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K100T

Upgrade / Replace Budget Turntable

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I have a Pro-ject Debut III, which I bought about fourteen, or so, years ago to digitise all my house, techno, trance and drum ‘n’ bass 12”s. For marital harmony reasons, after the digitising didn’t go very well, it has lived in its box, in the loft, occasionally being let out for a weekend of fun when my wife’s away. One of my resolutions this year was to appreciate the things I have a bit more. So I purchased a Velvet Vortex, so I could clean all my vinyl and start playing it again. I was thinking that with nice clean vinyl, I should probably show my turntable some love too.

 

We’re having a garden office installed next month, and my wife and I will each get  a 8’x6’ (ish) room to call our own; my turntable is finally going to be allowed out permanently. So I’ve started looking at ways to upgrade it, with a Pro-ject Speed Box S2 being the first thing on the list. The novelty of taking the platter off to change the speed wore off years ago. The second thing on the list was a new stylus, to replace the Ortofon 5-E that’s on the OMB cartridge; as far as I’m aware, an Ortofon Stylus 10 should fit right on.

 

Then I started looking at things like the Acoustand Sub-Platter And Bearing Upgrade and the Pro-ject S/E Upgrade Kit, as the motor and bearing were quite noisy last time I had the deck out. With clean vinyl, the wipe clean Pro-ject Acry-IT also seems like a better option than the current felt mat and noisy metal platter.  

 

With all the upgrades taken into account, the total cost is the same as buying a brand new Pro-ject Debut Carbon EVO. If I was to put a better cartridge on, something around the hundred pound mark, then it would cost more. 

 

Is it worth upgrading my current turntable? I’m assuming that the improved motor suspension and carbon arm of the Debut Carbon EVO, would mean it was a better option than an aluminium armed, albeit pimped, Debut III?

 

I fully understand that both of these are budget decks and I’d get more for my money buying second hand, etc, etc, etc. So I'm also open to recommendations and suggestions for other similarly priced turntables.

 

It’s a shame my total budget, around twelve hundred, which includes needing to buy some sort of DAC and speaker system, won’t stretch to a new Rega Planar 3, Neo PSU and Fono MM, which is what I’d actually like.

 

Cheers,

 

Bob.

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I'm a bit old and out of touch, but this begs a few questions, and since I am selling my NAD 3020 and TSR102.2's to a friend here in the Pyrenees - and he wants to get a record player, and I doubt very much he is thinking north of £500, the answers will be of interest.

"some sort of DAC and speaker system" - and amplifier? and phono stage?

Based on the Carbon EVO I take it your budget for the record player is about £500 + maybe £100 for a cartridge ?

Why do you want a carbon arm instead of an aluminium one?

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9 hours ago, K100T said:

I have a Pro-ject Debut III, which I bought about fourteen, or so, years ago to digitise all my house, techno, trance and drum ‘n’ bass 12”s. For marital harmony reasons, after the digitising didn’t go very well, it has lived in its box, in the loft, occasionally being let out for a weekend of fun when my wife’s away. One of my resolutions this year was to appreciate the things I have a bit more. So I purchased a Velvet Vortex, so I could clean all my vinyl and start playing it again. I was thinking that with nice clean vinyl, I should probably show my turntable some love too.

 

We’re having a garden office installed next month, and my wife and I will each get  a 8’x6’ (ish) room to call our own; my turntable is finally going to be allowed out permanently. So I’ve started looking at ways to upgrade it, with a Pro-ject Speed Box S2 being the first thing on the list. The novelty of taking the platter off to change the speed wore off years ago. The second thing on the list was a new stylus, to replace the Ortofon 5-E that’s on the OMB cartridge; as far as I’m aware, an Ortofon Stylus 10 should fit right on.

 

Then I started looking at things like the Acoustand Sub-Platter And Bearing Upgrade and the Pro-ject S/E Upgrade Kit, as the motor and bearing were quite noisy last time I had the deck out. With clean vinyl, the wipe clean Pro-ject Acry-IT also seems like a better option than the current felt mat and noisy metal platter.  

 

With all the upgrades taken into account, the total cost is the same as buying a brand new Pro-ject Debut Carbon EVO. If I was to put a better cartridge on, something around the hundred pound mark, then it would cost more. 

