You are here

Log in or register to post comments
ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
How bad is my turntable?

Hey All,
I'm new to the Stereophile crowd, but I think I've found something new to be obsessed with! My girlfriend recently bought me a turntable as a gift. After playing around with this for about 6 months (uh-oh), I'm pretty certain that I should be getting significantly better sound than I am; especially considering I have a good amount of brand new vinyl.

First, I'm planning on updating my integrated amp and speakers pretty significantly, so those items aside, should I really consider dropping a good amount of cash on a turntable? Should I just update my cartridge and that will prove sufficient?

I'm really going to have a hard time justifying a $600 turntable person, both to myself and my girlfriend.

Any comments/suggestions/berating welcome.

Thanks!
Alex

ncdrawl
ncdrawl's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: Oct 18 2008 - 9:18am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

what is your table?

Quote:
Hey All,
I'm new to the Stereophile crowd, but I think I've found something new to be obsessed with! My girlfriend recently bought me a turntable as a gift. After playing around with this for about 6 months (uh-oh), I'm pretty certain that I should be getting significantly better sound than I am; especially considering I have a good amount of brand new vinyl.

First, I'm planning on updating my integrated amp and speakers pretty significantly, so those items aside, should I really consider dropping a good amount of cash on a turntable? Should I just update my cartridge and that will prove sufficient?

I'm really going to have a hard time justifying a $600 turntable person, both to myself and my girlfriend.

Any comments/suggestions/berating welcome.

Thanks!
Alex

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 10 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Hi, welcome!

Before we judge your table, tell us what it is!

mrlowry
mrlowry's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: May 30 2006 - 1:37pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

What kind of turntable is it? With all due respect before thinking about dropping MORE money on a different 'table. Make sure that the one that the one you have is set up properly. I only say that because it sounds like you are in doubt that that is the case. Michael Fremer's "21st Century Vinyl" is a great way to learn how to set up a turntable if you are interested. If not I'd HIGHLY recommend having someone with lots of experience do it for you. Tiny fractions of an inch or portions of a gram can make all of the difference in the world.

judicata
judicata's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jun 26 2008 - 11:55am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Don't be shy. If it really is a crappy turntable, we can probably recommend one under $500 that'll be better. See the thread for Turntables under $1,000 (they aren't all $999). Among the most popular would probably be the Rega P1 with the stock cart. At under $400 (last I checked), it is a heck of a deal. But, it depends on what you have and how you have it set up.

I should add that the first concern is that you're not damaging your vinyl. If it is a new turntable, or not broken, and the cartridge is in good shape, it is highly unlikely that you're causing any damage. But, if anything is damaged (especially the stylus), quit playing records.

Lamont Sanford
Lamont Sanford's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 31 2006 - 8:32pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Just get a good heavy one from the seventies and rebuild it. Just about any Japanese one will do. If you got an independent musical instrument store front in town that does or used to repair equipment ask them what they have collecting dust in the back. Or just look on Ebay. $500...pffft!

He probably has a badged version of the AT PL-50. BTW, it isn't a bad turntable with a good needle put on it. It's just all plastic and weighs next to nothing.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
BTW, it isn't a bad turntable with a good needle put on it. It's just all plastic and weighs next to nothing.

Then that's a bad turntable, needle or not. Turntables should weigh more than the LP's you play on them.

ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Geez, I can't believe I forgot to mention the model.

It's an Audio-Technica AT-PL120 Turntable...and it weighs significantly more than the vinyl

Let me know what you think!
Thanks

JSBach
JSBach's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 28 2008 - 1:25am
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
Geez, I can't believe I forgot to mention the model.
It's an Audio-Technica AT-PL120 Turntable...and it weighs significantly more than the vinyl

