I just ordered my first turntable

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by 312elements, Aug 6, 2022.

  1. 312elements

    312elements Active Member Thread Starter

    I just ordered my first turntable and I wanted to thank you all for the help. This forum has been a fantastic resource and I'm grateful for all of the colorful thread, even the ones that veered way off topic from time to time (I'm looking at your SL-1200 thread).

    I made the decision about a month ago to get an SL-1200GR. I was ready to place the order and then found this forum. 500+ pages later I couldn't help but feel like I'd regret not buying the SL-1200G which wasn't in the budget and ultimately led me to looking at other options.

    I called my local hi-fi shop, which is great, but they're not a Technics dealer. Most of what they sell is way out of budget, but they had a few tables in on trade that caught my attention. I stopped in and gave them a listen and it was helpful to be able to touch them and hear them and see what all of the fuss was about. That visit sent me down a VPI rabbit hole and the next thing I knew I was getting really close to the price of the SL-1200G again which wasn't in the budget.

    From the posts in this forum, I've come to realize in that $1500-$2500 range that a lot of these tables are more similar than they are different. I didn't know what I wanted, but thread after thread I started to learn what I didn't want.

    In the end, it was a Sota Escape with the Condor/Road Runner upgrade and an Origin Live Silver tonearm that won me over. While it's not a table without compromise, they were the compromises that I was willing to live with.

    Eclipse Motor (based on my research, best in class.)
    Condor/Road Runner (Easy switching playback speed and rock solid timing with feedback correction)
    Origin Live Tonearm (VTA adjustment and generally perceived as being a step above its direct competitors at this price point)
    Assorted trickle down tech from the higher end Sota models with plinth materials and bearing.
    Perhaps not the sexiest machine on the market, but not the ugliest either.

    I don't expect the table to ship until Monday (Hifi Heaven in Green Bay), but I'm excited. Will I regret not getting the Sl-1200GR? I don't know, but I doubt it and even if I do... it's not so crazy expensive that I couldn't justify adding another table down the road. Will I regret passing on some of those older used VPI's? I don't think so either. They were at the very top of my budget and they all seemed like projects begging for upgrades and fixes. I could see having a table in need of TLC as a second table, but not as my very first turntable. I'll report back once I have it all set up. I've got a Hana SL and Darlington Labs MP7/SU7 sitting here waiting for some action.

    For what it's worth, the other tables that were on my list were:

    Marantz TT15
    Clearaudio Concept
    Rega RP6
    Technics SL-1200GR
    E.A.T. B Sharp

    Time to go Record shopping. If you leave a comment about the post, feel free to add your favorite album to actively listen to as a suggestion.
    bluesky, JamesRR, intv7 and 26 others like this.
  2. Hardiman

    Hardiman Forum Resident

    Enjoy the journey! It sounds like you've set yourself up great for a starting analogue set up. I've been building my own step up transformer unit for my MC cart recently and when testing it out I've found myself reaching for a UK original pressing of John Martyn's Solid Air, I don't think I'll ever get tired of listening to that record and after my recent cart upgrade from a Hana ML to my Van Den Hul Frog Gold that record has REALLY come to life!
    Doc Diego, jonwoody and 312elements like this.
  3. 312elements

    312elements Active Member Thread Starter

    It would have taken me a long time to get to that album. I'll be sure to grab it. I got to sit in (documentary crew) on a few of the sessions for "Johnny Boy would love this", the tribute album and it was a really cool experience. At the time it sent me deep down a John Martyn rabbit hole.
    Hardiman likes this.
  4. Hardiman

    Hardiman Forum Resident

    Oh wow, I never knew about that. If there is a documentary I'll have to give it a watch. It's sometimes hard to separate the art from the artist but in the case of John Martyn it's mandatory. The bloke was a nasty piece of work by all accounts.
    312elements likes this.
  5. Lowgroove

    Lowgroove Forum Resident

    Congrats on joining the vinyl club. I am sure you will enjoy the ride.

    It is too hard to pick a favourite album, but if you have even a passing interest in jazz, blue note is currently producing 2 series of reissues - Tone Poet and Classic. These are great vinyl buying. If new to Jazz try Art Blakey - Moanin’ or Sonny Clark - cool strutting’.

    I just finished listening to Bill Withers live from Carnegie Hall which is a fantastic live album. And to show there is good vinyl from the last 20 years try Daft Punk - Random Access Memories.
    Djohm, Isitquiex and 312elements like this.
  6. allied333

    allied333 Audiophile

    This review states the SL-1200GR is not better. Sota Escape vs SL1200G here:
    'The Ortofon 2M Blue has never sounded better in my listening room, and even with the modest Music Hall phono preamp the system was competitive with my personal system of a $1,699 Technics SL-1200GR turntable, $649 LP Gear The Vessel R3SM cartridge and $1,399 Graham Slee Accession phono preamp, which together cost almost $3,800.

