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New to vinyl, need a bit of help with my set up
PickleJelly
post Aug 4 2011, 08:12
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Ok so I just recently went ahead and bought some LPs and have been interested in getting a turntable and starting a modest starter system with my current system for a while now, atleast until I'm out of college and can afford a high quality system. Currently I have a Sony mhc ec99i 530 watt shelf system that I scooped up because it was really cheap and has considerably good sound quality for the price. That being said I've done some research and found out that I'll need to get a phono preamp so I can somehow connect a turntable to the speaker system. So If anybody could try and answer the following questions in a way that a complete newbie like me can understand it would seriously... seriously be appreciated.

1. What kind of turntable should I get? I wanted something possibly older but my price range is between $200 and $300, USB turntables don't really interest me and the quality is a bit lower than I'd be willing to settle for unless it's my only option.

2. What kind of preamp should I get? Again looking for something cheaper without sacrificing enough quality to make listening to vinyl basically pointless and

3. How would I got about connecting the preamp to my Sony speaker system and the turntable? Are there certain chords to buy and where would I connect them?

4. Do I need a receiver or is that basically already in my speaker system?

I apologize for the tall order guys and hope that you bear with me because I am completely lost even after trying to look up other info around the web and considering that this is my first post.

Here's the owner's manual if that helps at all:
Owner's Manual


Any help is fully appreciated, Thank you in advance!
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cliveb
post Aug 4 2011, 08:59
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QUOTE (PickleJelly @ Aug 4 2011, 08:12) *
1. What kind of turntable should I get? I wanted something possibly older but my price range is between $200 and $300, USB turntables don't really interest me and the quality is a bit lower than I'd be willing to settle for unless it's my only option.

You are right to avoid USB turntables. As you say, they are typically of fairly poor quality.

The best bet would be to buy a used "traditional" turntable. Decent quality budget brands include Dual, Rega, Music Hall, Pro-Ject, Thorens. Others will no doubt pipe in with other suggested brands.

You could also consider an old Japanese direct-drive from the 1970's/1980's. Brands such as Technics, Denon, JVC, Sansui, Pioneer, Sony. They were typically built like battleships. Beware that there were also some cheap direct drives from that era which should be avoided. If it feels light and flimsy, avoid it.

Any used turntable you buy will possibly come with a cartridge of unknown condition. You should at the very least replace the stylus. Possibly just replace the cartridge - often the stylus costs nearly as much as the cartridge. Good cartridge brands include Shure, Ortofon, Audio-Technica, Sumiko, Grado. As with turntables, I'm sure other posters will suggest other good brands. Preferably get an elliptical or line-contact stylus (rather than spherical or conical).

Don't buy a moving coil cartridge - they are expensive and require special preamps. Stick to moving magnet types (often just called "magnetic cartridges").

Make sure the cartridge is correctly aligned in the pickup arm. You can download alignment protractors from various places online - just Google "cartridge alignment protractor" and you'll get lots of options.

Once aligned, you'll need to adjust the tracking force of the cartridge. Best results are usually obtained at the manufacturer's maximum specified force (rather than in the middle of the defined range). Then set the anti-skating - start with it set to the same as the tracking force, and adjust by ear until you get equal amounts of distortion on both channels.

QUOTE (PickleJelly @ Aug 4 2011, 08:12) *
2. What kind of preamp should I get? Again looking for something cheaper without sacrificing enough quality to make listening to vinyl basically pointless

Expect to pay around $50-$100 for a good quality phono preamp. Something like the NAD PP3 is a good example.

Behringer make a phono preamp called the PP400, and it's quite cheap. I have no experience with it but Behringer tend to make decent products.

QUOTE (PickleJelly @ Aug 4 2011, 08:12) *
3. How would I got about connecting the preamp to my Sony speaker system and the turntable? Are there certain chords to buy and where would I connect them?

According to the user manual you linked to, your Sony system has a mini-jack external input (item #15 on the diagram). (That said, there is a note that it is only present on certain models. If you don't have this input on your system, you won't be able to connect to it). This is where you'd connect the phono preamp output. Assuming the phono preamp you get has a pair of phono sockets for its output, then you'll need a cable with phono plugs at one end and a stereo minijack plug at the other. Pretty much any audio store should have these in stock.

QUOTE (PickleJelly @ Aug 4 2011, 08:12) *
4. Do I need a receiver or is that basically already in my speaker system?

Your Sony mini system already has a built-in receiver.

This post has been edited by cliveb: Aug 4 2011, 09:01
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