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spampup's picture
Last seen: 2 years 10 months ago
Joined: Nov 25 2005 - 8:59am
How does the old turntable "stack up"?

Hi, All,

I own an Acoustic Research ES-1 ("New AR") turntable, set up with a Rega RB-300 tonearm.

The tonearm is mounted on a custom-made aluminum armboard, which was available from Audio Advisor into the early 1990s.

This same setup was, at least until recently, used by Sam Tellig, although I understand he now uses a different tonearm on his AR, as a better match for his newest favorite cartridge.

Sam has stated in the past that he felt this setup was comparable to a Linn LP-12, although there are probably a few who would argue that point!

I recently upgraded my tonearm wiring using the Incognito rewiring kit (nice, and definitely worth the effort!).

I have also replaced the Rega's stock counterweight with the Express Machining "Heavyweight" version.

My turntable is in excellent shape, and carefully set up, with the sub chassis perfectly level, and with a nice, symmetrical "bounce".

I like my turntable very much, and since my wiring and counterweight upgrades, I have been wondering how my turntable would "stack up" againsed currently available

There are a bunch of really good "budget" and mid-level turntables available now, and I'm wondering where on a scale of "budget to high-end" units the
AR/Rega/aluminum armboard/Incognito/Heavyweight combo would fall!

How about it, any thoughts or opinions? Anyone using or used a similar rig?



Jeff Wong
Jeff Wong's picture
Last seen: 12 years 8 months ago
Joined: Sep 6 2005 - 3:28am
Re: How does the old turntable "stack up"?

Hi Ken - I can't comment on your vinyl rig since I've no idea what it sounds like (stock or modded.) But, I thought I'd share my own experience with new gear versus old.

I used to use a direct drive Technics SL-D202 from the late 70s/early 80s. At a local audio flea market meet several years ago, I picked up an AR-XA from the early 60s. I made a felt mat, rewired the outputs & AC, and dampened the platter and headshell with some compound very similar to Blu-Tack. The ancient AR-XA belt drive table, even with its primitive, barely adjustable tonearm, easily bested the direct drive model. The noise floor was lower, and pacing & rhythm was improved... it wasn't great sound, but it was much improved. I recently upgraded my analogue front end to a VPI Scoutmaster. This thing leaves the others in the dust in all respects. Turntable design really has come a long way; if you could see the grin on my face when I'm listening to vinyl these days, you'd have an idea of how much.

I would think with a nice arm like you've got, you're probably doing all right... but, it might be worth checking out a more recent design. I'm so glad I did.

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Last seen: 1 day 21 hours ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Re: How does the old turntable "stack up"?

Do you want to sell the AR? If you have any thoughts of it being inadaquate post it for sale and see how quickly it goes. What kind of cartridge are you using? Try a Sumiko Blue Point Special if you haven't.

ohfourohnine's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 7:41pm
Re: How does the old turntable "stack up"?

Joe is right, obviously, the ears do decide. My guess is you could beat your current rig, but that it would cost you five grand to do it, not counting cartridge cost. How much better would the sound have to be to make you want to spend that?

Buddha's picture
Last seen: 12 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: How does the old turntable "stack up"?

I think your rig probably sounds pretty darn fine!

I bet it's better than the current sub-1,000 dollar crop of tables.

I'm also pleased to see you say how you like it! That's a great sign of a well set up and integrated system.

I'd say your next stop should be a local hi fi club or hi fi show and give a listen to what's out there. Odds are you'll hear some stuff that makes you want to scrap what you've got until you see the five figure price tags, then you'll go home happy with how good your table is doing.

The only correct way to answer your question is for you to go on a listening tour and find out!

Logan's picture
Last seen: 13 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 7:22pm
Re: How does the old turntable "stack up"?

I too have an elderly AR ES1. It stacks up very well indeed. Modifications include an acrylic armboard (home-made), an Audioquest sorbothane mat, and a baseboard made of acoustic hardboard more firmly fixed to the outer frame by the addition of extra screw battens. I recently replaced the stock Rega RB300 with a Michell Tecnoarm which does justice to a new AT OC9 ML II cartridge. I then auditioned a VPI Scout in my system, and while I was impressed with it I saw no need to replace the AR. It is still eminently competitive.

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