Turntable advice

Hello everyone, I’m looking to buy my first turntable and want to get some advice about two specific turntables that I’m looking at. I can get both of these for a similar cost, so I’m looking for opinions on which way I should go. First, my current system consists of Rockport Cygnus, McIntosh mc1.25kw’s, McIntosh c2700 (will be used as phono stage at the start), dcs Bartok apex for digital, Cardas clear reflection cables (not power), rel no 31 pair of subs and torus power units. 

The tables that I’m down to (unless I choose to not spend as much out the gate) are a VPI Avenger Plus, most likely with a Hana ML cartridge and a Pure Fidelity Harmony with the illustrious se Tonearm and either the same cart or potentially the stratos cartridge. 

If I go this route, I’d like something that could eventually get more out of upgrades cartridges or tonearms down the road. Any advice or thoughts would be helpful, especially if you have experience with both. Thanks in advance!



I'm a long time VPI user, but I'd go with the PF based on what I've seen/heard. 

I'll let others comment on technical superiority on which is "better?"

To my ears, both can be satisfying limited by choice of phonostage, which you'll want to address also.

Whichever you decide on, real time speed montoring/correction is paramount at the level you're seeking. Phoenix(Sota) controller highly suggested on the VPI. I don't think it can be used on the PF?  

VPI is a contentious brand. On paper-wrong on just about everything. What I hear on a properly setup however, is just a "good" as the anything else in price point.

If you go VPI-gimbal arm over the unipivot.

On a personal note- The PF has a more "traditional look" which I find appealing.



I think that all of us can see where this is going. Two fine turntables, but is the cartridge at the same level and we know that the built in phono stage needs to be upgraded to take advantage of such fine tables. Putting together an analog system is really challenging. There must be a right way to do it, but I certainly didn’t do it right. In an ideal world, I would listen to as many systems as possible and then duplicate the setup that provided the most smiles. There are those on this forum, whose system has gone through years of upgrades. If only we could invite ourselves over for dinner and a spin. Once you add up the costs to put together a great system, you should ask yourself, what if I took that money and upgraded my digital, power…etc.?

Always buy something that will push you to upgrade something else. Otherwise you have to upgrade both in the future.

You have some serious speakers (and amp) so you should go with a turntable of similar caliber. Personally, I think Japanese and European tables are much better than VPI. I went through three decent turntables before I settled on the TechDas AFVP - and obviously lost money as I upgraded. I would suggest getting an end game turntable (based on your system) and matching tonearm/cartridge, otherwise your pursuit may end up in multiple upgrades like mine. You will also need to eventually invest in a good phonostage. Kuzma tables/arm (4P),TechDas, CS Port, J Sikora, Technics SP10, Dohmann, are some top notch high end brands. I know digital is catching up to analog, but its still some years away. Listening to records is another pleasure.

I see no reason to start with any 'table more expensive than the Pure Fidelity. It will hold it's value while you acquire your record collection and cleaners, new phono stage etc. Maybe in 3 years you'll triple your spend but until then, you'd be in the top 3% of TT in the world. Just enjoy the music and the process.

rdk777  has hit the nail on the head. The turntables he suggest are close to endgame tts. A TechDas maybe with a Kuzma or a Thales arm will give you years of pleasure.


If you have a nearby dealer, get a Linn. You can start simple and upgrade to your hearts content with no need to change tables. There is a lot of anti-Linn sentiment on this forum, but many devotees elsewhere. 

VPI, they are well make, upgrade able, and sound fantastic. Also made in America. Great turntables.

Rega Planner 10 Alpha 3 MC cartridge you buy it in a package deal you get a better price and no bullshit with setting it up. You don’t need 20 hours to get everything in a precise position. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a better turntable out there for the price you could deal with tone, arms, and cartridges and all that stuff you want, but you’re not gonna get a better sound other than this. It’s one of the better turntables out there for the price you won’t be disappointed. 


