Best bang for the buck turntable?

Ok I have been listening to cd's for a loooong time, its time to move up a notch and find a good turntable to go along my setup, have to admit that it will be expensive to upgrade all of my music collection from cd's to lp's but I've heard LP's and they sound way way better than cd's. I am still keeping my $3k cd player but now I want to add a nice turntable to my system. That will make my system complete. So here it goes, what turntable will be a good choice for a newbie or better yet the BEST bang for the buck turntable?

Music Hall? or other brand and if so, what are the going prices for a good new or used one?
unless you have a huge record collection there's no need to even go there. if you buy anything though, go used.
Depends on your budget. Some people would consider a $25k table to be the best bang for their buck.

Stating your price range with limit your responses.

I'll start with Music Hall MMF-7, Rega P3, KAB Technics SL1210.

Vintage options include Thorens TD124, TD125, TD160, TD147 and Lenco L75 or L78.
Consider the vinyl setup you heard, if you really liked it than that might be what you should go for then decide on your budget, you can spend as much as you want. Do some research to find what cartridge(s) you might like. Look for a used turntable with the arm that will work well with your chosen cartridge. If you have a $3k CD player you might consider that as a budget ballpark. I have more invested in my phono setup (new tt, used arm and cart - not including the phono preamp) than CD player.
Sorry about that ok the budget is $300 up to 1k but somewhere in between would be nice.

A used VPI HW-19 MK3 with any good tonearm.
KAB modded Technics and Rega P3 (soon to be changed) are classics. I would not think too hard about anything else.
I would recommend the Rega P3 with the RB 300 tone arm. That is probably what I am going to purchase as I am in the same boat you are. Although I have heard a few tables in excess of 5K I still prefer digital over analogue.

I think a $1k turntable will disappoint next to a $3k CD player, especially if a cartridge and phono pre are included in the $1k.

I would say you should budget nearer $2k total as a minimum, with something along the lines of a VPI scout, Nottingham Spacedeck, or Acoustic signature deck, and then choosing a $300+ cartridge to match the arm, and then a phono stage to match the cartridge.

If you've never setup a turntable then I'd recommend some dealer dems where you get the whole package from a dealer, who should also setup the cartridge and deck.

If you don't already have lots of LPs I'd focus on improving CD playback.
I would say the TW Acustic Raven One at 5K, with arm, is one of the best values in TT. Below that I would recommend the Acoustic Signature Final Tool at about 2.5 k
rega p3 300 tonearm and a dynavecter cart. theres alot more also a phono stage a cleaning machine, supplies figure another 1k at least. or music hall 7 if you want plug and play regas better however
IMHO focus on the full setup - turntable, phono pre-amp and record cleaning machine. If you are just getting back into vinyl I would recommend starting at the low end, compare with your CD player and then with a known reference point, upgrade as your ear leads. Turntables - MMF-5 or NAD (which if I am not mistaken is a rebadged Rega) on the low end, MMF-7 and Rega a little more. For phono pre-amp on the low end I would recommend NAD pp-2 or the Cambridge Audio 640p. Moving up some in price I have heard good things about the Jolida tube phono pre though I have not listened to it. As far as record cleaning you can't go wrong with the VPI 16.5. If you want something more automatic you will pay accordingly.
I also only have a few albums (100 or so) and that is what has held me back. Also the maintenence issues the set-up the cleaning the snaps and pops.

It's nice to have a TT to play the vinyl you own, but keep it simple.

I have to say you have significantly changed your approach from what you wrote initially, which suggested you were going to replace all your CDs with vinyl.

What-are-you-nuts! :)
I would second the recommendation of the Technics SL-1200/1210 for your short list. Like shoes, there is no one table that will fit everyone perfectly, but the Technics is a beautiful all rounder, with great sound, durability, ease of use and mechanical integrity.
I agree with what some others have said here--no need to go there unless you plan to spend much, much more. If I were in your position, rather than spend 1K on a turntable and then god knows how much to retrofit your software, I'd either:

1. Consider spending at least 2K on a very nice used turntable (and considerably more on top for the LP's to play on it) or

2. Sell you CD player and dump the money into either;

a) a better CD player, or
b) better components in the signal chain.

