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April 2013 Issue
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I have been discussing the cost ratios of hi-fi gear on a turntable based forum, garnering opinion as to how money would be split to purchase a new vinyl system. Generally, the opinion was 50% on the turntable/arm/cartridge, 25% amplifier/s and 25% ‘speakers. However, none of the contributors who listed their systems with prices paid (or estimated) seemed to be any where near that, including myself.

I thought I would try a pseudo-scientific approach and use data from your magazine, as I have always agreed with your findings, and recommendations. I added up all the quoted prices in each category, and arrived at the following. Turntable 26%, arm 14%, cartridge 6%, amplifier 25% and ‘speakers 30%, so not a million miles away from the forum’s thoughts.

If one wanted just a CD source, the figures turned out to be CD 30%, amplifier 30%, ‘speakers 40%. Of course, this neglects the other things like cables, stands, racks, etc., but it might give a clue as to how a person new to hi-fi might spread their cash for a new system.

Lastly, it might be of interest to know that most people on the forum bought mostly second hand items, but that doesn’t really help the first time buyer.

Kindest regards, 

Bryan Wallwork, aka Cat’s squirrel.





Spend 50% on the turntable/arm/cartridge, 25% on the amplifier and 25%
on the ‘speakers. Is this right? Bryan Wallwork provides an interesting analysis.


Those figures seem sensible to me. The only item that seems to suffer is the cartridge, at just 6% of the cost. If it is a £120 Goldring (say) then the system costs £2000 and the ‘speakers £666. That is fairly balanced and quite typical, but a budget Rega RB301 arm will do justice to an Ortofon 2M Black (MM) costing £400 or a Benz Micro Ace (MC) costing £600 and this would be a justifiable re-balance I feel, at least for those that want the very best from vinyl. 

Although manufacturers commonly dislike the idea of people buying second hand, it does in practice keep values up. When a product becomes worthless after use, as computers do for example, it affects perceptions of value. Most proper hi-fi (as opposed to cheap budget audio) is well made, durable and good value second-hand. NK



I’m a bit stuck trying to balance the arm on a Technics SL-220 turntable. I can do it to a certain extent, but I am not sure what the spaces represent on the tracking dial and on the anti skate as they’re both different after 1.5. The cartridge instructions say 1.75, but it has 1.0 and 1.5. if I knew what they were in between it would be a lot easier.

Lee Dodd




Easy to use, high resolution and accurate due to its calibration weight,

the Pro-Ject Measure IT traacking force gauge will solve Lee Dodd's problems.




You have to guess where 1.75 is on the scale if the divisions are 0.5g apart (i.e. 1 - 1.5 - 2). It is exactly half way between the 1.5 and 2gm marks on the counterweight. For greater accuracy buy the excellent Pro-Ject Measure IT from Henley Designs, price £80, complete with 5gm calibration weight to ensure accuracy. If this seems a bit hi-tech and expensive, the simple mechanical Shure SFG-2 at £38.52 is an old favourite that works well enough and will get you to where you want to go.




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