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Best complete turntable setups in the $1500-$2000 range?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
I'm interested in knowing peoples opinions on the best complete turntable setups in the $1500-$2000 range (including deck,arm, cartridge and phono stage).

I'm a total tt newbie, but would like to start off with a somewhat decent tt setup that would last a long time without feeling the need to upgrade.

I listen to mostly rock/pop type music, largely from the 70's/80's, but also enjoy a lot of female vocal albums such as diana krall, eva cassidy etc. I would like a setup to suit such tastes.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
post #2 of 30
Do you need a phono stage with that?
post #3 of 30
Rega P3 + Dynavector 10x5 + Dynavector P75 should fall into that price range.
post #4 of 30
Insert unintentional threadjack.
post #5 of 30
I'll second the Rega P3 recommendation. I use a Planar 3 (the predecessor, very similar) and had seriously considered a few other, more expensive, decks when I purchased it. These days, I don't think about upgrading. The P3 runs about $800. I use a Grado Gold cartridge ($180), and a NAD PP2 phono stage ($120). So, about $1,100 new.

I'm very happy with this setup. So much so, I have not really even thought about upgrading since I bought it. Now, I have only listened to a few turntable setups. And I liked them all, so I know there are many other good systems on the market. However, I think the Regas are an excellent value. You might want to look at some used ones on Audiogon. You can save a bit of money and they're durable. If something goes wrong, you can get affordable replacement parts and install them yourself with nothing more than a screwdriver.
post #6 of 30
I don't know where this concept of fitting expensive moving coils to budget decks via expensive phonostages is coming from but it's not the way to go at all with analogue.

Source first. Buy the most expensive turntable you can afford with a basic arm and cart and phonostage.

There is no point on spending a lot of money on an expensive phonostage with a budget turntable like the Rega Planar 3. It's just total overkill.

You get by far the best results if you invest the lions share of your budget in the bit that actually spins the record, the engineering quality of which is paramount. This means generally that it shouldn't be made of MDF!

All that a more expensive phonostage will do is highlight the shortcommings in your front end. The mechanical part which spins the record is the most important bit.

If you want a Rega the P5 / P7 are the ones to look at. I am not denigrating the P3, it's a fine turntable for what it is but it's not the best way to play vinyl in the 1500-2000 USD range.

A VPI Scout, Roksan Radius, Michell Tecnodec, Funk Firm Vector or Michell Gyro SE (a bit over your budget) will all totally shame the Rega P3 through any phonostage. Some of the higher end Pro-Ject decks are also worth a look as are the Sotas of course if you can get a dealer to fit an arm for you.

Any of these decks with an Audio Technica AT440MLA or similarly priced good quality MM cart played through a good quality phonostage like the NAD PP2 or Cambridge Audio is the way to go.

Especially with your first foray into viny, Moving Coil carts are not a good idea at all. They are fragile and require expensive retipping, which I suppose ties you to the vendor, and this is perhaps why you see so may of them being bundled these days? plus the cheap ones (below 500USD) are not all that great anyway.

Moreover they require much more expensive phonostages on the whole. Moving magnet carts like the Audio Technica AT440MLA which is a top model but sold heavily discounted, or the Goldring 1012/24/42 series are very good carts indeed and won't cost you an arm and a leg to fix if you accidentally drop them too hard or mis-cue which is very very easily done.
post #7 of 30
I’d recommend getting the best Table/Arm combination that you can afford. Since cartridges get replaced periodically due to wear getting a lesser cartridge to begin with makes sense.

This is my recommendation.

VPI Scout with JMW-9 Tonearm $1650

Grado Gold $180
Benz MC-20E2 $200
Benz Micro Gold $350

Phono Pre-Amp
Cambridge Audio Azur 640P $200

I almost purchased the Scout. IMHO It’s the best table for under $2000. I instead went nuts and purchased a Super Scoutmaster with the Super-platter. So the Scout is a great <$2000 table, and it is also upgradeable in many ways.

I own a Cambridge Audio 640P and have compared it to most of the sub $300 phono stages (NAD, Rotel, Pro-ject, Creek) and it at least matches all of them and is better than most. I will be replacing the Cambridge with the $500 Sim Audio. Then comes the long search for a reference phono stage.

I own two cartridges. The Grado Gold and a Benz LO4. The Gold is a great over achiever. It is a better match if your system is solid-state based.

