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Audiophile Turntable Newbie - What to buy as a gift?, [moved from Audio Hardware]
musiclove
post Jun 15 2012, 19:11
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Hi there all!

I am glad to have discovered this forum. I am a newbie at the audiophile game and want to buy my super audiophile boyfriend a turntable as a gift. I have done some initial research and have found brands such as Pro-Ject, Rega, and Pyle. I am not familiar with turntables and audio systems at all and want to make sure I am buying the right thing. I am looking for something with great sound quality (of course) and up to date technical capabilities - meaning I want him to be able to connect to his computer via USB and be able to hook up the turntable to his home audio system. I am having trouble understanding pre-amps etc. I also want it to be able to play all types of records - 78, 35, 45 etc. and my budget maxes at 400-450 US dollars. Please help - I need to be educated but dont want him to be underwhelmed when he opens the gift!

thank you all so much in advance. i really appreciate it.
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A_Man_Eating_Duc...
post Jun 16 2012, 00:08
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If he is a super audiophile then I would be very careful buying a turntable without his input, there is no point taking the risk wasting your money on a turntable that doesn't tick all his boxes (so to speak).

Does he have a HiFi store he usually goes to?

This post has been edited by A_Man_Eating_Duck: Jun 16 2012, 00:08


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mzil
post Jun 16 2012, 00:49
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Unless he has a collection of records and no way to play them because his current record player died, I don't think buying into an obsolete format makes sense. Although there has been a small resurgence in LP sales in recent years, it is still just a niche market with a relatively tiny selection, and it is audibly inferior to CD in not some, but rather all ways.

CD is better in terms of a lack of pops, ticks, warp wow, inner groove distortion, center hole misalignment, hiss, hum, rumble, speed accuracy, wow, flutter, surface noise, flatness of frequency response in the audible band, channel separation, distortion, and is maintenance free and more durable.

Some people may prefer a particular LP to a CD, claiming the LP has a greater dynamic range, for example , but this is just because the recording engineer decided to use a different mix. There is nothing inherent to LP which makes it desirable over CD if accurate sound reproduction is one's goal.

This post has been edited by mzil: Jun 16 2012, 00:58
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Engelsstaub
post Jun 16 2012, 02:07
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QUOTE (mzil @ Jun 15 2012, 18:49) *
...and it is audibly inferior to CD in not some, but rather all ways...

...Some people may prefer a particular LP to a CD, claiming the LP has a greater dynamic range, for example , but this is just because the recording engineer decided to use a different mix. There is nothing inherent to LP which makes it desirable over CD if accurate sound reproduction is one's goal.


I have more than a few modern examples of records that "sound better" to me than the CD. You're quite right in that it has nothing to do with vinyl being more accurated or "warmer" or anything like that. You're also right in that it comes down to a different mix.

The CD is better IMO than the LP, but too often the "accurate sound reproduction" you speak of is ruined by clipping and maxing it up to 0 dB as if we don't know how to normalize our music for use on portables.

OP: I would personally recommend a Pro-Ject Debut III if your BF wants a turntable. They are pretty easily upgradable if he wants to make it "even better" in the future. Decent resale value and respected brand name. They are not however automatic. (You must lift the tonearm off of the record when it is done playing.)


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RonaldDumsfeld
post Jun 16 2012, 02:24
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Easy. Peasy. Buy him a Techics 1210 before they all disappear.

It's been a stone gone classic for nearly 50 years and never bettered. Just what he's looking for. Solid, reliable, low maintenance, attractive in a functional kind of way. It'll never let him down or disappoint him. All his mates will admire it. You will grow old but the good old Technics will still be there.

Actually I have a vested interest. My then g/f bought me a pair over 20 years ago. We are all still together.

Sadly, with your budget atm, your are going to have to go second hand/reconditioned. Don't sweat it though. They are bulletproof.
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Engelsstaub
post Jun 16 2012, 02:34
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QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Jun 15 2012, 20:24) *
Easy. Peasy. Buy him a Techics 1210 before they all disappear...


Yeah. Although I have no experience with them I wouldn't be at all sad if I got ahold of one I've heard they are pretty great. biggrin.gif

Panasonic doesn't make them anymore but you should never have a difficult time finding a part for one if needed. Like RonaldDumsfeld said: they've been around forever and changed very little. Surely a testament to their engineering and durability.


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musiclove
post Jun 16 2012, 02:52
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thank you all for your input. i really truly appreciate it.

he does have quite the collection of records, which is why I am even considering buying it in the first place. He mentioned to me a few months how he wishes he had to budget to buy one - he just graduated from med school so this is his grad present. There are not many other gadgets or technologies I could buy him - most everything of his is pretty up to date. This sounded like a unique and personalized gift.

again, thank you to everyone for the guidance.
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mzil
post Jun 16 2012, 06:59
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DJ's, turntablists, scratchers, and sound effect technicians have a completely different set of needs than an audiophile. They need immediate speed at start up, back cueing, the ability to stop the platter with their fingers yet have an almost instantaneous return to full speed when they let go, etc.

