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new turntable - back into vinyl - help!

Posted on March 4, 1999 at 18:48:35

I just picked up my BRAND NEW entry-level turntable. It's a Sumiko Project 1.2 with an MM cartridge called the Oyster. It came with the turntable so why not? Anyway, having been away from turntables for quite a number of years, I'm dumb as a post as to what's happening with them. My first question for you vinyl pros is about moving magnet vs moving coil - what's best? Or, to avoid the possiblity of starting a series of small fires , what is the general consensus regarding the two? And second, how much should I expect to be paying for one or the other? Thanks for any advice.

To SFDude - I hit the local Salvation Army thrift store today looking for anything vinyl and playable - came up with some interesting stuff too including an absolutely pristine copy of Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" and a barely opened Bruce springsteen "Born In The USA" - plus a whole Arthur Fiedler collection. 27 albums total for 25 bucks - COOL!!


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Re: new turntable - back into vinyl - help!, posted on March 4, 1999 at 21:00:16

Since your into entry-level, I would stick with entry level mm. carts. at this time. "Oyster" as I recall, is very entry level, so that's the first thing you can upgrade, say Rega Ellis, the Grado's, Shure v-15, and my Favorite- the Clearaudio Aurum beta -S, all mm. Then when you really get serious, you can spend big bucks on mc's.
If you buy used LP's from The Salvation Army (I've bought very fine records from Goodwill for around $.95 apiece) your going to need a good record cleaning machine like VPI or Nitty-Gritty.


Re: new turntable - back into vinyl - help!, posted on March 4, 1999 at 23:49:21

Since you said your as dumb as a post I'll ask a pretty obvious question - you did make sure your reciever or preamp has a phono stage? Because there is no RIAA equaliztion through a high level input (like aux, tape, or cd) an LP will not sound nearly right - too much high end and not enough bass.

Now to answer your MM vs MC question: the more you spend the more likely you'll be getting a MC. After about $500 pretty much all cartridges are MC either high or low output (a few exceptions to the rule). If the low output version you need a stage of additional preamplification to get the signal output up to where noise won't be a problem. Stylus replacement is done by the factory and is often expensive. Under $100 all cartidges are MM - high output with user replaceable styli (sp?). Between $100 and $500 is no mans land, with very very good models of both MC and MM. As with any other piece of gear the trick is to get a cartridge that enhances system synergy.

Another interesting place to look for used LPs is antique shops - like all venues - its hit and miss. Good Luck.


Re: new turntable - back into vinyl - help!, posted on March 5, 1999 at 01:23:49

Thanks for the response - maybe I'm a bit smarter than a post (you'd have to ask my ex-wife for a definitive answer!) Yes, my pre-amp (B&K Pro10 MC) is capable of handling both MM and MC cartridges. I was assuming there have been major changes in cartridge technology since the last time I listened to a turntable (about 10 years ago) and I thought I should just "plain-jane" the question. So is there a general consensus about cartridges? I know that ultimately it'll be a listening test which my own ears - good or bad - will be the final judge so I really don't expect an exact answer but I was curious about what the majority thinks.

Thanks again for your time


Re: new turntable - back into vinyl - help!, posted on March 5, 1999 at 01:41:24

Thanks J.P. - appreciate the response. I'll take yours and Oakroots suggestion and check out the MM side first. A few of my vinyl-phile buds have suggested the Grado but I'll look at the ClearAudio as well. And thanks for the cleaning info - that was my next question. The last thing I recall about cleaning was the Discwasher?? Maybe i'm thinking of DustBuster! But yes, you're right about buying second hand LP's - they need a good cleaning.

My initial reaction to hearing the turntable today was subdued but very positive. One thing that struck me was a more integrated sound - maybe that's what audiophiles call more natural??? I'm not convinced that I'll ever hear something so natural that I'll think I'm actually there, but in my digital world, (I'm a computer programmer), "integrated" has a very special meaning to me that I would not be able to use in describing CD sound. I think this is going to be a satisfying exploration of sound! thanks again.


Re: new turntable - back into vinyl - help!, posted on March 5, 1999 at 04:59:15
Jeff B

Moving coils are much harder to make well than moving magnets. The advantage to moving coils is that they are much quicker than moving magnets therefore transient response will be much quicker. The problem with inexpensive moving coils is that their frequency response, coherency from top to bottom can be really uneven. Some feel that the least expensive really good sounding moving coil is the Benz Glider. Coherency is what moving magnets do extremely well. So for relative entry level cartridges, moving magnet is the way to go. Overall balance is much more important than transient response. Clearaudios first moving magnet is getting good reviews. Grados cartridges are very good. Finally, Goldrings are really good too.


