Turntables - New versus "Vintage"

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Oxfordian

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Mar 20, 2021
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Goodness, mansplaining is alive and well still in 2023...

Can you compare? Sure you can. You absolutely can.

Have I listened to these decks? No.

Can I comment? Yes.

"Improvements in manufacturing processes"?

You mean, cost cutting using the best plastic money can buy? OK, got it.

The aforesaid Rotel, Sansui, AR, Technics, lay waste to these new plastic fantastics. Wise up.
Oh dear, it’s a shame that you have to resort to jibes instead of a rational answer. I’m out of here.
 

Symples

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2021
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I had a "vintage" turntable. A Dual CS505-II deluxe (The deluxe was covered in vinyl make to look like wood. So I found out after I had purchased on)

It was a well regarded turntable of the time. A good review in What Hifi is what had steered me in that direction.

Previously I had an ADC 1700 (plastic and was susceptible to noise) and the Dual was much better in it's resistance to airborne sound.

However, both these turntables were at the bargain-bin end of hifi and even though the Dual was well regarded. I was not too impressed with it's build quality and I thought an average sound.

I do not think that the Dual would compare too well with an equivalent priced turntable of today.
To be honest, I think todays turntable are constructed to a higher quality level,
 
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manicm

Well-known member
For around 1000 pounds Technics still make a superbly make machine. Tbh that's where my money would go if I were in the market. It's also for the direct drive and convenience.
 
I've just been bumping my gums on the main HiFi forum about the current issue and the state of what passes for an acceptable range of turntables in which to invest your (sub £500) cash - and the north of £500 wasn't much better.

So I land on this thread and you know, what you can buy today compared to what you could buy when I was getting into the hobby in the late 70s and into the 80s doesn't begin to compare. Rotel RP850, Sansui SR222 up to the model V version, Technics SL-D2 (and variants at the budget end), Dual CS-505 - the AR EB101 anybody?! - and the rest. If you had a bit more cash to spend, you might get a Thorens TD160 or 166. If you had a bit less, a BSR McDonald. If you were loaded, a Linn or an Ariston RD11.

I don't see anything available today outwith Project or Rega that's remotely close to those decks. Mass produced, low cost, and not much worthy of 5 stars, but yet, lo and behold, they get 5 stars. And no, I haven't listened to them, but then again, there's nothing in most of them that would make me want to listen to them.
You seem to forget that those decks were also built to a budget, they had to be as there were so many more competitors in those days.
Did it make them any better than today's decks? No, and I have owned quite a few.
At least people back then realised the importance of isolation, they had to.....
Wow and flutter figures were usually horrendous and the only real benefit is they very rarely came fitted with a substandard cartridge, at least they left that up to you.
 

record_spot

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May 30, 2015
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You seem to forget that those decks were also built to a budget, they had to be as there were so many more competitors in those days.
Did it make them any better than today's decks? No, and I have owned quite a few.
At least people back then realised the importance of isolation, they had to.....
Wow and flutter figures were usually horrendous and the only real benefit is they very rarely came fitted with a substandard cartridge, at least they left that up to you.

Haven't forgotten anything really. The RP850, AR-EB101 and Sansui SR-222 are but three examples of great build to a budget. What you get now for your £250 is plastic ballast. Having been there, I remember well, too, how good many of those decks were.
 

matthewpianist

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Feb 18, 2022
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I'm presently spending some time with an all-vintage system (streamer aside, obviously), each piece carefully selected as a good example of its make and model. It's the most enjoyable and involving sound I've had in a long time, and one of those systems which just keeps you listening.

Buying those items today, serviced and in good condition, is a bargain. Buying the same kit new now would cost multiple times more - that's the nature of inflation. You do need to know what you're looking for though, as there's plenty of traps to fall into when buying older kit. There's also tricks to choosing the right sellers to buy from. I bought a PL12D years ago which turned up wrecked because the seller had simply put the turntable, casually wrapped in bubble wrap but with platter and counterweight still in place and no tie on the tonearm, into a box. The sub-platter didn't have transit screws in it either. The seller I bought from this time packed it better than Rega pack a new one. Likewise the Denton XP2s - sent in specially formed polystyrene cubes, set into a strong double-walled box.
 
