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br6388
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Turntable thoughts

Hi,
I'm new to the forum and need some words of wisdom from the experts. I'm getting back into vinyl (I never really left but thats a diffferent story) and need a new (used) turntable. I've been looking at the following options:

1. Rega Planar 3 with at least an RB250 arm.
2. Music Hall MMF-5
3. SOTA Sapphire
4. VPI HW-19 mk III

From what I've seen online these tables fall into my price range ($400-$500). Any thoughts, opinons, caveats, suggestions, etc... And any suggestions on cartridges would also be appreciated.

The rest of my set up is a Quad 405 amp, Quad 34 preamp and a pair of original DCM Time Windows, oldies but goodies.

Thanks a bunch,
Bill

mikeymad
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Re: Turntable thoughts

Welcome Bill,

I am new here as well.

1. Rega Planar 3 with at least an RB250 arm.
What Color do you want???
2. Music Hall MMF-5
Good basic table. I don't have that much exposure to it.
3. SOTA Sapphire
4. VPI HW-19 mk III
$400-$500?

Now, where are you finding these for $400-$500? I need to go shopping with you!!! $1400-$1500? These are both life long tables that you can play with for a long time with upgrades and tweeks. I will leave it up to others (that know more than I) about arm and cartridges.

As always demo them in your system first.

Cheers

Yiangos
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Re: Turntable thoughts

Welcome Bill

AsMickey mad said,count me in.take us both shopping with you.Seriously now,if you ever decide on Rega Planar 3 , go for the rb300 instead of the 250 tonearm.The difference in sound is greater than the difference in money.

JoeE SP9
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Re: Turntable thoughts

I have a VPI HW-19Jr with a Rega RB300. I have over time brought the Jr. up to full HW-19 specs. I have no desire to upgrade or replace this TT. You can't go wrong with a VPI. I recommend them highly.

br6388
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Re: Turntable thoughts

Thanks for the input. I've seen on Ebay and A-gon, Rega Planars going for $400-$500 range in good to excellant condition and thats with a RB300 arm. And the same goes for the MMF-5, SOTA and VPI, if you don't mind a few nicks and bruises.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Turntable thoughts

At the stated price range, you've obviously been shopping pre-owned equipment. While it is impossible to offer substantial advice with the information you've provided, you can't go wrong with any of the tables you've mentioned. I have my favorite and I suspect most reponses will indicate a personal favorite more than a recommendation. Each table and arm combination have their strengths and faults. Due to the age of each table you're considering I would think it would be relatively easy for you to research each table yourself and read the various comments which might apply to your decision. Knowing whether you favor the pacing of a product such as the Rega or SOTA or the overall rightness of the HW19 would be helpful in making a correct decision. I would suggest that the VPI and Rega have maintained their position as long term purchases since they were brought to market decades ago. That speaks well for both designs. Both tables represent an easy upgrade path which allows growth from the intial purchase.

You should consider that you are deciding between suspended and nonsuspended chassis designs. Consider where you intend to place the table and what drawbacks you might encounter with a nonsuspended design. Are you prepared to devote some cash and labor into getting the set up of the table correct? A proper stand will enhance the performance of any quality table. The Rega demands such attention to siting. While the Rega is as close as high end audio gets to a "plug and play" table, its performance will be substantially enhanced or diminished with proper or poor placement. The suspended tables will require set up which ranges from simple to complex and from set-and-forget to twiddle-with-constantly. I would consider these aspects to be far more important to my purchasing decision than what anyone else prefers for their own system. Read and learn what to expect from each design in these areas of concern.

Obviously the arm and cartridge you pair with each table will influence the overall results. Buying used gear, you don't have the choices of a new purchase. That complicates each choice you've given us. The VPI with which arm? It can make a large difference depending on the skills and talents of the original owner and the product lines of the shop where they made the aquisition. You almost have succeeded in asking, "Which pre-owned four door sedan should I buy?"

The good news is each table and arm combination you've mentioned has reached, or is close to, its peak of monetary depreciation. Buying any of the tables mentioned is buying insurance you can resell the table for at or near what you'll pay today. With that in mind, I would buy all the tables you've mentioned and resell the ones you decide against. Send the wife and kids away for a few days. Unplug all the phones, computer and doorbell. And, prepare the vacuum record cleaner and the liquor cabinet for a long weekend of auditioning.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Turntable thoughts

I also think you'll probably do fine with any of those choices. I've not heard the SOTA, but, I seem to recall it got good press.

