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Turntable Questions

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 



I'm looking to buy a turntable (looking at the Technics SL-1200 Mk2, as that seems to be the common starting point) and I had a question about the preamp. I just recently bought an amp/headphone combo that I intend to use the TT with, but I just wanted to make sure it'd work.


I'm not quite sure, but do turntables require a preamp to use? Could I just use RCA to feed it into my Audio-Gd C-2 amplifier (that I have going to my K702s)? If not, I have a pre-amp integrated with my C-2, could I loop it from the C-2 to the TT back to the C-2?


Also, any comparable (same price-range) TT's that I should be looking at? How does the Rega P-1 stack up against the SL-1200? Any others I should be aware of?


Thanks guys.

post #2 of 67

You absolutely have to have a phono preamp to use a turntable with the C-2.  Turntables require phono preamps.  Fortunately, you can get some pretty good ones for not a lot of money.  My favorite cheap phono preamp is this one:




However, if you aren't going to use a low-output moving coil cartridge (which you probably aren't), this one is cheaper and might be a better choice, since you could also use it to switch between the TT and a line level source like a CD player:




To be clear, you need a PHONO preamp.  You indicated you had a "preamp", but unless that preamp includes a phono input specifically for a TT, that won't help.

Edited by Skylab - 7/14/10 at 8:01am
post #3 of 67
Thread Starter 

Phono is another term for RCA right? I know my Audio-Gd C-2 has an RCA out specifically meant for pre-amping. It didn't clarify phono, but I'm not quite sure about the difference. In the future, I planned to get a Grado Prestige Gold cartrdige, not sure if that is a low-output moving coil or not. Thanks for your response.


For reference: http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/C-2new/C2N2.jpg


That's the back of my amp/pre-amplifier.

post #4 of 67

In this case, no phono is NOT another term for RCA.  Some people call RCA plugs "phono plugs" from back in the day when only TT's used them, but the proper term is RCA plugs.  The fact that you have that plug type on the back of the C-2 does not help you.


The role of a Phono Preamp:


1. Provide the additional gain required to bring the very small signal of a phono cartridge up to line-level

2. Provide the RIAA equalization required to have the frequency response of a turntable be "normal", since that same EQ is applied to records when they are made, and without inverse curve being applied by the Phono Preamp, the sound would be totally wrong (all treble and no bass).


Bottom line - a Phono Preamp is required, and the C-2 most certainly does not have this.


The Grado is high-output, so you could use the second of the two choices I listed above (sorry I forgot to put the link at first).

post #5 of 67
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the info, wanted to make sure I got everything in one purchase instead of finding out I needed another piece when I bought it. Any suggestions, turntable wise? I've seen the SL-1200 Mk2 touted, but lots of dissenting opinions.


Edit: Yeah, I realized as I was reading and looking at phono amps that the RCA definition couldn't be right. "They BOTH have RCA inputs, I'll be damned." But yeah, I'll be sure to grab one. What's the rate of return, so to speak, as far as the way the pre-amps scale up in prices (i.e. difference between a $50 one and a $400 unit)?

Edited by Zafsk - 7/14/10 at 8:08am
post #6 of 67

I don't have specific suggestions about entry-level turntables - but there are quite a few threads on head-fi discussing that.  


And yes, there is definitely performance gain as you scale up in price on phono preamps - There are some pretty good ones around $400-500, and again at $1K - and of course you can spend crazy money.  But I suggest not to do that.  Buy the TT, buy something like the TC-753, which will cost you all of $45, and then when you are ready, you can upgrade that

post #7 of 67

If you're in the market for a budget turntable, look at the Pro-Ject lineup, the Debut or xPression might fit your needs, i have the latter and i'ts quite well built for its price.

post #8 of 67

I have a Pro-Ject RPM 1.3 (Genie)


IMO the Pro-Ject RPM 1.3 is one of the best, if not the best "entry level" turntable on the market.


I originally was shopping for a Rega P3 when I a local hifi shop introduced me to the Pro-Ject tables. He carries a wide variety of tables including Rega, Pro-Ject, Clearaudio, JA Michell, Transrotor, etc.


During a comparative listening session, to my ears the RPM 1.3 held its own with the Rega P3. With the money saved, I got a pretty decent phono section and an Oracle arylic mat.


I think its definately worth a listen, check it out at a local dealer and hear for yourself.

