Trying to Help My Nephew With His First Venture Into High End Audio

Would appreciate some advice on how to proceed.

I am "gifting" my Nephew several components and a set of speakers, from my 2nd system. Most of this stuff is from 1995, but works well and still sounds very good. He listens to mostly Rock music on Vinyl.

Here is the base system we are starting with (digital only, no Vinyl):
Totem Model 1 Speakers (4Ohm and 98db)Meitner MTR-101 (MUSE-TEX) Mono Amps (100W into 8 Ohms, 200W into 4 Ohms)
Rotel Solid State Preamp, RC-970BX (No phono stage)
Marantz CD Player (CD-63SE)Opening price point interconnects and a set speaker cables
I would like to keep him focused on "separate components" versus an integrated option. I believe this will help him to learn about how each part of the system contributes to the sound, and if he chooses to change something, he can "perhaps" upgrade 1 component without changing the entire system.

Also, he is a bit hesitant about tubes. However, I would like to introduce tubes somewhere into the system (preamp or outboard phono perhaps) so he can learn about the benefits and shortcomings of tubes in Vinyl playback.
As you can see from the system I am gifting him, he will still need to buy:
A turntable/arm/cartridge.Either a tube preamp with phono section (if replacing the Rotel) or an outboard tube phono stage (if keeping the Rotel).
Also a SUT depending on what direction you suggest.

He has $5,000 to spend.

For me, no tubes in a starter system. Marantz CD63 is decent, but found a CD67 and that is noticeably better. I’m not big on Rotel stuff, the ones I’ve owned were noisy. Any sub? I just gifted my nephew some modified KLH 355 Barons.
I agree.  Tube component is a good idea. Least expensive tube MM phono stage would be the Bellari.  Also you can consider good used phono stage in the same price range.
He has $5,000 to spend.

He listens to mostly Rock music on Vinyl.

He’s not new to vinyl and $5k is more than enough for great stuff.

Look for brand new Technics SL-1200GR for about $1800 (read reviews and audiogon). Buy JLTi mk5 phono stage for about $1100 including shipping from Australia direct from the manufacturer. Find a nice MM or MI cartridge and you’re done. This is great MM/MC phono stage, for MM it’s superb! Ask if you need help with a cartridge for Technics tonearm. 
Pioneer PLX1000 for $700 + Hana SL mc cartridge - $750 - saves a lot of money for the phono/preamp! When I wanted to add a new production TT to my collection at a reasonable price I chose the Pioneer. I think it sounds just as good as the Technics, for considerably less money! Read Herb Reichert's review in Stereophile! 
used SOTA Sapphire ( awesome isolation for rock ), Origin Live tonearm Soundsmith Cart, Hagerman Trumpet tube phono, $1 k for decent cables…

look out Mama !
Pioneer PLX series can compete ONLY with OLD Technics 1200 discontinued before Pioneer made their PLX1000.

But it can’t compete with Technics new “GR” series which is only one step behind the “G”, both have coreless DD motor (best DD motor available today). They are more expensive for a reason (much better technology and more expensive materials). 
I’m a little confused … you are gifting him some quite basic building blocks sans vinyl … say he has $5k to spend … but I’d assume that is NOT to be all directed to the vinyl rig (which creates a dramatically unbalanced system), but rather BOTH acquire first vinyl rig to go with this donated system AND his ‘fund’ to upgrade/experiment changing out components over time.

Correct or incorrect? Answer yields drastically different answers/responses.
I took a slightly different approach with my son. A bit more simple and easy to use, with an inexpensive cartridge to learn and break

Celestion A-1 speakers (88 db)
Pioneer SX-1080 receiver
Technics SL-1800 II
Ortofon 2M red cartridge
Bluetooth streaming device to plug into the back of the receiver for digital music from his phone

Thank you for all the great advice.

I read Michael Fremer’s April 2021 review of the little Haberman phono, and contacted Jim Haberman in Hawaii. Thank you tomic601! 

