Help me choose a turntable.
July 8, 2009 6:19 AM   Subscribe

Audiophiles, please help! I have three turntables, I want to keep one, give one to a friend, and sell the third. Can you help me rank them in terms of awesomeness?

I got two of the turntables very cheaply at a garage sale years ago and the third my parents have had since they bought it in the 70s.

Turntable Number 1 is a Technics SL-BD27. It's fully functional and I've used it with no complaints for the last few years. The major drawback is that it's missing a dustcover. I thought it would be relatively simple to find one, but apparently an entire container of these showed up in North America without dustcovers.

Turntable Number 2 is a JVC QL-A200. I got this at the same garage sale as the Technics, but it needed (and still needs) a new cartridge. I opted to just use the Technics at the time.

Turntable number 3 is a Philips GA312 that I have recently taken from my parents. It's been in VERY sporadic use since the 70s but it seems to be in great shape.

So, what are the advantages/disadvantages of each? Whichever one I keep, I plan on getting professionally tuned up.

Oh yeah. Bonus marks for telling me roughly how much each one would be worth.
posted by consummate dilettante to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have any interest in DJing?
posted by box at 6:52 AM on July 8, 2009

Response by poster: Whoops! Forgot to mention the intended use for the turntable.

No, I have no interest in DJing, so the direct drive feature on the Technics, is not important to me.

The turntable will be used to listen to records in a small room in my house.

The records range from Classical, to jazz, to rock, to whatever I might pick up at the next show I go to.
posted by consummate dilettante at 7:06 AM on July 8, 2009

What cartridge is on the Technics and the Philips? That's part of the equation.

Found a thread about the Philips that might shed some light. I used to have one of the Philips tables (212) but it could not handle the footfalls in the room.

Look around on the site I linked to and you'll find comments on all three models.
posted by omnidrew at 7:58 AM on July 8, 2009

Best answer: First things first: If a turntable cannot handle footfalls in a room, it usually means that the cartridge's compliance has not been properly matched to the tonearm's mass. See this page for more info.

Then you'll need to align the cartridge properly with a cartridge protractor.

As far as your turntables go, from what I can tell:

The Technics you have is a belt drive with a P-mount cartridge. P-mounts are easy to replace, but generally inferior in quality and you cannot fine-tune the alignment. You're also much more limited in cartridge selection.

Your JVC is a direct-drive. JVC generally made a good, low-noise direct drive system. The tonearm looks like standard mid-fi fare, but on the plus side accepts a standard mount cartridge.

The Phillips is another belt-drive, but it appears to have a higher mass platter than the Technics, which would help keep the speed more constant. I believe these also had a spring suspension, which can help isolate the table from room noise, but it can also be a pain to set up. The tonearm looks like a pretty standard 70s high-mass design. It accepts a standard mount cartridge.

My gut feeling would be to not go with the Technics simply because of the P-mount cartridge. Then it's a choice between the JVC and the Phillips. If you want ease of setup, just go with the JVC. I think you'll be happy. If you feel like fiddling with it, you can get some great results with the Phillips, but be prepared to worry about belt replacement, debris in the bearing and the speed of the drive motor itself, not to mention the spring suspension. The direct drive is quartz-locked, so you know it's right on.
posted by TrialByMedia at 9:13 AM on July 8, 2009

Response by poster: omnidrew: The Philips cartridge is a Philips 401.

Trial By Media: Thanks for the links. From your comment I've pretty much ruled out the Technics. The P-Mount cartridge combined with no dust cover, means no thank you.

The Philips does have a spring mount and I have heard good things about it. I plan on getting a friend with some know how to help me fine tune it. I'm leaning towards it right now, since it's "complete", and the JVC needs a cartridge, unless others have some more light to shine on the subject.
posted by consummate dilettante at 10:05 AM on July 8, 2009

Best answer: If you go with the Philips (I probably would cause I loved those light-up controls), looking into getting a new drive belt (at least remove the outer platter and take a look at it).

Take the cartridge into a hi-fi store that does repairs (in Minneapolis it would be Hi-Fi Sound) and have them check the stylus on the 401. I would guess that it's original from the 70s.

Keeping in mind TbM's first link in his post, see what they recommend for a new cartridge & stylus for the Philips. (You can spend bajillions of $ on this, but you don't have to.)

Enjoy that vinyl!
posted by omnidrew at 2:11 PM on July 8, 2009

Response by poster: I think I'm gonna keep the Philips. Thanks for the advice, team.
posted by consummate dilettante at 9:25 AM on July 9, 2009

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