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bobedaone
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making the LeaP to analog

Hey, everybody! I know you probably get a lot of questions like this, but here we go again. First, a little background on me. I am currently in the process of putting together my first real system. (I'm a college student, so cost is a very real concern.) It's something I've wanted to do for awhile, but Christmas money was the catalyst. I went shopping for a CD player and settled on the NAD C525BEE. To me, it's like having a new CD collection, and has proven conclusively to me (and my mom, a former skeptic) that the source can indeed make a world of difference. I love it with the 325 amplifier, which I plan to purchase as soon as means permit. I recently bought an old 4020A analog tuner (I'm a big fan of NAD gear, can you tell? ). I'm fortunate enough to have at my disposal a great pair of speakers, Paradigm 7se Mk3s. Now, on to the meat of this discussion. As much as I love my new CDP, I may have modified my priorities had I heard a good turntable before I pulled the trigger! Wow! I'm a vinyl convert, for sure. The sound blows me away every time. I must have a turntable in my system. The question is, which one? My local dealer sells NAD, Rega, and Pro-Ject. Well, okay, they also sell Linn, but I'll keep dreaming! I'm rather partial to the Rega line. First off, feel free to offer your general suggestions and recommendations for an enthusiast just getting into vinyl playback. There's a lot for me to consider. I'll need a phono stage because, regrettably, NAD has stopped including a phono section in its amplifiers. (I'm leaning toward their PP-2 preamp.) Then there's the cartridge situation. As far as turntables are concerned, which entry 'table do you like? The biggest stretch I'd be willing to make is probably the Rega P2 or an OEM derivative thereof. Otherwise, I'm definitely trying to keep the TT in the 3-$400 range. I really like Rega's P1, which seems to offer a good value for someone like me. If I were to step up to the P2, do you think it's worth it? Has anyone heard both? My salesman (who does not work on commission) isn't pushy and always considers my finances, but thinks I should "save my pennies for the P2". Would you concur? I often stop by the shop and listen to the P1, with which I am impressed. However, my eyes having been just recently opened to the world of analog, I feel like I might be jumping the gun if I were to settle on that model right away. After all, I lived for CDs until I spun a clean LP on a new turntable.

Thanks so much for your help!

smejias
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

Hey, Erik_B. Welcome to the forum, and welcome to the world of hi-fi! Sounds like you've really got the fever. Your enthusiasm is great.

Congrats on putting together your first real system. I know the feeling. It's wonderful and exciting, and can even be overwhelming, but you're certainly off to a good start.

I've passed your message along to a couple of our writers. In the meantime, I'm sure others here will be happy to help, as well.

ohfourohnine
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

Welcome to the forum, Erik. You sound like you'll fit in just fine here. That, "wait a while and save your pennies" advice is pretty hard to take some times - even when it comes from someone whose judgment deserves your respect. If you decide you can't wait, here's a suggestion you might be able to give a try. Since your dealer handles ProJect, give a listen to the Debut III. It comes in at $300 including a pretty decent cartridge. I heard the combination recently and thought it sounded darned good for the money.

Keep us posted as you proceed. Lots of us here like nothing better than welcoming new analog enthusiasts to the fold.

Incidentally, if your dealer happens to handle the Bellari Phono preamp, give a listen to that too. It's worth saving your pennies for and doesn't really take all that many pennies.

bobedaone
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

Thanks, Stephen and Cheapskate! I feel very welcome. Thank you especially, Stephen, for involving the esteemed Mr. Fremer, whose writing was certainly a factor in my decision to give analog a listen. I'm glad I did because the sonic experience is untouchable by anything about which my generation is typically enthused.
I've had a look at the Pro-Ject, Cheapskate. The price is right, but it just looks less substantial next to the Regas in the listening room. To be fair, I haven't done an A/B comparison with the P1 and the Debut III, and it may well afford a comparable listening experience, which is what really counts (Good sound trumps aesthetics 8 days a week), but those Rega arms are tempting. I've heard very good things about the Bellari. In the continuum of the high-end, it's an affordable piece by almost any definition. I feel like at this stage of the game, though, I'd rather buy as much turntable as I can afford and get a decent preamp (like the NAD or Pro-Ject) that will get me rolling. An issue with which I have to contend is that I'll need to be acquiring an amplifier before I dive in with analog at all because the Sony STR-D665 receiver I'm using right now is holding my system back. The NAD 325 will make it much more listenable and able to do justice to a quality turntable. If I got a less expensive preamp, I just might be able to stretch to the P2, but the Bellari would likely hold me to the P1 or Debut III. My record collection isn't large (mainly because the turntable I have now is ancient and would just tear up any good vinyl), so anything other than entry level is difficult to justify. As my collection grows, though, I might kick myself for jumping in at absolute entry level, even if the preamp is fantastic.
Thanks again for your help!

