$ 2500 -- Best Way to Spend It Today ?

Okay, here's a great hypothetical question, which may indeed help me reach a purchase decision. I've got a $ 2500.00 total budget for a new analog front end. What's the best way to spend the dinero ?

..... $ 1500 for a new rig and $ 1000 for a whole lot of new records.......or $ 2500 for a new rig, and enjoy (maximally, of course) the LP's that I already own ?

An example of the $ 1500 front end would be a Music Hall MMF 7.1/Goldring Eroica H or a Rega P5/Dyna 10x5. A possible $ 2500 front end would be a VPI Scout/Benz Ace H.

..........Let's hear what you think, and then recommend a great $ 1500 front end and then a great $ 2500 front end to get my juices flowing. The cash outlay needs to include table, arm, and cartridge (MM or high output MC, as I want to keep my current phono stage). I'm looking forward to some wonderful suggestions on how to spend the moolah. Thanks, and Happy Listening !!
In my first (re)discovery into a vinyl/analog rig, I tried Music Hall w/ Goldring and enjoyed it for a little while.
Shortly, as in a few weeks, though, I found myself wanting, and ended up trading the aforementioned for a VPI Scout and Sumiko Blackbird. (Current full retail for both is $2600).
An excellent rig that, I am happy to state, has truly satisfied for a much longer timeframe. Of course, I'm sure my phono stage has greatly contributed.
How about a used Linn LP-12, then add an Origin Live power supply with DC motor and a Cetech subchassis. top it off with a Rega RB-250 with upgraded counterweight and Incognito wiring and a Denon 110 cartridge. That's what I have and it sounds awesome.
A Lenco. Never turn back,
I've got to agree with Oregon. You can find a mint Lenco L75 or L78 or a Goldring-Lenco for under ~$300. Then ditch the standard tonearm and invest in a Rega or some equivalent, and you'll still have plenty of money left over. What's more, there is enormouse upgrade potential in the Lenco, if you want to build a CLD plinth, dampen the chassis,etc. Other vintage tables are great too, e.g., Garrard, Technics, Denon, etc, but they all cost a great deal more than the Lenco.
Buy the P5/10x5 and hit the record stores with the rest.
Go to the Quest For Sound website and take a look at the Consonance LP 6.
Comes with a Rega arm, and sells for around 1700.00. I have the LP 2 and really enjoy the sound as well as ease of setup. Which is why I sold my Linn-Too fussy!
I would recommend spending the $2500 on the best table/arm you can and put a $50 cartridge on it with an eye to upgrading within a year. You won't be wasting anything when you do upgrade and you won't need to upgrade the table/arm ever perhaps, and if you do the better table/arm will give a better frame of reference for judging upgrade contenders. Buying LPs is ongoing and needn't be part of your budget. They can also be gotten used quite cheaply.

What floats your boat at that budget is too much a matter of taste to narrow it down to one recommendation. Also, are you thinking used or new?
How I would spend $2500.00 today?

1: Buy a KAB USA modded Technics SL-1200MKII with Carads arm rewire and fluid damper. about $1,000.00

2: Buy a Denon DL-160 H.O. M.C. cartridge which will fit nicely to the Technics about $200.00

3: Buy a Sumiko head shell for cartridge about $60.00

4: Buy a vacuum cleaning record machine VPI or Nitty Gritty about $600

5: Buy a Cambridge Audio 640p phone preamp about $250.00

6: Maple shade product Turntable platform about $350.00

Total:$2500.00 as a rough total cost.

You'd be set with a nice vinyl setup
No matter what table, arm, and cartridge you go for, a VPI record cleaning machine will do more for your enjoyment than any other purchase. It's amazing how much better a clean record sounds on any tt.
+1 for the record cleaning machine.

If you can, audition different tt's. You might like the Marantz TT-15 setup, which is made by Clearaudio and is around $1500 including a good cartridge...you might also like Rega, VPI, a used Basis, Michell, etc. Turntables can sound very different from one another, regardless of price point.
I'm really enjoying all your ideas, and am learning quite a lot. Thank you all very much. Let's keep those creative juices flowing, and keep the ideas coming in. It's wonderful being part of such and active and knowledgeable audiophile community.
Yes, the Technics SL12x0 series could make a good platform, as it's quiet, precisely and ruggedly built, and spins the platter very accurately.

Les_creative_edge's suggestions are good, but are even more affordable than the prices he mentions. If you buy from KAB USA, the SL1200 is $475; fluid damper is $150 and tonearm rewire is $169. That's about $784. The Denon DL-160 is $180 and the Sumiko headshell can be had for $40, so that's $40 less as well. And the Cambridge 640P is only $169 and I agree with him that it's a great phono front end at the price (and then some).

That's the rig I have and I really like it. I had to upgrade my speakers to get a better handle on how much the AT150MLX and 640P increased the resolution and frequency extension.

Another way to go is to start with an SL1210 M5G so you don't need the tonearm rewire. You can also save money by getting brass cones from Parts Express for about $25, and a cutting board for $25-50 instead of a Mapleshade $150-250 maple plank.

All these approaches compromise the performance very little if at all, and save quite a bit of money.

I would say, however, that if you get an SL12x0 with fluid damper, tonearm rewire, and Sumiko headshell and you're going to run it into the Cambridge 640P, to spend an extra $70 and get the Audio Technica AT150MLX cartridge instead for a mere $70 more at $250, and the stylus is replaceable at $179.95, same price as replacing a DL-160. I have an SL1210 M5G with fluid damper, Sumiko headshell, and Cambridge 640P, and with this rig you will easily notice the improvement in frequency extension, detail, separation, and trackability the AT150MLX has to offer.

