Complete vinyl system, TT to speakers, for $1500?

We just returned from a 2-week visit to our son who lives in Tokyo.  While there, we met a nice young woman who told me she would like to acquire an audio system with the express intent of playing LPs in her apartment.  Her budget is $1500 or less, as noted.  It's been years since I ever had to think in such budget terms, and when I did think about a $1500 system, it was back in the 70s when you could really buy something decent for that total amount.  (You could also buy a car for only a little bit more.) So, I am here for advice; she needs TT, tonearm, cartridge, phono stage, amplifier, and speakers. Thanks.


Good luck with that. I think that if that is the budget it would be easier to get better sound reproduction with digital than analog. I'll be interested to see the suggestions.

Rega Planer 1 Plus (onboard phono pre) and a pair of powered speakers.

Rega System One (used) which consists of TT/amp/speakers.

Both TT's include a mounted cartridge.



Yes, she’s in Tokyo and we got back to the US yesterday. But my son told her I’m a guru. US and Euro equipment can be more expensive in Tokyo compared to the source countries.

Dekay, thanks. Rega would be costly in Tokyo because made in UK. Might be ok but other suggestions appreciated.

@lewm really good of you to help out! Partially based on my own experience, Fluance might be just the ticket. I have the Fluance RT85 outfitted with AT VM750SH cartidge and it's quite good. [Sold the stock Ortofon 2M Blue,  which is more than adequate in its own right.]

In terms of the young woman's wants, Fluance caters to just that market. They have several systems coming in well below her budget - with enough leftover to pick up some good vinyl. Not sure about shipping from Canada to Tokyo. Check these out: 

All the best!

Was thinking to help her choose equipment she can just buy in Tokyo.  I was in a major store several times, and I think I did see Fluance there.  I'll check out the availability in Japan.

There are Two Vendors based in Japan in the Links, in general used equipment is for sale.

It does look like a decent system can be presented as a option when selecting items from either Vendor ot both of the Vendors.

I would think a decent vintage TT (JVC direct drive would be my choice) and cartridge + powered speakers and you still need to come up with a phono pre could be done for around that.  


Just checked the price of a Rega Planer 1 Plus in Japan and it was well over 2X the asking price here (USA).



Like I said, the prices on US and Euro goods are inflated over there. Price of Reed 3G tonearm was $8800, even taking into account the very favorable exchange rate, yen to USD. As to vintage anything, I think that’s inappropriate for this young woman.

Honestly, a vintage receiver or integrated (like Sansui) with an MM phono input could be had for a few hundred. With older used gear it could be done.

Pro-Ject Colourful Audio System would be a reasonable all-in-one choice around that budget.  Otherwise, probably buying used piecemeal.

I just uploaded a similar post.  I'm looking for an inexpensive system for my girlfriend here in the USA.  I'm leaning towards a stock Rega Planar 1 and a refurbished Peachtree Audio Nova 150 so she can use the MM internal phono stage.  I already have a set of Focal Aria 906 that she can have.  

Sony offers a Bluetooth TT (PS-LX310BT Turntable with Bluetooth® connectivity $200) that is decent for a novice and pairs directly with a Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM ($400) and could be shipped new to Japan for under $1500.

I am pretty sure she can buy Sony locally.  Sony cameras are all over the place at good prices. And I have no intention to buy anything for her and to ship.  She is quite capable of shopping locally. The audio marketplace in Tokyo is vast.  Thanks for the info on Sony bluetooth unit.

Hmmmm I am very sceptical you would get anything meaningful in terms of end to end TT sound for $1500. You can try and convince the nice young woman to go digital.

She wants vinyl.  I don't think she would need my advice to assemble a digital system.  Nor would I have offered to give advice on a digital system. Seems vinyl is doable on her budget, based on the above posts.  The trick is to put oneself in her shoes; she's not an audiophile.  The resulting system does not have to make you and me ecstatic.

Also, she has a small apartment.  A "small" apartment in Tokyo is very small by our standards in the US. Our son makes a good income there and in the past has lived in very small spaces.  (He just bought a 2-BR unit that is reasonably spacious, but again only by Tokyo standards.  We stayed at his place for the first time in over 12 years of annual visits.)  Therefore, for his female friend, a TT/tonearm/cartridge that comes with a built in phono/linestage seems a good idea, driving self-powered speakers. 

