Auditioning a turntable is kind of ... impossible?

dnanian

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Jun 10, 2022
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Hi, folks. While I've been reading the WBFs for some time, I recently signed up to pose a relatively simple question that, well, isn't that simple. Namely:

How do you properly audition a potential new turntable?

I've been considering replacing my "higher end" turntable (A Rega P10 w/Apheta 3; my "family friendly" turntable is a classic Beogram 4000). The two units I'm considering are the Bergmann Galder and the TechDAS Air Force III Premium (probably S). They're roughly in the same ballpark in terms of pricing (well, within 20% or so), and are well regarded. But regard and research (with thanks to the vendors who put up with my questions) only gets you so far.

I've heard the TechDAS at a dealer, and the Galder at shows, but you're really kind of listening to a system when you do that, and it's rather hard to tease out the turntable from the rest of the playback chain (let alone the room). I've tried to eliminate variables by using headphones in some cases, but even an hour of listening just isn't enough to tease out the strengths and weakness of a given unit as compared to the Rega. I could fly to another state and listen to the Bergmann, but then we're back to listening to someone's system, and I frankly don't want to impose on someone and kind of end up in the same situation again..."sounds great there, but..."

So, as I indicated in the title, it seems kind of impossible without an extended home trial. That's something I could probably do with the TechDAS (local dealer and distributor), but it's basically impossible with the Bergmann.

So, to go back to the question - how do you do this? Do you take a leap of faith? Do you basically say "I'll just buy it and resell it if I don't like it"? Do you limit your choices only to things you can truly home audition?

Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts, and sorry to be showing up to "take" rather than to "give"...but I hope answers might help others in a similar situation.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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hi dnanian,

welcome to What's Best Forum.

post the area you live in, and ask if anyone close owns the turntables you want to hear.

hearing it in a mature system already set up and settled will tell you more than an 'in-home' demo. too many things to sort out a turntable to expect to hear it's best in that approach. and maybe there are other turntables in those price ranges that are close to you that might also be considerations?

and dealer demo systems are less reliable than a current user.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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Hi, folks. While I've been reading the WBFs for some time, I recently signed up to pose a relatively simple question that, well, isn't that simple. Namely:

How do you properly audition a potential new turntable?

I've been considering replacing my "higher end" turntable (A Rega P10 w/Apheta 3; my "family friendly" turntable is a classic Beogram 4000). The two units I'm considering are the Bergmann Galder and the TechDAS Air Force III Premium (probably S). They're roughly in the same ballpark in terms of pricing (well, within 20% or so), and are well regarded. But regard and research (with thanks to the vendors who put up with my questions) only gets you so far.

I've heard the TechDAS at a dealer, and the Galder at shows, but you're really kind of listening to a system when you do that, and it's rather hard to tease out the turntable from the rest of the playback chain (let alone the room). I've tried to eliminate variables by using headphones in some cases, but even an hour of listening just isn't enough to tease out the strengths and weakness of a given unit as compared to the Rega. I could fly to another state and listen to the Bergmann, but then we're back to listening to someone's system, and I frankly don't want to impose on someone and kind of end up in the same situation again..."sounds great there, but..."

So, as I indicated in the title, it seems kind of impossible without an extended home trial. That's something I could probably do with the TechDAS (local dealer and distributor), but it's basically impossible with the Bergmann.

So, to go back to the question - how do you do this? Do you take a leap of faith? Do you basically say "I'll just buy it and resell it if I don't like it"? Do you limit your choices only to things you can truly home audition?

Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts, and sorry to be showing up to "take" rather than to "give"...but I hope answers might help others in a similar situation.

My advice, unless you can figure out, don't upgrade. Easier said than done as you can hold your itch only so much without taking the leap. Or you can trust complete strangers off the internet. I could easily make recommendations, as could others, you are new to the forum, you will struggle to understand what biases or agendas each recommender has.