 

Is it worth upgrading my current turntable? I’m assuming that the improved motor suspension and carbon arm of the Debut Carbon EVO, would mean it was a better option than an aluminium armed, albeit pimped, Debut III?

 

I fully understand that both of these are budget decks and I’d get more for my money buying second hand, etc, etc, etc. So I'm also open to recommendations and suggestions for other similarly priced turntables.

 

It’s a shame my total budget, around twelve hundred, which includes needing to buy some sort of DAC and speaker system, won’t stretch to a new Rega Planar 3, Neo PSU and Fono MM, which is what I’d actually like.

 

Cheers,

 

Bob.

The biggest issue with budget all-in-ones is they are limited when it comes to upgrades. Having previously owned a Pro-ject Xpression 1 changing the cartridge was quite a big audible improvement. Sometimes we change just for the sake of it. If you're happy leave alone and enjoy the music.

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Super Wammer

A 6x8 space means it won't take much to fill with sound, and could easily be achieved on your Budget. 

Your noisy tt bearing could simply mean it's crying out for some TLC, clean it out and re-lube it to see if that shuts it up, if so then ALL is good.

Amplification and speakers could be sorted for <£300, with some amps in the £100-150 (used) already having a pretty fair mm phonostage. For cartridge have a look at an AT VM95ML, this would be a big leap in SQ over your OM5 but well with in the capabilities of your current tt. DAC wise depends what your plumbing in but plenty out there at around £100 that will do a Stirling Job. 

I definitely wouldn't go throwing money at upgrades on your current tt as for around the £500 Mark you will have access to RP3 (new) or RP6 used, and Pro-Ject 2Xperience, maybe even an RPM 5.1.

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3 hours ago, Pinkie said:

"some sort of DAC and speaker system" - and amplifier? and phono stage?

Based on the Carbon EVO I take it your budget for the record player is about £500 + maybe £100 for a cartridge ?

Why do you want a carbon arm instead of an aluminium one?

I have a phono stage, it's just very bottom of the line. I was hoping that the split in the budget would be around £500 on the turntable and phono stage, and £700 on the rest of it, obviously this is totally flexible.  I'm was just assuming the carbon arm on the Debut Carbon EVO will be better than the aluminium one on the Debut III, as it's the latest and greatest model. Obviously I may not be able to hear any difference with whatever the rest of the system turns out to be. 🤷

3 hours ago, plasticpenguin said:

The biggest issue with budget all-in-ones is they are limited when it comes to upgrades. Having previously owned a Pro-ject Xpression 1 changing the cartridge was quite a big audible improvement. Sometimes we change just for the sake of it. If you're happy leave alone and enjoy the music.

Yeah, I do feel there is a certain amount of wanting to flash some cash for the sake of it. My Dad was saying to concentrate on the arm and cartridge, so I was considering turntables that had, a perceived, better arm that would also allow future upgrades. I'm not 100% sure the Debut Carbon EVO leaves much room for upgrade beyond different cartridges, hence the plea for suggestions and recommendations.

1 hour ago, Lurch said:

A 6x8 space means it won't take much to fill with sound, and could easily be achieved on your Budget. 

Your noisy tt bearing could simply mean it's crying out for some TLC, clean it out and re-lube it to see if that shuts it up, if so then ALL is good.

...

I definitely wouldn't go throwing money at upgrades on your current tt as for around the £500 Mark you will have access to RP3 (new) or RP6 used, and Pro-Ject 2Xperience, maybe even an RPM 5.1.

I agree about the bearing, I didn't realise until the other day when watching YouTube, that you could just drop some oil in there. As a starting point, and with the need of a new belt, some oil and the S/E Upgrade for £25, seem like sounds investments to make. As much as I'd like a Planar 3, I wouldn't buy one without a Neo PSU, as I'm absolutely done with having to remove the platter to change the speed.

Edited by K100T
Grammer

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47 minutes ago, Lurch said:

A 6x8 space means it won't take much to fill with sound, and could easily be achieved on your Budget. 

Your noisy tt bearing could simply mean it's crying out for some TLC, clean it out and re-lube it to see if that shuts it up, if so then ALL is good.

