Used Turntables Buying Guide – What to Look for in Used Record Players?

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Used Turntables

As with buying any used stuff, when buying a second hand record player, it is important to open your eyes and ears well, take it with a healthy mind and be a bit of a psychologist (in the seller’s judgment).
In addition, you must pay attention to the following several things:

  1. Avoid models with a lot of automatic, such as resetting a tone arm to resting position, repetition, automatic positioning and lowering of the needle at the start of the record, etc. The more automatcss, the more likely it is that something is not working properly or something will quickly break down, although it was working ok in the moment of purchase, as we talking about devices between the ages of 20 and 35, and sometimes more.
  2. Avoid purchasing a turntable with the T4P cartridge mounting system, as the new needle/cartridge is almost impossible to find on the market, except for the occasional model of the Audio Technica AT92. In addition, these record players are not suitable for further improvement by adding a higher quality cartridge or other interventions, and many of them can not be adjusted properly. Due to the aforementioned drawbacks, the turntable models with the T4P system are not covered by this guide for buying used record players, although they are often offered on ads.
  3. If it is a “belt drive” turntable make sure that the belt is not too stretched, and whether the tire has tiny cracks, which is not good because it says the belt is are at the end of its lifetime.
  4. When purchasing a turntable with a sub chassis, pay attention to the state of the spring, or whether the sub chassis stands wrong, indicating that the springs are either not set (tensed) properly or failed. If they have failed, it is practically impossible to bring the sub chassis into the optimum position so that the platter (the sub chassis itself) is horizontal, that the axis of the motor is parallel to the axis of the plate (so that the turning of the motor over the belt is properly transmitted to the platter) and to subchassis equally moves freely, ie performs its function of separating bearings with a plate and tone arm from the turntable case itself. This is especially related to Thorens turntables, which is a relatively common problem, especially in older models.
  5. In the case of direct drive turntable or record player where the rotation from the motor is directly transferred to the plate, the speed (both 33 and 45) should be checked, since in these turntables it is the most common problem with the inability to maintain constant speed. The safest test is, try to see if a turntable can spin one side of the board at speed 33, and that there are no audible or visible (in stroboscope) speed fluctuations. If this goes right, raise the needle from the platter, let the platter continue to rotate. As the platter rotates, change the speed from 33 to 45 and vice versa repeatedly and look at the strobe to see if the turntable always achieves the correct speed. If all has gone smoothly, one more thing you need to do: if the turntable has the ability to fine-tune the speed (most of them have, that is the “wheel” where “pitch” is written), rotate that potentiometer from min to max and back several times, if and after that speed can be adjusted to be constant, then most likely everything is ok. Although there may always be some hidden flaws in these turntable sets.
  6. Check the position of the tone arm, ie the tone arm should lower / raise and turn left / right without resistance, but not too loosely.
  7. Check the condition of the cartridge, though this is not so important because our recommendation is to purchase new cartridge in each case.
  8. In addition to the listed items you need to check all other turntable functions, the lift mechanism(“cue” on some turntables), auto if it has etc. Whether the cover remains open in the upper position while changing the record or dropping it over your hands, etc. .
  9. The visual-cosmetic impression is not so important to the function of the turntable itself, but we can tell a lot about the relation of the owner-seller to the turntable, and from this we can already deduce how reliable that turntable works. And, if the record player works properly, based on visual-cosmetic flaws (cracked cover, missing hinge, a button is missing, a greaseproof on a turntable, etc.) one can and should work to lower the price.

If you can buy it from a known seller, through friends, acquaintances – this is no guarantee.

This guide will be constantly updated with new record player models as well as relevant information on common faults, etc.

The score or description of the sound of some turntables are the result of personal experience and sound experience.

The maximum prices in $ sum we consider to be allocated for the models mentioned in the guide are the result of a long-term monitoring of the market of used turntables. Further, the prices represent the maximum amount of money to pay for a turntable, regardless of whether it is mounted with the cartridge or not. In 95% of cases, the cartridge is unusable, except for “plowing” on the records. So, it is best to leave the cartridge to the seller for memory, and to urge culturally to set up the price for the headless turntable.

Turntables are split by alphabet and prices, from the lowest to the highest:
dual-505-used-turntable

