Turntable advice - I'm almost afraid to ask

But I will anyway - after all, one of the favorite pastimes on the forum is helping people spend money. Regrettably, my query will be quite pedestrian compared to the excitement of deciding which $800 interconnect is the best match for a system.

My Marantz receiver is in the shop getting its phono stage repaired. The TT that I use is my brother’s old Technics SL-D2 direct drive unit (circa 1979-1981), with a Shure M95ED cart that has a new aftermarket stylus. The deck went into its box in about 1986 when my brother passed, and I received it earlier this year from my other brother; to my surprise, it worked pretty much as it did when it was put away 35 years prior.

I should mention I am not averse to the previously-owned market either.

The options I have are:

  1. Leave well enough alone (or do so and wait a bit)

  2. Keep the TT and upgrade the cart

  3. Buy a new TT and cart or a new TT and use the current cart.

The budget will disappoint forumites: about $800 max - and keep in mind this setup is feeding an old late 70s vintage Marantz receiver, not a 552. I have priced my current deck, and online asking prices are all over the board. Ditto for my cartridge.


Crikey, doc. This is the proverbial slippery slope. I’m not familiar with your current TT, but you should probably do a comparison with something like a Rega TT/cart in your price range. Do you have a good hifi dealer anywhere near you? Asheville, maybe?

It’s a bit difficult to advise, without seeing the deck, but I’ll chance my arm.

I think that your option (2) would be the safest option. There is a pretty good chance that the cartridge on the TT will be knackered, and it’s not worth risking any LPs that you value trying to find out if it is indeed like Monty Python’s ‘late parrot’. (Of course, if you have any LPs that you’re about to throw out anyway - any grotty old odds and sods from your late brother’s collection that are of no actual (or even sentimental) value - give them a spin, and let your ears decide.)

If I remember rightly, the Shure M95ED used to feature in many budget systems 30 or more years ago, but I can’t imagine that it can be replaced with the same cartridge now. I know little about older MM cartridges, but there must be a friendly local dealer who can help you in your predicament, and get the deck set up ready to play again.

I hope my pretty general stab at helping here will persuade others who are more expert than I to offer more detailed and insightful advice.

Bonne chance!

The cart is old, but the stylus is new (aftermarket as you said)? That correct?

How does it sound and, importantly, are you happy with the sound? Is it great, good enough or…had enough?

Might the Technics need a service (I have absolutely no idea or experience of Technics decks, or indeed the M95 - apart from as said, it was a popular little thing back in the day, many friends had one.)

If it sounds good and the money isn’t burning a hole, I’d stick while I think about what is the direction I want. Large collection of records, for instance, or mainly CD/streaming etc…


I used to own a technics DD turntable years ago. It went into the loft when my son started toddling and messing about with everything he could get his hands on. When I started using it again I’d upgraded the amps to Naim and the turntable now sounded awful.

It might sound OK with your vintage amp, only you will be able to decide. I suspect the cartridge will be OK, despite its age.

Thanks for the replies so far.

Yes, I spent $40 for a new stylus because the old one was not faring well; a lot of random skipping. You are correct that this was a budget cart on a budget TT - I would guesstimate that the whole setup was under $150 back in 1979. Using an inflation calculator, that translates into about $540 in today’s rapidly devaluing currency.

It sounds OK - I will know more when I get my receiver back from the shop because the phono stage had clearly hit a wall and needed attention - a lot of distortion.

I had about 700+ records before and got rid of almost all - I don’t see myself wanting to get much past 150 or so at most now…if I do, it will be because I get them at thrift shops at such prices that it doesn’t matter. (Well, that is, until you have to move house - I remember HATING moving my old vinyl on moves…and I anticipate at least 2, hopefully no more than 3 moves, to get to my “final resting place” to live out my retirement when it comes - wherever that may be.)

I sold a guitar today (an SG - got full asking) and thought perhaps I should upgrade the TT since it IS over 40 years old and isn’t going to run forever. At my age, I figure anything that I buy new, if taken good care of, will outlast me.