That's an excellent place to start ucmeicu49. GIve it a solid, non-vibrating self to sit on, replace the headshell with a carbon fibre one from Audioadvisor http://www.audioadvisor.com/FAQ.asp and you're on your way to vinyl heaven. However, there's a fly in the ointment. Well, potentially two flies. One is the cartridge you're using, the condition it's in and how it's mounted. Two is the state your LP's are in. Hate to tell you this but to get the best out of vinyl and have it sound anything like as good as CD can be, you need a vacuum LP cleaning machine. They aren't cheap I"m afraid but in my opinion are one of the best investment you can make. You can also earn a little on the side by charging all your LP loving friends to clean their LP'.s.
Please tell us what cartridge is on your turntable and who set it up. Did they know what they were doing? Few people do these days when it comes to installing cartridges and sadly that includes many audio dealers.
Another aspect of vinyl playback you may want to think about is the quality of your phono-pre-amplification and whether or not its' set-up correctly for the particular cartridge you're using.

jackfish
jackfish's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Dec 19 2005 - 2:42pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
Audio-Technica AT-PL120


I believe it is hopeless.

Spend $400 for a Rega P1 improved by LPGear. And sell the AT-PL120 at a garage sale.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
I'm pretty certain that I should be getting significantly better sound than I am


Quote:
http://www.audioreview.com/cat/analog-sources/turntables/audio-technica/...

I would say the AT table could be improved upon but naturally only at a price. Despite your conclusion your table is "bad" the review I linked to here seems to suggest the table should have adequate sound quality for most listeners. The included cartridge and phono pre amp might possibly be areas where immediate improvement could occur. DJ cartridges tend not to have the "best" sound and the included phono pre amp is a mystery. Into what input on what amplifier do you have the turntable plugged into? What speakers are you using? Is there a reason you're planning to upgrade your amp and speakers "pretty significantly" or is this just "the plan" for now?

Can you describe the sound you are hearing? The reviewer here suggests the table has a "warm, rich" sound with "punchy bass". Additionally, the direct drive system should provide quite good speed accuracy and stability when compared to a similarly priced belt drive system. Good speed stability is certainly one of the hallmarks of high end turntable sound. Are these all qualities you are hearing? If not just what are you hearing and what would you care to improve upon? Just saying you feel the sound could be "significantly better" leaves quite a bit of room for interpretation on our part and without some sort of guide to what you believe you should be hearing we are somewhat just shooting in the air with our suggestions. There would appear to be a significant number of "significant's" you are using to describe your system and your goals. Possibly you could provide more clues into the situation as you hear it so we might supply a more informed answer to your problem(s).

Have you been reading reviews of tables that led you to feel you must spend $600 to make an improvement? If so, what have you read that appeals to you? Do you feel you have a table that is unappreciated by other music lovers? Is a Rega or a Project calling to you? Is the idea of owning a carbon fiber tonearm keeping you awake at night? Give us more information on what you hear - compared to live music and compared to your other sources such as CD or tuner not some pie in the sky ideal you've read about - and possibly we can discover where the system is failing and not just the table. Also, what type of music have you purchased as new vinyl? Do you have another copy of the album on CD for comparison?

Lamont Sanford
Lamont Sanford's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 31 2006 - 8:32pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:

Quote:
BTW, it isn't a bad turntable with a good needle put on it. It's just all plastic and weighs next to nothing.

Then that's a bad turntable, needle or not. Turntables should weigh more than the LP's you play on them.

Fill it full of sand. It's cheap.

ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Thanks to everyone who has commented.

My current setup is years old...and the age is not helping the sound, given that the components were not very good to begin with. I have an integrated amplifier by Technics, I forget the model, but when I got it at age 15, it was cool!

My speakers are Cerwin Vega Model CLS-6. Also, at age 15.

So, I think you'll see the reason that I'm upgrading. I'm still going to go with the integrated amp -> speaker setup, but just much nicer components. I know that after this upgrade I'll notice a significant improvement in audio quality in general, but the point of my original post (which I probably didn't get across) was what can I do to my current turntable to ensure that my new components are not being too bogged down by a shoddy turntable.

I've got a couple of suggestions to just get a new turntable, but I'm not yet convinced. I'm thinking that a cartridge upgrade would prove suffice for my personal needs, are there any brands/models that you can recommend for my specific turntable?

Thank you all so much!

