Selecting Analog Gear Based on Music Preference?

I’m just getting into turntables and vinyl after building a fairly high-end digital system over the past few years. One thing I consciously did as I put together this system was “voice” it for synergy with the kind of music I like to listen to, which is fairly well-produced classic rock like Rick Rubin’s work with Tom Petty, Sting and the Police, Tears for Fears, etc. And I also like to listen to pop music like Sam Smith, Maroon 5, and George Michael. So I’ve built this system with a Naim NDX2/ND555PS and tube preamp/Luxman M900u power amp combo with high efficiency Volti horn speakers. 

I picked up a Technics SL-1200Mk2 with an Ortofon 2M Blue just to get things started, and I have a Parasound JC3 Jr which all seem to be a great first step. But before I do any upgrades to the turntable and cartridge I’m wondering if there are better tables and cartridges for different kinds of music and listening? I don’t want to fall in love with some high end table and find out it really only sounds best when listening to renaissance lute music or acoustic guitar singer/songwriters, etc. I’m looking to get groove and resolution similar to what I’ve found with the NDX2/ND555PS combo. 

I’m looking toward the $2.5-5K range, and at the top of the range I find the Dr Fieckert Volare and possibly the SOTA Sapphire very interesting, and I have a soft spot for Technics, so the 1200G is a possibility too. 

Is there a direction I should be heading in if I’m looking for the best rig to reproduce a certain genre of music?

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@jsqt I like your choices of both your current gear and the items you mention aspiring to. But IMHO, the premise behind tuning to your preferred genre is not a long term satisfying path. You might evolve and expand your musical taste. The gear you have and the gear you seek should work well with all genres. Many disagree, that's fine. 

I know many enthusiasts who rely on tonearms with removable headshells and vary cartridges for genres...that's one to do it without radical changes.

Instead, I prefer to go with the best all around performers I can afford and lean towards natural timbre, transparency and good dynamics. If those attributes are right, it works with all genres.

If it helps, I have a Sota Nova and previously a Technics SP10mk2.



@sbank thanks - yes maybe it’s different with analogue. I found the sound of, say the Chord TT2 for example, versus the Naim NDX2 affected the genre of music I preferred listening to. The Chord DAC, being quite detailed and dynamic, I found myself listening to a lot of ECM recordings and acoustic bluegrass, etc. It sounded great but not my cup of tea. The Naim is better suited to my ears for louder, more punchy and rhythmic music. It cost me a whole lot of money to find that out, so I thought I’d ask before I jump on another gear carousel. Sounds like the turntable really doesn’t affect the sound that much.

@tablejockey thanks for the comment, I missed that email in 2021. I’m all set for 2022 though thanks to your head’s up.


Sounds like the turntable really doesn’t affect the sound that much.

I wasn't implying that AT ALL, quite the opposite. Better tables will give you more or what you seek with all genres. 

Understand your DAC examples; my suggestion for digital would be an R2R DAC which would give you more of the relaxed nature of the Naim with more details too, but perhaps in a less forward way...sort of THERE without calling too much attention to themselves. Denafrips, Soekris, AudioGD, plenty of options that most describe along those lines.  Pontus II does the trick for me, FWIW. Cheers,


This may be similar to what you are saying, but here goes. My hearing is changing. Ok, so what I am trying to do to compensate is to use gear that supports the sound that I need to hear. For example, horn loaded speakers may be more forward sounding but they would be my preference now more than before.

  So this may go along the path that you are describing, i.e., what sounds best to you for a given genre of music, equipment wise. It is a valid point. Don't ask Magnapans to play hard rock.  

When a Digital System is put together what ever the price tag, if streaming is used, the access to the music files is unlimited and done 'off the cuff'.

It is not really possible to tell if a music file from one genre is a better than a file from another genre. The most noticeable element will be the quality of the recording.

This passes over to Vinyl as well, and some of your chosen artists, will be from a period when vinyl was very high quality and others from the Digital Breakthrough era, when the Vinyl LP spiralled down rapidly to a very low quality.

New mainstream Vinyl LP releases today are with the same fate, I have returned new purchases more than once to get a acceptable copy, but inferior to owned 40 Year OId LP's

My advice would be to buy some pristine albums from enjoyed artists with pressed LP's from the 70's, or a re-release pressing from a reputable pressing company. Use these on your present set up to get the feel for the presentation compared to your digital, even A/B compare the formats.

