I'm relatively new in the anolog world and i'm looking to pick up my first turntable. With a price range of around 400-500 dollars, what do you guys think would be the best option?
What a good thing! Another person interested in getting into vinyl as a music source.
In order of my personal preference, I recommend:
Music Hall MMF5 - a little over $600 but worth it.
ProJect Xpression II - right at $500
Goldring GR1.2 - a little over $400
All prices new complete with decent cartridges.
How would you say these units compare with a technics sl 1200? I'm aware that this is a direct drive TT and was made popular by DJ's but i've also read some very positive reviews of the player and it is in a similar price range.
My first turntable was a belt drive Technics and the tone arm/cartridge was about as abusive as using a jackhammer on my records. New records would start to crackle after only 5 or 10 plays. Which put me into the habit of recording my LP's and playing the recordings, which means that most of my Vinyl is still fairly pristine. When I could afford it I got myself a Dual 522 which has served me well for over 20 years. Unfortunatley, it's developed a bit of rumble that is audible when I use my headphones while recording my LP's to the computer. So I have also been looking at turntables. My final choice is the Rega Planar 5 but that's way over your budget.
At your price range I would look at the above, the Project Debut III, or a Thorens TD-170 turntable. Needle Doctor lists the Debut III at 300-330 dollars, a real bargain at that price. The Debut III looks to use the Rega RB-250 arm which is a classic, however it's totally manual. The Thorens TD-170 is a an automatic turntable which you may find more convenient. Currently, Needle Doctor list the Thorens TD-170 at 499.00 with an Ortofon OMB10 cartridge, right at your price point.
Sorry, I know nothing about the Technics SL 1200, but I'd be skeptical about commiting to it at any price. Back in the dark ages I had, for a while, a Dual direct drive turntable with all the marketing defined "goodies" - strobe pattern for speed adjustment, auto arm lift and shut-off, detatchable headshell for easy cart. swapping, complicated anti-skate, bla bla bla. It fell far short of my old AR pure manual belt drive turntable in performance, and did beat up records. I learned the hard way.
Never considered a direct drive after that one experience. I suspect direct drives being sold today may be better, and that someone in this crowd will have some experience with that Technics offering. Sorry I can't be more helpful.
Thanks for all your help guys. I ended up going with a Music Hall MMF-5 from underwood hifi. Picked up a like-new returned unit for under 500.
Good Show! Happy New Year!