Where to buy a slighly upgraded budget TT - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 10-09-2011, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I'd like to buy a budget turntable with upgraded cartridge, but I don't have the knowledge, tools, or confidence to install my own cart (and i'm not sure which one to buy).

After a lot of lurking, I've decided that the best fit for my budget is a 'value' turntable with an upgraded cart. I'm considering the standard choices from Rega, Music Hall, and Pro-ject, but the clubhouse leader is Denon DP300F (full auto is great for the wife).

After digesting a lot of reviews, I think that one of those tables with an upgrade cart is what I would like to do, but (as mentioned) I'm not ready to dive into installing my own, and I don't know of anyone remotely locally to ask or hire.

So, after all that build up, is there a quality place that can accomodate such a request at a reasonable price. Any suggestions on carts would be greatly appreciated as well.

Thanks
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post #2 of 14 Old 10-09-2011, 09:38 AM
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As someone with zero knowledge of turntable mechanics and very limited skills in repairing or upgrading anything, even I was able to install a new cartridge into my Denon 300f in about 5 minutes. Do yourself a favor and grab that turntable and this cart http://www.amazon.com/Technica-AT440...8178169&sr=8-1 and it'll take you 10 minutes tops to put it on. Hell the the hardest part was removing the new cartridge from its factory packaging. It even comes with the only screwdriver you'll need (a small flathead). There are four color-coded wires that you connect from the cartridge to the headshell. It fits perfectly without any modifications or other parts.

Otherwise, Needledoctor has a great Denon 300f/Ortofon 2M Red combo for $419: http://www.needledoctor.com/Denon-DP...=2&category=46

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post #3 of 14 Old 10-09-2011, 04:44 PM
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I also recommend Needle Doctor. Despite the above comments that installation of cartridges is not as difficult as it seems, if you still have reservations, then Needle Doctor will help you. If you buy a table from them (and they carry all the brands you mention) they will give you a trade in allowance on the factory installed cartridge toward an upgrade. And they will install the upgraded cartridge for you prior to shipping. Check out their website and give 'em a call. Great folks to work with.

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post #4 of 14 Old 10-09-2011, 05:34 PM
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Installing a cartridge is easy. Installing it right is a bit more challenging. If you don't want to mess with it, definitely let the dealer do it. In addition to Needle Doctor, also check out www.lpgear.com.

Also, if you're looking for an automatic, consider the Audio-Technica AT120 direct drive. Good review here.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #5 of 14 Old 10-09-2011, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. I was tempted to try it myself, but I'm still leaning towards having a dealer do it (assuming they'll check stylus pressure and alignment, among other things that I don't even know about).

Just looking on Amazon, I noticed the AT120 and DP300F were commonly bought with the AT440MLA (recommended by Nathan) and the Shure M97xE.

Sorry for the follow up question, but is there something special about these two that makes them popular with automatic TT's. I'm comfortable with the price differece with the AT440MLA, but is it $100 better than the Shure?

In all likelyhood, I'll just pick one and run with it, so I appreciate the opinions in helping me make a (hopefully) long term purchase.
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post #6 of 14 Old 10-09-2011, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Installing a cartridge is easy. Installing it right is a bit more challenging.

Truth. If you don't want to carve up your precious vinyl with a diamond needle, do it or have it done right.

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post #7 of 14 Old 10-09-2011, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Also, if you're looking for an automatic, consider the Audio-Technica AT120 direct drive. Good review here.

I've had the AT-LP120 for about a year and it is a very good entry level TT. It is direct drive as you say, but it is not an automatic. It's fully manual, albeit with a cue lever of course.
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post #8 of 14 Old 10-10-2011, 06:06 AM
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Quote:


I've had the AT-LP120 for about a year and it is a very good entry level TT. It is direct drive as you say, but it is not an automatic. It's fully manual, albeit with a cue lever of course.

Ooops. That'll teach me to rely on what little is left of my memory. Apologies.

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post #9 of 14 Old 10-10-2011, 06:11 AM
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Quote:


Thanks for the replies. I was tempted to try it myself, but I'm still leaning towards having a dealer do it (assuming they'll check stylus pressure and alignment, among other things that I don't even know about).

They'll do the alignment, but you will still have to check the stylus pressure when you get the table, as that could be thrown off during transit. But that part's trivial.

Quote:


Sorry for the follow up question, but is there something special about these two that makes them popular with automatic TT's. I'm comfortable with the price differece with the AT440MLA, but is it $100 better than the Shure?

Nothing particular about automatics (which, it turns out, the AT120 isn't—sorry). Just two well-regarded carts. Street price of the 440 used to be under $100, so the two were more price-competitive than they are today. You'll probably be happy with either. But Amazon won't mount the cartridge for you.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #10 of 14 Old 10-10-2011, 06:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryanker View Post

Thanks for the replies. I was tempted to try it myself, but I'm still leaning towards having a dealer do it (assuming they'll check stylus pressure and alignment, among other things that I don't even know about).

Just looking on Amazon, I noticed the AT120 and DP300F were commonly bought with the AT440MLA (recommended by Nathan) and the Shure M97xE.

Sorry for the follow up question, but is there something special about these two that makes them popular with automatic TT's. I'm comfortable with the price differece with the AT440MLA, but is it $100 better than the Shure?

In all likelyhood, I'll just pick one and run with it, so I appreciate the opinions in helping me make a (hopefully) long term purchase.

Both cartiges are good value. They do sound differently (this is a nature of analog audio, as you soon discover). It is up to you to decide which one is better. With TT, as welm as speakers, you better listen before you buy. Unfortunately there is not that many places where you can listen budget stuff.
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post #11 of 14 Old 10-10-2011, 08:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Very cool. Thanks.

As I'm obviously new to this, if anyone had general thoughts on the differences between the two carts, I would appreaciate it. All I really want out of this particular system is a sound that is true to the recording with as little surface noise as possible.

FWIW, the TT will be set up with an Adcom GFA-555 and a pair of Polk LSi9's. (Phono pre TBD).
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post #12 of 14 Old 10-10-2011, 03:17 PM
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If you want less noise, you need to go up the scale with cartridge. I suggest getting AT150MLX if it fits your budget. It produces lower noise when playing less than perfrctly preserved LPs, comparing with many other catridges. For phono stage look at CA 640P - again very good value for the money.
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post #13 of 14 Old 10-10-2011, 04:30 PM
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Where do you live? Perhaps someone could suggest a local shop that can properly take care of you...

B>
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post #14 of 14 Old 10-11-2011, 06:29 AM - Thread Starter
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The CA 640P is actually at the top of my list. I live in the Kansas City area.
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