Alex

mrlowry
mrlowry's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: May 30 2006 - 1:37pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

That turntable looks very, very similar to a Technics SL1200 and is probably made in the same factory (http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/michael/blog/0604/index.html#060422.) From my experience the 1200 can only be taken so far by changing the cartridge. I once replaced the $35 Shure M92E with a $90 Sumiko Pearl for a customer with nearly no change in sound quality. On other turntables the performance gap between them is huge. For example putting a $300 cartridge on the Audio Technica would most likely lead to less impressive sound than buying a $300 turntable from Project, Music Hall, Rega, or Goldring. Changing the cartridge might be a waste of money because the turntable has so many issues that the difference won't be very audible. I can put the best racing tires on my Hyundai but it will never be a Porsche, or even a cheap BMW for that matter.

Lamont Sanford
Lamont Sanford's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 31 2006 - 8:32pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Yeah, an AT cartridge will work on your AT turntable. BTW, I didn't recommend buying a new turntable. I recommended buying an old one from the seventies and rebuild it if necessary. But now that I know what you have the one you got is just fine with a cartridge upgrade. Most of these guys spend more money on their stereos than they do on their families. Also, the cartridge that came with the turntable is a good one. Next step up would be to just replace the needle/stylus.

http://www.needledoctor.com/Audio-Technica-ATP-N2-Stylus?sc=2&category=4

ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:

Next step up would be to just replace the needle/stylus.

http://www.needledoctor.com/Audio-Technica-ATP-N2-Stylus?sc=2&category=4

Is that the same needle that comes stock?

judicata
judicata's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jun 26 2008 - 11:55am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

3-5 gram tracking force? Really? (from the link)

By the way, if the cartridge is that old (or a few years old), I'd hesitate to play much more vinyl until you replace it (or just the stylus). It may sound bad because the stylus is worn, and that isn't good.

An easy way to settle this is to audition a new cartridge and see if it sounds better. If you like it, there is no need to upgrade to a new TT. If it still isn't good enough, then a new TT it is. Alternatively, if you can't find one to try out, you can buy a decent cart around $50-$100 and if you still don't like the sound, you can get a new TT and just use the new cart. If you like the sound, then you still saved a bunch by not buying a new TT. Most new TTs (at least the ones people here tend to recommend) don't come with a new cart unless you pay extra, so you're not out much (if any) money if you decide to get a new table.

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 10 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Is it this one?

Or is it this one?

If it is the top one, throw it away.

If it is the bottom one, then, just for fun, go here and look around.

The bottom one is built by Technics, and you can have some thrills looking up and performing mods with it.

However, watch the budget, and don't nickle and dime yourself into a 700 dollar investment in a 120 dollar product.

Again, if it's the top one, take it outside and place it on the ground in front of an oncoming bulldozer.

ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

It is in fact the bottom one. I'll check out that link! Thanks!

As far as the age of the cartridge, it is less than a year old, as I got the turntable (new) pretty recently.

Lamont Sanford
Lamont Sanford's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 31 2006 - 8:32pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
It is in fact the bottom one. I'll check out that link! Thanks!

As far as the age of the cartridge, it is less than a year old, as I got the turntable (new) pretty recently.

It's the bottom one Buddha. The top one is the PL-50 I posted about earlier. The link to the needle is a stock replacement.

As an aside, I'm the only one here that has that top one on a shelf somewhere badged as TEAC. And I can tell you it doesn't sound that bad. But it is too light and not designed for playing a lot of albums. But I wouldn't kick it out of bed for eating crackers if that is all I got.

Your PL-120 is just fine. The very lest replace the stylus. I like Buddha's idea of upgrading the cartridge though I'm not so sure the cartridge you have is a poor one.

I don't think you need anymore advice on your turntable. Lets look at your plans for the rest of the system and let these guys chime in. They love spending money. But they know their shit.

judicata
judicata's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jun 26 2008 - 11:55am
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
They love spending money.

Although I X2 your entire post, this the gem - never have truer words been spoken. Helping other people spend their money comes in second - you get to do it vicariously .

Lamont Sanford
Lamont Sanford's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 31 2006 - 8:32pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:

Quote:
They love spending money.

