best stereo system for a turntable?

Discussion in 'Beginners and Audiophytes' started by istria, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. istria Audiophyte

    istria
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    So I'm looking to upgrade my turntable setup, and I'd love some recommendations on a stereo system.

    Right now I have a little ION usb turntable and Logitech X-530 speakers. I don't remember which preamp I have. I think it's a decent preamp, but I feel like my setup is sort of kiddie stuff ... I'm ready to upgrade to a grown-up system. :)


    In terms of turntable, I'm 99% sure I'm going to take the plunge and get a Technics 1200. The exact model will depend on what deals are on ebay, but there's a 1200 mk2 on there right now for $350, which seems like a good price to me (am I right in that?).

    In terms of preamp, I'm thinking of the TCC TC-750 ... it seems to have gotten great reviews and it's not that expensive.

    I'm just stuck on a good stereo system. Budget-wise, I'd like to stay under $350/400 (for this component ... obviously not the entire setup), but ultimately I'm hoping to have a system I won't want to replace for a while.

    My records are mostly '60s blues and rock (including first pressings of Beatles albums that I spent a good bit of cash on), and I really just want them to sound their best.

    Thanks!
  2. Grador Audioholic Field Marshall

    Grador
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    You'd be doing your records far better by getting yourself some good stereo speakers before getting a better TT. I've never listened to one of the ION players, and i'm sure you can do better than that, but ultimately it is the speakers that are reproducing the sound for you, they will make the most difference.

    Edit: Reserving component suggestions till I know if you're sure you want a new TT, but the receiver suggestions below are good.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  3. afterlife2 Audioholic Ninja

    afterlife2
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    I have the Onkyo TX-SR707(maybe you can check ebay for a used one). This is last years model and has 7.1 surround and a phono input just like my 707:
    Onkyo TX-NR709 7.2-Channel 3-D Ready Network A/V Receiver | Accessories4less

    or

    If you just want a receiver with Phono Input and no surround sound: Onkyo TX-8555 100 watts 2 channel Stereo Receiver | Accessories4less

    or

    http://www.accessories4less.com/mak...M-Multi-Source/Zone-Stereo-AV-Receiver/1.html

    with maybe some EMP http://www.emptek.com/e5bi.php or http://www.emptek.com/e5ti.php JBL http://www.amazon.com/JBL-L830-6-In...3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1334094535&sr=1-3 , etc. speakers. I'm sure you'll let us know your speaker budget then we can go from there...
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  4. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

    slipperybidness
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    The SL1200 is definitely one of the best TT out there (though I'm sure some will argue about that on this site). I would suggest maybe looking at Guitar Center for this too. And look online. They sell used TT including the 1200 and I think they do an inspection and tuneup on it, but I would check on that. Either way, they are certainly more reliable than a random ebay seller, especially if you have an actual store nearby.

    The comment about the speakers being top priority is probably dead-on, as you will notice biggest improvements there first.
  5. istria Audiophyte

    istria
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    Thanks, everyone--that's good to know about the speakers. My speakers budget is $350-400. I'd like to keep it under $1,000 for the whole setup. Do you all think that's realistic if my turntable of choice is the SL1200?
  6. Grador Audioholic Field Marshall

    Grador
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    I think that's reasonably realistic. You can always do better with more money of course. For me your budget is really right on the fence for where getting the ~$350 turn table makes sense, especially if you're also willing to go used on the receiver around the $150 range. The SL1200 is nice, but I think you might be happier going with a slightly lesser TT and budgeting a little more for speakers. You're kinda at an odd budget point where I think you'd be getting speakers good enough to warrant a better TT, but could still benefit from getting speakers that were better yet.

    On your budget I would strongly suggest looking for an older receiver with a built in phono stage, simplifies setup and maximizes cost/benefit. If you're dead set on an SL1200 I don't think you'd be going wrong though!
  7. istria Audiophyte

    istria
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    Thanks--I guess I'm leaning strongly towards the SL1200 just because I'd like to have a TT I won't ever want/need to replace, and I'm assuming the SL1200 will serve me well for the long haul, while I can imagine upgrading the other components periodically.

