Chime in if you bought a second table that cost a fraction of your main table.

Let’s say this will be for those who have or had a main turntable setup in which the table and tonearm retail for $7K or more. You then went out and purchased a table/arm that retails for half (or less than half) of $7k. If this is your current or past scenario, what were your impressions. Please note: this is for someone who added the second table for the same setup, or a second system...not someone who simply downgraded. The reason for this thread is not to suggest that upgrades do not offer improvements... It’s geared more for the audio enthusiast who scratched and clawed to purchase what may be their last table. I thought it would be interesting to hear the thoughts of people who then added that lower cost table/arm, and their general experience with it coexisting with their higher priced table.


I did this kind of in reverse. I had my AR turntable stored because my Phonostage only had on input. After upgrading my Phonostage, I finally had two sets of inputs. So, at long last I was able to hook up my beloved AR next to my Linn. That probably lasted a day or two as it tried a new cartridge and readjust it before it went back into storage (to be a trade in later). It was a joke. Sounded like a transistor radio in comparison. Not even a whiff of nostalgia there.


Reinforced my strategy of only owning one…and the very best I can afford. I always trade in now to maximize each purchase and minimize stored stuff.

Own 5 turntables...none of them 7k or whatever, most expensive is the Avid ingenium, followed by my music hall mmf-7.3. Went out and bought a Technics mk7 direct drive, just because. I love it so far ...

I’ve had my main table and air bearing arm in place since around 2006-7, various cartridges over the years. With the big Minus K below it, the thing is substantial in weight and size:

Several years ago, I had Bill Thalmann restore an SP-10 (mk I-- not so common, nor as desirable as the later iterations) but I've owned it since 1973, when it was new. He did a Krebs mod and replinthed it. Other than changing the factory mat for something different, it was pretty straightforward to set up and operate:

I still prefer the big Kuzma. But it is a pain to isolate (unless you are on a slab) and if you use the air-bearing arm, you’ve got the complications of an air compressor. The arm works magic with the stone-bodied Koetsus.

That old Technics is pretty bulletproof. I used it from 1973 until the mid-80s, when it got parked until it got restored in 2017. It’s a nice table for the minimal investment I have in it, and plays in an entirely vintage system elsewhere in my house.

I've always marveled at that Kuzma.  It's bling-y, but the bling is for a purpose. And it's true industrial art besides.

I love my Kuzma as well. Very nice. Well, I ask for this reason. My situation goes like this...My main system is nearly a finished product. I have a Kuzma Ref 2 with a Ref 313 arm. I really have no desire to change the table, and the Shindo/Altec system  it plays to is pretty well set. I have a few carts I enjoy, along with 2 nice step up transformers....My Sonic Hyper, EMT Tsd 75, Charisma (denon) 103, a Dave Slagle, and A23 Homage step up. I recently started working on a second system....a Naim XS 3 w/ MM phono and Harbeth C7's. So allow me to get to the skinny of this. I want to finish off this Naim/Harbeth setup with a table arm combo that sells for 1/3 or less than my Ref 2/ Ref 313 setup. I want this for my second system, but I'd like something that will play nicely in my main system if I do get the itch to try it. With this thread, I'm trying to see if people who invested close to 5 figures on a table/arm are able to also enjoy a coexisting table/arm that cost them quite a bit less. 

@fjn04 - for me, the priorities were different. On the main system, I wanted the best sound I could get. What is that? Since everything is dependent on the associated components, room and set-up, I’m happier than ever with the big table running Koetsus, after working on the woofer system, now in a bigger room. I have far more range, stage, oomph and presence-- all good things, plus the bass is characterful--texture, tone, decay, as well as spaciousness and dead silence at times, not just whomp, whomp.

The second system, where I have the SP 10, is also all tube, but uses my Quad 57s, a pair of old Quad amps, and an MCIntosh MX 110z tuner/preamp, all restored. It is not as demanding, the Quads by their nature are not super sensitive and act like a noise filter (the horns in the main system are 104db and you hear everything, including inter-component grounding irregularities, somebody using a fixture elsewhere in the house (not any more) and whatever is on the line. (that system took me a couple years to get quiet. Once quiet, I could begin to tune it)).

In short, the application for the second table is less critical in some ways but makes music just as engaging. No, no heavy metal on the Quad system, but you’d be surprised about small combo jazz.