Although I X2 your entire post, this the gem - never have truer words been spoken. Helping other people spend their money comes in second - you get to do it vicariously .

I just love machines and how they work. I would throw my entire patched up system duck taped together in the junk yard for a new McIntosh system. I would be really pissed if it didn't sound better than what I currently have hanging by a string.

JSBach
JSBach's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 28 2008 - 1:25am
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
That turntable looks very, very similar to a Technics SL1200 and is probably made in the same factory (http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/michael/blog/0604/index.html#060422.) From my experience the 1200 can only be taken so far by changing the cartridge. I once replaced the $35 Shure M92E with a $90 Sumiko Pearl for a customer with nearly no change in sound quality. On other turntables the performance gap between them is huge. For example putting a $300 cartridge on the Audio Technica would most likely lead to less impressive sound than buying a $300 turntable from Project, Music Hall, Rega, or Goldring. Changing the cartridge might be a waste of money because the turntable has so many issues that the difference won't be very audible. I can put the best racing tires on my Hyundai but it will never be a Porsche, or even a cheap BMW for that matter.

What are these 'issues'? As to replacing the cartridge with a better one and it being a waste of money , nonsense! Replace the headshell with a carbon fibre one from Audioadvisor and the difference with be more than subtle. As to some of the recommendations made here for such devices as the cheaper Rega TT's that's also nonsense unless the buyer is tone deaf.

ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

I suspected that I'd eventually get asked about the 'new' system plans...

For a receiver I'm considering the following:
- NAD c372
- Onkyo a-9555
- Outlaw Audio's RR2150

I'm comfortable in that price range...the NAD being the most expensive at somewhere around $600-$800. I'm not really willing to go much higher, as the NAD is already pushing it and I'm a musician who has other equipment needs to consider!

I'm still trying to narrow down a list of reasonably ($0-$1000/pair) priced floorstanding loudspeakers. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears (ha-unintentional pun, I swear).

I'm thinking after I get the stereo updated we can revisit the turntable

A

ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
Replace the headshell with a carbon fibre one from Audioadvisor and the difference with be more than subtle. As to some of the recommendations made here for such devices as the cheaper Rega TT's that's also nonsense unless the buyer is tone deaf.

I'm having a hard time finding carbon fiber headshells on that side...I'm probably missing something.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
So, I think you'll see the reason that I'm upgrading.

Actually, I don't. That's why I asked you to describe the sound you're now hearing. You have a way of not giving full answers that leaves me wondering what to make of this thread. You obtained the components when you were 15. And you're how old now? I use amplifiers that were new when I was nine but I still enjoy them. I see this thread going for a very long time when a suggestion to buy a new table doesn't convince you but you aren't forthcoming with why you even want a new turntable or why you feel this is where you should begin upgrading your current system. Using CV's you might want to upgrade your speakers before you spend money anywhere else. Cerwin Vega's are not the most transparent speaker to allow improvements upstream to shine.

Can you describe what you're hearing and what you desire that's not present in your current set up? Or is this truly just that you want a new turntable and why isn't all that "significant"?

ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Sorry for all of the confusion, Jan.
Let me attempt to sum up.

I know that old equipment can be great or even better than new, so I should clarify that my current setup (excluding the turntable) is old AND was not that high in quality in the first place. As a result, I

JSBach
JSBach's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 28 2008 - 1:25am
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:

Quote:
Replace the headshell with a carbon fibre one from Audioadvisor and the difference with be more than subtle. As to some of the recommendations made here for such devices as the cheaper Rega TT's that's also nonsense unless the buyer is tone deaf.



Quote:
I'm having a hard time finding carbon fiber headshells on that side...I'm probably missing something.