Check out Skyfi audio they have VPI trade in similar to what you are looking for in excellent condition at almost half the cost. I saw it in person last week when I was picking up a Hana Red and it looks new. With the money you save, put it toward a better Phono Pre. I've been using a McIntosh MP1100 and couldn't be happier with the quality and flexibility. I am running two tables a VPI classic 2 and a Technics 1200G (so 1 belt and 1 direct drive). I was looking at the Avenger but don't have the funds to justify right now. Best of luck!

@dan_springer "First" turntable suggests you're just getting into vinyl.  If so, there's a lot more to know about getting the best sound quality from a vinyl source (e.g.  record cleaning systems; record brushes; stylus cleaners; quality pressings & recordings; etc.).  

We can go on naming excellent TTs forever.  Do you have a record collection?  If so, what's in it?  It astounds me that people whose musical tastes consist of mass produced pop and rock music spend big $$$ on highly revealing systems in the first place, but especially where vinyl is the source.  In case you are a "serious music" lover, I apologize for gatekeeping...then I ask do you have pre-established opinions about what constitutes a satisfying LP listening experience?  When I began my audio journey at the cusp of the 1970's, I lusted for a Rabco SL8E on a Thorens TD-125, the epitome of playback perfection at the time, I thought.  At college a rich kid had one, and never once was there a day he could get it to work!  My much less ambitious Rabco ST-4 with an XLM was a tad fussy, but I played it to death.

If you have no background in the delights and physics of analog, I advise you to take it easy on yourself and get a Technics SL1000RES for $20K or the SL1210G for $4300, and buy an assortment of cartridges and headshells to make it fun.  Include an Ortofon SPU of some sort, a vintage Stanton 681 or Shure V15-V with an advanced stylus tip, a hot rodded Denon DL103, a Soundsmith MI, and a cheap Audio Technica VM95C for records in rough shape. The MC2700 has a very good phono preamp.  Let your ears tell you if you need more.

Lots of good feedback and thoughts here. As oldaudiophile, mentioned, I am indeed just getting into it and have a whole lot to learn. I’ve definitely thought about what vonhelmhotltz said with foregoing this endeavor and just making my digital as good as it can be. What attracts me to vinyl is the process, the sound which I’ve really come to appreciate and to some extent I think I will really enjoy looking for and finding albums. 

as far as introducing other brands, I definitely will look into that, but also have a dealer that I trust and who has treated me right, including service that has gone above and beyond anything I’ve experienced elsewhere. That's worth a lot and potentially limits my choices to stay with someone I trust. Brinkmann is also intriguing but above my price point currently. 

One completely different option that we talked about was starting with a lesser, but good table, specifically the Dr. Feickert Volare (shoutout to edgyhassle) and get a few years under my belt, especially since I don’t have a separate pre now. Then I could learn a lot more and buy an endgame table once I’ve figured that out and know that I’m committed to vinyl. That would also give me a longer upgrade path, but potentially more expensive than just buying one of the two tables I mentioned. 

I’ve read a bit about the VPI’s and it seems they are quite polarizing. I do love the look and sound when I’ve heard them (at multiple dealers and at shows, including southwest audiofest recently). I also really like the brinkmann taurus and the pure fidelity harmony sounded great as well. In almost all of those cases, the phono stages were significantly better than what I have now. 

Coming back to two that I’m looking at here, the avenger plus (seems similar to what you pointed me to exigem2, with the benefit of the rim drive system) has some nice features including a rim drive system, a good Tonearm (potentially debatable) and seems like it could have a lot of potential for future upgrades. The Harmony seems like it is great as well and potentially easier to use and learn on. I’m not as sure about the long term upgrade path, but I’m sure there is also potential there. The third option then could be something like the volare and so what I mentioned above and buy a better table in a few years. 

Thanks for all the feedback so far! And excuse the typos, I’m in the passenger seat while my son is practicing his driving for the third time, yikes!