I do like Franc K though. He’s a real guy and does it all. Well.

My guess is that most of the responses will be something like ‘OK, I guess’. For me, my main system itself is somewhat modest. 2 tables, 3 arms, Groovemaster w/ Miyajima carts. I can listen to 78’s, 16” transcription records, and stereo recordings through the main system. I wanted a 3rd table to sit next to my listening position specifically for 45’s. I have a lot of great 45’s that weren’t getting a lot of play because of the constant getting up and down.  After looking for about a year I decided to try a Pro-Ject X1. I also wanted something that I would be willing to let others touch. I moved a SUT and phono pre next to the table. This table is set up with an alignment (don’t remember the name) to emphasize tracking at the inner grooves - good for 45’s I thought. The problem #1 is that the table can’t make it through test tracks which my other tables can easily get through. Problem #2 is that you need to select the 45 speed at every play. Problem #3 is that the acrylic platter fights you trying to swap 7” records. Problem #4 is that I just don’t like the carbon fiber tonearm - or whatever plastic looking material they call it is. No real good reason, I just don’t like it.

I’ll likely get the itch in a few years and swap it out. The sound - Ok, I guess. The reality is that the convenience it affords does not contribute to enjoyment.  Nobody says to themselves - “Wow, this really sounds like I didn’t have to get up”.  

I also went backwards. I have two separate systems. I have a "surround" system with a Denon AVR, totally separate amps and a conglomeration of speakers. My TT is a Marantz TT-15s1 and Clearaudio Virtuoso cartridge it came with.

My reference system is all tube, Cary SLP-05, Dialogue 7 monoblocks. My TT is VPI Prime Classic with a Sumiko Pearwood cartridge and Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista vinyl phono preamp. Two very different systems but equally impressive. Surround for sheer power and energy. Tube for realism and sound quality.

If I want quiet reflection, I go tube. Rock concert, surround.

Bought a Technics 1210GR with Ortofon blue on an SME headshell (had one spare- they're like hen's teeth now) as I was fed up with the knocking on my Thorens TD160B.

Was initially v happy with 1210 as had always wanted one and they certainly give the impression of good build quality but then fixed the Thorens motor issue with the little thrust bearing and superglue repair kit, put a cheap AT cart on it for a laugh and now it gives me far more pleasure- only downside is the SME 3009 has a fixed headshell and it won't shift to 45 (needs a new belt), otherwise the 1210 is spare until I get a double phono stage

Some very different situations here, but this does give me idea how you (my fellow enthusiasts) are getting on with your backup table. So no offense to the following brands, but they are not in the running...VPI, Rega,Technics and Pro-Ject tables. I'm feeling like spending a little more will get me in to something I can enjoy. Not that there is anything wrong with $1000 tables, but I have been spoiled. Even the Well Tempered Amadeus (base and GTA) tables I had could be very engaging. The only reason I won't go back to Well Tempered is the lack of cue lever/ arm lift. They do have another arm offering called the Symetrex, which does have one, but I think it takes the Amadeus Jr out of my price range. Here is my short list of considerations...Dr Feickert Volare, Thorens TD 150...I was considering AVID, but apparently I would have to go up to a Diva SP in order to have push button 33/45 selection. The Marantz TT15 mentioned above is actually the table I heard when I auditioned (and bought) my Naim XS. It was actually very hard to fault with the Virtuoso cart. It seems to play well above it's price point. The cartridge seems like a throw in. However, my goal here is to end up with a tonearm that will play nicely with the carts I mentioned above...the TSD 75, and Charisma (wood) Denon 103. No harm in trying an MM or MI cart, but I already have these and an SUT to play them in to the Naim phono. 

My answer is a bit of a cheeky one. My main table is an SME Model 10. I replaced the M10 tonearm with an SME V.

Now presumably for many people a second table is a cheaper one, or one using, say, a different drive (belt vs direct vs idler for example). I'm totally happy with the Model 10. So what did I do when I decided I needed  a second? I bought a used Model 10!

One will be home to London Decca cartridges, which will no longer be repairable after November 2022 when John Wright plans to retire. The other will be home to my other cartridges, and used to prolong the time before I wear out both the Deccas.

I just kept my old table, a Townshend Rock mk2, when I bought an Artemis and Schröder Reference. I put a mono version of a Decca Maroon on the Rock and ran it along side. On original mono cuts it mostly beats the main deck but not always.