I am also not averse to the used market…the question is, can $540 or more today buy better than $150 in 1979/80?

To be honest I would keep your turntable and maybe upgrade the cartridge to a moving coild design which will likely require an economical (Pro-ject or similar) phono stage. In my experience moving from a pretty good moving magnet cartridge to even a low end moving coil (AT-F5) made a huge difference.

It’s not that there’ aren’t better turntables around but it’s just that they all require you to spend a lot more money even secondhand. The days of picking up a used Sondek for £400 and adding an Ittock for £400 are long gone!

So something like this for £300 at-oc9xen

And a Pro-ject Phono box S2 for £150.

Those would get the best out of the Technics.


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I found myself in a similar quandary a couple of years ago after my father passed and I inherited his 1967 Thorens TD-124 deck which over the years had become the equivalent of “Trigger’s Broom”. What I did was to take it to a vintage hi-fi specialist and sought his advice and some of that may be useful here which is 1: Have it serviced and any worn parts replaced, oiled etc 2: get an external phono stage as it will likely outperform integrated ones 3: fit a new cartridge, probably something MM and from AudioTechnica with a microlinear stylus for detail retrieval at the cheaper end of the scale. The OP’s budget may just be adequate but if not, lose the new cart as it’s probably the least important if the current Shure’s ok with its new stylus.

I am still using my original SL D2, which spent some time in my loft for various reasons, but when I got it back out, it works perfectly, with an occasional lubrication of the spindle. Some years ago I bought a Grado Black and although I have not made any comparisons, I think it performs very well. There are some mods which can be made, mainly adding some modelling clay to the base.

Although I feel that I should upgrade it, the fact it still works very well speaks volumes on the build quality.

Technics direct drive decks if this vintage are pretty much bullet-proof. A drop of oil on the spindle every few years and a clean of the speed pot is about all they ever need. I’m a big fan of them, as you might imagine, and have quite a collection. For all that the SL-D2 was pretty basic and used a highly resonant plastic plinth. In short, they sound nice enough but even a basic Rega P2 or P3 will give you a much better performance. If you are considering an upgrade, this is where it will make most sense.


Go for option 2 , see how it beds in. Given that it has been the property of two brothers , I would be very averse to getting rid of the deck , the cartridge could and should be renewed and reviewed

There are plenty of decent ones out there .

Cartridges are always something I’d buy new but say an Ortofon Bronze or Black , plenty of good MM at that price point

Best wishes


I would be very tempted to leave pretty much alone. I would consider having the Marantz serviced (it is quite old, and capacitors may have drifted off spec). I would also consider a new cartridge. Personally, I would veer toward keeping it pretty much as is - perhaps a used Shure V15 VxMR in a new headshell and Jico stylus with the ‘damper’ down. Or perhaps a AT-VM95ML/H (i.e. a VM95ML already mounted in an AT headshell). I’d keep the turntable well away from the speakers. Enjoy!

There is not really one right answer to this conundrum and all of the above have merit. Personally, if it was me I would likely look for a second-hand Rega 2 or 3 and allow for a replacement cartridge in your budget. However, if once you get your Marantz back and you are happy with the SQ, maybe stick with the Technics and spend the money on more music as in option 1.

The Marantz is being serviced . I can’t tell how old it is , I look at the sentimental value and totally agree with you.

For that budget, I see only Rega P3. Or a second hand P6.

What oil is best for TTs?

I am investigating carts based on the above, and will also look at the Rega TTs suggested.

Technics used to supply a small bottle of oil with their turntables. Even sewing machine oil is better than no oil at all.

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If it had that oil, it is long gone after over 40 years. I will check online. Thanks, Richard.

There were rumours that Michell Engineering used Mobil 1 but they told me recently in fact that isn’t correct but I do know that they do sell their turntable bearing oil at modest cost if you give them a ring (assuming you can’t get some of the Technics real stuff)


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And yes, you do have to ring Michell. They dont do email or anything mildly modern. The guy who most likely answers the 'phone is the boss.