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evw2k
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College Student Budget Newb Setup

So I am at college and need to start paying for music now, so I figured that I should probably get a sound system worthy of playing my music. I can't spend more than $1000 on everything and don't 'want' to spend more than $500. I plan on buying most things on ebay and on craigslist. I don't have transportation so I can't really cruise the garage sales or test equipment at audio shops. I just need some proper equipment that I won't be sorry with and will work well for the money I have. So far from the research I've done I've come up with this.

I am thinking an old marantz 2270 because it seemed to be good for the price for a receiver. I can get it on ebay for about $150. I feel like the receiver is probably the most important piece of equipment, so I would like some feedback here. Im not set on it, I just need advice. The fact that it has an am/fm radio tuner is not that important to me. I could also do separate amps, im not set on an all in one receiver. Size is not important.

I don't really think I'm going to be listening to too many cd's so it seemed that the playstation 1 setup would be okay for me. I can sacrifice some performance for that awesome price. But, I have a desktop with a pretty decent sound card and I am debating if I really even need this as I plan to use my audio setup for my comp as well.

I also plan to buy a record player, which will probably be my main music source. I really know nothing about record players, and I don't think I need a fancy new one, I could definitely go used. I know from experience they are notorious for breaking, so I was hoping for something that is sturdy but also has good quality play. I was reading that you also need pre amps and cartridges and other stuff I've never heard of.

I have no idea about speakers, except that I do plan on buying some. Again, they can be old and huge, I don't care. I don't need 5.1 surround or anything, I could just do just a couple of high quality speakers.

Obviously I need some help here. Some recommendations would be nice, so long as they aren't above my price range. I will continue to do research as well, but it seems like the more I research the more unsure I become about everything. Essentially I don't want to spend a ton of time looking around for all this equipment and figuring all this stuff out, as I need to focus on my studies (It's kind of too late though ).

I don't really care about headphones as I don't plan on using them often. It just seems like a money pit.

Thanks for your opinions, this will help me out a lot in the long run.

Buddha
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Go here... Audio Engine...and buy to your price point, using your computer to do everything else.

Don't bother with the vinyl until you have a better idea of it.

Now, go study.

(Welcome. You'll love the Audio Engines.)

jackfish
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

The Audio Engine A5s with your computer and lossless audio files should sound pretty good. It sounds like you need to do some serious introspection before you get into vinyl. If you have to preface your discussion with "sturdy" perhaps you should keep with lossless digital audio files and a computer as a music server.

dcstep
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

I've got Audioengine and highly recommend them in that type of setting. Make sure your downloads are lossless. You'll regret it latter if you don't build you library in the best quality that you can.

Dave

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Those are sweet speakers, but in some way I can't justify buying new speakers when I feel I could get used old speakers that are better for less. I like the idea though, mainly because those speakers seem awesome. I can't get lossless audio on my computer as I am not able to download music anymore. I have a substantial library of about 4,800 songs that only takes up 30 GB on my hard drive. I would say the average bit rate is 160 kbps

I don't want to buy digital copies of music because I feel like if I'm going to pay I want something physical, not even a burned disc. I've never been a big fan of CD's for some reason, but vinyl has always enthralled me since I was a little kid. I love the sound, even if it isn't as clear as the lossless digital copies. I understand how they work and such, and what I meant by 'sturdy' is that I don't want to buy a turntable and have the arm, motor, and belt all break the first time I use it (my folks have a turntable and that always seemed to happen because they didn't use it all that often (and no I can't take any of their setup)).

I have seen some nice old turntables on ebay. ex: this one

Elk
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Don't even touch this turntable. Even thirty years ago when it was being made it was junk.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

I have to admit when I read that reply I laughed. I didn't pick it that one because I was considering it, I just picked it at random of the many that are available on ebay. But I honestly did think Technics made quality gear. I really do want to go vinyl though, and I need some help picking out the good stuff. If you hadn't told me it was crap, I may have ended up buying that pos!

bifcake
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

My sister has that same table. It's just sitting there. She hasn't used it in years. I'm sure she'd be more than happy to sell it to you for a few grand. This way, your wallet will be a few grand lighter, but you'll have that "pride of ownership". You just can't put a price on that.

