[Poll] Entry-level Turntables: Is There Really Such a Thing as a Good sub-$500 TT?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Cyclone Ranger, May 28, 2017.

  1. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    That's pretty much the same experience I had with my previous Pro-Ject Debut II and REGA RP1. In both cases the experience was far from satisfactory but unlike you I didn't have to buy something more expensive because I found that the AT LP-120 did everything I expected from an entry level TT at half the cost of the RP1.
     
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  2. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    The key is to use a really top quality cartridge.
     
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  3. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Location:
    Westfield, IN USA
    I get you point about people with no experience wanting to buy a new turntable instead of used. They want something to work perfectly without any fuss, makes sense. On the other hand, what you can get for less than $200 on the used market will beat the heck out of the newer stuff.
    After a quick check of the Boston Craigslist, yeah I'm bored, there were three or four decent looking tables. I contend any decent turntable made around 1980 by one of the major audio companies is still a good table. The competition to sell record players back then forced Technics, Pioneer, Sansui, Yamaha and many others to produce quality goods. At least that's how I remember it.

    Here's a local listing:
    [​IMG]
    Technics SL 3200 with Grado cartridge for $140. Vintage Technics turntable / record player with Grado Green cartridge

    Looks pretty nice.
     
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  4. troggy

    troggy Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow

    Location:
    Benton, Illinois
    I think that U-Turn has been incredibly smart in their approach to this point. They saw a need for a good, entry level turntable that offered excellent customer support made in the USA at a very competitive price. They managed to accomplish every one of those things and that's why they've been successful, so far. The competition for good tables at $200 is pretty limited.

    I'm not convinced that muddying up the waters with an entire line of tables is where they need to go. There's a lot more competition as they go up the line. Up the line to them may continue to be acrylic platters and wood plinths. Those are easy to do as options.
     
  5. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I am an owner of an Orbit Special Walnut and would love to see a U-Turn Orbit model 2. Imagine an Orbit with better lid hinges, calibrated counterweight, quieter motor/belt/platter interface, iterative upgrades to the arm, headshell, sub-platter. They are right on the cusp of building toward being a genuine American Rega IMO. I hope for a line of turntables. If they can build the Orbit Basic for $179 imagine what they could do at the $500 price point. I'll be bummed if they veer into amps, speakers, other gear.
     
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  6. swvahokie

    swvahokie Forum Resident


    Troggy is right about one thing. Expand too much and you can kill the company. Which would be a shame, because they are about the only game in town for a decent TT under 200 bucks.
     
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  7. Davey

    Davey like smoke from a lithium dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    I'm not sure how big the market is, though. They may be losing money on each table, who knows? That's the way AR built an entry market share way back in the 60s, but at some point you have to make a pretty good profit to pay American workers. Maybe they aren't losing money, I don't know, but maybe they would be with a move upmarket, or maybe the losses would be greater. Turntables are labor intensive to produce and distribute.
     
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  8. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Wasn't U-Turn initially a Kickstarter company? If so, doesn't seem like they'd have a big capital cushion with which to lose money while building market share, since they didn't even have enough funds to start a company on their own without outside help in the first place.
    .
     
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  9. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    I don't think that diversifying into other kinds of gear is an 'either/or' thing when it comes to going upmarket in turntables. They can do both.

    Look at Rega. They sell everything under the sun (amps, speakers, phono stages, carts, CD players) and also have a complete lineup of 'tables.

    Diversifying is part of the very process of becoming an 'American Rega', as you say. Because, what if there's a downturn in analog/it ends up being partly a fad after all?

    I don't think that's the case, but when building up a company, it's often smart not to put all of your eggs in one basket.
    .
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
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  10. Davey

    Davey like smoke from a lithium dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Well, it was a very successful campaign, they wanted $60,000 and got a quarter million.
     
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  11. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Which will do, what, pay the salaries of five full-time employees for a year?

    No one of any size is losing sleep over any alleged 'cash cushion' U-Turn might have.

    *meanwhile, at Denon, Audio Technica, Pro-Ject, and Technics headquarters*

    "A... a... quarter million?!? We... we cannot compete." :wtf:
    .
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
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  12. Davey

    Davey like smoke from a lithium dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    I'm not sure your point, I was only saying that it's a small private company and we don't know how much money they are making or losing on each table, and that may be part of the decision to not move upscale. That's all :)
     
  13. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    My point was, they're not well-heeled enough to sell turntables at a big loss. Which seemed to be what you were speculating.

