Just got back in the vinyl community

It has been years since my last vinyl memory. Glad technology has been improved and cost of good quality components are more affordable nowadays. Just gone through the websites and YouTube channels, I have finally assembled my vinyl system at my budget. Got everything online and received them at my doorstep. Put everything together after work and get everything going on my day off. After extensive research and price checking, I have settled on the following components:

1. Speakers: a pair of 12th generation Uni-Q driver array KEF R3 speakers in my favorite glossy white finish.

2. Amplifier: Audiolab 6000A integrated amplifier in black finish (I can only budget it for integrated amplifier).

3. Source: Rega Planar 2 turntable In glossy white finish to match my speakers. However, I did upgrade the standard Carbon MM cartridge to the in house Exact MK2 MM cartridge to max out the potential along with Pro Ject Tube Box S2 phono stage (still in back order ETA in July).

So far playing everything on Audiolab built in phono stage with good results. Expecting improvement over Tube phono stage in July arrival. 

Any recommendations on the next upgrade? I can plan ahead on my budget. Thanks. 


Welcome back. I did the same about 5 years ago after leaving vinyl for over 35 years. 

You have a nice basic system as a starting point. I would simply relax and enjoy it. Carefully listen and find the weak areas over time you want to improve.

Buy records.

Soon enough, let your ears tell you what you want to improve upon.

But, if it does stick, be aware, an ever improving vinyl rig can become a deep ‘rabbit  hole’. In 5 years I have spent much more to improve my system than I ever imagined I would, and it’s been all worth it. It didn’t take me long after dragging my old turntable out of the basement 5 years ago that I knew it was, indeed, magical vs digital I had become accustomed to for so long. And now, much more so. But it takes another level of cash.

Well I love what you’ve done with the system! However, I feel strongly that your not going to get the full potential out of the Exact cartridge upgrade using the awful bearing (steel) and brass thrust plate (end of spindle on sub platter) of the P2. There is however a wonderful and "Must have" upgrade,. This will change the bearing to a Cubic Zerconia bearing and a Sapphire thrustplate at the end of a polished steel shaft. REGA dosent make great tables, they make fantastic tonearms, so doing these simple do it your self upgrades will really make the table a lot more quiet,stable and reliable. The sound will improve by being more authoritative, dynamic, detailed, lively!


This will take that P2 to super heights and would be hard pressed to find better sound for less than $2,000!




You can change the platter too, Highly recommended.



Please Please do your self a favor and dont buy new records of old music or new records of new music because no one presses records from original master tapes they use a digital master which sux! and then they dont know how to press a record so you get horrible sound just horrible. Find OLD USED records from Atique malls and friends family or record conventions or estate sales ...anywhere but Barnes and Nobles or Walmart or Target...OMG! Find used record stores!

I understand. Thanks for your tips. Like Bekeske said, I will look into the current system and records that I enjoy to determine the direction of upgrades. Thanks for mattmiller comments on the Rega and new remastered recordings for vinyl. I do look around for vintage records too. 

As a Pre-Planner for anything you may choose to bring into the system at a later date.

I suggest that you spend some time learning what might be a good structure to mount your TT on.

There are endless options at varied costs. My experience is that very attractive results are able to be created at not too much monies, using Items that can sell on quite easy, if investigations are showing up support devices that are being superseded.

Getting the Support Structure to a place where it is undoubtedly perceived as being Optimised, can have a impact that will create the impression a New TT>TA is in use, when recollected for the sonic produced on a previous method of support. 

Such an Optimised Structure should prove its value to any future endeavours.

Congrats. I agree that vinyl can be rewarding, but it tends to bring out the OCD in some.  I think you were wise to go with a Rega table/cart combo because you can relax in knowing that it’s set up to Rega spec and you don’t have to fiddle with alignment, vta and all that stuff. I would wait a few months and if you still enjoy records, I would invest in a record cleaning machine. You don’t need anything fancy right now. I think Record Doctor makes one for about $200 that looks good. After a year or so, if you’re itchy, I would consider moving up 2 notches in the Rega line. Your dealer might even take yours back in trade. Keep the box. Have fun. 

I can only imagine how frustrating and discouraging it is for the label owners who invest a lot of time in tracking down original analogue master tapes to then see over and over again the false narrative that "no one presses records from original master tapes they use a digital master." And to then to hear "they don’t know how to press a record so you get horrible sound just horrible."

Those kinds of statements come from people who think in terms of the LP’s sold at "Barnes and Nobles or Walmart or Target" (that's like going to McDonalds in search of good food). They are apparently completely unaware of record labels such as Analogue Productions, Speakers Corner, Intervention Records, Vinyl Me Please (VMP), Acony, Light In The Attic, New West, Jackpot Records, Blue Note Records, Impex Records, Craft Recordings, Sundazed Records, Third Man Records, and numerous others.

They are also seemingly unaware of record pressing plants such as Quality Record Pressing (QRP)---they are doing the Hendrix and Steely Dan reissues, Pallas (in Germany), and Record Technology Inc. (RTI). VMP is right now building a new LP pressing plant.

Just as you have to know where to look to find superior hi-fi gear, you have to know where to look to find the good new LP’s, whether reissues of older albums or all analogue pressings of new releases. There is so much being released it is impossible to keep up with! I’m still out there searching for original pressings from the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, while also watching closely for the superior reissues of old albums. Some reissues actually sound better than originals, some don’t. If you don’t think the Analogue Productions reissue of The Beach Boys Surfer Girl album sounds better than the original Capitol Records pressing, you need a better hi-fi!