Elk
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

There is a wonderful thread on turntables under $1,000.00 While this is more than you plan to spend I'm sure, any of these would be a great place to start and are available used.

Vinyl is amazing fun and is a great way to get into good musical sound.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Thanks, I had been checking out that awesome sticky and the only ones I could really find for sale on the net were the rega planar tables. The p2 seems to be a bit cheaper than the p1, so I'm thinking of going with that. I found this one on ebay for a good price. It looks like its in awesome condition except for the belt thing as you can see in the videos. So is that a simple fix? It seems like it would be, but I have memories of how expensive it was to fix the belt on my folk's table.

I still need to figure out a good receiver or amp or something though because I can't play music (not loud enough to hear) with just a record player. I guess I should start thinking about speakers too as they are semi-dependent on the receiver/amp?

Oh, and I should probably mention that I listen to rock and electronic mostly. Apparently genre plays a part in what equipment you get. So if a table is really good with orchestra or something, I don't really care.

Elk
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

I am not the most knowledgeable on this topic (by far), but those that are will hopefully show up soon.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Oh don't be so modest you've all been a great help. Most forums/boards would have chewed me out for asking newb questions without having ever posted and been an important member of the site for etc. The people on this website are so nice and helpful. I honestly expected people to just reply with "If you only want to spend $500 dollars you shouldn't be listening to music" or something along those lines. Maybe one day I will know enough to contribute to this great site, but for now you all have to bear with me.

smejias
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup


Quote:
Thanks, I had been checking out that awesome sticky and the only ones I could really find for sale on the net were the rega planar tables. The p2 seems to be a bit cheaper than the p1, so I'm thinking of going with that. I found this one on ebay for a good price.

Hey evw2k.
Rega makes great turntables. If you're interested, see our coverage of the P3. I'll be buying a new P3-24 soon.

The P1 is Rega's entry-level model and most affordable (new); the P2 is a step above it; the P3 again one up; and so on.


Quote:
It looks like its in awesome condition except for the belt thing as you can see in the videos. So is that a simple fix? It seems like it would be, but I have memories of how expensive it was to fix the belt on my folk's table.

The P2 that you found on eBay looks very nice, and the price is excellent. New belts cost around twenty bucks, I think. A dealer should be able to help you there, at not much cost.


Quote:
I still need to figure out a good receiver or amp or something though because I can't play music (not loud enough to hear) with just a record player. I guess I should start thinking about speakers too as they are semi-dependent on the receiver/amp?

You'll need a receiver or integrated amp and a phono preamp. Sometimes the phono preamp is included within the amp/receiver, sometimes it isn't. The phono preamp is very important, however -- without it, you won't be able to hear your music. Some companies you might want to consider are NAD, Music Hall, Cambridge Audio, Rega. There are many others, of course.

For speakers, you'll probably want something small for now, speakers that you can place on a desk, bookshelf, or on stands if you have the space. Companies you might want to consider include PSB, Paradigm, Usher, Totem, Epos. Again, there are many others.

Take a look at our Budget Components.


Quote:
Oh, and I should probably mention that I listen to rock and electronic mostly. Apparently genre plays a part in what equipment you get. So if a table is really good with orchestra or something, I don't really care.

No worries. The Rega is great for rock and electronic music.

Good luck, have fun, and thanks so much for joining the forum.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Wow Steve that was an epic post. Thanks so much for that. I'm sure that will distract me for a little while. I'll continue to post as I have more questions. The only one I have now is this: this rega p2 says it comes with a shure v15 v type cartridge. Is that better than what usually stock with the p2 or is that why this table is slightly cheaper than most others? I'll be back with more questions soon but that's all for now. Thanks again, this is awesome.

Okay, so I've done some research and didn't want to make a new post so I'm just adding to this one. Based on ebay availability I've narrowed the amp selection down to either Cambridge Audio or NAD. When they talk about the Wattage output on the amp that is dependent on OHMS, is the OHMS something in the speaker or the wires? I'm a physics major, but I haven't taken electronic physics yet. Is more OHMS better or worse? I couldn't find most of the products I saw on ebay that were in my price range on stereophile's equipment reviews either. I'll keep you updates as I research more. Also, Stephen, I don't think I can afford the P3 unfortunately. There were a few P3 in my price range on ebay, but they didn't include the tone arm which is sold for an additional $300-400...

smejias
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup


Quote:
Wow Steve that was an epic post. Thanks so much for that. I'm sure that will distract me for a little while. I'll continue to post as I have more questions. The only one I have now is this: this rega p2 says it comes with a shure v15 v type cartridge. Is that better than what usually stock with the p2 or is that why this table is slightly cheaper than most others? I'll be back with more questions soon but that's all for now. Thanks again, this is awesome.

