Turntable recommendation.
December 18, 2003 2:27 PM   Subscribe

I just came into some perfect quality classical music, but i have no turntable. My stereo is pretty decent, so I want to ask if anyone has advice on a cheap (but high quality... how often do you hear that) record player? I'm not doing any scratching, just music playback.

I know of a Sony model that is $100 locally, brand new. Should I buy new? Should I buy used, and get a new needle?
posted by Keyser Soze to Technology (11 answers total)
The only advice I remember about turntables was that direct-drive is usually preferable to belt-drive (and even that's probably going to cause debate).

In regards to price, I just saw an American Audio direct-drive at Best Buy this morning for about $140.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:17 PM on December 18, 2003

Response by poster: Damn. I can't spend more than $100. At the price range i'm at, is it preferable just to buy an old one and buy a new needle?
posted by Keyser Soze at 3:39 PM on December 18, 2003

It may be old technology, but you can't expect to get hi-fi quality sound for $100, unless it's second-hand. Ebay is your friend. By the way, it's called a stylus these days. Needles went out with 78s :)
posted by cbrody at 3:57 PM on December 18, 2003

I know of a Sony model that is $100 locally, brand new.

I think I bought that one. If you're no audiophile, it should do fine. It should have a built-in preamp, too.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:59 PM on December 18, 2003

Advice: find the exact model of the player you're looking at and run it through google. I think it's true to say you'll struggle to find quality new for that sort of price.

Belt vs. Direct drive. If you're not DJing, I'd say don't worry about this. There are positive and negatives to each. Some audiophiles might tell you the vibrations from a direct drive negatively impact sound quality (although there's technology that combats this now), but equally, belts can degrade over time. I agree that on balance a direct drive turntable is preferable, but don't worry about it. It's not that much of an issue...

When investigating stereo gear I generally browse Richer Sounds for stuff in my price range and then google some of the results to find out more. The ebay route might prove to be the way to go, though, but I do recommend researching the turntable before you hand over your hard-earned...
posted by nthdegx at 4:51 PM on December 18, 2003

^oops. impact as verb. apologies.
posted by nthdegx at 5:51 PM on December 18, 2003

Excellent question, Keyser Soze. I just acquired a CD recorder (one that plugs into a stereo) with the goal of transferring my albums to CD (the ones I can't or don't feel like repurchasing). Unfortunately my old direct-drive Pioneer turntable decides to change speed... and I'm thinking it would be cheaper to replace than to fix. So this thread may help me too...
posted by pmurray63 at 6:51 PM on December 18, 2003

the uk audiophile scene tends to be pretty home-brew, but rega used to have the best budget reputation years ago. these days you're probably better going secondhand and might be able to pick up a classic linn for next to nothing (the sondek - i have one of their cheaper models and it's no better than a rega).

there's another make that's on the tip of my tongue. rats. if i can remember it i'll post again.

ortofon are still making good cartridges (i have one at home that i'm going to install on my old record player so that i can move some of my favourite vinyl to cd).

incidentally, most of the good turntables that i know of use belt drive. direct drive tended to be used on cheap foreign stuff (although i would guess direct drive would be better for a dj). i understood the justification was that the turntable was isolated from the motor vibrations.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:59 AM on December 19, 2003

I know this is out of your price range at 300 bucks, but I have this model from Music Hall. You might try to find one used - it's been great. Very simple, and comes with a decent stylus.

One thing I've expreienced with stereo equipment, especially turntables, you get what you pay for (to a point)- I had a 140 dollar Pioneer turntable and the thing only lasted around three years. Same w/ CD players - I bought cheap stuff, and had to replace ever few years. Once I got a decent model (around 400 bucks) - I've had the thing for ten years and it works great. I know that the prices for audiophile-quality stuff can go through the roof and maybe then aren't worth it, but at least there seeems to be a big jump in quality between the very cheapest stuff and the next level up.
posted by drobot at 7:04 AM on December 19, 2003

Here is one on eBay currently bidding at 55 bucks or so, although it's missing the antiskate device. The seller says it's not necessary, but I would argue that it is - luckily you can order one from Music Hall for 5 bucks. It's just a filament with a little weight on the end.
posted by drobot at 7:16 AM on December 19, 2003

Response by poster: I bought a Stanton St8-20 for $79, belt drive. Im listening to it through a Yamaha CR-640 Amp (1980-reviews call it audiophile quality) with some SK-S44 JVC primaries with Sony 3-way 8inch bass reflex speakers (with with the SV model sony bookshelf system).

I am listening to Beethovens 1st movement.

I am in love with vinyl now.
posted by Keyser Soze at 10:23 PM on December 21, 2003

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