View Full Version : Turntable advice


Dammo
11-02-2009, 07:15 PM
Hi All,

I've been browsing this site for a couple of months now picking up advice on budget turntables and am finally in a position to buy one. After perusing craigslist and shooting off a couple of emails I have these possible choices:

Technics SL-1700: $75
Technics SL-1200 MK2: $150
Technics SL-Q3: $25
Harman Kardon T-35C: $65
Dual CS-621: $40
Kenwood KD-2055: $75

My budget just about pushes up to $150, but would love to save some cash. I am not an audiophile but I would like to say I can tell the difference between good and bad quality! This would be my first turntable and would be hooked up to an Onkyo receiver and Polk speakers.

Please let me know which of these would best fit my needs, and whether the SL-1200 really would be worth the extra cash.

Thanks!

Richard

33&athird
11-02-2009, 07:24 PM
My first instint would be the dual, they are usually very nice turntables, and $40 seems like a good deal. Technics is somewhat well liked as well, and there are several good kenwood models out there. I have never heard of a harmon-kardon turntable, though...

I would say dual, bu the most important thing is if it works, for a first table kind of deal, get a working table with good dependability...you won't get much enjoyment out of it if all you do is work on it.

maybe another member has more expieriance with these turntables and has better advice?

Good luck, vinyl is a fun thing to get into:thmbsp:

Oh: seeing as this is your first post, welcome.

fastbike
11-02-2009, 07:31 PM
I bought a Harman Kardon T-20 for my son. It's a great table. Well built, simple, nice arm. If I could find a T35 for $65, I'd buy it.

I have several Duals, and I'd take the HK T35C before the CS-621.

Leaves you money for a new stylus or cart. The HK has a light arm, so likes a higher compliance stylus.

kermit z
11-02-2009, 07:38 PM
In that group, I'd take the SL-1700. Do you know what cartridges they all have?

They may need a new one, so keep that in mind when buying used. an entry level cart will run you 25.00 to 60.00

phatster
11-02-2009, 07:45 PM
I guess it depends on several issues..........Does it come with a useful cartridge and/or stylus,Is it currently in use?,and general condition with hands-on inspection,and finally ....listen to it!!I personally got a SL-3Q for my spare TT and find it very user friendly to set-up and use,am trying different cartridges and may settle on a Shure M97xe since it tracks so well.I like this unit alot!The Harman Kardon's seem to be harder to find but quality is very good.One brand you didn't mention that flies under the radar is Phillips.

RDecartridge
11-02-2009, 07:45 PM
I would try to snag the renowned Technics SL-1200 MK2 at $150 for $125 (i.e. make offer).

However, of importance for any tt:
1. the accompanying cartridge (brand, model, stylus (or absence)) are all very important
2. make sure that it functions electrically (all switches and lights worrk) and mechanically
3. the condition of the dustcover and hinges can be pricey replacement items

Good luck!

Dammo
11-02-2009, 07:49 PM
They all would need a new stylus/cartridge I believe, so that is factored into my spending. All-in, with cartridge, any replacement parts and a preamp I'm looking to spend no more than $200. Would a new, entry-level turntable be a better option?

ARJohn
11-02-2009, 07:51 PM
Just take into account that you will need a new stylus at the least or a new cart even , depends what's on them ? If it's worth a new stylus or change to a new cart . Lots of good carts under $100 but stylus run about $30 minimum for most brands so something to consider .If one of the models has a nice cart on it might be worth the price alone ? Others may have different opinions but all things equal or close to it , go for the best cart on the working model and then look at a new stylus. Starting out with a known good stylus is a must I think. I see a lot of ad's "stylus looks great " Yeah until you change it for a new one and you suddenly hear the difference. Good luck on your search :D

33&athird
11-02-2009, 09:04 PM
They all would need a new stylus/cartridge I believe, so that is factored into my spending. All-in, with cartridge, any replacement parts and a preamp I'm looking to spend no more than $200. Would a new, entry-level turntable be a better option?

probably not :no: the cost to quality ratio for vintage is a much better deal unless it is some ultra-rare item. You will have much better luck with a older table if it is operating correctly. I think if a table comes with a cart, at least try it out. A stylus may be necessary, but they are not too expensive. I don't think you can go very wrong with any of the tables, granting they work for a price you are willing to pay. $200 can get a good table, cart and stylus (I think)...are you sure you need a pre-amp? will this be going to a receiver, or something else...:scratch2:

Panotaker
11-02-2009, 10:20 PM
That 1200mkII is really cheap at $150, they usually sell for $250 around here. I would guess it is cosmetically challenged. They usually still work fine even if they are abused. I bought a couple of DJ 1200mkIIs that where missing the rubber mats. I went by the local DJ record store that sell 12" vinyl. They have a bunch of 1200's setup so you can listen to the vinyl before you buy. All the tables had slip mats with no rubber mats. I asked the manager if they still had the original rubber mats and if they would sell me a couple. He went to the back and came back with two rubber mats. I got them for free too. I guess they got tired of looking at them taking up space.

