Long ago I had a really nice Teac TN400 turntable with a custom wood base and a Denon tonearm. The TN400 stock was supposedly liquidated because Teac was sued over the MagneFloat feature, which took most of the weight off the platter bearing, but which violated another company's patent. Sadly the Teac broke and could not be serviced.
Anyway, for years I made do with a P.O.S. el cheapo Technics direct drive P-Mount unit. When I would scratch my fingernail on the P-mount headshell, the "WHEGH-WHEGH" sound that came out of the speakers was disgusting, and I suspected that even with a decent Ortofon P-mount cartridge (the only P-mount moving coil I could find), that the Technics was probably holding the system back, and was part of the reason that just I couldn't get very excited about my vinyl for so long.
That has all changed with my new-to-me MMF-5. Boy this turntable is quiet! Probably better than my old Teac even, and such an improvement over the Technics that I profoundly regret "making do" for so long.
I have been hearing new detail and complexity on my LPs for the first time ever. The MMF-5 was the last component to be added to my all-new (to me) system, and boy was the old Technics holding the system back. In particular, I can follow bass tracks note-for-note now which would previously get lost in the rest of the music.
I can definitely say that a mid-fi turntable is not going to do your vinyl justice. For a long time I assumed that the cartridge would account for most of the difference, but now I think trying to put a fine cartridge on a mid-fi turntable is false economy. Get a good turntable!
Speaking of cartridges, I never got to hear the Goldring, as it arrived damaged (as did the dustcover). The cartridge I am using is a Denon DL160 high-output moving coil, and I really like it.
And speaking of damage, a turntable is one item that I would hesitate to buy used, except locally. Unless you can see it and take it home yourself, you are at risk of being disappointed, as I was. If you do buy on eBay, insist on air shipment, and insure it. Fortunately for me, the damage was easily repairable.
The MMF-5's replacement, the 5.1, is going for about $800 new, it seems. If that is too much, maybe go for the cheaper units from Music Hall, ProJect, or Rega. Just don't try to make do with a P.O.S. like I did, for way too long.
I am one not to purchase "audiophile" equipment on line, due to the on going stories I read, written by disappointed purchasers. I prefer to shop in store and audition (i.e. see it and hear it) the equipment, especially when it comes to turntables! I recently purchased a pre owned Music Hall MMF-5 turntable, with a shinny "piano" black top plinth surface. Used Price: $425.00. It came with a Goldring 1012GX cartridge, translucent green glass platter, record clamp, box, and manual. The original owner had it for only 3 months, and the store had it for only one week. I found it on line, but went to the store to audition it. The sales person was kind to check for very essential alignment issues: 1) cartridge VTA and 2) tone arm azimuth for proper alignment. There were no issues. He also check for proper stylus tracking force, which was set at 1.75 gram VTF. I have no issues with the felt pad that came with this turntable. The pad grips the record surface better and accentuates the "treble" frequencies which is to my advantage. Due to the fact that I purchased in store, and had this unit checked out by the sales person, I had absolutely no problems installing the turnable at home. To my advantage this particular Music Hall MMF-5 turntable was almost "burned in" and "opened up", which is relative to the cartridge and tone arm breaking in period, with use. A good 100 hours of playing time is recommended to "break-in" a turntable. I certainly will be enjoying this task for sure. This Music Hall MMF-5 turnable is a super fantastic "audiophile" bargain of the highest order. The soundstage, presence, and depth, recorded on my vintage LPs can readily be heard and appreciated with this unit. From small jazz assembles to large romantic symphonic works, this excellent turntable lets me appreciate the composers, the artists, and the recording engineers magic, by becoming "audibly" invisible. I highly recommend the Music Hall MMF-5. Gustav Mahler, Buddy Rich, or Beethoven have never sounded so great!
I can but second the uniformly excellent reviews this table has received, not only here, but in the audio press as well.
In a nutshell, it's the best bargain in vinyl playback today. The "bang for the buck" ratio is unmatched by any other table/arm/pickup combo you can name.
Of course, in absolute terms, there are far superior tables, but to achieve substantial improvement over the MMF-5 you would have to spend nearly twice the price.
For someone wanting to get into or back into vinyl and not bust the bank this is a fine turntable. I am the type of person who obsesses over "should I spend more" and with this purchase I went through the same dilema, but am totally satisfied and expect to be for some time. If you are going to approach the $1000 mark in your tt budget, then there is a lot out there to confuse and bewilder you, but if it is less, then you simply cannot go wrong with the MMF-5. Though I am always skeptical of audiophile language and opinions, this unit did indeed take some time to "burn in" and there was a noticable "opening up" as it was played. My setup is probably a little unique, but I am running this through a 1960s H H Scott 222 tube integrated amp and single driver Omega Super3R single driver speakers. Harshness is the last thing you will hear in my living room and this little turntable is a great addition to the family.
I have owned this table for about four months now. Before this, I owned a tweaked up Thorens TD-160. Set up of the table was relatively easy, but I have had a lot of experience with TTs. The Audio Technica AT-0C9, which came with the unit, was already mounted. The biggest problem I had initially was a whirring sound I isolated as coming from the platter bearing. Though the manual says the bearing doesn't need oil, I used a combination of sewing machine oils and a couple of drops of Tufoil. After a couple of days the noise was gone. At the first few listens, I was a little disappointed the sound from the MMF5 wasn't a drastic improvement from the Thorens. In fact, some of my records even sounded better on the TD-160. I gave the table a few more weeks, and I think the problem was the brand new phono preamp wasn't "burned in". A couple of months later, the table is running in tiptop form. A couple of weeks ago I further the TT using some Corian and brass cones. That seemed to help the mid-bass become more defined. It's hard to know what else to say about the MMF5...so much is cartridge dependennt, but it has operated flawlessly since I took care of the whirring sound.
One of the finest points to the MMF5 is the screw-down clamp that is included. That extra feature really distinguishes it from other tables in this range.