I say this because a 300-1K table will probably not equal the performance of your current cd player. Why go vinyl if you are not going to reap the dividend you seek? If you can go higher and want to make the commitment to vinyl I say go for it otherwise stick with the format that you already have a deep catalogue and upgrade elsewhere to improve the sound of your system. If you already had a whole bunch of records lying around and wanted something to play them on then I could see spending a few hundred on a table--otherwise put the money elsewhere.
All the other accessories will add up quickly, your records can never be too clean. I would find a great budget table like an older VPI, maybe a Thorens but stick with a belt driven table. Then spend some money on a chemicals, possibly make a home made record cleaning machine like I did & spend the rest on used vinyl. Once you get into it you will find that the upgrade bug will bite you but at least you will have a better idea what your tastes are.
Confused? Call Kevin!
Fishwater, when you say, "spend some money on chemicals", if you're sayin' what I think you're sayin' you sure are right; the rig will sound much better.
You could look at it that way but I was really referring to cleaning chemicals. Either way will help the sound!
I dont have a single LP's however, after listening to a turntable it really turn my head around and I was like WOW, a turntable could play better than my cd player? The sound magic and musicality was something that really impressed me. Currently I am selling all of my gear and I will be purchasing some new tube gear to include a turntable, not saying that I am going to dump alot of money on a turntable but its a hobby that I love and I want my music to take me to heaven, literally!
Chgolatin2, when you write that you are selling all of your gear to purchase new tube gear and a turntable, does this mean you are also selling your digital front end? If so, what comprises your digital front end?
It rather depends where you live. The price of the $ makes importing very expensive for you colonials. Here in the UK, I would say Rega, Project/Origin Live are best value. I have no experience with many US decks, but have heard VPI and am very impressed, good sound and allows incremental upgrades as money allows
If you're willing to DIY, a modified Lenco can sound very good - less than $1K but you'll have to build your own plinth. See the Building High End Tables cheap at Home Despot II thread elsewhere under Analog. The original thread reached well over 3000 posts before an Audiogon moderator deleted it by accident. Modded Lencos have beat a VPI TNT II, Linn LP12, Oracle, Technics SP10, etc. according to the owners of those decks.

If you're not a DIYer, another possibility which hasn't been mentioned, and if you have a Linn dealer to help with setup, is a used Linn LP12 with Ittok arm.
Tvad, I recently sold everyting except my speakers upgraded to Jolida 1000RC and the JD 100 w/mod 2. Not getting rid of my cd's but I am looking to casually get into vinyl. they just sound sweeter to my ears even though I mostly have a very vast cd collection myself.

Thats why I stated that I dont want to spend an arm and a leg on a tt. Just looking to enhance my musical listening a bit
I recently read a thread on Audioasylum that discusses a very intriguing table/arm combo.

Origin Live sells a mount for their OL1 tonearm (Rega RB250 tweaked and rewired) so the arm can be mounted on a Technics SL1200 table. The result is supposed to be quite impressive...according to an end user and a British reviewer.

A new Technics SL1200 runs about $500. The OL1 is $625, and mount is $35. Total cost = $1160. Of course, you can save a few bucks by buying a used SL1200.

