Budget turntable under $500

Discussion in 'CD/DVD/Blu-ray & Misc Hardware' started by mpitogo2000, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. mpitogo2000 Audioholic Intern

    mpitogo2000
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    I'm currently using a Sansui FR-1080 turntable with an Ortofon stylus. It used to be my Dads. It's probably 40+ years old but still works. I replaced the belt several years ago and oil where needed. It sounds good for what it is a budget turntable years and years ago. It's dialed in and works but it has a motor vibration I can't get rid of. The platter is aluminum and spins well, the plinth is a metal plate suspended on springs sitting on a wooden chassis. The motor is an open frame AC motor suspended on 3 large rubber pads spinning a brass pulley. Two speeds 45/33 depending on which diameter pulley the belt rides on. Playing records the woofers would wobble once the needle drops. Wobble on silence and it looks to be motor related.

    Looking for a good sub $500 replacement. Hi-Fi on an Lo-Fi budget. Some ideas are, Audio Technica AT-120, Denon DP-300, Music Hall mmf 2.2, Project Debut and ortofon Red. Or go used VPI, clearaudio, etc very rare to find them below $500. I've been reading lots of good content but mostly on other topics.

    Opinions on the subject are fine. Maybe it's the way turntables are? I have no other experience with different brands. Would a record clamp fix it?

    Speakers are Polk Audio LSi25
    Amplifier is a Denon AVR-4802R in pure direct
  2. sterling shoote Senior Audioholic

    sterling shoote
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    I purchased an Audio Technica AT-120 a few weeks ago to give as a gift to my mother in law. This turntable seems to be the value most allude to, worthy of 5 stars. The only complaint is there is virtually no dampening on the tonearm lifter; however, I don't see that as having a consequence. I played some of my records on the AT and it seems they sound on it as they do played on my Sony turntable with Shure M97xE cartridge, that's to say, the turntable and cart appear to retrieve and deliver everything from the groove.
  3. TLS Guy Audioholic Overlord

    TLS Guy
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    You will not fix the motor noise with a record clamp. It sounds as if that turntable has bad motor bearings.

    Your idea of a vintage turntable has merit. However you won't find anything classy in your budget. The really good ones go for serious money.

    Of your selections I would recommend the Music Hall or Project.

    I would also suggest you take a look at these U-Turn turntables. They have a very nice unipivot arm. The problem with Far Eastern turntables is the PU arms. They are far too big and heavy to perform optimally with the high compliance high value MM cartridges.

    I second the Shure cartridge recommendation you have. The other alternative is the Ortofon Red. However I admit to being very partial to Shure cartridges.
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  4. mpitogo2000 Audioholic Intern

    mpitogo2000
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    @sterling shoote agree been reading good things about the AT-120.

    @TLS Guy not so much audible motor noise but very, very low frequency inaudible vibration where the woofers move in and out slowly. You had me thinking about bearings. I will disconnect the belt and run the motors and see if I still moves the woofers. I may just need better motor isolation if the belt doesn't trsmit the noise.

    And yes for $500 I wasn't expecting Air Force One. I looked at two u-turn turntables one at Barnes and Noble the other was at Urban Outfitters. I was not too impressed with the plastic build.
  5. lovinthehd Audioholic Spartan

    lovinthehd
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    Or you could look at the AT 1240, their current top of the line mimic of the SL1200, but will cost a bit more than the 120 and perhaps go slightly over budget with a cartridge.
  6. TLS Guy Audioholic Overlord

    TLS Guy
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    With your better description, I think your problem is arm cartridge resonance. The arm mass and cartridge weight and compliance must match.

    If you don't like the U-Turn then get the Expression or Music Hall. Get the Shure cartridge as that has a damper which will go a long way to solving your problem.

    What you have is a common problem with Far Eastern turntables as the PU arms are generally lousy.

    In your budget you need a nice low mass arm and high compliance cartridge. That is best anyway.

    Those AT arms are way too heavy and you will be back in the same boat.
  7. mpitogo2000 Audioholic Intern

    mpitogo2000
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    Thanks all, good suggestions. I think I'm good to go.

    I tested with the belt removed and stylus on the record. The motor does infact add noise as well as contribute to some woofer movement mainly induced onto the steel plinth. Rubber shock mounts still feel compliant but not effective. Current stylus is an Ortofon OM10.

