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Buying a turntable for the first time - what do I need?


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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 20, 2012 4:54:39 PM PST
Hey everybody. I was really hoping to get some suggestions for what would be at least a decent set up for playing records on a turntable. I already have a turntable in mind (The Audio Technica AT-LP60) and some speakers (Sony SSF-5000). The only thing that I'm really confused on is picking out a receiver. What would be some suggestions for a receiver that I could not only use for playing records, but also for other things like video games and television? Would there be some other suggestions for both maybe a turntable and speakers that are within about the same price range that could make everything sound better? Any help would definitely be appreciated! Thank you.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 7:40:59 PM PST
Hey man,

I got the Sony STRDH520 7.1 and I'm very satisfy!

Sony STRDH520 7.1 Channel 3D AV Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 1:56:59 AM PST
KBIC says:
Sounds like you don't even need any advice and you already have made your choices.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 9:29:21 PM PST
MC says:
Marcus - look into Nad and Marantz receivers, they both make reasonably priced stuff that sounds great........

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 22, 2012 11:52:55 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 22, 2012 12:06:58 PM PST
It looks like you're making your choices based on limited budget constraints. Still, I think I'd prefer the first turntable I bought as a teenager in the 70s (Pioneer PL-514, a semi-auto belt drive model, which I think was around $120 when I bought it new, and that didn't include the cartridge) over your choice. Surveying the inexpensive choices for turntables, there is mostly disappointing junk. I'm not buying new vinyl these days (one exception with a recent box set release) but I notice that prices of new albums are generally $20+ so unless you're buying dirt cheap used LPs, I cannot fathom why you would select the turntable you did.

To play records, the chain of components is as follows. Firstly you need a turntable, which strictly speaking contains the platter and the means of rotating it steadily. But unless you're well removed from your apparent budget, the turntable will also include a tonearm. Important specifications for the turntable are those related to the accuracy of maintaining speed and how much noise from the motor gets transmitted into the audio signal. Unfortunately the specifications are reported by the manufacturers in inconsistent ways (making it difficult to compare) or are not reported at all.

Next you need a phono cartridge. This is what is mounted at the end of the tonearm and contains the stylus (or needle) that actually contacts the record surface. Its job is to convert the mechanical motion from the record's grooves acting on the stylus into an electrical signal. The most common type of cartridge is a moving magnet design. On very cheap turntables, you may find ceramic cartridges - avoid them (performance-wise, they're crap). It seems lots of turntables (even above $1000) come with a cartridge premounted. Maybe the manufacturers think the younger generation can't handle choosing and installing the cartridge themselves.

Moving magnet cartridges require a phono preamplifier. This does two things: it performs RIAA equalization (boosts the lows and cuts the highs in a specific way -- to undo the EQ that was applied to the signal on the record) and amplifies the low-level signal from the cartridge output. Such phono preamps were often built into receivers (you had to use the phono input on the receiver) but many receivers today lack them, although some models have them due to the slight resurgence in popularity of vinyl. Phono preamps are also available as a separate component; in such case the output of the preamp would plug into any line level input (AUX, CD, etc.) on your receiver. Some low end turntables (including the one you picked) have the preamp built in (although you can bypass it and use an outboard preamp or one in a receiver, hence the turntable will have two sets of outputs).

Next you need a receiver, which among other things, contains a power amplifier to boost the audio signal enough to drive the final component: speakers.

The choices at the beginning (turntable and cartridge) and end (speakers) of this chain are what will most affect the quality of playback.

You'll also need some accessories for cleaning your records and stylus, but that's a whole other topic.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 4:57:46 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012 4:58:45 PM PST
For a good overview on turntables in general, take a look at
the Amazon discussions about the Audio-Technica AT-PL120
(in which, of course, I have participated heavily).

I don't like the AT-PL60: Its tonearm is poorly designed and very flimsy
(but still considerably better than some on the market today).

A better starter 'table would be a good used one from the 1970s
with a "real" tonearm, a decent motor, and a much heavier platter.
Dual, Pioneer, Sony, Technics, JVC, Kenwood, and many others
offered models that are very good even by today's standards,
and, despite being used, will likely far outlast an A-T '60.

Posted on Nov 30, 2012 12:46:36 AM PST
45 years ago an older audiophile plainly told me the most important part of building a stereo was the speakers, then a clean sounding amp. Don't skimp on power,buy the most you can afford. If you intend on having a TV and surround sound AND a Turntable do your homework. A turntable is biased differently than a tape player or other gadets ,it MUST say TURNTABLE and have rca jacks on the back. Turntables generally cone as direct drive(expensive) or belt drive. Technics has made them for years and never stopped and replacement belts are available.Buy a good cartride and stylus,Shure m- series are a nice start.Less than 80-100 bucks and you are wasting the turntable. Stylus' made for hip-hop scratching are not the same as hi-fi- for vinyl.1 gram of weight is all you want on a record. never put coins on the top of a cartridge it'll rip you highs out the 1st time around. Good Luck!

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 5:46:13 AM PST
Tony R says:
Get a Rega 3

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 6:12:57 PM PST
AnalogJ says:
Sheesh! People are getting a but complicated here.

A good budget table would be the Pro-Ject Carbon Debut. It comes with a decent tonearm and decent cartridge, all for about $400. NAD would be a really good choice for a budget integrated. NAD concentrates on putting your money into bring musical, rather than flashy, and it will come with a decent phono preamp. Between $300-$400 will get you a decent integrated.

Perhaps you like those Sony speakers. But look at budget speakers from PSB, Paradigm and Wharfdale. These are manufacturers that do nothing but make speakers. They'll start at under $200 (plus money for stands) and go into the 10s of thousands, but these companies know how to make good sounding speakers and where to best cut corners in order to bring it to a certain price point.

Honestly, the best thing to do is go into a real hifi shop, if there is one nearby, and let them put together a risk system for you to hear. A well-matched system, even a budget one, can sound great.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2012 1:58:20 AM PST
E. D. Clark says:
Im a music collector and have a couple of thousand cds, this past year i also decieded to go back to vinyl and picked the Audio Technica AT LP60 and its been a good choice. i love it and I love the treasure hunt of buying vinyl. It helps when my bud owns a record store. Good luck and happy hunting.
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Discussion in:  Vinyl forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  10
Initial post:  Nov 20, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 30, 2012

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