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Which turntable? (Sub £500-ish)


Seth
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I’m trying to put together a sound system. About 6 months ago I didn’t know anything about amplifiers/speakers, I know a tiny bit now but still have zero knowledge on turntables. 

I own a Sansui Eight receiver but no speakers. I’m looking to hunt out a pair of Cambridge R50’s but nothing is set in stone yet. Maybe a set of Kef Concerto’s as plan B, who knows.

I don’t know how much influence turntables have on the character of the sound but just in case - I’m looking for a warm sound with no bright higher frequencies, my ears are very sensitive to that. 

I’m open to which path I should take - modern/vintage, I don’t mind used modern either, I’m just looking for the best I can afford.

Any advice would be great...

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If you like a warmish, full bodied sound then for your Budget I would say a Goldring Lenco GL75 would give you what your looking for. 

The deck itself or the arm can be easily upgraded further down the line, Lenco Heaven is a great source of info for upgrades, servicing and everything inbetween. 

With your speaker search stalled I would say interim grab yourself a pair of kef 104ab, these will be relatively easy to move on once a pair of R50 surface. The 104ab is by no means a toppy speaker and I'm loving the pair I'm using in my 2nd system with a pair of bridged 80s Cambridge Audio A50s and a C50 pre. 

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If you’re starting out with turntables, & have very little practical experience with them, it may be better to start off with a new turntable which requires no/very little setting up. Either that or buy 2nd hand from someone who you trust & can do the set up for you. A cartridge only has to be a tiny bit out for it to sound off. So buying new will get you into the sound of turntables, getting you into enjoying records & gives you time to learn about some of the set up knowledge (& tools) required to go further up the chain in the future.

With that in mind, if buying new, the most frequent recommendations would be a Rega Planar or a ProJect debut carbon.

The Debut Carbon is now a discontinued model, usually £370 or so but now available under £300. It’s a very decent tt, & has an Ortofon 2m red cart pre-installed, which is a very respectable cart. It has just been replaced by the Debut Carbon Evo, at £450ish. It’s a bit better than the outgoing model, with push button 33/45rpm selector, & improvements to the motor & isolation feet.

Yes, spending £500 on a 2nd hand tt may well give you better, but equally, unless you know how to check it all over & can spot issues, it may give you problems. 
Also don’t forget to factor in a phono stage, if your amp doesn’t have one built in, plus another lead to go from the phono stage to your amp.  A NAD PP2, or ProJect phono box mm will certainly be good enough to get you going & are available for £70ish.

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Second-hand Rega Planar 3, well under your budget, and enough TT for most to begin with. If you need a phono stage, the very capable Fono MM MkIII would proabably just about still fit under your budget too!

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I’m currently speakerless so in no rush for a turntable. I think i’m going to have a little time on my hands until a decent set of the R50’s fall into my lap, so in the meantime I think I’ll do some research into the Goldring Lenco GL75. If it all looks too much, I’ll stick with something safer as recommended.

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Personal view would be to consider the following 

Thorens TD160b (the one that came without arm) or Thorens TD160 Super with a Rega arm

Same sound quality different look and better suspension is the Systemdek IIx 

Also great SME 305 - will come without arm usually - great sounding turntable but four point suspension makes it a bit more difficult to set up.  

Heybrook TT2 think of it as a super Thorens - modeled on the 150 with a beefier subchassis .. with a Rega or similar arm 

Also if you can find one in decent condition the Thorens TD160 with its own arm (TP16) with a Goldring G1042 cartridge would also do the job very nicely (but if you go down the upgrade path of changing arm later leaves holes in the top plate where the arm rest was and the lift lower knob is) 

Others that do a similar job - Ariston RD 11. 80. 90. 11s 

Some will point you at Goldring GL72/75/78 which in full working order are great turntables but IMO the only thing to maintain on any of the above is a belt - the goldring has an idler drive so more moving parts.

Others will recommend a direct drive turntable - IMO none of them up to £500 are going to come close to the sound quality that can be obtained from any of the above 

Happy hunting 

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Second hand Technics SL1500c. Has a built in phonostage and the cart is pre set up in the headshell.