Another option is the Incognito OEM Arm 1se, which is another rewired and tweaked version of the Rega RB250. The Incognito package is $529. So, total cost with the Origin Live Technics SL1200 mount and a SL1200 would be $1064.
I do not know what sounds better. I have a DAC-1 I am using with iTunes taken off cds at full CD quality. So upsampled thats 192kHz. But reconstructed and according to Rupert Neve (google) Digital is a total mess if you think you can hear it, but your brain does anyway. Anyway my bitter experience in audio is ANYTIME I 'saved' money it was wasted time. You got to get speakers, amps, cd players, cables, turn tables, riaa phono pre amps ~ FAR AS THAT GOES ~ most consumer items we buy these days - YEAH once and a while you get a good deal BUT you get what you pay for. If you have a 3K CD Player then you got to get a turn table is made as well. I DO NOT KNOW what that TT is or costs BUT you can not get away with a Rega P3 unless it is totally modded. Sure it will sound great and be analog and depending on the phone pre and cartridge you use, you will get nice analog BUT NO WAY it will sound as sweet as the P4 or P5 ~ Unless fully modded which costs more than the TT or about as much. A GREAT CARTRIDGE can easily be $500 to $1,000 alone. MY TWO CENTS ARE THAT IF YOU SPEND $3,000 on your TT, phono pre, cartridge etc. and buy a nitty gritty cleaning machine. i.e. as much as your CD Player ~ THEN YOU WILL BE HAPPY ~ Maybe broke but VERY HAPPY ~ you spend $1,000 you will be indifferent - Then again used you can get some $3k tables for about that much you look SOOOOOOOOOO>
I have a $1000 analog front end - MMF-7, Goldring Eroica H, Lehmann Black Cube SE. It sounds more alive and dynamic than my $2500 digital front end, which sounds flat in comparison when playing the same music on both formats. I'm of the belief one doesn't have to spend a great deal of money on analog to realize it's benefits.
No question, a good Garrard 301.
The new improved version of the Rega P 3 is about a month or so away from shipping. It will include th option of adding the same outboard power supply that is available as an option for the P5, a significant upgrade. The price will increase but will still be a bargain at probably $800. The recently improved P2 and recently released P1, Ortofon cartridge included, are both bargains at $525 and $350 respectively. Both are candidates for upgrading from the stock MDF platter to a glass platter for $70, an easily audible improvement. The P5 is a more serious table and arm combo for $1295. The new versions of the Rega cartridges are quite good an available at a discount with a table package. You'd be hard pressed to do better than a P5 with an Exact for the money and that goes for any of the lesser combos in the line. Above that price and the competition gets more complicated. Their phono stage is quite good for the money as well.

Bear in mind I am a Rega dealer...

Good luck on your adventure!
Piedpiper, it is great to have dealers participate in these forums, identify themselves as such, and give useful and practical information. Lots of light, not too much heat. Thank you.
Viridian, Thanks. Although the conflict of interest can certainly insinuate itself, generally dealers, distributors and manufacturers of high end audio equipment are in business because they are passionate about recreating the magic of perhaps the most compelling and accessible of art forms. We are not all that different from the the customers we serve except that, ideally at least, we are in a position to have a bit more experience and inside information, and we commit to making ourselves available to provide this service, a very tenuous choice at times.

preaching to the choir perhaps...
...And here I find myself quite far from the choir and quite at odds with regard to our feelings about dealers. No doubt, it probably starts with the wide-eyed optimism and enthusiasm that you point to. But quickly they realize that the love of music, both recreated and live, is a poor subsititute for business acumen, which most, in my experience, are sorely lacking. This leads to the biterness setting in, the complacency, blaming the idiot customers and a general feeling of entitlement. The market is cruel, as well, with internet sales, grey market goods, the secondary market and dealers readily willing to cross territories and cut prices, all diminishing the viability of the brick and mortar retailer. The lucky ones will sell, the unlucky will close the doors. In the Darwinian world of audio retailing there is precious little cream floating to the top and most of the milk has spoiled below. Clearly, you are the exception. Glad to see you are at the top of your game though, it gives one hope.
Sadly, very well articulated. True quality is always an elusively moving target. At the top of my game? No. Just aspiring as always. Thanks for the encouragement.
Pied, how does that old joke go:
Q: "How can you make a small fortune in the audio business?"
A:"Start with a large fortune."
Buy a P3 and never look back. There are upgrades available to improve the performance if you wish to do so later.
The table sounds great for the money, just stay away from Rega cartridges, much better available at a similar pricepoint.
Kinda like the one about the (insert ethnic persuasion of choice) folk musician. He was in it for the money.
As the owner of a P3 (with a Michel Tecnoweight and Funk Achromat, both of which are significant upgrades on stock) and being the owner of a $1k CD setup I have to say that I don't think a P3 could compete with a decent $3k CD player.

The P3 is IMHO a great deck, but not good enough to compete with a $3k CD player.

IMO My Marantz CD67->Monarchy DIP classic->Monarchy 22A is better than the rega. The reason I don't upgrade the rega is just that I don't want to spend the money at present.

If you're serious about getting into vinyl (and I think it's a mistake, personally) I think you should be looking at decks like the NA Spacedeck, VPI scout as a minimum.

