My First Systems - My First Turntable System
It is inspiring to see many young listeners now eschew overpriced and underperforming headphones with lossy compressed music in favour of vinyl and well-priced speakers.
For our next article, we want to assemble a really kick-ass system for anyone who is interested in taking the first step into vinyl playback.
Of course, you can’t assemble a turntable system without a turntable. So we have chosen:
ProJect Debut Carbon DC Turntable WAS $599* NOW $499*
ProJect’s Debut series has long been recognised as a revolution for the hi-fi industry. ProJect has never rested on their laurels and have continually been updating the turntable with trickle-down technologies from their flagship models.
With the newest incarnation, the Debut Carbon DC now incorporates a CARBON TUBE for the tonearm. The use of this material increases rigidity and reduces resonances. You will find carbon tonearms used in high end turntables so it is refreshing to see it bundled in an affordable turntable.
The other improvement ProJect made was with the new low-noise ultra-precision DC-driven AC generator for the motor that gives better speed stability without unwanted vibrations.
Last but not least, ProJect uses the Ortofon OM-10 cartridge - the flagship model in the OM series - in the Debut Carbon DC. The OM-10 offers better tracking and reduced distortion. Most turntables in this range only offer the OM-5 cartridge.
If you want that little bit extra, ProJect also offers the Debut on steroids. It’s called the Debut Esprit SB DC. For $899*, now $818*, the Esprit upgrades the cartridge to the Ortofon 2M Red, the platter to acrylic and also provides an electronic speed control so you can switch between 33 and 45 rpm at the touch of a button. Handy if you have a lot of singles or if you are buying new audiophile remastered albums on 45rpm double LP.
PS Audio Sprout Integrated Amplifier with Phono PreAmp WAS $1295* NOW $949*
The next item in our list is an integrated amplifier. But not just any integrated amplifier.
You have to remember that the music we get from our turntable is generated by tiny vibrations as the stylus hits the groove on the record. The motion creates an electromagnetic effect that generates a tiny amount of voltage - roughly 100mV. Most integrated amplifiers expect signals of about 1.5V or higher. Because of the low signal levels and the way records are pressed, you would need a way to boost and equalise the signal from your turntable first. What you need then is a “phono preamp”.
The great thing about the PS Audio Sprout is that it comes with the phono preamp built right in. You don’t need any other boxes.
What we love about the Sprout is that it is not just for vinyl. It has PC USB input that allows you to play music from your computer and also built-in Bluetooth when you want to stream music wirelessly from your phone. And when you want to listen without disturbing your room mate or rest of your family members, there’s a really good headphone amp built right in.
The fact that it takes up hardly any room makes it an easy fit in any bedroom or study. And don't let the diminutive size fool you. Even hifi snobs like Stereophile love this little box.
DALI Zensor 1 speakers were $635* NOW FROM $630
The final item in our recommended system is the DALI Zensor 1 bookshelf speakers. You can have it in a discreet black finish but it also comes with a beautiful walnut or white finish. We would highly recommend getting the walnut finish which complements the walnut finish on the PS Audio Sprout.
You will be amazed at how well they can fill up a reasonably sized room. What HiFi calls the bass of these speakers “taut”, the highs “clean and sparkly” and the midrange “communicative”. We will just say these speakers rock.
Putting it all together
At Brisbane HiFi, we always stress the importance of listening to the gear if you can. That’s why we have set up this same system in our store so you can hear exactly why we recommend them.
And to sweeten the deal, we offer a free pair of 2.5m DALI White Wave speaker cables when you order the system from us. Nothing frustrates us more than getting home with your new purchases before you get stymied by a missing cable.
If you have inherited a reasonably good collection of old records, you can start playing them. But records do need to be taken care of.
Here are some tips and tricks of taking care of records.
- Never touch the record on the surface. Our fingers contain oils and acidic chemicals that can react with the record and damage them in the long run.
- Get a carbon record brush. We sell the Pro-Ject Brush It for $25*. Don't apply too much pressure when you use it. Think of it more as a way to sweep the record of surface dust. Not as a way to brush out particles from the groove. You might end up pushing dirt further into the grooves. What we normally do is to start the motor running and hold the brush in place over the record and let the motor turn the record and slowly trap dust in the brushes. This keeps the cleaning action in a circular motion - following the grooves on the record. Then just sweep it gently off the edge of the record.
- If the records are dirty, you should clean them before playback. We do sell the Pro-Ject Spin Clean which is a cost effective way of doing it. But in a pinch, here’s what we would do:
- Get some distilled or de-mineralized water. Bunnings sells them
- Get some isopropyl alcohol. You can also get these from Bunnings.
- Mix about 1 part alcohol to 10 parts demineralised water. You can add maybe a drop of mild dishwashing liquid if it is particularly dirty. Only if it is really dirty.
- Use a carbon brush to clean the surface of dust first. Again, don't try to push the brushes into the record.
- Use a microfibre cloth and wrap it around yr index finger. Dab the cloth in the cleaning liquid.
- Now start from the inside of the record and move it in concentric circles around the record, gradually increasing the size of the circle until you reach the edge, keeping the contact surface flat. Don’t try to use your finger nails.
- Use another section of the cloth when it gets dirty.
- Now repeat this - but run the circles in the opposite direction. So if you cleaned in a clockwise manner earlier, do it again in a counter clockwise rotation.
- And when you are done, do it again - this time with ONLY distilled water.
- Yes, it can be a tedious process. But your records will thank you for it. And listening becomes more enjoyable without a nasty loud snap, crackle or pop to distract you.
We hope you found this useful.
*Prices are subject to change and are correct at the time this article was published.
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