Audioadvisor must have sold out of carbon fibre headshells but you should be able to get one to fit your arm by contacting the importer of Dual turntables in your country. I've been reading Jan Vigne's comments about your speakers and I think he's dead right. Improvements you make downstream will be largely wasted through those speakers I'm afraid. There's no easy way of saying it - they should go. Can I suggest you spend as much as you can afford on an amplifier, not a receiver and add a tuner later on? I'd also suggest that if you're trying to stretch your budget to a new amp and speakers go for efficient speakers that don't require a huge amount of power to make them come alive, such as Tannoy's dual concentric range. Think about buying a pair of these second hand. Don't rush into a purchase though as this design had been in production, with improvements galore, over many decades. If you find a pair get back to us here and ask advice about model numbers and enclosures.
If an amp you're interested in does not have a turntable input, as many today don't, we can discuss a dedicated phono pre-amp later. Whatever you do, don't play any of your precious vinyl until you know the cartridge you've got is undamaged and properly mounted. If it's not you stand a very good chance of permanently ruining every LP you play.

JSBach
JSBach's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 28 2008 - 1:25am
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:

. Most of these guys spend more money on their stereos than they do on their families.


Well Lamont dear , how do you know we've all got families or that we're all 'guys'.? And yes, I've spent more on audio junk over the years than most people have spent on their house, car, family and pets but at various stages I've been so poor as to have to make do with patched up second hand and traded in junk stitched together with a bit of hard labor and little skill. So, although my current set-ups cost an obscene amount I do understand where beginners are coming from and having made more mistakes than I care to think about I can hopefully help others in not doing the same. Oh - - - and I still make mistakes.

Lamont Sanford
Lamont Sanford's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 31 2006 - 8:32pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Bach will you shut up. This forum is the entry level. Where you should have started your BS.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Let's see if I can provide a few facts and possibly some well regarded opinion.


Quote:
... I should clarify that my current setup (excluding the turntable) is old AND was not that high in quality in the first place.

Whether anyone considers NAD to be the end of the road in their audio purchases is their choice to make, however, NAD is and always has been good quality merchandise. It has the ability to get to the music and leave out the superfluous frills, errors and downright garbage of most other similarly priced equipment. So, while you certainly can upgrade, I would not sell short what you already own on its "low quality" alone. You would appear to be of the opinion that you own a low grade amplifier and a bad turntable. At this point I would say neither opinion is actually the case. Such opinions do, of course, raise the degree of upgrade fever.


Quote:
I
ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Jan, while I appreciate all of your advice, I think that you may have missed some info in my post about what equipment I have. I currently have a Technics receiver, and am considering an upgrade to a NAD (1 of 3 I am considering).

An additional fun fact in regards to the volume issue I'm having with the receiver: my brother has the same exact model and the same thing happened to his...a few months later, he lost an entire channel.

As far as me only considering Floorstanding speakers...that's not the case, I'm still exploring all options.

Thank you for all of your other information, this will surely help in my quest.

dcstep
dcstep's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2007 - 4:59pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Nice handling of Jan.

Dave

RGibran
RGibran's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 11 months ago
Joined: Oct 11 2005 - 5:50pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Floorstanders under $1,000.00 I always recommend the Monitor Audio RS6. A Stereophile class B rated speaker, great fit and finish with real wood veneers, excellent bass from such a small footprint. Fairly easy to drive and easy room placement. One of the few speakers I'd recommend without audition. Google is your friend.

RG

mrlowry
mrlowry's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: May 30 2006 - 1:37pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:

Quote:
That turntable looks very, very similar to a Technics SL1200 and is probably made in the same factory (http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/michael/blog/0604/index.html#060422.) From my experience the 1200 can only be taken so far by changing the cartridge. I once replaced the $35 Shure M92E with a $90 Sumiko Pearl for a customer with nearly no change in sound quality. On other turntables the performance gap between them is huge. For example putting a $300 cartridge on the Audio Technica would most likely lead to less impressive sound than buying a $300 turntable from Project, Music Hall, Rega, or Goldring. Changing the cartridge might be a waste of money because the turntable has so many issues that the difference won't be very audible. I can put the best racing tires on my Hyundai but it will never be a Porsche, or even a cheap BMW for that matter.

What are these 'issues'? As to replacing the cartridge with a better one and it being a waste of money , nonsense! Replace the headshell with a carbon fibre one from Audioadvisor and the difference with be more than subtle. As to some of the recommendations made here for such devices as the cheaper Rega TT's that's also nonsense unless the buyer is tone deaf.

