Taking the analog plunge...

OK guys, I could use your suggestions here.

I have several upgrades in mind and/or in progress for my 2 channel system. While I was considering these changes, I decided to look into adding a turntable as well. It's been a number of years since I've had a decent TT (decades, really) and the sheer number of choices can be pretty daunting.

What would help is a short list of gear that you think I should investigate that is A) a relatively good match for current gear and B) is priced somewhere below 4k. There are plenty of reviews at my disposal, but I'd much rather hear from people who are actually living with this stuff for extended periods and are more likely to have used it with gear similar to mine

My current system consists of all BAT components (D5, 5i and VK 200) and Triangle Celius speakers. The upgrades are/will be a BAT VK 60 and either Hyperion HPS 938s or GMA Continuum 3s.

Your suggestions?
128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xloonytunz
Does your 5i have a phono stage? This is the only piece that you have to worry about matching with your gear. If not you better plan on budgeting for a VK-P10. Even used that will eat a big hole in your 4K. Ofcourse you don't have to stay with BAT. You could pick up something like an EAR 834P which will work well with your 5i. That would leave you with about 2700 to 3K for the table, arm and cartridge. You have a broad selection of good performing cartridges at or below 400. So that puts you around 2300 to 2700 for a table and arm combo. There are lots of great table/arm combos out there in this price range that will sound great with your BAT gear. You just need to do some research here and over at the Asylum. Keep in mind that it makes more sense to put money into the table first and then upgrade the arm and/or cartridge latter. Don't discount buying off the used market. I'm on my third table bought through the classifieds here on A'gon.
Thanks for the advice Dan. No, the 5i hasn't got the phono stage. I've given thought to the P10 and balk at the idea of spending 3k for one. It's odd that you mention the EAR. My search began with the 834P and I was very encouraged by what I read.

I definitely have no qualms about buying used and have done so over the last couple of years. Outside of that, I have been impressed by J A Michell. The build quality looks quite good and the chatter I'm hearing is equally impressive. I have no idea about cartridges at this point.
Heard an EAR 834 demoing a Nott. Horizon (with a buch of other stuff) and, for what it's wrth, I thought what i heard was awsome. hard to single out the phono stage, but it surely didn't get in the way of the final presentation. Made me want one.
FWIW, I used an 834P with my VK-50SE for almost a year. The BAT equipment is so revealing that it will let any well matched phono stage shine through. A good friend of mine has owned his Mitchell for years and loves it. Which ever tables you put on your short list be sure to check out the upgrades that are available. BTW, how is your LP stash?
FWIW check out the Nottingham line of TT's. I'm impressed with the design of the Spacedeck and Arm and the user reports have been very favorable. This will probably be my next table. Others here recommend Teres a lot. Then there is always VPI and their endless (seemingly) upgrade path.
Thanks all. Your responses are appreciated.

The 834 certainly sounds like a no-brainer, especially at it's price point. I'm also really interested in doing some hands-on with a Gyro SE.

Dan: I've made the mistake of trading off a bunch of my old 'stash' for CDs in the past. I'd estimate what I have remaining is somewhat less than 200 lps, but there are still some goodies among them.
The BAT P5 is another phonostage worth considering. I believe it will give the 834P a run for the money. The P5 shows up ocassionally for $1000-1200. Also, uou might want to consider an LP 12 or a SOTA in the equation when looking at suspended turntable. The Michell with a Rega arm is a great choice as well.

I did worse than you. I started back into analog just like you 3 years ago. I had zero, zip, nada lp's. I have close to 800 now. There are plenty out there but you will probably pay more to get the stuff in good condition.

If you like to tinker, the 834 responds very well to cap upgrades. You might check around with some dealers to see if anyone has a demo they might want to part with.

I could see a Gyro SE with a rega arm board, lots of options there for arms.
Just because your existing system is all-tube shouldn't limit you to tubed phono stages - particularly since that may limit you to MM cartridges.
Good call Joman. I completely forgot about the P5.

Inscrutable, how does a tube phono stage limit one to MM cartridges? Even if a particular unit doesn't have built-in step ups one could always add a decent external step-up.
I've considered the P5 as well. I'm not sure I want to dedicate that much space to a phono stage. Dang, that thing is huge!

Imagine running all four of these babies full out in a closed space; I'd have to rebuild my listening room inside a meat locker.

Inscrutable, I'm not necessarily locked in to any one thing other than the best sound I can achieve under my budgetary constraints. I have no objection to solid state devices. In fact, I still have the VK200, several Bryston pieces and even an old Adcom GFA 585 laying around here somewhere.

Thanks again to all for the sage advice. It is helping to narrow down my choices a bit.

On another note, I think I've found the perfect tonearm for my new analog setup.
That Altmann arm actually does have all of the requirements for a basic unipivot tonearm, as crude as it looks.

From there on up, it is just refinement.

It will play the record.

Of course, there is a world of difference between that Altmann, and a Graham 2.2, but the Altmann works and is cheap. If you are interested in tonearm design, it could be a fun project to make.

Another fun project, with an air-bearing design, is the Paul Loudegaard linear tracking air bearing tonearm design, that many tonearm "fiddlers" have tried. It also works and has some excellent design attributes. You can search it out on the web very easily with Google.

I'm really glad to see he did something about that tie-wrap cartridge mount. I can image that cartridge twisting while it plays. It is a rather inventive setup.