No worries. I'm happy to help. I'm new to vinyl, too, though, so my help will be limited.

I haven't heard the Shure, but, from what I understand, the V15V model is something of a classic, like the Denon DL-103. Time-tested work horses of cartridges, offering great sound for relatively little money.

JIMV
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

If you want to save some money on a nice, if basic phono amp, consider a parasound Zphono and look at factory rebuilds. I bought one from Audio Advisor for about $120 and find it is more than I need. Good value for the money with a warranty.

judicata
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

I'm pretty new to vinyl as well, and here is my 2 cents:

You'll probably want to find an integrated amp with a "phono in" at first, UNLESS you find a really good deal on one without a built-in phono stage. In my experience, the integrated phono pre is good enough to start you off, but you will want to upgrade to an external relatively quickly. You can read about my experience with an internal/external preamp here. Please note - I'm not telling you that you have to spend over $200 on a phono pre. At your budget, my point is to save your money. Getting an integrated amp with a phono stage will usually be cheaper. But if you get a fantastic deal on something without one, remember you can pick up phono preamp for less than $100 (Bellari VP-29, audio technica, etc.) that I suspect will be very happy with.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Well, it looks like the p2 with the shure cartridge shot up in price, so I'm still looking at the one with the messed up belt. In terms of amps it looks like I'm going for a Cambridge 540a-s or 640a v2. All the NAD stuff was too expensive and big feature rich for my needs. Both the Cambridges come without a phono built in so I need to know if there is much of a difference between a $50 vp-29 and a $150 zphono pre phono? Also, does the wattage of the amp have anything to do with what speakers I get? Should they match?

judicata
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

(1) You'd probably be happy with either preamp. A big jump will come in with the VP-129 tube preamp. But, at $250, it's out of your range.

(2) There are some considerations, but the amp will pretty much drive any speaker in your price range.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Okay so here goes. I am set on the planar 2 with the vp29 because it is cheaper and apparently there isn't too much difference. Now I have to figure out the receiver/amp issue.

Marantz 2270 vs. Cambridge 640a V2 vs. NAD 7250PE vs. NAD T955

It's a tough decision, and I don't really see the differences between them except that the NAD stuff is really ugly. Once I get this figured out I will go to speakers. Again, speaker size doesn't matter. I would prefer to get good quality old towers or something big rather than some expensive but sleek desk or shelf ones. First things first though, what do you think on the amps?

bifcake
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Pick speakers first. The speakers will dictate the amp.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Okay, well I found some Linn 5140's but they have Atktiv cards and that seems like a huge pain to figure out. I also found some Polk rti a1's and a3's but it seems like I would be paying for size rather than performance with those. The Polk Monitor series 50 and 60 are also available in my price range. I found a PSB C40 center speaker for dirt cheap and some PSB Image 2B's, a pair of Alpha T's, and a pair of 800's that are all in my price range. It seems like all run at 8 OHMS and I noticed that most amps said they run better at 4 OHMS. Is this going to be an issue?

bifcake
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

The speakers you are auditioning don't seem to need an awful lot of power, so your choice of amplifiers becomes much greater. What's your speaker budget and is that for HT or stereo?

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Those are just the speakers I found based on Stephen's post the other day. I just bought the VP29 for $50 on ebay, and I don't want to spend more than $400 total for tt and amp. I am willing to go over a bit, but I would prefer the speakers to be less than $200. Sorry AlexO, I don't even know what you mean when you say HT or stereo. I thought I was buying music playing speakers

bifcake
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

By HT, I meant Home Theater vs two channel for playing music. Since you want to spend $200 on speakers, I would suggest the used market.

