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Buddha
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Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dollars.

Hola,

As long as we have this cool Entry Level Forum, I thought I'd try to make a thread for a commonly asked question: Which "budget turntable?"

Since Stereophile can't review EVERY entry at this price point, I thought I'd start things out with a list of turntable at about that price point that I've heard, and maybe other people can add to it as a resource for future "new shoppers!"

I'll try to stick to tables with arms included for now...

Clearaudio: New Emotion and Satisfy arm. Right off the bat, breaking the bank at 1,200 dollars, but it is such a "polite" and "refined" table that I had to toss it in. I think it sounds better than its price.
Very quiet, too.

Music Hall MMF 2.1 or 2.1LE. I admit a slight bias against the name, MMF stands for "make money fast," or so the story goes. However, this budget darling has a lively sound that would be at home with rock or high energy jazz. The cartridge is included, too. It seems to do most things right in terms of macrodynamics, but may be a little "zippy" for some.

Music Hall MMF 5.1SE. Price includes a PF good cartridge. This is a nice table for the moneys. If I had to sum it up, I'd call it reminiscent of the early Linn turntables. It's pretty sweet.

PRO-JECT RM6.1SB. I can't believe Project can make money with this baby. I've only heard this table at shows, and not run by Project - they usually have static displays. In fact, I may have heard a model designation before this one, or even a different model that looks similar, so take this with a grain of salt, but if you are shopping, you owe it to yourself to see/hear this creature. It even includes an outboard speed control! I've heard their arm on other platters, and I seem prone to like slightly higher mass arms - theirs gives good cartridge control. Seriously, a major player at the kilo-dollar point.

PRO-JECT XPERIENCE. Another amazingly priced toy! They get alot of performance per dollar with their line. I haven't been able to directly compare these two Project tables, but these two babies would make for a great audition shoot out to see what you hear and prefer!

PRO-JECT XPRESSION II. A great bargain, including a cartridge that is exceedingly well mated to its arm. I heard that the arm was designed with the cartridge in mind. Amazingly good for the moneys. Maybe a little bass shy compared to the upper models, but surprisingly good at just getting out of the way so the party can get on!

REGA - P1 I seem to like this one better than the Music Hall, but I think it's the same table! Perhaps it was more well matched with cartridge and phono-pre. This for the price is a no brainer.

REGA - P2. This baby has been around forever, but the has a new version this year...which I haven't heard yet...but, the original and the matching arm are audio standards. If you are shopping, you have to listen to this yourself and see just how much that little moneys can accomplish.

Rega P-5. Also over budget at 1300 dollars or so, but if you're gonna go for a thou, go for 1,300 and hear this KILLER arm. It just owns cartridges. A very refined and bullet proof system. Kudos to them for putting this set up together.

SOTA Comet, with or without arm. Lots of time spent listening to this baby and it is Q-U-I-E-T!!! Rock solid speed control...very good with piano, which I think is the hardest instrument for turntables to get right. Good arm, good resistance to vibration. I can't say enough nice things about this table at this price point.

SOTA Moonbeam. I likey, but I likey the Comet more for only 300 more dollars. You would eventually want to move up from the Moonbeam, but maybe not from the Comet!

I have not heard the new Thorens line enough to comment. Same with the new Dual turntables.

OK, people are going to poo over the next ones, but I'm feeling confessional:

Denon DP-500M, at 700 bucks. The bad news is that there are several things this table does not do. The good news is that there several tings this table does not do. It is almost maintenance free, and you're not paying for any R&D at this point. Better build quality that the price would indicate. I have a buddy who uses this table with a tubed front end and amps feeding a pair of Vendersteens and it is sweet! He uses it with a Shure V-15MR and plays it with the brush in the down position, and swears by the table and the needle. Surprisingly good at piano and massed orchestral passages, and it is nearly immune to outside influence. I

Elk
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Nice job! Clearly a LOT of work.

Perhaps this should be a sticky.

wkhanna
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Make it two votes for a 'sticky'!
Nice work, Buddha!

