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Welshsox's picture
Last seen: 10 years 11 months ago
Joined: Dec 13 2006 - 7:27pm
$3,000 mix of TT/cartridge


Just like to get general thoughts on this question, which of teh following approachs would you consider preferable and why ?

Lets assume you have $3000 budget for an analogue package

1 - $1500 TT and $1500 cartridge ?
2- $2500 TT and $500 cartridge ?
3 - $1000 TT and $2000 cartridge ?

Im sure you can see the intent of the question, how much of the quality of a complete TT package is down the table and how much is the cartridge. Not to to bias it to much my thoughts would be to one extreme or the other ie a Clearaudio Perfomance with a Denon DL103 R or say the Cleaaudio Emotion with say a Ortofon Kontrapunkt C both these options would be around $3,000


dcstep's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2007 - 4:59pm
Re: $3,000 mix of TT/cartridge

I did #2, basically.


linden518's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 12 2007 - 5:34am
Re: $3,000 mix of TT/cartridge

Interesting question. But having gone through this kind of experience just now, it can't really be broken down into price this simply. I know a lot of people who'd take the Denon 103 over the Kontrapunkt cart. I totally get the logic behind this inquiry, but I'm sure as you actually listen to some turntables, your preferences will definitely form, regardless of price. I know for sure that there were some tables that I preferred personally, over TTs that cost 5 times more. Not a zero-sum game at all, at least for me.

That said, I think your approach is still pretty rational, I totally get it. As for me, I'd go with Door #2: $2500 TT and $500 cart, and this is actually the line that I've personally taken with my TT choice. The logic is simple; people upgrade or switch out their cartridges more readily, with more ease, than physical turntables. I regard the TT as a foundation upon which you can build your analog system. If you end up with an ideal or near-ideal turntable, I'm sure the upgrade path with other components will follow more naturally. For example, if you end up with a TT that is close to your ideal, trying out a low-cost but quality cart will let you really listen to the music; you'll hear both what you like, and you'll hear what you'd like to have that is missing. Then as you upgrade on the cart, you can try to hone in on the qualities that you want. It makes more sense to me. Selling a cart on Audiogon to buy a newer cart is a LOT easier than trying to sell an outdated TT. The tastes & trends are pretty fickle in the analog market, especially with the TTs. One year, the rigid, thin plinth is in. The other year, it's the mass design... anyways, these days, there are always these 'hot' tables w/ great word of mouth, then before you know it, they die off & their resale value also takes a dive. Which also contributes to the masturbatory patterns of the constant TT-upgraders. They want to maximize the economic potential of their TTs, obviously, sell em off before they become irrelevant in the marketplace. So I don't recommend that route. Denon 103 will ALWAYS sell easily, despite them being around for decades. A Clearaudio TT from a season or two ago will not. And if it even sells, it will be for SIGNIFICANTLY less than the price that you paid for. I've been following Nottingham for months. As I mentioned, Notties are some qualitilicious TTs, regardless of price, which would respond to any upgrade you'd make. For a personal example: I was really hot for the 294 Notty for a very long time. Even a few months ago, 294s rarely popped up on Audiogon, and even if one popped up, it'd sell within a day or two. Just a month ago, a 294 came up, but didn't sell for a month plus. It was kind of sad watching the seller post & repost, lowering the price, and no one biting the bait. This has nothing to do with the quality of the Notty, which is excellent. It's just the consumer demand/desire... the heat cools off eventually on almost all TTs except for a select few.

Then compare that decrepid resale price of some out-of-trend TT to the resale price of Denon 103. Denon 103's value is strong like Donkey Kong. (But why would you even want to sell a Denon 103? I'd always keep it in a drawer, even if I find something different.)

So I say try to get the TT that you know will give you most of what you desire out of your records, and buy with an intention to keep it for a long long time. A TT that will definitely respond to various upgrades you'd make, that will keep that gear-lust/upgraditis at bay (and again, this isn't as necessarily dollar-dependent as you might think). And if I were you, I'd go for a Denon 103. If you'd like, Zu Denon 103 or a Soundsmith Denon 103. I think the smart money is something like getting a used Shelter 501 for around $600, with the $2500 TT. Then later, instead of splurging for that $4000 cart, get it re-tipped at Soundsmith with Ruby cantilever... I'd totally go for this. Also consider Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood MM; a very easy cart to love, which is very forgiving on records that are in less than stellar shape. You can get this for around $400 on Audiogon. Sounds fantastic. Gets so much love out of the grooves... it's one of the reasons I'm not jonesin' to upgrade on the cart as badly as before. It will hold steady in some really nice rigs, provided that you're listening to the music & not to particular sonic qualities, although it's a tidy little performer sonically, as well.

dbowker's picture
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Re: $3,000 mix of TT/cartridge

Look at it this way- it's a lot easier to upgrade your cartridge (some companies even have upgrade paths, like Grado) than your entire TT. Put as much as you can into the turntable and incrementally upgrade the cartridge as time goes on.

mrlowry's picture
Last seen: 5 years 8 months ago
Joined: May 30 2006 - 1:37pm
Re: $3,000 mix of TT/cartridge

. . . and of course if someone REALLY wanted to muddy the waters they could throw in the phono stage to the list of variables. MUAHAHAHAHAH!(Evil laugh)

But in all seriousness dbowker has got it right, particularly from a logistical and strategic point of view. Since cartridges do wear out this course of action allows for upgrades that are essentially veto proof. "But honey the old cartridge is shot. I think that it maybe damaging OUR records." Saying that doesn't ring true for 'tables or phono stages and would lead to some late night camping trips on the couch.

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