Turntable advice

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

  1. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    Other good Thorens models to look out for TD-165 and TD-166 aren't as nice as the TD-160, but still going to sound pretty good, don't recommend if you can't put it on a solid floor or wall mount it though. The better models are the -124, -125 and the -145 but they all cost more and/or harder to find.
     
  2. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    @Biodegraded yep, micro-seiki was a big dog firm and had a lot of subcontractors they farmed out OEM jobs to. but do you want an OEM job or do you want the real mccoy with a shit ton of R&D money thrown at it because you can (Sony)?

    @famish99 yep.

    some more thorens notes:

    TD-124 - this is big boy territory. out of the holy trinity of lenco, garrard and thorens (td124), the 124 is the most difficult to service and maintain. be prepared to spend $3,000 to purchased a 'restored' example, and cross your fingers that whoever was doing the restoration actually knew what the fuck they were doing. or get one as-is and be prepared to order a few hundred dollars in replacement parts, a few hundred dollars for a serviceable plinth, and many hours stripping the thing down and putting it back together so that it approaches the lenco L75 in stock form. lol! not to mention the mechanical parts are covered in cadmium which is toxic. I have a 124 that is about 75% finished restoration. I completely stripped it and put all the parts through industrial grade electronic cleaning to get rid of the cadmium and restore the original chassis color. the drive system is more complicated than the garrard or lenco (more degrees of separation with a belt involved) and EVERYTHING has to be 100% for it to perform with the other two.

    TD-121 - same as above. same drive system, but it's single speed (33.3 RPM only) and has a lighter non-magnetic platter which is inferior to the beast iron platter of the 124. but if you only need 33.3, this is still a great machine. I have one but it's good for parts only, the motor is completely shot.

    TD-135 - I love this thing. 4-speed machine with the same platter as the 121, slightly wimpier bearing than 124, same drive system as both. main difference is the integration of an EMT-designed tonearm on the chassis, which is actually a very good sounding tonearm. it lacks anti-skating, so wimps who like using high compliance cartridges may not have a fun time. I just ordered a bunch of parts from audiosilente to pimp mine out, it will be used for mono only, as god intended.

    TD-125 - don't bother I think unless you find one cheap. the most overrated Thorens machine. It's not terribad but it's from the Linn era. the Linn movement is among the worst thing to ever happen to analog playback at home. the suspension system can be a pain. the TD-126 kicks this things ass.

    TD-126 (mk I only, forget mkII or III) - this is like a TD-125, but built with German integrity instead of limp-wristed British sensibilities like the 125. Their best belt-drive machine. Majestic to look at in person and use. Tonearm only supports light trackers/high compliance carts. Classic combo with the Shure V15. I do not care for belt drives or I would own one
     
  3. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    I sold audio back when turntables were popular. Standouts that I bought echo what k4rstar described. Choice models in order of acquisition and hopefully sound were Dual CS-505 and CS-1225 or 1229?? (iir), Thorens TD-160 with factory arm, and probably the unsung hero Kenwood KD-500 with Mission Arm.

    When I did finally bow out I used a Sonographe by Conrad Johnson. Fave was the Kenwood, fwiw. Best sounding carts were high output moving coils like Ortofon and a sleeper but great sounding cart by Audioquest that a member here bought.
     
  4. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    I used to own the Kenwood KD550 with stock tonearm and Shure V15 mkIII cart. It was a damn nice table. So easy to setup too. I sold it a couple of years ago for around $350. I see they go for a good bit more now.
     
  5. Regular Petey

    Regular Petey Facebook Friend

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    @k4rstar I really appreciate all the time you put into detailing the various options and your point of view on all of this. I know it's only been a couple days, but I did do lots of research on most of the turntables you mentioned on HiFiShark to see how often they come up for sale and what they typically go for. I looked at discussions on many of them on sites like the Steve Hoffman forums, etc.

    My concern wasn't that if I bought something, that I would be able to sell it without losing much, if any money. I decided that I didn't want a project, which most of the vintage turntables seem like they had the potential to be, even though direct drive motors tend to be incredibly reliable. I didn't want to replace 40 year old suspensions that were past their useful lifespan, or wonder whether the main platter bearing or the bearings in the tonearm gimbal weren't in great shape. Maybe I'll keep looking at vintage turntable deals for a second turntable, or something that I can refurbish as a project, but I wanted something good to go out of the box for now.

    That ended up pointing me in two very different directions:
    1) Schiit Sol
    2) Technics SL-1200GR or SL-1500C

    I'm a huge fan of Schiit. I've purchased 14 pieces of equipment from them. I'm fascinated with the Sol and would venture to say that there's probably nothing in its price range that can come close to its performance, if everything is dialed in correctly, and if your LPs are in good condition.

