View Poll Results: What would you do?

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  • Rennovate & Improve the Garrard 401/SME 3009

    48 64.86%
  • Start from scratch an join the Techie club!

    20 27.03%
  • NAH, what you want to do is...

    6 8.11%
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Thread: Buy a Technics SL-1200 or Renovate Garrard 401/SME 3009

  1. #1
    Alex_UK's Avatar
    Alex_UK is offline Spotify + Facebook Moderator / Chilled-Out Wino and only here for the shilling
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    Default Buy a Technics SL-1200 or Renovate Garrard 401/SME 3009

    Hi guys,

    Well, my Pro-ject RPM 4 Turntable hardly gets used, because it just doesn't sound good enough compared to my digital sources, so I'm thinking of flogging it and putting the money into another project.

    I have an old Garrad 401, with an SME 3009, fitted in an old wooden plinth (painted white) - this hasn't seen active service for about 5 years, and so will need a complete "sort out" I suspect, but my intention has always been to put it into a really nice plinth, (slate, probably) though the SME is worth keeping, I would need a decent cartridge as it has a 20 yr old cheapo Audio Technica fitted.

    Anyway, since joining AoS, I've become "aware" (shall we say! ) of the Technics SL-1200 and the hi-fi possibilites from modding them, and the obvious support trom everyone here is an added bonus.

    If I was to spend say 500 on either option, which would you do? What is likely to give me the best "sound per pound" investment, or, is there a better way to go?
    Alex

    Main System: Digital: Dell Latitude D630/M2Tech Hiface/JRiver Media Centre 17/FLAC; Marantz SA7001 KI Signature SACD Player and other digital stuff into Gatorised Beresford Caiman DAC Vinyl: Garrard 401/SME 3009 SII Improved/Sumiko HS/Nagaoka MP-30
    Amplifier: Rega Brio R. Speakers: Spendor SP1. Cables: Various, mainly Mark Grant.
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  2. #2
    Join Date: May 2008

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    I reckon it'd be a bit mad to junk the potential you have in your Garrard before you see what it can do.
    If you end up not liking it, you'll almost certainly get your money back - you're one step up already as you've not spent any of that 500, but you've got an excellent foundation to start from. Your Garrard budget is effectively 300-500 bigger than your Technics budget.

    That Garrard could be fantastic.

    Just my pinion!

  3. #3
    Join Date: May 2008

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    ............but I'd personally be ditching the SME

  4. #4
    Join Date: May 2008

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    I'm ILOB.

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    I tend to agree with Chris on this
    Get a better arm for the 401 and put on decent slate plinth you will have something very special either way you going to have a great TT and there are many here who can help with the 401 also
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  5. #5
    Alex_UK's Avatar
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    Just to add, the Garrard will never be sold (nor the arm or plinth for that matter) for sentimental reasons, but I don't see doing it up as being a problem, more a tribute to it and the journey it has made into my possession.

    I'm going to drag it out and give it a check over and fire it up - It's never been used in the context of my current system (any of it) so will be interesting, and might just help me make up my mind if it works!

    If I decide to change arms, what would be the recommendations? And cartridge options?

  6. #6
    Join Date: Jan 2008

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    Hi Alex,

    You may be surprised at this, but I too would go for the Garrard option - purely because of the probable higher return on SPPV (as Chris has mentioned).

    I love the Techy (and all high quality direct-drives) but only recommend them when it's appropriate to do so. I am no blinkered 'fanboy'

    However, the first thing to do is have the Garrard fully serviced by someone with the requisite experience, so that you have the piece of mind of knowing that everything is in full working order. Get the basics right first! The good news is that it's a solidly engineered 'mechanical beast', and so everything in it can be made to work optimally, if necessary, as when new.

    Once that's been done, my advice would be to spend as much of your 500 budget as is necessary to obtain the best quality plinth you can get (unless the existing one is already superb), and to plan in advance for the possible use of a 12" arm later (another reason for opting for the 401 over the Techy). Garrards (like any standalone motor units) are extremely plinth-dependant, so get the best you can afford. I'd probably go for something in slate. You can keep the original plinth aside somewhere for the sentimental reasons you've outlined.

    Once having done all of the above, you may find that most of your 500 budget is gone, but it will have been well spent because you'll have put the right 'platform' in place in order to get the best performance from your turntable.

    In my opinion, it would be better to spend the bulk (or all) of your budget this way than cut costs with the plinth to fund the purchase of a new tonearm. I'd even look at obtaining a high quality off-board PSU before I'd change the arm. The 3009 is not ideal, but more than good enough with, say, a quality Nagaoka MM like Dave K uses (68 or so, if I remember) to get you by until such times as you can afford to purchase an arm that significantly outperforms the 3009.

    Which type of 3009 is it - the fixed or detachable headshell variety?

    Anyway, I hope this helps

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

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  7. #7
    Alex_UK's Avatar
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    Great advice there thanks Marco - it's the detachable headshell version of the 3009, which I think is not as good as the fixed one?

