Design Criteria for Vinyl System

For those of you into vinyl, how did/would you systematically go about laying out your design/performance criteria before component selections. Would you start with the cartridge first, then the tone arm, then the phono stage followed by interconnects? What did/would you look for as to the primary considerations. What was most important for you?

I’m trying to impose some self discipline on myself (we’ll see how that works out!) and lay out a research path. I’m specifically trying to avoid a component preselection approach or product A is better then B as I suspect synergistics will be very important. Any and all thoughts and experience is appreciated.

I wanted low fussiness and good sound. I went with the sweet spot in the REGA lineup and bought a P8 with an installed Apheta 2 MC. I’m pleased with the sound. If I leave the REGA fold I like the Kuzma offerings.


Good approach! What’s you budget for everything from cartridge to phono amp?

Right now, I’d like to keep it under $20k. I currently have a VPI prime signature with a Soundsmith Paua MI and a Manley Chinook phono. There is nothing wrong with it at all. I’d just like to run through the drill and see where I come out. Its not something that has to be done, but the grass is always greener… And I’d like to learn about the technical aspects of a good vinyl rig.

I certainly understand the “fussiness” aspect. I have seen Kuzma mentioned on some boards. Very positive. What would set them apart for you? Oh, and I’m open to previously owned.

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I’d say you already have a really good setup which fits together. There seems to be no component with a certain weakness within the chain. Motor is already separate, I assume your arm is already fully adjustable. Although a better motor unit always improves, especially a better arm…I wouldn’t modify this combination to be honest as you have to be sure about really better synergy then. The new component you’d buy would be above the rest and implicate further changes.

I think you’d have to switch the whole thing to noticeably step up.

A better arm will probably be most noticeable (Kuzma seem to be great as some others). I’d take arms with a fast transfer speed (metal done right, no wood parts or similar).

The next big step imo would be a high mass table with low weight (or better no weight) on the spindle. This means magnet or air bearing which is expensive. And soft isolation down to 4 or even better 2 Hz. This means none of the usual accessories but either something designed like that within the turntable (rare) or a very good passive or active isolation platform (3-15k).

You can buy extremely expensive concepts not providing all this, which I wouldn’t do.

An even better cartridge certainly also helps but I’d do the rest first.

So if you’re after bigger changes, I’d wait until you can buy a new table and tonearm together first.


The obvious and logical thing to do is buy the Rega package that suits your budget.

Otherwise, logic goes out the window as lots of phono kit is eye-candy. Personally, I took the advice of two people I trusted, a guy called Jimmy Hughes who has a lot of experience with turntables and Mark Baker, who is the man behind Origin Live.

You could get one of these. It’s magnificent.

Same for me… Vinyl is a once in a while listen for me (once a month kinda thing), I too like to have good sound without the fuss. I started out with Rega P6 and upgraded to P10, coupled with PS Audio (of course) Stellar Phono Pre, called it a day and enjoy the music. Haven’t have much desire to try something else, but I guess if I do decide to further explore the world of vinyl, I may look into Technics 1200G.

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Yea! I just saw that a couple of days age. A don’t need/must have kind of magnificence. Fire control discipline.

A better in some, worse in others magnificence I’d say. And your table is already better or at least just different than the best Rega I’d say.

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Wow, they do a 40k $ (30k pound) table now…and at long last one with a motor not attached to the table itself. Not sure if it has to be that money where this starts :wink:

The other way around. They spent some years designing the best turntable they could, money no object (at all), and came up with the Naiad. The fibreglass frame alone cost a fortune, the company that made it makes F1 car parts. The plinth is a Ceramic Oxide, used in my Raidho drivers, which ain’t cheap either. The P10 and P8 were drip-down technology from the Naiad, although you don’t get the fibreglass frame. They made 500 Naiads for sale.

Sure, I don’t say the separated motor is the reason for that price tag…I just would have expected this feature already at a 4K price level. But Rega has always had their own priorities in a more special way than most other (also innovative in another way) companies. To each his peer group, that’s fine.

The convincing for me was their design at the lowest price tag when they started, where no table had adjustable arms and external motors. There they offered the best arms due to the bearing quality and rigidity.

I had previous trials with turntables, tonearms and cartridges that cost me a time and money. About 7 or 8 years back, I got the RP8 with Apheta 2, and recently upgraded to the P10 with Apheta 3. The positive about the no frills approach is that you either like the sound, or not.

However, if I were to go back to my previous approach, I would make sure I have excellent turntable and tonearm first and foremost, then select matching cartridge and phono stage.

I have a VPI Prime, If I were to move up it would be an AMG Viella 12 with a Lyra Etna MC. It partners well with a Sim Audio 610 LP phono stage. To be honest the set-up you have currently is quite nice.

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P10 is :+1:t2: :+1:t2: If I were to upgrade from P10, I would go for Oracle Delphi’s top model with SME’s top tonearm.

This would be more an optical upgrade imo :wink:

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No one’s fooling me. That Rega Naiad Turntable pic came out of a modern art museum!

Rega’s priorities leave me puzzled. It’s as if a car manufacturer concentrates on aerodynamics and speed only in a sophisticated design, leaving all other aspects on a standard he uses in his very basic car models.

But they do so since the Planar 2, so nothing new.

Why not keep that fantastic VPI set up and invest the money in a super duper digital source like the LUXMAN D-10X which has been an icon ever since its release in 2020. It eats 16k of your budget, add a 4k streamer / server, like Lumin, Auralic or Innuos and you expanded your system with access to unlimited high quality music.