best turntable for 500$ or less

im looking for advice on which TT for 500$ or less would sound good with my mcintosh rig.

here is the deal,im not looking for somthing for everyday use just somthing that i can play some of my lps that i dont have on cd & looks are important to me.

i dont know much about turntables or the different carts so simple is better for me.

i dont have any particular model or brand in mind but i have been looking at some denon models with the rosewood finish.

here is a lowdown of my system.

mcintosh c-38 preamp.
mcintosh mc300 amp powering mcintosh xrt 22 speakers.
mcintosh mc7104 amp powering klipschorns.
mcintosh mc 122 amp powering mcintosh ht2 sub & xl1 monitors.
mcintosh mcd 7007 cd player.
mcintosh mcd 7000 cd player.
mcintosh mr 7082 tuner.
mcintosh mq 101 eq with the klipschorns.
mcintosh mq 101 eq with the sub & monitors.
dbx 20/20 eq with the xrt 22s.
cary audio tube cd processor with both cd players.
interconnects & speaker wire are a mixture of audioquest & monster gold series.

i listen to a wide range of music like miles davis,
the mahavishnu orchestra,spyro gyra,weather report,
zappa, bb king & all the classic rock from the 70s.

i have included as much info as i could think would be helpfull in matching a TT to my system & i defenitly dont want to go over the 500$ mark beacuse listening will be very limited.

Look up the thread on modified Lenco tables. Author is Jean Nantais.
Regas are good deals used for the money, if you want belt drive. They also make the Goldring tables too, which are cheaper. Check out Ebay for some used tables. I saw an old PLanar2 on their last night, without an arm. They seem to go cheaper with no arms, like people don't want the trouble with making another purchase. A RB 250 arm from Rega can be had on the cheap used too. Easily modded for maximum sound, if you don't want all the hassle go with a 300 with the stainless endstub and decent counterweight it will get you spinning vinyl in no time.
You could probably use just about anything as long as it's been cryo's!
oh great, the cryo crap again, why even respond.
For $500, you might consider looking for an AR Turntable (ES-1) here or on ebay. Put what's left over toward a cleaning system of some kind--a basic Nitty Gritty or the Disc Doctor stuff.

Or, alternately, a used VPI HW-19 Jr. setup would be an excellent choice, and is quite upgradeable. Don't know that either will win beauty contests but I've actually seen ARs with some very nice looking finishes, and the VPI HWs have a kind of hulking, tank-like class to them...kinda like Volvos, lol. a couple rega p25 turntables on sale...they might be out already...I live in Chicago so they told me about it while I was there....I am already overspent on the table I have so no interest to me...check out the website and get their number to talk to their guys if you are interested...I think he told me $400...I don't know if that is with an arm or not...some people like regas but I don't have any experience with for thought.
The P25s are $850 on sale. Way over budget.
Today someone listed a Project Perspective for $400. That's good value on a $1k table.
Otherwise, I'd hold out for a used Thorens and put a new cart on it. Here's a website featuring Thorens tables, from one of our own. Very informative & fun.
Cheers, Spencer
To stay in budget the Rega P3 is the way to go.Also look for NAD version which is a slightly cheaper version of the 3 with a 250 arm.Might save you a couple of bucks.If youb aren't sure about a replacement cartridge if you think it needs it the Rega of course works well with Rega the Elys model would be good they are very stiff.Grado Platinum lists for $300 but can be bought for less.Sure carts's etc.Remember that the cartridge and your nice Mac head amp will impart greater impact than the table and arm (within reason of course)-so be mindfull if you are buying a table as to what catridge is on it.Sure,Dynavector,Rega,Grado ar good ones to look for (my fave is Grado but with Rega about 1/3 of the tables hummed with $300 Grado Platinunm ).You can get 2-3K hrs. out of many carts before there shot so be mindfull of this when buying used.I lstened to digital for many uyears and not finding my Jazz on CD I went out and bought the NAD/P3.I was so blown away that within a month I upgraded to a better REgfa and now have a $5K VPI.
Note NAD table is a P2 clone not a P3 clone.
I would go for a used Rega P2 or P3 as well. The RB 250/300 tonearms are very good and can be used on a number of more expensive decks if you get hooked oo analog and you want to upgrade. The Denon cartridges are a good match. The high output MC DL 110 and DL 160 are great if you don't want to bother with the low output DL 103. The DL103 has been around almost as long as your macintosh gear with some 30 years+. There's several reviews avalable here at audiogon or on TNT.