Hey crustycoot, really good questions and thoughts. I don’t have a collection yet, but did buy a couple albums at the southwest audiofest. In my listening room, I would say I lean towards jazz and blues at least 60-70% of the time. The rest is some rock, which I’m coming to appreciate more and r&b/hip hop sporadically thrown in, lol. 

appreciate the input on my built-in phono too, definitely will let my ears lead me!

One other option could be to do the Volare and get a nicer cartridge than the one that I’m considering (or not if it isn’t needed). 

I had a VPI HW19 MkIII for 20 years and for the past 8 a Classic SE with 10” 3D uni-pivot arm, Lyra Delos and SDS so I like VPI. I was never disappointed with its performance but decided to move away from the uni-pivot. If I was to stay with VPI, I would have gone to their gimbal arm but then you still have the hokey anti-skate setup. I didn’t use it, just went with the wire loop and in all those years I cannot recall a single issue with mis-tracking. The turntable was totally quiet, and had good isolation.

Several month’s ago I sold it and bought a Pure Fidelity Harmony with OL Illustrious SE arm and Stratos LOMC. Aesthetically, the VPI is very cool but the PF is cooler IMO as there are no controls on the plinth, and no visible motor, belt or pulley…just the platter and arm. The controls are on the Conductor power supply. Sonically, the PF combination is a few steps up in every category but in simple terms the music just sounds more real, the soundstage adds to that in addition to more low level detail. It too has good isolation with its GHIA feet, is very quiet in operation and the arm is a joy  compared to the uni.

Since everything (TT, arm, cart) is different now, it’s a somewhat apples to oranges comparison but what I landed on was an obvious upgrade. Considering the cost factor, I would’ve been very disappointed if it wasn’t.

I have to agree with @rdk777 about his suggestion to better match the turntable to your system. Based on that, the Avenger or Harmony almost seem entry level. It also seems crazy to say that. I’d add Bergmann, SME, Technics SL-1000RE-S, Acoustic Signature and Brinkmann to his list.

I have a VPI Superscoutmaster .....upgraded to the ceramic platter, upgraded to the 2nd pivot on the 10 inch plastic (?) unipivot, center weight, peri weight, etc.. ....have it for about 16 years or so....never a problem, quiet, stable, very happy,

If this is your first serious venture into vinyl and you don't currently have a lot of records to play  - I'd consider a Rega P8 with an Ania cartridge and my rationale is:

  • It's a high quality turntable that is fix and forget it.
  • The turntable has a lifetime guarantee so if you decide to 'go deeper' there will be a market for it.
  • The built in phono stage will support the MC cartridge
  • You can spend money on vinyl and vinyl cleaning solution (e.g. Audio Deske)

My alternate is to buy something you can upgrade in steps like a Linn LP 12.

I went from a Hana ML to a Umami Red and the different was mind-blowing.  Single biggest improvement I've ever heard in my vinyl system with the possible exception of a dedicated true ultrasonic record cleaner.  I have nothing but good things to say about the ML, but the difference was astonishing.

I suggest being a little speculative as well, most owners of a Vinyl Collection have experienced uplift in value.

Start Buying Albums, Keep them in their Cellophane until the Vinyl Rig is set up and ready to go.

Albums are a increasing in value Commodity, there are plenty of record collectors who will vouch for this.

The TT Rig might be wise to have a Koetsu Cart' as these are in my view certainly going to increase in Value, even as a well used model.

Ortofon's buy back deal, enforced the used Cart' Market for their Brand to rocket, a Cart' that is revered by many across the Globe and no longer in production will be a good speculative purchase, and many will suggest a wise choice as a Cart'.

Other Purchases are going to depreciate, hence the used market is great as a source to buy into TT's and Tonearms. 

Harmony and the ML. Later you can upgrade to the Umami blue/ Red. They have a really great trade in policy at certain times of the year. 

