Turntable budget decision making tree

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by offbyone, May 23, 2018.

  1. offbyone

    offbyone Active Member Thread Starter

    My bottom of the line cheapo turntable just broke.

    I listen to a lot of vinyl and love music. But I wouldn't call myself an audiophile. I want to upgrade a notch up. After looking a bit, it seems I am looking to go from beginner level to intermediate at best with my budget.

    I started looking for turn tables. I was looking at the under 500$ range. I was looking at the:
    1)Uturn Orbit
    2)Rega Planar 1
    3)Project Debut Carbon DC
    4)Project Debut Carbon Espirit (likely out of my price range)

    But reading more, now I am seeing this whole other component., the phono pre-amp. I see this component seems to have similar range. You can go with a 20$ pyle one, the 200$ music fidelity, or up from there.

    So what recommendations do you have for budget? Should I get the uturn and the music fidelity or do I get the Project Espirit with a 20$ pyle? Or some other combo?

    Or am I just wasting my time with this level of money and should I get another low end turntable with built in preamps?

    thanks everyone
    displayname likes this.
  2. llama

    llama Forum Resident

    You can have a nicely appointed u turn orbit with an external Pluto preamp for under 500. I got one as a third turntable and it’s one of the best for the dollar values in audio right now. Completely satisfied with it so far.
  3. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident

    Boston, MA
    +1. I own a U-Turn Orbit walnut special with internal Pluto preamp. It's been great and the customer service from U-Turn is amazing, top notch. No affiliation but I agree with llama that U-Turn products are really good, a great value as well.

  4. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Rather than retyping a lengthy answer that would match one from a very similar thread, I'm going to direct you to my comments there and let you read on.
    Turntable Recommendations Needed!

    As for the preamp, it largely depends on your budget, your cartridge, and your other associated equipment. In my experience, it's well worth it to invest in a quality preamp. The usual suspects at the $100 price point are the UTurn Plato and Schiit Mani. If you have a budget above that, we can talk you through it. Below that I'd say you could probably stick with the internal preamp from your amp (assuming it has one).
    PhilBiker and 4011021 like this.
  5. Dhreview16

    Dhreview16 Forum Resident

    London UK
    It sounds like you have three good choices. I don't know the Orbit but you won't go wrong with either a Project or a Rega. Some things to bear in mind:
    If your amp has a phono stage you might want to spend all your $ on the deck, and get the separate phono stage later;
    If your amp doesn't have a phono stage, you may get a better deal by buying the same brand from the same store as a package e.g. Orbit as above suggestions, or Rega deck plus the Fono Mini;
    Think seriously about buying a nearly new ex demo deck from a dealer, with full warranty. As a rough guide I think you may be able to pick up a ex demo Rega Planar 2 for the same price as a new Planar 1 e.g. through Audiogon. The 2 is considered a big step up. There was a 2 recently for $525 or best offer;
    You will no doubt be delighted with however you spend your $500, but have a little think about your upgrade path now.
    If in time you envisage trading up to, say, a Planar 3 you might want to get a Planar 1 or demo 2 from a dealer with a view to subsequent trade in. Same logic for other brands.
    I hope this helps rather than confuses. Whatever you do, you'll have some nice gear from your options. Good luck.
    displayname likes this.
  6. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    Avoid Project due to reported hum issues. Go with Rega and MF phono stage if budget that limited. For real long term satisfaction a more expensive model is suggested such as PLX1000 or the Planar 3.
    4011021 and displayname like this.
  7. delmonaco

    delmonaco Forum Resident

    Sofia, Bulgaria
    I never heard the Orbit, but have some impressions about the rest of your list. I would recommend you to consider also the Audio Technica AT-LP5 - I was surprised how good it sounds, in a completely stock form with the included AT95EX cart (bypassing the internal phono stage). It also looks very well build.
  8. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    This has been asked so many times, the exact same way. Read the other threads.

    I have first hand experience with all of these. The Rega is the most solidly built deck of the lot and the easy choice IME. The Pro-Ject decks are very similar to the Music Hall decks, with most Music Hall models featuring a bit nicer additions, so add that to the collective. The U-Turn has the lowest build quality of the lot. They are OK and if you get one that works properly, they will better the plastic, Chinese crap from AT, Denon, Gemini, etc.

