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3 hours ago, Pars said:

So what kind of record cleaners do you guys use these days? I still have a Disc Doctor manual system, but something a bit easier to use would be nice...

Nitty Gritty courtesy of Stretch from a while back. 
 

If I was going new, I’d be looking at the Okki Noki or one of those new Project VCS models (the nicer aluminum one). The standard VPI 16.5 usually can be had for a decent used price as well, and I can vouch for the Nitty Gritty and all their various models, which basically the Record Doctor thing Steve posted above essentially is. 

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After many, many years with BAT/Avid/SME YG Acoustics systems this is what my wife and I have spent the last year building for listening to records through. VPI HR-X w/12.7 arm, and VPI ADS power supp

The horror, the horror. Basically this is the final Erno Borbely design. It is a current mode phono stage, where the cartridge looks into close to zero impedance. First stage with parallel J40/K170, a

Fired up the vinyl rig after two years - damn I forgot just how great vinyl can be Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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10 hours ago, Pars said:

So what kind of record cleaners do you guys use these days? I still have a Disc Doctor manual system, but something a bit easier to use would be nice...

vpi 16.5 with disc doctor record cleaning fluids. I have cleaned my entire classical music collection (1500+ lps) on it. I have two arm wands, one for the cleaning fluid and a seperate one for the distilled water wash cycle. I also use the disc doctor replacement arm wand pads - a lot cheaper than buying a complete new arm wand from vpi. the machine is not that quiet, there are grinding noises from the motor and the vacuum pump is quite loud but it has worked very well for me.

I almost had a keith monks. A hifi shop I used to frequent often was closing (the original owner had died some years before and his son taken over but had died) and his grandson was going through the estate. I went through the ex-owners record collection pointing out some of the more rarer and nicer records (they were all played on only high end equipment, cleaned with a keith monks before playing and mint). The grandson was totally clueless about the value of the lps. I assumed he would either sell the collection in parts on ebay or go to a specialist dealer. I purchased a few records myself (I was fairly short of money at the time) and asked about the keith monks. The grandson said it was for sale but had no idea about the price. At the time I did not have enough spare cash to make what I thought would be a reasonable offer i.e. multiple hundreds of pounds. I found out a few days later rather than ebay it the grandson threw it away! He sold the entire record collection I guess about 750+ lps on bulk dirt cheap to a dealer....

sigh

A sad end to my favorite hifi shop. I found a while later that someone passing by saw the keith monks in the rubbish skip and took it.... the hifi shop was in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere so I hope it was another patron of the hifi shop.

Even sadder (for me) was the ex-owner had made reel to reel recordings over many years of live classical music radio concerts broadcast on BBC radio 3 on agfa pem368 tape ar 7.5 or 15 inches per second, on either a high end teac, ferrograph logic 7 or a tandberg td 20a reel to reels. I asked about these recordings... the grandson said he had erased them all.... 

sigh

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Getting back to the OP, it's hard to make recommendations for a turntable without knowing what the approximate budget is. It also matters whether the OP wants to get a package (turntable/arm with or without cartridge) or is interested in a separate turntable and arm. 

 

For example, the Rega, Project and Technics tables are good choices for a package deal of turntable and arm together, whereas if you are going with separate turntable and arm, you can pick and choose. Several years ago, for example, I bought a used Garrard 301 off eBay for $1000 (less than the going price), built my own plinth and bought a separate tonearm. But that's just me. Or for real DIYers, you can buy a Lenco L75  idler drive, toss the tonearm, build your own plinth and supply your own tonearm. Check out the Lenco Heaven website for more details.

 

Another option that nobody has mentioned is a used AR turntable - the ES-1 model combined the excellent isolation of the original AR turntable (the original turntable was advertised as being able to take a mallet strike to the top plate while the record played on) with a decent modern tonearm at a good price. Sort of a beer budget version of the Linn LP12. I had one of those mounted with a Grace G-707 for several years and was quite happy with it.

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10 hours ago, swt61 said:

But the OP has already purchased a table.

Exactly correct. I would just rather use my time futzing around listening to music, rather than futzing around getting ready to listen to music.

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15 hours ago, JimL said:

Getting back to the OP, it's hard to make recommendations for a turntable without knowing what the approximate budget is. It also matters whether the OP wants to get a package (turntable/arm with or without cartridge) or is interested in a separate turntable and arm. 

 

For example, the Rega, Project and Technics tables are good choices for a package deal of turntable and arm together, whereas if you are going with separate turntable and arm, you can pick and choose. Several years ago, for example, I bought a used Garrard 301 off eBay for $1000 (less than the going price), built my own plinth and bought a separate tonearm. But that's just me. Or for real DIYers, you can buy a Lenco L75  idler drive, toss the tonearm, build your own plinth and supply your own tonearm. Check out the Lenco Heaven website for more details.

 

Another option that nobody has mentioned is a used AR turntable - the ES-1 model combined the excellent isolation of the original AR turntable (the original turntable was advertised as being able to take a mallet strike to the top plate while the record played on) with a decent modern tonearm at a good price. Sort of a beer budget version of the Linn LP12. I had one of those mounted with a Grace G-707 for several years and was quite happy with it.