The phono cartridge and phono pre-amp are both relatively inexpensive so are therefore much easier to upgrade.

Have fun.
post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thanks heaps for the advice. The VPI Scout sure sounds good at that price, however I discovered that here in Australia, it costs $3000AUD! Which is pretty high considering the australian dollar at the moment, where $1650USD = $1950AUD. So i'm afraid i'd have to rule it out.

I quite like the look of the Pro-ject turntables, reasonably priced here in aus at this shop: http://www.decibelhifi.com.au/category11_1.htm

Can anyone comment on the Pro-ject RPM5 or RPM6.1SB? The 6moons review of the RPM5 is quite good, however they claim it sounds very neutral, which in my mind means boring.
post #9 of 30

As has been suggested, you might want to seriously consider used equipment. It can save you a lot of money or give you a chance to get a better turntable than your budget would otherwise allow--if you shop carefully and can be patient enough to wait for the right buying opportunity.

I originally was planning to buy a new analog setup built around a Rega P5, but a little later found a good deal on Audiogon for slightly used Rega P7 and a high quality MC cartridge for considerably less than I was planning to spend on the P5 setup.

Of course, buying used on places such as Audiogon and eBay can involve some risk. But you can mitigate the risk to some extent by shopping carefully and buying from sellers with established on-line reputations.

Ultimately the real value of a deal for used equipment that you make will largely depend on the honesty of the seller.

Good luck.

post #10 of 30
The only thing I have to add to that is that it is considerably harder to find exactly what you want second hand here in Australia than it is in the US, what with our market for such products being so small in the first place.
post #11 of 30

Grab that Linn LP12 imediately if they still have it as you won't do better than that. The SME arm on there is a bit oldschool but people pay good money for those on ebay. You can sell it on and fit an Origin Live arm easily enough. I am sure they'll do that for you. The Supex cart is simply stunning designed by Sugano. Google "Koetsu" and you'll see how highly people rate his work. I have one myself and it's a cracker.

The Era deck also looks interesting, oherwise 2nd hand you should be looking for the usual suspects Thorens TD 150/160 or better yet 125/126, Technics SL120, SL150, SL1100, Linn Axis or Sondek, Rega, AR ..etc

Pro-Ject tables do seem quite reasonably priced down there considering. They are better known for their more entry level decks than the high end ones as these usually face stiffer cometition from the many other decks in that pricerange in Europe and the USA, but if Michell, VPI, Rega etc arn't available to you then that's pretty irrelevant.

The only other new deck I would consider in your pricerange is the Technics SL1200. As it stands in stock form it would be outperformed by the RPM 5 but I note that Decibel Hi-Fi are an Origin Live dealer which means that they will be able to get hold of their Technics arm mount.

An SL1200 with any of those modded Rega/OL tonearms and an Audio Technica AT440MLA cart will kick a certain amount of arse. It won't be boring that's for sure...
post #12 of 30
Nottingham makes very nice reasonably priced turntables. You could install a Benz Micro Ace or Lyra Dorian. For a phono stage, you may want to look at a second hand Audio Research PH-3, or Linn Linto, they are both excellent products and seem to mate well with many different preamps.
post #13 of 30
Originally Posted by Yikes View Post
VPI Scout with JMW-9 Tonearm $1650

Grado Gold $180
Benz MC-20E2 $200
Benz Micro Gold $350
X2 on the Scout. I had one, but now I have the Scoutmaster.

Benz carts work well, but I didn't care for the Dynavector DV-20 on it even though it's often recommended. The richness of the Benz line compliments the clean, speedy sound of the VPI tables. Benz Ace is excellent too if it don't bust your budget.
Look for a used Glider, great cart but it's light you will need the head shell weight for the arm.

BTW, don't be afraid of MC carts. They are just as durable as a regular cart, and when it comes time to get a re-tip, Benz has a great trade in program.

Look for a used Phono stage and save some bucks.
post #14 of 30

Some really really great information here.  Do any of you guys have updated set-ups (similar price range) or are the ones mentioned in this thread still good and available new?

post #15 of 30
Rega RP3 with Dynavector DV10X5. It's a legendary combination. It took me a while to get to the Dynavector cartridge, but once I did, I knew I didn't need to go any farther.
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