The "issues" are no dynamic range (particularly micro dynamics), poor high frequency extension, and mechanical bass. I haven't listened to one in many years but have heard a number of the Technics SL1200's because I used to change cartridges on them for people. No matter what cartridge I put on them they could never be described as pleasant, accurate, OR musical. There is a reason that most high end turntables (with the Grand Prix and the Goldmund being two notable expeditions) are belt drive. To my ear direct drives always have a higher noise floor, which reduces detail and dynamic range.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Dave, you forgot to mention you are a serious musician.

Lamont Sanford
Lamont Sanford's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 31 2006 - 8:32pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
Nice handling of Jan.

Dave

Yeah, I second that. What up with the dissertation, Jan?

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Sorry about the mistake on your receiver. Though the fact remains what I said does prove to be true overall. Tone controls generally do not become less so as they age and amplifiers do not slowly loose power. I still don't know exactly why you want the tone controls to have a dramtic effect.

You own a Technics however and they have been known to do strange things. If you feel this is the death knell for your receiver, then it's time to consider a replacement.

That said, I would still concentrate on finding better speakers than the CV's. You will not hear major improvements to the front of the system through these speakers, their "personality" is too strong to overcome.

Put a better cartridge in the table and do not worry about its quality at the moment. That's my advice based on the information provided.

JIMV
JIMV's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 months 1 week ago
Joined: Jan 31 2008 - 1:46pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
If you would, answer a few more questions.
-How have you arrived at your decisions for upgrading?
-How do my comments on your present set up agree or disagree with what you are actually hearing and expriencing?
- Have you attempted any real set up procedures with this current system? Or have you just basically plunked it down where it fits?
-Have you tried any speaker placement processes/programs with your current CV's? In other words did you place the speakers in the room with some attention to how they react within the room or just so they sounded "right" to you? Or just because they fit where you placed them?
-Where does the turntable sit in relation to the speakers?
-Have you researched how to get the best performance from the components you now own or have you just expected them to operate well on their own?
-Why floorstanders and not high quality standmounts?
-What is the sound you're after? "Rich" and "true" are not totally descriptive in this regard. At best that is like saying I want the music to be "clear". None of that actually tells us what you now hear or what you want to hear. Tell us more about what you want to hear and what sort of music you prefer.

Great questions and a great post

ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?


Quote:
Sorry about the mistake on your receiver. Though the fact remains what I said does prove to be true overall. Tone controls generally do not become less so as they age and amplifiers do not slowly loose power. I still don't know exactly why you want the tone controls to have a dramtic effect.

You own a Technics however and they have been known to do strange things. If you feel this is the death knell for your receiver, then it's time to consider a replacement.

That said, I would still concentrate on finding better speakers than the CV's. You will not hear major improvements to the front of the system through these speakers, their "personality" is too strong to overcome.

Put a better cartridge in the table and do not worry about its quality at the moment. That's my advice based on the information provided.

That makes a ton of sense, Jan. Thanks a bunch! Are there any particular models of bookshelf speakers that you'd recommend?

Thanks!
A

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

No, you'll have to listen and decide for yourself. Stereohphile has reviewed several contenders over the last few years. Small high quality speakers seem to be more abundant right now than I can remember in past years. Do you have access to any decent audio retailers?

ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

I've been researching that, apparently there's nothing outside of a circuit city (bleugh) within 2 hours...it looks like the handful that were around here have dropped off of the map, unfortunately. I'm considering calling some of the local home theater installers and seeing if they have anything set up for prospective customers to come and check out equipment and use them to make the purchase.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Good idea. HT and music shouldn't have different requirements when it comes to speakers. The end result should be to get you involved, with a music source the idea is to be involved in the music and not the explosions. Unfortunately, having worked in a few HT palaces, too many HT shops aren't well set up to demonstrate music - they don't get it. Their opinion is everyone buys explosions and car wrecks and they ignore the 99% of the score that is playing underneath the scenes. Take some of your own music with you since they might not have much of a selection in real music.