Strateahead, I looked up the Fluance product line. The TT80 and TT81 come with a built in phono stage.  Whereas the TT85 does not.  For that reason, maybe the TT81.  On the other hand, her budget might allow a TT85 plus Ifi Zen, which I did see on sale there.  Next question would be self-powered speakers.

I deliberately chose a site with the Brand Sansui.

I have been demo'd this Brands Amp's in both SS and Valve on regular occasions and have been thoroughly impressed, with the experiences encountered. The Phon' Stage on the Valve Model is exceptional with a few of the SUT's and the Head Amp, it has been partnered with.

The SS version I am familiar with, has a very good Phon' with both MM/MC. The owner MM with a Ortofon SUT for numerous years until they produced their own Phon' Design.

I have been demo'd the SS Amp's MC, MM>SUT and New Design Phon as a comparison, the Sansui Amp' will make any new to Vinyl user quite happy.

Additionally, in the UK there are others reporting on forums about their being very impressed with SS Sansui Amp's.  

The Yamaha MS M515 Speakers will certainly produce a sound that will be very with Bookshelf Vibrancy, it is hopefully a presentation that has an attraction to a new vinyl user, the Speaker should work quite well with the Sansui. 

TT's with TA's are seemingly abundant, the question is which Cart' can be incorporated, as I assume the Cart's on the seen TT's might not be at their best stage in usage life.   

@lewm , did you get a chance to check the link in my post? Those systems have "... everything you need to play vinyl records." So the phono preamp is included with the top packages. Plus could be delivered, all-in for well under $1,500. What's not to like about that?

Hi, it's absolutely possible, I would start from finding a used NAD 3020 amplifier. Or an used REGA IO. One of these 2 would provide just the amount of watts you need for a small room and sounds amazing still today. Then add a pair of TANNOY T2 speakers. Regarding the turntable in the past a used to have a REVOLVER, which you can find for just 200 eur. But a REGA PLANAR 2 would be much better, if a new one in Japan it's too expensive you can look for an used one. For the Stylus an ORTOFON RED. I had this combo for years and it was really satisfying, for a small room it's just perfect. With a combination like that you're definitely still under 1.000 USD and can also concentrate on a very very decent Phono stage for 500 eur used or new. You just need to focus on used components, possibly vintage there are pearls out there for very cheap money and perfect for small spaces.


Fluance would be easiest ...


Denon, Technics and Yamaha make entry level gear and should be readily available!?

Teac 3BSE includes an AT cart and RIAA Equalizer/preamp. Sells for $529.00 USD, here. Maybe less there…looks better quality than Fluance,with an SAEC knife edge bearings tonearm. For a small room, a Chinese FOSI BT20A is excellent and sufficient for $100.00 or so, even has BT and tone controls! I don’t know the Japanese speaker market, but a $K pair should be easy. To keep the budget really low, a pair of Dayton Audio BR1 kit is $300.00 here, and is not at all bad. That’s a good playback system under a grand, and she gets to know a bit about what’s inside to boot.  Complete with WBC cables, of course.

Go with a TT and powered speakers. See which brands are available from where she would be most likely to shop and go from there.  Different electrical standards to consider as well.  

I would think that something like an Audio Technica 120 would be available or the equivalent from Pioneer or Yamaha or Denon some other respected brand.

Same for the powered speakers.

This should not be so hard, essentially a starter system for a studio apartment. I had a similarly small apartment 20 years ago in London and did exceedingly well with a CD boombox (no kidding) for the one or so years I was there. Tucked in a bookshelf nook, I got pleasing sound reinforcement. Small spaces don’t require 3/4 of the audio niceties that are deemed so critical in our hobby.


I’d get a Music Hall or Pro-Ject turntable, install an Ortofon 2M MM cartridge, (available at different price points), a Rega Io integrated amplifier (has built-in MM phono preamp and headphone amp), and a pair of bookshelf speakers. The Rega Io (30Wpc) will produce great sound for an apartment and could even make the move into a small house; the Io will take two more source components beyond the turntable, so easy to eventually add a CD player and music streamer (or one of the tiny DAC units that connects a laptop to a stereo system). This is my setup for my kid’s first apartments.

