Vinyl/Turntable Setups & Discussion

I am getting into vinyl myself and was wondering why there aren’t any topics on it so here it is. Whether you want to talk about your current setup or what new records you found this is where to do it!

I grew up listening to my dads vinyl collection ( I really wish I would have grabbed it after he passed, but in those moments your brain isn’t thinking clearly). I love the idea of Vinyl and have a small collection of collectible game soundtracks on vinyl, but I need a higher end player before I will put them to the needle (wife bless her heart, bought some cheapo player that I don’t have the heart to replace just yet, so all thrift store finds I play through that).

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I, too, am enamored with vinyl. I sold a lot of my stuff when I lost my table in a move in the late 80s. Haven’t gone back since. My younger son has started and amassed a small collection for his college-cost table (under $100). My brother-in-law sent me some of his finds recently. I am researching a nice (read not too expensive) TT and may get one in the coming months. Considering a Rega P1 or P2 or maybe Pro-ject Carbon. Or maybe even something locally sourced like U-Turn Audio Orbit+

I like the look of the Pro-ject carbon… my problem is that when it comes to TT I tend to like the more artsy ones…which tend to cost a lot more then I’m willing to pay lol

I was astounded by the emotional attachment Michael Fremer of has to his vinyl setup. It is surely the apotheosis of the hobby. Watch your jaw when you hear the prices of his components:

I’m no fan of vinyl myself. I hear no appreciable differences between sources. Unless you enjoy the interaction and watching spinning records, just walk away. I listened to my older relatives’ original Led Zeppelin and Elton John records back in the day (as well as a freebie flimsy record stuck on the back of Mad Magazine called “Makin’ Out.”) They all sounded terrible unless you babied them, and got dusty and scratched, and you had to flip them all the time.

8 Track anyone? My sister had Barry Manilow and Beach Boys cartridges…I just loved that KA-CHUNK in the middle of a song 4 times over the length of the album.

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I agree. I am trying to find that nice balance of good aesthetics and decent sound for a modest amount. Some cartridges themselves can go for $10k. I need a turnkey model for about 5-600. May get the Schiit Phono pre-amp. Looking to split between my vintage Sony STRAV1020 and a Schiit Magni 3 for headphones…I am leaning towards the Rega as I heard many good things.

I got into vinyl last summer after resurrecting my dads setup and doing a full restore of his Thorens TD 165. I have this running through a mani preamp into an asgard amplifier from Schiit audio. I think vinyl is really worth getting into if you like to work for your sound. Everything that goes into vinyl requires setup. Making sure your cartridge is secured correctly, weighting your tone arm, cleaning your vinyl, storing your vinyl, making sure your preamp is configured correctly. The list goes on and on. But there is nothing quite like sitting down and appreciating a good glass of something smooth, and a good vinyl.

If your after appreciation of audio in it’s (My opinion) purest form, this is the way to go. Popping open spotify and listening on a good pair of cans is one thing, but I appreciate my music much more when I take time to set it up and listen.

If this sounds like something you want to get into, I cannot recommend the U-Turn line of turntables enough. My friend bought one of these and it is the easiest and most bang for your buck under $500. All you need is a powered pair of speakers, or an amp to start listening. (And vinyls of course)


Great album there too!

You commented that the last time I posted this haha. At least your consistent!

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Thanks for the U-Turn recommendation. I like that they are local to me in case anything should go wrong. Been reading great reviews of their stuff…

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I never got out of vinyl. Back in college, I bought an ARxa turntable with a Shure V-15 type III (improved) cartridge that I used until this year. A few years ago, I refurbed it with a new Shibata stylus, new belt, cleaning and lube. I’ve still got the table but have retired it. Not sure what I will do with it. For those interested in DIY or buying a classic turntable, I cannot recommend anyone more highly than Vinyl Nirvana. They have an extremely informative website, and talking with them on the phone was a joy. Within their scope, nobody knows more about getting bang for the buck with classic turntables.

That said, I finally retired the old AR in favor of the new VPI Prime Scout.

This turntable is in an entirely different class. VPI, a American manufacturer in New Jersey, has taken lessons learned from it’s earlier acclaimed tables and made the new Prime series, of which the Scout is the entry level, I paid about $2500 with an Ortofon 2M Bronze cartridge.

The difference between my vintage table and the modern one was immediately apparent. I think it was mainly the Ortofon Cart, but my old table did not have a good enough tone arm, I think for the Ortofon. The Shure is an all time classic cart, but it is a classic. Very good in it’s time, but I get much more clarity and definition in the soundstage and in the middle and high end. I confess my ears may not be able to discern too much in the lower end.

The VPI has tonearm controls that I have always wanted in the AR, and I can’t say that I’m not pleased. It’s got me buying vinyl again, and has me listening to the 15 to 18 linear feet of vinyl I have collected over the years.

If you are new to vinyl, I think you should have some way to clean records. Lots of things out there, but if you are on a budget, consider the Spin Clean.

And you may want to get something to replace the paper inner sleeves, there are many good alternatives out there.

Enjoy your vinyl!

That is a thing of beauty!!! man if it wasn’t so expensive I could probably convince the wife to allow me to get it :wink: lol

It takes time. I had the AR since 1974, got married in 76, and she actually bought me the Prime Scout for Christmas/Chanukah 2017.

