Where to find a quality record player?
December 6, 2007 11:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a record player for my parents for Christmas, the highest quality within a budget of $400-$500. This has been addressed in the past, but that was a year ago, and my budget is greater. Can any audiophiles give me recommendations on equipment?

My parents have a 20-30 year old record player and speakers set up in their house, but some years ago, the record player stopped functioning (smoke comes out whenever they try to use it). The speakers should be still in solid working order, though I'm not certain whether or not they have a pre-amplifier (a term I discovered while reading previous threads). Since I don't have the equipment here in front of me to look at, I'm uncertain as to whether or not the turntable could have a pre-amplifier built into it. I have no problem buying one of these as well, but I could also use the help figuring out what I'm looking for in that respect, or any other equipment I'll need.

Thanks for the help and advice!
posted by Braeog to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You said the speakers are working, but are they good quality? There's no point in having a top of the line record player if low-quality speakers are going to ruin the sound.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:26 AM on December 6, 2007

your requirements are similar to this recent askme
posted by caddis at 11:35 AM on December 6, 2007

Response by poster: Good point.

The speakers are quite good, though old. Of course, this hasn't been checked in a few years to my knowledge because they never bought a stereo system to replace the record player and use with the speakers.

I was working under the assumption that they are still in good shape, though I'll take it into account if it seems likely that the disuse would've been bad for them. (Or try to find some way to do recon if it's debatable.)
posted by Braeog at 1:33 PM on December 6, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for pointing to the other question, it's got a lot of good info in it. One thing though, the user wants to have a more specified type of turntable than I'm worried about - one that plays 78s. It seems like the direction of the conversation got changed a lot by that. Anything supplemental on more standard record players?
posted by Braeog at 1:43 PM on December 6, 2007

Sometimes old turntables are so much better made than new ones that you could have theirs refurbished for far less than the cost of a new one and end up with better sound. I did this on my dad's Pioneer from the late 70s and I'd never buy a new table now. Depending on what's wrong with their table, how nice it was to begin with (don't bother if it was cheap to begin with and doesn't have high-end features like a removable cartridge, auto return, a timing light, etc.) and if you have access to someone who can do repairs (they're rare), this may be a better option.
If you do buy new, you want all those features I mentioned above.
posted by slow graffiti at 2:01 PM on December 6, 2007


superb quality in every price-range.
posted by Substrata at 2:31 PM on December 6, 2007

Amazon has tons of tables in the sub-$100 range and for a $500 system about $100 for the turntable sounds right. You want one with a belt drive (less rumble), and not one made for DJs (avoid the ones labeled "professional"). This Panasonic looks pretty nice. As for high end features, most truly high end tables do not have auto return or timing lights, although these features are convenient. At best they might have a device which lifts, but does not return, the arm at the end of the record. They don't want any mechanism interfering with perfect tracking. Such tables are a totally different beast than you need and I think those features would be desirable for your table.
posted by caddis at 2:36 PM on December 6, 2007

Seconding Pro-ject, in particular the Debut range. I have a black Debut III / Phono SB which has a built in pre amp.
posted by brautigan at 3:11 PM on December 6, 2007

Here's the deal... you'll be buying something very different if they do or do not have an amplifier or receiver.

If their record player is all-in-one, like in a cabinet or one big wooden block of some kind, you'll likely have to get an amp/receiver. If it isn't, they probably already have a receiver.

The best way to spend your money would likely be to get a good older turntable from a used stereo store. I'd say don't go in and buy something on the same trip -- see what they reccomend on the low end ($100 or so), then leave and check out how much that model sells for on ebay. If it's within 20% or so, just buy it. Sometimes used stereo guys are sheisty (though sometimes not). Any money spent beyond that will likely be wasted unless they already have a high-end receiver and speakers.
posted by YoungAmerican at 7:15 PM on December 6, 2007

The speakers are quite good, though old. Of course, this hasn't been checked in a few years to my knowledge because they never bought a stereo system to replace the record player and use with the speakers.

Speaker surrounds get brittle and crack, so they may not be working anymore (duct tape is not an appropriate repair material).

You really need to address YoungAmerican's point first - big cabinet, just a turntable, etc. If you can, post a picture of the gear so we can take a look.

If you want to spend the $400-500 on a turntable, the correct answer is probably a Rega Planar 3 - technically, it is the RB300 tone arm that costs most of the money (and the cartridge.. I'm not a big vinyl guy, this is based on word of mouth). I don't think this is really the answer to your question though..
posted by Chuckles at 8:56 AM on December 7, 2007

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