My son's SO has a Fluance "all in one" TT, amp, speakers.  I looked at it sideways, as in "I got one of these for Christmas 60 years ago".  Had a hint of bass, but the rest of it was all there.  Not sure, but would bet that it was one of their cheapest offerings.



Here’s a system I own and it sounds stellar. Being a musician, I know what music should sound like. Orbit w/Grado Black-$450. Proton D540 integrated amp (high current. 6db of headroom. Sister company to NAD back in the mid ’80’s) $159. Dahlquist DQ10 $375 Found the 10's on FB Marketplace!!! Mint and one owner.. I also have an older JVC CD player....$5 at a garage sale. That’s under 1K and I’d put it up against any $5K system of today. But not feasible for a tiny apartment in Japan. But it can be done.

Look for a Japanese brand name integrated with an MM input. Denon does one for around 400-500 US. Add a Project or Rega (buy here, ship there) entry level TT, she can then add a pair of good bookshelf speakers and be right in that range. Cart swaps etc. can be done if desired at a later date. The integrated amplifier start gives room to grow if desired.

Elliott (and anyone else), I am not recommending used equipment of any kind for this novice. I may suggest the idea to her, but I doubt she’d be interested. If I suggest a specific used item for her to buy, I’d then feel responsible if a problem arose. Since I am now 7600 air miles from Tokyo, that would be frustrating. She’s best off with new gear she can buy from a local dealer, with a warranty. I know you mean well,  and I thank you for your efforts.

Here’s a question: self powered and maybe also wireless speakers are a great space saving idea. The question is whether such speakers can be driven adequately by the output of a phono built into a cheap TT or an inexpensive outboard phono stage, like the iFi Zen, which I did see on sale in Tokyo.

HI Lewm -

The TT should have a built in phono preamp (like the Audio Technics 120 and any number of other TT's).

The TT would be a line input to the powered speakers, so the power output of the amplifiers (most likely Class D) inside the speakers would determine how loud it would play.  

Don't let the relative inexpensive price tag throw you.  These powered speakers/ TT systems sound pretty decent for what they are.  



I would suggest a TT (brand new with an internal phono preamp) like something from Fluance or even Music Hall, Pro-Ject.  Get the Aiyima Class D integrated (300wpc max, so expect 120WPC RMS) and then have her get the Fostex Speakers (single driver design) with flat packs from Japan.  I’m thinking this will be at that budget, and scalable and definitely not budget looking.   

Sony makes some entry level tables.  Pair with powered speakers and whatever cartridge comes with the table and done.  Look for Japanese of Chinese manufacturers selling  there.  


The Rega System One (featuring an amp, turntable, and speakers) is unusual in that higher-end audio equipment is not usually marketed as an all-in-one box solution. Usually, most audiophiles will assemble a system from different manufacturers

  • All-in-one box analog solution
  • All components handmade in England
  • Kyte speakers
  • Io integrated amplifier
  • Planar 1 turntable
  • Mini remote
  • Set of 3-meter Rega speaker cables included
  • Headphone socket

“ …Affordably priced, the Rega System One delivers astounding, ear-opening sound…”

  • Clean, rich involving sound
  • Sturdy build
  • Easy set-up, and operation


@lewm, you would have to stick with items produced in the Asian market. I would think Technics, maybe Yamaha, Parasound, NAD and so forth. Speakers will be the hardest as the Asians have never been that great at them. I would look for something that was a knock of on LS3 5As. I can't give you specifics because I do not know that market. Names and models vary with markets. Good Luck.

Guys, thanks for all of the informative responses.

Mijostyn, Luck has no role in this.  She is a nice young person who is probably much less fussy than any of us. After all, she has no prior history with vinyl to use for comparison. We met her for the first time this visit, at an outdoor barbecue. (We've got about a dozen longstanding Japanese and ex-pat Chinese friends whom we've acquired over the years because they are Dan's friends.)

akg-ca, I like the idea of the Rega System One very much. It harkens back to the 60s when KLH made a complete system that could be transported as a suitcase. The stereo speakers were derived from unsnapping the sides of the suitcase when the thing was in use.  The central mass of the suitcase turned into a turntable, preamp, amplifier, and tuner that drove the speakers. KLH probably sold thousands of them. Of course, Henry Kloss was a genius.  Anyway, the retail cost of the RSO here in the US is more than $2100, which surely will be inflated in Japan.  So it is out of her budget.  Budget is just about the only thing she stipulated. I will suggest it to her anyway.