I have some time to convince her then…or get a better paying job, and build a separate man shack to put all my stuff, so she doesn’t have to see it lol

From what I’ve read around various forums, Schiit is toying with selling a TT. I believe they already have prototypes they’ve been testing.

I never left Vinyl, been spinning it since my first really good setup in 1974.
I’ve got an old AR ES turntable that I want to modify starting with the Plinth and case. If you’re really into DIY check out Art Dudley’s writtings in his Listening column. He has some very good recommendations.
Speaking of recommendations, somewhere around 6 or 7 years ago my D3 record cleaner started to deteriorate,
I use it for quick cleaning between more serious washings of my records (I lust after a Keith Monk cleaner).
I’ve found Groove Washer products, they modernized the old Discwasher products and are as good as if not better than the originals.
Don’t know if including link etc. is against Forum policy but you can find their stuff here:
Groove Washer

@Lotek, If you’re modding an AR, the ES is a good model to use. Check out that Vinyl Nirvana site - they have lots of parts for you. Better suspension, tone arm mods, etc.

I have to admit that I have limited funds and space to devote back to vinyl. I think I will have some sort of commit soon, just trying to figure out priorities and funding. 2 kids in college and whatever the planet seems to want to throw at me needs to come first. The wife has already bought into the idea and has been trying to source me a nice shelve or platform to keep it so I am pretty solid on the home-front. Just looking to maximize my dollar and set-up.

One of the most common issues I see with people just getting into vinyl for the first time, is that they “buy in” at the wrong level.

It’s very easy to spend a lot of money on a turntable only to find out that what vinyl lovers consider to be, perhaps, “the ceremony of playing a record” is, for them, closer to a “fiddly rigmarole”. It’s also easy to buy in too-low, especially with used tables that weren’t any good to begin with, and find the experience is great but the sound is seriously lacking - to the point it can turn them off the whole deal.

If I look at my local craigslist, there’s a couple of decent, older, very basic looking, but good quality tables. If they’ve been properly maintained, they’d be excellent starting points. And then there’s scores of tables that are just absolutely awful and, even new, aren’t going to give a performance representative of decent, budget, setup.

Despite advice to the contrary, I’ve had too many friends buy a random used deck from a local seller and had it put them off vinyl permanently. And that’s even when they’ve already experienced a properly setup, decent, table in someone else’s system.

Buying used is great if you can find the right table … but for most I think buying a modest NEW table, that comes out of the box properly setup, is a better way to find out if you’re going to like vinyl overall and doesn’t have to cost any more than what a lot of these plastic-fantastic or dug-out-of-the-attic-and-hasn’t-been-run-for-20-years offerings tend to be asking for.

The U-Turn Orbit is, as other’s have said, a decent starting place. I personally prefer the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC for that role (better arm, much better cartridge), but you can get the most basic Orbit for under $200, which is half the asking price of the Pro-Ject.

I used to recommend the entry-level Rega tables to newcomers, but at this point I would consider the latest version of the Rega Planar 3 to be the lowest-level table they sell that offers reasonable value. It’s not that the RP1 and RP2 are bad, just I feel the value proposition is out of whack. The Planar 3 also offers a more upgradeable platform.

Well cared for used-copies of these tables are also excellent buys.

As usual, I have a lot of agreement with @Torq here. I had a friend who had the older Rega P3, and it was a fine entry level table. While I’m not a fan of Pro-Ject or MMH, anything in their midrange, new or slightly used is not a bad choice either. I love my new VPI, and I suspect that their Cliffwood is very nice for the price. AND I know that you can sometimes find a used older Scout at a good price, EXPECT that you will need to do some setup. Not difficult, and they have videos, but at this level you will at least need to verify that your support is flat, that your cartridge is mounted properly, etc. Bad setup will ruin the sound of any turntable.

Another thing you should consider is the cartridge. While there is a bit of mystique attached to MC (Moving Coil) cartridges, they are more expensive and there are PLENTY, PLENTY of good MM (Moving Magnet) carts also. MM’s are much less fussy. Entry level Grado, Ortofon, Rega, and Denon carts start about about $75, but I find that going up a level or two to the $120-$200 range gets you more bang for the buck. Nothing wrong with Ortofon, Grado, Sumiko, and Goldring in that price range.

You will need a phono preamp if your preamp or integrated amp does not have a phono preamp built in. I’m very happy with the sonics of my Musical Fidelity V90 LPS. It’s found for $200 or less, often about half that used. It’s small, clean, and wastes nothing on frills. For me, it’s the epitome of the theory that you can get 90% of what you want for a very reasonable price, and that extra 10% can result in ten times the spending. That said, I don’t know the NAD PP2e in the same price range, but I’ve been happy with every NAD product I ever owned. For a few bucks more they have the PP 4, which adds digital connectivity for those wanting to digitize vinyl. While both the NAD and Musical Fidelity let you switch between MM and MC, Cambridge Audio’s Solo is MM only. That said, I’ve also liked most Cambridge products I’ve heard.

I’m one of the patch-cord curmudgeons here. Not a believer in crazy money on cables, BUT, I do make an exception for cables running from the cart all the way to the amp. These are probably the lowest level and most sensitive cables in your system. If you are going to drink the expensive cable KoolAid, this is probably the place to do it. Don’t go crazy, but crap will show itself in the turntable out to phono pre-amp link.

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