    I researched the heck out of the Technics SL-1200GR and the SL-1500C. I had one turntable prior to my Pro-ject Debut Carbon, and that was (I believe) an SL-1700 that I purchased somewhere around 1978-1979. Maybe part of it is the nostalgia of my past experience with a Technics turntable, but using a new Technics turntable is just simpler in a number of ways than if I got a Sol. The Sol may have the upper hand in terms of the tone arm and maybe what it's ultimately capable of, but I decided to go with a new Technics.

    I ended up choosing the SL-1500C over the SL-1200GR for a bunch of reasons.
    1) It was $1199 vs $1599 (normally $1699) for the SL-1200GR
    2) I like the looks of the SL-1500C better without the pitch slider and other more DJ related features that are on the SL-1200GR
    3) The SL-1500C includes a 2M Red cartridge, which many people have said sucks, and I happen to have one on my Pro-ject Debut, and I won't disagree with that, but it won't be a bad cartridge for playing kind of bad quality vinyl
    4) The quality differences between the SL-1200GR and SL-1500C appear to be relatively minor. Tonearms are exactly the same from what I understand. Weight differences between the plinths are fairly minor. The platter on the SL-1200GR is about 5.5 pounds vs. 4.5 pounds on the SL-1500C. The motors are essentially the same, other than compensating for the platter weight. The SL-1200GR is manufactured in Japan and the SL-1500C is manufactured in Malaysia, but they are both made in Panasonic factories. This shouldn't be an issue.
    5) The SL-1500C has an auto lift feature when the needle hits the runout groove. It's not perfect. I guess it's based on an optical input, so it should have no effect on the tonearm (other than causing it to be lifted), and it's not powered by the motor. It can be switched off. I think it's a nice to have feature.

    The SL-1500C has a built in phono stage, which can be bypassed, and I won't use it. Technics has implemented it in a way that the direct phono output (vs. the line out from the phono stage) does not go through the switch which turns off the phono stage. Phono cartridge output goes directly to a separate set of RCA out ports. Audiophiles may make remarks that no audiophile worthy turntable has a built in phono stage, but as I understand it, the way it was implemented should have no impact on audio performance. For what it's worth, multiple people have said that the built in phono stage isn't awful, at least when mated to the 2M Red.

    If there was a new SL-1200 model with the clean looks of the SL-1500C, for maybe $1499, maybe I would have gone that way, but I'm happy with my choice.
     
  6. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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    I have the sense that my TT setup is a little more on the warm/mid-bassy/soft in the treble side, than i think it should be. Everything feels tilted towards the warm. I'm wondering if i should try a different phono preamp or a different cartridge. The TT is a FLuance RT85, phono pre is an OG Schiit Mani, and the cartridge is an Ortofon Blue. Considering the current Mani, and also upgrading to an Ortofon Bronze. Any thoughts?
     
  7. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    @Regular Petey congrats man, please let us know how you get on with it, specifically if it provides more consistent satisfaction among your record collection than the pro-ject deck and solves your frequency extension concerns, and then how the vinyl playback compares to your digital rig. you'll have the same cartridge on each to begin with for the comparison so that will be a good data point for others in your shoes.

    i will be honest about the Sol, i know they addressed a lot of the release issues but to me it looks like more of a project than most vintage turntables LOL. probably not for most beginners to wonder if they have the motor pod the right distance from the platter or the platter at the correct height, etc. but some people are up for that challenge and no one else is going to give you an 11" uni-pivot arm and 3lbs diecast aluminum platter for $799 retail.
     
  8. gaspasser

    gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    I would do everything sequentially. The first consideration is if you are going to continue with MM carts versus MC. I follow Marv’s recommendation on budget phono preamps. Mani 1.2 for MC versus my favorite Franken Phono TC-750 for MM. If neither cools your system down enough then proceed with a cartridge change. Why Ortofon Bronze out of curiosity?
     
  9. Regular Petey

    Regular Petey Facebook Friend

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    Thanks! I will provide an update once I get it and have had some time to compare.

    Yeah, that was kind of the conclusion that I had come to as well.
     
  10. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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    For now I think I should stick with the MM carts/preamps. Can you link me to a Franken Phono TC-750, I don't know what that is?

    I was considering the Ortofon Bronze only because it is on the Ortofon upgrade path, and am currently using the Ortofon Blue. Perhaps i should consider some other carts?
     
  11. gaspasser

    gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/tc-750-phono-pre-amp-continued.150/

    I previously had 2M Blue but on a different table. I would search around what works for your table, but I’m interested personally in Soundsmith Otello ES or Audio Technica budget carts.
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    These latest discussions are why I am super hesitant about getting folks into TTs. It's going down the rabbit hole that either lead to a wonderful or totally messed-up results.

    On vintage gear (or even used gear):

    These are mechanical devices with precision parts. We have no idea if the person is selling because they got a bum unit or did something by accident that smashed the bearings in the tonearm. I would easily recommend a new Technics SL1210GR, but any remaining vintage SL1200s are iffy. Most vintage SL1200s have something wrong with them that non-experienced people would not notice. I would only buy vintage or used gear from well known refurb outfits that offer some sort of warranty or return policy, or someone you know where the history of the TT can be established. For new and cheap, some of the AT tables look interesting like the AT-LP5 for $450 - like x10 better than an entry level Pro-ject for the same price.

    Phonostage:

    Phonostage is just a crucial as the TT, cart, etc. I'd say even more of a factor if the TT is the typical MDF plinth deal because it will influence the sound quite drastically. The problem is that phonostages all sound different and decent ones or specific ones that best synergize best with your cart and table may not cheap. I haven't even settled on a phonostage yet for my main TT. If you are starting out and want to keep things cheap, this can be a nightmare situation.

    All too easy to say it's awesome:

    Don't listen to me when I can say with a straight face that I can enjoy almost any cheap table more than any DAC (well, other than the low-end Pro-Jects). I have records from an era when the production chain was AAA (analog recording, mixing, and mastering). I have about a dozen carts lying around. I have four or five phonostages. I can plug-and-play and get fantastic results. 95% of vinyl for new releases sound like butt, unless they are from Japanese boutique outfits.

    Free - 10000 adjustments that you absolutely 1000% need to F with it:
    • VTF. Play with VTF to get different transient behavior. Just remember that too light may mean poor tracking.
    • Cartridge alignment is crucial. You will hear audiophiles say they purchased Mr. Feckhart's kit and suddenly got betterer results. You don't need the expensive kit if you have a PC. Just go to Conrad's site and download the protractor application.
    • Azimuth and anti-skate. Some don't have these, but if you do, tweak them, maybe even by ear instead of by eye because the needles are never aligned right with the body. If you want to be more precise, some ideas here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...setting-azimuth-with-a-pc-and-soundcard.1905/
    • VTA. Another big one. If you want more lows, point the end of the arm with the cart with an upward slope. If you want more highs, point the end of the arm with the cart downward slope.
    • Get a center weight (not free). Helps flatten the record and adds mass. There's a reason why 90% of high end tables have platters that weigh more than several bags of dog food. And oh yeah, different center weights will sound different.
    Phono carts:

    Oh gawd, f***. Phonocarts are all over the place. Some are more mellow and tube-like (Grado), some are known for being extended but with body (Nagaoka), others are all over the place depending upon their place in the lineup (Ortofon), and the rest cost more than a car. Yeah, the upper end of the 2M series is a ripoff, but some models to have their place and can perform excellently in the right system with the right tweaks. A huge fricking problem is a lot of carts will have slightly screwed up FR. MM carts may need a specific poof or resistance loading to sound right. MCs the same, but will always have a rising last octave. Some like the Denon 103 are super duper sensitive to loading. So just in case you didn't have enough to worry about above, there is the cart now. And there's probably a 50% chance you may have gotten the wrong cart for your table. And as far as adjustments to "EQ" your cart correctly, you are shit-outta-luck if you have no money. The cheapest unit I know of with all these adjustment options is the iFi Phono3 which starts at $999.

    Conclusion:

    Bring money, patience, and tenacity.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  13. Pogo

    Pogo Friend

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    Congrats Pete, welcome back to the rabbit hole!
    Interesting that you will continue with the same cart/stylus as your current rig, this will be a great opportunity to A/B test the difference between the decks themselves once you get past the new toy syndrome and get the new cart broken in.

    Now I fear my Vinyl OCD is kicking in and I will offer a few suggestions to maximize your experience:
    Your OM10/Red stylus is bonded elliptical. It is vital that you clean your stylus but DO NOT use an alcohol based cleaner
    such as Mofi's LP9 on a bonded stylus. The acrylic adhesive they use is strong but repeated applications of alcohol, a great solvent, will eventually loosen the bond. I recommend onzows Zero Dust, kinda like a Mr Eraser designed for stylus's ($39).
    Ditch your Spin Clean, get Audio Advisors Record Doctor V ($199). Fully manual vacuum cleaner but cleans as well as any other vacuum cleaner. Bit of a PIA to use but it works. I use small Avery label dots on my LP covers to identify those which have been cleaned.
    Audioquest new carbon fiber brush is the best on the market for the in between vacuumings. ($20)
    ALWAYS vacuum clean a new LP prior to playing the first time, no matter which audiophile label pressed it.
    And eventually the upgrade bug will bite so come on back and we'll be glad to spend your money on new cartridges, alignment jigs, stylus gauges, anti-stat devices, isolation platforms, test records, cables, record sleeves, platter mats, dust cover cleaners, etc,etc,etc.
    And we haven't even begun to talk about which pressings of which albumns you need to pursue......

    "I tried to get out,but they pulled me back in"

    May God have mercy on you....and your wallet!
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Mani 1.2 is a warmish phonostage that sounds best with MC carts. The loading options are minimal. I prefer the Mani on neutral or more energetic tables. It works on the Sol. It also works on the Classic 4, but woefully inadequate for the table. It does not work on the cheap Drop AT or the VPI TNT 3. Franken TC-750 is probably the only way to go for you. I haven't heard Pro-Ject's latest cheap phonostage, but their last one was a veiled horrible POS. The Rega Fono is warmpoo. Very few choices under $500, or even $1000.
     
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    2M is not bad and actually one of the best for $100. But yeah, if you can move up to a $400 cart that synergizes with your TT and phonostage, it sucks. I think of the 2M Red as one of the few $100 carts that doesn't suck.

    Go for it. The TT vendors won't pick a starter cart that doesn't work well with their TT. Allocate another $1.3k for a phonostage and a Denon 103, and prepare to be amazed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  16. murphythecat

    murphythecat GRU-powered uniformed trumpkin

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    Ok, this makes me question my vintage SL-1200 mk1 i use. I havent even recap the psu and bought it on ebay 8 years ago: history unknown. I thought the sl-1200 were kinda rugged built and stable speed-wise...Think I'll buy a few used sl-1200 locally and keep the one that sound best?
     
  17. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    im very happy to have a discussion about this but i also dont want an episode of Scared Straight! for people looking to get into vinyl. as long as you're doing it for the right reasons. there is a lot of truth to everything Marv said. especially that 95% of new records suck and i would not bother with any sort of large investment in a record playback system if your curiosity with recordings ends with new pressings, stick with digital. my digital system is so good i only entertain vinyl as a means to play recordings of specific eras with period-correct equipment, this is what gives me the most enjoyment for that music. plus i am a gearhead so i have to get my fix somewhere.

    i think the best advice i can give to a beginner is find someone local to show you the ropes. seriously, it is so so much easier and fun to set up a turntable, maintain it, try out tweaks, shop for records if you have someone you can go to for quick help or to bounce ideas off of. all of this information is available for free on the internet but i know if i didnt have local audiophools to help me out i would not have been capable of restoring 4 idler machines without a ton of cursing and frustration.

    about buying used/vintage decks, yeah for sure be really careful. stick to face to face transactions, if for no other reason than a turntable being the most risky audio equipment to pack/ship. do research beforehand to find out common problems with the machine in question. ask plenty of questions about the machines ownership history, how much use it got, if any service was done, bring some records to try, download a RPM app on your phone and check the speed, etc. maybe i have just been lucky but i have never had an issue with any direct drive decks i purchased. the SL-1200 is more problem-prone due to its reputation with DJs, a lot of them have seen abuse a machine meant for domestic use would never see

    idler's are a different story, not that i think many people here are ready or willing to go for them but here is an anecdote. the first idler drive turntable i purchased was a Lenco L70. it was advertised as the seller as being completely refurbished and ready to go. i didnt know anything about anything, went to his place to check it out, listened to it for about a minute and took it home. the dude had multiple machines, i figured he was honest and had gone through it properly. it wasn't until i took it to a friend who had owned multiple Lenco's i realized the bearing had play and was dry, the wheel wasn't aligned properly, the rubber on the wheel was flattening, the motor mounting was loose, etc.

    he taught me how to disassemble and clean the tonearm, check the bearing, adjust the speed settings, and get the deck to be mechanically 100%. in the end i was shocked, it sounded decent before we did all this but after it was like a completely different table and blew away any DD machine in my collection as well as my digital system. instructions on how to do everything are on LencoHeaven but again it would've taken me longer with more trial and error.

    all of that being said, dont be a wimp. do not expect to pass GO and collect $200. it's more like pay $200 to find out where GO is and how to get there. treat it as an experiment, especially if you are young and have more free time, have fun with it and eventually be rewarded. the alternative is to stick to new gear only and suffer poor price/performance, unclear upgrade paths, lack of options and manufacturing/design standards that are a far cry from what we had 4+ decades ago.

    some bonus pics:

    my td-124, as found for $400
    IMG_0478.JPG
    the process of completely stripping it down
    IMG_0490.JPG
    after a round of electrocleaning in an industrial vat to get the grime and cadmium off
    IMG_0496.JPG

    I just need a plinth and some new mounting grommets and it'll be ready to go :)
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Dude, you do realize you just scared off more people with your teardown pics?
     
  19. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    LOL, I said idler's are a different story! please do not buy an idler drive machine unless you are a serious gearhead, willing to roll up your sleeves, rub grease on your body, do dealings with eastern europeans for replacement parts, and join three different forums you didn't even know existed to find out WTF to do. :D
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    You are probably fine, unless you hear chugga-chugga-chugga or warmpoo.
     

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