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Samsung UN88JS9500; Pioneer VSX-92TXH; 8x Realistic Mach One; Definitive Technology SuperCube I
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Want to add a turntable to my setup and start building a record collection. The only experience I have with turntables is my parents Realistic turntable and collection of vinyl from 20+ years ago, all of which has been lost in the decades. So it's safe to say that I know nothing.


Setup I am planning to add the turntable to:
Pioneer VSX-92TXH Receiver/Head Unit
6x Realistic Mach One (40-4024A) for Front, Rear, and Side Speakers
2x Realistic Mach Two For Center Speaker(s) - Currently in the process of purchasing, sold my Nova 8s I was using when I moved
1x Definitive Technologies SuperCube I Subwoofer - Currently in the process of purchasing, sold my M&K MX350-THX when I moved


Type of music we are building the collection for:
Classic Rock
Classical
Electronica


Looking to pick up something used for
 

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If you can scrape together more money, there are NEW turntables you can buy.

In used, that gets dicey. You are at the mercy of the seller, his honesty, and his ability to pack the turntable securely, and keep track of all the tiny parts.

In another forum someone bought what turned out to be a good Turntable but the seller forgot to secure the tonearm. So during shipping the tonearm was bouncing around all over the place. Then he got it, not only was the stylus destroyed, but the cartridge itself was broken. So, you are trusting the seller to do it right. Many have shipped turntables and the Anti-Skate Counterweight gets lost in the process. This is a very tiny little piece, and if not packed securely in a separate plastic zip lock, it can easily get lost.

I had someone contact me from Brazil, who had the same turntable as mine. He had taking it in for repair and the lost the Anti-Skate Weight. He contacted me, and I measure and weight my counterweight so he could have a duplicate made. My/His turntable was made in 1978, so no replacement parts are available.

Now, setting the gloom and doom aside, more transactions of used equipment go fine. But, you are at the mercy and the foresight of the seller.

If we assume you are in the USA -

The Project Debut Carbon with 2M Red cartridge is very popular -

https://www.needledoctor.com/Pro-Ject-Debut-Carbon-DC-Black

I like the Denon DP300F because it is an Auto-Start/Auto-Return turnable, also with the 2M Red cartridge -

https://www.needledoctor.com/Denon-DP-300F-Automatic-Turntable-Ortofon-2M-Red-Phono-Cartridge

A basic Audio Technica LP120 can be had for $299, but on rare occasion you see these on sale for $200 to $250 -

https://www.needledoctor.com/Audio-Technica-LP120-USB-Turntable

Music Hal
l makes a decent low cost turntable -

https://www.needledoctor.com/Music-Hall-MMF-1.3-Turntable

The things to look for are -

1.) Belt or Direct Drive -
A vast majority of Hi-Fi Turntables are Belt Drive. Many of the Direct Drive are DJ Turntables that also double as decent Hi-Fi turntable. Each has advantages and disadvantages. For most, Hi-Fi Belt Drive gets the job done.

2.) Cartridge -
Many turntables come with a generic low-cost Cartridge. That would be fine to get started with but turntables like Rega, and the Denon and Project above, come with a Cartridge Upgrade. The Ortofon 2M Red on its own is about US$100 -

https://www.needledoctor.com/Ortofon-2M-Red-Phono-Cartridge

More generic cartridge tend to run about $25.

Though the Audio Technica LP120 comes with the $50 Audio Technica AT95E. That's probably an OK cartridge, but just OK.

Most DJ Turntable us Conical Cartridge, and that is fine for them. But most people in Hi-Fi use Elliptical Stylus or some variation there of. To pull the most detail you want an Elliptical or Hyper-Elliptical or Shibata or similar. Generally Elliptical is fine.

3.) Tonearm -
This is critical, you want a nice sophisticated tonearm.

This is a sophisticated Tonearm -

https://www.needledoctor.com/Audio-Technica-LP120-USB-Turntable

This is NOT -

https://www.needledoctor.com/Audio-Technica-LP60USB-Automatic-Turntable-w-Preamp

In fact there is very little difference between these turntable accept that Audio Technica AT-LP3 has a MUCH better tonearm, which should be clear to anyone who bothers to look -

https://www.needledoctor.com/Audio-Technica-LP60USB-Automatic-Turntable-w-Preamp

https://eu.audio-technica.com/turntables/AT-LP3

Note this is from Audio Technica UK/EU. If you were in the UK/EU, the AT-LP3 would be about as low on the turntable scale as anyone should really go.

