Can a cheap turntable damage records (MY 1ST POST!)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by dennis1077, Jan 5, 2010.

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  1. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector

    Finding someone to show you how it all works is the best idea I've heard:righton:

    Ideally, that person would be a friend.

    I grew up as a teenager playing vinyl, but then abandoned it when CDs came out. I completely forgot about the whole process for about 15 years.

    About ten years ago, a "vinyl knowledgeable" friend loaned me an old 1970s Thorens (a good brand) turntable and a 1970s garage sale Sony receiver with a built in phono stage. I bought a fresh $70 Sumiko Pearl cartridge. This system would not damage any records, and actually sounded pretty nice--to my ears, truckloads better than the usual CD equipment. My friend spent an afternoon showing me how to work the turntable, and I was ready to go--been hooked ever since. I eventually went on to buy my own used Linn turntable, which has been very satisfactory. I just keep upgrading and learning a bit more each year.

    Good luck!
  2. seed_drill

    seed_drill Senior Member

    Tryon, NC, USA
    You used to be able to order halfway decent 9-volt battery powered ones from Radio Shack for around $30.00. I don't know if they are still offered. I gave mine to my uncle so he could run a turntable into his hard drive.
  3. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker member number 666

    Northern VA, USA
    :righton: +100
  4. jupiter8

    jupiter8 Forum Resident

    NJ, USA
    Hey dennis good luck-don't be intimidated by audio snobs-you can probably put together a decent setup for a few hundred bucks-

    Back when I got into vinyl lot of my records became unplayable because of my cheap turntable back in the day--two toddlers and not much room is why I stick to cds and my ipod these days!

    I don't know if you have any good flea markets or anything out there, but I was able to score a good Dual turntable for $10 a few years back, and even a Technics SL-1200 for $50. It might take awhile but you could score...
  5. Tony Plachy

    Tony Plachy Senior Member

    Pleasantville, NY
    Denis, Welcome to the forum. :wave: Why do some people spend so much on a TT or an entire stereo system? It is like comparing a Yugo to a Ferrari. They will both get you from point A to B, however, the ride is a whole lot different in one versus the other. :D

    Here is a place in your area that will blow your mind away. I suggest you go there, be honest and listen to some of their gear. It will be a good education. :)
  6. hvbias

    hvbias Midrange magic

    What receiver do you have? Surprisingly a good number of home theater receivers do have a phono stage built in. Good luck in your journey, you have the right attitude starting up!
  7. Toka

    Toka Active Member

    You should definitely try and get yours eyes and ears on as many different 'tables as possible before you buy anything. Suggestions/reviews are great but mean nothing compared to your own experience. Also check out the forum at some members near you and start up a conversation. Many are willing to have you over and check out some gear (that applies here as well BTW).
  8. www.records

    www.records Active Member

  9. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    They can be as cheap as $15-$20, but like anything, you get what you pay for.

    On the cheap side, the only acceptable one I've heard is the Behringer PP400 @ $20. It doesn't sound fantastic, but it's not terrible either, and it doesn't hum like other cheap preamps tend to do. It's good enough for use with, say, a small bookshelf stereo, but its limitations are quickly revealed when used with a better system.

    For an entry-level audiophile-quality preamp, you can expect to spend around $150 to start. In this price range, the best values are the Rega Fono Mini ($150) and Cambridge Audio 640P ($180).

    Back to turntables...

    For a vinyl beginner, IMO the best choice is a Technics direct drive, such as the classic SL-1200 family. While these are often associated today with DJs and scratchers, they were designed in the '70s for audiophile use, and are excellent tables. They are virtually indestructible, super easy to set up (RTFM!), require low maintenance, are still handmade in Japan, and have many upgrade paths available (see Out of the box they sound terrific too.

    Brand new they sell for anywhere from $350 on up - you have to check around for the best deal. (Often DJ supply companies like have the best price. Guitar Center sells 'em too.) (Keep in mind that you will need to seperately purchase a cartridge as well. Search this forum for more info on that subject.)

    You can find them all the time on Craig's List for as low as $150, but beware! DJs are pretty rough on their 1200s, so you will need to check the condition carefully before handing over your cash. (See The good news is, even if a 1200 is trashed and the price is right, most replacement parts are available.

    Many audiophiles swear by the SL-1200, and their legendary ruggedness means that it could be the last turntable you will ever need to buy. I have one made in 1979 that is still going strong.