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NADman

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Jul 26, 2023
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I have owned a number of budget TT's over the years including Dual, Project and Rega and discovered most of their drawbacks include flimsy build and rumble issues, bits falling off etc. but after using an Ariston RD80 (very underrated deck) for some years i upgraded to a Linn Sondek, imho i highly recommend any vintage suspended sub chassis design over most modern budget players, expensive layout at first but will reap dividends in the future!
 

Rodolfo

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Jul 31, 2023
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My preference, bias: I have a vintage made-in-Japan (in mostly-plastic, it appears, by the by ;)) Technics SL-L3 that still works great -that is, it fully meets my expectations for nice sound from my as-old and even-older, and newer albums. If it started failing, I'd first take it to a local shop, hopefully for restoration, or I'd shop used, patiently, for another vintage beautifully-maintained, stylish-of-course made-in-Japan gem.
 

TheLastMan

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Jul 15, 2010
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Being "vintage" myself, I have continuously owned a record player of one make or another for 45 years, so I will offer my 2p.

My 18th birthday present (in 1978) was a Dual CS505. It sounded perfectly acceptable, but more "audio" than "hi-fi" to be honest. The sound could be best described as "inoffensive". It got me through my impoverished Uni years though.

In 1985 I bought a Rega Planar 2 with the RB200 arm. It had one of Rega's three mounting point MM cartridges (forget which). It was a MASSIVE step up from the Dual. Dynamics, frequency range, imaging were all so much better. I was now a hi-fi addict and traded in my old amp and speakers (dad's cast-offs) for a Rotel RA820 amp and B&W DM110 speakers, both of which were the entry-level market leaders at the time. Looking at their current line-up, I doubt the current Rega 2 would sound very much different from mine from 37 years ago! I would hesitate to buy a very old one though as the main bearing, and arm bearings, can suffer some abuse - particularly when transporting a deck.

I then went down with a bout of "upgrade-itis" in 1987 and traded it in for a Rega Planar 3 (same cartridge). To be honest it didn't sound much different, had all the same character as the 2, but was a bit more dynamic and physically more robust. It definitely was not worth the upgrade cost though.

I had that until 1992 when a big pay rise prompted another upgrade, this time to a brand new Linn Sondek LP12. The spec was Valhalla power supply, Cirkus bearing / subchassis, Ekos (mk 1) tonearm and my existing Rega cartridge (shortly upgraded afterwards to an Audio Technica ATOC5 moving coil and 10 years after that to an ATOC9). I heard it demonstrated (blind) alongside the Rega. The demo was at Graham's Hi-Fi in London and the person doing the demo was Alan Sircom, revered hi-fi journalist, now working mainly for Hi-Fi+ magazine! Between '87 and '92 I had acquired a used (vintage even then) chrome bumper Naim 42/110 pre-power combo which I brought along to the demo along with my speakers. The Linn absolutely blew my socks off! In every respect it sounded better. Imaging was an order of magnitude wider, deeper and taller, it was punchy, rhythmic, dynamic and the bass was astounding. Alan played a nasty trick on me though, at one point substituting in the new Naim CD player when it should have been the Linn. I commented on the better bass than the Rega, but when he revealed what he had done I still chose the Linn as I had about 500 records and only 20 CDs!

That has been my turntable ever since, a whole 31 years, nearly half my time on this planet!! It had one basic service in 2010 (springs, grommets and belt) and another last year when, in addition, I got the new Karousel bearing and inner platter along with a Kore arm board and sub-chassis. The Valhalla psu was also replaced with a third party one (Hercules Mose). I doubt I will change or upgrade it now before I drop off my perch.

