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Boogieman1's picture
Last seen: 1 year 4 weeks ago
Joined: Dec 25 2013 - 6:50pm
How do you select a turntable for purchase? Home audition?

Looking to get (back, after many years) into vinyl, and I am wondering about how to select a turntable.  I have MBL 101's, and would like a vinyl rig to complement that big sound.  Looking at $8-$12K price point for the table.


It's fairly easy with amps and other components, and Harder, but manageable for speakers - bring them home and throw them into your system.


But how do you deal with turntables, considering setup is involved?


 And furthermore, how do you take into account the different components that along with the turntable can affect the sound - cartridge, phono preamp, and arm?  How do you "disentagle" the signature left by these components? 


Is there a better option than going to dealers and shows, listening in unfamiliar systems, and listening to the salespitch?


Thank you!

commsysman's picture
Last seen: 4 days 2 hours ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am

I have had and listened to many turntables for the last 50 years, and I think that you can get a wonderful turntable and cartridge for around  $3k to $4K if you choose carefully.

To my ears the improvements beyond that price level are infintesimal and have some variation but little in the way of real sonic improvement.

I think the sonic signature of the preamp, speakers, amplifier, phono preamp, and other components make for more audible difference, in general, than differences in turntable beyond a certain point.

I have auditioned several turntables in my system, with costs up to $8000, and settled on the Music Hall MMF-7 with a Benz Ace Medium cartridge; all well under $3000.

Anything less than several days of listening with it in your own system at home is like buying a new car without even sitting in it; totally worthless! No audition other than in your system is worth your time.

I was using an Audio Research PH-5 phono preamp, which cost $2500, but have recently changed to the Musical Fidelity M1ViNL, which is incredibly good and only $1200. I have heard MUCH more expensive ones that are not nearly as good IMO. I think it is a gem.

The rest of my system is not in the class you are apparently talking about, but is pretty good. I have an Audio Research LS-26 preamp, Musical Fidelity M6PRX amplifier, and Vandersteen Treo speakers. 

It is good enough to reproduce the massive dynamics of a Steinway with incredible realism and pefect clarity from a top-quality recording of large-scale piano works or Beethoven's 9th and Mass in C.

One recording that is my acid test is the recording of Horowitz performing the Chopin Polonaise Number 6 (op.53) on DG 419045-1. He doesn't quite destroy the piano, but comes rather close. The dynamic range of the recording is off the charts. If a system can reproduce that piece with no distortion whatsoever and put you next to the piano, you have an impressive system, and my system does it. Sound to die

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