Amplification and speakers could be sorted for <£300, with some amps in the £100-150 (used) already having a pretty fair mm phonostage. For cartridge have a look at an AT VM95ML, this would be a big leap in SQ over your OM5 but well with in the capabilities of your current tt. DAC wise depends what your plumbing in but plenty out there at around £100 that will do a Stirling Job. 

I definitely wouldn't go throwing money at upgrades on your current tt as for around the £500 Mark you will have access to RP3 (new) or RP6 used, and Pro-Ject 2Xperience, maybe even an RPM 5.1.

100% agree. Spending more than the value of a budget turntable on 'upgrades' that are likely to have little effect on the sound is a total waste of funds. Definitely have a go at cleaning and lubing the bearing before anything else, especially if it's been stored unused for ages. Then throw a better cartridge on it. The Debut is perfectly capable of handling a reasonable cartridge, and that will show a far bigger improvement than moving from one turntable to another that is quite similar.

Edited by rabski
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There appears to be two obvious questions now.

One: what oil do I use for the bearing? Pro-Ject Lube-IT would appear to be hideously expensive, so can I use veg oil, 3-in-1 or Castrol GTX...?

Two: what cartridge? The vast majority of my vinyl is electronica, with a smattering of metal.

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Use a decent synthetic motor oil for the bearing

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Super Wammer

Of the oils you listed the. GTX is the better choice, having said that some on here use Hypoid 90 gearbox oil. The amount you need to use is small (a few drops) so a small £5-7 bottle of tt bearing oil from eBay will last a longtime. 

Cartridges are a hard one to recommend but the AT VM95ML I mentioned above is a good cart as is the Goldring E3. Whilst reviews shouldn't be viewed as absolutes they can give you a flavour of what the cart does so can be used as a guide. 

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Virtually any light gearbox oil or synthetic light-grade oil should be fine. Avoid 'heavy' oils as they can cause some drag and aren't designed for low temperature fine contact points. Audio Origami do a kit that includes everything to clean out the old s**t properly and comes with some other odds and ends and his special oil for about £20 I think.

For the cartridge, I'm with John again on the AT VM95ML, but I'll let others recommend as well. ML is micro-line and anything similar in terms of the stylus profile is a serious benefit in terms of getting more of the information from the LP groove while reducing surface noise.

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Rabski has it right regarding replacing the cartridge. This can be moved across to a new TT at a later date.

What’s the DAC for? Streaming?

Are you still thinking or digitising your 12” singles? If so, are you kitted out for that?

Will you be going for small floor-standing speakers or stand-mounts? In the latter case you’ll need stands, so small floor-standers my suit better, especially if you want to get some bottom end out of your 12” singles.

(Just trying to build up a list of all of the things that you need from your budget.)

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4 hours ago, K100T said:

I have a phono stage, it's just very bottom of the line. I was hoping that the split in the budget would be around £500 on the turntable and phono stage, and £700 on the rest of it, obviously this is totally flexible.  I'm was just assuming the carbon arm on the Debut Carbon EVO will be better than the aluminium one on the Debut III, as it's the latest and greatest model. Obviously I may not be able to hear any difference with whatever the rest of the system turns out to be. 🤷

Yeah, I do feel there is a certain amount of wanting to flash some cash for the sake of it. My Dad was saying to concentrate on the arm and cartridge, so I was considering turntables that had, a perceived, better arm that would also allow future upgrades. I'm not 100% sure the Debut Carbon EVO leaves much room for upgrade beyond different cartridges, hence the plea for suggestions and recommendations.

Upgrade aspirations are a slippery slope.  At any given level a balance needs to be achieved.  The old idea of pile all your money into the turntable, then the arm, then the cartridge is nonsense.  Initially you need to get a reasonable cartridge and phono stage.  If you don't yet have an amplifier, as @Lurchpointed out, something like a used NAD 3020 would have a reasonable phono stage

Probably I would say arm next - (depending on how desperate the speed change issue is).  But if you want a 2 speed, some vintage Japanese direct drives are often not bad.  Or if you have £1200 in total, £200 for a used amp, £150 used speakers, £100 for a new DAC, £100 for a cartridge, which leaves £650 for your turntable - if you really want a new modern TT like the Planar 3.  (Bit tight, but...)

