Best sounding turntable and cartridge for $1100

I have seen a lot of turntable and cartridges packages in  $1000- $1100, such as the Project RPM3 with the Sumiko BP-2 MC.   Project Xperience 1 with a Sumiko Pearl MM;  Rega Planar 3 with a Elys II cartridge. 

 I have formerly owned a Rega 3-24 with Elys II  and a Project Carbon DC with Ortofon 2M Red (which I did not like at all) . Would like to try something different, but can live with the above brands depending on their overall performance 

Need recommendations for turntable/cartridge new or used combo that punches far above its price of  $1100.  Thank you


You need to step up to working outside the box my man. Lenco L75 for $350 in a $200 plinth available on eBay with a $500 Jelco 750. Look at for more info. This will blow away most turntables in your price bracket and above. 

I thought Lenco was out of business, but I will check out the ad on e-bay.

In my own defense, I got  burned recently on a used Thorens ,but was able to sell and at  a loss.  So, I am reluctant to take a chance on another vintage table when there is many good "new" or "almost new" tables out there. 

I ran a VPI Scout for many years with an AT OC9MLII. You can probably find a used Scout for $1K and a used AT OC9 for $200. I thought the combination was awesome for the money.

To dodgealum  Thank you for your recommendation  

I have read many positve testimonials about AT OC9MLII cartridge. I know it is expensive  Let me ask you:   Is there a replacement stylus for it that does not cost as much as a airline ticket?? Also, would this cartridge work well with the latest and last VPI Traveler table .(So far no luck scoring a VPI Scout or even VPI 1.1.  

NOTE: My thread has gone no where. Maybe I worded  it wrong and therefore did  get many responses

So let me list the following tables: that are in the $1000-1100

1)  Music Hall MMF 5.3 table with an Ortofon 2M Blue; retail $995.00  ( owned this cartridge before; but not impressed; also amplifies surface noise)

2)  Project "new" Classic table (w/ carbon fiber arm) with an Ortofon 2M Silver;  retail $1099 ( cartridge designed specially for Project )

3)  Project RPM 3 with Sumiko BP-2 HO moving coil and ( 9cc carbon arm)  retail $999

4) SOTA  Moonbeam III retail $850 + $236 2M Blue cart =  $1086 retail 

5) Music Hall "Ikura" TT with Ortofon 2M Blue.... retail $1195  (makes not sense how this model fits into their line Could be just a marginal step-up from their MMF 5.3

****SOTA offers a few cartridgesl like the 2MBlue which they will mount and calibrate for free if bought directly from  them.  Note the tonearm is a Rega 220 built for them, but looks like junk. Has no dustover; Has adjustable flimy looking support feet

BTW, the above  Project "New" Classic TT noted above is sold (only) through Audio Advisor...notorious only for 5%-10% discounts.


    Any comments or recommendations  will be greatly appreciated!!!!

   Thanks to all   SJ

You say you no likey Ortofon Blue yet inc it in options.
Get a Rega Planer 3 with Elys fitted hifi heaven $1145

Edit ... you already had a 24. Um... see my first comment at the top.
Ah, noromance. It is not my fault that the choices I listed are prepackage the Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge.  It is even worst that VPI has prepacked the Ortofon 2M Red  with  Traveler and Scout II  or did a few years ago. Does that make any sense??  Not to me.
Also, lay off the "you no likey Ortofon Blue" schtick

BTW, why should I buy a Rega P-3 with the Elys II, when I can buy a used Rega RP6 with the same Elys II.   It is a better table, and even if the new P-3 is close in performance, the used RP-6 is $200 less and the selling price could be probably negotiated down another $100 . 
The same reason I could by a 2 year old Mercedes E350 for $26k or a new Nissan Sentra for the same money.
Sunny, I own a Blue Point No. 2 cartridge which has no more than 30 hrs on it. I went to the dark side and now source primarily digital. I am going to put this cartridge up for sale here on AG. I will inspect it under my dissecting scope to insure it is like new, as I am confident it is. I will try and get my add up in the next couple days. If interested and you get to the add just send me a private message. We can discuss any concerns at that time.

To mesch,  Thanks for the  heads up.  I read several reviews of this cartridge. What is your opinion of its sound quality   I actually owned the original  Blue Point Special, which I renamed the "Blue Plate" Special  It was just too bright......    It was mounted on the Audioquest P-6  tonearm and  spun on a  VPI  HR-19  Junior

To noromance, I respect your opinion and comments, but that  analogy does not work for me.


