Top turntables?

Which turntables bring out the most from our vinyls.
The presence ambiance, that "you are there" feeling.
I am looking to upgrade from an old tnt.

I tend to think it is all in the ear of the beholder, meaning absolutely relative anyway, but I'll make a brief response to your query. Indeed I have had considerably more expensive cartridges on my Galibier (in the $1-2K range), mated to several different phono stages/preamps, but I will be honest in saying I've yet to flirt with the likes of a Dynavector XV-1S, a ZYX Universe, a Lyra Titan or a top Allerts in my system. Since we are dealing with something that is going to wear out, I've always balked somewhat at the pricepoints of the top contenders. That said, I have indeed heard the Dyna, for example, on a similarly equipped Galibier and delighted in its holistic magic - all the fabulous stuff you want, but none of the hi-fi artifice so common in so much of today's gear (at any point in the reproduction chain, from source to speaker).

Salectric is absolutely correct in his statements about the Denon DL103R - having heard this cartridge numerous times over the years, I could never understand what all the fuss was about. While I always thought it was an adequate performer, it was only when mated to Galibier/Triplanar that I finally(!) understood what the big deal was. You know what, my Lyra which I was so happy about using on my fully loaded Linn LP12 now sits in its box, and the Denon does the work. While the Lyra gives me oodles of detail, soundstage extending to infinity in all three dimensions and great frequency extension - it fails to make sense musically - it is, as I said, artifice, without very much meaningful content. While the Denon doesn't do a couple of those wonderful hi-fi things as well as the Lyra, ultimately it makes me smile, cry, laugh and tap my foot like there's no tomorrow - it communicates the emotional intent of the artist and the gestalt of the performance brilliantly.

Alas, there is no easy way to verbaly describe the communicative nature of the Denon (or the Dyna XV-1S, or the ZYX Uni., et al). You know it when you hear it - you become immersed in the performance, and forget all about the the hi-fi stuff we all hold so near and dear. You don't think about the gear, only the music.

If I look back at the trends in hi fidelity equipment since the dawn of the digital age, I think that while digital has made great strides to sound more analog in nature - analog has tended to go in the opposite direction - to become more digital sounding; to allow for a convergence of sonic types. Unfortunately, I tend to think cartridge designs are the biggest culprits here. This in my opinion is wrong-headed, but it reflects an overall trend I'm having difficulty ignoring. Some folks want big, slamming bass notes; they want every last iota of detail; they want a sound that more closely approximates the sounds they are continually bombarded with every day (whether on TV, in line at the airport, or on the radio) -- the modern ear has effectively been "detuned" away from natural musical reproduction, toward a homogenous, compressed, sterile approximation of the actual event. I'm sorry, but if one doesn't regularly attend acoustical music concerts, or has never heard a correctly transcribed LP untouched by ANY digital artifact, then all hope is lost IMHO. You've essentially never heard what real music sounds like, only a mere approximation. This analysis also begs to answer the question of why so many folks are into vintage gear, from amplification to transducers - perhaps there is some intrinsic value in a small degree of euphony; perhaps everything shouldn't be so so clean; maybe a little distortion is OK; maybe some designs from 60 years ago, now long forgotten - had it absolutely correct.

Sorry for the rant and the length, and of course, take this all with a grain of salt - we all value different aspects of musical reproduction, and ultimately we all find our own path toward nirvana. Happy listening,

I concur with the praise of the Denon 103 and 103R, and nobody has heard it properly until they've heard it in an arm that can manage it properly. That said, I'm a bit surprised that the Tri-Planar is one of those arms. I would have thought high-mass, preferably 12 inches.

I've run both carts in the extremely heavy Ikeda IT-407 (12") arm with superb results. Now I'm running the 103 in the EMT 997 (also 12") arm and it's even better.

The 103s also performed well in the 9" Ortofon RS-212, and would probably do well in any other real Ortofon arm (which are all vintage - the current Ortofon arms out of Japan are actually OEM Jelco and just mimic the look of original Ortofon arms) - you're talking RMG 297, 309, RMA 297, 309 and RF 297 and 309... or the Shindo Meursault if you've got the bucks.

Another route would be the original steel knife-edge bearing SME 3012.
I agree with Partckamory, I have the same experience. My friend runs that one with this original SME 3012, another one uses the same heavy Ikeda Arm.
MUCH better than in a Triplanar, it works of course, but these Denons are better in Heavy Arms. I use them in a DaVinci.
Based on their low Price they are very often found in sub-optimal Set Ups.
Consider the Vyger Indian Signature or Atlantis as a real upgrade to the VPI..though you will need a good dealer to support it.

But if you are looking for a minimum hassle, music making classic, consider the latest incarnation of the Linn Sondek LP12 and you will not go wrong.
Hello Thomasheisig,

I find it very difficult to make these apples and oranges comparisons, although as each of us makes them, we learn a bit more and triangulate better on "ultimate truth", such as it were.

The only high-mass arm I've run my DL-103R on is my 18g Ebony wand Schröder Reference.

I detected no improvement over the Triplanar that I could attribute to mass. Surely, both arms retained their characteristics, and both were very, very good. The Triplanar did not come off as being too light however.

I think the Denon's compatibility range is wider than many would predict. I have no doubts that it will shine with a 3012R or an Ikeda as it did with the Schröder and the Triplanar.

Without trying to sound too self-serving, perhaps my turntables make up for what many are perceiving as being a shortcoming (or incompatibility) in tonearms?

Now, the 'table in question most certainly needs to be considered when any of us report, because many individuals are considering an arm change and not a 'table change.

Whether they should be focusing on an arm change as opposed to a 'table upgrade remains open to debate.

As Dave (Salectric) said (better than I've been ever been able to articulate), the tt hierarchy (tt, then arm, then cartridge) should most certainly be followed.

When I look at the functioning of a turntable, I think of an old Fred Astaire routine where he danced with a hat rack.

You'd swear that the hat rack took dance lessons (and quite a few of them). It seemed alive and responsive to his movements.

In the same way, an outstanding turntable can make otherwise pedestrian arms and cartridges sound much better than they have any right to do.

Please note that I consider the DL-103R to be a very fine cartridge on an absolute basis - not pedestrian in any way.

It's for this reason that I qualify all of my arm and cartridge recommendations. I may well be hearing them having an unfair advantage ... riding shotgun on a Galibier.

Perhaps this is what Flyingred, Salectric, and Palasr are reporting. I can well guess that this doesn't trouble them in the least, however (grin).

Thom @ Galibier