Try the following:

Paradigm 9SE

PSB 600

Energy Pro 22

PSB Century 440i

Monitor Audio Bronze 1

I think either of these are excellent for under $200 as well as Stephen's recommendations.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Okay, so I think I've narrowed it down to either the PSB 400i's or the Paradigm 9SE's. The PSB's are a little cheaper and shipping will be cheaper. I am having trouble finding any specs on either of them, but I read that the Paradigms are in fact 4 OHMS. If there is no major difference I would rather go with the cheaper PSB's. I've read that the Paradigms require a lot of power for them to perform at their best.

bifcake
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Power requirements are not an issue if you have the power. That means that your amplifier choices will be more limited given your budgetary constraints. I wouldn't necessarily worry about it in terms of picking a speaker STRICTLY on the fact that it requires more power or less power. I would make sure that you get a speaker that you like best and then worry about the amps.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Alright in that case I'm going to make a bid on the Paradigm's.

bifcake
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Good choice. Consider raising your amp budget if possible.

jackfish
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

The Athena LS-300 from Audio Advisor for $200/pair should also get consideration.

I'd try to listen to anything I buy before a purchase.

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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

The Paradigms are an excellent call. I built my system around a pair of 7se MkIIIs (family "heirloom") and haven't looked back. They sound excellent, and, imho, are still competitive with modern speakers. They are also relatively light and easy to haul around, which is an important consideration for me, as I am also a college student.

Rega have been selling Planar 2s and 3s like hotcakes at fat camp for about thirty years, so there are lots of used ones floating around, both online and at local dealers.

I have a Planar 3 (with the famous RB300 arm - Look for this in particular, as its value far exceeds that of the table itself. The early Planars did not use the "RB" series of tonearms). I use a Sumiko Black Pearl cartridge, which is a good value at $75. The Rega carts are excellent, and naturally mate well with Rega arms.

For reference, a genuine Rega belt runs $39. I believe some companies manufacture Rega-compatible belts for around $20.

Do you live on campus or off? (I apologize if you covered that, but I just sort of skimmed my way here.) Space constraints may preclude good speaker setup in a dorm room, making large speakers somewhat more of a liability than an investment. Keep in mind that things like turntables and record collections eat room, too. I should know.

I'll echo Buddha and say the Audioengines may be the way to go for now, especially if you are short on space. Now, if you have an apartment (or a huge dorm room...*jealous*), I say go for the full monty and rock some vinyl. I'd never deter someone from going analog, if it's feasible.

Just for fun, here's my system in its entirety:

Paradigm 7se MkIII
Rega Brio3 integrated amplifier
Rega Planar 3/RB300/Sumiko Black Pearl
Oppo DV-980H universal disc player
NAD 4020A AM/FM tuner
iMac G5/iTunes/Airport Express/Audio Alchemy DDE v1.2
Linn K40 speaker cable (7ft pair)

Welcome to the forum! Welcome to the hobby!

one of us...one of us...one of us...

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Hey Erik, I'm pretty jealous of your planar 3, but it's pretty much out of my price range. However, I have a huge dorm room and you should be very jealous of that. I have one roommate in a room that usually houses four. The only problem with the 9se's is that I'm going to have to pick them up from the package center and dolly them back to my room. I don't think it will be hard, but I'm sure it will be very awkward, especially at the package center. I've already made a bid on the P2, hopefully I will win it. I'm not sure if it has the RB250 or not, I don't know how to tell and apparently the seller doesn't either. I'm working on getting my hands on a playstation and I will need to buy some wiring for my computer to hook up to an amp. Also need to pick out an amp soon if I win the tt and speakers.

bobedaone
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

That's definitely an RB series tonearm, probably RB250.

NAD amplifiers are good budget choices for Paradigm, and there are lots of used integrateds floating around out there. The ones made prior to a few years ago also had phono inputs, which would save you the trouble of buying a separate phono preamp (which still might be a good idea later). Some models have a selectable "soft clipping" circuit that - in case your roommate is an idiot and decides to turn your system up REALLY loud while you're gone - may save your tweeters from serious damage when the amp runs out of clean power.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

I've actually already purchased a phono pre, a bellari vp-29. I was outbid on the rega p2, it's up to almost $300 now, more than I can spend. I'll continue looking at the amps, but I need to find a TT.