@dan_springer, by all means stay with your dealer. Before you buy anything I think you should learn as much as you can about the physics of playing a record. There are also some quirks with the market you should understand. One good one is the pricing of cartridges. Audiophiles will pay more for a moving coil cartridge. The manufacturers respond to this by charging more for moving coil cartridges, much more. Below about $2000 you will get more performance from high output cartridges. Moving Iron cartridges in particular such as Soundsmith and Grado cartridges are fine performers. I suggest you watch this video it is a great primer on turntable and tonearm design. Just keep in mind that with high performance cartridges anti skating is mandatory. 

Turntables primary function is to play records, not to look cool or impress the neighbors. I would not mind getting a list of all the turntables and cartridges your dealer carries. I would be happy to comment their design if you like.e


IME- asking a question like that in this forum will give you exactly zero resolution to the question.  I suggest that you already know what table you want and are looking for validation of your decision.  Go with your gut!  It’s your rig you have to enjoy it! You can’t go wrong if you feel it’s right for you!

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@chrisoshea Your advice then, is to spend $0000's ? on a Vinyl Replay Source and then invest in the Source Material after. 

The OP who has made it known are only in a possession of a few Vinyl LPs, has a need to but Source Material, the suggestion to keep it in Cellophane is the best method to keep the Purchases close to their max' resale value whilst preparing for a Source to replay Vinyl LP's.

At no time was the OP informed to buy Albums they have no interest in being experienced in use.

Here's the deal through my eyes, a TT > Tonearm > Cartridge purchased that does not satisfy, is a very fast track route to hemorrhaging monies, I know this through experiences had.

90% of my Purchased Albums are increased in value and some are through the roof. Have a look at the Original Pulse Vinyl LP, which I have in Cellophane and unused.

For the record I am not a record Collector, there are three Albums in my collection from my early years of purchases that are unused and my most recent collecting probably has three or four Albums unused, but some of unused LP's are part of a  Box Set.

My advice based on experiences had is sound and certainly not wasteful.

My next advice, that will not be a waste of ones time and could save them parting with substantial monies unnecessarily. Is to strongly recommend, what no other contributor has recommended.

I strongly recommend to the OP to get out and do a little foot work, creating  opportunities to be demo'd a selection of Vinyl Replay Sources. The result will be one thing only, to learn what can be achieved, and most importantly, learn what is not wanted to be achieved.

Rega will most likely be towards the Latter, I personally shelved the idea of Rega Products alongside my shelving the idea of Linn Products over 25 Years ago.

I have encountered these Brands on numerous occasion since and not one of these encounters has created any thing that can be suggested as being a inspiring stimulus.

Seeing as a Video has already been used to help the OP attain valuable information on this subject.

I have found one more Video, that should prove extremely useful.




What I would recommend to the OP is purchase a Rega front end at $2,000-$4,000 and then dig into record collecting with a slow, self-education process BEFORE investing $10K+ to see if vinyl is really his thing. He’s got a great system, if his music preferences dictate a deep dive into vinyl, great! As I believe someone else on the thread mentioned, if the OP is mainly listening standard pop music recorded on the last 30 years, vinyl may be a waste of time/money....his choice.


AND...For the record I AM a record collector for over 50 years, great way to inspire me to get out of bed every morning

Really good stuff everyone. I’ve heard the tables I was down to and was really looking for any thoughts on the two. I knew I’d get all kinds of opinions, which I really appreciate. I’ve been acquiring some vinyl and have bought things like Miles Davis Kind of Blue and Aja (both uhqr) as well as Diana Krall’s live in Paris album, massive attack: mezzanine, a box set of Gregory Porter’s albums and some Anne Bisson that I bought from her at SW audiofest a few weeks ago, among others. In the end I decided to go with the one that I enjoyed listening to the most, which was the Avenger Plus (I know and have heard the strong opinions on Vpi, lol). I did decide to go a little higher on the cartridge than I originally planned and am getting a Benz LP-S. 