Good luck.

This is actually a harder recommendation than it seems, not because analog has to nessesarily be difficult, but in your wisdom of giving us as much info as you have, it leads me to think your criteria are more stringent than you elude to.
Clue- your system is all Mac-while mac products are often accused of looking better than they sound (they are all some of the best looking stuff there is), one thing about mac is TASTE, not just in appearance, but in the sound mac reproduces. Mac's are expensive products, and where they have shortcomings sonically, these concessions to sound quality are the result of assuring that the sound reproduced is for lack of a better word, tasteful, which mac products do not seem to comprimse. Mac owners seem to demand this, this 'good taste' in not just appearance but in sound quality as well. The complexity and grade of your system lead me to believe that what you are looking for is a turntable that has these qualities, in sound as well as appearance.
If you choose to go the inexpensive route, an AR would be a fine way to go, and then there is the arm to consider. AR's floating around out there will have a variety of arms. If you are in this low price point it would be easier to consider what is available to you, what you can find, then to try to target specifics. A good cartridge for you might be a sure v15mr because it will allow you a good match with a lot of older, lighter mass arms that you may end up with, giving you more options, and it mates very well with mac phono stages. (in other words, this cartridge as an option will make more arms an option for you). Grado's are a great option as well, especially the cheap ones, and you can try a really cheap one to see if it hums in your system.
It is hard to comment on a denon because there are a lot of different ones, and then of corse if you are buying off the web you are more blind in what it is, but there are some good ones that can be had for 200 to 300 dollers that are worth that, but beyond that the AR is problably much better in performance, looks, and of corse you can more easily get another arm for it should you find the one you get unsuitable.
On to rega- the cheaper regas will work well but in your case of staying below 500$ for everything will problably not suite your sonic taste when you consider the comprimises you will have to make, unless you get lucky and find one that is set up with a cartridge that is exceptional and you get a really goon deal. While regas are really good for the money, the most you will problably get out of it is a good arm that you could uprade with. But, some of the better rega tables are a different story. If you are willing to stretch your budget, and put a little more effort in cartridge selection, the overall character of the sound of the regas will change from being a detraction on the cheaper ones to being an advantage in the more expensive ones, and will mate very well with your mac system, and the higher end rega's are also in a different ballpark visually as well. The effort and thought required to choose a good cartridge for a better rega is about the same or less than going the cheap route, just more is at stake. At least look up some pictures. Considering the care taken in the rest of your system, I suggest this considering spending more as perhaps having a turntable that better suites your taste.
Either way, if you let us know what you think about these recommendations (from everyone) after checking out what is available to you, I am sure you can get some more specific recommendations to end up with something that actually suites you quite well.
I have had a P3 in the past. While the Grados are great carts, the "cheaper" ones usually don't hum on the
Regas(I think b/c the coils are covered). While the Reference/Statement series has exposed coils which did hum on my P3 set-up. It was no problem b/c the P3 was on the way out. If anyting Bigjoe might just be testing the water for future analog ventures. We, won't know till he writes back to us. I now the P3 did the tricl for me, for a while at least. But then again I was already a convert.;)-~
colitas, you are correct when you say that im testing the waters for a future analog venture, the reason im going into this from the low end is that it takes me a long time to find a peice of gear that im satisfied with & i would like to learn as i go instead of getting a expensive TT that i dont really understand why its better than a 500$ model.

basement, you are also correct in your statements & that is also why i wish step very slowly into analog,i know how i am when it comes to gear,the sound im looking for MUST be suited with the sound of mac gear & i will worry about looks after i learn enough about different tables & carts & arms to make a more sizeable investment but in the end looks will play as big a part as the sound.

btw, nice analogy of a mac buyer,fits me to a tee,i went with mcintosh for all the reasons you stated especially the
predictable sound of a mac component,no suprises.

im leaning twords the rega line for a starter piece but i think my 500$ limit may have to be stretched a bit to get a TT that i can live with while i learn what i need to know.

thanks, mike.
take a look at some sota's. they offer very good performance at a incredible price.

