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ChrisLee
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What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Haven't used vinyl forever. Bat vk5i and Bryston 5b and VonSchw. vr4gII's. No phono preamp. Not intersted in high dollar tables. Was looking at the Pro-Ject Debut III after seeing Michael F's review recently. Or for about the same, Music Hall MMF2.1? Opinions??

And what's a pretty good matching preamp I could use the the BAT? Was thinking about the same? $300 ish?

Alot of choices and no time to even try to track things down to listen.

Thanks for any suggestions!
Chris

ohfourohnine
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Both turntables you've mentioned are, unless I'm wrong, manufactured in the Project factory. I'm pretty sure they use the same arm, and perhaps a good many other parts. Michael Fremer has reviewed them both over the years and gave both high marks at their price point. So far as I can tell, a new Debut III is a little cheaper then the MMF 2.1, and it does come in a choice of colors. The 2.1, like all but one of the Music Hall turntables comes in any color you like as long as it is black.

You might want to look at the ClAudio VPP-1 Phono Preamp. Not bad at about $300.

Whatever you do, hurry back into the vinyl world. It's never been better.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Check with www.underwoodhifi.com about a musichall mmf5. I think it is great bang for the buck and you should also look at the new Golderings for about the same or less. Walt also sells many sub $300 phono stages and can give you some great advice. Considering the nice gear you own I think something in the MMF5 range is where you might start.

ChrisLee
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Thank you Clay and Jim for responding and for the suggetions. I really was guessing about the budget appropriate for my setup/initial interests. Seems Project and Music Hall are the best choices. Funny, so many turntables in the 3-700$ range, that MMF5 is 630$. Making specific suggestions is very difficult. But either way, I'll get some vinyl setup.

Thanks again,
Chris

Monty
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

I had been toying with the idea of getting a table and phono stage for over a year and finally picked one up yesterday.

I had listened to several very expensive rigs over the years, but never really listened to the budget stuff other than in passing. Anyway, I talked to my favorite audio guy, Brian at Sound Mind Audio and asked him to pick out a decent entry level set-up that he could live with if it were his.

I ended up with a NAD 533 table, NAD PP2 stage, improved counter weight and a Goldring Elektra cartridge. My understanding is that this is pretty much a Rega Planar 2 with an MDF platter as opposed to the glass platter (increased detail?) used by Rega.

I've listened to the combo for about 3 hours total and my first impressions are generally favorable, though certainly compromising given many years of a digital front end. There is a certain rightness about the sound of analog, but there are many trade-offs at this price level.

It sure is fun spinning records again, though cleaning them still sux.

Edited to add: I thought I would mention a rather noticeable improvement in sound as this little rig begins to break-in. I'm sure it's going to take quite a bit more time for the needle to settle, but improvements after just 8 or 9 hours of playing time are already starting to appear. I tossed in a pair of Tara Ref Gen II interconnects that I haven't used in awhile and they are probably starting to wake-up as well.

ohfourohnine
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Jim is right about the MMF5. The only problem with Hall's turntables (and I have one, an MMF7) is that they keep getting better as you go along - up to the 7, that is. I've auditioned the 9, and, in my view, it isn't worth the price difference. The one piece arm on the 2-7, I think, sounds better than the two piece carbon fiber arm which is one of the hallmarks of the 9.

Something else I should add. Don't settle for the felt mat supplied with the lower end of the scale Music Halls and Projects. Save some of your budget for a better mat, or add one as a present to yourself later. The Ringmat and the Extreme Phono Speed mat are relatively expensive, but either one will make a real difference. If your lucky, you may find a supplier that will let you try both and choose one. I think Music Direct in Chicago might do that.

Again, join in, and let us know how you like the sound of vinyl. Don't forget to save some budget for all the new records you'll want.

Monty
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

16 hours into the new turntable and my toes are starting to tap. She's gone from being about what I expected in a budget vinyl setup to exceeding expectations. Looks like I will be hitting a few of the record shops down on the drag tomorrow.

ChrisLee
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

More choices I see

I've also found this raving review of Projects' 1 Xpression CDN$549, Tube Box CDN$699, Speed Box CDN$129
Reveiw at http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/project/project.html

Thoughts?

Chris

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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

There are some killer affordable toys out there. I think you can get some superior platters on the used market and then play with mats and cheap tweaks that will move you ahead of most new tables in your price range.

The old Empire tables can be killer finds. Very quiet and good speed stability. The arms are better performers than you would think from the way they look.

Empire 398

Empire 698

Empire 598

The old AR tables are still fully viable...

AR Table

A potentially controversial pic could be this old Revox unit. They were of good build quality and presented a very low mass load to the cartridge cantilever. They are direct drive, but quite quiet with good speed stability. For dirt cheap, you could have alot of fun!

