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Jolly_Green_
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Looking for new Turntable please help!

Hello all,

Looking to put a hi-fi listening station in my office for when i'm reading, etc.

Mainly to listen to downtempo, ambient albums from niche record labels like Ghostly International, Ninja Tune, etc.

Looking for a decent turntable, know very little about them other than belt drive vs direct drive. Does the table matter as much as the cartridge/stylus does? Can I buy a mid-level Audio-Technica turntable with a phono preamp and slap a nice cartridge on it and expect it to give me decent results?

I'm not looking to spend more than $500 on a turntable, and sub $500 for a stylus/cartridge. Recommendations are welcome.

I already have some hi-fi headphones and am considering types of amps to get also, tube, solid-state, etc.

Anything is likely helpful, thanks!

Old Audiophile
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Turntables

Most turntables in the price range you're referencing will come with a bundled cartridge and some will offer choices. For novices, I highly recommend you have the manufacturer or dealer install the cartridge for you. This is not something you just "slap" onto a tonearm. There's a little more to it than that. I doubt most $500 TT's will come bundled with a $500 cartridge. Keep in mind that a turntable will need a phono pre-amp. Some in the price range you're looking at have that built in but some don't. Do you have an amplifier with a built-in phono stage or external phono pre-amp? The cartridge and phono stage will largely determine the audio quality. However, the condition of the records play an important part in this, as well. Records require at least a modicum of proper care & maintenance if you care about audio quality. If you don't want to be bothered with this, stick with CDs or some other digital source. On the other hand, if you want to learn more about TT's & records, spend some time on "Analog Planet" or any other publication that focuses on TT's. For that matter, spend some time here on Stereophile and look up reviews on TT's. You can also Google articles on the basics of owning & operating a turntable. This will help provide some basic education in this regard. In the $1,000 price range, take a look and go listen, if possible, to TT's by: Project + Music Hall + Rega + Fluance + Mobile Fidelity + Thorens + Denon + etc. If you do go out to listen to a few TT's, make sure you ask the salesperson(s) to play what you'll be hearing on equipment as similar to your own as possible. Generally speaking, most of the TT's in your price range will sound fantastic on a $10,000 system. However, you want to hear what they'll likely sound like on YOUR system, right?

hoytis
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Keep vintage in mind

If you have a reputable shop in your area, I would also consider a vintage turntable. You could pick up something really nice for $500-$1000, with a great cart installed. Thorens, Denon, Technics are good options. Agree with Old Audiophile, don't go buying any preamps before you buy the amp...most internal phono stages will do the job nicely. Then if you don't dig it you can always add the preamp later. I take it you're only using headphones...no speakers?

Jolly_Green_
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Thanks, I'm looking at

Thanks, I'm looking at picking up the Fluance RT85 since it has a pretty decent cart as is, and I can upgrade to the Sumiko Moonstone with this TT and i've heard its a bit of an upgrade.

Question, just for HiFi headphone listening, do I need both a pre-amp and amp?

Jolly_Green_
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Also, is there a benefit for

Also, is there a benefit for tube amps vs solid state? I am going to be listening to mainly Ambient, downtempo stuff (think Thom Brennan, Steve Roach, etc) and some downtempo electronica stuff.

Already have some solid phonon headphones so if I get the Fluance rt85 I will just need an Amp I assume or would I need both an amp and a preamp?

Catch22
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Yes

You will need both an amp and preamp...plus a phono stage if the preamp you get doesn't have a phono stage already. The one offered by Fluance is inexpensive and comes with a rumble filter, which isn't common, but often necessary.

You might consider an integrated amplifier since they combine the amplification and preamplification together. Some even come with a phono stage as well, but the one offered by Fluance is probably better than what you'll find in most integrated amplifiers in your price range. Obviously, make sure that the integrated or preamp has a headphone output.

The deal is this: The turntable needs its own preamp (phono stage) to handle the relatively low output signal and equalization. It's not the same as the other inputs you see on the back of your integrated amplifier or preamplifier. The preamplifier section of an integrated or stand alone preamp gives you the selectivity of inputs and most importantly...a way to control the volume. Even if you don't need or even want the selectivity of a preamplifier, you still need a way to control the signal amplitude being output from the amplifier.

As for the tube vs solid state options, there are pros and cons with each.

If you have no plans to expand your listening beyond the use of headphones, you might check out what people are using over at places like Head-Fi. There has never been as many options as there are currently.

Jolly_Green_
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Good start?

Reference RT85 High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable with PA10 Phono Preamp and Ai61 Powered 6.5” Stereo Bookshelf Speakers

Link here :https://www.fluance.com/turntable-speaker-systems

The system is cost effective, comes with a great cart, nice 3lb plate, phono preamp, and powered speakers in case the headphones get old.

Now I would still need an amp to pass the pre amp through if I wanted to use my headphones, correct? But I believe for $1000 this may be a good start that I can build off of in the future. Yes?

hoytis
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Did you buy already?

That Fluance system is all in one...the amplifier is inside the speakers (they're "powered"), so you can't use an external amplifier with that system because you can't plug an amp into an amp. And that preamp included in the system doesn't have a headphone input. So the whole thing isn't going to work for you.

To make things simple, if you're only using headphones to begin with, get a decent entry table like the RT85 or Pro-Ject Debut Carbon or Rega Planar 1. Then just pick up a
modular stack from Schiit (https://www.schiit.com/products). Call them and tell them your needs, they'll hook you up. Prices are great and they sound very good. You could pick up the Mani phono preamp ($129) and the Magni headphone amp ($99). Cool thing is it also has preamp outputs, so you could send the signal to a future integrate amp/passive speakers set up.

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