New Turntable Suggestions

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by slazechko, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. slazechko

    slazechko New Member Thread Starter

    I'm looking for a new turntable in teh $4-5k range. Current front runners are Michell Gyro SE with maybe Tecnoarm or SME 309 (or maybe stretch budge for SME IV), and VPI Prime. Are there any other tables I should give strong consideration? Also I'm in the US, so there's an import penalty on the Michell, not sure how that affects its value compared to tables built in the US like the Prime.

    My primary desires are audio performance/$$$ and future upgradeability.

    My thoughts from my research so far:

    Basically I read nothing but rave reviews. I really like that it's compatible with a wide array of arms, and there's plenty of room for upgrading in the future if I'm feeling it. I'm concerned the import tax makes it less of a value this side of the Atlantic. Also apparently it and any of the SME arms are a stellar combo. Is it worth stretching the budget to try and add the SME IV over the 309? My only other concern is I'd like a deck at this price to have a longer arm than 9". Other arms to consider? I see some mixed thoughts about Origin Live arms with the Gyro, not sure what to think about it.

    Also gets basically only great reviews. My main concern here is the antiskate. VPI doesn't believe in it, but includes a couple options. It feels strange to use a feature the creators of the table don't believe in. I'm also less concerned about noticing distortion or other audible effects from lack of antiskate, but that I'll wear down my needles and records, leading to adverse effects gradually over the life of the table.

    Thoughts? Other tables I should consider? Thanks in advance!

    Also my current system is Clearaudio Concept w/ Ortofon 2m blue > Spectral DMC-10 Delta > Threshold S/200 > Magnepan 1.7i. I'm planning on upgrading to the 3.7i's if/when I have a bigger room to justify them.
  2. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    South Bend, IN
    Can't blame me for pimping what I own but I'd give serious consideration to a George Merrill PolyTable Super12. You can get it and a very nice cart plus still have budget leftover for a very good protractor, gauge, fozgometer (if you want one), and so forth.

    Musical, articulate, quiet, and simple. I love mine.

    Edit - I would be remiss if I didn't say - I haven't heard any of your other options but I see them talked about in a very good light all the time. Tough choice, have fun!
    McLover likes this.
  3. btf1980

    btf1980 Forum Resident

    In that price range, I'd also look at a Rega RP8 with an Apheta 2 cartridge.
    Gavinyl and Upinsmoke like this.
  4. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Not to get on a tangent, but from what I understand, the 1.7 Maggies are acoustically "bigger" than the 3.7s. This makes sense because the surface area of the 3.7's "diaphragm" equivalent is less than that of the 1.7 However, the 3.7s are capable of slightly lower freqs.

    Michell would be my choice out of those few.
  5. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Bristol, UK
    I have a Techno Arm on my Gyro SE and it's a wonderful combination, but I have a SME IV on my Michell Orbe which replaced the Techno Arm and it's in a different league. Whether the IV is worth the premium over the 309 is a question for you to decide, for me the IV was the sweet spot in between the 309 and V, but the latest 309 is a nice arm. One thing to consider with the Gyro is that the HR power supply makes a very obvious and positive difference and is highly recommended even at US pricing.
  6. Aereoplain

    Aereoplain Forum Resident

    charlotte nc usa
    Check out Well Tempered, or Townsend.
    IanL and jlykos like this.
  7. Upinsmoke

    Upinsmoke Well-Known Member

    SE PA
    You can get some deals on this if you call around. Incredibly easy setup with this cartridge too. Don't be ar.fraid of demo or used on this one . Rock solid .
    btf1980 likes this.
  8. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    There are so many high quality turntables these days, and it is so hard to do direct hands-on comparisons of them in a controlled way, that it is a virtually impossible to know with any certainty that what you are buying is truly "better" than another brand or model. I think that's even more true once you get into higher priced turntables. Don't get me wrong- I like good turntables, and have no issue throwing money at them (mine or someone else's). You've also got to contend with the range of different drive systems and approaches, from suspended low mass, to higher mass tables.
    I would join @Upinsmoke in urging you to consider a used table- because at the price level you are proposing, you might get close to a "final" turntable if you are patient, willing to throw more money at a separate arm and take your time putting the whole lot together. One table that gets little attention in the States, but has been around forever is La Platine Verdier. It is a big league table that remains in production as far as I know, despite the death of the founder. (I believe Sora handles them in the States).
    I'm aiming for an SME 3012R for my second table (a restored Technics SP-10). (I use a linear tracking air bearing arm on my main table). That SME arm isn't crazy money used if you can find one that hasn't been abused and is also a big league arm that has withstood the test of time. One fellow I know who has a range of the best turntables made (from EMT, to Goldmund, to TechDas, Micro-Seiki and a few others that are more obscure) swears by the 3012. (Of course, his favorite table-- an American Sound-- is pretty much unobtainium. If you look it up, you'll probably see the array of tables, arms and cartridges owned by David Karmeli, who is one of the few people stateside with one of these). To me, these are "keeper" products that you could have for a lifetime.
  9. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    The Origin Live Resolution turntable with the Origin Zephyr tonearm is hard to beat. The arm also works well with a long list of MC cartridges, but the Ortofon Cadenza carts make an amazing combo.

