Turntable advice

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by Falcor, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Need a recommendation for a VPI Classic dust cover. Main purpose is to keep the neighbor’s little one from touching it.
     
  2. The Life

    The Life Facebook Friend

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    I got a local acrylic shop to make a custom one for mine for like $80.
     
  3. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    I keep wondering about how a high mass, more modern turntable would sound compared to my old AR ES-1. There is a VPi gold dealer a couple hours away, so I'm thinking about visiting them and listening to a modern VPi. Of course, if I were to buy one, it would be used, probably targeting a Classic. What would be a current VPi table that might be close to a Classic in sound?
     
  4. netforce

    netforce MOT: Headphones.com

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    Hey guys, I had a question from a big unnamed audio company asking for some feedback. They are looking to develop a very premium turntable but is a company with considerable resources. They would like to know if they were to develop such a high-end turntable, what would it need to differentiate itself in the marketplace.

    What special inputs, features and "Must-have" features it may need to set itself apart.
     
  5. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    Hey, Alan, not that I'm a turntable expert, but I've been pretty engaged with analog the last couple years. This does seem like a space where some big hi-fi manufacturers have outsourced a lot, mostly to VPI and Clearaudio, it seems.

    But if a big manufacturer was looking to get into the analog space, I think it would be distinctive to offer:

    1) A premium but not insanely expensive direct-drive. There seems to be little between Technics (1200GR, 1200G--$1700 and $4000, respectively) and super expensive DD tables from VPI ($15,000, etc.). I really like the DD pitch stability, which is why I got a 1200GR. But what's the upgrade from there, other than the 1200G?

    2) Somewhat easily swappable/adjustable armboards. A premium table, it seems to me, should let you use the arm of your choice and the length of your choice. But it'd be nice not to have to have a custom armboard made, etc. Seems like the Feickert tables have this nailed.

    3) Balanced outs from the tonearm. Seems like balanced connections would be a natural choice for the relatively weak signal from a phono cart, but very few tables seem to offer XLR outs.

    4) I personally enjoy easily swappable headshells, a la Technics or SME.

    5) Modular approach. Something like the Linn tables. The ability to upgrade platter, arm, bearing, etc, so that you can fine tune a table without having to step into entirely new deck. VPI does this really well.

    6) Speaking of distinctive, a new idler wheel table?! The Garrards and TD124s are really sought after vintage decks. If someone could bring out a new idler design at around $5K, I bet a lot of folks would be damned curious. But the new Garrards from SME, at $15k.... uh, so close but so far.

    Btw, I guess I'm defining "premium" as $5k-8k. Anything above that is into the realm of luxury, to me anyway.

    Happy to say more over email/PM, etc.

    --Will
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  6. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    I know your question was what features should it have, but I would suggest that the company take a good look at the business end also. I'm no expert, and data is hard to come by, but based on what I can find on the internet, the new turntable market may be as low as 69k to as high as 1.6 million per year. From the sources with higher estimates, Rega is said to have sold 48k and Pro-ject is said to have sold 124k in 2016. However, the greatest volume of those sales was in under $1000 turntables.

    Compare that to some "premium" turntable manufacturers. Nottingham's Spacedeck is said to be among the most successful high end tables having sold more than 10,000 over 40+ years. On average, that's 250 per year. VPi sells a range of models, including some to compete with Rega/Pro-ject. I found an estimate for their overall revenue as $1.4 million per year. If you assume $1000 per turntable, then that is 1400 tables per year.

    My point is that, when you are talking premium tables, the volumes are small, probably less than 1000 per year. And even Rega doesn't build their all of their own tables. Several of their entry level tables are said to be manufactured by a third party.

    When you breakdown premium tables, you will find that there is a lot of material cost and a lot of machining cost. These are commodity areas where the small manufacturer can compete with a larger company, especially at low market volume. There aren't a lot of areas where the resources of a large company can provide an advantage. A company like Technics may be the exception because they have used their reputation for direct drive and their research to make direct drive tables that stand out from the market. Assuming that the company you are talking to doesn't have the market history and image, then it would take some special feature to break into the premium turntable market.

