phono preamp & TT

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Sathyan, Nov 18, 2002.

  1. Sathyan

    Sathyan Second Unit

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    My brother just got a turntable (Pro-Ject 1.2 for his HK 3470 stereo receiver), so I was looking at a used record store for some vinyl for him. I'm amazed at how cheap the software is for this format!

    So I was thinking about getting a turntable myself. My HT receiver (Onkyo SR500) does not have a phono preamp.

    What is an add-on phono preamp (to convert to line-level) which is about as good as that which you find integrated into receivers (don't need Grado or Creek, etc.)?

    For a turntable I was thinking around $150.
    Denon DP-29F
    Technics SL-BD20D

    Are either of these decent?
    The Denon has a built-in phono preamp. Is it any good?

    Any recommendations are appreciated.

    What are the important specs. to look for? Is there a FAQ for buying phono?

    thanks,
    sathyan
     
  2. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Phono FAQ - go to www.audioasylum.com and check the FAQ page.
    Radio Shack used to sell a $25 battery powered phono stage that was really good for the money, it should be as good or better than what you'd get in a receiver. I have no idea about the quality of the phono stage in the Denon. I don't know about those 2 'tables either... Music Hall, Sumiko and Rega are usually mentioned in discussions of budget turntables. $150 might get you their entry-level models if you search used gear websites for a while.
     
  3. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    I have a Technics SL-BD20D and it's not bad at all as a inexpensive turntable; certainly much MUCH better than the Denon DP-29-F. The Technics requires a P-mount cartridge which kind of limits you to only a handful of models to upgrade to. Fortunately, Grado makes some excellent and relatively inexpensive cartridge that comes in a P-mount version. I am going to tweak the Technics to see how far I can take this turntable before upgrading....Vibrapods, new cartridge, None-Felt platter mat, and if I can still find it, the Radio Shack "little rat" phono pre-amp. I am sure the entry-level Pro-Ject and MMF models (about $200.00) are better but those came out after I purchased my Technics.

    Can't wait til I unwrap that brand-new Barry Manilow record I found at the Salvation Army Store for $.50....
     
  4. Sathyan

    Sathyan Second Unit

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    thank you for your replies
    The RadioShack phono pre (#970-1018) - which is currently out-of-stock - uses a battery? How long will that last?
    On the Asylum site I read a review of the NAD PP-1 phono pre which draws AC power from an ungrounded wall wart; it said the device was an RFI magnet. Does using a battery eliminate this problem? Since the RadioShack is out of stock, can you suggest any others? Crutchfield lists a Recoton SP-2 for $50. I really don't want to go above that. I'm more inclined to buy a phono pre off the used market (no moving parts) than a 'table.
    I'm trying to figure out how to evaluate 'table specifications. Unfortunately, I can't just go into a local store and listen to all of these. The following are available locally:
    name, USD price, wow & flutter, incl. preamp?
    Denon DP-29F, $150, .15%, yes
    Audio Technica ATPL50, $90, .25%, no
    Technics SLBD20, $150, .045%, no
    Sony PS-LX250, $130, .25%, yes
    for reference
    Project 1.2, $320, .15%, no
    so basically, what else matters? (i'm not used to listening to vinyl so I'd rather compare numbers than blind test)
    Saurav - thanks. I checked your link but I need a primer even more basic than that which is provided (more along the lines of the HTF Basics primer). A book reference would be fine.
    Danny - when you say the Technics is much better than the Denon, why is that? is that due to the onboard phono pre (which can be bypassed), wow % flutter or something else? (Audioreview complained about the built-in phono pre)
    given the expected light use (compared to my receiver which is on 10 hrs/day), build quality is somewhat less important. $200 for preamp and 'table is the max. i'm willing to spend
    thanks
    sathyan
     