You can see a close up of the Audio Technica AT-LP3 Tonearm here -

https://www.audiovisualonline.co.uk/media/audio-technica/at-lp3/at-lp3_l_4-large.jpg

A very substantial difference over the AT-LP60 Tonearm. They aren't too keen on showing close up photos of the AT-LP60 tonearm because it is not that good, but you can get a fair photo here-

https://www.audiovisualonline.co.uk/media/audio-technica/at-lp60bt-blk/at-lp60bt-blk_l_1-large.jpg

4.) Cartridge Tracking Weight -
Most Hi-Fi turntables track in the roughly 1.5 grams to 2.5 gram range. Most cheaper low quality turntables track in the 3 gram to 5 gram range. Three to Five Grams is a bit on the heavy size, and mean more wear and tear on you vinyl albums.

Steve/bluewizard
 

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Amazon has the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB today at $229.

https://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-AT-LP120-USB-Direct-Drive-Professional-USB/dp/B002S1CJ2Q?th=1

Amazon also has the Nagaoka MP-110 phono cartridge, which has received rave reviews, for $106.34.

https://www.amazon.com/NAGAOKA-MM-M...qid=1542588769&sr=8-1&keywords=nagaoka+mp-110

If your budget cannot obtain the Nagaoka (I personally would save up longer to buy one), consider the Ortofon Super OM10 ($72), which is more sonically neutral compared with their 2M Red, which I found to be too bright and fatiguing.

https://www.amazon.com/Ortofon-Supe...ords=phono+cartridge&refinements=p_89:Ortofon
 

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Amazon has the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB today at $229.

https://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-AT-LP120-USB-Direct-Drive-Professional-USB/dp/B002S1CJ2Q?th=1

Amazon also has the Nagaoka MP-110 phono cartridge, which has received rave reviews, for $106.34.

https://www.amazon.com/NAGAOKA-MM-M...qid=1542588769&sr=8-1&keywords=nagaoka+mp-110

If your budget cannot obtain the Nagaoka (I personally would save up longer to buy one), consider the Ortofon Super OM10 ($72), which is more sonically neutral compared with their 2M Red, which I found to be too bright and fatiguing.

https://www.amazon.com/Ortofon-Supe...ords=phono+cartridge&refinements=p_89:Ortofon
Pretty good deal here:

Music direct has the Pro-Ject Debut III in Matte Black for $199 (regularly $400?)
https://www.musicdirect.com/turntables/pro-ject-debut-iii-matte-black-turntable?sc_src=email_225468&sc_lid=17813489&sc_uid=vyg6ujqxZM&sc_llid=31418&utm_source=Emarsys&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=musicdirect+soundbytes+issue+%23860_6_11-17-18sc_eh=725079f403b607861
 

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Pretty good deal here:

Music direct has the Pro-Ject Debut III in Matte Black for $199 (regularly $400?)
https://www.musicdirect.com/turntab...+issue+#860_6_11-17-18sc_eh=725079f403b607861
The Project Debut III doesn't have the Carbon Fiber tonearm and it is based on an older model, but that is still a very good entry level Manual Turntable with a very nice tonearm, not carbon fiber, but still very nice.

It probably comes with the Ortofom OM-5E, which is OK, if it is the OM-10 even better. The OM10 is certainly good enough to start with. Use if for a year or two, and then you can rethink the cartridge and proceed accordingly.

Just check, it comes with the Ortofom OM-5E ("E" being for Elliptical Stylus). For a modest $200, that's a pretty good deal.

To put that particular cartridge in perspective - Ortofon OM-5E - here it is as a separate item -

https://www.needledoctor.com/Ortofon-OM-5E-Phono-Cartridge

$70 is a pretty fair cartridge.

The - Ortofon OM-10 - is very close in price -

https://www.needledoctor.com/Ortofon-OM-10-Super-Phono-Cartridge

I think it has a slightly better Stylus.

That's pretty high value.

Steve/bluewizard
 

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Previous posters have given good info and recommendations. If I were starting from no turntable, I would really consider those options. If your $200 budget is more of a hard limit, though, I can from my own experience suggest the Fluance RT80 (available an Amazon or directly at Fluance's site).

It was a gift from my wife a couple of years ago, getting me back in the vinyl game after losing my collection over a decade prior (I still nearly cry about it), and it has mostly suited me fine. I will warn QC may not have been great back when she bought it, and I had it replaced under warranty, but the replacement has not repeated the problem I experienced. FWIW, warranty service from Fluance was excellent, though it did involve ground shipping turnaround times. I am under the impression this is probably manufactured by the same Asian company that manufactures the Music Hall 1.3 suggested above, though that is not to say they are the same turntable or that the Music Hall is another $100 just for the name. I don't know that one way or the other, just that both options are outsourced/relatively cheap manufactures (I am sure you are expecting that at $200).

It comes with an AT91 cartridge, which is a $30, very entry-level audiophile (as opposed to DJ) cartridge. I've been OK with it, though at some point I will probably upgrade it (though I haven't pulled that trigger yet, honestly it sounds fine).

