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Discussion Starter #1
I recently upgraded my home theater setup and finally want to add a turntable, however, I have exactly zero experience with turntables and wanted to ask for some advice.

My current setup is: KEF R and Q series speakers, connected to a Denon AVR-X3700H. When listening to music, I am only using the main speaker pair which are KEF R5s.

I would like to spend around $500 on a turntable, however, if you are telling me that I cannot get a decent turntable in that price range or I should be looking for something higher end given my speakers, I would be willing to spend up to $1000. I just simply do not know what kind of price range would roughly match the quality of my current setup.

I did some initial searching and saw 2 turntables around $500 mentioned a lot: Rega Planar 2 with Carbon MM and Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo with Ortofon 2M Red -- are these actually good options? Around $1000 I found Rega Planar 3 with Elys 2 and Technics SL-1500C. A store in my area is offering both of these tables with a Nagaoka MP-110 cartridge because it seems like there are supply issues with the Elys 2 and they say that the Ortofon 2M Red that normally comes with the Technics is not very good.

I was also wondering about phono preamps. My Denon AVR has a phono preamp built in, however, I am assuming it is probably not the best one. Do I need to consider getting a separate phono preamp for my setup with a $500-1000 turntable or does this only make sense for a much more expensive setup/turntable?

Please let me know if you need any more information about my setup or anything else. I am very grateful for any advice I can get! :)
 

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The Rega Planar 3 would be an excellent choice. It has a very good RB-330 tone arm and is an excellent tracker. The Nagaoka MP-110 is much better than the Ortofon 2M Red. A bit warmer w/better detail. phono's in AVR's aren't the best. They are considered a selling point. The Rega MM phono would be a better option. This setup will keep you satisfied for a long time. Won't have to worry about upgrading. :) 馃憤馃搥
 

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I鈥檇 suggest you read reviews and focus on the quality of the cartridges. As Class A suggests, the Ortofon 2M is entry level. A turntable is only as good as the cartridge. Eventually you鈥檒l want to upgrade to an MC cartridge and phono preamp.
 
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I too have the Kef R5 speakers. They are matched with a Yamaha 3060 receiver. After extensive research, I purchased the Fluance RT85 Turntable which falls within your $500 budget. It includes the Ortofon 2M blue cartridge which alone sells for $250+. I have also added a reasonably priced Schitt Mani phono preamp since I was not satisfied with the receiver's built in preamp. This combination has resulted in excellent sound. I highly recommend these components for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for your replies! I never heard of Fluance before, but will look them up. Has anyone had any experience with the Technics SL-1500C, especially compared to the Rega Planar 3? I guess I will do some cartridge research as well. Should my taste in music be considered as well when selecting a turntable and/or cartridge?
 

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I have a SL-1500c and was looking at a RP3 as an alternative after costing things out the Technics worked out cheaper for me, I needed a decent pre-amp and the SL comes with one and is very good, the only change I have made is to fit a Blue stylus to the existing 2M Red Cartridge and it is IMO amazing, I was lucky as a friend also has an RP3 and we tried it on my system and while it sounded OK IMO was not as good as the SL-1500c, it will depend on your set up and room as to what will sound best as what worked for me and my old ears may not suit your taste.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
I would like to compare both of them, but that is not possible because of the current situation, unfortunately. I would most likely get either turntable with a Nagaoka MP-110 cartridge. What kind of music do you listen to?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I did some reading on cartridges as well. What do you guys think of the following options: Nagaoka MP-110 (my dealer is suggesting this one), Ortofon 2M Blue, Audio Technica AT-VM95ML? How do they compare and which one would you pick? One of these would go with a SL-1500C or RP3.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
My choice would be the Audio-Technica AT-VM95SH.

See Posts 1 and 3 in my recent thread where I discussed phono cartridges that you are considering:

A test of the $49 Audio-Technica VM95E phono cartridge
Are you recommending the entire AT-VM95 line? Your post seems to talk about the VM95E and you suggested the VM95SH in your last post. I only read about the VM95ML so far, I guess I will also research the other VM95 versions. I mostly listen to rock/metal and some classical music by the way.
 

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Are you recommending the entire AT-VM95 line? Your post seems to talk about the VM95E and you suggested the VM95SH in your last post. I only read about the VM95ML so far, I guess I will also research the other VM95 versions. I mostly listen to rock/metal and some classical music by the way.
You apparently did not read Post 3 in that thread as I suggested. Here is the relevant part about the sonic differences of Audio-Technica's MicroLine (ML) and Shibata (SH) styli:

"For those not familiar with Audio-Technica's moving-magnet phono cartridges, the company offers a choice of MicroLine and Shibata styli in two current series. Magazine and user reviews consistently say the microlinear versions are a bit clinical and bright relative to the Shibatas, whereas the Shibatas are described as rich sounding and neutral. That is my experience as well. It is up to purchasers, of course, to select which better suits their ears and systems.

For anyone considering the purchase of a VM95E and wishes later to explore other styli, Audio-Technica offers conical, nude elliptical, microlinear, and Shibata versions. The other styli plug into the VM95E's body."
 
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My advice is to avoid Ortofon carts. I鈥檝e owned/heard 2m red on up to bronze and didn鈥檛 like a one. All way too bright sounding for my ears. For the price, hard to beat the AT VM95ML or SH. I鈥檝e also owned a Nagaoka MP110. Good cart for the money but not the best tracker.