Another approach might be to get an SL1200 mk2 ($475), the Origin LIve Technics armboard (about $90), and an RB300-compatible tonearm. This could be anything from an unmodified OL-1 (rebadged RB250 for $240) to a fully-modded OL-1 ($800), or an Origin Live Silver ($1050). With the Silver you'd be up to about $1600. I'd still get the AT150MLX and the Cambridge 640P. That still just about leaves enough money for a VPI record cleaning machine, Or, you could get a bundle of microfiber cleaning cloths (about $10 for a bundle of 25 at Sam's Club), a quart of good record cleaning fluid, and the Walgreen's Perfection Steamer to clean used records (about $30) and spend the remaining $300-400 on LPs (yahoo!).
I bought a P5 not long ago and love it - go for that and spend the rest on a cleaning machine (the cheapest Nitty Gritty is good enough, if you don't mind turning it by hand) and records! Happy listening!
keep the money...you have a really nice system. you'd have to blow your budget bigtime for a big improvement. enjoy
Nice sentiment Jaybo, but really. IMHO, it's a bit extreme to say that $2500 well spent wouldn't yield major improvements.
Hey Jaybo......Thanks for the comment. I spent three hours in front of my Vandersteens last night, listening to my upgraded NAD 533 through my Rogue Cronus, thoroughly enjoying Hank Mobley, Dizzy Reese, Lee Morgan, old Led Zep, and acoustic Grateful Dead. When my wife saw my ear-to-ear grin brought on by my loving all the music, she too said "keep the money for now, your system sounds absolutely fantastic just the way it is !!!" I'm starting to think that you and she are both absolutely correct !
Yeah. Jaybo has a point. Next time I'll check the poster's system link to see what he already has. You have the glass platter upgrade, and I expect that's the Rega RB250 arm, right? With a $99 Goldring Elektra cartridge, I'd say your TT rig is plenty good to show benefits from a higher-res cartridge. Given the smile your current rig puts on your face, you probably want to stick with something similar, just better. That way you don't upset the TT-to-phono stage balance, amount of gain or required capacitance, etc.

So maybe move up to a Goldring 10x2 series cart. They're a big jump in resolution, tracking, and extension, but have about the same output as the Elektra and would make good matches with the same kinds of arms.

i recently swapped out a Denon DL-160 HOMC for a MM Audio Technica AT150MLX, and the difference in the amount of musical information it extracts is not subtle. And your downstream components are up to the task, to say the least.

So I'd say, to hear a significant improvement over your current rig, just try a Goldring 1022 or 1042, or an Audio Technica AT150MLX, or an Ortofon 2M Blue or Black. I'm sure other aficionados will chime in with their high output, med-to-high compliance carts as well.

Best of all, this is just a $200-to-600 outlay to realize a significant improvement without losing anything of what you like about your system now. And of course, if you decided to get a better analog rig later, you can migrate the cartridge.

Sounds like your hearts in the right place, but if you're wondering about what difference an upgrade would make, go to a Rega dealer, since your NAD is basically a P2, and hear for yourself how meaningful the differences are between a P2, P5 and P7 and any other brands they carry in your price range. Of course, it's not a question of whether differences exist, or even how big they are, but how important they are to you and your enjoyment, and if and when you want to prioritize them. It's as simple as that. Good luck and keep enjoying Hank and the crew!
Hey, Johnnyb53..........Those are some pretty solid ideas. Thanks a lot. Yes, my TT arm is the Rega RB-250, and I just switched to the Rega glass platter (I need to upgrade the photos in my "system link" to show the newly improved table, and to also show the Rotel RCD-1072 which has replaced my Marantz CD-63SE/Musical Fidelity X-10D digital front end.

Now, without being able to audition a new pick-up, how can I best decide between a Goldring 1022/1042, AT150MLX, or Ortofon 2M ?? Also, should I include the Dynavector 10x5 on the list of contenders ?
Hey Piedpiper....Thanks for your input !! That's some great advice !!....And yes, enjoying "Hank and the crew" and really digging the tunes is what it's all about, my friend. After all, when we get right down to it, it's the MUSIC that really matters !!
08-11-08: Adam18
Now, without being able to audition a new pick-up, how can I best decide between a Goldring 1022/1042, AT150MLX, or Ortofon 2M ?? Also, should I include the Dynavector 10x5 on the list of contenders ?
First, decide what you like and don't like (if anything) about your Elektra. Then talk to vendors who are familiar with it and other carts you're interested in. Tell 'em you want something with similar sonic signature but more musical detail, lower surface noise, more transparency, etc.

Also, take a look at the weight, compliance, output level, and recommended capacitance loading for your Elektra, and then find a cart with similar specs to get the same kind of match with the tonearm and impedance/output/capacitance match with your phono stage.

The higher end Goldrings are probably a safe bet because they're from the same company. BY FAR, the best prices I've seen for the Goldring 10x2 series are from kabusa.com. Also, if you talk to Kevin at kabusa, he can probably help you immensely in picking the right MM cart.
Thanks, everybody............It's been a pleasure learning about all your thoughts. I've updated "my system" link, with all new photos. Please check it out, and comment as you so desire. Happy Listening !!