Dammo
11-03-2009, 10:29 AM
OK today brings a couple of new contenders, this time with some (supposedly) new cartridges:

AKAI APQ-50/Technics SL-23/Pioneer PL-500/Technics SL-B350: $125
Pioneer PL-510: $50
All with the Ortofon OM-5

Yamaha P-750 w/ Audio Technica cartridge: $75

Would one of these be a better option as I wouldn't have to replace the cartridge? My one hesitation would be that I wouldn't know the true condition/quality of the stylus, so am inclined towards buying a new cartridge anyway.

The TT would be plugged into my Onkyo TX-SR305, which does not have a phono input so I believe I would need a preamp (??)!

cactuscowboy
11-03-2009, 10:39 AM
They all would need a new stylus/cartridge I believe, so that is factored into my spending. All-in, with cartridge, any replacement parts and a preamp I'm looking to spend no more than $200. Would a new, entry-level turntable be a better option?

For $200 & less, you'll find nothing but junk available new. To me, the choice is a no-brainer.... buy the SL-1200 MK2.

Balifly
11-03-2009, 11:27 AM
Test out the Pioneer 510, make sure all the relevant piece are there.
The Ortofon OM5 cartridge is an entry level cartridge.
The stylus can easily be upgraded later for a small sum.:music::thmbsp:

JohnVF
11-03-2009, 12:01 PM
HK T35c or SL-1200 depending on condition. The HK tables really fly under the radar, but they're really nice. If I was just starting out I'd buy the HK.

WmAx
11-03-2009, 12:25 PM
Most are not familar with the Q3 Technics. But, it is very similar to the SL-1200MKII. It has the same tone arm (minus the VTA) and has a nice cast aluminum chassis. Quartz locked excellent DC motor with absolute perfect speed stability and a nice reasonably high mass cast and machined aluminum platter. For the price, you can't go wrong! For a starter table, I would take this over say a Project Debut or Rega P1, any day of the week....

-Chris

kermit z
11-03-2009, 12:26 PM
I have a Technics SL-23 and a Pioneer PL-500. The Technics is a belt-drive table that sounds pretty good to me. So this would be price dependant. The PL-500 is a quartz locked, fully automatic direct drive table. It weighs a ton. I would say I prefer the PL-500 to the SL-23 in that group.

Trower
11-03-2009, 12:26 PM
That AKAI APQ-50 looks to be quite a nice TT from the pictures I've seen, and its quartz lock so thats nice. I think that it would be hard to beat for the money.

ChairSpud
11-03-2009, 01:38 PM
Most are not familar with the Q3 Technics. But, it is very similar to the SL-1200MKII. It has the same tone arm (minus the VTA) and has a nice cast aluminum chassis. Quartz locked excellent DC motor with absolute perfect speed stability and a nice reasonably high mass cast and machined aluminum platter. For the price, you can't go wrong! For a starter table, I would take this over say a Project Debut or Rega P1, any day of the week....

-Chris

I agree, the SL-Q3 is a fine turntable, it shares many features with the very popular SL1200mkII. Buy the Q3 and spend the rest of your budget on a nice cartridge.

virak
11-03-2009, 01:53 PM
I'd get the the SL-1200Mk2. Think of it as a long-term investment.
It's a very reliable TT, and you can easily sell it on for $150 (or more) if you don't like it.
Get a "Quest 20" cartridge, and you'll have a very good TT for under $200.

HypnoToad
11-03-2009, 02:02 PM
I second the Q3 and you could fit it with a nice Denon DL-110 cart, I have one on my SL1200Mk2 and it's an excellent match.

Just make sure your Onkyo receiver has a built in Phono Pre Amp.

audiojones
11-03-2009, 03:02 PM
Out of that group I would choose the Technics SL-1700 without a doubt. The 1200 is nice but bear in mind that they often pull DJ duty and as such have often seen heavy use / abuse. They also don't have any suspension, so resonance or feedback may be a problem. They are a full manual turntable, so you will have to retrieve the tonearm at the end of every play.
The SL-1700 has a suspension and an auto return, and it's a nice silent turntable especially for that price. I prefer the original version to the MK2 version, but that's just me. The Harman Kardon is a nice table too (made by Rabco I believe) but I've heard of some maintenance issues with it - maybe someone more familiar with it can chime in here.

WmAx
11-03-2009, 07:41 PM
I would only consider SL-1400,1500, 1700, if they are MKII, with the quartz lock and aluminum chassis. MKI is inferior.