03-09-07: Seandtaylor99
As the owner of a P3 (with a Michel Tecnoweight and Funk Achromat, both of which are significant upgrades on stock) and being the owner of a $1k CD setup I have to say that I don't think a P3 could compete with a decent $3k CD player.
I am the owner of a highly regarded $2500 Universal player, that I suspect would retail for $4000+ if it was an OEM machine. On several recordings, of which I own duplicates on vinyl and redbook CD and/or DVD, my MMF-7/Lehmann Black Cube combo betters the digital source.

In out-of pocket dollars, I have about $500 less invested in the vinyl rig. I bought all the gear used...both vinyl and digital playback.

I think the digital/anologue debate is obviously based on personal priorities the lot of which are complex. IME there are qualities to both that are appealing even at the lower eschelons of both. My own preference is analogue at even a modest price point and the P3 is definitely within that bracket.

On another tack, re: Gallusm's comment on Rega carts, if you haven't heard the new versions you might be surprised at how good they are and they are, naturally, a perfect match for the Rega Tables. I just sold a P5 with an Exact II mounted on it and it was stunning considering the price.
Thorens 125 turntable with SME Arm,or an AR Table with Sumiko Arm .Both these tables with these arms may be hard to find,But if u find one its a huge bang for the buck at about 300 to 350 tops.
I have a KAB 1210 and am very happy with it. KAB sells a number of mods that bring this table to a new level - all for less than a grand.
I would suggest a used SME 10 table with V arm ($3400 or less here on Audiogon) and a new Sumiko Celebration cartridge ($1500). I don't know of a better analog front end for under 5K. (Of course, I am biased because this is what I own, and I paid double at full retail.) You will also need a good cable and phono amp, another 2-3K used. Vinyl is a big committment in time and money, but it can sound glorious. Good Luck.
Seandtaylor99 - I'd be interested in a bit more detail around your opinion that getting into vinyl would be a mistake. I've considered (many times) getting a TT and experimenting, and recently have been doing so again.

I have several thousand CDs, all loaded onto a music server, and love the convenience and variety of my music collection. I have zero LPs at the present time.

While I might be interested in finding old albums, I'm very intrigued by some of the new music that is published on vinyl, so if I bought a TT, it would be to slowly grow an ancilliary music collection - ie, not to replace my existing collection, just to have a choice of formats going forward, with the occassional backfill of a title that I don't have or you can't get on CD.

I'm not really cost-constrained - I'd like it to be "cost effective", but I could / would spend more if needed.

So, I've thought about it many times, but always stop short, wondering how many times I'd actually buy vinyl, and then how many times I'd listen to it. I'm assuming some of your perspective mirrors this - one would have spent several thousand dollars just getting setup with the gear and enough music to enjoy the endeavor, and the same amount of money could have expanded one's CD collection and upgraded the playback of one's full CD collection, which would be a better investment.

Anything else on the Con side of whether to get into vinyl if one currently has no LPs?
Kthomas, if money is not a problem then you can buy whatever you want. If you are purchasing a TT to be able to explore new music not available on CD then that is also a very good reason.

Where I think it is a mistake to purchase a TT is if the goal is to replace an extensive CD collection for sole purpose of improving the sound quality. That is where I think the money is better spent elsewhere in the existing setup, whether a better CD player, amp or speakers. Just MHO.

I started out with a turntable and a record collection 20+ years ago and added CDs and a CD player. I'm committed to both formats. However if I had never owned a record collection I don't think I'd start one now, since the cost of a decent TT setup would enable either better CD playback, or several hundred more CDs, and personally I don't hear the improved sound quality of LPs ... I just hear euphonic distortion, which can be pleasant on some music, but is ultimately inferior to CDs.
Kthomas, if you are happy with the sound of redbook off a hard-drive especially given the convenience of doing that, I would not bother with vinyl.

I have been at this hobby since well before cds and had probably 1000 lps before I began buying the many new and exciting releases. Once I decided to get out of vinyl but fortunately sold none of my records. Now I have both an expensive vinyl front end and what I think is the best digital source I have had. Digital has gotten much better in the last several years, but were records no so inconvenient, I would play them always. I find the sound far superior. involving, and containing the emotion of the performance which I suspect derives from more information on vinyl.