10 Levels of Turntable Mastery

Maybe this will be an intersting thread. Maybe it will be quickly forgotten. Either way, I'd throw it out there for discussion and debate.

Could we, as a collective, define 10 Levels of Turntable Mastery? 1 being a complete novice, 10 being the master turntable guru. Perhaps we even start at 0.

TML 0 - Digital Only
TML 1 - If you own and use a turntable, you qualify for TML 1.
TML 2 - ?
TML 3 - ?

I figured I'd fall into the 4 to 5 range. I understand the geometry enough to create my own protractors. I can use these protractors to set up tables with variable P-to-S distances. I can arrive at an acceptable starting point for anti-skate. I can set an initial VTA and VTF, but I'm not attune to the minor changes in these values (given my cartridge and associated equipment). I have no idea how to use an oscilloscope to validate and verify an accurate setup.

This isn't about who can buy the most expensive toys. A Walker owner may be a TML 1 while there may be Technics SL-1200 owners that may come in at a TML 8 or 9.

I think this would interesting to define these levels not only to benchmark where one is at as a Turntable Master, but what are the next things to master along the analog journey.

Who want's to take a crack at it? If this thread goes anywhere, I'll periodically summarize the posts into the current TMLs to help foster discussion and debate.
Does a foot broke by a 90 pound platter count for anything, or is that just entry into the Darwin Awards?


before enlightenment, clean records, adjust VTA; after enlightenment, clean records, adjust VTA.
TML 10: master: built their own turntable and arm and it kicks ass on everything commercially available. This is not by the individual's claim; the knowledge of this is gained only by word of mouth. Anyone who says he is, isn't; turn around and run as hard as you can.

That's classic right there. And so true.
OK, lets see if I can pick up where Atmasphere left off:

TML7: May not be able to fully set up a Linn, or address the vageries of voltmeter based diagnostics on azimuth adjustments, but certainly has real-world experience with multiple tables/arms/cartridges and can set them up to perfection using manual tools. Probably a dealer.

TML6: Less extensive experience than a TML7, but can still adjust a TT to perform flawlessly. Someone who still fusses with VTA adjustments for each album, due to its minutely varying thickness from the previous one. A believer and owner of high end (and probably priced) products.

TML5: Someone with limited experience (3-5 tables), but has tracked down and solved resonance, isolation and adjustment issues successfully. Has gone through multiple cartridges and appreciates MC's and better phono stages. This is probably the go-to resource for the local audio club

TML4: Can adjust their own table and maybe 1 or 2 more to peak performance. Can discuss setup options with some knowledge. Understands all the terms and has heard differences when tweaking them. Has spent too much money on this hobby but thinks he has it "almost there" right now (wrong). Posts stupid messages on threads like these.

TML3: Appreciates MC's over MM's and can basically set it up to sound good. Not truly into the tweakfest that this could become, but willing to try a few things. Appreciates good sound and music and is still shooting for the best they can afford. Not sure if upgrading the phono stage will buy him anything better in terms of sound. Cleans their records. Curious about a speed controller and these new/old - fangled direct drive thingies.

TML2: Owns one of the set it and forget it tables. Likes to look at the high priced jewelry, but not sure why anyone would pay that much for a small improvement. Still into MM's. Thinking of buying a record cleaning product.

TML1: Still owns their 1970's Dual table, with original cartridge, which sounds just fine. Owns an AQ brush.

Looking for additional edits and additions to these - so chime in.

Bob (BTW - I'm at TML4 if you haven't figured it out by reading the above)