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kennyt 06-11-2008 06:11 PM

Turntable shopping.. any help?
Well, I still have all my old (and likely roached) vinyl from my youth in my parent home back in NJ, some great stuff including the entire Frank Zappa collection through 1985 unopened, and I do mean ALL of them!

I my quest for the best and most perfect sound, I have begun to wonder if I don't need to step back to go forward. Clearly the turntable was rampant @ CES this year, and for good reason. Smooth sound with a lush warmth not often found in any, if only, the highest end digital gear. This and my gadget addiction have had me shopping for TT's for a while now, maybe a year or more. I was all set to just buy a decent one and move up as needed when a local analog shop was closing, figuring I'd get a deal on something, I walked into the shop with $500 cash and CC's out the butt to buy something to get me started in the vinyl realm. Well, despite it being the last day the shop was opened before they closed for good, the only offered me <20% off retail for a MMF 5.1, I was hoping for a 8.1, but either way I wasn't going to pay >80% retail for a used demo on the last day the store was open, so I left, regretfully empty handed.

Me and my cash went home to lick our wounds and needless to say the desire still lives on. I know how I can integrate a TT into my current rack, the AudiAV Crystal, and can easily add room for a phone pre and even a dedicated two channel preamp (which would need HT passthrough and remote control) if need/want.

My problem is I can't find anyone locally who demo's TT's, and there are so many I can't possibly hear them all.

Some thing that have my interest are:

Avid Diva II/Volvere
Kuzma Stabi S
VPI Scoutmaster
Music Hall MMF 9.1
Clearaudio Solution

NOTE these are just TT's, I still need to work out arms for some, cartridge and phono pre.... I am trying to minimize my initial investment, but as you can see, I am looking @ what will likely be a ~$8K rig when complete, and that is without a separate two channel pre, unless I get one with a good phono section.

Am I crazy?

Should I just get a <$1,000 setup and play with it first? The more I think of it, the more I think this might be the smartest thing, but I haven't always used my head when deciding on audio purchases!!!!

Any input???

The Kipnis Studios 06-12-2008 06:19 PM

Re: Turntable shopping.. any help?
What a great question. My collogue, Steve Guttenberg, and I often discuss this issue. And what it really comes down to is: how much do you really want to spend for the whole analog side of this?

I like your choices - but TT are truly a combination of the various elements. Otherwise, I recommended a very basic Audio-Technica with built in phono preamp and even an on-board A/D and USB output - so you can also dub your LPs directly to your computer or music server. c. $459.00

Sure you can come up with a much better combination, but it will cost you more and require careful set-up and calibration to get better results.

But I must say it is worth it.

On the more expensive side - you might consider the ELP Laser Turntable, which I have owned since 2003. It works wonderfully, has an optional line level output, and even CD like remote control so you can skip, FF, RR, etc - but it's all ANALOG!

kennyt 06-12-2008 06:37 PM

Re: Turntable shopping.. any help?
I know what you mean, arms, carts and Phono preamps all add to the equation, and what started out as an experiment has, as much of my hobbies do, gone to the high end, and I suspect for the tables I listed, with arms, cart, PP and possibly two channel pre with HT passthrough will run me well over $10K, oh and I need to add to my rack too.... so more $$..

I have given serious consideration to buying a TT that comes fully equipped for <$1K, but the upper end gear looks so cool, it's tough to avoid.

Maybe I should just buy a KAS 1200 and see how it all goes for a while and if I go full on analog, so be it, then upgrade........

.........but DAMN the Avid Acurutus looks BA!!!!

The Kipnis Studios 06-12-2008 06:47 PM

Re: Turntable shopping.. any help?
Beyond a certain point, it is really just a lot of audio jewelry. But if the rest of your system is up to the task, they will offer superior, more realistic sound.

And yet, analog LP has an immediate, unprocessed and un-digitized quality that is highly seductive when compared even to very, very good digital.

I like to demo LP's that I have cut myself (several Chesky in particular) on the ELP LT, because it does not sound like an LP - but rather exactly like the master tape (plus cutter resonant signature and its companion preamp).

Then I play them the CD master - and jaws drop if the master source tape for both were analog to begin with.

Analog Rules!

kennyt 06-14-2008 01:41 PM

Re: Turntable shopping.. any help?

Originally Posted by The Kipnis Studios (Post 15588)
Beyond a certain point, it is really just a lot of audio jewelry.

I hear you, but in a way, that is so cool, it draws you in, I have considered doing the inexpensive route of a highly modded Technics 1210 from KAS, or maybe just a project 9 or something to get my feet wet and go from there, but I hate buying things I know I will want to upgrade, so I am still at a loss...

The Kipnis Studios 06-14-2008 06:37 PM

Re: Turntable shopping.. any help?
Look at it this way:

1) You clearly love great sound


2) You enjoy "BLING"

Therefore, the most important thing you can do is go play with some gear you want - preferably at our own place.

And then, buy the one that "feels" the best. That's what analog playback, and particularly LPs are all about, I believe.

Don't listen to anyone - just your gut.

So, what's it going to be?

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