    So assuming I get the EMP Tek bookshelf speakers recommended above ($250) and the Onkyo TX-8555 receiver (that appears to have a built-in phono stage) ($200 used), that leaves $550 for the TT. It looks like Guitar Center has an SL1200 mk2 for $430, so that would put me at $880 before shipping.

    Does that sound like a decent setup to you all? Do I need to mess with the cartridge that comes with the SL1200 at all? I know some people have replaced it with cartridges like the Shure M97xE.
  8. Grador Audioholic Field Marshall

    Grador
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    That sounds like a pretty good setup to me! I would try hitting the pavement and auditioning some speakers, see if you find anything you like.

    I would worry about the cartridge after you get it. Buying used the cartridge that comes with it may vary, and before making that determination I would look into a new stylus to make sure you don't have a worn one.
  9. afterlife2 Audioholic Ninja

    afterlife2
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    Yes Shure M97xE I have it and it is highly regarded for a budget cartridge. You have done your homework my friend.:D Like grader said try to check out some speakers in person. The EMP are highly regarded by some members here. I think you can try them out for 30 days and If you don't like them you pay shipping back only. EMP Tek Shipping and Returns Maybe go to a best buy or fry's type store and check some speakers out.
    another choice: http://www.amazon.com/JBL-LSR2325P-Two-Way-Bi-Amplified-Monitor/dp/B001PYK1BS
    Mini review: http://www.head-fi.org/t/552340/review-jbl-lsr-2325p-5-studio-monitors-impressions#post_7446599
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  10. istria Audiophyte

    istria
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    Great, thanks for the help, everyone! There's an excellent audio equipment store pretty close to me, so I think I'll head over there to audition some speakers before making a final decision. In terms of the cartridge, I'll probably see how I feel about the one that comes with the TT, and then upgrade to the Shure cartridge if I'm not happy with the sound I'm getting.

    Thanks again! :)
  11. afterlife2 Audioholic Ninja

    afterlife2
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    Welcome! Please let us know what you got. Important to take your time and get what you really want.
  12. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

    slipperybidness
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    They produced the 1200 for almost 40 yrs! If it ever does break, parts are plentiful and there are plenty of people that can work on them.

    Do yourself a favor and get the Shure. Amazon usually has it in the $60 to $75 range
  13. Brett A Audioholic

    Brett A
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    Not sure which ION USB turntable you have now, but the first thing that comes to mind is the damage it might do to your valuable LPs. I don't think there's much disagreement that some of today's inexpensive record players are torture devices for vinyl.

    Secondly, I think money spent on source is money well spent; garbage in/garbage out. Start with a quality source and work on the quality of the downstream electronics after. (speakers being the second thing to get right)

    The Technics SL-1200 is a sure bet. As others have said, it has 40 years of history and in that time has proven to be a reliable workhorse capable of fine performance. It's also a safe bet financially as it will almost certainly increase in value. (They stopped making them last year)

    $350 is a good common price for an SL-1200 MKII in good shape. You could pull the trigger on that purchase feeling confident. I would strongly recommend getting one that has never seen DJ use. That kind of hard use can wreak havoc on the all-important tonearm bearings. Any slop in those bearings is going to degrade the performance of whatever cartridge you mount on it.

    I'd also suggest you get an MKII or better. The earlier ones are certainly cheaper, but I think the improvements to the MKIIs are worth the initial cost.

    I've heard good things about the TCC preamps. Other options to consider would be the first-generation Musical Fidelity V-LPS which can be had for $99, sounds awesome and can handle low output moving coil cartridges if you ever want to try one of those in the future.

    (EDIT TO ADD: I just looked on Amazon and it looks like the days of the $99 M.F. V-LPS may be over.)

    Also for $100, you could get a used Cambridge Audio 640p. Plenty of info about those on the web.

    But what I would most strongly recommend is an ART DJ II phono amp; it's about $50 and has excellent sound and adjustability. Not sure in my experience that it's all that different sounding from the Musical Fidelity.
    http://www.amazon.com/ART-II-Preamp...R482/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334165440&sr=8-1

    (FWIW, I either own or have owned all these phono amps except the TCC)

    The Shure cartridge is also a safe bet. Although keep in mind that Shure cartridges are generally liked by folks who prefer a warmer, softer presentation. An equally well regarded cartridge that gives a bit more of an open, detailed presentation would be an Audio Technica AT120E, or for a little more money, an AT440MLa. And really, you can't go wrong with either the Shure or AT for a first high quality set up.