I always stress understanding your priorities by developing a reference. Since you play an instrument this should be of some value to you. Understanding your priroitites often comes down to knowing what you can get for the money you have available. Don't be too quick to make a purchase just to have something new but don't get paralyzed into non-action either.

I seldom recommmend the pre owned market to someone unfamiliar with vintage gear but there are many good deals to be had out there. (And many people who are rather unscrupulous in what they will sell when the deal is not face to face.) Buying high quality vintage typically means you can afford to buy a component, use it for however long you prefer and then resell it for about what you have in it. While not as shiny as a new piece of gear, a two decades old high quality amplifier probably still has some good tunes left in it just waiting to come out.

Develop your plan and adjust to circumstances. Know your priorities and stay as true as possible to them. Everything is a compromise or a trade off. I used to tell clients if I gave them one thing, I'd probably take two back. Know where you can compromise. And above all else, remember you are building a music system. Each piece depends on the others for its sucess. Your attempt is to play to the strengths of each component and not to apply BandAids to the problems.

Finally, do your reading on set up and placement, that is IMO at least 75% of what you hear. The system works within a room, learn how that operates.

ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

All great advice...if this post stays open long enough, I'll post the outcome as soon as it happens.

Thanks!
A

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Good luck. I hope the Technics survives long enough to be replaced.

dchisholm
dchisholm's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Aug 19 2008 - 9:12pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

I usually don't post to these forums, but I think I might be able to help in the "simple advice based on simple experience" department.

I also have an AT PL-120 and it was my entry-level turntable a few years ago. (I upgraded this summer after much research.) I have found it to be OK in a lot of respects. No it is not Hi-Fi equipment and though it resembles the SL-1200 a lot, they are very different. But I have learned so much from using this thing that I feel my time with it has been very valuable.

That all said, you can probably get better sound with a few quick fixes:
- the supplied ATP2xN cartridge is not very "musical" in my opinion. It is a DJ cartridge, built like a tank and ready for rough use. I recommend an upgrade to any of the usual suspects and you 'll probably get better sound from your good vinyl. I guess I consider the usual supects to be audio technica ML440a, Denon 103, Shure M97XE, Sumiko Pearl, and stuff like that - anything that tracks round 1-2 grams and is NOT intended for DJ use. These forums are full of discussions about these and other affordable cartridges.

NOTE: If you spend more on the upgrade cartridge than you spent on the turntable, you will probably hear an improvement in sound as well as begin to hear the problems inherent with the turntable now rendered in vivid clarity. Be careful. (Ignorantly, I upgraded to a Grado Gold cartridge and discovered very, very nice sound shrouded in an annoying hum. For me, this wasn't a great combo.)

- Try to get some decent isolation under the turntable. I found that a shallow wood box, filled with some sand (couple of inches is all you need) with a board placed on top (sitting in the sand, not the box frame) and then the turntable on top of that helped with the vibration problems the '120 is known to have. It's a cheap and simple improvement that also helped reduce some rumble/feedback problems.

- The anti-skate spring is not at all effective (read: absolutely useless) with a cartridge that uses high tracking force. I ended up modifying the anti-skate mechanism on mine by removing about 50%-60% of the spring to give the adjustment range much more tension. (It is a procedure that requires a few hours and a steady hand.) For a cartridge with light tracking force, it helped a lot.

- You may consider trying an alternative to the supplied felt mat. (Again, there are lots of opinions about this.)

- Lastly, the internal phono preamp is not very good. (Terrible?) If you have the option to use the phono stage in your preamp, do it.

I have elected to keep my PL-120 because I have learned so much from it and have managed to improve the sound a little. Also, it plays 78s and my new Hi-Fi table does not!

Hope this helps!!!

ucmeicu49
ucmeicu49's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 3 2008 - 9:26am
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Fantastic info Don. I'll look into the stuff you mentioned!

A

Lamont Sanford
Lamont Sanford's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 31 2006 - 8:32pm
Re: How bad is my turntable?

Good advice, Don. The cartridge that comes with PL120 is labeled a DJ cartridge. Its heavy duty so it will last a long time. So, the PL120 is light as well. Doesn't surprise me.

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading