[Poll] Best Turntables for Under $1600 (w/arm)? (pick 3)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Cyclone Ranger, Jun 12, 2017.

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  1. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    I don't get the point of this thread either. After all, we should all be perfectly content with an AT120LP.:pineapple:
     
  2. Jerry

    Jerry Grateful Gort Staff

    Location:
    New England
    So, back to the thread topic....
     
  3. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident

    Indigenous cultures traditionally made their tonearms of wood as well as the motors for rich analog/ambient resonant sound, which was enhanced by the sound of flowing water that powered the water wheel motors. Many of the first Japanese turntables were crafted that way and word has it the craft is dying out. There are probably no more than a handful of artisans left in Japan who can still craft a wood tonearm, and they're all in their 70s and 80s. You can still get wood body carts, but all the precision wood styli are long gone.
     
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  4. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Hey, don't diss that AT120LP, man.
    It's a monster I'm tellin' ya, a monster. :biglaugh:

    .
     
  5. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Yeah, I had one for a while, also ran an M97xe on it. Every table since has been a worthwhile upgrade, even some that had major issues.

    I'm glad that Automated is happy with his. A friend who bought my AT120 is still happy to spin her "vinyls" on it. I wish I could've been content with one, would've saved a lot of scratch.

    Out of the listed tables, I think the Polytable would be my number one choice, that or the Marantz. Second would be the Clearaudio Concept unless the system was on suspended wood flooring.
     
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  6. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Yup, the AT120LP is disappointing even by entry-level TT standards.

    Thin, ringy, undamped aluminum platter? Check.
    Tonearm bearings so poor and high-friction that the anti-skating doesn't even work properly? Check.
    A built-in preamp so bad that users are tearing it out right and left in order to get better sound quality? Check.

    Something like a U-Turn Orbit, with its built-in Pluto phono stage option and a Grado Black, would likely be lots better for the same money.

    Far as your under-$1600 observations go, yea, a lot of ppl do seem very enamored of the GEM Polytable (and George Merrill's designs in general). But I've never even seen one, guess there's not that much of a dealer network.

    Though there's a guy a half hour away from me who carries Avid and Kuzma and also carries Merrill Williams. So, when I finally go 'turntable hunting' in earnest, I may finally get to hear one, or one of Merrill's higher-zoot designs. :thumbsup:
    .
     
  7. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I wouldn't begrudge anyone for buying an LP120 if they are just starting out. It is a cheap knock of a serious turntable but properly set up it shouldn't damage one's records. Can't really say that about the Crosley/LP60 junk that sells in huge numbers.

    Anyone that's already bought an LP120 and is stuck with it would do well to maximize the sound quality on it by a few minor adjustments/mods. The ringing platter can be somewhat overcome with a thick rubber mat. This will also fix VTA issues on some carts. The preamp can be yanked out, and the antiskate spring can be adjusted or replaced. RE: the tonearm bearings, that is a bit more tricky since examples vary due to iffy quality control. Some are clamped down too tight and others are sloppy and loose. A decent $100 cart would also be a huge upgrade, assuming the user has a decent amp and speakers, and is not plugging it into rinky dinky Logitec computer speakers or whatever.
     
  8. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    I dunno... feels like turd-polishing to me.

    Probably better to sell it, and start over with a sound foundation to begin with. YMMV.
    .
     
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  9. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Many users are stuck with them and aren't going to do that. Especially if they are young and got it as a gift or whatever. For awhile that table cost $249 was the cheapest new TT that wouldn't destroy your records (pre-Orbit).

    The mat and cart can be migrated to a new table so there is no loss there. The other mods I mentioned don't cost much to do.

    Believe me, I am no fan of this thing as I've actually handled and listened to a couple examples, not just watched videos on YouTube.
     
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  10. It's true that the AT-120LP-USB is disappointing in it's stock original form and a record destroyer. They come with below entry-level cartridges. S-canning the cartridges is the first step. Replacing the original cartridges with Shure V-15, M97xe, M78s and M24H, plus Stanton 600 and Pickering NP/AC makes it a real powerhouse. All are in their own universal interchangeable headshells. The Shure M24H is in a Technics 1200 black headshell to differentiate itself.