Jan raises some very good points, but, I'm not so sure those particular Rega and VPI turntables will provide the easy upgrade path suggested. Wouldn't going from a P3 to a P25 or P9 boil down to a complete change of parts since the plinths and platters are so different? I know VPI has recently discontinued the HW-19 Junior, HW-19 MK-3, and MK-4, so, it might be tough to upgrade via VPI. It would cost more for a used Scout, but, you'd have a path to Scoutmaster and Super Scoutmaster (and Signature versions) that could be done piecemeal if being able to upgrade is a consideration.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Turntable thoughts

If you are looking at modifying the table per se, then, no, there isn't much in the way of modifications that can be done to the basics of the Rega. However, the Rega tables have been upgraded over time and whatever generation of table you buy, it can be brought up to current spec through Rega. With interchangeable parts on most of their tables, you could, if you wanted to (though I don't know why you would) start with an old style Planar 2 with the "S" shaped Japanese arm and gradually bring it up to a level of what ... a P5 or P7? ... just by changing out parts.

Additionally, the Rega arm has a fair amount of modifications that can be done to improve its performance. I recently replaced the counterweight and end stub on my RB300 and am quite happy with the results. I would guess I would have had to pay two or three times the cost of the modified parts to get the performance upgrade by changing arms. I also have a DIY oil damping system mounted on the arm. A Rega arm with the stock Rega wiring harness can easily be upgraded for a noticeable improvement in sound quality. VTA adjusters and other mods are available for the Rega arms. Motor controllers are available for both the Rega and the VPI tables. Both tables respond quite well to a constant 60Hz with no hash on the line. This "mod" should be considered by anyone who gets serious about analog.

VPI has discontinued the HW19 and some upgrade parts are still available from VPI. Once again depending on the version you buy pre-owned, you can probably bring it up to last generation spec for a few dollars to several hundred for the bearing and outboard motor changes. If the HW19 being considered has the VPI arm installed, the same counterweight and end stub mods I used on my Rega arm are generally available for the VPI arm.

Both tables have met with sufficient success to have modifications available through the internet aftermarket. Hot rodding a Rega or VPI is almost as easy as finding parts for a Honda Civic. If you're curious, I own a HW19 that has been upgraded to some unknown number status and have an RB300 with a Grado on the table. I've owned this table and arm for over twenty years now. So I've watched the various tweaks come and go for the table and arm. I've also taken some ideas from other tables to incorporate into my own DIY tweaks. This is what the upgrade/modification route is all about though. I know quite well there is better, but it will cost a bunch of money that I don't have. However, the single largest improvement to the table's sound quality has come from a good solid support system. You are cheating yourself if you don't devote the time and money to get this right. If you think just buying a Target stand or wall bracket is too much to invest in a turntable support, you might as well buy a $89 Sony table from Best Buy.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Turntable thoughts

I'd love to see the DIY oil damping system. I love squeezing more performance out of gear than is normally expected.

When things didn't work out with my ex-girlfriend and it became clear her Linn LP12 wasn't going to be in my future, I began considering checking out a Rega P9 and all the aftermarket goodies (VTA, counterweight, rewiring), but, in the end decided to go with VPI. Now I just need to earn more dough so I can tweak and upgrade to my heart's content. I'm certain my analogue front end is nowhere near where it could or should be.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Turntable thoughts

I've been pondering the idea of describing the damping system as a DIY tweak that others might try. The original plans came from either HiFi News or the now defunct HiFi Answers (Correct? It is gone? The bookshops in Dallas are woefully short on such materials.). The topic came about after the original Townshend table was introduced in the 1980's with its oil damping trough placed at the headshell end of a modified Rega arm. My memory says the DIY scheme was patterned after some tweaks that had been made to various arms in the 1960's, just about the time tonearm mass was being lowered and compliance was being raised. I'll get to the write up soon and will post it on the forum. It's a fairly simple system and the total cost is about $5 for easy to obtain parts. It's totally reversible and performs well on my RB300. The only failure of the plan is when dealing with severely off-center and warped (at the same time) discs. But, I have nothing in my collection that constitutes such a problem and I doubt most audiophiles would either.

br6388
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Re: Turntable thoughts

Thanks guys for your .02.

Jan, never thought about the chassis. What kind of support do you have for your turntable?

CECE
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Re: Turntable thoughts

tHE ex GIVES ABOUT $20 WEEK TO SUPPORT MY TURNTABLE. If the TT was over 18 years old, I'd get nothing. Ex never comes to vist the TT either.

br6388
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Re: Turntable thoughts

A chameleon eh?

tinmanrrtx
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Re: Turntable thoughts

I would suggest you to look for an used AR EB101 or "The Turntable", I brought mine from ebay for about 200 USD and an Audio Technica AT1005 arm for 75 USD with my 20 years old Dynavector 10A cartridge. The sound is very good with just original AT phono cable which I plan to do the next upgrade then my last upgrade will be a new cartridge, perhaps Dynavector 20XL. The good thing is that you can do these upgrade one step at a time since the AR arm is average to good. Happy listening.

Tin Man

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