Planar 3 is a good table choice. I think better table than Project Debut Carbon. Only drawback of the Rega tables is lack of adjustment, like VTA, which limits your cart options a bit if you venture outside of Rega carts.
 
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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
You apparently did not read Post 3 in that thread as I suggested. Here is the relevant part about the sonic differences of Audio-Technica's MicroLine (ML) and Shibata (SH) styli:

"For those not familiar with Audio-Technica's moving-magnet phono cartridges, the company offers a choice of MicroLine and Shibata styli in two current series. Magazine and user reviews consistently say the microlinear versions are a bit clinical and bright relative to the Shibatas, whereas the Shibatas are described as rich sounding and neutral. That is my experience as well. It is up to purchasers, of course, to select which better suits their ears and systems.

For anyone considering the purchase of a VM95E and wishes later to explore other styli, Audio-Technica offers conical, nude elliptical, microlinear, and Shibata versions. The other styli plug into the VM95E's body."
I misunderstood how you meant it, sorry. I did read post 3 as well, but thought you were still overall recommending the VM95E.

My advice is to avoid Ortofon carts. I鈥檝e owned/heard 2m red on up to bronze and didn鈥檛 like a one. All way too bright sounding for my ears. For the price, hard to beat the AT VM95ML or SH. I鈥檝e also owned a Nagaoka MP110. Good cart for the money but not the best tracker.

Planar 3 is a good table choice. I think better table than Project Debut Carbon. Only drawback of the Rega tables is lack of adjustment, like VTA, which limits your cart options a bit if you venture outside of Rega carts.
After everything I read and what has been suggested to me here, I guess Ortofon really isn't a good option for me. It seems like I should get the Nagaoka MP-110 or the AT-VM95SH. At least from what the reviews are saying it sounds like what I am looking for. Can either of these cartridges be installed on a Planar 3? If not, I guess it will make my decision between the Rega and Technics easier.
 

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I cannot offer any advice about Rega turntables based on personal experience.

I do have plenty of experience with Technics turntables. Yes, you can utilize Nagaoka and Audio-Technica phono cartridges with Technics.

In my opinion, as explained in my linked thread, the AT-VM95E is sonically superior to the MP-110--and the VM95E is less than half the cost. The VM95SH, on the other hand, will provide even better performance than the VM95E.

If desired, you could start with the VM95E and upgrade to the Shibata stylus later.
 
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Discussion Starter #15
My advice is to avoid Ortofon carts. I鈥檝e owned/heard 2m red on up to bronze and didn鈥檛 like a one. All way too bright sounding for my ears. For the price, hard to beat the AT VM95ML or SH. I鈥檝e also owned a Nagaoka MP110. Good cart for the money but not the best tracker.

Planar 3 is a good table choice. I think better table than Project Debut Carbon. Only drawback of the Rega tables is lack of adjustment, like VTA, which limits your cart options a bit if you venture outside of Rega carts.
Which cart do you like better, the Nagaoka MP-110 or the AT-VM95ML or SH?
 

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Which cart do you like better, the Nagaoka MP-110 or the AT-VM95ML or SH?
I definitely prefer the AT. Compared to the MP110, it鈥檚 just more refined. Crisp highs, solid bass without being boomy. I buy a lot of VG/VG+ used vinyl and the ML stylus handles it well.
 
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Discussion Starter #17
I definitely prefer the AT. Compared to the MP110, it鈥檚 just more refined. Crisp highs, solid bass without being boomy. I buy a lot of VG/VG+ used vinyl and the ML stylus handles it well.
Did you try either of these cartridges on a Rega Planar 3 by any chance?
 

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Did you try either of these cartridges on a Rega Planar 3 by any chance?
Unfortunately, no. I've used them on a Project Debut Carbon Esprit. My current table is a Marantz TT15S1, made by Clearaudio. The cart is branded Clearaudio but is actually an AT cart based on the 95. Clearaudio supplies it with an elliptical stylus, but I've since replaced that stock stylus with the ML for the AT-VM95 essentially creating a hybrid VM95ML. I really can't say enough good things about that ML stylus given the price. Sibilance is virtually gone on all but really worn LP's, surface noise virtually non-existent, and inner groove distortion is at a minimum.

Do a quick search on Google for the VM95ML on a Rega. I have seen mentions in other forums of people mounting them on a Planar and liking it better than the Rega Elys.
 
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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you for all your recommendations and advice!

I decided to go with the Rega Planar 3 with the Nagaoka MP-110. I will initially use this setup with my AVR phono preamp and see how I like it. Future upgrades like an external phono preamp and the Rega Neo PSU will be considered depending on how I like the initial setup.

I found 2 posts on other forums comparing the sound of the MP-110 and the VM95ML using sound samples that were level matched on the same equipment. I liked the sound of the MP-110 much better -- much warmer and more pleasant to my ears. Also more like the sound that I associate with vinyl and I know that this is very subjective. On the other hand, I also immediately understood why people love the VM95ML so much. It had definitely a little bit more detail and sounded more neutral. But for me, it was too clinical and almost harsh sounding. It reminded me of the kind of sound that I associate with CDs or digital streaming. I also have KEF R5 speakers which are neutral and have a very detailed and high resolution sound and I thought that the combination would be too much for my taste. Again, I know this is very subjective and I am still very interested to try the VM95SH at some point in the future since that seems to have some of the audio qualities that I am looking for in a cartridge.
 

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Let us know please, I am looking to upgrade my Red Ortofon cartridge with my pro-ject debut carbon turntable that I have owned for 3 years. I listen to primarily classic rock
 
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