Rega and some other "Western" brands are definitely available in Tokyo.  I saw a Rega P8 for sale in a high end store but did not note its cost.  I mentioned earlier that a Reed 3G retails for the yen-equivalent of $8800, even at the current inflated dollar to yen exchange rate. But one cannot be sure that the mark-up or mark-down is the same for all foreign brands.  I also saw Wharfedale, KEF, and Klipsch speakers.  These Western brands are very popular.  Also, any decent audio store over there sells an array of individual drivers, crossover networks, etc, for DIYers.  I often saw men discussing the merits of this driver vs that driver. Both KEF and Klipsch make small, self-driven bookshelf speakers that would fit into her price range.  Of course, a lot of this gear is in fact made in China, which is probably why you can find it in Japan.

Let me re-state my question, because no one seems to have addressed it. When I look at the specs of one of these TTs with a built in phono section, it's hard to find a mention of the signal voltage output, and when I did find it for one TT, the output was listed as something like 300 to 400mV.  So I wonder whether that output is enough to drive the built in amplifiers in the bookshelf speakers one might choose to go with the TT.  Or do you need a linestage type device in between TT and speaker, to add gain?

Elliot, To me, an output of 300mV is not "line level", which is why I ask my question.  It is possible, if not probable, that the built in amplifiers in these small self-powered speakers are very sensitive so as to be driven by a signal at 300mV.  That's likely the answer to my own question.

In a Youtube search, I found this video, which looks good for my "client". I am fairly sure I saw Fluance products for sale in Tokyo, and I am certain that iFi Zen is available there.  Maybe this is my solution.

Elliot, I did check that Yamaha integrated you cited. It does have a built in MM phono stage and might be a reasonable option if she wants more than just phono capability. It would also obviate the need for self powered speakers. Thx.

Of the $1500 budget, I'd spend about $500 - $600 on a nice, basic turntable, pick up a set of Klipsch The Fives powered speakers and with the funds remaining, some vinyl to play.

Now your question seems to be : will the built in phono stage on a budget turntable drive the amps in powered speakers?. Yes, it would have been helpful to frame it that way originally. My answer is…I don’t know. However, one can get a reasonable mm phono stage for under $200 here. I would try without first, and if the results are found wanting then add one

Mahler, if you look at the last sentences of my 06-05 post at 11:26 AM, you would see that I asked the question just as you did using different words. Thx.


Here's a non-HiFi idea that would allow vinyl playback for probably less than $300/total as sourced in Japan.

Your friend would need the following unit (link to review) and a BT or otherwise powered speaker with a line input (think that the speaker needs to have its own volume control).

The portable TT's ship on eBay from Japan.



I was going to suggest a used NAD 3020 integrated, as I have no experience of, and little trust in, powered speakers, but then I read your statement that no used equipment should be suggested. OK, we can agree to disagree.

So here's a freebee: do send (and hopefully not terrify) her with the link to Neil Antin's guide to cleaning vinyl. Maybe as a 'something to consider later'! We all know, I hope, that cleaning vinyl is as least as important as having a fine phono stage etc.

Whatever you suggest, it should come with the descriptor that it is a good start, but the sky is the limit (yeah, google, try and translate that!) if she wants more.

That thing is cool! Something anyone should have in case of a nuclear attack. (This in response to the Audio Technica Sound Burger.)

Dogberry, I don’t want to be responsible for advising her to purchase used equipment that may fail or be defective to begin with, when she has no recourse after purchase, and where I am not around Tokyo to help her out (as if I ever could, given the ubiquitous language barrier). It’s wiser for her to purchase new equipment with a warranty. If you think otherwise, then you can do as you like when you’re in a similar situation.

And while I do think Neil Antin's treatise is interesting and useful, and it might make sense to have a word or two with her on the subject of record care, I would never expose the poor girl to that tome at this stage of her development as a vinylista.  It might scare her back into digital.

Here's my favorite demo of the original (or 2nd?) version of the Sound Burger playing the Ghost Busters theme song.

If the new one doesn't damage albums I wouldn't mind having one.