    I've had a chance to audition the Origin setup alongside a Nottingham Spacedeck (with the Space arm) and a Clearaudio Ovation with the Clarify tonearm. A friend has a VPI Prime with an Ortofon Cadenza Red. Frankly, the turntables in this class are a bit hard to tell apart - they're all great. The differences are there, but it's a matter of nuance not dramatically different sound.

    I'm considering the Origin Resolution with the Origin Illustrious arm and the Cadenza Bronze. It's time for a big step up from my RP6 and its Groovetracer mods.
  10. Threshold

    Threshold Well-Known Member

    Manchester NH
    Acoustic Signature WOW XXL w/TA-1000 Tonearm. Is worth looking at,
  11. Still

    Still Member

    Colorado Springs
    I had a Gyrodec SE with the Tecnoarm for 4 years. It was my first real turntable (read: more than $75 used POS that lasts 9 months before giving up the ghost). I liked it overall and thought the sound was even beguiling at times. It is built very well but I was not overly impressed with three things. First, I really dislike the stretchy, thin, round belt. I understand the philosophy of reducing the surface area contact of the belt with the platter to limit transmission of motor sound, but I think this comes at the great expense of limiting the motors ability to apply torque without slippage. Yes, the platter is weighted by those beautiful dangling brass cylinders providing mass and improved inertia, but I just like the idea of a flat belt with good contact controlling the speed (assuming the motor is steadily up to the task) - just my opinion - not trying to start a battle or offend. Second, the suspension is finicky and difficult to nail down perfectly. There is a method to adjusting each of the three springs so that when you place a record or give it a test push it bounces perfectly straight up and down. I messed with it for a long time and finally said "good enough" as I was annoyed after an hour or two of fiddling. There are aftermarket rubbers that will tighten the suspension though I never tried any as I thought they killed the look of the thing. Bottom line is that the subplatter is hung from fairly mild springs that spring easily and take a while to settle down. I personally didn't care for that. Third, the motor sits in a circular cutout of the subplatter and has to be centered. It will however slide around on a wood surface (pulled by the stretchy belt) and contact the subplatter. So I had to recenter mine frequently to avoid vibration entering suplatter and to avoid rubbing between the motor and the subplatter when I changed a record and made the whole thing bounce. Ok, this is nitpicky and probably could have been solved with some sticky tack. As for the tonearm, the silver wiring on the Tecnoarm was so thin and fragile that I frayed half of one of the leads just changing the cartridge one time despite being careful (at least by my standards). It probably gave better than average sound for the money but in the end it is a modified Rega that fills a niche. If given the chance to do it again I would lay out more cash and get a SME arm.

    Ultimately though, turntables are personal things. I bought it because I liked the look and thought it must be pretty good to sell for decades with minimal changes. I think it is a solid performer and I bet most people that buy the Gyrodec do not sell it so quickly as did I, as it does sound wonderful in many ways. But the "absolute sound" can only be everything if I am not annoyed by my equipment. Mind you this is not universal law, just law in my own minute world. It may not apply to yours.

    So I am shopping once again for a turntable myself as well. From my Gyrodec experience the qualities that I am in search of in my next TT are: Flat belt, no springs, measurable and repeatable adjustability, and stationary motor. I very much like toddrhodes recommendation for a Merrill Polytable. I am trying save for the Merrill Williams 101.2 with a Kuzma 4 Point, but will probably stop along the way and buy a Polytable instead due to the fact that I would like to remain married:) In the mean time, I bought a Project Debut Carbon from Crutchfield last night so that my world keeps spinning.