I agree, posted on March 5, 1999 at 05:11:54
Jack G

The Oyster isn't very good. One of the less expensive Grados would be a good choice. A record cleaner should be a must, if you buy alot of used LPs(even if not). At the risk of sounding like a broken record(sorry), since I own the pro-ject's clone, I STRONGLY recomend getting a ringmat-the improvement will be as good as a cartridge upgrade.


Re: new turntable - back into vinyl - help!, posted on March 5, 1999 at 05:55:36

Thanks JeffB! I'll probably go with a Grado. I've been listening to lp's now for about 8 hours straight and I'm absolutely floored by what I'm hearing! Even with the relatively low-tech setup for this turntable, it's kicking every notion of what I've accepted as "music" right out the cdp's drawer. Where have I been all my life? Thanks again.


If you think LPs are cool now....., posted on March 5, 1999 at 06:03:52
Jeff B

What you'll get with better tonearms, tables, and cartridges is the ability to go deeper into the groove and extract more information. It is also quieter deep in the grooves. With the exception of the very occasional tick or pop, it can be as quiet as a CD and the harmonic texture can be extraordinary.


Re: I agree, posted on March 5, 1999 at 06:04:51

Forgive me Jack, but what is a ringmat? I'll be looking at cleaning devices today - even from my pre-cd days, I was an avid record cleaner! Thanks.


Re: If you think LPs are cool now....., posted on March 5, 1999 at 06:07:06

I can't wait!


Re: I agree, posted on March 5, 1999 at 06:33:07
Jack G

A ringmat is a cheesy looking mat that replaces the felt(or rubber) mat on the platter. Its basically stiff paper, with small rings made of cork on it.It helps absorb vibrations and resonances, and works very well. Its $80 but its worth it, I could listen to my TT without it now.
As far as record cleaners goes, you'll need a good vacume machine. VPI and Nitty Gritty make good ones-I like the VPI 16.5. If you cannot afford that, even the manual (nitty gritty)version relabeled for Audio advisor, is better than not having one.


Re: new turntable - back into vinyl - help!, posted on March 5, 1999 at 11:07:29

The Salvation Army's inventory is sparse most of the times I hit it (2 of them in my area). But it's great you found a mint copy of Rumours (which happens to be one of my first thrift vinyl purchases!). It's a great album.

I find the best places are the old antique shops (we have a bunch of them on Valencia St. in SF, CA). They usually have a great selection because people rarely walk into these places to shop for vinyl. Most of the collections they have are classical and old 50's and 60's vinyl, which is where most of my interests are with regards to vinyl (they don't put much of the new artists I listen to on LP any more these days). But you can dig around for some GREAT 70's and 80's stuff, mostly 80's prevalent in the collections.

Damn that no one has any Jethro Tull stuff out there except "Aqualung" which I can find in spades!


Catridges for the Project 1.2..., posted on March 5, 1999 at 11:12:50

There seems to be a "small" consensus that the Grado Prestige Red ($80 at Audio Advisor, cheaper than the $110 at Needle Doctor) is the low-cost, most-bang-for-the-buck cart to go with on this table.

I have yet to make this transition for fear of me screwing up installation at one point or another. I may take it in to The Analog Shop in San Jose for a retrofitting of a Grado Prestige or Ref Platinum as I've heard only good things about these cartridges on the Pro-ject 1.2 and 6.9's. I know the Ref Platinum is going to be equivalent to the cost of the table itself but I think if you add the Ringmat, some good isolation beneath it (I'm about to construct an inner tube/MDF isolation base for it shortly) and a decent cartridge, this should give you enjoyment of the TT for years to come, especially if you just enjoy the music that comes from shopping the thrift stores.

I need to hover around street corners from now on as there's stuff to be found. I listened to a Polka LP that was in the stash I found the other night and it was hilarious but quite enjoyable too!!!! My fiancee kept giving me strange looks as I started doing a jig or two...
But I haven't a clue as to what to do when it comes to POLKA! HA!


Thanks for the input, posted on March 5, 1999 at 20:32:44

Thanks for everyone's help. After talking to the dealer who sold me the turntable (Jim, owner of Northwest Audio Labs, Corvallis, Oregon - a quick plug for a wonderfully helpful individual who also sells high end tube systems, Paradigm speakers and wants to tweak my Pro10MC pre-amp...) I'll be bringing the turntable in tomorrow for a Grado retro-fit. He's even going to set up an A/B test for me so I can listen to the three different Grado models he has in stock - I thought that was darn neighborly! Anyway, I'm absolutely exhausted after an all-night session with my new-found vinyl wonderland and a day out on the Siletz River wrestling monster steelhead, but I wanted to express my gratitude to you all for taking the time to explain some dumb questions and making my introduction back into vinyl a truly memorable one. I'm looking forward to exploring the new musical possibilities that have opened up. Thanks again



The advise will only cost you a couple Steelhead.:-) (nt), posted on March 8, 1999 at 06:14:46
Jack G



Re: Thanks for the input, posted on March 10, 1999 at 09:17:49


I would be interested to here your thoughts on the different grado models. I just picked up my first turntable from a shop here in Eugene. It came with a grado Z2+ that sounds very good but is quite worn. I was leaning toward the Prestige Red but wondered how much of a difference existed in the models right near it. Please post your findings after your listening test.

ps. I have been to that shop in Corvallis and concure that their friendlyness and patience were outstanding.