            1. Dual CS 505 / MkII / MkIII / MkIV
              plastic case – up to 60 $
              wooden case – up to 80 $
              Semi-automatic turntable driven over the belt with fine tuning speed. A lightweight tone arm that is easy to mount at a cheaper Ortofon / Grado / AT cartridge.
              Sound: nothing special, the best and the most heard medium range, bass and highs occurs sporadically.
              Common Problems: Tone arm resetting often does not work properly; Belt; The fine-tuning belt quickly breaks down or is completely stuck.used-technics-sl-b202-for-sale
            2. Technics SL-B202 – up to 60 $
              Technics S-B303 – up to 60 $
              Belt drive record players with identical technical features, with strobe and fine tuning speed. The only difference is that 202 is semi-automatic and 303 is automatic turntable.
              Sound: Straight without emotion, the best and most commonly heard medium range.
              Common Problems: Tone arm resetting often does not work properly; Beltused-technics-sl-d202
            3. Technics SL-D202 – up to 70 $
              Technics SL-D303 – up to 70 $
              Direct drive turntables with identical technical features, with strobe and fine tuning speed. The only difference is that 202 is semi-automatic and 303 is automatic turntable.
              Sound: straight without emotion, the medium is best heard, although there are bass indications.
              Most common problems: Dusty pot for fine tuning speed; Sometimes you need to adjust the speed trimmer.used-technics-sl-1900
            4. Technics SL 1900 – up to 70 $
              Technics SL 2000 – up to 80 $
              Direct drive record players of similar technical characteristics, with stroboscope and fine tuning speed. Model 2000 is manual and 1900 is automatic.
              Sound: Relatively uniform throughout the range, but fairly straight and without emotion.
              Common Problems: Automating and resetting the tone arm sometimes does not work properly in 1900; sometimes you need to adjust the speed trimmer.used-technics-sl-q202
            5. Technics SL-Q202 – up to 80 $
              Technics SL-Q303 – up to 80 $
              Direct drive turntables with identical technical features, with stroboscope. The only difference is that 202 is semi-automatic and 303 is automatic turntable.
              Sound: Equal throughout the range.
              Common Problems: Sometimes you need to adjust the speed trimmer.used-technics-sl-q2
            6. Technics SLQ 2 – up to 90 $
              Technics SLQ 3 – up to 90 $
              Direct drive turntables with identical technical features, with stroboscope. The only difference is that 2 is semi-automatic and 3 is automatic turntable.
              Sound: Equal throughout the range, good bass, with the right improvements and the right cartridge can sound great.
              Note: Good quality record player.
              Common Problems: Sometimes you need to adjust the speed trimmer.used-technics-sl-1200-mk2
            7. Technics SL 1200MkII / 1210MkII – prices from 220-500 $
              Legend – personification of turntable.
              They know about this turntable in neighboring galaxies too.
              Since it has been produced almost recently, it is possible to find a suitable specimen in excellent condition.
              There is not enough room here so we will write a special post about this legend.used-technics-sl-1300
            8. Technics SL 1300 MkI / MkII – up to 140 $
              Technics SL 1400 MkI / MkII – up to 160 $
              Technics SL 1500 MkI / MkII – up to 180 $
              More or less turntables of identical technical features, the best is 1500 being fully manual, then 1400 semi-automatic and 1300 automatic. The MkII versions are generally improved, have a better tone arm, and are therefore a better choice.
              Sound: solid throughout, great bass (SL 1500), with little improvement and the right cartridge sound great.
              Note: very good turntable.
              Common Problems: Resetting the tone arm sometimes does not work properly with model 1300/1400; Sometimes you need to adjust the speed trimmer.used-thorens-td-104
            9. Thorens TD104 – up to 80 $
              Thorens TD105 – up to 90 $
              Belt drive record players with sub chassis of similar technical characteristics; stroboscope and fine tuning speed. They automatically turn off and raise the tone arm at the end of the record.
              Sound: solid throughout the range, well defined bass for that class of turntable.
              Most common problems: Automatic shutdown often does not work properly; Beltused-thorens-td-110
            10. Thorens TD110 – up to 90 $
              Thorens TD115 – up to 100 $
              Belt drive turntables with sub chassis of similar technical characteristics; stroboscope and fine tuning speed. They automatically turn off and raise the tone arm at the end of the record.
              Sound: solid throughout the range, well defined bass for that class of turntable.
              Most common problems: Automatic shutdown often does not work properly; Belt; Pulleyused-thorens-td-165
            11. Thorens TD165 – up to 135 $
              Thorens TD166 – up to 135 $
              Belt drive turntables with sub chassis of almost identical technical characteristics; classical Thorens philosophy and construction.
              Sound: solid throughout the range, poorly defined bass, which is standard Thorens’ failure; With a lot of tweaking(20-200 $), these turntables can sound seriously, but why then not immediately buy a more expensive turntable that plays better in the beginning and does not require any intervention.
              Most common problems: Springs; Belt; Pulley; Signal cable; Earthing cable.used-thorens-td-160
            12. Thorens TD160 – up to 130 EUR
              Thorens TD145 – up to 120 EUR
              Belt drive record players with sub chassis of almost identical technical characteristics; the classic Thorens philosophy and construction, whereby the TD145 at the end of the record automatically shuts off and the tone arm rises up. The biggest flaw in these turntable is the tone arm TP16, which is well below performances of the turntable itself.
              Sound: Relatively good through full range, poorly defined bass; with a change of tone arm and a lot of tweaking(20-300 $), these turntables can sound seriously, but why then not immediately buy a more expensive turntable that plays better in the beginning and does not require any intervention.
              Most common problems: Shell on the TP16 handle; The lunch itself; springs; Belt; Pulley; Signal cable; Earthing cable.
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