  10. Music Emporium

    Music Emporium Forum Resident

    my advice would be to buy your first serious turntable at a local dealer who can teach you the basics and make the basic adjustments so that you don't feel scared whenever you play your records, I think it'd be more sensible to save some money and invest it on a better table...meanwhile enjoy your cd's and mp-3's
  11. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Make sure what you have (even if it's "cheap") is set up properly and your records and stylus are kept clean. Perhaps buy used records that are cheap and can be played without so much worry. It's a good sign that you care about your records, but most important: Enjoy the music!
  12. dennis1077

    dennis1077 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've got a Sony STR-DH100. Just a cheap $120 reciever with no phono input. That reminds me of something else I've been wondering. Do you need a very nice set-up to take advantage of the qualities offered by an audiophile quality turntable? Would an expensive turntable sent through a cheap reciever and tiny bookshelf speakers be pointless?
  13. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    I wonder how easy it really is to destroy a record with bad equipment. I could not have had a cheaper turntable in high school. Part of a rack system (can't recall the brand, but it was a no name). No adjustments possible, built in cheapo cart. I had pennies taped to the head to help with tracking. Never cleaned or replaced the needle, never cleaned a record or put them in fancy inner sleeves. Never would have thought of any of that stuff back then. To top it off they were all stored improperly for 20 some odd years, stacked on their side in a closet at my parent's house.

    Now that I have pulled all my old records out of storage to play on my new Rega/Dynavector, they all play pretty much perfectly (although some needed a little cleaning). May be I'm lucky. May be I didn't play them enough to cause damage (I tended to tape them to play in the car and not play them that much at home). I don't know, but it seems if it was that easy to destroy a record with crappy equipment and lack of care I would have done it :shrug:

    Of course, the obvious counter-example is that so many used records sound like crap. It really makes me wonder what people used to do to their records. . .
  14. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    You can start by upgrading your speakers if they need upgrading. You should get a phono preamp of some kind, even a DJ mixer would help in this case as they are phono preamps, plus if you get more components and have run out of components you can hook up, you can hook up more components up in it. The other option is to get a replacement receiver such as the Sherwood RX-4109 at Radio Shack for about $100. If a turntable isn't important to you and you have more components to hook up, you can get one of those 4-way Audio/Video Selectors sold at Radio Shack, Best Buy, etc. and you'll get more line inputs for additional line input components.
  15. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    Very easy to do so, the proof is seen in thrift stores all the time. Those 50s-60s consoles were the worst on vinyl, even though they were what was promoted as high fidelity at the time.
  16. attym

    attym Forum Resident

    I've gotten to the point I won't play my records on a table that I'm not sure if its been set up properly.
  17. winged creature

    winged creature Forum Resident

    what speakers do you have?
  18. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker member number 666

    Northern VA, USA
    To answer your last question: Yes, it would.

    Your receiver is not the equivalent of a boom box, it is a competent mid-fi piece capable of reasonably good sound. The Pioneer turntable you have is not comparable, it is not nearly as good as the receiver you have. A reasonable upgrade in price/performance will make a gigantic difference for you. However, Most of the turntables recommended on this thread so far are IMO complete overkill for you. The ones I recommended, the Sony PSLX350H (not the Sony PSLX250H!!!!) and the Audio Technica PL120 would fit in nice with the rest of your system and they would be very gentle on your vinyl.

    Again, IMO. Also, going to a high-end shop just to see what's there and get a good introduction to the technology is fun, too.
  19. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    You can certainly do a lot worse than an Audio Technica AT-PL120. I used one for a few years until I upgraded my system, and it is a fine entry-level budget table with lots of nice feautures. It's a copycat of the Technics SL-1200 I recommended earlier (but isn't of the same quality level). For $150-200, it comes with a so-so cartridge and built-in preamp - which can be upgraded later - but it will at least get you started.

  20. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker member number 666

    Northern VA, USA
    The 'built-in preamp' means you can plug it right in to that nice little Sony stereo receiver!

    Here's a picture of the Sony I like:


    The Sony is also a Technics 1200 clone, and appears to have the same competent A-T cartridge installed, but has less "DJ" features.

    Either of these two very modest models (as well as some others) would be a substantial upgrade, both in terms of being gentle on the records, and also in making the records sound a LOT better than the OP's current turntable.
  21. dennis1077

    dennis1077 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    They're by Sony. They're little bookshelf speakers that cost $50 from Amazon brand new.
  22. dennis1077

    dennis1077 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yea, my drummer (and the only other vinyl collector I know personally) is telling me I'm crazy for looking at a $400 turntable. He said his brother played records on a cheap turntable for 15 years and never had an issue. I buy a lot of used records and who knows what kinds of systems they were played on.
  23. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker member number 666

    Northern VA, USA
    Your drummer is right IMO. I think you can get a really big upgrade for less than $200.

    I also buy a lot of used records - some are pristine and perfect, some are a complete mess.

    Also, I do know the systems that some of my older records were played on, and sometimes I can't can't believe they survived intact.
  24. dennis1077

    dennis1077 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Granted, I'm not very experienced in the vinyl world, but my impression is vinyl is considering more resilient than I initially thought. I've bought records that looked like hell, covered in dirt and dust and ended up cleaning up very well and playing nicely.
  25. dennis1077

    dennis1077 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    These may be exactly what I'm looking for. I wish I bought these instead of that Pioneer PL-900.
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