Re: Thanks for the input, posted on March 10, 1999 at 19:10:45

Unfortunately, I didn't have the time for the test - work and duty called at the last minute. I went ahead with the Grado Red, based on everyone's recommendations. Jim and Connie both also suggested that I not go with the more expensive model. They felt that the improvements, given the quality of the turntable, were probably not worth the extra expense. (how's that for a "hard-sell" approach! they're terrific). If you're interested in coming to Corvallis, I would be willing to bring my turntable in if Jim would be willing to do the test for us. I'd be happy to ask him about it.

As far as a personal listening test goes, I can tell you that the upgrade from the Oyster cartridge was well worth it.


Re: Thanks for the input, posted on March 11, 1999 at 10:12:12

Thanks for the invite, but I will probably go with the Prestige Red as well. I would however, be interested to know of a good vinyl shop in you area if you have one. Eugene is pretty dry. The guy that owns the biggest shop bought himself a vpi cleaner and now adds (from what I can tell) $2-4 to each disc cause their clean.

Thanks for your reply, enjoy your table.



Re: Thanks for the input, posted on March 12, 1999 at 06:47:32

I don't know of any vinyl shops in the area (I wish I did!) there's a local used CD and vinyl spot (Happy Trails in Corvallis) but they don't deal with any new stuff. I just bought two NEW LP's from - Sonny Boy Williamson's "Keep It To Ourselves" (Analogue Productions) and Jewel's "Spirit" (Atlantic). I wanted to see both the quality of a new release and the quality of a good re-issue. The re-issue of Sonny Boy's was very good except for a pronounced hiss with words starting with "S" - this bordered on static it was so pronounced. I also have the CD version and the same hiss is conspicuously absent. The coarsness of the hissing makes me believe it's definitely in the recording and not a speaker failing to perform. The Jewel release (2 lp's) was pretty nice, but the two lp's were both slightly warped and were very quiet - in passive mode, it takes a LOT of volume knob to bring it to a listening level that I like. The overall reaction to new vinyl was inspirational to say the least. Turntables are definitely cool!

On a different note, did you notice the sunshine yesterday?


Re: Thanks for the input, posted on March 13, 1999 at 17:41:52

hey Allan,

Yeah, when it gets to be 55 degrees for the first time it always feel like summer. People are parading around in tanktosp and shorts...

On the new vinyl front, I went to the store and bought the new Phish album. I was also talking to my friend who set up my turntable about new records. He says that the factory puts something on the record called mold-prevent (or something to that effect). He says that it can create that hissing s-sound and that it will diminish after a few listens. His advice was to clean a new disc before listening to it the first time. I then took this advice to the local record shop with the cleaning machine. The owner of the shop says he has never hear of this factory coating, but that in the first few plays your needle will actually be cleaning out the grooves of loose vinyl that is laying around. He says that if you were going to record a new album onto tape or something, that you would want to play it through once to get rid of that extra vinyl in the grooves.

I would be curious to hear if these sounds you experienced diminished after a few listens. My Phish album seems to have quieted down over the first 3 plays. If anyone has any info about the mold-prevent, or washing new disks before playing, chime-in.

Today seems as dark and wet as always.. Good day to listen to some vinyl!



Yessssss it gets better!, posted on March 14, 1999 at 10:43:16

Aaron - The exact thing did occur. The third time thru, it was back in the range I call 'normal'. The sound I was hearing was beyond the 'normal' hiss associated with a strong emphasisIon "S" words - it was more like static. I do know for a fact that the pressing process does include a "mold-release" agent that is applied to the mold before the actual pressing occurs. If this release agent were not used, lp's would look like taffy. Whatever the reason, the static sound is gone. (Sigh of relief). What store did you go to?


Re: Yessssss it gets better!, posted on March 14, 1999 at 13:46:04

AHHh. I get it "mold-release". I thought they meant the kind of mold we get here in the temperate rain forest. ha. I have a lot to learn.

I went to The Record Garden Annex on willamette street here in Eugene. They have a large selection of pop and Rock from the 70's but they have no real Classical or quality Jazz albums.



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