Turntable upgrade recommendations: SME vs AMG vs Technics vs other

I've recently upgraded most of my system, but I still have a Rega P8, with Linn Krystal cartridge, which I like, but I've heard that there may be better options.

I have Sound Lab electrostatic speakers, Ypsilon Hyperior amplifiers, an Ypsilon PST-100 Mk2 pre-amplifier, and am thinking about an Ypsilon phono stage to match with my system, and a turntable/cartridge.  I listen to almost entirely classical, acoustic music. 

Based on my very limited knowledge, and simple research, I've been looking at three brands, each of which is a different type of turntable: SME (suspension), AMG (mass), and Technics (direct drive).  
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of turntables, and of those in particular?



@drbond -  I spoke with a Rega dealer who is also a SOTA dealer and asked him about the clamps for a P8 and they have two models, the reflex that is 8 oz and the screw down is 4 oz. He thought it would help for warped records, and he only had the 4 oz one in stock, which I guess he recommends because of the lower weight.

Since probably 97-99% of my records are not warped, I didn't go ahead and get one.

Do you find it helps for all records, or primarily warped ones? Also, as an FYI, he prefers Rega to SOTA tables.


Yes, there is always some "cost conscious snobbery of high-endism", but I find that there is also a performance difference with the coat as well. I have a 35 year old Krell KSA-100, which would only cost $1500 today, and it sounds really good, and while listening to it I am left wondering, "How could things sound much better?". . .but then I compare it to a newer $35k amplifier, and the newer one definitely sounds better, but then the next question is, "Is it worth it?" I suppose that’s the question each individual must answer for himself.



Yes, no doubt the SOTA clamp helps with warped records alot, insofar as holding them down, but the sonic difference is very significant even on flat, non-warped records: *everything* is much clearer, cleaner, and more detailed.

It looks like the screw-on clamp (marketed as the I-clamp) is quite a bit less expensive than the clasp-on clamp (marketed as the reflex clamp). I don’t know what the sonic difference, if any, would be between the two. . .


NB: I am a Sound Lab dealer. I have U-545s and M-745s.  I've heard just about everything phono-wise including the early Goldmunds. I guess I am a kindred spirit who is not trying to sell you anything although I am sure I will get brick-bats on that one. Frankly, I just don't need the money for the aggravation - turntables are a special business. Don't do home theatre/automation either for the same reason. That being said....

Spending $ on equipment is fun but:

1.For the biggest sonic improvement, if you can, I would move your phono system into another room from your control preamp. Since Ypsilon is balanced equipment, they claim/one of their design nexus is to be able to run long runs of true balanced cables. (There are places that sell inexpensive end of record arm-lifters so you don't have to worry about sprinting to pick up the arm.) Benchmark Media Systems makes custom balanced cables that have a lower noise and interference floor than expensive 'magic' cables.

2. If you can I would hang the TT from well-anchored studs in the ceiling or a wall stand. You might want to try this with your Rega so you have a performance baseline. Since I take it you are an MD you realize what I am implying. 

3. I find with the high-priced MC cartridges, eg Koetsu, is that they have a roll-off beginning at 10 kHZ. Very euphonic but not very accurate. Cartridges used to come with frequency response and channel balance print-outs but few do now. 

4. I think the strain-gauge Peter sells is transparent and is flat in the bass unlike the strain gauges of the past that had a 'built in loudness control'. I'd also consider that latest AT ART 1000-series cartridges especially if you can get someone to set it up properly, electronically. I surmise it might work well in one of the damped arms. I also like certain EMT and Dynavector MCs. Arms that set their tracking force and anti-skate with a spring are superior IMHO.

5. Since a MC cartridge is a true balanced system, an XLR tonearm cable and phono preamp with balanced inputs are worth considering.

BTW which SLs do you have? Anyway good luck.  

i struggle to reconcile frugal or worse with a pair of Beveridge in the basement… @lewm my kind of frugal

Generation 1 reflex clamp is a screw actuated collet and light weight.

I do find the lecture on “ winning “ laughable……

Best to all, hoping Santa makes good on all your musical dreams..


@ivanj , I have 645-8s. They were a custom job as I could not tolerate the width of the standard 845. I am definitely in agreement with most of what you are saying. Turntable isolation is critical. However, wall shelves can be a detriment under certain circumstances. It is not like walls do not vibrate. They can vibrate more than an appropriate built in on a concrete floor. 

Yes, phono cartridges are inherently balanced devices. But, I would never put a long cable on a tonearm. I would put it on the Phonostage. Many now have balanced outputs.

Absent the ability to put the turntable in another room there are other ways to lower sound pressure levels around the turntable and cartridge. Using a suspended turntable under a dust cover is one solution. Mark Dohmann told me that he is working on such a solution for the Helix.

I have listened to Peter's Strain Gauge on his system and I was duly impressed. The only stick in the mud is it's tracking ability. I never heard it misstrack but the measured data is not complimentary. If you do not tend to play difficult records it is not a problem you would notice. 

Merry Christmas to all,