Turntables and vinyl...I'm getting started and need some help!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeremy Hegna, May 29, 2002.

  1. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

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    Hello Friends,

    I've recently acquired an incredible selection of LPs for a great price. Almost 500 albums in very good to mint shape. Classic rock and the like, with everything from all of the Pink Floyd, Stones, Zepplin, and Fleetwood Mac albums to obscure Robert Palmer and Commander Cody. BB King and Clapton, 10 years after and Nilson. It really is a fantastic collection and my older cousin took VERY good care of all of them.

    He also threw in a Technics SL-1300 direct drive turntable and couple of extra styluses. He even had the original box, packing material, and owners manual for the deck. I'm not sure of the quality of this table. There is very little information that I have found online about it so far. It is direct drive and from what I've read, getting into the "serious" analog set-up, one should purchase a belt drive table. I will be hooking it up on Thursday night, but I'm curious if anyone owns this table and what their thoughts are about it. I'm considering buying a new cartridge for it right off the bat.

    After looking through audio asylum, some questions have been answered...however, it's not the type of board that you can be a rookie and still participate in educated conversation. I am very much a newbie to analog, but I can't wait to get started. Depending how this table sounds, I will be seriously thinking about a better deck soon. Rega, Music Hall, and VPI are some names that I've seen tossed around...VPI being pretty spendy and not something I would invest in unless I was sure I was going to pursue an analog investment.

    Other questions I have....

    Some folks say a turntable needs to be mounted to its own table, isolated from the rest of the system. How will my performance be if I put my turntable in the middle of my rack? It's a pretty sturdy rack with heavy components on top and bottom.

    About the cartridge. What should I use as a replacement cartridge on the Technics SL-1300? Should I even upgrade this needle? Will I hear an improvement using a DD table and a better cartridge?

    About the pre-amp stage. I have a Denon 5800 with a pre-amp stage. Will I want to purchase a dedicated pre-amp for the turntable or use the Denon's? Which would yield the best performance if I were to make a choice...the new cartridge of the new pre-amp?

    Cleaning the records. What is the recommended way of cleaning LPs these days? Is ther still the felt type brush and the little red bottle of solution or are there better ways?

    Are there any other brands that I should add to my list of upgrades for the table besides Rega, Music Hall, and VPI?

    Any other information for a 30 year old LP newbie is gladly appreciated....


    Thanks,


    Jeremy
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Jeremy, I not a vinyl expert, at least not yet ([​IMG]), but I have always read that Technics turntables are excellent for DJs since they are robust and have useful features. However, they are not well regarded by the audiophiles out there. I have always read good things about turntables by Music Hall, Rega, and VPI. At present, I am looking to replace my Sony PS-LX350H manual turntable ($200 at Crutchfield) with the Music Hall MMF-5 or Rega P2. I am leaning towards the Music Hall table based on the excellent reviews I have read and because it is considered an excellent value. For $450-500, you get everything, including the cartridge. The Rega P2 for around $500 comes with no cartridge.
    I have always read that belt-driven tables are better than direct drive models. Perhaps others can chime in here with more information.
    Regarding cleaning vinyl, I am a neophyte, but I use a bottle of cleaning solution and a brush by Discwasher. The brush and cleaning solution came in one package for around $12. There are more expensive record cleaners out there (many far more expensive), but I can't say whether they are really necessary. Check www.audioadvisor.com for representative models. My feeling is that the amount invested in a record cleaner should be in proportion with the amount spent on a turntable. In my opinion, a $450 Music Hall MMF-5 does not justify the investment in a high-end record cleaner. My $12 Discwasher system gets my records clean. Perhaps with a high-end vinyl set-up on a revealing system, the more expensive cleaners make a difference.
    As for phono pre-amps, there are likely to be better dedicated units out there than the phono pre-amp in your Denon receiver. However, like anything else, deciding on which way to go with a phono pre-amp -- a separate unit or the phono section in your receiver -- depends on how much you want to spend and how revealing your system is. I use an NAD PP-1 phono pre-amp with my Sony turntable. The turntable is used in a stereo system with an NAD stereo integrated amp that has no phono section. The NAD PP-1 retails for $125, but I bought it for $85 from Sound City (authorized dealer; 1-800-370-3156). The NAD unit certainly isn't high-end, but it works well for me. Should I upgrade to the Music Hall or Rega table, I might upgrade the phono pre-amp as well. Creek makes some well-regarded models.
    I'm sure others will chime in with their experiences here. As I said, I am still learning about vinyl and have yet to own a quality table. Vinyl sounds good in my system, but I have heard friends' higher-end systems in the past, and vinyl can sound truly amazing. Have fun with your new-found vinyl!
     