You're right on about the heat generation. We have had temps down in the teens on several nights here in New England and I have not once had to turn the heat on in my listening room. It stays a balmy 72 but is really dry. I sometimes have to crack a window or door to the outside after a few hours of constant listening just to let in some cooler air.
Dear Loonytunz: For your anolog rig: TT: Acoustic Signature Final Tool, PC: Sumiko Celebration and T: Moerch DP 6.

Inscrutable it's right: a tube phono stage not only limit to MM its really limit the use of any kind of cartridge: if you really take care about the quality of music reproduction stay away from tube phono stages ( ANY ).
Dan ed speak to take a step-up transformer with the tube phono stage, this will be a double mistake: 1- tube phono stage and 2- SUT it will be an additional link in the signal. BTW, the best step-up transformer is : NO STEP-UP TRANSFORMER.

Regards and always enjoy the music.
Well, if you have to stay away from tubes you might as well toss your whole system and buy SS gear. But since I'm guessing that ain't gonna happen, I'd give the EAR the nod. I used one early on, and had great luck with it. The Wright is also highly recommended.

As far as TT's go, read some of the Teres threads. You can get up the ladder including an arm & cartridge for the 3 grand+ you'll have left over after the 834P or Wright. $2500 for an unfinished 245, $570 for a OL250, and $250 for a Denon103r. That's all new pricing. You can probably do a lot better on the arm. A 150 or 160 saves a lot more.

I've got it (a diy modified 245) and I love it. It smokes any LP12 or lower end Nott I've ever heard. Don't know about the GyroSE, but IMHO that thing is not as good looking as a Teres. And I'm not a fan of any kind of suspension under my TT. But at least both are upgradeable. If you find the aesthetics pleasing, I think you'll be better off with the Teres.

I'd try the Altmann, but only with the tie-wrap!

And stepups work very well, and are dead quiet if you have to go that way. I've tried both the K&K and the Microgroove with good results. And the K&K to your list for $250.

The other thing you may want to check on is adding a phono board to your 5i. Not sure if you can, but it would be worth a call or email to find out. I know they offer all kinds of upgrades.

Just thought I'd add one more opinion to a list that should be very diverse. At least I've tried to stay close to your budget. $6500 for the last suggestion with NO phono stage probably isn't going to help you a lot. Good hunting, it should be fun!

Dan_ed, Looneytunz, Joe, et al,
Whoa big fella ... I said 'may' limit. No bashing of either tubes nor MM cartridges here. But most tube phono stages only have enough gain for either MM or posibly HO MC. Sure, you could add a step-up transformer (some tube phono pre's like the oft-mentioned 834P have them integrated). But with budget concerns as they are, I just thought he shouldn't overlook some fine SS phono pre's, such as Acoustech PH-1P or Gram Slee Gold. Or he may well be happy with an MM cartridge.
No worries here! I have nothing against SS and you're right. There are some good SS phono stages out there. From time to time I see this idea thrown out that tubes somehow limit the cartridges you can use and I don't believe it is the tubes as much as the individual phono stages themselves which may not have enough gain for some of the low ouput carts. But there is a way around that issue.
My local BAT dealer uses the Wilson Benesch Full Circle turntable for his stuff.

It would fall in your price range and actually there are currently two on sale for about $2000 with matching tonearm included.
I didn't find anything on the BAT website that would suggest that there is a phono card availiable for the 5i, but I am going to write Victor a note and see if he has something up his sleeve (he usually does.)

The SS issue really is a non-starter. I see nothing wrong with using a solid state pre and, in fact, the Graham Slee has made my short list.

Thanks to you all, I've narrowed my table choices down to one of the following: a Gyro SE, a Teres or a Final Tool (there is a nifty deal over at Needle Doctor putting this one well within reach.)

As far as tonearms go, I'm torn between an RB300 and some crudely whittled tree limbs wire-tied together. Seeing as there seems to be a virtual concensus on the quality of the Rega, I think it will make for a nice inexpensive entry level piece to get me up and running and that I can upgrade later.

Cartridges still elude me. Tooooo many choices. This part of the process is probably going to take the longest to resolve, cosidering at least part of the choice is going to be dependent upon the pre, table and tonearm I go with.

Are we having fun yet? YES!!! Thanks again guys...
That's a very good short list you have there! IMHO I think you could quickly surpass the RB300 with some mods to a RB250.

Hmmm... Michell uses the RB250 as the basis for their TechnoArm. OL seems to like it too. Maybe they know something I don't.

Seems like a 250 would certainly leave a better upgrade path. Plus, the Origin Live upgrades look relatively inexpensive. Nice call, Dan!
I'm just passing on what I've learned from advice given here. I almost bought a 300 once and then found out about the upgrades available for the 250. Great bang for the buck until you're ready to shell out some real cash.
I have both. The 300 is modded with a silver rewire, and the 250 is an OL model. The 250 will stay as my main arm till I go nuts and buy a Schroder. Then it will see use on the next tt I build.

Want a good deal on the 300?

I believe I'll pass, Joe. Thanks anyway.

Likely to my good fortune, I think I'm going to grab up the 250. It makes more sense to leave the door open to upgrades and save money on the front end to boot! How could I go wrong?
So true. One of these days I'm going to list all of my old stuff just to do some house cleaning. Then maybe I can afford a Schroder!