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I'm jumping into vinyl. I've had CD with a Meridian 203 for a long time. I've tired a cheap Philips SACD player which was really bad. I like warm sound, tubes, vocals, liquid, etc. I've ordered a few hundreds of pounds of records from E-bay which I should have soon.
What I've decided on so far:
VPI Record Cleaner $500
My price range is around $2k for a player setup.
In San Jose the local store likes Rega and doesn't like the VPI Scout. He says that the standard tonearm skates. They have a demo Rega P7.
From my Web research I think that I'd like a VPI Scout with a Grado Sonata cart. I want to get the great solid warm vocals.
My dealer suggests a Rega P5 or P7 and with a Benz Ace Mc or a Clearaudio MM. Around $500 He says that the Rega tonearms aren't shielded and can't take the Grado.
The dealer is very nice and I'd like to buy their stuff, but from what I read on the Web the sound of the VPI combo.
What do other people think? Any other suggestions?
I had the same decision to make and went with the Rega P5. I have not looked back once and am very happy with my decision. If you are considering buying a VPI online, please consider keeping your local dealer alive buy buying from him. (Was the straw that broke the camels back for me...My local dealer was a Rega guy and I listened before buying.)
Wow, looks good, reasonable and convenient. (I've been turning the rolodex in my head for friends who might be interested)
From what you're looking for, I think you'd be most happy with a used Scout/Dynavector or similar combo from Audiogon.
I've got a Nottingham Spacedeck, which I highly recommend and like very much, (I also think it might have more of what you're looking for sound-wise).. but the Scout is perhaps a better value for the $.
I also have a Clearaudio Virt Wood, which I DON'T recommend as it's not on the "warm, liquid" side of things.. yes, it's evenly balanced, fast, detailed and conveniently MM.. but in retrospect I wish I had bought a good MC that does vocals well such as a Shelter 501.
Don't skimp on the preamp: personally I'd put the $ for the record cleaning machine into a next-level-up preamp (like a used Art Audio Vinyl 1) and go with Disc Doctor record cleaner/brushes.. you can also make a basic DIY vac system with a $35 shopvac.. and/or just buy the record cleaner at a later time ;)
If you get a stock 834, consider at least upgrading the tubes. If you're capable of basic soldering and have a free weekend, you will get amazing value from a kit phono preamp such as Hagerman Tech or Bottlehead. I've got a Hagerman Cornet tube phono preamp, which can be built for less then an Ear 834 and is easily on the same level. (Another kit, the $1500 K&K phono preamp, is basically the same as the $4500 Art Audio Vinyl Reference)
Don't listen to salespeople unless you feel they're completely knowledgeable and honest - to the point of willing to recommend equipment they may not carry. Trust your instincts, and pay attention to feedback from those who have a similar taste in sound but don't have a vested interest in your final decision.
In my limited experience, the Regas have a great feel for pace and timing, but if you're looking for warmth and liquidity you might want to look elsewhere. Also if the skating thing were a real problem, the Scout would not be as well-liked by end users as it is.
I don't think you'd be disappointed with the Scout. The Regas are good as well, but I ended up getting the Scout because it sounded better to my ears. The Scout also matches well with a wide range of cartridges. Dynavectors and Clearaudios are good matches that I've tried personally. VPI also recommends Grados for the Scout.
When I was shopping for a tt, I called a San Jose dealer about the Scout, who seemed to have a hard time getting them from VPI. I wonder if this is an issue in your dealer's recommendation. I've also heard of another dealer trying to steer customers away from the Scout to a Pro-Ject or some other inferior tt for no good reason. The best thing to do is to listen for yourself instead of relying on the dealer's recommendation.
Perhaps VPI had trouble keeping up with demand at that time. I heard they are a family company which only works a few days a week.
Well, I'm going for VPI. Jeff, the local dealer, doesn't like Grados as much as Dynavectors.
Welcome to Vinyl Asylum. You might find it as worthwhile as we have, to stick around, take a lot of grains of salt, and keep researching the archives, which really help once you get the feel for it. Also keep doing net searches for super specifics (like building a wallshelf, etc).
Here are five thoughts :
*** Rega / Vpi ??
You probably can't lose with either. The more dialled in you can get with support rack / shelf, cartridge, alignment / gauges and record care, the more you will be amazed --- with a diligent installation of either one.
A little shorthand on the comparison --which I think the archives would correllate--- is Rega / Pace, Timing, Set-Forget Simplicity and then Vpi / Scale, Solidity, Upgradeability.
