Best vintage turntable

Discussion in 'Audio Visual' started by cwhaley, 10 Jul 2018.

  1. cwhaley

    cwhaley

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    This might be the wrong category, but I was hoping for some advice on getting a new portable turntable.

    Until recently, I had a Technics/Wharfedale set up which unfortunately took up a lot of room. I've put it into storage and I'm now thinking of other ways to enjoy my records.

    In the past I used to own a Bush SRP.31D which was a 1963 valve-operated turntable. It gave good, warm sound with a good depth of bass but was understandably limited in its ability to amplify sound and didn't deal with the higher frequencies too well.

    In the spirit of going back to a portable turntable, which I can set up in the front room and take away when done with, can anybody recommend a new model? I've not been impressed with the modern ones (Crossley I think I've seen) as they look cheap and nasty. Open to suggestions of other models out there!
     
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  3. Lucid

    Lucid

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    Portable and turntable are two words that generally don't go together. The classic vintage turntables of the 50s and 60s such as Dansettes, Bush models, Fergusons and the like were luggable rather than portable. Their size did allow the fitting of a reasonable size internal speaker, and that gave them a reasonable volume as well as some depth of tone compared to modern players. The limitations though were the relatively crude pick-up cartridge being a ceramic rather than a moving magnet, and the bias towards playing 45s rather than the later trend for LPs which was the coming trend of the 70s.

    What's also forgotten with these vintage products is their original cost. They weren't cheap.

    The 'budget' Dansette model was 11 Guineas at launch in 1962. Each Guinea was the equivalent of 21 Shillings. The average manual worker's wage was around 8 Shillings a week in the early to mid 60s. (source: Hansard) That means the record player was the equivalent of half a year's wages. No surprise then that most were bought on hire purchase!

    Today, someone on National Minimum Wage doing 40 hours a week earns a little over £16,000 per year before Tax and Insurance. £8,000 would buy a lot of stereo gear in today's market. Even allowing for the cost advantages of mass production, and advances in materials, it still puts the quality of £50-£100 Crossleys and the like in to some kind of perspective. Today's crop of inexpensive portable turntables just ain't that good because they are the equivalent of toys for those who are bitten by nostalgia from the revival of interest in vinyl.

    Unless your Technics deck is one of the heavy DJ types, you'd be far better served getting that out now and then and hooking it up to an amplified speaker rather than purchasing a new portable with its own integrated amp and speaker(s).
     
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  4. kentishman

    kentishman

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    Lucid, that Hansard link shows hourly rates, so your example is out by a factor of about 40... making the average weekly wage in the mid 60s around £16 per week, so a Dansette would be the equivalent of less than a week’s wages back then.
     
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  5. Lucid

    Lucid

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    Thanks for the catch there, @kentishman. There was something about it that didn't scan right, but I couldn't put my finger on it and I got sidetracked with converting £ S d and Guineas to new money. My bad:oops:

    Still, Crossleys are still nowhere near a full weeks average wage.
     
  6. cwhaley

    cwhaley

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    @Lucid - Thank you for the information.

    They are heavy yes but portable - I'm not sure you're understanding my question though. I agree with a lot of what you're saying with regards to the original expense of them as interesting as that is. My dad brought home £31 a week in 1969 (in the Midlands) so Kentishman's comments on wages sounds more on the mark. I also agree with your assessment of modern portable turntables! I originally said I'm "not impressed" with them and I've seen the damage the carp stylus can do to vinyl.

    I get the nostalgia thing, but this is me trying to find a practical solution to listening to the (pretty rare) records I inherited from my parents as well as the ones I've gathered over the years. I've chosen not to dedicate so much space to the set up I used to have and have already decided to go back to the type of player I used to have purely because it suits my needs better.
     
  7. Lucid

    Lucid

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    For a practical solution, rip the LPs to your computer and then play the digital files.

    Going for another Bush or Dansette is still an option. However, it's going to be a challenge to improve the sound of them beyond a minor bit of tinkering from changing the cartridge. Bear in mind though, you're working within the limits of what the arm will allow. There are two aspects here; the quality (smoothness) of the bearings and how to adjust the tracking weight. Looking at the Dansette site, they show a tracking force gauge reading 5.77g. That's a lot compared to around 2.5-3.5g for a typical Technics/Pioneer/Sony-type midi system/stack system turntable. It's a whole load more than the 1.5-1.8g typical with Hi-Fi turntables.

    Tube amps are still in vogue so there's nothing wrong with the technology in principle. The amp inside those record players could well have been designed to favour midrange and bass so as not to emphasise surface noise. Likewise, the wide-range doped paper speaker cones wouldn't have been the last word in treble extension.
     
  8. Sandtree

    Sandtree

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    Do you actually need it to be portable or just quick/easy to setup/put away? What do you listen to your music on normally when its not LPs?

    Also, what LPs are you listening to? How music is mixed has change a lot, initially due to different formats (tapes, CDs etc) and particularly since the 90s. Few modern LPs are properly remixed to factor in the colour typically added by using a turntable. On our setup listening to some vintage records still get that warm sound you mention but that same setup with a modern LP can sound brash.
     