Hey Stephen, slap another star on this guy!

smejias
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol


Quote:
Perhaps this should be a sticky.

I agree.

Buddha
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Yikes!

If it's gonna be a sticky, can I have permission to edit for spelling. Otherwise, I will be forever mortified if my poor spelling on the post is "immortalized" in its current state!

lionelag
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Nice post.

Anyone heard the new version of the Rega P3 with the improved motor and tonearm? The older, 2000 version (the brightly colored one) was a really nice table. Unfortunately, with the British Pound kicking the US Dollar's butt in a way that it hasn't since Edward Heath was PM, I imagine that it must be at least $800 at this point, if not higher.

dbowker
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Yes- Great job Buddha. We should have another thread= or an addition to this one about great under $500 cartridges and phono pre-amps too. I haven't heard enough (lately anyway) to qualify to do this, but I figure it's worth putting out there.

kitsfi
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

actually the Music Hall turntables are manufactured by the Pro-ject company. A Scotsman dealing with a Sassanach company??!! Och, get away!
Systemdeks RULE! Get one,a Rega RB 250/300 & a Denon DL110/160 and buy some records! If you need a phono preamp get an ART DJ II; I found myself preferring it to the (now) legendary Bellari VP129: @ 12% the price of the latter...

bobedaone
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

I've auditioned the P3-24, and it is a really special 'table. It sells for $845, or $1045 with Elys2 cartridge factory-fitted. It's definitely worth hearing! What with being a college student and all, I might have to stick with my plan to get a P2, but the P3-24 is in a different league.

bobedaone
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Man, Buddha, this is a real gem of a post! I third (fourth?) the sticky vote and second the movement to give you an extra star.

I am curious, though, why you've left out the P3. Do you feel that the P2 is just so good that the P3 is superfluous, or that the P5 is good enough that the upgrade is a no-brainer? Rega's new P3 strikes me as a stripped-down P5 ready to upset the natural order of things in the Rega line, perhaps the entire segment. It certainly bests the P2, although the price leap may be difficult for me to justify.

Thanks for this keeper!

smejias
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol


Quote:
Hey Stephen, slap another star on this guy!

I don't control the star rankings, guys.

doody
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Great post Buddah, but how about old vintage Thorens Turntables the likes of TD124, 125, 160 they go for less than a thousand Dollar and how do they compare to the modern turtables rega's amd the rest??

Fisherman
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Thanks for the post. Just what I was looking for.

I am in market for a turntable due to a friend giving his record collection to me. I also found some 8 track tapes among the records.

I will be using with the following equipment.
Krell 400xi with custom house interconnect
Paradigm studio 100 V3 biwired.
I use a Cambridge Audio 840c for CD playback.

wkhanna
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol


Quote:

Krell 400xi ........ Cambridge Audio 840c for CD playback.

V nice combo, Fisherman!

Buddha
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol


Quote:
Great post Buddah, but how about old vintage Thorens Turntables the likes of TD124, 125, 160 they go for less than a thousand Dollar and how do they compare to the modern turtables rega's amd the rest??

Howdy, Doody!

Sorry, had to do it. I'm of that generation. But I promise I'll only do it this once.

Anyway, let's start a seperate thread on used tables!

I'll have more time tonight or over the weekend. I think it's a killer topic!

Windzilla
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

MMM very nice buddah,

I would like to second the call for a used table thread, I could have used it when i made my purchase, and still could.

cheers

absolutepitch
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Thanks Buddha. Although I'm not looking at this time, I may be if the table quits. I've copied it and printed it for reference offline.

deckeda
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

I agree with this assessment: "You would eventually want to move up from the Moonbeam, but maybe not from the Comet!"

I bought a Moonbeam shortly after is was introduced in the early '90s. To me, it wasn't much more special than my trusty Dual 506 I was attempting to upgrade from. A week later I took it back and got a Comet. I've been happy ever since.