    I think they're diversifying into other gear in an effort to hedge against any possible analog downturn, not because they feel they can't compete in higher price point 'tables.

    That said, you have a good point, we don't have access to their books or sales figures. They could be diversifying for any number of reasons, up to and including an evil plot for world domination. Who knows for sure? :faint:
    .
     
  14. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Hard to ever know what is going on with a small private company until you see the financial statements. I used to deal with this all the time. Many companies that outwardly appear to be successful are in reality in a pretty tight position.

    RE: their decision to move into other products, I think you can look at their pre-amp as a model for that. Before they had one, they sold the Art DJ Pre. I'm guessing they sold enough of them to realize how much money they were losing, hence why they decided to develop their own. Their move to offer it as a built-in option at a discount vs. the standalone unit was also a good one. I'd imagine many U-Turn customers go that route.

    For quite awhile now, they've been selling AudioEngine powered speakers. I'd guess they've started to look at the potential profits they've been losing on those too. If they do offer their own line of powered speakers, I will be very surprised if they are able to compete at a competitive price point and manufacture in the U.S. Maybe they can pull it off though.

    All this is just guesswork based on information that is available. I don't work for U-Turn and I haven't seen their financial statements.
     
  15. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    That is really nothing in terms of starting a manufacturing business, or expanding an existing one.
     
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  16. Davey

    Davey like smoke from a lithium dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Sure, but the point is that it was way more than they were seeking, so apparently they must've already been pretty well set up. You aren't gonna start a new turntable business with only $60,000. That was just to get the initial orders going. Losing a little money on every table isn't gonna put a company out of business, not if they have long range plans.
     
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  17. Jack Flannery

    Jack Flannery Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX
    You can load up an orbit with an Ortofon blue, platter, queuing lever. $505. No preamp. Not judging. I gave never seen nor heard one.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
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  18. geddyfleaharris

    geddyfleaharris Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Just took the plunge and bought the U-Turn Orbit Plus. It's a great machine! I think I'd need to spend double to find an appreciable notice in tone, but for my needs it is great. I'd rather invest in vinyl right now anyway.
     
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  19. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA

    Yes, but that '$500 Orbit' is half cartridge, in terms of cost.

    I don't think that putting an $800 cart on a $200 'table would make it a '$1000 turntable', either.
    .
     
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  20. brimuchmuze

    brimuchmuze Forum Resident

    Did you do the pre-amp bypass mod, or is it fiction?
     
  21. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    Has anyone tested e.g. an LP-120 or an U-Turn using a really good cartridge?
     
  22. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    I did it but at a later stage. The contention is that the AT LP-120 or other SL-1200 clones such as the Pioneer PLX, do everything an entry level TT targeted at novices is supposed to do without adding a single cent on modifications and upgrades. Of course, this being my opinion which is based on my own personal experience it may have zero relevance to others - or as more commonly said: YMMV.
     
  23. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    Yes, but then would you still be able to define a sub 500$ TT with a 200$ cartridge as an entry level TT? The AT95e supplied with the AT-LP120 is really good enough for most purposes and if a new user wish to get into mid to high end territory right from the start and at a price point close to a new entry level TT, then - as many have already pointed out, he just need to buy a second hand well kept and well maintained TT.

    Just to be clear, the difference between an AT LP-120 with an AT440MLb and a Technics SL-1210M5G with the same cartridges isn't as large as other would like to believe. But then at this stage the AT LP-120 will most likely be without pre-amp, have the heavier counterweight and perhaps even a better mat to replace the original felt biscuit and at right there, the total sum of parts and labour invested in the AT LP-120 is, IMHO, pushing it out of entry level territory.
     
  24. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    What is your idea of really good? Not trying to be a jerk but that could mean anything. One member here, IIRC, had a Nagaoka MP-500 on a modded LP120. That cart costs around 3X what the turntable costs, so not really budget/entry level anymore.

    The nicest cart I've seen on the U-Turn here and other places is something in the $200 range. Sure you could put something more expensive on it but the major weak point of that table is that the wow and flutter figures are higher than they should be, even with the acrylic platter. Adding a $200 cart to the mix on that table also crosses the $500 threshold.
     
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  25. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    This is my issue with a lot of people wanting to "get into vinyl". They want minimal hassle but don't understand it doesn't work that way. They don't want to learn how to do things themselves either.
     

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