  3. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

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    Keith,

    How good does your vinyl sound compared to your buddie's better system? Are we talking the same as differences heard in better DACs/transports, etc. for CD playback, or is it a night and day difference?

    I've heard some great things about "tube" phono pre-amps that kind of give you the best of both worlds...mixed with a solid state main amplifier.

    My speakers are extremely revealing, Nautilus 802s. I'm fairly decided on the Music Hall or Regas...but it makes sense to go with the "package deal" so I'm leaning more towards the Music Hall. However, there are some package deals available used at audiogon and I haven't given up there either.

    What about cartridges? Have you tried replacing your cartridge on yours or is it unneccesary on the cheaper tables? IE, not worth it?


    Jeremy
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Jeremy, I haven't heard my friends' higher-end vinyl systems in quite awhile, but I am positive that they would blow away my set-up. My vinyl set-up is nothing special.

    Your system warrants a better turntable than the Technics unit in my opinion. Definitely take a look at the Music Hall and Rega models.

    I haven't tried upgrading the cartridge on my Sony table. I'm sure doing so would be beneficial, but my feeling is that there is only so much that can be done with a $200 table. As a result, I will upgrade the table, but I don't know when. It is on my list of things to do, but it is not a top priority right now.
     
  5. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

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    Thanks Keith,
    I will probably go down the same road as you. Unfortunately, for someone with A.D.D.(me) I want it all done now[​IMG] No patience, since I got the LP collection.
    Oh well, I also looked forward to learning the game of golf this summer and taking a little time off the HT hobby. I will keep my eye out for the bargain of the century on a MusicHall MMF-5 or 7. Until than, I will keep the Technics. Regardless, I've never heard an LP on my current set-up, so it should be interesting.
    Jeremy
     
  6. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Jeremy, give the Technics table a shot for now and see how you like it. Spend some money on golf and enjoy some vinyl at the same time! As for me, I only have about 100-125 LPs, so I don't have an extensive collection that is yearning for a better table. If I bought a better table, then I would go out and expand my LP collection. For now, I am spending enough cash on CDs and SACDs. There are other things I want to do with my money besides buy A/V gear too, so I am holding off on buying a better table for now.
     
  7. PomingF

    PomingF Second Unit

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    Jeremy, welcome to the world of vinyl. I am surprised Saurav hasn't chimed in yet. [​IMG] I'd definitely give the Technics a workout first and take your time to find out more on your options. That is provide the pre-in on your Denon is a phono stage or else you may have you decide on one fairly quick. There're lots of online places you can shop for vinyl accessories a search under vinyl or LP should give you some idea.
    Btw, sounds like you hit a jackpot with the LP collection. In order to keep them in top shape you may consider eventually invest in a cheap vacuum cleaning machine and a bunch of rice paper sleeves to replace the lousy ones come with the original albums. I still have my >15 y/o DiscWasher kit (the one with the static gun) but found out early on how much better vacuum cleaned (as c/w DiscWasher cleaned) LP's sound.
    There may be other forum's (AVS, HTT, etc) you may want to post for LP enthusiasts' suggestions as well.
    Have fun.
    PF
     
  8. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    PomingF said:
     
  9. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Jeremy,
    Welcome to the wonderful world of vinyl! Some of us have been enjoying vinyl non-stop for decades. I have a very modest set-up, a 7 year old Denon DP-7F table with a brand new Audio Technica Cartridge. Total cost about $400.
    First before I say anything else, I want to urge you to give that Technics table a spin. Back in the day Technics tables were very highly regarded and older Technics tables still get a lot of respect. Their industry standard modern DJ tables are a direct descendant of your 1300 and are the standard by which all DJ tables are measured. Take a look at this page:
    http://www.backspin.org/history.html
    Depending on your POV, you may have a genuine piece of vintage analog gear there. Don't be so quick to ditch it for something new. Though a bit of shopping around can be beneficial, my local dealer sells set-up Rega 2s with cartridge for $500.
    Most serious audiophiles prefer belt drive to direct drive. The disadvantage is a barely noticable increase in noise caused by the motor being directly connected to the platter. However, with Belt Drive tables, the belts wear out and have to be replaced. When they're dying the warbling sound is not good believe me. And replacement belts are not always easy to find, especially when the table's 10 years old on the way to it's second belt. My old Sanyo cheapo DD turntable from 1981 is still going strong and holding pitch at my brother's house. I'm happy with my DD Denon - but during a few very quiet music moments if I crank the living crap out of it I think can hear the motor. [​IMG]
     
