[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. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Yup. And there also comes a point where you've put such an expensive cart on such a cheap turntable that you would've likely gotten better performance – maybe even much better – by going with a more expensive 'table with a cheaper cart.

    i.e. what sounds better, a $200 'table with a $1000 cart, or a $1000 'table with a $200 cart? Many would say the latter.
    .
     
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  2. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Yeah, age old debate on various forums, but usually more like ~$400 cart on $300-500 table. I'll leave it to individual owners to decide what's best for them.

    One of the major reasons I'm reasons I've decided to go with another vintage deck for my next turntable is because I want the ability to upgrade or switch out the tonearm in the future. Can't do that with a lot of new turntables, even several that crack the $1,000 mark.
     
  3. Jack Flannery

    Jack Flannery Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Ok. Grado black. $350.
     
  4. troggy

    troggy Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow

    Location:
    Benton, Illinois
    Yeah, I was a little skeptical of their Kickstarter project. Sometimes that signals trouble right from the get-go. In their case, it signaled enough early interest to have a lot of orders to fill. I give them tons of credit for coming a long way in a relatively short period of time.
     
  5. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Location:
    Westfield, IN USA
    All too common now in this hobby. Although I'm not a vinyl guy anymore, I grew up with records. First turntable was a very early Garrard my dad brought home from a yard sale. I learned very early that vinyl takes effort if you are going to appreciate it. That's my take on it.

    Also why I no longer play much vinyl.
     
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  6. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    Yes, You are right.
     
  7. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Hmm... according to the poll, about 7 percent of us are single-minded Technics 1200 fanatics.

    That's slightly disturbing. ;)
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
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  8. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    Added my vote to the something Technics 1200.
     
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  9. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker sh.tv member number 666

    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    It's pretty astonishing the difference the turntable makes. I remember in the 90s I got a Denon DP-7F P-mount turntable. It was plastic with a nice direct drive platter and their "microprocessor controlled" tonearm. It was nice and I'm sure people who have them now love them. It sounded pretty good, it's not a toy it's a Japanese made Denon P-mount direct drive turntable, albeit a much later one with a plastic plinth instead of a better material. I made needle drops with it I still have many of those needle drops. In the mid 90s I got an Audio Technica AT311EP from my local hifi shop and installed it. It sounded pretty good but I was getting tired of IGD and sibilance and wanted more cartridge options.

    I wanted a better turntable, and one day I got the Realistic LAB-440 turntable on craigslist. I put the 311EP on the LAB-440 as it had a similar (lesser) model and it was just as easy to swap out the P-mount cart on the adapter than it is on a proper P-mount turntable.

    I was astonished at what a huge difference there was with the exact same cartridge on two different turntables. The meters in SoundForge don't lie - not only was my noise floor substantially lower, but my peaks were also noticeably higher! Better S/N from the same cart, same stylus - on a different (far better) turntable. I couldn't believe it so I swapped them out - I think I may have even posted on the "share your needledrops" thread here - it would have been 10 years ago and I'm sure the files are long gone.

    So yeah - the lesson I learned was to not undervalue the importance of the turntable in the overall sound equasion. This was a good object lesson in why it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to put a high end cart on a low end turntable.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
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  10. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    Interesting comment as I think I just did that. I had an AT MX150 on my Technics 1200 and it is amazing. Just got a MC cart, AT EV33 which should have been a nice move up. Ended up being a big move down, but I'm assuming it's the table because there are so many great reviews here on that cart. Will try it on my new VPI Prime when it comes tomorrow!
     
  11. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock Thread Starter

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    The Technics 1200 isn't a cheap 'table... when they were originally being made, their price point new was around $1,100 to 1,300 in today's dollars (aka inflation-adjusted).

    But most ppl have bought 'em used for a lot less, and they're DJ 'tables (largely), so they're somehow considered 'cheap' a lot of the time, even though they're not.

    Even so, I'd think a VPI Prime would be a step up. Tell us how that goes. :thumbsup:
    .
     
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  12. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    If just arrived. Heavy beast. I trust everyone here so much I bought it without even seeing it first. $4000 without cart, you would hope it's a step up. But people are very defensive in feeling the Technics is an awesome table. I concur...I love mine. But if you only go by the quality and weight of the parts (gee, the platter must weigh what the whole Technics table weighs) it's hard to imagine the VPI not blowing it away. But I'm going to let me ears form my opinion and you know what? If the Technics sounds better it stays! If not it will be great in my office. I'm going to try and not be swayed just by the looks and the fact that it "should" sound better based on price and quality. As yoiu said, the 1200 wasn't cheap though I think it was for the performance.