The only certainty is probably that, once you've lived with one for a few years, you'll wish you had a little more of the other's attributes .
*** And If It's A Girl, Brianna !
Without knowing this guy, (or whether that's even the right name) I think it's right to think universally, of, say, the Ford dealer who whispers that 'the engines fall out of Chevys, you know...' Cmon ! Who is he fooling ? The old scams of the Brick-&-Mortar salesman are more comic than ever as the Internet expands geometrically. I think many of us here used a B+M shop, even with their oddball sales-games, to get our first and maybe second turntables up and running, but---- wow, how patronizing and false that stuff looks in retrospect.
When the answer to every tricky question is always "...lucky you, we just happen to carry that unit ...."
And the competition is whisperingly accused of some kind of dealbreaking heresy... well.
*** Rocket Science.
This gets us to a slightly tricky point, but I'll go ahead and say it. With the help of a Vinyl Asylum or other similar user-group, you can set up and align your own well-tweaked Lp Analog system. The advantages of the sage old guy down at the Hifi shop-- since that guy has generally retired or been replaced by some kind of dysfunctional SNL type--- are pretty well dried up by now that the net is exploding with Info and Interactive groups like this one.
As long as you can ascertain that you are starting out with legit non-trashed gear, anyone capable of setting up components and speakers is capable of setting up a turntable, arm, cartridge.
*** Hundreds Of Pounds Of Records.
We'll start early with just how helpful user groups like this one can be. You know the hundreds of pounds of records you're buying on Ebay ? Stop, right now. Even guys who have been buying records for fifty years are apt to get lemons from this kind of binge. It's not Ebay, but any situation where you can't see, touch, and play the record is going to limit you substantially in getting the goods.
Add to this that you're a better Lp buyer six months into the game, and and even better one a year later .... Ideally the number of records you buy in your early days should be few and only slowly increase once you've got a lot of confidence in the pursuit backed by experience. ( It's reversible, though. You can exchange or resell them. ) It really does work this way.
*** First Dates.
My opinion on first cartridges, as I've mentioned here before, is that you should go cheap and cheerful at first. Think of it as Pre-Buying your backup cartridge which you'll use for a year before you get that expensive Gradovector or whatever. You'll be learning all the fundamentals and nuances at not-such-a-steep failure / replacement rate. Think $100 moving-magnet with replaceable stylus .
And you'll have a nice backup next year when you step up....
Thanks, I'm getting lots of good advice.
I've been told that 350 pounds of records are on their way to me as of tomorrow. I think that having more records is a good thing. If I don't like a record I'll just give it away. I'm buying then for a dollar a pound or less.
Brian is a nice guy, but he only has Rega's. Now I have decided to go VPI, I think it's more my turntable. So Jeff is the local VPI dealer. Jeff loves VPI and Brian loves Rega. So that's fine for me.
Thanks for the cheap at first cartridge idea. I might do that. Then I'll enjoy the upgrade later. Someone hear suggested a Denon that looks good and cheap.
The VPI Scout is good, but if you like warmer sound, try the suspension table like VPI HW-19 MK III or IV. As for the cartridage, the Denon 103 series. You won't be regreted.
Thx! Now I'll have to consider a suspension table. I like the looks of the Scout though. I'll check with the VPI San Jose dealer tonight, hopefully he has them for listening. I might just pay retail rather than buying used unseen.
That's a common problem, dealer A only selling brand Y and dealer B only brand X. I once took a brand Y TT (Rega p25) from dealer A to dealer B to compare. Dealer B immediately started critisizing brand Y as well as the setup by dealer A. Dealer B did not succed in demonstrating TT X to me although i had phoned him a day before that i would like to hear TT X. I spent most of the afternoon at dealer B's shop in vain.
I returned TT Y and never looked back. I 'm happy with my old vintage stuff, i'm a tweaker and a thriftstore vulture, it's a way of life.
BTW LISTEN to the TT you're going to buy, preferably at home in your own system.
I'm in the San Jose area and would be glad to give you some hands-on help or advice if needed.
I own a VPI Scout, VPI HW19 MKIV/TNT5 platter and a Rega P3.
My main listening rig is the HW19 with an AT OC9 cart, then the Scout and the Rega just usually collects dust.
I've used the JMW-9 arm on both my HW19 and Scout without a skating problem.
You mentioned wanting warm full liquid vocals.