Buying the Linn in 1992 totally cured me of turntable upgrade-itis. I have never felt the need to replace it and I dread to think how much it would cost me to buy the latest equivalent. The newer Ekos SE on its own is nearly £4,900 (gasp!).
 
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Edbostan

Well-known member
Aug 5, 2021
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Being "vintage" myself, I have continuously owned a record player of one make or another for 45 years, so I will offer my 2p.

My 18th birthday present (in 1978) was a Dual CS505. It sounded perfectly acceptable, but more "audio" than "hi-fi" to be honest. The sound could be best described as "inoffensive". It got me through my impoverished Uni years though.

In 1985 I bought a Rega Planar 2 with the RB200 arm. It had one of Rega's three mounting point MM cartridges (forget which). It was a MASSIVE step up from the Dual. Dynamics, frequency range, imaging were all so much better. I was now a hi-fi addict and traded in my old amp and speakers (dad's cast-offs) for a Rotel RA820 amp and B&W DM110 speakers, both of which were the entry-level market leaders at the time. Looking at their current line-up, I doubt the current Rega 2 would sound very much different from mine from 37 years ago! I would hesitate to buy a very old one though as the main bearing, and arm bearings, can suffer some abuse - particularly when transporting a deck.

I then went down with a bout of "upgrade-itis" in 1987 and traded it in for a Rega Planar 3 (same cartridge). To be honest it didn't sound much different, had all the same character as the 2, but was a bit more dynamic and physically more robust. It definitely was not worth the upgrade cost though.

I had that until 1992 when a big pay rise prompted another upgrade, this time to a brand new Linn Sondek LP12. The spec was Valhalla power supply, Cirkus bearing / subchassis, Ekos (mk 1) tonearm and my existing Rega cartridge (shortly upgraded afterwards to an Audio Technica ATOC5 moving coil and 10 years after that to an ATOC9). I heard it demonstrated (blind) alongside the Rega. The demo was at Graham's Hi-Fi in London and the person doing the demo was Alan Sircom, revered hi-fi journalist, now working mainly for Hi-Fi+ magazine! Between '87 and '92 I had acquired a used (vintage even then) chrome bumper Naim 42/110 pre-power combo which I brought along to the demo along with my speakers. The Linn absolutely blew my socks off! In every respect it sounded better. Imaging was an order of magnitude wider, deeper and taller, it was punchy, rhythmic, dynamic and the bass was astounding. Alan played a nasty trick on me though, at one point substituting in the new Naim CD player when it should have been the Linn. I commented on the better bass than the Rega, but when he revealed what he had done I still chose the Linn as I had about 500 records and only 20 CDs!

That has been my turntable ever since, a whole 31 years, nearly half my time on this planet!! It had one basic service in 2010 (springs, grommets and belt) and another last year when, in addition, I got the new Karousel bearing and inner platter along with a Kore arm board and sub-chassis. The Valhalla psu was also replaced with a third party one (Hercules Mose). I doubt I will change or upgrade it now before I drop off my perch.

Buying the Linn in 1992 totally cured me of turntable upgrade-itis. I have never felt the need to replace it and I dread to think how much it would cost me to buy the latest equivalent. The newer Ekos SE on its own is nearly £4,900 (gasp!).
My work colleague had an LP12, Naim amplification fed to AR18 speakers. He played Clare by Gilbert O'Sullivan and it sounded outstanding. It was as if you got behind his voice and the clarity is something I have not heard since
 

Revolutions

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Aug 6, 2023
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Buying the Linn in 1992 totally cured me of turntable upgrade-itis.
Ergh, this is exactly what I wanted, and absolutely don’t need, to hear.

I have a P2 with a decent cartridge & it sounds good. But I’ve been curious about what more I could get from vinyl: toyed with the idea of buying a P3. The worst part of this is that I’ve been eyeing up an LP12 nearby that is a potential bargain.

What I didn’t need to hear was you say how good it sounds vs a Rega 😭
 

Oxfordian

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Mar 20, 2021
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Ergh, this is exactly what I wanted, and absolutely don’t need, to hear.