This will give a better grounding on where the deficiencies are being detected from the source.          

I think there is better choices. Given the kind of music you listen to I would recommend a heavy unsprung turntable like a VPI. To me, the sound of a high quality massive unsprung table more effectively communicates the solidity of rock, pop and other bass heavy stuff.

While I now own a contemporary Linn LP12 which I really like… the analogy made to me between the two were VPI unsprung are like muscle cars and great quality sprung tables like the Linn are the Porche’s… agile and a bit more ethereal. I added a SRA platform to my Linn which gained back the missing solidity while keeping the liveliness of the Linn. While I can’t recommend either table too much… the VPI…. Or Walker… etc, sounds like your cup of tea.

The best equipment will play all genres. If I were to pick equipment that would be most likely genre specific it would be loudspeakers not turntables. Having said this there are definitely cartridges that are more dynamic than others and rock and rollers seem to be more sensitive to this than others. Until you get into very expensive MC systems high output cartridge systems tend to be more to much more dynamic. 

@ghdprentice , interesting analogy. I would say VPI turntables are like American Motors cars. the Linn like a 356 Porsche, the Sota a 911 and the Basis a Ferrari.

Turntables without isolation should not exist. None of them are worth looking at.

The only feature I seem to be able to identify, that enables a TT and Motor Vehicle to be very loosely compared, is that a Rotating Circular form is a critical part to be used for it to function of the Two very different functions offer by each.

There are other less exotic forms of producing a means to transport that could be compared to a TT, especially when used in a very loose comparison like has been above, such as a wheel barrow, I can't inform if such exclusive Brands are available as listed above.   

The Linn would surely be best compared to an Electric Powered Vehicle known as the Scamp, that was a design born around the same time the technology that Linn adopted was being produced.

With the correct marketing approach, the Scamp might have become more successful in sales numbers than any of the above mentioned vehicles.    

I have a Dr. Fieckert Volare with an Origin Live Silver tonearm and Hana SL cartridge. This runs through a tube pre-amp and tube amps to horn speakers. I also listen to everything from hard rock to electronic to renaissance flute music. To my ears that turntable tonearm cartridge combination is fantastic. It sounds great listening to Thelonious Monk and then Porcupine Tree. However, take my opinion with a grain of salt because it's only the second turntable I have ever owned. I cannot provide a detailed comparison against other brands and versions. I would recommend auditioning one if you can. I took the risk and bought it without a direct audition and it worked out fantastic for me. I don't recommend that strategy for anyone else since it isn't my money.

@jsqt The main thing to keep in mind is that the idea that there's no way to design audio equipment to favor a certain genre! If someone can find a way they'd be a millionaire overnight. Put another way, what's good for classical or jazz is also good for rock. Anyone telling you otherwise needs to get out there and demonstrate such by making a product that really does do this. There won't be any takers 😀

@atmasphere  yes, agreed and thanks for the advice. I wasn't literally thinking in terms of "woah, that's a turntable built for chamber music!" but more along the lines of, "Hey, if I listen to a lot of music with heavy bass in it, maybe I should go with something like a Technics SL-1200G that is less likely to have problems reproducing deep bass and dealing with vibrations, than say, XYZ table which is much more refined and delicate but won't be as aggressive as you like if you're listening to Tool." Hope that explains my thought process better!

@jsqt It does, but bass is very much a thing in classical music too. The Saint Saens Organ Symphony has pedal tones that are 16Hz which can really shake the place up. Bass drum whacks occur in all sorts of classical music. So the turntable needs acoustically dead rigidity regardless of the music.

If we're talking about a turntable, you'll find the platter pad has an effect on the bass- it should be as hard as the vinyl to really do its job right. The SL1200 is very speed stable and has a variety of anti-vibration systems running in it. I think its a very good choice for putting together a musical system. I prefer the platter pad made by Oracle to the stock one.

Turntables without isolation should not exist. None of them are worth looking at.

I couldn't disagree more.  After thirty plus years of using sprung tt, AR XA then VPI HW 19, I changed to an unsprung Clearaudio Performance DC Wood.  I have never had better sound.  My DIY tt stand might play into this as its pedestal is a 350 lb. section of white oak log sanded smooth, stained and varnished.  It sits on a brick hearth which is supported by the ground.  I got the twenty something son of a good friend who is a competitive weight lifter to set it up on the hearth for me.