    I could spend more, but I'm self imposing a figure here - but we all know what will happen, don't we?! Following the service -> plinth -> (PSU?) -> Arm route I can choose to stop at any point... Or, spend more - which will then show up the rest of my system, then I'll want "glowy bits" - I may as well sell my soul to the devil now!

    Thanks again for you guys taking the time to post.
    Alex

    Main System: Digital: Dell Latitude D630/M2Tech Hiface/JRiver Media Centre 17/FLAC; Marantz SA7001 KI Signature SACD Player and other digital stuff into Gatorised Beresford Caiman DAC Vinyl: Garrard 401/SME 3009 SII Improved/Sumiko HS/Nagaoka MP-30
    Amplifier: Rega Brio R. Speakers: Spendor SP1. Cables: Various, mainly Mark Grant.
    Please see "about me" for the rest of my cr@p! Gallery


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  8. #8
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

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    Great advice there thanks Marco - it's the detachable headshell version of the 3009, which I think is not as good as the fixed one?
    You're welcome. That's what we're here for

    Well some would say that, but I wouldn't necessarily agree. Much of that mindset is based on a lack of experience and/or being brainwashed by the popular beliefs of the so-called cognoscenti.

    I'd say that a fixed headshell 3009 is marginally better than the detachable headshell version (although you'd struggle to hear it) - *BUT*, fit a high quality detachable headshell (such as the now widely-available Sumiko) to a detachable headshell 3009, and the rules change!

    Depending on your budget, I'd be doing just that and fitting as good a Nagaoka as you can afford from the following range:

    http://www.musonic.co.uk/cartridges-nagaoka-c-4_22.html

    ...Or perhaps a Shure M97 xE from here:

    http://www.mantra-audio.co.uk/shure_cartridges.html

    Or a Stanton 681EEE:

    http://www.htfr.com/more-info/MR250774

    Those, IMO, are the pick of the 'giant-killing' affordable MMs currently on the market. I'm not a fan of the Ortofon or Goldring MMs which are so popular with the hi-fi press.

    Trust me, Alex, the 3009 is a great arm for MM cartridges (this is what it was originally designed for), and used with any of the cartridges above on a Sumiko headshell would give excellent performance.

    As for your budget, I'd recommend that you set a realistic one and stick to it rigidly, doing things a stage at a time (but crucially in the right order), otherwise like you say you'll end up spending a fortune!

    If of course you can afford to bypass the MM route, then sell the 3009 on Ebay (you'll get decent money for it) and buy whatever arm you fancy to support your MC cartridge of choice. I can give suitable recommendations here if you wish

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

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  9. #9
    Join Date: May 2008

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    Firstly, improve the mounting arrangements of the RPM4 and get it out of room corners if possible. get the best out of this and THEN look to upgrade!



    I'd agree with Marco on the Nagaoka recommendation, but unless the 681EEE has improved in the intervening decades since I owned and used them, I'd say the Stanton is DULL, DULL, DULL and bland with it, whereas Nagaoka's are lively and bright IMO. There are plenty of vintage test reports I can post as backup to these comments too if necessary The Nagaoka or AT440MLa should liven up the RPM4 as well, by the way, although I don't know what Ortofon is fitted to the Pro-ject..

    The Rotal phono stage is very competent, but hardly magic-making as the Croft is IMO. For 350 you could have a complete Croft preamp INCLUDING a phono stage - it would be worth an email to Glenn (or PM to HiFi dave) to find out exactly what the differences are between his baby preamp and the main 700 model. Can the Creek phono stages for sale on eBay be used with your amp? Apparently, someone here (I forget whom I'm afraid) designed it and can help with mods to enhance it further to SE standards...

    The Garrard you own - FETTLE IT!!! I'd also look at plinth options, even if you don't ditch the one it's in. The SME is fine for Ortofon OM series cartridges or vintage ADC's and Shures and Johnnie at Audio Origami can re-wire and foam-fill the arm tube for you. I love using SME's, they're so well and delicately made and they sound good with the right cartridge (including their headshell gunk and very light damping).. I'm currently still using an Ortofon M20E Super and it is so sweet and musical without sounding dull and lifeless as so many vintage mm types can. I'm using a CAP210 with it to get the loading right. The VMS models are not as good IMO (I have a VMS30/CAP210 ready to go)..
    Last edited by DSJR; 05-09-2009 at 12:37.
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  10. #10
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

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    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Hi Dave,

    but unless the 681EEE has improved in the intervening decades since I owned and used them, I'd say the Stanton is DULL, DULL, DULL and bland with it...
    It must have done, because trust me, it doesn't sound in any way dull - otherwise I wouldn't be recommending it. The Stanton is lively, detailed, and very musical sounding with a punchy and extended bass.

    Let's put it this way, it's as 'dull sounding' as an M3D with an N21D stylus!

    Put yer vintage test reports in the bin and use yer lugs to reassess it sometime

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

    BE HAPPY EVERYDAY!

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