The tonearm seems good, as well. I have put some extremely warped and/or off-center records on this thing, and never a skip or jump. Tracking force and anti-skate adjustments are easy and effective (I do use a force gauge rather than relying on visually balancing, as I found it hard to tell if a curved tonearm was hanging parallel; so count on $10-15 for one of those, but well worth it).

It has a built-in Texas Instruments phono stage that sounds good for being a built-in, which may or may not be important for you, as I am not familiar with whether your receiver has one on board. If it doesn't, you're eating even further into your budget buying a separate phono stage, so the built-in is a nice option. It's switchable to bypass in favor of a separate phono stage, but with this as well, I have found it good enough to hold off on an upgrade so far. EDIT: I see now your receiver does have phono in, but maybe you would still like the flexibility of choosing between the two built-in phono stages to see which sounds better.

I am not going to pretend I never think I am noticing some wow and flutter at times, but I am not sure if that improves on any model at the $200 price point. I might have perfect pitch, so it is entirely possible I'm hearing tiny pitch fluctuations others wouldn't catch. Even then, it's infrequent and really depends on the content (which may itself be imperfect...welcome to analog!).

Overall, again, if I was starting from nothing and making my own purchase, I would probably spend more, but I think my wife actually did well on a $200 budget, and it seems to me like I'll need to spend at least three times as much to really upgrade noticeably (other than the cartridge and a separate phono stage... let me also admit I have played with different platter mat upgrades, the stock felt one did give me quite a bit of static). In the meantime, though, it's doing the job as-is, with room for upgrades in a couple of places if that itch gets too bad.
 

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Whatever you decide you will need a built in phono stage or you will need to buy a separate one. In your price range the Fluance RT80 is decent for the money but the cartridge is lacking and would be better if replaced.

The Audio-Technica AT-LP120 USB can be had for $209 for a factory refurbished model and has a better cartridge. If you don't need the USB simply don't use it. Lots of lower end turntables have this feature.

If it were me, I would go for the Audio-Technica AT-LP120. It has the phono stage built in and has a better cartridge than most entry turntables. I use the same one it comes with on my Music Hall USB-1 turntable with no complaints and it can always be upgraded later as funds become available. It gets great reviews and is a decent starter table.

Hope this helps,

John
 

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A few years back I thought I'd give my old records a spin and, much to my regret, I bought used.

IMO:
- If you're starting out with vinyl don't get hung up on being all "audiophile"-y.
- Pick up a well-reviewed, name-brand turntable w/ cartridge from any mainstream outlet and you'll be set to play your vinyl.

(Keep in mind that if your TT or integrated amp/receiver/AVR doesn't have a built-in phono pre-amp, you'll need to buy an external phono pre-amp.)
 

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Whatever you decide you will need a built in phono stage or you will need to buy a separate one.7
The OP's Pioneer receiver has a built-in phono preamplifier, thus he does not need an outboard unit.
 

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Whatever you decide you will need a built in phono stage or you will need to buy a separate one. In your price range the Fluance RT80 is decent for the money but the cartridge is lacking and would be better if replaced.

The Audio-Technica AT-LP120 USB can be had for $209 for a factory refurbished model and has a better cartridge. If you don't need the USB simply don't use it. Lots of lower end turntables have this feature.

If it were me, I would go for the Audio-Technica AT-LP120. It has the phono stage built in and has a better cartridge than most entry turntables. I use the same one it comes with on my Music Hall USB-1 turntable with no complaints and it can always be upgraded later as funds become available. It gets great reviews and is a decent starter table.

Hope this helps,

John
I probably would have been happy with AT-LP120, too. I have at least one friend who has one, and I have not heard complaints. I would be curious to compare and see how much motor noise actually comes through from the direct-drive, and also how much noticeably better the speed stability is. In theory, that should be the trade-off between belt and direct, but some people may not be bothered by or notice motor noise if it isn't too bad.

I also am seeing AT-LP120 for sale new for about $20 more. Given the pricing for either new or factory refurb, I would definitely not buy a used one.
 

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The OP's Pioneer receiver has a built-in phono preamplifier, thus he does not need an outboard unit.

Alex, your absolutely right. When I looked up the OP's receiver I completely missed this important fact. That changes what I would recommend in his price range. I would go for the Pro-Ject Debut III that is currently on sale at Music Direct for $199. It will hook directly to your receiver and is a fantastic choice for a starter turntable without worrying about buying junk. It even has a nice Ortofon OM-5e cartridge including which is a pretty decent starter cartridge yet can be upgraded in the future if desired. Here is the link:

https://www.musicdirect.com/turntables/pro-ject-debut-iii-matte-black-turntable

Regards,

John
 
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BestBuy has the AT-LP120 for $229, not on sale. Mentioning this only because BB is very convenient for many people; I would prefer to purchase from an audio specialty store, but those are few and far between!
 
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