For $1K, I think we will try this. Great suggestions on the turntable/cartridge combination......need to do some demos. 

I will report back once things are finalized.
I built a Dyna70 and a Dyna PAS from kits when I was 14 so I don’t see why tubes would be inappropriate esp if he is geeky-oriented. Get him a kit to build: then he will really learn. 
I thought Fremer’s review of the Hagerman Trumpet was pretty tough. Basically it’s rolled off, lacking detail and colored with a warm glow! It would not be to my taste. Each to their own!
I agree with no romance. My thinking is that the rest of this solid state system is cold sounding, so some warmth is welcomed. 

Ill set the system up with with what I own, plus this little phono. We can select a cartridge that compliments the sound.

My Nephew is 33.

I am now looking at a SOTA Comet V which comes with the RB330 tonearm from Rega.

Tomic601 has some experience with SOTA.

Which cartridge would you suggest? 

SOTA is promoting a Dynavector 10X5, but I just read a review that did not like the 10X5 with the RB330 tonearm.

Someone mentioned Soumdsmith......only have about $750 to spend on a cartridge. 

Thanks for cartridge recommendations. 
Your nephew is young, why don’t you advice him something modern instead of a belt drive Sota turntable for pensioners? :)

Technics SL1200GR (or G) is much better choice for 33 y.o. guy. Almost any MM or MI carts are fine for Technics magnesium tonearm with VTA on the fly and detachable headshell. Audio-Technica, Grado, Soundsmith, Garrott … whatever if you want new. 

I like Mikey, but as I have the Hagerman Trumpet, and now my new Soundsmith MIMC Lo cart, I can tell ya, Mikey had that set-up wrong. Not sure why he was so confused by the instructions, but changing the Trumpets settings would have helped his evaluation a lot. Left me scratching my head. Heck, it really isn’t rolled-off with my Soundsmith hi output Zephyr either, but there is only one setting for the Trumpet in MM mode.


Im a big Soundsmith fan, but for $750 your only choice from them in that range is the Carmen. Not a bad choice, though. I would check-out the Hana SL; right at that price point.

And cannot go wrong with a SOTA.
For those still following this thread, I must say how disappointed I was when I tried to find a sub $4,000 turntable available for demo at my local brick and mortar audio dealer.

Only very high end on display. Is the next generation of audiophiles expected to do everything online and demo using YouTube? 

Anyway, I looked at the Technics GL. I think my Nephew liked to trade in policy of SOTA, and he felt that Donna (SOTA owner) would provide good service. 

@bkeske, for classic rock......Soundsmith or Hana SL? Thanks.

@bkeske, for classic rock......Soundsmith or Hana SL? Thanks.

I have everything from ‘classic rock’ to jazz, to folk, to classical (play a lot of classical these days), and think my Soundsmith carts sound good with any of them.

@tomic601 (Jim) has the Hana ML on one of his systems, also spins a variety of music, and although he seems to like it, he has recently said he thinks it may be a bit ‘soft’ overall after living with it a while. I know others here who have, or have owned the SL, and think it is a great bargain.

Another is Nagaoka. Their 300 comes in under $750 and has received good reviews.

I also have a Goldring 1042 as a back-up, and really like that cart for the money, but although similar in sound to my Soundsmith carts, doesn’t quite compare in overall performance and detail. But it’s also less than half the cost. Very picky about getting the set-up ‘right’ though.
I have a System using Valves in Pre and Power Amp's for many years.
I also have other devices with Valves.
I was given advice in my earliest days to not leave a device using Valves unattended for more than a short period of time.
This is a discipline I have maintained, and to date have not had a incident that would be of a concern, so have been quite fortunate.
I would not be the one responsible for bringing Valves into a Newbies System, this would have to be the system owners choice.
I would definitely encourage the system owner to learn about Valves pro's/cons prior to making a decision. 

My second system is a design to be used to play Music to fill the house with sound and not really need to be sat in front of.
For this reason Valves are not even being considered in the set up.