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z038
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I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

Hey, my first post, so hi.

I haven't had a working turntable since 1989. It was a belt drive Technics, I don't recall what model, and it died a long time ago. I don't have a lot of vinyl, maybe 150 albums, but I'd like to listen to them again.

My current sound setup is not fancy; Infinity speakers, Onkyo amp and receiver, That's it. I could plug a phonograph into it if I had one. And that's why I'm here; I want to buy one.

I know I'm not an audiophile because I'm way too ignorant for that right now. I'd like to buy a complete turntable (deck, arm, cartridge) for under $500 that will let me start enjoying my old vinyl again. While I'm doing that, I want to spend some time learning about higher end stuff and learning how to upgrade my listening pleasure. It's just that I'm so ignorant, I don't know where to start.

So, can you suggest a complete turntable (deck, arm, cartridge) in my $500 max price range (used on ebay would be ok too) that will let me enjoy my old vinyl while I learn?

Thank you.

bifcake
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

Try the Rega P1 The complete turntable, arm, setup goes for $350 new. That should get you started quite nicely. Just make sure that your receiver or preamp has a phono section. Otherwise, you'd have to buy one.

dcstep
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

Look at Rega, Pro-ject and Music Hall. You can't go too far wrong with any of those that fit your budget. It's unlikely that your Onkyo has a phono pre-amp, so you may need an outboard phono pre-amp. (Look to the same brands). Consider this up front or you'll blow your budget.

Dave

z038
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

Thank you for the recommendations. I'll look at those turntables, but before I do, perhaps you can help me figure out if I need that pre-amp. I think I don't need it, but I'm not sure.

I have a Onkyo TX-DS777 A/V Receiver. I bought it about five years ago. It has Phono jacks in the rear, and a ground terminal. The specifications section of the manual says that the input sensitivity and impedance are 2.5 mV and 50 kohms. Under the output section, it says Phono Overload is 110 mV RMS at 1 kHz, 0.5% T.H.D.

The manual shows a phonograph turntable being connected directly to the phono jacks on the back of the receiver, so I believe that's all I need to do, but I've never had a turntable connected to this particular receiver before.

There are AMP-IN FRONT and PRE-OUT FRONT jacks on the back of the receiver that are jumpered together. I suppose those are for a pre-Amp or an equalizer, if I needed one.

Jan Vigne
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

I would also vote for the Rega that fits your price range. The tables in this sub-$500 range represent high value and basic choices. The Project tables probably offer more possibility for upgrading than the Rega tables but out of the box offer less satisfying performance in some ways. Read a bit on the tables you have to choose from and audition as many as possible.

Also read the thread on this forum regarding the ultimate speed stability of the Rega P1. The Rega might not be your first choice if your musical tastes run toward material with long, sustained notes. Classical would be the obvious material that, in many ways, would not benefit from the speed issues of the Rega. On the other hand, most budget belt drives have similar speed stability issues and my comments on the Rega P1 thread apply almost equally to all tables in the sub-$500 range.

Buddha
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl


Quote:
Look at Rega, Pro-ject and Music Hall. You can't go too far wrong with any of those that fit your budget. It's unlikely that your Onkyo has a phono pre-amp, so you may need an outboard phono pre-amp. (Look to the same brands). Consider this up front or you'll blow your budget.

Dave

Hi, z038, welcome!

Dcstep nailed a good starter list.

Check out the Pro-ject here...

http://www.musicdirect.com/product/72056

In and out with cartridge for 329 plus shipping is like getting a free turntable!

At the risk of getting yelled at by my fellow audio nuts, also consider the Technics SL1200-Mk2...which can be had with cartridge via several online retailers for under your budget.

Technics has taken a great interest in minimizing vibration and feedback for this table, and speed stability is not as issue. There is also a lively post-retail modification community.

You can get it with a Shure M97XE cartridge at Amazon for just under 500 bucks.

You might also consider local used audio stores in your area, and even a day or two of "garage sailing" to see what you can see!

P.S. I'm 99+% sure that your receiver has a built in phono preamp, so no worries there.

Jan Vigne
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

I second the recommendation of the Technics with reservations. The SL-1200 does manage very good speed stability which would be of importance to some listeners. I don't think it offers quite the level of performance the belt driven tables can manage. But most especially at this price you are making those basic choices I referred to.