"Audiophile" designs on the other hand want complete isolation from the motor vibration (and room) above all else, usually accomplished via a floating sub chassis with a belt coupling to the motor, ala AR, Thorens, or Linn, or in modern times, a poor man's version of it, such as the rubber motor suspension mount of the ProJect turntables [I've heard mixed stories about its success, though]. They usually sacrifice any playback automation beyond a simple cue lever (and sometimes not even that) and regaining full speed from a dead stop takes a long time so a DJ would dismiss them immediately.

In the past (pre-1980s), it was expected that reviews of turntables would have the fundamental measurements of wow, flutter, hum, rumble, speed accuracy, etc. with disclosure as to what standards they used (JIS, DIN, etc) to measure them, but as the audio review industry has become more anti-science and pro-poetry in their style, gaining this critical data has become much more difficult for the consumer, yet it is infinitely more important than the current reviewers' ramblings about a turntables, um, "imaging and sound stage".

I feel sorry for people needing to make an educated choice in this matter because the truly relevant information is hard to come by, unless you trust manufacturer's claims, which I don't. Good luck though.

This post has been edited by db1989: Jun 16 2012, 10:13
Reason for edit: deleting unnecessary full quote of above post
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derty2
post Jun 16 2012, 12:19
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If you are spending under a thousand dollars, there is only one definitive unbeatable choice...
Technics SL-1200 Mk-2 , from Ebay or your local second-hand market.

The mark-2 edition has extremely accurate full auto quartz locked speed control.
The ones produced for DJ's had a tempo adjusting slider on the top right.
The ones produced for Audiophiles had no slider.
The only thing a fanatic needs to do to turn the technics into an audiophile dream is to upgrade the tonearm and cartridge.
You cannnot lose if your friend doesn't want it; these turntables keep their value when re-sold.

Technics SL-1200 specifications:
CODE
Type.....................: manual turntable
Drive method.............: direct drive
Motor....................: brushless DC motor
Control method...........: servo (mk1), quartz (mk2)
Platter..................: 330mm 1.75kg (mk1), 332mm 2kg (mk2)
Speeds...................: 33.33 and 45rpm
Wow and flutter..........: 0.03% WRMS (mk1), 0.025% WRMS (mk2)
Rumble...................: -70dB (mk1), -78dB (mk2)
Dimensions...............: 453 x 366 x 180mm (mk1), 453 x 360 x 162mm (mk2)
Weight...................: 10kg (mk1), 12.5kg (mk2)

Tonearm:--
Type......................: universal
Effective length..........: 220mm (mk1), 230mm (mk2)
Overhang..................: 14mm (mk1), 15mm (mk2)
Effective mass............: 12g (mk2)
Stylus pressure range.....: 0 to 4g (mk1), 0 to 2.5g (mk2)


This post has been edited by derty2: Jun 16 2012, 12:21
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Engelsstaub
post Jun 16 2012, 13:30
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QUOTE (derty2 @ Jun 16 2012, 06:19) *
...Technics SL-1200 Mk-2 ...upgrade the tonearm and cartridge...


...if anyone has any good suggestions for a replacement tonearm I'd love to hear them. smile.gif


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derty2
post Jun 16 2012, 14:08
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recommended resources for Technics turntable fanatics:
CODE
Origin Live OL1 tonearm

Rega RB250 tonearm

Trans-Fi Terminator T3 Pro, linear tracking air-bearing tonearm.
- If you love ripping this is the ultimate upgrade.
- A video showing a T3 on an SL-1200 Mk-2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpT2x8fSwBo&feature=relmfu

kabusa.com Technics modifications

thefunkfirm.co.uk Technics modifications

soundhifi.com Technics modifications
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RonaldDumsfeld
post Jun 16 2012, 14:23
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You can pimp them up something rotten these days Engel'.

Here is a representative site. Pimping the wheels of steel.

For other, mainly less expensive, options do a google search or visit one of the many dedicated technics fan sites.
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Engelsstaub
post Jun 17 2012, 01:43
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Thanks for the info, guys.

I am seriously considering finding one. Even if I have to pay current price for new it may still be well worth it. They're never going to go down in price and it may just be the last TT I ever want or need.

Plus I love upgrading and tweaking. I suppose I could have that thing looking positively stupid before someone with a bit of sanity intervenes. laugh.gif


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RonaldDumsfeld
post Jun 17 2012, 12:47
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This guy explains the attractions of a 1210 deck from an audiophile perspective very well.

Technics 1210 from an audiophile perspective.

However it does cross my mind in retrospect that the OP might be reluctant to give something second hand or reconditioned as a gift. I mean it is still by far and away the best solution and a bit of research via Craigslist Google magic Interwebs type stuff will easily turn up an excellent example but if you really, really cannot face that then probably the best option within the budget is to go with a Rega belt drive.

This is the most budget friendly option.

Rega RP1.. You can get them here from 200. Thats's ~$300.

If you b/f does not already own a phono pre amp on an old amp, receiver or mixer then you will also need to get one. You also asked about a digital interface.

This is a good option for the money as it covers both bases.

ART USB phono plus.

Since he is an audiophile he might already have an interface or be happy with the converters on the PC motherboard. In which case this is a good solution.

ART DeeJay Pre.



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