  5. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Go used, that's for certain. Technics tables are very sturdily built, and Regas are simple (low moving part count), so those are relatively safer buys on the used market. I agree with you, it's definitely riskier buying a used table than a used phono stage. Specs... I have no idea how specs translate to real performance when it comes to turntables. I've read of many accounts of tables with better specs and poorer sound so I stopped thinking about specs completely.
    If you want a cheap table, look for something like a Pioneer PL-12D, you should be able to get that for $50. Used ARs and Duals can often be found for under $200, sometimes Thorens too. You'll have to spend some time reading through archived posts on Audio Asylum to get some idea about what brands and models to look for.
    I don't know of any other FAQs online... if you have questions, post them and I'll try to answer.
    I've used something that looked pretty similar to that Recoton unit, and it had a lot of 60Hz buzz. I dont know if it's the same unit or not, but I didn't like it very much at all.
    If you want to come in under the $200 budget, here's what I would do:
    * Check eBay for used Pioneer, Dual, AR, Technics, etc. Check the seller's feedback, read the posting carefully to see if he knows anything about 'tables or is just selling one he happened to find, ask him lots of questions. Go to http://www.theturntablefactory.com/packing.html and send it to a seller and ask if he will package and ship it following those instructions. Before you do any of this, spend a few days searching through Audio Asylum's vinyl form for posts on "budget turntable" or stuff like that. I would say... try to shoot for $100 or so here. If the seller is far away, careful packing and shipping can cost up to $30 or more, so keep that in mind.
    * Phono stage... this one's harder. You might be able to find used NAD or Rotel stages for cheap, they go for just over $100 new. Maybe see if you can find an old NAD integrated amp, like the 3020. Those had excellent phono stages. You might be able to find an old 70s receiver too, use it just for a phono stage. I've done this, and if you find something from the 70's when vinyl was the main format, you're likely to get a pretty decent phono stage. Shoot for say $50 here.
    * Cartridge - depends on how much you have left over. If you can swing it, get a Grado Black for $40 - AFAIK nothing can touch it in that price range. If you don't have that much left over, look for the less expensive Audio Technicas or Ortofons, maybe... I don't have too much information about budget carts, the Grado Black was my first cart.
     
  6. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Sathyan,
    I have the NAD PP-1 phono pre-amp paired with a Sony PS-LX350H manual turntable. It's a budget set-up and is pretty good. One of these days, I would like to upgrade the turntable, and depending on how far I go with the upgrade, possibly replace the phono pre-amp as well. However, for now, I am pleased with this set-up.
    Crutchfield has the Sony turntable. For the money, the Music Hall MMF-2.1 could very well be better, but the Sony unit has performed well for my needs. One thing I like about the Sony turntable is that it has detachable cables, which is rare with turntables. I find that fixed cables on most units are too short for many real-world systems. Detachable cables are nice to have.
    Danny said:
     
  7. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Sathyan,

    While the Technics SL-BD20D is at the bottom of its turntable line, it actual sound half decent out of the box. There're a lot of potentials to improve the quality of this turntable, from upgrading the cartridge to changing the detachable power cord and interconnect. Not too many years ago, the full size non-resonant classis of the SL-BD20D formed the backbone of Technics less expensive turntable line....I still remember one model, I believe the model number being SL-DD33 or something very similar, having TWO quartz-locked direct drive motors. How did it sound? I don't know as I've never heard it. But the point is that the Technics was at least an attempt to build an inexpensive and yet reliable turntable that sounds half decent. And it succeeded being that.

    As for the Denon, I believe it take only one kind of magnetic cartridge (unlike the choices you have amongst P-mount cartridges) and is more of an accessory for one of Denon's mini systems. It even resemble the very similar Sony/Aiwa turnables that cost a little bit less. Please don't get me wrong, I like Denon turnables (especially that huge turntable with the rosewood base), but I think for your money, the Technics is a better buy.

    BTW, Technics is no longer marketed in the US. You may be able to pick up the Technics at a much better price that $150. I noticed Best Buy no longer carry it. Check on the net. Service shouldn't be a problem given that Panasonic is Technics' parent company.
     
  8. David Young

    David Young Extra

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    Would you like one of these? Just one tiny problem . . . you'll need to find a 16v ac in adaptor.
     
  9. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Technics SL-BD20D
    [​IMG]
    Denon DP-29F
    [​IMG]
     
  10. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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  11. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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  12. David Young

    David Young Extra

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  13. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    I got a J&R Music World catalog in the mail today that shows the Technics SL-BD20D for just $130.
     
  14. Justin Doring

    Justin Doring Screenwriter

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    The cheapest decent phono stage I can think of is the NAD. It lists for around $135 or so, but it can be had for $100 online. I wouldn't recommend a low-fi (e.g. Sony or Technics) turn table. Perhaps the MMF for $179 above would be a good choice if you don't want to spend much. Rega also makes some good entry level turntables, but I think they're around $300-$500 new. As for cartridges, there are a lot of good and inexpensive ones out there.
     

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