First regulator - purely recreational vs. tec suitable?

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New York City
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Hi SB,

Wife and I are fairly new to diving and beginning to consider buying our first set of regs. We are vacation divers and have only dove in tropical waters (Hawaii and FL). That being said we live in the north east and will also be open to local fresh water dive sites in the future (as experiences build up).

I am personally hoping to get into tec diving in a few years. Wife is not. So this also plays a factor in forming our decisions. Ideally we want to own one set of good gears and be set for a good 5-10 years with good care and service.

Key considerations besides performance:
1. budget. less than $1k would be ideal. won't want to spend over $1500.
2. environmentally sealed
3. easy to service globally
4. higher O2 compatibility for future tec consideration?
5. some say diaphragm might be preferable than piston. verdict?
6. Din

I did my homework here on SB on picking the first regs and regulator comparisons. the posts helped a lot narrowing down our considerations below. This is by no means a new thread to many of y'all so we'd very much appreciate your opinions on this tedious topic.

- Apex MTX-RC long-hose set:
link here

retails for $1579. For sure an overkill for beginners and costs more than other options. But comes with both 2nd stages instead of an octo. A long hose to get used to future tec diving set-up might be a benefit. And Apeks lifetime warranty, so no additional costs for parts in later services is a plus. Won't be planning any extreme cold water diving soon but this is such a solid set of regs. Buy once cry once?

- SP Mk19/Mk25/Mk17 + G260/A700:
solid, easy to service, tec suitable as well. Also north of $1k in the US so not much edge here vs. the MTX-RC. One thing I'm not familiar with is how SP compares with the lifetime warranty that the Aqua Lung/Apeks i.e. if parts replacement will accumulate and ultimately cost more in the long run with SP than AL/Apeks. Haven't researched more into other SP 1st stages besides the above 3 so your opinions are welcomed.

- Aqua Lung legend elite and Apeks XL4 OCEA:
what our instructor recommended & is using / have used. environmentally sealed. around $1100.

- Deep6 Signature DIR:
full set costs north of $900. read some posts on the forum and heard many good things and I'm sure of it's performance. 2 hesitations: 1) someone on the forum mentioned there LDS is less familiar with Deep6 regs tec diving teaching and thus recommended to go with a more "common" brand. 2) outside of the US the service situation might be a different vs. the likes of AL/Apeks/SP?

Haven't done enough homework on:
- Halcyon: pretty much SP but marked up/down?
- Atomic: T3 is too pricy and titanium O2 is a limit. M1 full set is not cheap either.
- Zeagle F8: heard good things about these.
- Apeks XTX50/XTX200: both are awesome and recommended by many. but not much price advantage vs the MTXRX set so relatively not standing out

All inputs are welcome. Thanks!
If you are going into tech then I would recommend a first stage that has a fifth port that faces downward. That would be MK-25, MK-19, some DGX and Deep6 firsts, or an Apeks DST (XTX50) with the 5th port option. The reason is better hose routing with doubles and side mount.

As far as parts for life, it is a selling tool nothing more. If you happen to miss a service or inspection you are out of the program. Back in the day, if you missed a service you paid for parts and you were back in the program for the next service. Times have changed. There are plenty of threads about this.

Another option is an Atomic Z2, they are cheaper and breath the same as the more expensive Atomic regulators.

Being you live in NYC, why not check out (aka Leisure Pro) and see what they have. They may offer you a deal.

As far as Deep6, DGX, Hog, or other off-brands go, most dive stores in the US will not repair them because they are not a dealer. So you will need to send them back to the seller or find an independent tech for service. If traveling internationally and you have the parts kit, most dive shops will service them. The other option is DYI.
Whatever brand you choose, get two identical second stages, both top performance and with a knob for adjusting effort. Using a crap and cheap "octopus" thing is BAD. When you need the secondary air source, it must perform with top performances, as you are already in trouble!
Regarding brands, I would suggest Scubapro: I am big fan of this brand, as they make ever-lasting products, I am still diving my old MK5+R109 purchased in 1976, and they still make parts for servicing it.
Furthermore, a SP reg can be serviced everywhere all around the world, and you can easily service it yourself, as Internet is full of guides, manuals, videos, and sellers of original service kits.
Regarding price, I warmly suggest to purchase Scubapro regs here in Europe by a serious online seller. There are no custom duties for importing regulators in US. You save almost 50 % !!!
They are mostly made in Italy, so their price here are much smaller.
Going in more detail I would suggest the MK17 evo plus 2 identical G260, one with an hose longer than the other, for being easily donated.
I understand the good point about a first stage with the 5th LP port on top (which usually is mounted upside-down, so it becomes "on bottom"), as I dive mostly MK5 and MK10 first stages.
However Scubapro redesigned the port positions in the MK17 Evo, following recommendations from tech divers. Hence that reg is one of the few which, despite being compact and without rotating turret with fifth port, allows for perfect routing of hoses in a twin tank or sidemount setup. And removing the rotating turret means a simpler reg, with less failure points, lighter and also cheaper.
It appears that it is difficult now to purchase the MK17 Evo in the US; but if you buy online overseas, as recommended, you find it easily.
The G260 is the direct successor of the G250, the most successful reg of all times, sharing with it all the relevant parts, but adding a small screw which allows for better fine tuning.
It is simple, robust, and high performances. There are good alternatives (for example the C370, which is lighter and less expensive), but in the end I see no reason for leaving what is known to be safe and good for something more fancy but less known.
A quick search on European EBAY suggests this:
You can add another second stage:
If you contact the seller, it probably can assemble a setup for you with a long hose and perhaps also an SPG, with some discount for the combined purchase.
Any will serve you well, I use the F8 and have used everything else but the MTX and MK 19 EVO. Don’t over think the “world wide service” thing in most cases if you were to have a problem you can rent something locally, I just bring a complete second reg set.

the top end deep 6 comes with a service kit and anyone who has ever serviced almost any second stage can repair one in minutes without a service manual, it’s a fairly universal design.

you can’t go wrong with any of them.
I'd go with Hog or Deep 6, I have both. The fifth port makes routing with doubles much nicer. Buy identical second stages, not cheap octos. As other posters have said, if a reg fails on a trip you're going to rent/borrow one from the local operator, not send yours out for service and wait for it to come back.
I'd echo what everyone else said but, with one caveat. Make your wife's first and second stages the same as what you're getting. If you're going tech diving, you're going to need at least 2 first stages. When the time comes, you'll be able to borrow/extend/cannibalize her set, to extend yours.

If you get the HOG D1s and classic regs, you can get a full long hose setup for $587 and it will check all the boxes mentioned above.
Out of curiosity, what are the differences between Hog D1 and DGX D6?
20 years from now, ScubaPro is more likely to still be in business and servicing 30 year old regulators than any of the others. A good regulator, well cared for, is going to last you 20 years no problems. I have a Mk25/S600 I bought in 2004 or so that I still use frequently.

I would buy which ever combo of the Mk25/Mk17/Mk19 with a pair or G260's your LDS can supply. Buy whichever set is lowest cost, they are all excellent. Be sure to get matching 2nd stages.

Piston/Diaphragm/Sealed is not all that important for 95% of divers. If you get to that point you are likely to have lots of reg sets anyway, you won't be able to help yourself. :)

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