Got 5 TTs in two systems. Love them all, but the cheapest is my Denon DP80. Only $600 when I bought mine. Sadly they’ve become more expensive since. Among new TTs, I’d go for the least expensive variant of the Technics 1200G series. IMO that will be superior to any currently available belt drive in the sub $2000 price class.

Beware if the slippery slope. The second system can become an obsession that sucks money. Your Quad 57s are the worthy beginnings of something fantastic.

I have a high end turntable (Bergmann), and a mid-line turntable (MT5).  I always thought that I would keep the mid-level table for playing the older LPs from high school and other LPs in rougher shape.  

Problem is, everything, regardless of vintage or amount of drunken college abuse sounds better on my Bergmann.  I was trying to save the cartridge on the Bergmann, but it just sounds too darn good to not use it on every thing I spin.  Granted, I don't really own LPs with a bunch of scratches, pops & ticks.  

Could be just me, but I am always in a quandary trying to decide which table to play which LP.  I'm OK with One less decision in my life.

My biggest issue is wondering when to replace the cartridges.

That's a good point. I'm running in two new carts as potential replacements for the Deccas. I keep track by making hashmarks on a scrap of paper (like the scratchings on the wall of a prison cell, four verticals and a diagonal=5 disks=3.75 hours. One is said to require 20 hours, the other 50. We need a counter on the turntable!

Everybody should have a DD Technics deck with removable headshell as a spare/ backup/basic reference/nice thing to own- bit like the old Golf advert when VW and Mercedes  made decent kit before the bean counters and evil dealerships took over

I had a VPI prime 21 and loved it, Then got an Acoustic Solid 113 Bubinga as a second table ( it looked way better then the vpi) after set up I ended up liking the Acoustic Solid table better ( same cart), at half the price so sold the VPI.  saved money got great sound win win. 

A new Technics DD (like the 1200 G) has often run through my head as a cool option. I like the removable headshell, and ease of changing carts that it allows. I have a spare headshell for my Kuzma 313, and it's so nice to have. It's definitely a safe card financially...already a good buy new, with great resale...Reading in to reviews, I don't think their sonic flavor would be for me, but it's worth an audition to make my own judgment. That last sentence refers to their more affordable tables, not the reference model. 

For my second TT I bought a Platine Verdier, but it was so bad - sounded like a wet blanket compared to my reference TT - I never used it. It ended up a white elephant.

Replaced it with a Garrard 301 ( that I rebuilt and modded ) with FR64S and although it isn't as good as my reference, it slaughtered the Verdier, its good enough for casual listening and playing around.

So if you already have a great deck - I would be weary of adding a second unless you need it - in my case 78's and farting around with different cartridges enables me to leave my reference alone.


Indeed my Kuzma Ref 2 brings a lot of enjoyment, and will not be bettered for the price range I'm shopping in. But that is around $14K retail wth the 313 VTA gimbal, so it wouldn't be a fair fight. My only real experience with DD was an audition of a Brinkmann Spyder and Bardo. The former is belt, and Bardo a Direct Drive. Same arm/cartridge, same time, same system. The Bardo did nothing wrong, but missed emotion...The Spyder was more relaxed, and I recall hearing the decay, and subtle spatial cues that the Bardo glossed over. Lew- as you mention, It is a slippery slope, but there's no turning back now (-: I have the Naim XS with built in phono, and the Harbeths with Trager stands all set up. I like this Naim with the Harbeth quite a bit...I prefer it to the Lux class A, and Croft I had previously. Here are a a few I think will be enjoyable...The Wand 4-14...I think this is a long shot, but it's such an interesting, well thought out table. New model of the Thorens TD 1500...I also think Well Tempered Amadeus tables tables sound great. But I've owned a few, and would not go back unless it had their Symetrex arm with cue lever. I'm retired from lifting tonearms. (-: I think the Dr Feickert Volare could also be a nice option. The ease of adjustability on the Kuzma arm has really spoiled me. That's what I could end up truly missing. 

The ease of adjustability on the Kuzma arm has really spoiled me. 


If you want set and forget the Rega P8/P10 are excellent, and ideal for second deck - their latest MC;s are quite good as well. They are plug and play.

The P10 can embarrass much more expensive decks.

I would prefer these to the DD's mentioned above, which I find grainy and lifeless.