I have a P2 with a decent cartridge & it sounds good. But I’ve been curious about what more I could get from vinyl: toyed with the idea of buying a P3. The worst part of this is that I’ve been eyeing up an LP12 nearby that is a potential bargain.

What I didn’t need to hear was you say how good it sounds vs a Rega 😭
I have a P3 and am looking to upgrade as I am unhappy with the P3 in terms of a start up squeak and other build quality issues. No decision as yet on what I will buy as the upgrade TT but yes I could join you on the LP12 route, I need to audition one to see if it is for me, but they were around when I bought my first proper TT back at the end of the 80's and a bit like Rega are still going now which has to count for something.

Will watch with interest to see how you go with this one.
 

Revolutions

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Aug 6, 2023
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I have a P3 and am looking to upgrade as I am unhappy with the P3 in terms of a start up squeak and other build quality issues. No decision as yet on what I will buy as the upgrade TT but yes I could join you on the LP12 route, I need to audition one to see if it is for me, but they were around when I bought my first proper TT back at the end of the 80's and a bit like Rega are still going now which has to count for something.

Will watch with interest to see how you go with this one.
I’m trying hard to find reasons not to do it. I don’t exactly have the money, but I’m listening to vinyl for a few hours each day right now so the benefits could be really satisfying. I have a feeling I know how it will end, still hoping that I can at least not impulse buy the LP12 and wait until payday… 🙏
 

TheLastMan

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Jul 15, 2010
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I’m trying hard to find reasons not to do it. I don’t exactly have the money, but I’m listening to vinyl for a few hours each day right now so the benefits could be really satisfying. I have a feeling I know how it will end, still hoping that I can at least not impulse buy the LP12 and wait until payday… 🙏
Don't go into this with any preconceptions! Use your own ears - peoples preferences are different. Also make sure you get an extensive audition - this is a big purchase and not to be done lightly.
Remember I was listening to the Rega Planar 3 vs Linn LP12 in 1992. Both models have likely improved since, and also the difference in price is way more today than it was then. I bought the Linn with the Ekos for about £2k then. That is £4,200 in today's money. The equivalent specification LP12 would now cost you around £9,000!

I think a lot more of the difference was down to the arm. There is a synergy there. The arm would not work at its best without the support and solid / steady drive of the high quality turntable, and the turntable would not show its best with a less substantial arm.
 
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Revolutions

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2023
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Don't go into this with any preconceptions! Use your own ears - peoples preferences are different. Also make sure you get an extensive audition - this is a big purchase and not to be done lightly.
Remember I was listening to the Rega Planar 3 vs Linn LP12 in 1992. Both models have likely improved since, and also the difference in price is way more today than it was then. I bought the Linn with the Ekos for about £2k then. That is £4,200 in today's money. The equivalent specification LP12 would now cost you around £9,000!

I think a lot more of the difference was down to the arm. There is a synergy there. The arm would not work at its best without the support and solid / steady drive of the high quality turntable, and the turntable would not show its best with a less substantial arm.
This is super useful advice, thanks!

As an update, I ended up buying a new amp. And that made a huge improvement with my current tt. Now thinking speakers would be next, before turntable or phone stage.
 

NADman

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Jul 26, 2023
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Are new turntables, especially at the budget end, really built much more cheaply than their 70s-80s-90s equivalents? I keep reading that a low end 80s turntable would only be matched in quality by a modern one costing several hundred pounds. Is this accurate or just the usual "they don;t make 'em like they used to"?
i would highly recommend going for a second hand Linn Sondek for as much as you can afford and you will have the opportunity to add upgrades in the future, i did this myself back in 2003 and never regretted :)
 
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rayolight

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Jul 21, 2021
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The problem with all things vintage is they wear out.....
There are only a few vintage decks I would love to own but they all tend to be prohibitively expensive. :)
I purchased my Transcriptors Reference Hydraulic in 1978 for £156.95,still my favourite turntable, apart from upgrading the bearing and new belts ,still performs beautifully today
 

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