    Never had a ringing problem with the balanced professional anti-resonance aluminum platter with heavy duty bearing. Ever heard of a turntable mat?

    The jewel tone arm bearings are much better than other turntables which cost many times more. Luckily it has a built-in excellent and adjustable anti-skate system with a dampened cue-lift which other turntables which also cost much more don't even have with some offering the features at extra cost.

    Though I've never used the built-in pre-amp, always have had it in the bypass position, when using the M24H cartridge with it's 20-50khz frequency range, the bypassed pre-amp nicely passes through the 30khz carrier frequency of the discrete quadraphonic CD-4 records. We cut a custom acetate using a frequency generator for a source and found that the cartridge and pre-amp in the bypass position actually could reproduce frquencies above and below the cartridge's rating.
    Ofcourse we couldn't hear those frequencies outside of the normal humal hearing range, so we used an ocilloscope and frequency counter to confirm the results.

    As a general rule, different pre-amps will have a different sound and if you want to tailor the sound into something which is pleasing to you, that is fine also. We built different variations of pre-amps and compared them.

    Though I prefer a belt-driven turntable, the DD AT with it's variable speed control and 3 basic speeds is a real plus. Being that I play and needle drop old 78's for others, I couldn't live without the 78 rpm speed. Previously, the Technics 1200's had to be modified for the 78rpm speed, they added it to the new one. It sure beats the old professional radio station QRK turntable I was using.

    Even our host, Steve, has said that not all records are at the correct speed , so a variable speed control comes in very handy if a person is serious about hearing a record at the proper speed. As an extreme example, I have a couple of copies of a radio station 45, "When I Was Young" by Eric Burdon and The Animals, MGM K-13791(CS-11) where the speed of the record was errantly cut at somewhere between 45 and 33. To play it at the correct speed, I had to put the AT in 20% mode and set the speed to 33 rpm. I also have an Olivia Newton-John 7" picture disc, "Deeper Than The Night", #PICS45-1810, which is another mid-speed wonder.

    Now, the reverse feature of the AT-120 is an extra that I could live without, but it does finally allow me to play the flip side of the Napoleon XIV(Jerry Samuels) 45 "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!", which is or probably should be Cyclone Ranger's theme song. :)

    Find me another turntable which meets my needs and is worth the upgrade and I try it!
     
  11. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    I dunno, maybe in the past. Current AT120LPs come with the AT95E cart… not my cup of tea, but by all accounts a decent entry-level pick. Too bad the 'table itself flat sucks. :(

    Sigh... the issue isn't whether I've heard of turntable mats (in this case, preferably a thick rubber one) but whether Audio Technica's turntable engineers have. Because it shouldn't be on the user to have to buy an aftermarket rubber mat to damp the AT120's thin, ringy aluminum platter… it should be on Audio Technica to have it right out of the box, either via a proper mat, a heavier and/or more non-resonant platter, or rubber bonded to the platter underside (as Technics does on some of its models).

    LOL, which turntables 'that cost many times more' do you base this on? Ian over at HiViNyws found the 120LP's tonearm bearings to be so high-friction that its anti-skating didn't even work properly. Check it out here, at 20:41 in:




    See the vid above. The 120LP's 'excellent' anti-skating system, assuming it actually is such, doesn't even get a chance to work properly due to the bad tonearm bearings. So much for 'better than turntables costing much more'. :wtf:

    Those who use their hearing to judge such things found that the LP120's built-in preamp hurt sound quality even in bypass mode. Thus, the large number of 'How To Rip Out Your AT120LP's Built-In Preamp' videos on YouTube. With plenty of views. :(

    And of course, this does not speak well of AT's engineering, design, or component choices. It's a very cheap preamp, yes, but, so what? The built-in Pluto preamp option on U-Turn turntables is cheap too, yet has not inspired legions of users to rip *it* out. So, it can be done right for cheap.

    Or by the same token, the Offspring's unofficial tribute to AutomatedElectronics, 'Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)'. Look up the vid. ;)

    It's not about convincing you, Automated, as you are pretty obviously 'old and set in your ways'. But those reading this might catch the clue that the AT120LP is quite a poor choice for their hard-earned dollars, and look elsewhere…. as well they should. :thumbsup:

    Cheers.
    .
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  12. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Harsh...
     