I would add one other choice you should consider. Where will the table sit? Most of the budget tables offer little to nothing in the way of isolation. Each would benefit from a subplatform or wall mounted shelf. Neither of these items need be expensive but, IMO, should be considered into your overall cost. This would be particularly true if your music is loud and your table is unsuspended as are all of the suggested tables so far. In your price range, a suspended subchassis table will come from the pre owned market. Suspension subplatforms come from the aftermarket folks (Ginko is a good starting point. Check the Mini-Clouds.) or the DIY arena.

z038
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

The turntable will sit on top of a 60"L x 21"D x 32"H oak cabinet that holds the Onkyo A/V receiver, a CD player, DVD/VCR deck, satellite TV box, DVR, and my PS3. I have a big plasma TV hanging on the wall above the cabinet, but it is not touching the cabinet. The front speakers are on either side of the cabinet, but not touching it. The center channel speaker sets on top of the cabinet. This is the only potential source of vibration, I think, since there is nothing else that would be moving or vibrating that is in contact with the cabinet when I'd be playing records. The floor where the cabinet sits is travertine tile over a concrete slab.

Would additional isolation be advisable under these circumstances?

Jan Vigne
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl


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This is the only potential source of vibration, I think, since there is nothing else that would be moving or vibrating that is in contact with the cabinet when I'd be playing records.

The two types of feedback are machanical and air-bourne.


Quote:
The turntable will sit on top of a 60"L x 21"D x 32"H oak cabinet

Boxes resonate, open panels far less.

If this is the only place you have, give it a try. Or, consider alternatives that will be happier in this location. You can buy/build a platform if this doesn't work out.

z038
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

Thanks Jan, that makes sense. I played an upright bass years ago, and I certainly knew back then that boxes resonate. And sound moves air, which will bounce around a room.

I'll look for a DIY article on building a shelf to mount to a wall. I can weld a frame myself, then maybe use rubber grommets or similar to mount a sheet of 3/8ths glass pane to it. That'll probably be cheaper than buying one and won't eat much into my turntable budget.

Which brings me to my next question ... I found a review on this site of the Rega P1, but I couldn't find a review of the Music Hall MMF 2.1 or the Pro-Ject Debut III. These are all in the same entry-level class, judging by price. Does anyone know a good source for expert reviews of these other two tables?

At the risk of asking too many questions in one post, I'll forge ahead anyway. Would the tables in the $500 to $700 range (e.g., Music Hall MMF 5.1, Rega P2, Pro-Ject Xpression II) deliver sufficiently more bang for the buck to be worth considering, or would it be better to stick with the entry-level until I can afford something in the $1500 to $2500 class where I think I'll eventually end up anyway? All I have to do to afford a table in the $500 to $700 range is to wait another couple weeks before I buy.

I want to thank everybody again for all your help. There is so much I want to learn, but the subject matter is abstruse and I'm not such a quick study.

Jan Vigne
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

Most manufacturers place any good reviews on their web pages so you can immediately see the good press they have received. Otherwise, use a search engine.

Tables offer performance qualities quite unlike most other components. Most often the improvement you'll get from a better table is qualitiative rather than quantitative in nature. You'll get better fine speed control and stability and better "quiteness" to the backgrounds among other things. That brings improvements in multiple areas but they are not as striking at first listen as the changes to be found in cartridges, speakers or even amplifiers. So, I doubt anyone here can give a definite answer as to what price range you should aim for. In part, your question's answer would depend on how you perceive the value of the front end to the overall quality of your system.

Rest assured that most people who use "better" turntables never wish to go back to the lesser qualities of a lower performing deck. The span from $500 to $2500 goes beyond any you can make up with tweaks and add on accessories. You'll have to decide where you want to put your money.

Mono
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

We use the Ikea Lack tables. We've used all kinds of stuff; Mana and what-not but nothing works as good as the Ikea tables. And they cost next to nothing.

The important thing is that they're rigid but low-mass.

lionelag
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl


Quote:
We use the Ikea Lack tables. We've used all kinds of stuff; Mana and what-not but nothing works as good as the Ikea tables. And they cost next to nothing.

The coffee table? Or the side table? Aren't they too low to the ground?

Mono
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

It's a matter of preference wrt the height, I guess.

We usually use the thirteen dollar side table, but we're also using one of the coffee tables now. The construction is the same.

lionelag
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl


Quote:
It's a matter of preference wrt the height, I guess.

We usually use the thirteen dollar side table, but we're also using one of the coffee tables now. The construction is the same.

I probably have different priorities for height, having three cats and a 3-year-old who's fascinated by the turntable.

Interesting that they're so stable, though.

z038
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Re: I'm lost, I want to listen to my vinyl

I have cats and dogs. Coffee table or end table height is low enough for the dogs to be a threat. Unfortunately, there is really no practical height that is safe from my cat.

That's very interesting to hear about the Ikea tables. However, I don't have any more floor space, so I'm going to build a wall-mounted rack. I'm reading up on high versus low density shelving and I think I'm going the low density route. I'll probably weld up the frame myself and set a Neuance shelf on it, or maybe I'll be able to make something similar to it if I can determine what kind of materials to use.

I still haven't decided on a turntable yet. I'm leaning toward a Rega P3, which when purchased complete with a decent cartridge will be about double my original budget. Either that or an Avid Acutus Reference turntable (ha ha, just kidding!).

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