Revox Table

Here's a total trip down memory lane. Worth the price just for its unique approach, plus you can add arms and compare in real time!

Really a fun table:
Micro Seiki Table

I have a buddy in whose ears I trust who loves and evangelizes for B&O RX tables, especially the RX2...
B&O Table

Dual arms were also well engineered.

Here's a dirt cheap 704 which is a direct drive, but for the price, a great toy.
Dual 704

The Dual 1245 was a good belt drive table. This may not be the one to buy, but is an example of the model.
Dual 1245

Look at this as fun thing and if you buy cheaply and out of warantee, you will be more willing to play around and improve things!

Best wishes!

Monty
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

About 45 hours in on the new table and I could list several things that it doesn't do. One thing that isn't on the list is disappoint. This thing seems to make sudden improvements as opppsed to cumulative, subtle changes.
She really does Country music particularly well.

I'll put another $500 into this with a smile on my face. I'm thinking an acrylic platter, ring-mat, record clamp and cartridge upgrade.

ohfourohnine
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

When I read your turntable recommendations to Chris, I couldn't resist opening the link on the Empire 398. That was my first "real" turntable. I bought it in 1967 or 68, outfitted with the top level Shure cartridge (the granddaddy of the V15 VxMR). It was (still is) a thing of beauty and with my Sherwood receiver and Wharfedale Speakers produced the best sound I'd ever heard.

We've all learned some things since then, though. Wharfedale speakers are now notably light in weight. Their back panels back then were filled with sand - a counter to cabinet resonances. The Empire folks, on the other hand, didn't worry much about resonance. I learned later that it wasn't notably quiet.

The turntable's drive motor was rigidly mounted to the wooden base which, in turn was rigidly mounted to the cast aluminum plinth, as were the arm support and the platter bearing. The only component offering any hint of damping was the drive belt - a carefully made rubber band which went for about twelve dollars in those days. I wonder what they go for today - if you can find one at all.

Having no arm lift, the 398 taught us the skill of deftly setting the stylus in the lead-in groove but the turntable was fitted with a feature which lifted the arm at the end of the record. A steel stud, mounted in the aluminum arm was gently captured by a strategically placed magnet. Cartridge mounting was relatively easy, but internal wiring was whatever it was, likewise the interconnects which were hardwired.

I remember it well and fondly as part of my introduction to a passion which has stayed with me through many years, but if I were Chris, and was shopping for a vintage turntable today, I'd opt for the AR. Visually, it isn't even close to my beloved old Empire, but it sounded lots better.

ChrisLee
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

So, am I right in interpreting that an older table like the AR/Micro will outperform the other players we've discussed in this price range? Just like to be sure we're comparing apples to apples here.
Oh, that Micro table is really cool looking isn't it?

Thanks for continuing the thread guys!

Chris

Buddha
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Hola, I'll have to go with "kind of" in answer to your performance question.

I'd say that the used models, as a group, could be expected to have alot of "potential" for not much money.

The Empire examples above, are perhaps the most fun to discuss. They have very well machined bearings and platters - so much so, that they have their own cult of "modders" to take them to what is claimed as 'reference level.'

With a motor remount, fresh belt (easily obtained from several online sources), and a fresh cartidge (the arms aren't slouches, either), someone could spend less than 500 bucks (or more, depending on cartridge choices) and have a real scene stealer in terms of performance.

So, with caveats, I'd say they are easily competitive with new tables in the same price range.

The Micro Seiki is cool from the vantage of being able to mount multiple arms and was known for being a very quiet table. Sometimes I think even my own audiophile snobbery doesn't allow for enough appreciation of what a good direct drive table could do. It also had excellent speed stability, nicely weighty platter, and would tolerate any number of after market platter toppers or spindle weights.

I would surely choose it over most of the current tables that retail in that price range. No offense to anyone is intended!

That Micro Seiki with a good sorbothane mat and maybe a SOTA clamp may really sing with that arm and an affordable cartridge.

I'd also pick many of the AR's that come to market vs. a current table at the same price. The AR is also still an active item in the modding world, so it could grow with the buyer The newer tables don't seem as adaptable in this regard, to me.

I'm very intrigued by those RX tables by B&O. I haven't heard any in a truly hi-fi environment, but they go so cheap! I will probably end up grabbing one just to see. They seem like they are almost free on Ebay! I haven't seen any mods for them, but they possible upside seems attractive for 150 buck or so.

So, I like most of those tables because they have the potential to easily be competitive with minimal extra effort and offer a continued "upgrade path" as the owner evolves.

I guess my most honest answer is that if I were in the market at that price level, that's what I'd be looking at!

ohfourohnine
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Fifteen years ago my wife and I bought a 100 year old house. For five years, we worked our tails off and dumped a fair amount of money into making it our "reference level" abode. We love it - but it was a long hard party.
You take your pick. Good stuff you can plug and play now or a foundation for growth.