    I'm not trying to discourage the company from getting into the turntable business. But I do think it is going to take more than a list of premium features to make it profitable. Of course, all of this is just my opinion and, as I stated earlier, I'm no expert. so take it with several grains of salt.
     
  7. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    @lehmanhill is spot on. I love to see the business case analysis as it's just so important.

    I'd also like to add that if a company has to ask what it needs to do to differentiate it's products from others, then maybe they just shouldn't go there. Someone has to see clear market deficiencies and a solution for the problem before they decide it would be cool to make a turntable.
     
  8. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    Yeah, agree with the above two posts, and was somewhat hinting at this, too, by saying that some big manufacturers (McIntosh, Bryston, Marantz, etc.) have outsourced to the likes of VPI, Clearaudio, and Gold Note, likely for the reasons listed above.

    I'm guessing that the McIntosh's of the world looked at the cost of R&D and tooling against the potential profit and decided against their own design.

    That said, I'd assume a big shop has plenty of people with at least some experience with analog. It'd be neat to see someone do something distinctive in this space. I, for one, would love to see a new, competitive DD table somewhere around the $4K mark. Not saying it wouldn't be difficult though....
     
  9. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Even my own modest turntable has been in the cupboard for nearly a decade, so hardly an expert, but this one surprises me. Are there actually cartridges with balanced output?
     
  10. sfoclt

    sfoclt Friend

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    Cartridges already output a balanced signal. We just attach one side of each channel to ground for single ended.
     
  11. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    I think the trouble is finding a phono preamp with XLR in. I can't say I've seen any (but I haven't searched them out, either).
     
  12. netforce

    netforce MOT: Headphones.com

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    Thanks Will! Seems like the manufacturer is aiming more towards more of the luxury realm by the other TT they have mentioned to me.

    It does look like they are considering a direct drive. Will pass along the feedback!

    They are most certainly looking hard into TTs and looking around at the options available.

    My take is the manufacturer does have some quite lower end consumer level TT and wants this to be a no holds bar TT in their higher end line. It is without a doubt a tough market but it seem they would like some earnest opinions from the community.

    We sell a few TT brands in store, McIntosh, Pro-Ject, E.A.T., Dr. Feickert and a few others. The vinyl stuff has picked up the last few years but without a doubt small compared to the digital side of things.

    Two pricey phono preamps with XLR in that came to mind:
    https://simaudio.com/en/product/610lp-phono-preamplifier/?v=7516fd43adaa
    https://www.mcintoshlabs.com/products/phono-preamplifiers/MP1100

    Not exactly cheap for those ones, the McIntosh one pushes $8500.

    Cheapest one I could think of was one from Pro_ject for $1000:
    https://www.pro-jectusa.com/en-us/products/pro-ject-box-designs/phono-boxes/rs-line/phono-box-rs

    Tricky part then is finding a TT with XLR out then.
     
  13. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    Now that makes a lot more sense. A brand leader for positive image can be good for the whole line.

    As for features, it really seems to come down to sound quality and partially to appearance. If you look through the Stereophile Recommended Turntables, there are a wide range of approaches and designs. The main thing that they have in common is a positive review from places like Stereophile and TAS.

    The one feature that isn't readily available, but would be nice is a remote control cuing lift. If I remember correctly Frank Kuzma prefers to be sitting in his listening chair when the needle drops, so he invented a remote cue lift for himself. It may be on his flagship turntable. I guess that goes along with automatic lifting the needle at the end of the record.


    You are correct. Its not easy to find either the balanced phono pre and TT. It makes sense that all turntables and phono pre's shoud be balanced, but the market is just not there. I'm a DIY guy so I built a balanced pre and its easy to convert the wiring of any TT to balanced. Even a $1000 Pro-ject is more than I want to spend if I can make it. Besides, the pre was an intriguing design by Stuart Yaniger.