    Enjoy the journey.
  12. sublemon

    sublemon Forum Resident

    the michell is a sprung suspension and the vpi prime is not, right? they seem pretty different.
  13. btf1980

    btf1980 Forum Resident

    Agreed. Lots of sweet deals to be had.
  14. Salectric

    Salectric Forum Resident

    I am not clear whether your $4-5K budget is for the table alone or a complete arm/table setup. If it's for the table only I encourage you to check out a Galibier Gavia. Used Gavias come up occasionally for just a bit more than your range. I suggest contacting the designer Thom Mackris to discuss the options. He is often aware of used models that may not have come on the market yet. When I bought my Gavia back in 2004 I figured it would be a lifetime table and I still feel that way. I use a Triplanar VII and 12" Siggwan on mine, but it doesn't need an expensive arm to sound good. For a while I had an AudioQuest PT-6 on mine, and it sounded quite decent.
  15. Rob Hume

    Rob Hume Active Member

    The Well Tempered Amadeus/Versalex are excellent bang for buck!
    IanL and jlykos like this.
  16. jlykos

    jlykos Forum Resident

    Parts Unknown
    Third for the Well Tempered Amadeus. It's a fantastic turntable.
    IanL likes this.
  17. dolsey01

    dolsey01 Forum Resident

    Boston, MA
    As far as Anti-Skate on the VPI, it really comes down to cartridge. Some need it more than others. It's there if you want to use it and easy enough to defeat if you like the sound better without. I have a Prime with a Soundsmith Zephyr and only use the AS because Soundsmith says so. On my two previous VPI tables, I never used it and thought it sounded better without but that was with a Grado Sonata, Clearaudio Virtuoso and Goldring 2400. I'd just trust your ears if you go the VPI route.

    Another one to add to the mix is the new Bryston turntable.
  18. slazechko

    slazechko New Member Thread Starter

    Thanks for all the replies everyone, there are lots of opinions here! Looks like I've got a bunch of other tables to look at!
  19. slazechko

    slazechko New Member Thread Starter

    Yep, michell is sprung and prime is not.
  20. slazechko

    slazechko New Member Thread Starter

    Budget is for both table and arm. Obvioulsy I'm talking about stretching that a bit for an SME IV arm, so I'll check out the Gavia. Thanks for the tip!
  21. Tim Irvine

    Tim Irvine Forum Resident

    Austin, Texas
    I'd check out a Thorens 125 that has been VN-ified and has the long Ortofon arm ( or either of the SME offerings) on Vinyl Nirvana.
    McLover and Bill Why Man like this.
  22. Dentdog

    Dentdog Active Member

    Trans-Fi. $4600 complete.
  23. Being an old-school Thorens man, I agree with Tim Irvine and recommend Vinyl Nirvana's top-tier items at that price range. Send Dave an email with your tastes and desires in upgrades and see if he has anything that's up your alley. He'll get right back to you with a well-educated response. I'm sure he'd customize anything to suit you. The classic Thorens sound is hard to beat. If I had your budget I'd roll in this direction.
    McLover likes this.
  24. chrism1971

    chrism1971 Forum Resident

    Glos, UK
    Strong recommendation here for the Project Xtension 9 or 10. These come complete with a superb arm, in the UK an Ortofon Quintet Black (Sumiko in N.America?) and a built-in speed controller. Amazing VFM for the sound, easily comparable to Gyro SE/ Tecno/etc, without having to worry about different combinations. Also look neat. With a lid which can be removed. Cables into Project Phono RS and you're all set.
  25. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Bristol, UK
    I think the OP had a pretty good short list to start with, I've very limited experience of VPIs so can't comment, but the Michell GyroDec has been around for 35 years and although upgraded and improved over time Jon Michell pretty much got it right the first time, earlier models can be easily upgraded to current spec, I believe the VPI Prime has also been around for some time so the OP has chosen two very different decks, but both of which have proven their worth over time and have good and ongoing support from their manufacturers and are easily available brand new. If the OP buys new from a good dealer then they should set either deck up properly and in the case of the Gyro once set up it stays set up, so I'm not sure any complaints about getting the bounce right are relevant, as for belts I've never had any issues with mine on either my Gyro SE or Orbe, they last a long time and for example I can get six genuine Michell belts for the cost of one genuine flat Roksan belt. From the poll questions the OP has put a lot of thought into his short list and my advice would be to try and find a dealer where he can compare a VPI and Gyro SE, I don't know what the pricing is and which arm you'd get on the Gyro for the same cost as the VPI, but all of the arms are good and more money just gives better performance so go with whichever deck you prefer and if it's the Michell go with the best arm you can afford, but in my opinion a 309 with a HR power supply would be better than a IV without.

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