Lots of questions from a TT newbie


New member
Jan 8, 2011
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Hi everyone!

I've head the vinyl itch for quite a while, and I have decided that 2012 is the year I will finally scratch it. I am looking for something cheap (£200-£300) (upgradeable?) to get me started, just in case I like the idea of playing vinyl more than the practice of it. :oops:

I have got 101 questions, so please bear with me.

1. the technical side. So you have a TT, a tonearm, a cartdrige, and a stylus? And you can also exchange/upgrade belt, platter, mat? Is there anything in a TT that you cannot upgrade? In fact, part of the reason I would like to get a TT is the fact that you can always upgrade little things.

Generally speaking, when you buy a new TT (i.e. Rega P3-24 can be had for 279 these days) they come with tonearm only, is that correct?

I've heard lots of people say that if buying used, basically disregard any cartridge on there as you should always buy a new one. Is this nonsense at entry level price?

As with the rest of my hifi, I prefer to buy 2nd hand/ex-dem and aim for slightly more than I would be able to afford new, but I have no idea what sort of issues to look out for when purchasing a used TT.

Also, at this sort of price point, how much would I 'need' to spend on a reasnoable phono pre-amp?

and lastly, I've seen a Rega Planar 3 with RB 300 tonearm and Nagaoka MP11 gold cartridge for £195. Is that a reasonable price?

Thank you all for reading!


Well-known member
Jan 10, 2008
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Hi there,

Firstly, definitely buy second hand - this way if you find vinyl isn't for you, you won't lose much. Cartridges are a little different. Moving magnet cartridges will generally be fine, as the stylus assembly is replaceable - and you should always budget for a replacement stylus. It may prove more cost effective to buy a whole new cart though - the brilliant little AT-95E is only £35 or so all-in.

Moving coil (and Rega MM) cartridges are a bit different as in nearly all cases the stylus is fixed and can only be replaced by "re-tipping" - involving sending it off to a specialist. One for the experts I'm afraid.

In your price range, you have a lot of options. From the simple (but still upgradable) Regas and Projects, to the Linn Axis, Manticore Mantra and Systemdek IIX, all the way through to the direct drive Japanese decks like the SL1200/10, there is a lot to choose from. Most have their "character" and all have their own sound.

A reasonable phono pre-amp will be somewhere around £80-100 new, but you can normally pick up a rega phono mini or Project stage for around half that secondhand.

As for upgrading, well, where to start. The regas have multiple kits, mats, arm re-wires, new motors etc. Projects have outboard power supplies, and as for the SL1210 - how long have you got? There are versions of the SL1210 with new bearings, power supplies, copper platter mats etc that are capable of running a super-arm like the SME V. Depends how far you want to go really. Axis and Systemdek are a little more limited in tweakability, but are good solid decks for the money.

That Rega is ok (albeit maybe a little pricy), but while the nagaoka is a good cart, replacement styli aren't cheap for it. If you are sure the stylus is in good shape (i.e. you trust the seller implicitly) then it would be a good price.

For me? See below. I love my 1210 which is in totally standard form - it's bulletproof, reliable and sounds great (to my ears). And for £200-250 I consider it a bargain. But as always, you might need to go through a few different TTs before you find "the one" for you, and some people never get there!

Have fun...


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