  9. charliegolf

    charliegolf

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    Cwhaley. I think I have a Panasonic separate turntable in the loft. You can have it for postage. It went up there working, but it's 1981 vintage. So no guarantees. I also have an eclectic (ie crap!) album collection! If you can wait a bit, I could leave it with my daughter who's in Derbyshire (near Hilton) and you could collect.

    CG

    Ah, maybe inappropriate, having read the Q! Ia saw turntable- you need a record-player!
     
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  11. ericmark

    ericmark

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    Yes you can get a portable record player [​IMG] however the main point is can you still buy needles? I got a USB record player and converted all my records, mainly as I could not get new needles and records do wear out.

    With the 78 records I put 3 in 1 oil on the record which removed the scratchy sound, clearly would have lost some thing but made them worth lessening to.

    I have said with TV no point in HD as I don't have HD eyes, same with sound, you need to be in a sound proof room to hear many of the sounds, OK not really that simple, yes if I am sitting 2 foot away from a 43" TV I can tell the difference between a SCART and HDMI lead to satellite box so yes there is a difference, and I remember playing a record of Liverpool cathedral organ through my organ speakers and yes you could hear sounds never heard before, thing was it was then mono not stereo.

    However in the main I listen to music while doing other things, so really quality does not matter that much.
     
  12. bar72

    bar72

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    You can pick up a decent Rega P3 2000 on auction site reasonably cheap now. They come with the single point mount RB300 Arm which is a good arm sonically ;
     
  13. cwhaley

    cwhaley

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    Thanks for the replies all. By "turntable" I mean "record player" -- specifically a portable one as you'd see at parties the youth of the '60s would have gone to. It's to reduce the amount of space taken up by my current Technics set up. It's just something with good sound output (in terms of fidelity, bass, clarity) to listen to my vinyl on Sunday afternoons.

    Always confusion over the wording. I have original adverts marketing them as both a turntable and a record player but it's the "all-in-one" type I'm after as made by companies like Bush and Gerrard.
     
  14. cwhaley

    cwhaley

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    For me (and to my partner's bemusement who shares your view) music is an experience. I will dedicate 2 or 3 hours when I have time at the weekend to sit and listen to music. It ranges from Northern Soul to '70s rock, '80s synth-pop to the works of Thomas Tallis. I love music.

    I'm bothered about quality, but not to the point where I'll spend 30 minutes fiddling with the EQ or upgrading my phono leads to gold-plated ones!
     
  15. Sandtree

    Sandtree

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    Don't think that something that anyone into hi fidelity music would do, cannot remember the last time I saw an EQ from anyone like Arcam, Cyrus, Marantz, Cambridge Audio etc... it's fairly unusual to even have a base/treble knobs now.

    I don't believe you will find a modern all-in-one that would meet the definition of hi fidelity (at least by my definition). You may find a vintage unit that does tick the boxes for you but I cannot advise on those. The reality is that the nature of vinyl doesnt suit portability and as soon as more suitable formats existed the vinyls were relegated to the realm of novelty with the sound quality appropriate to that.

    If you do actually want high quality sound and dont actually need it to be truly portable then you'd be better off looking for a turntable with a built in stage (an "out the box ready" type model) which allows you to simply plug it into whatever your current non-vinyl music player is (can use any input as the turntable has the stage built in). This gives you a much better turntable and only a pair of phono cables to plug in above what a portable record player would have been; also means you can leverage the investment in your existing system rather than half your purchase price being diverted into another amplifier and more speakers.
     
  16. cwhaley

    cwhaley

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    Every set up I've ever had by Marantz and Technics has had an EQ although granted this was '70s and '80s equipment. I hear a lot of people shun the idea of an EQ, but because my music is so varied I've found it a very useful tool. Understand its much rarer these days but for true music listening I personally value them very much.

    Yes it's a vintage unit I'm after (see thread title). I used to have a Bush SRP31D which was a great unit using two valves. It gave lovely warm output with bass and treble controls and could actually kick out a fair amount of power. As I'm trying to save space and I'll be putting the stack of units I'm currently using in storage, I wanted to go back to an older unit as I had a good experience with the Bush portable player.

    It only needs to be portable so that I can get it set up on the sidetable while I listen and then pack away later. Currently I'm stuck with some decent but heavy Mission speakers plus the EQ, Turntable, Amp, Tape and CD Player which take up a lot of room and plugs.
     
  17. Sandtree

    Sandtree

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    I had one on my 80s Aiwa thing I inherited/stole from my parents but was never convinced I ever made anything sound better, simply different and some element always annoyed me. I've not had one for two decades now and don't miss it at all. That said, we dont have space for a seperate hifi and surround sound system so the later does both and it comes with Dirac Live which is a room correction solution which we got as we've terrible speaker placement and it does a great job.

    In an ideal world you'd set up a Project or Rega turntable, get it perfectly flat and never touch it again but in principle you could put it away after each use and you'd only have a phono cable and power cable to plug in/unplug each time. This does assume you have something else that you can plug into but many devices have an analogue in, its just the lack of a phono stage that normally causes problems but thats circumvented by getting a turntable with a built in stage.

    If you dump your current setup, what is the plan for listening to CDs or streaming etc?
     
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