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1200 knockoffs have been around for years.  A record store down the
street from my apartment has four Audio Technica models for
auditioning.  The store owner "love 'em" (his words), though he was
quick to point out the tonearm on those ATs was not nearly ideal.  I'm
surprised at the praise for Stanton since--at least four or five years
ago--their quality control on styli was terrible.


On Fri, Mar 4, 2011 at 7:05 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> "Stanton" now has a 1200 semi-knockoff with many useful features down below
> $250 street price, Stanton 500 cartridge included:
> http://www.stantondj.com/stanton-turntables/t92usb.html
>
> I was curious enough about this thing, and wanted a turntable for the
> office, that I bought one of "factory resealed" units from ZZsounds.com,
> $240 delivered (with no sales tax). If one wants to play 78's, it's another
> $40 or so street price for the appropriate Stanton 500 needle.
>
> Let me say from the outset -- I'm not recommending this as a transfer-grade
> or archive-grade solution. But for casual listening and "vinyl to the iPod"
> transfers, this thing offers some compelling features. What surprised me
> most was the decent build quality for that price range, the powerful motor
> with quick start and speed-lock, the Technics-like tonearm which sounded
> like it didn't have resonance problems and felt non-cheap. I also liked that
> it's an exact copy of Technics' dimensions, so you can just swap
> cartridge/headshell combos. The counterweight and gimble system is cheaper
> build quality than a Technics 1200, but not junk. The most surprising thing
> to me was the relatively low rumble and impressive isolation for a
> low-priced turntable. I can see how Technics can't compete with this sort of
> product because, at half the price of a 1200, it's about 3/4 as good as far
> as durable build and probably near equal in rumble, speed accuracy and
> tonearm geometry. A Technics may well be a good bit more durable in the
> turntablist world, but these "Stanton" tables are so cheap that durability
> might not matter as much.
>
> The built-in preamp was OK but not great. It would be fine, for instance, to
> dub spoken-word records or poor-condition records. For 78's, it clipped when
> the groove-velocity was high. Note that all of this directly transfers to
> the digital outs, so keep that in mind when interfacing with a computer. I
> didn't expect a superb built-in amp with this. When I listened, to a variety
> of records for hours, through headphones and a decent preamp (nothing too
> fancy, just a decent-grade Gemini "DJ" preamp), I was impressed by low
> audible rumble, the decent but not great trackability you'd expect from a
> Stanton 500, and the nice isolation (the turntable was on a desk and I
> tested tapping the table at various spots, and then the turntable itself,
> and didn't get the needle to jump -- I'm sure a good hand-slam on any of
> these points would have cause a skip, as would a knee into the table). I
> swapped in a better Goldring cartridge and the sound improved as expected.
> Looked at the signal on the scope and didn't see the kind of rumble you see
> on some cheapo direct-drive turntables which I think comes from platter
> bearing or motor rubbing or uneven-ness. Then I swapped in a 78 needle and
> put the Stanton 500 back. Playback of 78's was pretty good, what you'd
> expect through an RIAA preamp. I was able to get the thing to turn at
> exactly 78RPM by adjusting with a strobe disk. For casual listening to 78's,
> this is a very appealing option due to it's "low fuss" factor. I should also
> mention that there's good grounding (no audible hum and very low measured
> background hum and noise). For background listening at the office, I'd say
> it's a no-brainer to just use the built-n preamp and connect to powered
> speakers or the line in on your computer soundcard.
>
> Another plus is that the unit ships with an install disc for Cakewalk's
> recorder/waveform editor software, so you are not stuck in Audacity hell,
> there's another option.
>
> Overall, I'd say build quality and features make this a very compelling
> cheap turntable. I think a produce like this price where this is makes it
> difficult for Technics to compete because it shrinks the 1200's potential
> customer base. I also think this particular unit is a good candidate for a
> "listening station" turntable for a college or archive. It's better built
> than other low-end turntables I've seen and it seems to have much better
> isolation than lightweight all-plastic competitors. The S-tonearm also
> offers some preferable features with some cartridges. The included Stanton
> 500 is idiot-proof, and one can use a cheap and available (for now) Technics
> alignment tool to set up the cartridge of your choice or verify the 500 was
> set up right (mine was delivered slightly too far forward). The conical
> needle makes it more safe in the hands of less experienced users. The
> available 78 speed is a big plus, too.
>
> -- Tom Fine
>