The Comet has a very solid presence about it and simple, quality construction. Mine has the stock Audioquest-sourced tonearm. I read a Positive Feedback review (of the Series III?) which complained the RCAs weren't detachable --- mine are. The bottom of the Audioquest accepts a DIN-type of connector.

I paid about $500 for mine (I didn't opt for the glossy finish, about another $100 at the time.) I see from SOTA's site the price has slightly more than doubled since, but I don't know how it would compare against today's fresher designs of about the same cost.

arterialturns
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Forgive me, mighty audiophiles, for defiling your realm (or is it de-philing?) with my low-browed ways. I'm looking at getting a new turntable that is preferably no more than $400 (GASP!!), in order to listen to records as well as transfer them to computer file/disc/etc. Have read conflicting info re: belt drive or direct, have looked at Ion, Audio Technica, Technics, Rega. Suggestions? I find that the more research I do, the less I am at becoming decisive. Please help!

bobedaone
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

I say get a Rega P1! It might be $395, but it's far from low-brow.

If you can swing it, you might consider replacing the stock Ortofon OM-5E cartridge with something like a Rega Bias. The cartridge is the weakest link on the P1.

magma90210
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

i bought a rega p1 recently, about how much do you think i would want to spend on a replacement/upgrade cartridge? (obv. if i'm spending on something new i'd want to see a noticeable difference)

also looking into getting a glass platter, there are dealers on the internet that sell the glass platters from rega P2s for about $70, do you think that's a good move?

norjc
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Buddha, how about adding the Music Hall MMF-7 turntable to your list? You can find it on Ebay for well under $1000 and get it at some dealers for $999 or so. It's a great table for the money, less noisy than the MMF-5 because its motor is decoupled from the plinth and it has the Pro-Ject 9 arm which is made from a solid piece of aluminum. The newer 7.1 model has a carbon fiber tone arm. I would recommend getting it without the Goldring cartridge and buy a Bluenote Boboli MkII high output MC cartridge. This combination is simply incredible and is perfect for the person who doesn't want to constantly tweak his/her turntable.

linden518
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

This is a bit over the budget, but I thought it might be enticing for some people who can stretch the budget a bit. I certainly looked at it... Marantz TT-15. It's like $1500, but if you think about it, the tables's actually like $700 b/c it comes with the fantastic Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood MM cartridge, which costs $800! The table's made by Clearaudio, too, I think. And really pretty, too. From all accounts, I hear it's a very musical player.

magma90210
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

for anyone out there whose thinking about a rega p1, i've had mine for a while now and i ended up replacing the original cartridge with a Denon DL-160 ($180) a Herbie's Way Awesome Record Mat II ($50) and a Rega glass platter ($69)...I like the rega straight off but with these improvements (especially the Denon cartridge) it's really improved MARKEDLY...I think it's a table that really takes upgrades well and is now performing well out of it's "weight class" so to speak...

wkhanna
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

That is one the neat features that made me consider the P1. You can get an affordable TT, and there a lots of affordable upgrades you can get that really make discernable improvements. If you are on a budget, it

BillB
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

That's (Marantz TT-15) an appealing turntable. Like a number of others, it doesn't come supplied with a dust cover - and I consider that a necessity. So consider the extra expense when deciding on a TT that doesn't come w/ a cover.

This site (http://www.musicdirect.com/product/50938) has a dustcover, not hinged, just a box to place over the Marantz, for $249, ouch!

magma90210
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol


Quote:
That is one the neat features that made me consider the P1. You can get an affordable TT, and there a lots of affordable upgrades you can get that really make discernable improvements. If you are on a budget, it
linden518
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol


Quote:
This site (http://www.musicdirect.com/product/50938) has a dustcover, not hinged, just a box to place over the Marantz, for $249, ouch!