The Q3 is the same motor/arm/design as the MKII tables, and has a nice aluminum chassis, and spring loaded suspension. SL-Q2 is identical to Q3, except between them, they have some auto return/cueing function differences - both other than that, Q2 and Q3 are identical.

-Chris

kermit z
11-03-2009, 08:03 PM
I would only consider SL-1400,1500, 1700, if they are MKII, with the quartz lock and aluminum chassis. MKI is inferior.

The Q3 is the same motor/arm/design as the MKII tables, and has a nice aluminum chassis, and spring loaded suspension. SL-Q2 is identical to Q3, except between them, they have some auto return/cueing function differences - both other than that, Q2 and Q3 are identical.

-Chris

Interesting:scratch2: But I will disagree with the SL1400MK2 and SL1500MK2 as being a better choice. Those 2 suffer from the infamous cueing problems that are not easy to fix. I know because I have an SL-1300MK2. The SL-1700MK2 has a similar issue but can be fixed. However, I would in no way say the others are "inferior":nono:

hendertuckie
11-03-2009, 08:22 PM
I have a Technics SL-1700. It is a great table and has served me well. I recently upgraded to a Technics SL-1210 which is a step up but I do miss the 1700's auto return feature. The price listed is in line with what I paid last May.

WmAx
11-03-2009, 08:39 PM
Interesting:scratch2: But I will disagree with the SL1400MK2 and SL1500MK2 as being a better choice. Those 2 suffer from the infamous cueing problems that are not easy to fix. I know because I have an SL-1300MK2. The SL-1700MK2 has a similar issue but can be fixed. However, I would in no way say the others are "inferior":nono:

I presume we are talking about 'working' units. Breakage is a different issue - but not all 1400MKII and 1500MKII have the problem. If the table is currently working, it seems rather unlike that the problem will suddenly appear anytime soon after all of this time of proper operation.

In any event, I say the Q3 is the best deal he posted ($25!) if it is a good condition working unit.

-Chris

kermit z
11-03-2009, 08:44 PM
I cannot saw all are not working. I will say "Most". It is very rare to find one that is not broken. It was a design flaw, not a misuse/old age problem. I will say you are right about the Q3, it would be well worth the money:thmbsp:

audiojones
11-03-2009, 08:46 PM
I would only consider SL-1400,1500, 1700, if they are MKII, with the quartz lock and aluminum chassis. MKI is inferior.

Not by a long shot. The original version has a very reliable and effective design that bells and whistles can't improve on. Quartz locking really isn't necessary, the original servo drive is very accurate, reliable, rock steady and uncomplicated. The 1600 and 1700 mechanisms got everything right, but there always have to be so called "upgrades" on existing successful models to keep the masses convinced that they are getting the latest and greatest new thing. They of course have the heavy weight aluminum chassis as well.

Sam Cogley
11-03-2009, 08:49 PM
The Q3 is the deal there. The Kenwood KD-2055 would be my second choice, but I'd try to get the seller down to $50 unless it had a great cart installed and ready to go.

Before I picked up my AR and ROK tables, a KD-3055 was the only belt-drive in my permanent collection. Great tables that suffer (at least in the seller's eyes) from the usual Kenwood under-the-radar status.

Dammo
11-05-2009, 12:55 PM
Thanks for the help guys! Been really useful.

The 1200 and the Kenwood were both snapped up before I could get them, but I've got the Q3 and the Harman Kardon tables reserved for me. I'm going to test the sound on both and see which I prefer I think. As the Q3 isn't belt driven (right?) it might be in better condition, although the HK seller assures me the T35 plays perfectly!

However, someone has just approached me with a Sanyo TP-80SA. He quotes "with Hysteresis Drive Motor. Not a common model. Excellent condition. It has a Pickering V-15 cartridge.Stylus is in excellent condition with low hours on it." and wants about $100 for it, but I may be able to negotiate.

What do you think?

Also, now I'm almost settled on a turntable I should focus my search on preamps, of which I know nothing. I know I can get a basic model at Radioshack for $20 but would I be better off with a vintage model again?

Thanks!

Dammo
11-06-2009, 06:43 PM
Any ideas guys n gals?

Sam Cogley
11-06-2009, 06:51 PM
The Q3 is quartz-locked direct-drive full-auto. As long as it's working and holding speed, you can't go wrong there. I have the non-quarts semi-auto D2, and while other TTs have shouldered it out of rotation, it's still a solid TT that I liked using.

Dammo
11-08-2009, 05:15 PM
Thanks for all the help. I ended up getting the Technics SL-1200 MK2, which ended up being in perfect condition. I have a few questions about it however: it currently has a Ortofon Concorde Pro cartridge - it looks like it is in good condition, but should I get a different/new cartridge instead?

Also, I believe I need a preamp for this as my receiver doesn't have a phono input. Which one would work best (for a very limited budget) with this table?

Thanks again.