nothing to do with an individuals personal taste. What I like in all probability you may not and vice versa. I could suggest you get a pair of Magneplanar MMG's ($600 a pair) direct from Magnepan with a 30 day return policy. IMO you can't do better from anywhere else for $600. However you may prefer the sound of Klipsch speakers. They sound so different from Magnaplanars they could be from an alternate reality. Someone who likes the sound of Magneplanars most likely doesn't like the sound of any Klipsch speaker.

I love the sound of Magneplanars and most other dipolar panels while the sound of just about any Klipsch and most horns make me want to cut off my ears and run away.

Getting speakers from an internet based business that offers an easy return policy is IMO an absolute necessity. The problem comes from deciding where and with what speaker to start with. This is why IMO making the effort to find and audition some possible candidates is something for which there is no substitute.

I should point out that the internet is full of gushing reviews by fan boys of particular brands. Many of them have no experience whatsoever with any other gear than what they're "gushing" about. The problem comes from determining who's a fan boy and who actually knows what they're talkling about. This doesn't refer to the replies you've received here. Those are from seasoned experienced listeners. However, they will always suggest their favorites which as I've tried to point out may not be so favored by you..

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