Vinyl source for vinyl newbie

What budget vinyl source (and phono preamp) would you recommend for a 282/HCDR/250DR system?

Kind of hard to say if you don’t specify what the budget is.

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Personally @GlenJ, whilst you may well be dipping your toe with vinyl, your system is far too good for a budget turntable and phono stage IMHO.

Obviously any budget TT will work (such as an entry rega or project), but I’d say to look at something much more system appropriate in quality, such as a higher end Rega (P8/10) or an LP12 etc which would work well with Naim.

Being ‘mechanical’, the more you spend, the better the engineering gets and therefore you get a better sounding product.

If it was me, I’d look at getting a used, low spec LP12… along with a stageline. I wouldn’t buy new if you’re only just starting in the vinyl market! Go used, as you’ll get a far better bang for your buck!

What is your budget out of interest?

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How many records do you have?
With that level of amplification, you’re probably looking at rega p10 plus phono.
Or Vertere DG-1S with matching phono.
So that’s easily upwards of £5k.
That’s not to say you won’t have fun with a p6 plus aria.

I would look at the Rega range. For a 282, a Rega 3 at around £800 would be at the lower end of suitable decks, the P10 the upper end for a bit under £4K. Personally, I would start with the P6 or P8 as a minimum.

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Agree with others. P10 owner here having gone from 3 to 6 and the 10. Rega is not for tweakers but of course you can move up the product tree. LP12 is much more a tweak and change upgrade deal. And as such not really entirely comparable. Even the 10K Naia is still less than a full beans maxed put LP12.

I demoed 10 vs equivalent priced entry LP12 and bought the Rega. If you don’t want to spend more don’t demo the 8 or the 10 or a maxed out LP12 for that matter. 3 to 6 was a big jump. 6 to 10 smaller.

When you say this I come to think of a Rega P1/eco.

If you have few records only and not sure vinyl is for you, its a bit risky going for a P10, but its your money.

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Rega p8 used and aria phono pre again used.

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Can you perhaps loan any brand/type of turntable and phono stage from friends/family/dealer to get a first impression? Easier to proceed after having established a starting point at home.

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Agree with other members ref risk, so perhaps better to buy second hand from a dealer and see how you get on. Shouldn’t lose too much if you decide to upgrade or abandon the idea and buying from a dealer removes most of the risk.

You have ND5X2 via a N-Dac, I’d spend as much as possible. I tried a budget turntable a year or so ago and was very disappointed.

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A second hand turntable with a new pu and a fine riaa. Rega is not the universal answer to all turntable questians. :wink:

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Here is another vote for borrowing a deck from a mate, or even two, if you can. Depending on where you are, someone here may be willing and able to pop round with a turntable in a car boot.

I would also strongly encourage buying secondhand-you will get vastly more for your money.

As others have said, a Rega P3 and Fono stage is great VFM, especially from eBay. However, it may not show you why so many of us bother with vinyl, given that you will be comparing it to the excellent ND5XS2.

Given that, if you just want to try vinyl, a P3 or equivalent is imho a great choice.

If instead you want to challenge your ND5XS2 on a level playing field, I suspect you need spend over £1000, even on eBay or PFM.

An LP12 is always an option and can grow as far as you want to take it over months or decades, starting with something good that costs perhaps £1500. That’s what I did 30 ish years ago, and I have never moved away from them.

However, you could sensibly get eBay today to provide a Rega P8, Well Tempered Simplex or Versalex, Thorens TD124, Technics SL1200- or something even less obvious - how about an Avid Ingenium or a Nottingham Hyperspace?

On phono stages, it depends how far you might go on cartridges. With a budget turntable, £200 on eBay would be plenty. At the upper end of the plausible options, I’d budget on £400+ for a Dynavector P75 mk4 (not the previous versions) or equivalent.

The questions really come down to how much you want to spend, how willing are you for it to be an ongoing project versus Fire and Forget, and which of these things do you actually want in your living room?

Good luck!

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If you’re just dipping your toe into vinyl waters then certainly you could have fun with a Rega Planar 3 or a sub £600 ProJect but do expect to be underwhelmed compared to your digital sources - it won’t get close. As others have said you need to spend more, probably around £7 000+ to be on a par with something like an NDX/NDX2 class streamer.

There’s loads of great decks around new and secondhand from Rega, Linn, Michell and Top of my list would be the Michell GyroDec - why? Because like the Rega’s it’s a stunning performer for the money (around £3500 for the motor unit) but in my view it’s more upgradeable than any Rega, you can start with a Rega RB330 arm at £350 and move up as your interest in vinyl expands to fit an SME level super-arm to it with an offboard power supply.

Cheaper still would be vintage high quality turntables such as an Ariston RD40/80/90/110/11 (under £300) or a Thorens or LP12. They’re all wonderful in their own way!

Of course as others have said you’ll get the most bang for your buck buying secondhand and lose no money if you decide vinyl isn’t for you… A nice Gyrodec will cost around £1500-£2000 secondhand with arm.