Bigjoe, I agree with Mikesinger about the SOTAs too. I have upgraded(? some would agree) to a SOTA Sapphire series II(mid 80's) model, beats the Rega for quietness. It also has a speed control to fine tune the speed. Also can be had on the cheap wihout the arm again on Ebay. I have seen these sit idle for around $250 b/c of no arm. I put my modded RB250 arm on it, with the detahable armboard, it makes adjusting the VTA easier b/w records.
Big Joe: If you really want to stay within the $500 limit, the NAD is a good choice. It really is a P2 knockoff--the biggest difference is a lighter platter. (The arm may also be different; I don't remember.) Comes with a decent-sounding low-end cartridge, but of course that's where you're going to want to start experimenting. My advice would be to save your money now, so you'll have more to spend when and if you're really ready to go whole-hog.
Or a Goldringtable(built by Rega) there's one listed in the classifieds with the RB250 arm and cart. for under $400!
The used systemdek 900x with a decent arm at 360/bo looks very good. Add an acrylic platter and a modded rega arm and you are off to the races. Stock arm would be quite serviceable.

Has the original box, too; such a deal. At that price there is room left over for a Denon high output moving coil for just about 500 total inc the table.
If you are in any way capable, it is sounding more and more like the first response to this thread question is correct. Since I am starting a new project based on one of these, I will soon know for myself!
well i finally did it & went out & got a TT .

i ended up getting a dual cs-450 with an ortofon super om 10 cartridge,im a little suprised at how good it sounds,while it will never take the place of my cdp's it is a good way to listen.

nowhere near the amount of snap crackel & pop that i remembered from years back,

ive been collecting vinyl picture discs for some years now & im finally getting some play out of them.

Too bad. You should have got a VPI hw-19jr.
Best $500 table available period.
too bad! i thought too good,a mint dual with not even a single swirl on the dust cover for a $50 spot i'd say pretty good.
Too bad McIntosh doesn't make turntables.
What about a Music Hall MMF-5?
I have a couple suggestions regarding your dual/ortifon use. First, I don't know how old the cart is so keep an ear out for mistracting, which will sound like a buzzing or harshness during peaks or certain passages in the music. Also, if you are into experimenting a little, try a peice or electrical tape on the tonearm. stretch in lenthwise along the arm and wrap it around tight. The reason for this is the duals from that time were made with very light, low mass arms that were meant to be used with low mass carts, with the idea that the resonent frequency would be above the music, as opposed to how they are made today, which is the opposite philosophy. The result is the arms on duals ring like crazy. The tape will serve many functions- first, it may put the arm and cartidge at a better match, it will dampen the arm quite a bit (which may be a trade off evan if it makes the arm/cart match worse), it may help with tracking having that little bit of extra mass, and above all, having to readjust the setup with the tape and without and listening for improvements will gain valuable experience, as well as listening for various changes in sound qualities.
Also, if you can solder or are willing to do it, you can add a pair of radio shack rca's and wire the tonearm wire to them and experiment with different cables for phono. If you are succesful at this, rewire the tonarm leads at the headshell directly to the cartridge clips. (if you do this, be sure to locate the rca's in such a position to have enough slack as you will lose some at the headshell).
One more thing- keep an eye on the speed control mechanism, and experiment with different lubricants if nessesary.
With these, it may actually be possible to have the tt perform on the level of your cdp. Evan surpass it in some areas.
basement,when i got the dual the previous owner had either done a DIY or had a tech install rca outs on the back so i have allready been trying out different cables,i like that that mod was allready done for me.

according to the dealer that pretty much gave the dual to me the ortafon cart was supposed to be unused & from his own stock & he has always been good to me so i gotta take his word.

im not much for tearin into stuff & soldering stuff even though i replace my own led's & such im not experienced enough with headshells & carts to be comfortable with getting in there just yet.

im going to try your black tape tweak tonight,ive been listening to the dual for a few weeks now & for a cheapie tt it really has suprised me on how good it sounds & by the lack of the snap crackel pop that i remember from my youth.

re-lubing also sounds like a very good idea but im unsure as to what kinds of lube wouldnt hurt anything,will regular 3 IN 1 oil work or do you have any other types that i might try.

sometimes oil can cause more noise than grease. I thing I did use 3/1 oil before in a dual and it worked well, but if it doesn't, than I would try some type of grease- just listen for noise.
Hello Basement, I snipped and jacked the phono wires coming out of my Dual 503CS ten years ago - it's a great idea. Recently I upgraded the interconnect to Cardas Neural Reference "PHONO" RCA/RCA and wow on top of wow.

Just tried the electrical tape on the tonearm. It works to clean up the hash in the upper midrange. There was a loss at the very top end trebble though. I was able to rebalanced the tone and trebble extension with some support base tweeking (tempered glass under the table sitting on three squishy audio pucks).

Thanks for the tips.