Welcome back to spinning LPs. I think @bkeske ’s suggestion to build your collection is a good one as is @bdp24 ’s observation that all LPs are not created equal. In my experience, the more different records you play, the more you hear the strengths and weaknesses of the system.

Also, one of the critical areas that costs very little is placement in the room to take advantage of your room’s acoustics. I’d start simply by buying Jim Smith’s book, which is very down to earth, doesn’t involve taking fancy measurements and covers the basics. A lot of people get caught on the hamster wheel of upgrades in search of some elusive (and often ill-defined) goal of "better" sound without: a) maximizing the potential of what they own simply by improvements in set up and positioning and b) not knowing what a good system is capable of. The latter is something that is probably best accomplished by going to other audiophile’s homes (normally, people are generous in inviting listeners). Dealers can be good, bad or indifferent-- kind of hard to say, depending on where you are and how much you are willing to travel. Obviously, there’s nothing like in system trial but leave that to the side for the moment- you need to spend more time listening to what a great vinyl set up is capable of, all other things being equal (which they never are).

There is a compulsion to upgrade in this pursuit that is very hard to resist- who doesn’t like nice shiny objects- but resist! Make your changes after you get more seat time, after you have optimized what you have and after you have a better idea of what your system is lacking or where it needs to be improved.

Good luck and remember, this is supposed to "fun" and entertaining, enjoyable and a refuge from the rough and tumble of the outside world, not a race to get to the top of the mountain. Because all you will see is another, higher peak! :)

Every record, on vinyl or not, has different levels of quality in recording / mixing / mastering. So to expect the same quality sound wise in any medium all the time is a fallacy.

nice setup. that tube box s2 is real nice, and that exact is a good cart.

for recommendation, i cant say whats best for you, but u could do what i did.

imagine ur endgame cartridge(s). hunt for a table thatll run it/them real nice. for me, it was hana ML, thats as far as id go, so i got a p3.

i should have gotten the p6, buuuuut...it was just too much money at the time. buuuuut also, i dont need a foam plinth anyways. im okay with the MDF. of i need to increase performance and SQ there are so, so  many ways. 

the rest of my system is totally different, but i did audition that tube box s2, and man it was nice. it was the only one of three i was auditioning at the time (ifi zen, s2, rega fono) that was a noticeable improvement over the onboard phono in my marantz 2325/2275 (i forget which one). had friends and family over, and they all heard an improvement. so nice job on the s2. rumble filter is nice.

why is that s2 on backorder? you can get it in 1-2 days from amazon same price as 2 years ago.



Hi SFVolvo. I am in a position to offer you an excellent recommendation, given your limitation on budget.

This little phono stage is crazy good for the money, especially used. It won’t have the same insight vis a vis texture, inner detail, scale, staging and overall refinement of a great tube phono stage. However this little box is so enjoyable, and offers tremendous dynamics and excitement for the money. The Lehmann Black Cube SE made in Germany; . Buy used - a real bargain for around $400.




In response to cey question on back order, I was looking for the black finish to match the Audiolab amp. I could have gotten the silver one right the way if I have to get one quick. As 4afsanakhan suggestion, I understand Lehmann Audio Black Cube SE Phono Stage is a award-wining pre-amp. I prefer the tube phono pre-amp at that price range. Thanks again for your inputs

@sfvolvo As you have investigated a German Produced Phon' and have also made a reference to Valve being a preference.

I do not usually recommend, but due to having hands on experiences, will put forward a Phon' that might just tick 'all' (if not, many) of your Tick Boxes.

The Mr Nixie DIGNA is a Design that far surpasses its asking price as a performer.

As an individual, I really like it, and it took a purchase of a Phon' that was to retail at £5K to relegate it to my second Phon', the DIGNA is still used for about 30% of my vinyl usage, as it is still very well liked.

I have never heard Phon's in use, that have had a friends own design Head Amp used to create MC Input surpass the DIGNA set up to perform the same role.

When the Head Amp Design is attached to the DIGNA MM Input, the presentation goes of the scale.

Within my local HiFi Group, where up to Nine Members can be at a arranged meeting, for numerous months of a extended loan period, the DIGNA was the Phon' of choice and the reference Phon', used for all comparisons.

The Group did have the DIGNA , as a model which had undergone a slight modification to enable the usage of Vintage E88CC Tubes. The Phon' held it own in comparisons against Commercial Products being assessed and DIY Builds from Group Members or Loaned In for Demo' Models.

The Group are every so often intimating there should be another session dedicated to the DIGNA.

It is solely as a result of the above experiences, that I make the suggestion to investigate the said Model.

A search over time, which I have Carried out,  will show the Model I own is  periodically appear as used items, with a asking price of approx' euro 500.  

To me, the quality of the pressing and the condition of the vinyl is the most important thing for enjoying the music on them.  New records are a mixed bag.  On some, you can hear for yourself that they sound like a CD.  And old records that have not been cared for are hardly my cuppa.

Getting back into vinyl has been hugely rewarding for me and I hope you will agree. It is work, and brings some frustration along with it, but sound-wise, it really is as good as it gets when it's right. There is also something to be said for the physical aspect of the medium (cover art, good sleeves, liner notes, etc.), as well as the beauty of a fine cartridge. Enjoy!!