As for cartridges in my view moving coils always sound better than moving magnet ones and a great option would be one of the Audio Technica AT-OC9 range which run from £300-£750 ish.

Vinyl is great fun for sure and part of the thrill and enjoyment comes from tracking down secondhand copies of old albums you loved as a teen plus the sheer joy of playing it and using a record player. New vinyl is expensive though compared to CD and streaming so be prepared to feel a bit stitched up by the record companies!! I very often find it hard to justify spending £25 on a vinyl release when the CD is £10 and I could stream it for £10 a month…

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My opinion only: rega are basically very good tonearms with essential bases and motors - unless you choose the upper models, but the same ‘balance’ remains. They all tend to sound dry and analytical.

Direct Drives such as Technics or older Pioneer or other Japanese brands from the 70s are also very good and usually spin precisely enough for a discerning ear.

Older Thorens with suspended sub-chassis - TD 160, TD 160 super, TD 145, TD 147 - are like Linn Sondeks sounding as good at a ridiculously lower price.

I’d stay away from Pro-Ject: I’ve had one and it was substantially sub-standard as far as build and assemble were concerned. They are mass-production with no specific culture behind them, and to buy one when you can have a Thorens for less seems absurd to me.

Best,
M.

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It’s a matter of taste and opinions, plus what to listen to and how.
The Solstice I heard more than once in a friend’s store gave us a much more enjoyable rendition of any track - definition, space, timbre, musical nuances - than the costlier ND555/PS into the same Statement.
And it was not only me.
I love digital but I can listen to many more LPs in a single session than CDs. Digital can stir my admiration and attention but tends to bore me, vinyl is a purer form of enjoyment to me.

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Hi Max, sorry I probably wasn’t being clear enough - you are absolutely right, vinyl at its best often can outperform digital. For example my direct cut test pressing of the Chasing the Dragon “Vivaldi in London” recording sounds better on my GyroDec/SMEIV/ART20 than the 24/192 download replayed on my NDX, and by some considerable margin…

The point I was trying to make though was that somebody running a 282/250 level system probably has an equivalent streamer by Naim or Auralic or Linn and I really doubt that a Rega Planar 3 is going to come close to the accuracy, transparency, dynamics, bandwidth and yes emotional impact of a high class digital source. Just my opinion, but based on owning several turntable and arm combinations over the past 35 years. If you try to do vinyl on the cheap and you’re used to top flight digital you’re probably going to find yourself paying more for the discs than the quality of resulting reproduction justifies when compared to digital. In short why pay £25 to listen to Fleetwood Mac Rumours on vinyl if it’s going to sound worse than streaming it or playing the £10 CD?

Buy a highish level turntable though and you’re paying £25 to listen to Rumours but it’s probably going to sound better than digital - that to me makes more sense.

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Not sure I’d agree at all there about it not getting close to digital. My SL-1200GR/StageLine holds it’s own just fine against my NDX/XPSdr at a fraction of the cost. It really depends on the quality of the vinyl. I have discs that sound rubbish (nearly always new vinyl) and discs that have the clear punchiness I expect from my digital sources but on vinyl.

Mainly vinyl is less consistent fed by more variability in quality of media. No expensive deck brings defective or damaged discs up to any respectable level.

I prefer my digital sources, true. But really because of convenience and the consistency of the media is as good as it’s gonna get. My turntables sound less good most of the time, until I feed them with a few truly quality discs I have and then the quality gap is just gone and the decks show what they are capable of.

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Agreed, almost totally… :slight_smile:

My point - left in the shadows perhaps, sorry - is that vinyl gives a different listening experience and that it’s not infrequent to enjoy an LP more than a CD or a file on similarly priced equipment…

It’s not unlikely that 40 years of digital have spoiled us into expecting perfection from a medium while we already had fun from another…

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That’s a very valid point Max - it certainly does give a very different experience and everything from the artwork, the ritual, the sheer majesty of watching a needle track a groove all contributes to the pleasure of owning a record playing system. For some reason I always find reading reviews of record decks more pleasurable too than reading reviews of streamers. Maybe I’m just showing my age though!! Like you I also find vinyl very often less fatiguing, especially when playing at high levels in a ‘session’.

Also agree with you Feeling Zen that vinyl tends to be more variable due to pressing and mastering differences which can prove frustrating if as I did you just spent £27 to buy Sam Fender’s debut album on vinyl thinking it would probably suit the music rather well only to find it’s a compressed nightmare!!!

Of course the corollary of that is that hunting down good cuts of classic analogue albums from the format’s golden age is incredibly pleasurable! The only thing is I really need to buy a record cleaning machine if I’m going to keep buying secondhand stuff - if only to protect my cartridge from the accumulated blood, sweat and tears of a previous owner!

Just realised I missed the Chichester record fair yesterday sadly. I tend to find such places rather pricey but there’s pleasure to be had just exploring a vast swathe of vinyl under one roof and occasionally picking something up.

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