ohfourohnine
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

Sounds like you've got your head on your shoulders, Erik - well maybe except for your sign-off. I know that the secret of this obsession is knowing when to quit. I've know it for the more than forty years since I got hooked (vinyl was the only game in town then). Even so, with a fine sounding system in my listening room I ordered a new amp today. Hey, there are lots worse addictions than music and the equipment that brings it home for you.

I'm sure when he sees your reference to the Rega, Jim Tavegia will put in his two cents worth. He's been at this stuff for a long time too and is a big fan of the Rega tables.

All the best,

bobedaone
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

Upon further consideration, I think I'm going to do everything I can to get my hands on a Bellari. By the time I get a cartridge on the P2, it's going to be up there, anyway, and I ought not buy a stage that will have me wanting to upgrade. $130 isn't a deal if I sell it at a loss soon after. All in, a P2 with Bias2 cartridge, decent cables, and the VP129 will be about $900. Yikes! It's a good thing my birthday is close to Christmas. I think I'll let my parents, friends, and relatives know that they can all contribute to the Get Erik a Turntable Fund this year! I won't even have to write thank-you cards; They can all come over and hear it! Spread the joy.

bobedaone
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

I suppose the way I'd phrase this question is "How much is the RB250 worth?" I've been looking at the Music Hall MMF5 and it seems to have a lot of desirable features; dual-plinth design, glass platter, installed Goldring cartridge, integral record clamp. Its only drawback seems to be the Pro-Ject tonearm. For about the same price, I could get the Rega P2 with its fiberboard platter and a Rega cartridge. Is the RB250 worth sacrificing those additional niceties?

ohfourohnine
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

Erik, as an old guy, I'm inclined to caution you against investing in anything that will leave you wondering. You've defined the ProJect arm as a drawback if I'm correct, not so much because comparative listening to it against the Rega, but for other reasons. You really want that Rega arm. Lots of people (including myself) will agree that Rega arms deserve their good reputation.

That said, my analog front end begins with a Music Hall MMF-7 and a Shure V15vxMR. The arm on my MMF-7 is the same one on the MMF-5. I present myself as "cheapskate" because I've spent a long time trying for the best sound for the money. I'd certainly say the Rega arm isn't worth it - but that's not the point. Don't buy anything you'll have doubts about from the beginning - those doubts will cloud what you hear. Sorry I can't be more helpful. You're going to have to decide this one by yourself.

bobedaone
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Re: making the LeaP to analog


Quote:
Erik, as an old guy, I'm inclined to caution you against investing in anything that will leave you wondering. You've defined the ProJect arm as a drawback if I'm correct, not so much because comparative listening to it against the Rega, but for other reasons. You really want that Rega arm. Lots of people (including myself) will agree that Rega arms deserve their good reputation.

That said, my analog front end begins with a Music Hall MMF-7 and a Shure V15vxMR. The arm on my MMF-7 is the same one on the MMF-5. I present myself as "cheapskate" because I've spent a long time trying for the best sound for the money. I'd certainly say the Rega arm isn't worth it - but that's not the point. Don't buy anything you'll have doubts about from the beginning - those doubts will cloud what you hear. Sorry I can't be more helpful. You're going to have to decide this one by yourself.