If you like the idea of buying a fine old retro turntable as a work in progress, then I say have at it. That might make perfect sense if you have a friend or two with the skills to guide you through the modifications or make them for you. For some of us, that's what this hobby is all about. Vinyl is not only the route to delicious sound its a ticket to tinkering in one way or another. The question is what level of tinkering you can handle and enjoy - cleaning records and mounting cartridges or remounting drive motors and replacing internal wiring etc.

I guess I'm getting lazy. If I were you, I'd wait a while, get the turntable budget up a notch or two and benefit from todays technology. The very best turntables and cartridges are really expensive, but for two thousand dollars or so, you can get 80% or more of "reference level" right out of the box.

Yiangos
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Good recomendations from everyone,just be careful,some of the tables or quite old and need servicing,and sometimes it is almost next to impossible to obtain spare parts.

ChrisLee
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Well, I just joined an audiophile club, so maybe I'll get a chance to meet fellow enthusiasts, but for now, I'm on my own and know nothing about setting up/using a comples table. My only table I had was in high school and was a Technics ?sp that all you did was put the arm on the record and that's it hehe

So I'm kinda leaning toward something new right now, but I think I'll take Clay's advice and wait a bit. I can get my funds larger for a more modern table. Or maybe I'll luck out and find a used table from the club that I can manage?

Thanks for the suggestions everyone!

Chris

ChrisLee
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

HI guys, been thinking. Xmas is coming up, and was wondering your thoughts on this: Scout w/JMW-9 for $1650? And maybe the Grado PH1 phono stage? That's about a $2k budget.

Buddha
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Great combo!

Killer deck!

Jim Tavegia
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

I would check on the Monolithic Sound phono stage as well as the tube Jolida unit. www.underwoodhifi.com

ohfourohnine
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Now, you're talking. Merry Christmas!

ChrisLee
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Thanks for the suggestion Jim. Both of those look like very nice phono stages, but I really don't know much about picking one out. Any criteria that I should be looking at between these units?

Interesting website, has some interesting used gear too.

Thanks everyone. Make a decision about the above, and then put my wish forward to Santa. Then I only have to wait it out if ya know what I mean

Chris

Monty
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Re: What's a good combo to get back into vinyl?

Here is my final update on the new turntable set-up.
After getting everything burned-in and listening to enough albums I finally was able to reach what I think is the strongest combination for my system.

The NAD 533, PP-2 combination has the typical NAD sound of being overly polite and laid-back while doing little to offend. I actually think the Goldring Elektra cartridge is quite good for the money and can live with it for many more hours. The table has its own interconnects that really aren't that bad and that leaves only the interconnect from the PP-2 to my Rotel integrated for experimentation.

I first started with the Tara Labs Reference Generation II that I always start with on any new component. The Tara IC is just about as neutral a cable as you will find without spending silly money. It does roll-off the top just a bit and has (I think) a notch in the lower mid-bass, but articulates within its range better than any IC I have ever tried.

Given the NAD's tendency to be a bit dark, I swapped the Tara for a Kimber Silver Streak and found a very good match for the PP-2 and Rotel integrated. The Silver Streak does not match the Tara in terms of articulation, but it does add the needed zip to the NAD without creating a problem with siblants. The Silver Streak does add too much zip in my Marantz 67SE CD player, but works great with the analog front end.

All in all, this analog front end comes very, very close to my digital front end, and at just under $700 a really good entry level step into vinyl.

Chris, spend whatever you can afford. I don't think you will regret revisiting vinyl.

Uptown1
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NAD 533

Monty,
Skip the RingMat and Clamp. The acrylic platter will just deaden things and collectively you can buy some real improvements using the money saved on those misadventures. You do need a new cartridge. Get a Rega or a Dynavector for best results. There is another Brian in Austin if that is where you are from. He owns a shop called Whetstone Audio and is a Rega dealer. I think he has DV also. Anyway, he is a cool guy and knows his analog back and forth. You will also want to upgrade the phonostage at some point. The cartridge and phonostage upgrades will make significant contributions to your systems sound. Brian should have some nice units to try there including the Rega Fono. He should have quite a few other ideas and perhaps even some nicer Lps there also.
-Bill

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Rega P5 & Grado PH-1

Chris,
That is a nice table but you should also have a look at the Rega P5. It is a very sweet rig with a top qulaity arm and an outboard speed controller available. The Rega speed controller is designed specifically for the P5 and uses a feedback loop and Quartz control to actually control the circuit, not just the AC voltage. I think Jim is trying to suggest some really inexpensive stuff. If you are looking at putting $2k into it, you really should be looking at better equipment. You can get a super set-up for just little more. The cartridge and phono amp are very important components and skimping on one will limit the potential of the system. Good Listening!
-Bill

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