So, sit back. Relax. Learn to audition. It takes time. Try to visit people who have multiple tables to understand what style of sound you prefer. During that process you will pick up other tips and tricks. Think of it like when you join a new job and don't know who's who, or what's what but it becomes easier once you stay there.

Bergmann Galder and Techdas are very different sounding, so not exactly an alternative to one other. At that price if you take a leap, the anchor price of your next upgrade from Galder and AF3 only goes up. You are not going to stay with them. Before you know it, money enough to buy another house and rent it out will be gone. Which might be fine but at least try to figure out what you are getting for your sound yourself rather than asking strangers on the net.
 

dnanian

Member
Jun 10, 2022
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Thanks for the reply @bonzo75 - yeah, that's why I wasn't asking for "turntable recommendations" as such. Rather, just wondering what people's approach to the problem is, if that makes sense.

I'm perfectly good with not itching, too. It's not that itchy. :)
 
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bonzo75

Member Sponsor
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Thanks for the reply @bonzo75 - yeah, that's why I wasn't asking for "turntable recommendations" as such. Rather, just wondering what people's approach to the problem is, if that makes sense.

I'm perfectly good with not itching, too. It's not that itchy. :)

Hi Dna, yes that's very sensible of you.
 

microstrip

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May 30, 2010
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First question - are an expert or do you want to became one or will you rely on a dealer to carry turntable set up? Do you enjoy fiddling with turntables or just want to listen with minimal fuss?
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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Hi, Mike. Thanks for the reply. I'm in the Boston area.

So here's the thing

In Boston, if you ask

- PeterA, he will tell you to buy a Microseiki.
- Al M will ask you to go digital. He will still provide you some advice on TTs and records
- Ack will mod your current Rega
- And Madfloyd will get excited along with you about what he should buy next.

I am not sure what VLS will say.
 

andromedaaudio

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Jan 23, 2011
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I heard quit a few tt lately .
I think the end result gets'determined in a large part by the know how / skill/ perfectionism of the owner.
 

dnanian

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Jun 10, 2022
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First question - are an expert or do you want to became one or will you rely on a dealer to carry turntable set up? Do you enjoy fiddling with turntables or just want to listen with minimal fuss?
Well, I've set up and maintained things for quite some time. I wouldn't call myself an "expert", but there's a certain amount of 'fiddling' that's obviously enjoyable in this particular hobby/field.

Then again, my point is to listen to and enjoy music as best I can, as opposed to chasing impossible perfection. But in much the same way I like making my own espresso or a pour-over as opposed to using a super-automatic or an automatic brewer, I appreciate the latter in some situations, which is why there are two turntables now. Sometimes you just want to push a button.
 
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dnanian

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Bonzo is not wrong, with either of his points. follow and trust your ears, not your eyes.

but give it a few hours for more eyes to see your post and maybe a few hands will raise.
Oh, indeed. The idea is to try to figure out exactly how to do that, when doing so in a situation with the other variables are controlled is difficult...and our auditory memory -- or at least mine! -- is fallible. It was hard enough picking a phono preamp!
 

mtemur

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Mar 26, 2019
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IMHO first of all concentrate on bass. It should be tight and strong without being boomy. other instruments should be clearly and dynamically presented while bass is in play. If there is quality in bass and a silent background which you think can only can be heard with a cd, then it may be a great turntable. Unlike a cd it shouldn’t cause listening fatigue.
those things I mentioned may also be related with other components like tonearm, phono pre, cartridge etc. it’s impossible to isolate the sound of a turntable in a system and almost impossible to explain what to look for when auditioning a turntable. Things I wrote above are just what I look in general when auditioning a turntable and may not work for everyone.
 