    A quality phono stage matters. You can do this in two steps, so don't limit your budget for the table or the phono stage. You'll wind up with money wasted on one if you get the other, or worse, two mediocre units. Buy the best turntable that you can afford, then when you can afford to again, buy the best phono preamp that you can afford. you'll get great sound that way. Same goes for the cartridge. When it comes time to upgrade that, get a decent one and have it set-up properly on your turntable. It is very nice to have a local dealer for all of this. You'll get better service by far than by mail order and as you keep coming back in for the other little upgrades later, you should develop a good relationship with them, which can be as valuable as the initial purchase down the road in many cases.
  9. llama

    llama Forum Resident

    at entry level its a 179$ TT so we do have to be realistic here, but can you substantiate the claim? How many recent examples do you know of first hand that do not work right? There is not much to go wrong. Rega starts to get better once you get into P3 territory, and the entry Projects are not really any better than the U-turn. I could have bought any of the three and I did not see much difference feature wise for the extra paid for a similarly appointed Rega or Project.

    I am not a shill, I just have not been this impressed by a budget item in a long time.
    displayname and H8SLKC like this.
  10. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Uppsala Sweden
    In my eyes the Rega wins here. You want something plug and play, set and forget kind of system as I understand. Rega is excellent for this and give you the best sound for the money that Im aware.

    A good phono stage can make a big difference and if you dont have anything right now a huge step for you might be the Schiit Mani, while still staying in that moderate price range of 100$ or slightly more.

    I hear these products pair together nicely as well.
    CCrider92 likes this.
  11. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Vallejo, CA
    I don't think the current crop of entry level tables deliver much value, but given the choice of take the Rega.
    CCrider92 likes this.
  12. ashulman

    ashulman Forum Resident

    Utica, NY
    If it were me, I'd allocate about 200 to the preamp and 300 to the table. Not sure where the rega falls but that would be my first choice. If you have audiophile aspirations, upgrade options should be a major factor. If not, any of those should give you good , fun sound
  13. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
  14. Apesbrain

    Apesbrain Forum Resident

    East Coast, USA
    A Rega Planar 1 plus Behringer pp400 is exactly $500 before tax. Compared to what you had, this should be a significant upgrade. What is your old turntable and what amp/receiver?
    CCrider92 likes this.
  15. Lebowski

    Lebowski Hey, careful man, there's a beverage here!

    Eastern MA
    My friend recently bought a refurbished U-Turn Orbit. They don't publicize it on their website, but I think he called or emailed and asked about it. He got one with a white plinth, acrylic platter, OM5E, and cue lever for $260.
  16. Michael Rose

    Michael Rose Forum Resident

    Last edited: May 24, 2018
    avanti1960 and displayname like this.
  17. raye_penber

    raye_penber Well-Known Member

    I have a Project Debut Carbon Esprit and have never had any problem with hum or noise (though I'm aware that others have -- so it is a legitimate thing).
  18. offbyone

    offbyone Active Member Thread Starter

    Wow thanks so much for all the replies. You guys rock. I'll try to respond to them all.

    The orbit + pluto is an option I am strongly considering. The question I had here is should I get the orbit with built in pluto or buy it separately. The built option seems like the biggest bang for buck of everything on list. If you buy it separately then you could upgrade in future, but lets be honest, probably several years before another upgrade so does it matter?

    I realized that this thread was a bit repetitive on existing ones. I actually read a ton of threads before even signing up and that is where I got most of my ideas from.
    toddfan and displayname like this.
  19. offbyone

    offbyone Active Member Thread Starter

    Thanks for the tip on the site. I am surfing the options there. Lot of vintage high end stuff that is beyond me.
  20. offbyone

    offbyone Active Member Thread Starter

    Alright, I got 2 new options. The Music Hall (MMF2.2?) and the Technica AT-LP5(can't find that model but looking at others).
    It is like one of those menus at a diner where there are just too many options :)
  21. offbyone

    offbyone Active Member Thread Starter

    My problem/hesitation with the Rega and the project for that matter is that everyone says the entry level one is a waste of time.
    I have read this on this site in 20 different threads. "....don't waste your time with planar 1, instead save up for the 3..."
    Or if I get the Planar 1 plan on upgrading soon.