    Anyway good luck to both you and the manufacturer. It's an intriguing project.
     
  14. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    My dim memory visualises four connections: + and - for each channel. Balanced would be positive negative and neutral for each channel.
     
  15. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    <Rushed out of the house in mid post. Yes, I should have been ready twenty minutes previously>

    Somehow I never got grips with the way headphone people use the word "balanced" when talking of connections and cables. It was explained to me, and correct me if I don't remember it right. I never used it so didn't really get it in my head. Not having a shared black wire, but separate red and black to each side, right?

    But... that is how turntables are wired, isn't it? L+ L- to one phono, R+R- to another phono.

    But balanced audio is, in the words of Monty Python, or Airplane, or both combined, An entirely different technology. Altogether...

    Balanced cabling shoves not one, but two signals, of opposing polarity, down the cable. The receiving end sums them, and anything left over must be noise, so it subtracts that. Very clever.

    Phono plugs and sockets are an unfortunate accident of history that stuck. And "Phono" on the amplifier is where the turntable was connected.

    Balanced cabling is a hugely superior technology, and its usual connectors are a far better design. It is just about always over-the-top for home-audio cable lengths, but scores big on simply using that pro technology. I don't currently have anything that uses balanced, but I have to admit loving the technology.

    OK, so back to turntables. I'd be very happy to see a turntable with true balanced output to XLRs. And a pre-amp with balanced inputs. If I say there aren't any, I'm sure I'd be wrong. But I won't hold my breath.

    Edit: read back a couple of new posts. OK, so no breath holding needed. Just lots of money. And the table with balanced output?

    <A Few Hours Later...>

    Edit2: Some words in this post have been eaten as per following posts.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
  16. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    Ha, I started an unexpected debate by mentioning balanced outs on TTs. In some past reading on balanced (or "balanced") connections, I ran across someone musing why turntables, where the phono signal is so weak that balanced makes a lot of sense, so rarely have XLR outs. It seems like a good idea to me!

    Yup, it's true that not too many phono pre's have balanced in's, but they're out there. Another is the Elac/Alchemy PPA-2, which is not super high end.

    As far as TTs that have XLR outs, the higher-end Pro-Ject tables (Signature 10 and 12) have them as an option. VPI tables/arms can also have an XLR junction box installed.

    I mentioned XLR outputs, b/c I see them as a "distinctive" (ie unusual but advantageous) feature, which is what I read Alan to be seeking. Fun following the debate and learning more!
     
  17. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    p.s. Forgive me I'm misinterpreting any of the info above. Still learning...
     
  18. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Thanks. That suggests to me that they actually include the balanced circuitry in the turntable. Well, I'll be doggone! :D

    Point taken about cartridge signals being extremely weak compared to the "line-level" stuff, but acquisition of noise at all depends on a cable being subject to it. Which is why why audio cables of a couple of feet really don't need it. Unless you live next door to a medical MRI lab!

    But I won't take the is-it-worth-it argument any further. Largely because I really have no idea. I jumped into this doubting that balanced TT setups even existed. As ever, I should have known better and hereby eat my words :oops:

    Thanks for extending my horizons, albeit to lands in which I'll never travel.

    Just curious, in case anybody knows... like line-level, there are usual levels and voltages associated with balanced connections. How do they do this with a turntable?
    Aren't we all! :)
     
  19. sfoclt

    sfoclt Friend

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  20. supertransformingdhruv

    supertransformingdhruv Almost "Made"

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    This might have been answered earlier, but I couldn’t find it in search.

    What’s a decent way to flatten out warped records? I checked online and found everything from “just store it with the rest of your records and it’ll be fine in a year” to “put it in the oven between panes of glass.” What’s... uh, normal?

    I picked this up at a show to support an artist, but my god is it warped. While I don’t know that I hear an issue (Sol’s arm glides over it without any noticeable issue), it looks pretty rough and makes me nervous.

    Thanks!
     

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