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gleeds

Industry Expert
May 29, 2018
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If I am not mistaken you did not mention which arm you were considering for the TechDas? Usually, sellers pair AF3 with Graham tonearms. Of course, a uni-pivot and an air-bearing tonearm will provide a different presentation. A top gimballed arm ala a Kuzma, Durand Tosca or SAT diffrent again. As far as a table goes, my view is the best of the Galder and Af3 included are neutral platforms upon which to mount the arm/cartridge which matches your sensibility best. When I'm deep in that analysis I reach out to my colleague Chris Thornton, who IMO has more hands-on experience with arms and carts than just about anyone. Fred at Prana in Glouchester and Cambridge is also a wealth of information on analog set-ups. Lastly, I would reach out to the US Bergman importer, Phillip O'Hanlon who I'm guessing will find a willing dealer to allow you to compare the two at home. Of course, you will need two of the same cartridges to do so!

I'm sorry to offer a thought not asked for, however, IMO, an easy win is to buy the Bergman and add a second pivoted arm for the best in both playback approaches:). In either case, make sure to have great isolation under foot. Good luck!
 

microstrip

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Well, I've set up and maintained things for quite some time. I wouldn't call myself an "expert", but there's a certain amount of 'fiddling' that's obviously enjoyable in this particular hobby/field.

Then again, my point is to listen to and enjoy music as best I can, as opposed to chasing impossible perfection. But in much the same way I like making my own espresso or a pour-over as opposed to using a super-automatic or an automatic brewer, I appreciate the latter in some situations, which is why there are two turntables now. Sometimes you just want to push a button.

In this aspect IMHO the TechDas, used for example with a Graham tonearm, is easier to set up and less critical than the Bergman. Both TechDas and Graham have extremely high quality of manufacturing and are designed for a simple maintenance and operation. People enjoying the pain of extreme vinyl set up should buy elsewhere. :oops:

BTW, I am biased - I own TechDas and Graham and do not enjoy listening ten times to the same track.
 
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dnanian

Member
Jun 10, 2022
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Lastly, I would reach out to the US Bergman importer, Phillip O'Hanlon who I'm guessing will find a willing dealer to allow you to compare the two at home. Of course, you will need two of the same cartridges to do so!
In fact, I have already reached out to Phillip who was kind enough to answer a number of questions both directly and via Mr. Bergmann.

Dealers, though, are difficult. The closest one is in Atlanta (hence the travel comment in my first post).

And, indeed, arm choices are involved, as are cartridges. Fortunately, both 'tables provide for multiple choices there. My hope was to audition both in their "normal" configuration (if there is such a thing in reality) - a Graham Engineering arm on the TechDAS (which I have heard) and the Odin arm on the Galder.
 

dnanian

Member
Jun 10, 2022
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In this aspect IMHO the TechDas, used for example with a Graham tonearm, is easier to set up and less critical than the Bergman. Both TechDas and Graham have extremely high quality of manufacturing and are designed for a simple maintenance and operation. People enjoying the pain of extreme vinyl set up should buy elsewhere.
I would have thought so as well. Strangely, though, the TechDAS AFIII at my local dealer has pretty extreme flutter for some reason, even though the belt tensioning setup has been done, and it does indicate it's "locked".

That's obviously not even remotely normal, but I'm at an honest loss to figure out -- with an air bearing, and careful speed regulation -- how it could even be possible. But it does clearly indicate that things can go wrong.
 

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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In fact, I have already reached out to Phillip who was kind enough to answer a number of questions both directly and via Mr. Bergmann.

Dealers, though, are difficult. The closest one is in Atlanta (hence the travel comment in my first post).

And, indeed, arm choices are involved, as are cartridges. Fortunately, both 'tables provide for multiple choices there. My hope was to audition both in their "normal" configuration (if there is such a thing in reality) - a Graham Engineering arm on the TechDAS (which I have heard) and the Odin arm on the Galder.
Your Rega is really lightweight and rather easy to transport, maybe you could take your Rega along with you to directly compare it to other TTs nearby, be it dealers or fellow audiophiles...
 

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