I have no experience with the Grado's but my Denon 103R does this well and for a very reasonable price too.
Thanks for the offer.
I found a VPI dealer in San Jose on Winchester. So I'll visit them tonight before I go to the Rega dealer a mile away.
Perhaps I need to consider a suspended table now. Perhaps I should get that Denon to start off with, expecially since my butter fingers might hurt a more expensive cart at first.
Ya, Jeff at Audioarts is a cool guy.
Being a high-end audio dealer he doesnít get much walk-in business so has lot's of time to listen and chat.
One day I went in to audition a Modwright 9 preamp and we ended up just listening to music and talking for a couple hours.
He has a TNT he keeps set up most of the time and a Scout he can plug in for you to hear.
You should enjoy your visit with Jeff and ask him to show you his record collection in the back!.
Keep us posted on you vinyl journeys progress.
Btw, if you into the SET sound (or even if your not) stop by and see Nick Gowen at True Sound in Campbell.
If youíve never experienced a good SET setup itís a very pleasant surprise.
Anything I can help with donít hesitate to ringÖ
Actually I do know Nick. He is so nice he always undercharges me. I get him to repair my tube amps, and I have a pair of single ended 300B amps. Also I might ask Nick to help me with my room, it doesn't sound as good as it should. I might eventually get a pair of AudioNote SETs, the budget model.
I'll visit Jeff tonight after work. And then I'll go visit Brian!
After all this good advice I might just buy smoething cheap for now on Audigon and spend a few years selecting my table system.
Well, thatís one way to do it but think of all the years you would be missing out on that great vinyl sound.
I just sold an Audio Note M2B preamp that was a very sweet sounding piece!
Good luck on your table search.
The Scout is said to be an upgrade over the HW19. How is the sound different on the HW19? Is it easier to listen to, warmer?
I got a chance to look at them all at Jeff's store, but I only got a good listening to VPI's top of the line table.
it's an excellent combination. The skating "issue" with the VPI your dealer is claiming is total bulls#!t though - as others have already pointed out.
I suspect that you are talking with Brian at The Analog Room.
If not, go see him. Brian knows more about vinyl, turntables, phono preamps and cartridges, than the rest of us put together. IMHO anyway. (That being said, he definitely has his preferences, which you may, or may not, agree with. Brian knows this and while he will, of course, attempt to steer you towards his preferences, he will not insist upon it.)
If you have the money, buy from Brian, as he knows what he is talking about. (Especially if he has a demo piece! I did not have that chance.) However, if you are cash strapped, like myself, here is some advice, which I used myself.
1. Buy a used turntable and arm. (As Brian is not a VPI fan, I suggest something besides that, but he would probably help you even if you bought that.) If you can, buy locally as you won't have to deal with the hassles of shipping and possible shipping damage.
This will save you a ton of money.
(I also recommend buying the phono preamp and RCM used as well.)
2. This will now leave you with a lot of extra cash.
(Probably $500-$1,000) Double that if you bought the phono preamp and RCM used too.
Use that extra cash to buy a better cartridge, from Brian.
He will guide you to a cartridge that works well with your particular TT and arm. Buy the best that you can afford.
He will mount the new cartridge on your used table and arm for free.
(I assume for free, as that is what he did for me.)
3. Get a MC cartridge rather than a MM cartridge. It is my opinion, and quite probably Brian's (and most vinyl lovers I suspect), that MC cartridges are better than MM cartridges. You will have saved enough money by buying used equipment to afford a pretty good MC cartridge.
I recommend either a Shelter 501 or if you have the cash, one of the better Shelters like the 901 or 90X. (I use the Shelter 90X myself.) However, to be honest I prefer the Koetsu line (which as you are, or will be, aware, Brian loves.) I plan on upgrading to the Rosewood Signature Platinum at some point, but that is for the future, a I am broke at the moment. (I started out with the Benz Micro Glider 2 (a decent cartridge, but a bit too analytical for my tastes), and then upgraded to the Koetsu Black. I was then hooked to the Koetsu sound. I then got a Koetsu Rosewood Signature (RwS) and loved it. I only switched to the Shelter 90X as I got an incredible deal from a guy who was selling his slightly used one. The 90X is very slightly better than the RwS, and about on par with the Koetsu Urushi. The strength of the Shelter line is that it has good to incredible bass response, with decent to good mid-range. The Koetsu line has very good to incredible mid-range, with decent to good bass response. The Koetsu line basically increases the bass response as the cartridges get better. (And yes, the Koetsu line is waayyy overpriced, but still....) Brian, like others, including J. Gordon Holt of Stereophile fame believe that if you get the mid-range right, everything else is just a bonus. Koetsu gets the mid-range right more than any other cartridge I have heard. Brian has convinced me of this as well.)
