Best Budget Turntable & Best Overall Sound System
Aside from a Linn Basik turntable, I am running with Zu Druid speakers, an Almarro 318B SET amp, and a Conrad Johnson PV-11 Preamp for the Phono stage, Acoustic Zen Wow Interconnects, Acoustic Zen Satori Speaker cables, and Acoustic Zen El Nino power cables for the components. Although not in line with the vinyl system, I use a Kora Hermes DAC. This system by the way, is the result of years of trial and error, and for me, is the best sound I have heard to date (of course I haven't been to the big shows yet). For reference, the best amp that is much more powerful than the Almarro that I have heard is the Cayin A88T and A100T, and the best CD player I have heard is the Jolida 601a (another budget surprise).
Although I have been experimenting with different gear for over 7 years now, I am relatively new to vinyl. I thought that it was just a myth that vinyl is better, until I started experimenting with vinyl recently, and found that at least for jazz, vocals, and instrumentals, the sound from vinyl made the sound from CD players pale in comparison. However, from experimentation over the last year, I can say that by my ears, in my system, that the Linn Basik turntable with Basik LVX arm is one of the best sounding budget turntables available. Better yet, if you crave wonderful rich lush warm vinyl sound with respectable detail, it is one of the best turntables available at any price (in my system at least). The Linn Basik came to life with my Shure V15 VMR cartridge (MM Cart, VN5MR stylus).
Interestingly, I preferred the sound of the Linn Basik tonearm over the commonly regarded as being better Linn Akito tonearm - which is especially good since the headshell on the Akito does not detach like the Linn Basik LVX.
I had a Linn Sondek LP12, Thorens 125, Dual 601, Oracle Alexandria, Rega RP3, and to me the Linn Basik sounded best of all of them. The Linn Sondek LP12 with its stainless top (instead of wooden like the Basik) presented more detail, yet was a little less warm and portrayed less emotion, as did the highly detailed and musical Oracle Alexandria. The Thorens 125 sounded best of all to me with a Sumiko Evo Special MC cartridge, until I introduced the Linn Basik paired with a Shure V15 V Cart, then the Linn Basik pulled ahead as being best.
I liked the sound of my Linn Basik turntable so much that I had a custom Cocobolo plinth made for it. I left the wooden top intact to avoid ruining the sound. Although I didn't notice a change in sonics due to the plinth, it is so beautiful that the listening experience was enhanced regardless. Everyone who has heard the Linn Basik in my system has commented on how good the sound is. A friend with a super expensive turntable and MC cartridge, told me (with a sigh) that my system sounded better than hers.
Note: Steve Sank of Talking Dog Transducer Co, modified my PV-11 by replacing some strangely inappropriate Solen Caps in the signal path with some higher value better quality Audiocap Theta caps, also modified my Moscode Super IT phono - which was no sluff in my system either. The Moscode Super IT phono stage sounded a little more dynamic and detailed than the Conrad Johnson PV-11, but did not convey quit the same level of emotion. FYI, a vinyl oriented friend who loves MC carts and slightly more lean sound than I, preferred the modified Moscode though.
Of course, the 'best' sound varies with every listener. Much of the final sound seems to be a matter of personal preference, components, system synergy, listening area, and all that. Surprisingly, the budget priced (for Linn) Linn Basik Turntable proved to be remarkably better than all other much more expensive turntables in my system to date.