Indeed! What a deal-breaker!

dbowker
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

There is a guy on audiogon who makes custom dust covers (extremely high quality) for much less than that quote from Music Direct at around $155 including shipping. You can contact him directly at tpinorman@ameritech.net and his name is Norman. His dust cover for my well-Tempered is easily as good as any VPI cover I've seen.

commsysman
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

I have the Music Halll MMF-7 and I recommend it highly, but the Goldring Cartridge is not very good. I got it with the Goldring and did not like it, and then after less than 10 hours one channel of the cartridge completely quit, so I worked out a deal where I could return it and get credit for the $200 on a different cartridge, the Benz Ace at $500. This is an excellent cartridge!
So, anyway, the turntable cost me $1000 and the cartridge cost me $500. I am using this with the AR PH-5 phono preamp and LS-26 line stage preamp, and the sound is at least as good as my $6000 AYRE SACD player. When I can get a really good LP to put on, it's magic!
Stereophile had this rated very highly in Recommended Components about 5 years ago, but eventually dropped it from the listings as time passed. I think its hard to beat for the money.

mrlowry
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

I too love the Benz Micro ACE. I heard it on a VPI Scout and the surface noise was nearly non-existent. You've got to love Swiss precision.

AceMineral
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

I have a question about amplifying a turntable. I have an old turnatable and receiver with a built in phono amplifier. The receiver I use everyday does not. If I were to run some cables from the old receiver's "tape out" jacks into my everyday receiver(VCR2), would I get a sufficient signal into my receiver? Thank you.

mrlowry
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

That would work, but then you've got a big old receiver sitting around. Not to mention that most receiver phono states are crap. There are lots of affordable phono stages that would take up a lot less space and sound quite a bit better too. Think Project, NAD, bellari, etc. I'm sure that others more into turntables could expound.

AceMineral
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Thank you, MrLowry.

I was wondering if it would physically work, and was unconcerned about sound quality. This morning I fired up the turntable and receiver to see if the turntable would actually work. For the most part it did. It was the first time I had played a record in at least fifteen years.

I was motivated in part by reading in Stereophile about the virtues of lps many times. The recording of Scheradze I listened to first was OK, but hardly a destroyer of what I have heard through the XM service. I then tried a recording of Fountains/Pines of Rome. However it was so full of dust and dirt it was like trying to listen through a bowl of Rice Krispies.

The turntable tryout was a bit unfair because the needle hasn't been replaced and is at least twenty years old. As you mentioned the phono amplifier is probably of a low quality. The records unclean. The turntable itself is a RadioShack. Still I am intrigued enough to consider getting a new cartridge and record brush.

JIMV
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

What about Thorens?? Having just bought one and awaiting delivery, I would be interested in an opinion on the brand.

Faermark
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Thorens, old and good brand think you should like it.

floydianpsyche
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Hello Folks, I am planning to get a turntable (~$1000),and thinking of one of these:

MMF 5.1 (with good cartridge)
Rega P3-24 W Elys Cartridge
SOTA Comet
Project Xpression III
Project Xperience

1) How can I choose the one I will like from these.
2)I wish I could hear to these at home in my system. But the dealers around my area do not have stock of all the TTs I am looking into. And even if they have the ones like Rega P3-24 or MMF 5.1, I dont think they will loan it so that I can listen and make a comparison at home.
3)How can I make a genuine comparison if I listen to the TTs in stock (I am ready to overlook the ones not in stock) at different dealerships with different components and different rooms.
4)Should I match my TT to my Amp and speakers I have now?
5) For these TTS what would be a good phono stage? I have similar questions like above for the Phono stage too.

I would really appreciate if you guys could give me an idea of how to approach this and help me choose a TT and phono stage.

-Pradeep

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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol


Quote:
What about Thorens?? Having just bought one and awaiting delivery, I would be interested in an opinion on the brand.

The newer ones, from what I have read, are just pieced together from other reputable manufacturers. I almost bought one until I read a thread regarding this. I decided on another company (that's a whole 'nuther story) The new ones are not the same quality (only from what I have heard) as the Thorens from old. Just my two cents. I saw an IMMACULATE TD-166 (MK II?) I think on Epray last week and it was like 250.00. That was a deal. Tt was indeed a beauty. Good luck with your choice and enjoy it most of all.