    Despite the large difference in cost I could not choose one as being clearly better, and only by adding the $1,600 London Super Gold cartridge to the Technics did I consider the sound to be clearly superior – though this brought the system price up to almost twice that of the SOTA package, and an exotic cartridge like the London changes the equation to the point where comparisons are meaningless. The SOTA Escape clearly punches above its weight and is sure to find a lot of friends among belt-drive turntable aficionados. SOTA’s lifetime trade-in program promises lasting value as well.

    How much did I like the SOTA Escape package I reviewed? I liked it so much that I did not want to let it go, and I purchased the review sample rather than send it back. It now graces my listening room and I am continuing to enjoy the wide, expansive soundstage and toe-tapping rhythm every day'.
  7. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    It warms the cockles of my heart when I read how well our new vinyl champion researched into the pro's and cons of both very clearly good turntables.
    Both are likely to sound different.
    Which one can you not live without?
    AND to accept that nothing is perfect
    But its compromises are food enough for this guy.
    I wish more aspiring vinyl buddies would take this stance.
    It could save yourself a lot of money.
    HiFi Guy, myles, jonwoody and 3 others like this.
  8. B. Scarpia

    B. Scarpia WatchingYouWatchingMe

    What a great choice you made! I've looked at and come back to that dealers ad several times in the past few months. Origin Live and SOTA, can't miss at your budget. Do report back.
    312elements likes this.
  9. bluenosens

    bluenosens Forum Resident

    malagash centre
    I think you'll love that turntable. A good friend of mine still spins vinyl on his Sota from the same time I bought my Roksan Xerxes. The Sota was, to my ear, a very musical TT. You'll find yourself scouring the local record stores and listening for hours on end. It can be a very heady experience. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. :):edthumbs:
    312elements likes this.
  10. Tim Irvine

    Tim Irvine Forum Resident

    Austin, Texas
    Nice selection from a group of terrific alternatives. I would not presume to recommend a record without knowing your musical preferences, but my personal latest terrific acquisition was a mid-1950s recording of Glenn Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations.
    312elements likes this.
  11. 312elements

    312elements Active Member Thread Starter

    i got into jazz during the pandemic. I spent a lot of time at home with headphones on and settled into the hard bop/ post bop as being the most fun to listen to, so I ended up a big Blakey fan.

    My reintroduction to Bill Withers came via the apple documentary series 1971: the year that music changed everything. That said, I’m not familiar with that album. I’ll check it out .
    Djohm, Lowgroove and felizecat like this.
  12. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    Congratulations. It’s a tough time to be joining the vinyl club these days. The cost building a good lp collection has skyrocketed. But it’s still really fun and rewarding, and you can’t put a price on that :righton:
    AudioOut58 and 312elements like this.
  13. aorecords

    aorecords Forum Resident

    Sota makes great tables. Lucky you, if you need service the factory is just over the border in Delevan Wisconsin.
    woody and 312elements like this.
  14. Neonknight1

    Neonknight1 Well-Known Member

    The Escape is a nice turntable, you get a top flight bearing, platter, and motor/controller combo. Did you go for the big platter? I had one here for extended listening sessions and it worked out quite well. The key to getting the best sound out of it is what it sits on and how its isolated from outside vibrations. In my minds eye I always saw this table as the innards of a SOTA Sapphire table with the bearing from the Comet. The phenolic plinth looks basically like the sub chassis of the Sapphire table, but without the fancy schmancy bearing. The Escape plinth is a kind of industrial looking table, but make no mistake its an excellent performer.
    312elements likes this.
  15. Davey

    Davey NP: Luke Howard ~ All Of Us (2022)

    SF Bay Area, USA
    Sounds like a really nice way to enter the vinyl world, congrats on making such a solid and well-reasoned choice. I hadn't seen that new phenolic resin plinth model before, interesting and quite different from the SOTA table designs in my mind :)

    My favorite record as of late is the one that has often been appearing in the NP line beneath my name, the latest from Carmen Villain titled Only Love From Now On. I have a tendency to listen to it over and over, and I'm doing it again today. The ghostly cosmic jazz draws you into a Jon Hassell- inspired Fourth World, fluidly moving through ambient, dub, exotica and field recordings like a conversation, with trumpet, clarinet, and flutes adding to the organic feel. Very intriguing album that continues to evoke an otherwordly journey on each new listen. Below line borrowed from the press release ...

    Only Love From Now On is fueled by the sense of scale in feeling small in the face of things so large, the contemplation of how the biggest impact we can have is in the people close to us, the attempt to make sure that impact is a positive one, and the choice to try to focus on love instead of fear.

    Shown playing the second side on my primary vinyl spinner these days ...

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2022
    Static, jonwoody and 312elements like this.
  16. 312elements

    312elements Active Member Thread Starter

    the version that hifi heaven sells had the 1” platter and I was told there’s a 1.5” option as well. I will likely upgrade to that as it seems relatively inexpensive.