Sunny, It just might be that the BP NO.2 might also sound too bright to you though tamed over the original Blue Point which I also owned several years ago. I had the original while owning B&K ST-140 amp and Pro 10 pre feeding a early pair of Vandersteen model 2s. It was mounted on a Sonograph SG-3 with MMT tonearm (which I still own). In that system I enjoyed the original BP.

RE my NO.2, I have not played vinyl enough lately such that it is probably not yet broken in, nor have I compared it to any other cartridge. I consider it a lively, dynamic cartridge and far more enjoyable to a Grado Gold MM cartridge ($220) I tried prior to purchasing the BP. My main reason for selling it is that I don't use my turntable ( not once in last 18 months) as I thought I would when I purchased it. I will be looking for a less expensive cartridge to replace it for use of the TT in a second system. 

If I was buying a TT system today I would buy the best TT/tonearm/cartridge combination that my budget would allow with focus on the TT/tonearm, with a cartridge that satisfies however not occupying a large fraction of the budget. Cartridges can be more easily replaced and need to be compatible with the phonostage used. 

If you remain interested in the BP No. 2, I am going to list mine here on AG today. Feel free to send me a private message via my add, we may be able to work something out. 

Good luck in your quest, whatever you choose.

Just saw this sorry....As far as I know you cannot replace the stylus on the AT OC9MLII though I'm sure you could get a retip from Soundsmith. The OC9 can usually be found here for about $250 and I see VPI Scouts all the time so you should not have trouble putting this combo together used fairly easily and for around $1200 bucks.

To mesch: I owned a Sonograph TT in 1988 when I was able to buy my first high end system.   It was a nice little table. I eventually moved up to VPI HR 19 Jr TT, when VPI provided a dustcover and even a set Allen wrenches to adjust the tonearm height.   Now on some their table , you are lucky if you get phono cables.

To dodgealum. I have read AT OC9 is a wonderful sounding cartridge, but like the upper level Ortofon 2M series cartridge line replacement styli are too expensive. I will check out your recommendation.

Sunny, my SG-3 was purchased in 1983 and the original version as manufactured by the Portland Oregon company prior to Conrad Johnson buying out Sonograph. I purchased it from a dealer friend of mine after the Portland Co. failed. I believe the cost of production on that TT exceeded it's $400 asking price. 

I remain curious as to the sonic value of this TT/arm combination compared to the sub $1000 tables offered today.
Just saw an OC9MLII come on this site. The asking is almost $400 which to me is way to high. I had one in beautiful shape that I sold for $200 here several months ago and was happy with what I got. 
Don't know about the TT as I think there are a great number of good options but the Denon DL-110 is a great value cartridge and suitable for a medium mass arm. That leaves you $850 for the TT.
shadone. I have read very strong testimonials for Denon DL-110. I just hope the output is at least 3.0.mV for either MM or high output MC .  Thanks

The Denon DL-110.

This was my first cartridge when I realized I was hooked!

Back then... in the late 80's, I bought mine from Japanese Stereo for $55.00.

I happen to be listening to a SG 3 as I read this. It was given to me by a friend who has numerous tables ( VPI, Rega, Thorens) was collecting dust in a closet. I have an Ortofon 2M blue cart and a Bellari VP130 with upgraded tube and power cable. To me it sounds fantastic. When I considered buying a new table in the $750-$1000 range my vinyl junkie friend, who's older and wiser, said "you're gonna have spend more than that to sound better"...

To Slaw, How does the DL-110 match up with light to medium tonearms. How might it compare to  other cartridges like Rega Elys II;  Ortofon  Bronze, or Clearaudio Performer V-2  which are high output MM's

To schism:. You friend is right; I wish I had kept mine which I bought new in 1988  for half price on a salesman's accommodation. I also owned VPI Rega, Thorens.  However, I had no complaints about the VPI or Rega,  but the "refurbished" Thorens TD-145 was a turkey and junk.  Thanks.    

Thanks for your post schism. I intend to pass my SG-3 on to one of my kids. 

Sunny, I had a dealer friend sell me mine highly discounted. One of the best audio buys I have made, especially given cost and 'time in grade'.
My suggestion is get a Thorens TD-125, 145 or 160 or an old AR Table have them modified and or restored.  Then go with an Ortofon Blue or Bronze or maybe a Denon 103R if you can have a Moving Coil Cart in your set-up.  To replace those tables today (if set up right) would cost you 4Xs the amount you would spend on an "old Table"! 