You said budget LOL. This is headcase and Jim doesn’t follow budgets. 

4 hours ago, morphsci said:

Exactly correct. I would just rather use my time futzing around listening to music, rather than futzing around getting ready to listen to music.

Yup. I mean you’ve already got a killer setup id imagine on the digital side, so I’m assuming the TT is really secondary listening as well as to get your son hooked onto something. 

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Analog can be very frustrating. This week I finally took my second-hand AMG Viella TT to a dealer who also does setup work. It had never performed perfectly and typically the tonearm won't track and just slides across the entire record. The only way I could get it to play when I bought it three years ago was with a cheap moving magnet cartridge and that wasn't consistent. I gave up on it for a long time but tried to get it going again months ago only to be  thwarted even worse. The distributor works with this guy who sets up a lot of tables so they recommended that I have him address the known issues, check out the table in general, and then dial everything in, assuming that is possible.

He immediately found a potentially major problem with the tonearm, but then fixed it. After mounting my Airtight cartridge (that I told him I was worried had lost its stylus) and setting up the arm, he discovered an even bigger problem that forces the tonearm to shoot across the record that he cannot fix and doesn't even understand how it could be happening. He then discovered that not only my Airtight cartridge but also my Lyra cartridge were stylus-less.

Fuck me. I think the Airtight was killed by my cleaning lady years ago on my VPI table. The  Lyra stylus might have been lost when I was trying against the odds to get the table going more recently but I'm not sure it was even there at that time because it would not track the groove at all.

Result? Bought a like-new used arm from the distributor and a used cartridge from the dealer. He showed me how jacked up the tonearm was, and I have never abused it and kept the cleaning lady away from this TT better than my last. So never buy anything from Stephane Prunet on audiogon because he had to know about the defects. 

I also bought cleaning fluid and fired up my Clearaudio Double Matrix cleaner. Now I'm going to listen to the beautiful, beautiful music...

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D5914B46-86EF-46B6-9CCF-2B0A56F72E61.thumb.jpeg.3cc2ee180b3241dae9eb072d64bf7a03.jpeg

DAFEB13A-C394-4698-B9B3-77524E65D4D5.thumb.jpeg.98f8de18a848dc0b56ffd90e287140fb.jpeg

DABD5698-1424-41D6-AD56-AC5B34A3F6F6.thumb.jpeg.49c86f45d3cf2a10da407dc088aba1a3.jpeg

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That was fast!

Beautiful! So happy to see it working! It looks better as a turntable than a giant, very expensive paperweight. Any chance the cartridges can be retipped?

BTW, those headphone stands on your subwoofer are beautiful too!

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I think I will look into the Airtight but not the Lyra Skala at the moment. I was planning on asking you about your experience retipping recently. Most companies now just take the old cart as trade in for a new one. 

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Beautiful table (and cleaner) Al!

Sounds like you had quite a journey so enjoy.

 

Some of the best re-tip guys take some serious time since they tend to be small operations.

Brian at the old Analog Room in San Jose used to use Van Den Hul. 

https://www.vandenhul.com/product/cartridge-repair-modification-re-tipping-available-services/

I felt terrible when I had to yell at a cleaning lady (who was earning very little) for tweaking an AT OC9 ($300ish?).

Wonderful cheap cart BTW.

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I have a Van den Hul modified Koetsu that I stupidly did not bring with the table because I thought one backup was enough.  :palm:  It's not my favorite cartridge and he is in Pleasanton, so two round trips was enough for me. I will probably put the Koetsu back on the VPI eventually. 

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7 hours ago, ironbut said:

Beautiful table (and cleaner) Al!

Sounds like you had quite a journey so enjoy.

 

Some of the best re-tip guys take some serious time since they tend to be small operations.

Brian at the old Analog Room in San Jose used to use Van Den Hul. 

Sadly, Brian retired and closed the analog room this year. He moved to southern California to be closer to his kids and help his son in law start an audio dealership. 

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8 hours ago, Voltron said:

I think I will look into the Airtight but not the Lyra Skala at the moment. I was planning on asking you about your experience retipping recently. Most companies now just take the old cart as trade in for a new one. 

In my experience a retip can’t be seen as anything near to the original - kinda like a Blue Bell banana pop. If you view it that way then I think it’s worth a try.
 

For the Koetsu the main issue is they need nice heavy mass arm to sound good - whichever arm has the higher effective mass is your best bet. They sound pretty bad when not properly matched.

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Just now, Voltron said:

Depends on the person doing it. Some don't like to just replace the stylus because it is easier to put on a new cantilever with stylus.

Yup - also because one can get stylus-cantilever assemblies thorough what must be a black-market underground supply chain.

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Had a Keith Monks unipivot quicksilver tone arm 30 years ago, very interesting design.

Problem was that the pins oxidised in the quicksilver bath, had to be cleaned regularly. But the design without cables from tone arm to turntable and at the same time damping of the unipivot arm tube in the four quicksilver baths connecting cartridge to riia was quite intriguing.

 

 

 

 

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