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  13. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    Clearaudio Concept
    Marantz TT-15
    Project Classic
     
  14. BlackStrat_Fan

    BlackStrat_Fan That's like your opinion, man!

    Location:
    Woodland Hills, CA
    OK guys, I responded to this thread a couple of days ago confident in my decision to pick up the new Rega P3, add an Ortofon Bronze, then eventually add the TT-PSU. That was the plan. Now I am considering the RP6 at the current discount, the Music Hall MF-7.3 and even the Clearaudio Concept, along with the P3 as originally planned. The Music Hall seems like the whole package in one to me, however I have been wanting to jump into the Rega waters for some time and the RP6 seems like a great deal. But I'm one of those people that just hates buying something that is soon to be updated, even if it is the smart move. Not only that, the new P6 will most likely be out of my price range ($1600ish). Which leads me back to the P3.....Ugh...decisions..
     
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  15. Definitely not 'old and set in my ways, but I do let my experience and electronic background help me make my decisions. I love trying new stuff, that's why I go to the electronic's expo in Las Vegas.
    Oh, I like the cork turntable mats best as they seem to be better than felt or rubber which tend to promote static electricity buildup.
    I haven't had any problems with bearings or friction on either of my AT120's. Initially, I did have some problem with the anti-skate system hanging up and then releasing, sending the stylus into the label. After a little wear-in, the anti-skate worked flawlessly. When the tone arm is balanced to neutral, increasing or decreasing the anti-skate will make the tone arm swing in or out. No bearing friction problem there. I can duplicate the anti-skate reaction in any position the tone arm is in while floating.
    But, why didn't you answer my question? Find me a turntable which meets my needs and is better than what I've got. I'd gladly spend $1000. to $2000. for it. So what about it? Here's my needs again:
    1). Removable universal headshell
    2). Variable speed control
    3). Built-in, adjustable anti-skate
    4). Built-in cue lift
    5). High torque motor
    6). 3-speed-33, 45 & 78
    7). Internal wiring capable of passing through a frequency range of 20-50khz

    So, find me a turntable which meets my needs and I will gladly buy it! Put out or just go back into your corner and sulk.o_O
     
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  16. I333I

    I333I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ventura
    Ehhhhh, I had that TT, have had three others since. They were all worth the price and much better than the AT120. That TT seems like a fisher-price in build and sound compared to what I have now.
     
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  17. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Hey! Don't insult Fisher-Price like that. ;)

    .
     
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  18. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    He made a buying decision based on his eventual purchase delivering what he needs, as he sees it. You calling that a mediocre decision is outwith your remit. You might not agree with it, but his choice, his money.
     
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  19. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    But what if you see the new Rega Planar 6 when it gets released, and really really want it? ;)

    .
     
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  20. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    Indeed. ;)
     
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  21. ATSMUSIC

    ATSMUSIC Forum Resident

    Location:
    MD, USA
    Thorens is making a really bad showing here, really bad...
     
  22. ATSMUSIC

    ATSMUSIC Forum Resident

    Location:
    MD, USA

    just so people know, pretty much anyone will give you a 10% discount on this as well (maybe more). So it will come in under 2K
     
  23. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    If you read the last few lines of the post you quote, you'll see that I ptetty much agree with your position.
    .
     
  24. golfnutintib

    golfnutintib New Member

    Location:
    San Francisco CA
    curious to know if you did the stub/counterweight upgrade to the 202 arm? also, did u consider a VTA collar? i know the VN thorens is a spring loaded table, so i realize that doing these changes may require resetting of the springs, which can be a PITA
     
  25. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Yup. Pro-Ject is kinda being left in the dust too... two of the biggest quality-turntable-makers in the world.

    Guess it goes to show that when dealing with more discerning customers, it's about more than just having a gazillion models in your lineup and being widely available...

    .
     
  26. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    Poll-design quibble: can't folks order the SL-1200GR for right around $1600? If not, it's within $100 of that mark, right? That's what I would do in this category. (It also meets all of that guy's needs for less than $2000, in case he's actually looking for an answer to that question.)
     
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