I had an LPS....great cartridge.  It is VERY HEAVY.....make sure your arm can accommodate it.   It has a lower "bloom"...very nice....isn't flat like an Ortofon Winfield, etc.

@dan_springer - Congrats on your trusting your own instincts, I can see the allure of the Avenger Plus, it has the blessing of being very photogenic.

Your Statement is as follows:

"In the end I decided to go with the one that I enjoyed listening to the most, which was the Avenger Plus > Benz LP-S" > Diana Krall Live in Paris. 

I commend you for doing the footwork to experience the audio devices you have developed an interest in. 

I also know there is a Jaw on the Floor experience to be had, when Diana Krall is replayed.

As for the LP-S.

The following info, if not already known should really reassure you the choice has to be one to create excitement.

Do bear in mind, the Boron Cantilever and a few other design tweaks, especially in the Damper Material, Coil Wire and Winding Structure creates the Antithesis to the Richest of Bloom known for Heavy Wood Body Cart's.

The weight referred to is selected to have substantial impact on transferral of and dissipation of resonance  

Cart's Pedigree

Background on company and ruby generator: In the 1980s Ernst Benz developed his line of moving coil cartridges in conjunction with Sony in Japan and AJ van den Hul of the Netherlands. These pickups were immediately recognized for their high quality and brought to market under the Benz Micro name

Benz Micro LP S Class moving coil cartridge: The Benz Micro LP-S class cartridge is the flagship of the line representing over 20 years of R&D and production expertise. 

A few Words from a review

I developed a short list of contenders:  Miyajima Shilabe, ZYX Omega, Air Tight PC-1, Transfiguration Orpheus, Dynavector XV-1t, My Sonic Lab Eminent Ex. and Koetsu Sky Blue.  After sorting through a lot of opinions I called my friend Roger Swiatek at Music Direct.  He spoke highly of the new Benz LP-S.  It had also recently received a very positive albeit brief review in the series of seven cartridges auditioned by Harry Pearson in the October 2010 issue of The Absolute Sound.

Reviewers words on their first listening

Looking at my stack of LPs in frequent rotation, I decided on the Prestige reissue two-record set of Miles Davis Workin’ and Steamin’ [Prestige P-24034].  While some turn up their noses at reissues, I find many of the Prestige reissues to be quite good.  From the moment this cartridge hit the groove of the first cut "It Never Entered My Mind", I knew I was in for a very special treat.

The gently caressing piano intro just melted me. When Miles’ muted trumpet came in shortly after, I could hear all of the breathiness behind it and a warm golden glow in each note.  As he ascended the scale I was astonished by the composure in the upper midrange.  There was absolutely no glare in this critical region.  I was immediately taken back to my early days of trumpet playing when my mother used to yell up the stairs while I was practicing in my room, admonishing me to get the tone right.  If only my mother was still alive to experience this. This was sheer tonal splendor!  Playing this album with the Benz LP-S began a sonic torrent of records that put me into a state of bliss from which I may never recover.  At least I hope I won't.

Once more I look forward to your sharing on your new to be encountered experiences.




Perhaps you should also consider the latest SOTA Cosmos and Millenia turntables.  These tables provide bulletproof construction, isolation that is second to none, and common sense value for the money.  Go to sotaturntables.com for more information.

Probably late to the game, but I received my Pure Fidelity Harmony a week ago & love it. They just started offering it with the Audio  Origami arm & I prefer it to the Illustrious that I initially received (had an issue & had to be replaced). This is a significant upgrade to my previous TT the Gold Note Valore 425 plus with Hana SL MC.

I got the VPI Avenger rim drive so I could use multiple arms.  I later upgraded my VPI arms to  Schroeder CB-L (VDH GC cart), Schlick (SPUs), 4point (all other carts incl mono).  VPI is a long established company, and with the son Matt running it I’d expect continued longevity.