My experience with the Denon was on a direct drive Pioneer TT. At that early part of my audio endeavors, I had no other options to try that cartridge with. All I can tell you now is it "woke" me up as to what has proved to be a fun hobby and on-going journey.

rikintpa,  Thanks for the comment, but I recently owned a refurbished and and upgraded Thorens TD-145 . The TP-16 tonearm is junk, and the headshell makes it difficult to mount a cartridge from the bottom up I had to buy a new one for 85.00 from Vinyl Engine.  The table bounced to the slightest footfalls, though placed on a solid audio rack and isolation platform.  The "pick-up and stop" feature worked sometimes To its only credit it was dead quiet. I had a AT 440MLb cartridge on it which sounded decent. However, that is my first and last venture into the world of vintage restored turntables.

There is member on AG selling with a restored ThorensTD-124 which looks solid and beautiful . I have tracked this item for two months. He has moved from an initial selling price of $1195 to a current price of $845  Speaks volumes about these vintage money pits.

Sorry, back again, Does anyone have feedback about the Musical Fidelity "Roundtable TT??  It looks solid, but so did the HMS Titanic.  It comes with an AT95E.  It is on a closeout  sale for $299.99 on Music Direct 

However, might its tonearm support and work with a Denon DL-110?

I realize I have lowered my expectations from my earlier list of choices, but I am tired looking. I can't even find a deal on decent  Music Hall 5.1 with the carbon fiber arm and their Magic 3 cartridge for less than $799. The table was discontinued a year ago according to Roy Hall   Thanks to all,  SJ  

Be patient.  Last year I picked up a like new Music Hall MMF 9.1 with a
Grado Prestige Gold cart for $750 on Audiogon.  Sounded great.  Then found a gently used Dynavector 10x5 cart for $275.  Combination is wonderful.  Sooner or later the right TT will show up on AG

sjtm, Thank you for the advice.  I know patience is a virtue, but, overall it may not be one of mine.  However, maybe I am going daffy looking for a table, but recently it has crossed my mind that a used, even mint table could be a risk.  So, why not buy new.  

You might rightly say: " Because, dumbbell, with a new TT  you are not going to maintain your budget, or also extend your dollars  Also, no vendor at this time of the year is going to give away profit with a super duder deal"   ***BTW, which I have personally  discovered in the last few weeks. 

I am not a novice to this blog; I have seen hundred of ads for used turntables with vary degrees of age and condition. I have bought used mint with other components, and recently scored a used quality amp and preamp which together retailed for $4600, and I paid  $2100.  I am  wildly satisfied with their performance and synergy so far.

I only spin LP's about 20%  of the time,  that may be the reason I have become suddenly stingy in the price for the table investment. And as we have experienced with wives, girl friends  and other mates who are skulking around looking for on-line receipts and/or declaring  too  much money is being spent on audio, and why not treat her to a diamond necklace, earrings, or a $6000 European vacation 

Lastly, there is member selling a mint VPI Scout JR. with accessories,  BUT no cartridge for about $950. So at least a $250-300  spike has to be purchased to get the vinyl spinning and the toes tapping.. 

Thanks again for you advice and those of  other members  SJ

If I were in your predicament, I'd try to stretch the budget a bit and try the Marantz TT-15S1. They come with a pre mounted Clear Audio Virtuoso cartridge.

I think the turntable is actually made by Clear Audio and rebadged as Marantz.

I think it's probably a good deal at $1500 total.

Music Direct sells them and has no hassle returns.

At one time they were selling factory refurbished models for around $1200.

I did a lot of research in this price range before I decided to double my budget and the Marantz was at the top of my demo list.

Out of curiosity I just checked the MD site and they still have the refurbished Marantz's for $1195. 
@sunnyjim How about a KAB-modded Technics SL1200?  If you want new, you can pay a couple hundred premium to get NOS on eBay or just find a minty used one of the 6MM or so sold. Add a KAB fluid damper and have the arm rewired, swap out for some better feet or cones and you are well in your budget with a rock solid table that IMHO punches well above anything discussed in this thread so far. You will also be on a path to easily allow future easy upgrades if they tickle your fancy. 
I've heard these tables in SOTA systems where they replaced tables at 10x the price. 
For info check out KAB's site or the "Techipedia" section of the British forum theartofsound. Cheers,
+1 for the SL 1200!   I just caved and bought a bone stock one and am very impressed. 
To Helomech, Thank you for the recommendation. I did consider the Marantz 15S1 TT . I believe the refurbished model was $995.00  on "Black Friday"   

However, the Clearaudio Virtuoso cartridge retails for $900. I can only guess what the replacement stylus on retipping  would cost.... between $400-$500.  