A doddle to set up and use, bomb proof and excellent SQ for the money.

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The Technics are a great looking table and so easy to set up. However having owned many TTs over the last 5 yes I would recommend the Lenco / Ariston route as they will give you more bass which will effectively give you the warmer 1970s sound you are looking for. Tbh the speakers will ultimately give the biggest sound differences out of all the components in your system

Sent from my moto g pro using Tapatalk

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AUDIO_FILES_AUDIO_TECHNICA_Turntable1.jp

If you want new a modded AT LP5. Job done  Direct Drive no set up required. Fit and forget. Essential if you are a novice or do not have an experienced mate to help out,  Covid permitting. You can do better second hand putting bits together but you need to know what you are doing.

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13 hours ago, vinyl4ever said:

The Technics are a great looking table and so easy to set up. However having owned many TTs over the last 5 yes I would recommend the Lenco / Ariston route as they will give you more bass which will effectively give you the warmer 1970s sound you are looking for. Tbh the speakers will ultimately give the biggest sound differences out of all the components in your system

Sent from my moto g pro using Tapatalk
 

I have owned dozens of TT's over the last 30 years, including 3 modded Lenco Gl-75's ( certainly not a starter deck, imo) and a G99 (fantastic deck). My current main TT is an Audio Grail 401, renowned for it's bass. Any TT can do bass, it is the quality that matters. The cart has as much to do with that as the TT.

The Techie, fitted with the supplied 2M Red, was indeed disappointing in its bass (along with other areas) performance. Having replaced the 2M Red with an ancient Ortofon VMS30 MkII, the bass is really rather good.

Edited by Idlewithnodrive
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I’d also suggest a new or recent turntable.  You’ll have enough to worry about with 40 year old speakers and amplifiers.  Rather you than me!

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1 hour ago, Idlewithnodrive said:

I have owned dozens of TT's over the last 30 years, including 3 modded Lenco Gl-75's ( certainly not a starter deck, imo) and a G99 (fantastic deck). My current main TT is an Audio Grail 401, renowned for it's bass. Any TT can do bass, it is the quality that matters. The cart has as much to do with that as the TT.

The Techie, fitted with the supplied 2M Red, was indeed disappointing in its bass (along with other areas) performance. Having replaced the 2M Red with an ancient Ortofon VMS30 MkII, the bass is really rather good.

I still have a brand new VMS30 ll boxed from 1984 I think along with the cap 210. A fine cartridge indeed!

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I'd hold on to that. The cap 210 is very difficult to come by and, I agree , the VMS 30 II is a very good cart (I have a spare, too).

The point I was trying to make is that the cart influences bass at least as much, probably more, than the TT.

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3 hours ago, Idlewithnodrive said:

I'd hold on to that. The cap 210 is very difficult to come by and, I agree , the VMS 30 II is a very good cart (I have a spare, too).

The point I was trying to make is that the cart influences bass at least as much, probably more, than the TT.

I'll second that, cart is important. I've not had a lot of comparison with decks but that said the Project Debut 3 S Audiophile kicks out a lot of bass both with the included Pick It 25A cartridge and an Ortofon OM20, I tend to think the OM20 has more bass with the standard OM body rather than the revised Pick It 25A body (modelled on the Super OM body I think).

Other Project Debut decks might well be similar. 

Second hand is an option, but having just realised the Technics SL-1210 mk2 I bought years back has always had issues with the tone arm - that I suspected but ignored - you need to have some knowledge and your wits about you to buy second decks imo. 

Refurbished or from a trusted second hand supplier is an option. I'd say ignore E-Bay and similar unless you know what to check on the deck.

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12 hours ago, yoda900 said:

AUDIO_FILES_AUDIO_TECHNICA_Turntable1.jp

If you want new a modded AT LP5. Job done  Direct Drive no set up required. Fit and forget. Essential if you are a novice or do not have an experienced mate to help out,  Covid permitting. You can do better second hand putting bits together but you need to know what you are doing.

A serious Lenco customiser that I knew sold everything in a house move and bought one of these and said that it was quite capable. 

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