    @lovinthehd I did not know AT-LP1240 existed, looks new. But I may not go that route.

    I think I'm now leaning towards @TLS Guy suggestions for lighter tone arm.

    Short list
    Project Debut Carbon DC with preinstalled Ortofon 2M Red $399
    Music Hall MMF-2.3 Spirit MM cartridge built by Audio Technica $499
  8. Bucknekked Audioholic General

    Bucknekked
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    I can second the U-Turn table recommendation. I bought one last year and I am a satisfied customer.
    I don't play that much vinyl to justify going whole hog on a vintage table.
    The U-Turn folks were responsive and I've enjoyed the table. I don't have a single complaint . All upside.
  9. mpitogo2000 Audioholic Intern

    mpitogo2000
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    Belated happy RSD.

    I went a completely different direction. I purchased a Pro-Ject Record cleaning system. It is sonically a much better investment. I had some dirty recordings and a dry brush was not going to clean it up as well as a wet system.

    I have seen a trick to use your correct turntable and brush on wood glue, let it dry then peel the film and dirt. I would guess this method is better than the wet to get really stuck dirt.
  10. mpitogo2000 Audioholic Intern

    mpitogo2000
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    On the turntable front I purchased a Sony PS-HX500 for $399. I use the built-in preamp DAC. It works great.
  11. MR.MAGOO Senior Audioholic

    MR.MAGOO
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  12. TLS Guy Audioholic Overlord

    TLS Guy
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    Automatic turntables are best avoided. The lack of adjustment is also a severe defect.

    The automatic mechanism adds too much extra drag on the PU arm. Turntables designed in the Far East are seldom on my recommend list.

    The OP would be much better of with a Project or U-Turn.
  13. highfigh Audioholic Warlord

    highfigh
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    Do you have any hands-on experience with the U-Turn? Everyone in MKE sells Pro-Ject and I would like to sell something without getting into the high end. Also, most manufacturers have such harsh buy-in requirements that it's not feasible.
  14. TLS Guy Audioholic Overlord

    TLS Guy
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    I have not had the chance to kick the tires on one of those turntables, but I really like the design of the pickup arm. If a turntable turns at the correct stable speed without rumble, then the design of the arm is crucial. Most consumers do not understand the importance of good arm design. A lot, especially those from the Far East are not really fit for purpose, and are full of basic errors.
  15. sterling shoote Senior Audioholic

    sterling shoote
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    TLS Guy,

    Could you give an example or two of the Far East Turntables which are not fit for purpose, and full of basic errors? Also, what are the basic errors? Would the Technics SL-1200GR be among the units you do not like?

    I have a 43 year old Sony PS-4750 with Shure V15V-MR and sometimes Shure M97xE which might be what you consider Far East; but, it seems to get me results which I can only distinguish from CD's of same material and in all perimeters when I hear an occasional pop or click.

    I believe you have a highly informed opinion of Hi-Fi, so I'd like a few details if you have the time.
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  16. slipperybidness Audioholic Spartan

    slipperybidness
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    TLS will likely poop all over the SL1200, but he tends to be in the minority on that opinion. But, he will make some valid arguments. But, to me the SL1200 has been iconic for 40 years, I love mine, and it will always have a place in at least 1 of my systems.

    SL1200 is one of the few places that I disagree with TLS. In general, he will be the BEST resource on this site to guide you on TTs and vintage gear.
  17. 3db Audioholic Overlord

    3db
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    Good luck finding an SL1200 under $500 these days.
    3db,
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  18. Mikado463 Audioholic

    Mikado463
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    lots of used ProJect and Music Hall TT's on the 'Gon'
  19. lovinthehd Audioholic Spartan

    lovinthehd
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    LOL just saw in a B&H catalog a 1210mk5 is $1999.00 but includes dj cartridge and some other accessories (value $241.82!)
  20. Verdinut Full Audioholic

    Verdinut
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    I have an Audio-Technica AT-LP1240 and it performs pretty well with the Shure M97XE. It has a decent arm and one of my friends told me that its motor had a better torque than that of the the Technics SL1200.
    IT's a DJ turntable as well and is very solidly built.

    Some DJs even consider it better than the vintage SL1200. You just have to look at the reviews on the B & H website. One of them is mine signed Andre P.

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