I am not sure what the marketing strategy was putting such an expensive spike on this table. The Clearaudio Performer V2 MM at  $400 dollars, or even the Artist V2 MM at $600 would or should  kick the price down on a new 15S1.    For example,$1200 with the Artist MM, and 1000.00 with the Performer MM: and  a "refurbished" 15S1 TT with the latter cartridge might have sold for say $800-850

 But who knows what marketing strategies and juggling cartridges were the focus of these manufacturers.  Maybe, Marantz got a price break on the Clearaudio Virtuoso V2 MM  to make the table more appealing to customers. Just some hardcore arithmetic based on retail pricing might  reveal their thoughts. That is,..........

$1500 (TT) minus $900 === $600 as the basic retail value of the TT.  

I realize this is probably not how the actual selling price is arrived at, because of the other parameters in bi-marketing a product by two separate manufacturers, but it might come close
It is a shame that Marantz did not offer the table without cartridge, so the buyers could chose how much they want to spend for a spike  

Thanks to all,  SJ

The Music Hall Roundtable originally came as a 3 part system,. but the components could be sold separately Hi Fi Choice gave it a pretty good review, and there are many other good reviews on the internet. Music Direct even has a demo for $199, and there is free shipping. Although probably a step down from your previous turntables, if you are only playing 20% LPs, this may be a good idea. I read where the Denon 110 has even been used on this table with good results.
Whoops; I meant Music Fidelity of course, not Music Hall.!
I'm coming in here a little late.  I might suggest a used VPI HW-19 Mk III.  A real Mk III with a steel chassis, not one of those upgraded Jr.'s sitting on MDF.   Many of the used ones have very nice arms, Premier FT-3 and -4, a few Jelco SA 750D, maybe a modded AQ. 

I agree with dodgealum on the OC9.  I'm using an OC9/II.  Properly set up, the stylus will last a long time.  A LONG TIME.  And that would be my choice of the phono stage can handle a low output mc cart.  Otherwise, the Denon DL-110 might be a strong second choice.  I have not heard one myself, but people I trust have said it's a good high output mc cart.

To boofer,  You make good points. But, I just don't want to invest in  this table, and later find out, I made an underwhelming choice, and so must start over.. As I said before, it looks solid; and also uses magnetic anti-skating which is a minor feature, but  I prefer over  "the hook- line and sinker" anti-skating  

I saw the  short paragraph in the HI-FI Choice review. However, if you have the links to some of the other reviews that would be helpful I could not find any others.

 If I did go for it, I would probably and almost  immediately mount the high output Denon DL-110 MC 

To, bpoletti. Thanks for the recommendation; I have recently seen a few VPI HW 19Jr., but  almost none of the MK III. Also  with the Denon spike it may go over my prescribed budget. 

Do you think, the VPI MKIII with the Denon might be superior in sound quality than say Music Hall 5.3 with Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge, or even the Project 1Xpression. The 2Xpression looks very nice and received several good reviews, but I have not seen a used one on AG, or E-bay.   Audio Advisor offer it for $1599 with a Sumiko BP-2 MC.   But, they offer a crapping 10 percent discount, and won't budge on price 

I often wonder if many internet sellers think they can sell at retail because of holiday day buying frenzy.  Thanks SJ 


I heard from a dealer friend that he has a mint Music Hall 5.1 for 500.00  Don't know if it has the stock cartridge, but if so, it's an elliptical w/ replaceable stylii.  The price would of course allow you to put whatever on it......  I have a backup cartidge, the Ortofon Quintet Red and I have actually placed it for a couple of weeks on a VPI HR-X while I was waiting for a Transfig Proteus to come in and that little red filled the whole room with great's not for sale....
I now have the Proteus on an Oracle Delphi MK VI 2nd Gen table......
but I still love the Quintet Red.....for the $$
the guy with the Music Hall trade in is, he's also a VPI dealer.....

To stewart0722.  Thank you for heads up about MH 5.1. TT  

Also, I read a few reviews about Ortofon  Qunitet Red but never was convinced it was as good as you comment.  The only concern is its low output at 0.3 mV . 

I a brand new Moon LP110 phono stage that is MM/MC. However, I would have to check if it can handle that output; I would want to crank CJ's preamp volume control up to 4'oclock high to get it loud.  


I had a Clearaudio Virtuoso [mentioned a couple of responses above.]  Soundsmith retipping  cost $150  for  the bare  bones installation a couple of years ago and took over three months. Just this year I had  another  stylus assembly installed for $250 by the Needle Clinic in Bellevue, Wa,. with a turn around time of just two weeks.

I found  many user and other reviews of the Roundtable on the internet just by clicking the Music Fidelity Roundtable. reviews.