Edited by sk3383 - 7/14/10 at 3:15pm
post #9 of 67
Thread Starter 

How much is it retail, and can I order it online? Not sure how close my local dealer is, I live in Chattanooga, TN.

post #10 of 67

Pro-Ject USA Distributor:



2431 Fifth Street

Berkeley CA 94710


E-Mail: mail@sumikoaudio.net


Internet: www.sumikoaudio.net


Tel: 0510 8434500


Fax: 01235 511266


Send them an email or give them a call to find a local dealer.

post #11 of 67
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I'm actually looking at the Debut III, as its more within my price range. I've heard reports that it feels cheap though, I'm not exactly sure what that means. How does the SL-1200 Mk2 stack up against something like the Pro-ject or P3, is it a completely different league -- say, even if I replace it with a Grado Prestige Gold cart?

post #12 of 67

In all honesty I was very interested in purchasing the Debut III. 


I was not able to personally listen to the Debut III as the local dealer chose not to keep any demo units. However he descibed the Debut III as a solid budget/beginners table that nothing could beat for the money.


Initially I mentioned the idea of buying a used SL-1200 mk2/mk3 to my local dealer and he laughed. He said great deck, reliable, built like a rock, can sound great with some modifications. He did tell me that an original/stock SL-1200 with the right cartridge would sound decent but he said that an entry level Pro-Ject brand new right out of the box would sound great immediately for much much less. He told me if thats the route I wanted to go then he would help me find a good cartridge and setup...was not pushy at all. He did educate me on the differences.


He carries turntables from various manufacturers. His selection might seem random at first glance however I quickly learned that he had selected turntables at each price point that provided the best price/performance.


He carries tables from Pro-Ject, Rega, JA Michell, Transrotor & Clearaudio. The first table that he considered hi-fi worthy, as an entry level was the RPM 1.3


He insisted that the RPM 1.3 was an entirely better table than the Debut. The price difference is very small and he ensured me that it was worth every penny to purchase the RPM 1.3 instead.


I took his advise. Being part of the hi-fi crowd, I am prone to the upgrade bug just as everyone else. I have learned my lesson, I was not going to settle for the Debut III. So I waited until I had enough cash and bought the better deck. I guess it all depends on how much you will use the table and what you hope to get out of it.

Edited by sk3383 - 7/14/10 at 5:58pm
post #13 of 67
Thread Starter 

Yeah, unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of actually listening to the table's before I purchase, so I always feel like it's hit and miss for me. I've been reading here on head-fi that if you upgrade the tone arm and the cart, you can get a great table out of the sl-1200 mk2 that will last me awhile. I've heard it compared to the Rega P3-24, and actually surpassing it. However, I'm thinking about going for a hundred mile or so drive down to Atlanta to see if there are any hi-fi shops there that can provide demos.


EDIT: But yeah, I'll keep shopping around. I mean, I don't neccessarily have a specific budget but I'm curious if I should save or not -- and if I'm paying $500 (for the pro-ject) for something I can get for less with another table. I'm still looking around. Thanks a bunch for your advice and opinions, will definitely take it into account when I'm purchasing.

Edited by Zafsk - 7/14/10 at 6:02pm
post #14 of 67

I think going with a used SL-1200, then upgrade the tone arm and cartridge will start getting expensive. Probably better off to just purchase the Pro-Ject RPM 1.3 or the Rega P3-24.


I am not sure how resolving your system is, or how good your ears are...but to my ears the Rega P3 was not vastly better than the RPM 1.3, I could not justify the additional $300.


My local dealer was in agreement with me, said that he mostly keeps the Rega P3 because a lot of people are unfamiliar with Pro-Ject and do not care to listen to it. A real shame. He said if more people were educated about the Pro-Ject line of turntables he would remove the P3 from his demo line. Said that he would still sell it but not actively advertise it. He does admit that it is in fact a better deck, but the difference is very minimal. I could not hear $300 worth of an improvement.


Actually I purchased an Oracle Arcylic mat ($90) and it improved the sound to the point where we both sat there and said the Pro-Ject outperformed the P3-24.


These are just opinions and everyone is entitled to them. Best advice I can give is to try and find a shop that carries both and listen for yourself.

Edited by sk3383 - 7/14/10 at 6:11pm
post #15 of 67

I recently upgraded from a Music Hall MMF 2.2LE to a Technics SL1200-mk2. I was never particularly happy with the MH -- it had a lot of rumble (consistent with different phono sections, room placements, and cartridges) and seemed rather flat and punchless. The Technics is a winner in my book -- mine is the KAB basic model and was purchased in unused condition from its original owner for $400. Paired with a Denon DL-160 cartridge, I honestly think this new deck will stave off upgrade fever for a few years. It's probably not truly "hi-fi," but it's bombproof, relatively easy to set up and sounds great.


I'm using a Cambridge 640p phono section at the moment, and find it to be solid as well.

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