  10. Jack Keck

    Jack Keck Second Unit

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    Jeremy, the argument usually made in favor of belt drive turntables is that teh belt filters out motor vibrations that would be transferred directly to the platter on a direct drive turntable. Rest assured that the turntable makes a difference in how your records will sound. I've heard and tried different tts with the same cartridge, amp, and speakers and can attest to this. So get the best one you can. For the record, I have a Rega P2 with a Grado cartridge and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyoneunless they already have a better one.

    I am no vinylphile because I find cds and the music channels on my Dish network more convienient. However, I would be interested to know if, once you acquire a good belt drive tt, if you find it better sounding than your Technics. Mike Knapp over at Home Theater Talk started a thread about a Technics dd turntable and mentioned trying to get a Rega P2. You might want to check that out.

    If nothing else, You can always burn your vinyl on to cd-rs. That is pretty much all I use my TT for any more.
     
  11. John Tompkins

    John Tompkins Supporting Actor

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    I dont mean to butt in hear but I have a question about tt's. If you get a phono stage like the creek would the outputs of the creek connect to my bottlehead tube pre ? or would the connections HAVE to go from the creek phono stage directly to my amps ?
     
  12. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    For record cleaning, I strongly suggest a vacuum machine. Nitty-gritty makes some modestly priced units.

    Larry
     
  13. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Keith said

     
  14. Dave Moritz

    Dave Moritz Producer
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    Hello Jeremy Hegna

    I agree on the opinions on the Technics turntables, that they are well known for DJ use. But I would look at upgrading your turntable when you can afford it. I do not use a high end turntable but it has worked out well. I use a Onkyo Integra CP-1055 F Turntable with a Pearl cartridge. Upgrading a turntable for me is not a priority but let us know what you end up with :)
     
  15. PomingF

    PomingF Second Unit

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    John, you go from TT to phono stage to preamp to amp for you still want to be able to adjust playback volume.

    PF
     
  16. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

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    Wow,

    Good to hear from all of you. I did get a chance to dust off the Technics last evening and set it up. I plugged it in, pulled out Zep 4, and gave it a spin.

    Incredible! I was very happy to say the least with the sound. I'm going to look around town today and see if I can find a professional turntable guru. Someone to lubricate it, clean the crevises, and do some fine tuning. I was able to get the strobe to match up at 33RPM perfectly and the speed did not change after 30 minutes of listening. The turntable seems to be in pretty good shape.

    Phillip, Thanks for the suggestions. I will also be looking for a new stylus in town today. If I can't find one, I will order one online.

    One more question. When I turn the volume up, I get that low rumbling sound that increases if I maintain the volume at that level. With the Denon 5800, I can switch it in to Pure Direct Mode and get another 10db in volume without the rumble. Where is the rumble coming from and how can it be remedied? Is this the sound of the DD motor coming through the cartridge that you guys are talking about? Can this be fixed with a new cartridge? Better isolation? I do have to have the volume fairly high for it to be an issue. This is an acceptable listening level though, so I'd like to cure it. I'm willing to put some TLC and a little bit of money into the Technics if I can squeeze a bit more performance out of it.


    Jeremy
     
  17. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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  18. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  19. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

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    "You mentioned that the table came with some extra styli, if any of those are unused, you should be able to snap one right in without buying anything."
    This is true. The other stylus seems to be pretty old as well, however, it's never been mounted so should I assume its in fine condition?
    "The analog sound sure is nice isn't it?"
    Yes. I couldn't agree more. I've been dying to try out a turntable and this deal I bumped into was "my calling!"[​IMG]
    Eventually, I will have a dedicated music set-up away from the HT. It will take time, but I can see myself going as nutty over vinyl as I've done with HT. It's all good[​IMG]
    I did find a musician/DJ shop in town that sells cleaners and styli/cartridges. I'm going to swing by on my lunch break today.
    On the rumble. Will it help tone down the feedback if I shut down one or both of my subs? Also, are there some non-mass market albums you could point out to me that will serve as a reference LP? With the collection I got a calibration album to check needle performance. He just pointed it out to me, and I haven't read anything about it. Are you aware of these calibration albums? Will they work?
    Jeremy
     
  20. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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