In my world, lower output is a good thing, fewer windings equal
less mass and more transparency.....

If my only option was HO, I would abandon MC altogether and go
with Soundsmith MI or an Ortofon MM like the 2M Red or Bronze, but
the quintet is lower in cost.....

My solution with my current cartridge which is .1MV is a Hashimoto HM7 stepup transformer, run into my phono pre @ 47k which is giving me the most transparent and organic analog I've ever heard......but I'm sure there are phono pres out there that will handle .3MV just fine....


Though the Roundtable might be a good value at $300, I highly doubt it will perform as well as most tables in the $1k range. 

Since you seem to be looking for new instead of used, I highly recommend trying a Pioneer PLX1000 if you don't have an aversion to direct drives.

You might be able to find a NOS VPI Traveler for close to $1100 or you might also consider a VPI Player. 

If you currently own the Rega why not do some mods via ipturntables. New feet braces sub platter and motor isolation. Around $400. You will be happy.
You should definitely keep an eye on the SoundStageDirect used/CPO section
You may want to check out the Merrill Gem Dandy with the Jelco 750. Put's you a tad out of your $ range, but..... Another thought for less money, would be the WAX Engine table. I've only heard the Wax, and was impressed. I know you're done with vintage, but the Thorens TD145 you had, I believe is the auto-return version of the 160. In that model, you had no other arm options. I would love to hear a Jelco 750 on a TD160 or 160S. Sunnyjim- regarding your thoughts in your initial post: You say you can live with the brands you once had. I don't know either well enough to pass judgment, but I would aim for something beyond which you can live with. Admittedly, I also have a reluctance to dive in to a vintage table. If I do, it will likely be the 160/160S.... I did it with Altec Valencia's 846A's, and have NO regrets, but that's a story for another thread. Cheers, and best of luck!

IMO, a properly set-up HW-19 Mk III (remove the spring suspension and use pucks, level the system, etc.) will outperform anything remotely close in price, new or used, except for a HW-19 Mk IV (typically a few hundred more).  Arms are important, but pretty much all the true Mk IIIs have good arms.  They are good tables and had good arms installed.

And the really great thing about VPI tables is that VPI is still around and supporting their products. 

To fjn   Where did you audition the Wax Engine turntable??  I found there website, but they have no dealer in the USA.  

Also, the company is in China and any factory direct sale could entail expensive shipping, and possibly import and/or brokerage fees. 

I sent them an e-mail about two tables in their line: "Wax Engine": and  :"Isolde"    I am not hopeful that these tables are worth the money or possible hassles of buying directly from a foreign manufacture which I never heard of before today.  Thanks   

sunnyjim- In Living Stereo in NYC. Don Better in Cleveland is a dealer as well.
I've been looking at the Pro-Ject "The Classic" (among other tables) as a replacement for my "it's gonna die someday" trusty Linn Basic/Akito rig. Anybody buy one of these yet? Reviews are pretty good and they got some Euro award…comes with a silver wired Ortofon MM cartridge…blah blah…too new to be discounted yet, but the list of around a grand seems fair. Curious.

To Wolf Garcia, I have seem this model in Audio Advisor, and Sound StageDirect. But neither is dealing at this time, and even if they did, it would be only 5%.  The cartridge billed as the "Silver" Ortofon implies it is a member of their 2M line.  Possibly, but  I think it might be more like a half step above the 2M RED, but lower performance than the 2M Blue which I owned and sold because it scoops up LP surface noise like a vacuum cleaner. 

I think you would be better served for a hundred dollars, at $999  with the "bare bones" RPM 3 pre-packed with a Sumiko BP-2 MC which has received very good reviews.

 However, be careful, because Project looks like they are backing off of prepacking the table with that spike, and reserving it for the more expensive RPM 5.  I saw some evidence of this change in the new Music Direct catalogue . Good Luck,    SJ

@sunnyjim So no comment or reaction regarding the Technics modded SL1200 suggestions?  Read up on these before you blow it off and say I'm crazy. There are a large number who're happy that they've gone that route. Cheers,

To sbank.  I have seen a couple of used SL-1200 on AG, ebay, and The Music Room.  I am NOT blowing off your suggestion and don't think you are crazy either.

I  am not sure I want to go the modded TT route. It will or could be expensive, and do I really want a table that has dance club speed and pitch controller. 

Technics should build the same table without the  speed and pitch control, and put the dollars into a better tonearm  or  drive motor.. The TT would be less expensive, and could still compete with tables in its price range, it not higher.   Thanks again