Carbon fibre is by no means a better material than aluminium for an arm tube.  I spent some time comparing the 2 materials in a Funk FX1200 for @CageyH6 years ago, and aluminium was subtly but importantly better.  (These arm tubes both had Funks F.X bracing - which would have affected tube resonances.  It may be different in a "raw" tube.  Resonances are one issue.  Stability is another.  Carbon fibre flexes - they make fishing rods out of it).  I can't comment on Projects implementations but better to listen yourself to decks you are interested in .  Don't just assume CF is a better arm material.

If you end up wanting a new TT with a warranty , rather than looking at used - then Funks Gett is also in your price range.  I haven't heard this latest version, and I'm a bit disappointed range rationalisation means Arthur has dropped the thread bearing arm (F7 ??) which was a gem on simple cheap solid decks, but if I were auditioning I'd add that one to the list.

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7 hours ago, Pinkie said:

Use a decent synthetic motor oil for the bearing

7 hours ago, Lurch said:

Of the oils you listed the. GTX is the better choice, having said that some on here use Hypoid 90 gearbox oil.

There was me thinking I was being funny mentioning Castrol GTX... 😳

7 hours ago, Lurch said:

Cartridges are a hard one to recommend but the AT VM95ML I mentioned above is a good cart as is the Goldring E3. Whilst reviews shouldn't be viewed as absolutes they can give you a flavour of what the cart does so can be used as a guide. 

7 hours ago, rabski said:

For the cartridge, I'm with John again on the AT VM95ML, but I'll let others recommend as well. ML is micro-line and anything similar in terms of the stylus profile is a serious benefit in terms of getting more of the information from the LP groove while reducing surface noise.

I will investigate that cartridge, and add it to the top of the long list.

3 hours ago, Sotosound said:

What’s the DAC for? Streaming?

Are you still thinking or digitising your 12” singles? If so, are you kitted out for that?

Will you be going for small floor-standing speakers or stand-mounts? In the latter case you’ll need stands, so small floor-standers my suit better, especially if you want to get some bottom end out of your 12” singles.

(Just trying to build up a list of all of the things that you need from your budget.)

I was going to cover the rest of the system in another post. I did intend to do it all in one post, as you need to look at these thing holistically. It ran to two pages of a word document though, so I though it was best to split it up. To answer your question though, two thirds of my listening will probably be the radio and ripped CDs, with vinyl making up the final third. So some sort of DAC will be required somewhere...

3 hours ago, Pinkie said:

Probably I would say arm next - (depending on how desperate the speed change issue is).  But if you want a 2 speed, some vintage Japanese direct drives are often not bad.  Or if you have £1200 in total, £200 for a used amp, £150 used speakers, £100 for a new DAC, £100 for a cartridge, which leaves £650 for your turntable - if you really want a new modern TT like the Planar 3.  (Bit tight, but...)

This has been one of my issues. Trying to figure out what combination of things I can buy to fit within the budget. I keep thinking I've worked it out, when I think of something else. More on the turntable, less for the speakers. More on the speakers, less for the turntable. But what about a separate DAC, or a new phono stage, what about passive speakers , or active near field monitors... 🥴🤦

3 hours ago, Pinkie said:

If you end up wanting a new TT with a warranty , rather than looking at used - then Funks Gett is also in your price range.  I haven't heard this latest version, and I'm a bit disappointed range rationalisation means Arthur has dropped the thread bearing arm (F7 ??) which was a gem on simple cheap solid decks, but if I were auditioning I'd add that one to the list.

I did look at the Funk Gett! 2, but figured it was just a bit too much of the budget. Looks really nice though. Maybe if I sold some of the stuff I've been hoarding in the loft...

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Super Wammer

I am not a fan of the AT or cartridges but they obviously have fans. I prefer Dynavector as they seem to flesh out the music more and also have a lot of life to them; they are not comparatively boring like an Ortofon. And the base model will work into an MM input.

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I'm out of touch

17 minutes ago, DomT said:

I am not a fan of the AT or cartridges but they obviously have fans. I prefer Dynavector as they seem to flesh out the music more and also have a lot of life to them; they are not comparatively boring like an Ortofon. And the base model will work into an MM input.

I'm out of touch. Which dynavector sells for under £500? The 10x5 is 10x the cost of the audio technica and half the budget

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