    With the fistful of knowledge I have I came to the same conclusion regarding the lineage of the plinth/bearing design.

    Regarding isolation, I listen in the basement in a treated room on a concrete floor. I’ll have to do some experimenting into how best to elevate it off if the floor, but going back to the comprises I was willing to live with… not being in a room that was prone to floor bounce contributed to how I weighted the trade offs. It’s less about being the best turntable and more about being the best within budget and for my personal and specific use case. From what I can tell, this seems like an under-rated table in the price category.
  17. 312elements

    312elements Active Member Thread Starter

    I’ll check it out. Thank you and the finish on your turntable is beautiful.
  18. Neonknight1

    Neonknight1 Well-Known Member

    That is the way I kind of view the table also. Top flight motor and speed controller, its really what is used on their top tier tables. I have a SOTA Cosmos Eclipse and its the same package. A high quality bearing and platter combo. A good value for the dollar arm with the Origin Live, and a plinth material that holds all the bits and pieces and is respectable. The main compromise for the table is the plinth, and its a good trade off of cost versus function. For the cost, I think you get a fine table. I also doubt the .5 inches of platter really makes a significant difference, not with that speed controller, and an inch of acrylic is not going to be significantly more resonant. But I think its not a terribly expensive up charge.
    312elements likes this.
  19. 312elements

    312elements Active Member Thread Starter

    Found the Bill Withers album in a shop today and grabbed it! Thanks
    Lowgroove likes this.
  20. jonwoody

    jonwoody Tragically Unhip

    Washington DC
    Congratulations on the new table and also a very well written post. I love that you researched possible options here but then actually went out and auditioned as many as you could! I think buying a turntable, especially your first is something that requires a good dealer. The arcanities of setup, trouble shooting, obviously the ability to listen and audition are all key, but more than that you actually physically interacting with your table is so important.

    I'm a huge jazz fan but will recommend a non jazz album I've had forever that's a total blast to listen to: Treacherous A Brief History of the Neville Brothers on Rhino.
    312elements likes this.
  21. 312elements

    312elements Active Member Thread Starter

    thanks for the kind words and the recommendation. I really wanted to work with my local dealer. It’s funny because this hasn’t been the easiest thing to shop for. I don’t know that anyone is to blame but I find it odd that the online retailers are so bad at email. Maybe they’re under staffed, but there’s a big local retail shop that was so short with me via email that I didn’t even want to go in. As I mentioned, my usual shop didn’t really have the stuff I wanted. This was a hard purchase to make. I sent a few emails back and forth to Sota and they always replied, but I was underwhelmed by the responses. Honestly that’s why I made the post. This forum taught me more about turntables than any of the retailers. I chose hifi heaven largely based on the positive experiences posted here and partially based on the geography (it’s about a 4hr drive.) But if im being honest I could have been upsold if I was dealing with people better trained in sales. No regrets. I have a tracking number. It will ship tomorrow and I assume I’ll get it Tuesday or Wednesday. Spent the day cruising Milwaukee Ave in Wicker Park popping in and out of record shops.
    jonwoody and aorecords like this.
  22. The Pinhead


  23. FJC1966

    FJC1966 The Prestonian

    Lancashire, U.K.
    Almost anything from Analogue Productions, pick your favourite Artist and Genre and if they have a version, you can rest assured it's likely to be definitive and deliver audiophile gold....
    bluemooze, Lowgroove and 312elements like this.
  24. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock

    Best Coast USA
    Meh. Dude goes on and on about how “you’re gonna HATE me, you’re gonna get all pissed off”, but at the end of the day… nah. ‘Cuz I’ve heard all his arguments before, and just don’t agree.

    Look, if digital sounded better to me, I’d be all-in on digital. But it doesn’t, so I’m not. And if I was willing to put up with all the practical drawbacks of reel-to-reel, I’d be all-in on reel-to-reel. But I’m not, so I’m not.

    I think he thinks he’s a lot more controversial than he really is. But there’s been lots of guys like him since at least the ‘80s… not much new here, beyond the “it’s a CONSPIRACY!” insinuations. *shrug*
    BrentB, HiFi Guy, bever70 and 2 others like this.
  25. Static

    Static Well-Known Member

    Congrats on the table! I started out with inexpensive tables then I got a Technics Sl1200 MK2 1994. Set it up for home use. Since its my 2ndary table I use a Ortofon 2m Blue on it...with a 2m Red for VG+ or lesser vinyl. A while back I decided to get a VPI with a Soundsmith cart. Both tables are amazing. But the VPI is clearly the winner.
    Best thing about a turntable...and others may disagree...and thats ok...but remember the cart is a huge part of the "sound". Get the best one you can. Cables and phono preamp are huge too.
    Take your time...enjoy...then have fun with it as you upgrade. Or ...based on the table you have...dont do anything and just enjoy it.

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