    The 3 is a $1000 and then you still need to buy an appropriate preamp. It is hard for me to wrap my head around that the Planar 1 is basically not enough, when it is fairly pricey.
    H8SLKC and Michael Rose like this.
  22. offbyone

    offbyone Active Member Thread Starter

    My current system is pretty dated in general. I have an old Technics receiver. I have a fairly fancy Technics Cassette deck. I probably will get judged by admitting this, but I used to be a big grateful dead tape head and had hundreds of tapes. I will likely be slowly upgrading everything I got. It is all pretty average and getting old. The turntable upgrade has become acute simply because it stopped working.
    H8SLKC and displayname like this.
  23. Dhreview16

    Dhreview16 Forum Resident

    London UK
    Folks are bound to suggest decks beyond your budget. That's part of the nature of the Forum. Go find a couple of dealers and try and listen to a Shortlist with your favourite or best sounding albums. Stick to a budget (or close to) and see what's on offer, new or nearly new/ex demo. There's no point in looking at Ferrari's if your budget is a Mustang, and nothing wrong with one of those. Don't let it get over complicated.
    toddfan, H8SLKC, vwestlife and 2 others like this.
  24. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Here's the thing about vinyl, it's a pricey hobby. I'm not going to sugar coat it. It's just the reality of it. But now that we have that out of the way, I'll weigh in on a few positives. One pointer is to remember you are reading an internet audiophile forum. This is where the people that are REALLY into this stuff live. How deep you want to go into the hobby is up to you.

    Here's a good analogy for you. My family is really into cycling. I am not. I view their purchases as crazy, as they do mine. I've never owned a bicycle that's been worth more than $350 probably. By their standards, that's not a "real" bike. And I've ridden a "real" bike, and I agree. But I still don't want a real bike either. Here's where the vinyl analogy is perfect: my sister just got her first "real" bike, $2,800. My mom's bike is closer to $8K I think. They are truly impressive machines. And my mom's bike was a compromise in her eyes. She actually was very close to going another level up.
    My sister and my mom will never own anything better than a good soundbar/sub and bluetooth speakers. Granted, they have nicer ones thanks to me, but they have zero interest in a "real" stereo. I also can always ride bikes with them, but I'm still not ever going to invest a few grand into a bike. And I'm totally happy with that. Luckily with bikes you can go to a bike shop and see the top 5 models under $500 in one place. With audio that's not as common. But if I went into a cyclist forum and asked which Trek, Specialized or Schwinn to get under $500, I'm sure some people would have some very heated input, and others would say don't even bother with those and to save at least 1-2 grand. Any cyclist that's into the sport is going to say don't even bother with an entry level Trek just like any audiophile is going to say don't bother with the Debut Carbon or the Planar 1. As an audiophile I agree.

    It's not that those tables won't get the job done. It's just that we've been down this road. We got hooked. We needed the next level, and I'm sure most of us needed it sooner than we expected. Because I'm pretty firmly sticking with this hobby for a long time at this point, I kind of wish I would have saved longer and gone up another level or two. But at the same time I just wasn't ready to make that commitment when I got my UTurn. These entry level tables can all serve you well. And they can all help you get into the hobby. And if you decide you don't want to go any deeper into the rabbit hole, they can all serve you well for a long time. Each table has some positives and negatives, and we can really only share our opinions and experiences with each. But please remember when you see the sticker shock that you're asking an audience that lives at the deep end of the pool. I think these forums help get so many people into the hobby (myself included) but they can also scare people off because they think vinyl can only be played by gear in the thousands. We have a reason for that stance, but there is also a reason the AT-120 and Crosleys are still selling like hot cakes.

    Dated isn't bad. I'm not a vintage gear guru, but I know that some people are surprised at what some minor refurbishing can do.
    Last edited: May 25, 2018
    Twinsfan007, toddfan, JohnO and 4 others like this.
  25. willboy

    willboy Forum Resident

    Wales, UK
    Given that each and every Pro-ject Debut Carbon Esprit is made of the same parts, then it does make me wonder how some owners have trouble with hum while others (the vast majority I suspect), like you, never have a problem. Could the main reason be down to set-up issues such as poorly positioned components, unshielded cables, or even variable electricity supplies of a certain country or district?
    raye_penber likes this.

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