FYI: I bought a used Basis 1400 and Brian literally took it out of the shipping box, assembled the turntable, installed the tonearm on the table, then installed the cartridge to the tonearm, (including making all the proper adjustments, including VTA, VTF, azimuth, etc..) Well worth paying him the money for the new cartridge IMHO.
Thanks. Since I have decided to go for VPI I can't buy a Rega from Brian. I was about to buy a Ear 834P from Brian tonight, but Jeff, the VPI dealer, told me about a Jolida JD9 phone stage for $450 which he loves and is using with the high end VPI. So now I'm not sure if I should get the JD9 for $450 bucks or Ear 834P for $1k+.
I'm getting a lot of good advice here!
Save some greif. Get the rega and a 501. Also, have Brian get Scott F. to upgrade your 834P now so you don't have to live without it later. Scott can be kind of slow.
I have been using a Rega P3 with a Grado Reference Platinum for about 6 months now. I love it.
If I had bought a VPI I would probably love it.
I can hear the Grado Hum WHEN I change the album IF I turn the volume up AND I listen for it.
In other words I don't hear it. Not sure how it ever got to be a big deal. Unless with older tables/carts it was more of a problem.
If you get the Rega you'll have a little extra cash for some more albums.
I'm running a technics sp-15 with lots of differnt grados - vintage to platnum and have absolutely no problem but lots of delight. don't believe the hype.
Agreed. The infamous Grado hum is over hyped. Years ago I used a Grado on an AR-XA, which is supposed to be a no no according to common wisdom. No hum.
(and the only 'dance' I got was due to the 'boing'boing suspension of the 'table when the kids 'ran' thru the room in front of the stereo, lol.)
And to all who say Grado's are warm- well, yes, compared to some, but if you ever listen to live music- it never sounds cold or dry, does it?
as well as that of many happy Grado/Rega customers. The issue is not with the Rega at all but with the Grado cartridges. All Grado cartridges are unshielded and they can pick-up some hum an many tables. The level of hum is typically extremely low and not a bother for most listeners.
I bought my Scout there a few years ago, they are pretty nice too, and they sell grado, but don't forget the headshell weight.
with the JMW9. First I would really like to know the exact meaning of skating of toenarms. When a tonearm skates; exactly what happens??? I have been using my JMW 9 at 2hrs./day for the last 7 months without one skating problem. Am I just a lucky dude or what??
lots of info and opinions.
These are both great tables with devoted followers. It is also true that many people who have tried have found great frustration trying to pair grados with regas- 'grado wobble'. Many have found Dynavector cartridges sound excellent with regas (more warm and liquid than the crearaudio aurum beta IMHO. I am in the rega camp FWIW... Good luck and have fun.
I own a Rega Planar 3 (older P3) and a VPI Scout. But having described the sound you are after I think the VPI would suit you better. But make no mistake, both are excellent tables.
I mostly use Dynavactor carts on both of these, and sometimes a Benz. Not that you want another choice (!) but the Dynavectors are nice carts and mate well with both the RB300 and JMW9 arms.
I'm thinking about buying this on Audiogon: http://cgi.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cl.pl?anlgtabl&1137379551 AudiogoN VPI Scout with upgraded clamp ($150 upgrade)and Dynavector DV20XH
Then I'll be in for a good price and I can compare with the Rega at my own home.
"In San Jose the local store likes Rega and doesn't like the VPI Scout. He says that the standard tonearm skates. They have a demo Rega P7"
LOL!! If a salesmen is saying that the JMW-9 tonearm "Skates"....he should maybe think about selling tires as he has no clue about TT's! He is just pushing the products the store owner chose to sell!!
"He says that the Rega tonearms aren't shielded and can't take the Grado". Again...LOL!! This guy is talking out of his @#$! I am sure he is a nice gentlemen but steer clear of this store. You are getting bogus info.
Grado's can be somewhat difficult to match to some tonearms but I think he might be refering to the famed "Grado Hum". IIRC, Grado's will start to pick up EMI radiation from the motor when mounted on a Rega deck due to the cartridge coming into close proximity of the motor when tracking the inner grooves. Someone else might be able to shed some more light on this subject.