    I just hooked up the motor and will probably be at the listening stage in a couple of hours. I will definitely report back tonight. I've had my Technics since about the time they stopped making them; got one of the last MKII's in black. I am very familiar with the sound so hopefully my opinion will mean something if anyone else is on the fence about upgrading. I think with my last cart I did go past the abilitlies of the Technics, but had I just stayed with the MLX150 I think I could have been happy with it forever.
     
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  13. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Performance wise, good. But if the cartridge manufacturer quits, you get a B&O styled debacle on your hands. (Yes, I know SoundSmith reverse engineered their cartridge). T4p is on borrowed time on cartridge availability as there is only 3 brands manufactured today (yes, I know Jico helps keep older cartridges alive). Proprietary approaches should be best avoided as flexibility is needed due to the needs of different users, and what is available. Ignore standards at thy peril!
     
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  14. PhxJohn

    PhxJohn Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    My Rega RP1 had zero problems. I did upgrade from the OEM Ortofon to a Sumiko Pearl before it even left the dealer though.
     
  15. AcidPunk15

    AcidPunk15 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Brunswick, NJ
    They should expand into a higher price point TT hope they do.
     
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  16. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Florida, Central
    Honestly would never do anything other than used today.
     
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  17. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Florida, Central
    Used, was listed in a few of the poll choices.
     
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  18. McGuy

    McGuy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago
    I agree with the above in theory although I just picked up a VPI Prime Scout TT a few weeks ago. A brand new 2017 model was $2200. I was able to get a brand new B stock VPI 2016 Prime scout that was upgraded by VPI to everything that is on the 2017 model other than the curvy plinth. Price was $1749 and I go 15% off that price! so under $1500. Used VPI Scouts were more than that!
     
  19. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Florida, Central

    Not disagreeing with you at all, but what factors do you think accounted for such drastic differences?
    I have heard some entry level tables and have never owned one, but tend to own vintage "Decent" tables, that were simply in a different league.
    The cheap entry level tables I heard, just had a cheap sound that seemed to resonate a lot or something,. hard to describe.

    I agree that LAB-440 was a very nice table!
    Right now I am using an old Dual Changer, but in single mode, and feel astonished it is so clean, smooth and able to do warps so well!
     
  20. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Florida, Central
    A $500.00 table with a $350.00 cart!! (serious)
     
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  21. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    Well, I stuck an MLX150 that costs around $225 in a VPI Prime. Have to be honest...I've tried others including an ART9 that was $1100 and so far I still think the MLX sounded best overall, though I do like the ART. But there is no way I'm hearing a $900 difference. I've learned, and I've heard this comment from others, that price has no bearing on sound quality when it comes to cartridges. The ONLY reason I "upgraded" was I couldn't imagine a $1200 plus cart would not be a huge upgrade. I would not have changed carts had kown what I know now. It's amazing how your mind can can compel you to make dumb choices sometimes!
     
  22. PoeRaider

    PoeRaider Forum Resident

    If I was starting over, I would try to stretch my budget to a Rega Planar 3, or even better a Mofi StudioDeck ($1149 with Studiotracker cart, $999 w/o). I feel like that is the level where I would be satisfied enough to stay there for a few years (or more). My starter deck 5 years ago was a Pro-ject Debut Carbon, and in hindsight, it wasn't a good enough starting point to keep upgraditis from spinning out of control.

    If I definitely had to stay under $500, I would go with a Planar 1, or a 1200 in decent shape. Probably the latter. These are certainly "good" tables. Just don't go and listen to your buddy's $3k rig. :)

    Actually knowing what I know now, I went with this poll option.

    Forget entry-level, you're gonna want a $2000+ TT someday anyway, so get it early and save time/$$$.

    And my purchase would be a Mofi Ultradeck.
     
  23. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

    Location:
    south florida, usa
    eBay used.
     
  24. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    For me, used vintage is the cheapest decent option. New to get something which suits me totally would be Technics SL 1200 GR money.
     
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  25. Front Row

    Front Row Finding pleasure when annoying those with OCD.

    Location:
    Chicago IL
    As a former nite club DJ for 15 years, the Techniques 1200 performed extraordinarily well. I have four for over thirty years and they work and sound great. I did get rid of my stantons and upgraded to ortafon red which made a huge difference in sound quality. Getting a Kirmuss also helped because so many records were exposed to club miasma.
     
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