JIMV
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

I bought a TD170 and am happy with it. It is easy to use and plays better than my cartridge or used records. In addition, I am running it through a mass market receiver by way of a parasound phono amp and and musical fidelity tubed buffer and the combo sounds pretty good. What I didn't want to do was get a very tweaky system that required constant care to work. I don't want to spend more time preparing and maintaining the system than I do listening to the music.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

You hit this one right on the head. I do wish JA would send a Project Expression with a Blackbird on it to AD for a spin.

Could we have a true competitor to the P3-24? I might bet so.

dchisholm
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Well, I am a relative newbie. I have found this thread (and its "sticky" status) to be most useful. Through much looking, reading, and discussing, I settled in on a decision. Thursday, I received my brand-new Pro-Ject 2 Xperience ($899 on "closeout" from a reputable on-line dealer, including a Sumiko Pearl pre-mounted).

The verdict? It is beautiful, seems well designed and built, and is VERY smooth and quiet. The "floating" motor is ingenious. The tone-arm and cartridge passed all of the tracking "tests" of my Hi-Fi News Test Record with flying colors. Overall is

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

How tight is the TT belt? Often if a new belt has been added that is too small in length, the tightness will stress the motor. The belt needs to be little more than clean and snug for proper tension. It is an easy measurement and depending upon the elasticity of the belt, that can determine the length required.

On the refurbished Dual 502 I did a few months back I finally found a dealer who sent me 4 belts of various length to try. His stock was very tight (unelastic) and so I took the belt that was about 1/2" short of what I needed and it worked perfectly. The first (recommended) ones were so tight the motor speed was off as it was laboring to overcome the belt tightness. It had to have been stressing the platter shaft as well.

I would also ask the dealer to check the lubrication of the bearing well and subplatter shaft and make sure they have the proper amount of lubricant. Better safe than sorry.

dchisholm
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Well, I'll be darned ... it was the belt.

I talked to the dealer and I agreed to get a Speed Box II and they agreed to send a new belt (gratis) and I'd figure out which was the culprit. As it turned out, the new belt seems to "feel" different and clearly has a greater friction connection to the pulley. Any apparent slippage is gone and the speed is stable now with the original transformer and ROCK SOLID with the Speed Box II.

However, there is significantly greater vibration of the motor when using the SB2 and some of that vibration is transferred to the tone-arm and can be heard clearly, especially when the needle touches the record. At first I thought a felt (or cork?) platter mat might help isolate the hum a bit and make it less obvious. However, I can actually feel the vibration if I grasp the tonearm tightly, so I bet a lot more hum vibration is getting in through there than through the platter.

Thoughts? I am tempted to just keep the SB2 and try to isolate the vibration/hum issue, which I can do so with much more patience now that the pitch stability problem is fixed.

This seems like an awful lot of time and effort to tweak this thing to get the sound perfect. For $1058 so far, PLUS a Grado Gold cartridge, I would have hoped the operation was a little more "turn-key" .....

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

You still should not have a vibration with a table at this price point. Something is wrong and it may be that a new motor may be in order.

I do not recall this issue with the many Music Halls I have had pass my way over the years. Since they are from the same factory I would research this motor issue more. I know it is no fun.

judicata
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Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

Wait - you get vibration when using the Speed Box, but NOT the stock motor, and your regular motor is working fine?

Easy call - scrap the SB2.

As they say - if it ain't broke...

commsysman
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Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

I think you can get the MMF-7 for $995 or something like that WITHOUT the crummy Goldring cartridge that is usually sold with it. It is much better than the 5.1 because the motor is outboard and has no mechanical connection to the plinth. I have it and highly recommend it!

deckeda
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Last seen: 12 hours 45 min ago
Joined: Feb 1 2006 - 7:41pm
Re: Since this comes up alot. Turntables under or near 1,000 dol

I haven't kept up with any of this much but have noticed that two turntables (maybe more? )

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