The most important thing to be aware of is matching the cartridges suspension with the mass of the tonearm. You want the arm/cartridge's vertical and lateral resonances to fall between 8-15 hz.
Go online and checkout www.amusicdirect.com or Jerry Raskin's "Needle doctor". There is also www.acousticsounds.com to check out a very good selection of what is currently available and the customer service is excellent as well.
The Rega P7 TT with a Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood cartridge just might be your ticket to the sound you desire.
The market is very rich with TT's and cartridges and the choices/combo's are virtually endless.
Best of luck in your search,
Thanks for the advice on the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood cartridge. The large number of choices is one of the problems!
The dealer did say the VPI skated, but with the hum of the Rega and Grado I'm not sure he said it was the tonearm.
If someone likes warm full liquid vocals how does the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood compare to the Grado?
Yup, I've been looking over the Web for a while, just getting some confirmation about my selections.
I have had some unsatisfactory experiences here with the CA cartridges. The Benz are certainly a good choice and the Ace seems to be a favorite on Rega tables as well as others such as the Scout. I find the Grado Platinum and the DV 20xH to both have very nice, warm sound and still excellent hf extension. The Scout will be more warm and tonally dead than the Rega which will be more tight and lively. Either cartridge set on the P5 or P7 would be a good, neutral match where they can be overly soft or warm on the Scout. Some people like uberwarmth, so I guess that is as much a matter of taste as anything. The 20xH is the most neutral with the Platinum being the most warm, so perhaps the Grado/Rega or DV/VPI would be the more neutral of the warmer choices. I really like the DVs on the Regas here and use that combination at home. My cartridge is a little more lean sounding than the 20x but still has excellent bass and it makes for a very clear and neutral sound that allows you to hear deeper into the recording. If you have a more forward or bright sounding system, the warmer approach will make the system sound more neutral although it is sort of a band-aid. I think that you will find any analog system to be warmer than the digital gear. Another important factor is the phonostage as that will also effect the sound to a large extent.
Perhaps that you can see that my approach is to try and keep the system tonally neutral when possible as that allows each recording to show its own merit without really going to one extreme or the other. You can't control the recordings sound, so by keeping the system towards center tonally, you average out the tone of each recording without having to mess with EQs. Not a perfect plan, but it beats other distortions and strange countermeasures to combat each component weakness. It also allows you to swap components rather freely without too much concern. You can always build a nice sounding system from sonically colored components and balance the sound of each to make the final outcome neutral, but that can be a steep learning curve (not to mention the bank account curve). As it makes component changes difficult, you need to like what you end up with and expect to either keep it a good while or pay a premium to get it right again as you sift through gear that "fits".
i think i know the dealer of which you speak, and he definitely loves Rega - but i think it is a true love, not just a 'this is what i happen to stock.'
I think that the dealer is a nice guy. Perhaps I heard it wrong about the Grado and the Rega tonearm, he mostly likely just said the Grado and Rega don't work because of hum.
I'm thinking about just buying a used VPI if I can't find a dealer. Their Web site says they are bad at answering e-mail. I might call them soon.
He is taking the fact that the standard VPI set up comes without an antiskating device to say that it "skates". It doesn't skate. VPI feels that the antiskating device is not necessary in their turntables, but they do offer an optional one for those that want it.
I agree with the others. The VPI Scout is a very nice turntable and has the advantage of being upgradable, with parts from VPI, to their upper level turntables.
It sounds like the dealer wants to sell you what he has. There is nothing wrong with that, but "The standard arm skates"? Give me a break. It is obvious that there are a large number of satisfied Scout owners out there who don't seem to have the problem he describes. In my opinion, you are getting a typical (unfortunately) sales pitch. I think he might have said that the VPI is a nice table, but we like Regas better etc. and what he could do for you. The Rega is a good table. I like the Scout. You decide.
...not what everyone else likes or your dealer....but what do you like ?
If you spending that kind of cash i'd say an audition is absoluty crital.
The Grados do have hum problems in certain circumstances but it's due to the cartridge it's self not being shielded not the arm or player. I personally have only found Grado hum a problem with AC motors....
Have a listen to a direct drive deck if you can, just as an experiment.
The dealer will let me borrow Regas to take home, as soon as I get my phono stage. I'm getting the version with the transformer.
My former roommate had a nice direct drive, so I might still be able to remember the sound.
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