What about an old SL-1200 MKII? Or an old Thorens? I've seen the TD 166 MKII, 160, 125 and 124 on ebay go for sub $200. They all seem pretty good for the price.

bobedaone
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

I wouldn't know about the SL-1200, but some guys swear by it. The Rega/belt drive versus Technics/direct drive battle has been waged for a good part of vinyl history, and likely will never be resolved. In case you're unfamiliar, a belt drive turntable's motor drives the subplatter with a belt, and is thus physically isolated from the platter, which introduces less resonance into the cartridge. The drawback is that it's more difficult to design a belt drive turntable that will consistently spin precisely at 33.3333 rpm (or 45, or 78). A direct drive turntable's platter is driven directly by the motor, which is underneath and attached. This has the potential to introduce more vibration, but tends to be very speed-stable.

I'd say that unless you intend to listen to a lot of piano or orchestral music (the long, sustained notes of which would tend to highlight speed instability through pitch variation), go for a belt drive.

I have nothing against the Technics per se, but am a Rega guy at heart.

At any rate, with some modifications, you could always throw an RB300 on it later.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Alright, so I was outbid on the Paradigms. I fell in love with them when I thought I was going to win them, so now I've been scouring the internet trying to find another pair. I also lost the rega p2, but I bid on a Thorens TD 166 MKII. The buyer says it needs a new belt, and the cartridge is a Signet 7LCa. I'll keep you all updated as I bid and get outbid...

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Alright so I won the Thorens TD 166 MK II for $230. The Rega P2 went for $330. Now I need to figure our some speakers and a receiver.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

My Thorens TT came today. I'm very excited. It took me a pretty long time to figure out how to put it together, especially the anti skid weight. The only real beef I have with it is it definitely needs a new belt (it takes like 5 secs to get up to speed) and the arm doesn't seem to be adjusted right. It doesn't swing over to the record by itself, it only raises and lowers, which isn't that big of a deal. The problem is the counterweight setup. I set it to the heaviest (like a teeter totter) it can go without pointing up and returning to rest off the platter. However, even though this should be the highest it can be, it is still lower than the platter even when the arm is raised. I think this is because the little thing that raises and lowers the arm doesn't raise all the way.

I will figure it out. But for now, I have plugged it into the line in in my computer and am just playing out of comp speakers. I went to a local record store and bought my first record, Zappa's Over-Nite Sensation. This was the record that really made me fall in love with Zappa's work about a year or two ago. It was the only record at the shop that I really felt justified in buying. It was $15, the sleeve isn't in great shape but the vinyl is pretty damn nice. Only a few scratches but I played through the entire album without any skips or repeats. Another thing, I'm pretty sure it's a 33, but I could not hear the difference between the 33 and 45 speeds on the table. They both seem to sound fine to me. How do you tell what speed the record is supposed to be played at? I couldn't even tell by comparing it to my digital copy of the same record.

judicata
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Belt drive turntables take a few seconds to get up to speed. It may need a new belt, but not based on the startup speed. You can also give the platter a little spin while right before starting it up to give it a boost.

It also sounds like you may need to raise the arm (you may need shims - I'm not familiar with that TT). Also, I'm not sure how you are selecting the tracking force. If you don't have a gauge, pick up a $10-$15 Shure tracking force gauge.

Finally, it sounds like the TT's 45rpm speed doesn't work. You would be able to tell a difference. And as a general rule, if something doesn't say 45rpm, it probably isn't.

evw2k
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

The counterweight has a tracking force adjuster thing on it. I have it set to 2 grams. It is very possible that the 45 setting doesn't work. To switch between 45 and 33 it raises a little hook into the belt, pushing the belt upward slightly. For right now it seems to work okay, not sure when I'm going to be playing 45's. I will look into "shims", but I am assuming you just mean putting something on the rest to make it higher up. I'm not familiar with shims. Do all 45's have that massive hole in the middle of them?

Edit: I solved the problem when I read over my post and discovered my own stupidity. The thing doesn't need to be raised. I was playing a 33 with the 45 adapter on the table, which makes the record sit up really high. With this removed, the arm floats about .5 cm above the vinyl before I lower it. Problem solved.

judicata
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Re: College Student Budget Newb Setup

Not all 45s have a large center hole (none of mine do, actually). But you won't be playing a record at the wrong speed (33/45) and not realize it. The difference is not subtle.

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