You've been very helpful, Cheapskate. It's good to be able to organize one's thoughts in the presence of people who know what they're talking about. I also think it's admirable that someone is willing to put forth the effort to achieve champagne (or at least wine) sound on a beer budget. That's the main reason I love NAD so much; They give me about as much musicality as I need at a price that I can reasonably consider. The same goes for Paradigm. They make wonderful products at sane price points.
Bjorn Erik Edvardsen, chief designer for NAD for over two decades and the man behind the 3020 integrated, conceptualized the 10/10 rule: Optimum value for a product is achieved when it would cost 10x as much for a 10% improvement. I'm not living on the bleeding edge here, but good sound is within reach. I guess I'm seeking validation for my analog choices because I know so little about the format. I do know that I'm smitten by Rega and will probably buy one whenever I can afford to do so. The bargain hunter in me is still searching, but my heart is with the P2. I suppose you're right, that I shouldn't settle. There are plenty of good, objective reasons to choose any of the entry tables over any other, but subjective evaluations are often the most powerful forces in a purchase decision. Thanks a bunch for your input and I'll keep you posted.

Monty
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

I'm far from an experienced turntable guy, but I have an NAD table with the RB250 arm and it is essentially a Planar 2 sourced by NAD from Rega. Like you, I briefly considered the Project tables and asked my dealer about his thoughts on the pros and cons of each. I do trust my dealer, but take this only for what it's worth. His opinion was that the Rega was more capable of benefiting from future upgrades in pickups due to the RB250 arm and a modest upgrade to the counterweight.

In short, he thought the Rega tables were able to benefit further down the road and built to last for 20 years.

Buddha
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

I know that by interrupting the Rega...Music Hall...Rega....Music Hall mantra something bad may happen, but toss the SOTA Moonbeam into your pool of consideration.

It comes designed for and mated to its own arm, and its price includes an "acceptable" cartridge, the Ortofon OM-10 (I think it's that model.)

I've spent loads of time listening to one, and the two adjectives I think best apply are "civilized" and "refined."

I'd call it a smokin' bargain.

SOTA also has, in my opinion, a long and dependable history of keeping products in their line and offering good support. (I know they had some down time a while back, but they seem steady as she goes right now.)

It's sins are minor sins of omission, it has great speed stability, and I can't think of any glaring faults in its price range.

ohfourohnine
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

Have to agree with you Buddha. Spent a lot of time on the phone with the SOTA gal (don"t recall her name) before I yielded to Fremer's enthusiasm and decided on the MMF-7. At that time, the SOTA folks were recommending the Rega 300 on the Comet. I don't know about the Moonbeam.

I think your judgment that SOTA is steady as you go right now applies to the lower end models. Not so sure about the top of the line, but Erik is a long way from there now - as are many of us.

So far as speed stability is concerned we've sort of fallen into some of the other items our analog newcomer needs to keep in mind. I've avoided discussion of them earlier for fear of scaring Erik away but.....

Outboard speed controllers, replacement mats, stylus cleaners, record cleaning machines etc. represent ways to improve what he's going to get from any of the lower end tables - many tables for that matter - and they also represent ways to spend another $400-$500. Time enough for that a little later. You have to take, as he put it, the leap before you can begin saving your money for the tweaking.

bobedaone
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

Thanks for your suggestions! I think reality is setting in for me because the Rega P1/NAD PP-2 combo is starting to look really good. I could be out the door with cables for $500 plus tax. It's fun to dream, and I can stretch and justify all I want, but at the end of the day, I just can't afford anything more than a basic setup. To my ears, those two pieces sound great (a helluva lot better than digital, anyway), especially with the NAD C325BEE integrated, which is ahead of any analog gear on my wishlist. The P1 is a quality piece that's made in Great Britain and affords a taste of vinyl glory at a price that I can consider as a college student. Besides, I need to save a little cash for records!

Jay F
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

Hi, Erik - I'm late to this thread, but if you haven't already bought your P1, have you thought about looking for a used P3 or Planar 3 on audiogon.com?

If that's of interest, please e-mail me for advice or info.

Jay

bobedaone
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Re: making the LeaP to analog

I've decided to give the P2 the benefit of the doubt and hear it when it arrives at my dealer. This decision is partially motivated by my fondness for Rega's Brio3 integrated. A P2 with the glass platter (why not, at that level?) would run $695 with a Bias2 fitted. Actually, come to think of it, the P3 would only be a tad over $100 more at that point. I just hope Santa brings me lots of scratch this Christmas. My plan is to sell some stuff this summer and get an amplifier. Then, the stage will be set for analog glory later in the year. This waiting is killing me!

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