Table,cartridge,phono...where to put most of my money?

  Let me start by saying im a digital guy,to be specific a CD/SACD guy.Years ago I ventured back into vinyl only to be totally disappointed in my efforts.I wanted to hear the records I had been hauling around the country every time i relocated.I  bought a Linn LP12 and had  all the upgrades done.I never could get it sounding good,even paid to have it setup by a so called expert...Fast forward ,I tried again maybe 6 years ago.Bought a VPI super scout with a couple different phono stages(dont recall what they were)..About the same outcome,was ok but for all the fuss,time,cost I felt another unsuccessful attempt..A few weeks ago i bought at an auction a direct drive Pioneer table from the 70s for a couple hundred.It was paired with a decent cartridge.I bought a used phone amp off ebay and off and rolling i went.Its no where near my digital side across the board and i didnt expect it to be but its got me wanting more....Long story short,I have a budget of 5k/6k for everything..table,cartridge and phone amp..Yes i understand everything is important but where would you put the bulk of the budget...and what would you buy with the limited info given,,Thanks


While reading up on your speakers and amp, the words "understated", "smooth", and "balanced" show up. Maybe what you need to is make sure more of the same is not coming from your vinyl set up. You don't mention what cartridge and phono stage you currently have but perhaps adding a cartridge that not known to be warm sounding (like an AT 540 or 740ML which won't break the bank either).

Stick with your digital set-up. Obviously there is something about the sound of an analog front end that you don't like. Have you ever heard one that you DID enjoy? If so, there must be something amiss in your set-up - maybe your phono stage? I would really like to know the specific areas that you found disappointing. 

If you’re not properly cleaning your records you’re just throwing good money after bad. Spend the 3K or so on a Degritter and you’ll see a bigger improvement than 3K could make anywhere else in your vinyl system. If you’re happy with the results, you have 3K left to allocate to updating the cartridge, amp and or TT. If not, you can probably recoup 75-80% of what you spent on the Degritter by selling it. Oh, and buy some good sleeves, MoFi or Diskeeper.

I would keep the VPI.  Great Table.  Record clamp seems to deaden the sound.  Try a better Phono preamp.  Keep a clean stylus. Do not expect the same dynamics as digital.  Analog is a smoother sound.