    Amazon.com: Audio Technica AT120E/T Standard Mount Phono Cartridge: Musical Instruments


    Most of all, have fun and let us know how it goes.
  14. istria Audiophyte

    istria
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    Thanks for all of that info, Brett! I didn't realize that inexpensive TTs can hurt vinyl. I actually ordered the 1200 today (MKII ... $388 total), since I would absolutely hate to have my records harmed by a cheap TT. I have a bunch of Beatles first pressings that I totally cherish and spent a lot of money on (and that I play a lot), so I would be pretty crushed if something happened to them.

    Anyway, I'll keep you all updated on my upgrade. I'm on a student budget (and, yes, I choose upgrading my sound system over things like spending more money on food), so it'll be a long process, as I save up money from my job. But I think I can do it by the end of the summer.

    Thanks again!
  15. afterlife2 Audioholic Ninja

    afterlife2
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  16. ahblaza Audioholic General

    ahblaza
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    Istria, Brett is right when he said DJ tables take a beating but not all MKII's are used as DJ tables, when you get your Technics TT listen to the platter spinning when powered up, it should be quiet with no scratchy sounds, power off and spin the platter by hand, it should rotate easily for awhile and come to a gradual stop and not a sudden stop, this gives you some idea of the condition of the bearings. Tonearm should move freely also with no jerky movement. The shure is a decent cart. but for a little more you can do better. The AT 440ML comes to mind, I don't know your skill level with cart. mounting and alignment but it takes more than a little knowledge of subject matter, I'm not trying to discourage you please do not think that. If I were you, I would have gone with a Music Hall MMF 2.2 with Tracker(Music Hall) MM cartridge or Project Debut III with Otofon OM-5E MM cartridge, both tables are in your budjet and they are practically plug and play tables. I wish you well whatever you decide, phonopreamps.com have budget preamps that should work for you as well.
    Cheers Jeff
  17. istria Audiophyte

    istria
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    Thanks for the advice, Jeff! I went with a 1200 MK2 and the Shure M97xe cartridge, and it's working great so far! Even with my not-so-great speakers (just some Logitech ones) I can immediately tell the difference.

    One question, though: I managed to install the headshell and cartridge without a problem, but I don't know how to adjust anti-skating, tone arm, etc. The instructions that came with my cartridge said to refer to the turntable instructions, but since I obviously bought my table used, it didn't come with any instructions.

    The next step in my upgrade (which won't happen until I've saved some money from my summer job) is to replace my speakers. Right now, I have a Rolls vp29 preamp, but I've promised my sister my entire previous setup, so I need to replace the preamp and the speakers. Would you guys suggest that I stick with the preamp/speakers setup, or should I go for a proper stereo receiver and speakers? (by the way, I hope I'm using the right terminology for all of this ... I'm still very new at trying to put together a decent setup).
  18. afterlife2 Audioholic Ninja

    afterlife2
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    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2014
  19. istria Audiophyte

    istria
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    @afterlife: Thanks for those links!

    My Beatles albums sound excellent! I put on my mono first pressing (British Parlophone, not Capitol) of Please Please Me and I was pretty much knocked out by I Saw Her Standing There ... the energy and immediacy of the sound was just unreal!

    I'm really happy with how it sounds right now, but I'm psyched to hear how it sounds with better speakers :)
  20. HStanford1 Audiophyte

    HStanford1
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    +1 to this, just make sure to bring a friend who knows a bit about TT's...I've seen some severely beaten up ones, and they can be easily repaired...but it's best to just grab something that already works. Our GC doesn't repair tables at all, so if your GC is the same way expect to get a soldering iron and invest in a bit of clean up.

    Also note if you get interested in the 1200's or any variations you'll be fighting against DJs to get them, so act fast!

    Note: If you're considering nice cartridges got for the M447 and it's variants. They're an absolute standard and have exceptionally low record wear.

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