A new Pioneer PLX1000 for $700.
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Brand new Technics mk7 for $1000 is much better than Pioneer mentioned above. Pioneer was an alternative ONLY BEFORE Technics returned with their new line of turntables. Now Pioneer is a bad example and people who post here purchased them before Technics made their latest mk7 model few years ago!
Latest Technics mk7 is the best you can buy under $1k, I've seen them NEW for $900
Chakster, maybe you can explain for the OP, and to all of us, the difference in sound between the Pioneer and Technics? This would be most helpful because I've never compared them so I don't know.
Also, how could you possibly know that we all purchased our Pioneer tables "before Technics made their latest mk7 model few years ago!"
I purchased my Pioneer in 2020, so you're wrong there.
I hold no malice toward Technics, and have no doubt it sounds fine. But for now the Pioneer sounds very good for a budget-friendly table.
Tom (the bad example) in Sacramento
The difference between Pioneer and Technics explained million times on this forum, you can use search option for more info.
Pioneer made a "clone" of Technics with some improvements over the old SL1200 mkII series to fill the niche of the most popular direct drive when Technics declared they are no longer manufacture any turntables, it was long time ago. Probably you missed the train, Pioneer PLX1000 is not bad, but Technics mk7 was made after GAE, G and GR series.
Basically, Pioneer cloned Technics size, plinth design, pitch, tonearm etc (just like many other manufacturers). To make sure you can look at any Pioneer turntables from the same era when Technics came out (in the golden age of vinyl), Pioneer was completely different. I like Pioneer old design MUCH BETTER. Their iconic Pioneer Exclusive series is outstanding and the price is crazy today - this is original Pioneer when it was a Hi-Fi brand. Pioneer tonearm was completely different too. And BTW long time ago Pioneer made PC-1000 mkII cartridge (with Beryllium cantilever) which is exceptional MM.
The main difference between Pioneer PLX-1000 and Technics MK7 turntables is CORELESS DIRECT DRIVE MOTOR for funny price available only from Technics.
I sold a Well Tempered Amadeus (mk 1) last year for $1,000. I upgraded to a table costing 4 X the price. Since then I purchased a pair of speakers and integrated amp (w phono) for a second system. As I once again plunge down the rabbit hole, I'm thinking about a budget table in the $1,000 price range. I often think to myself I have a small chance of getting the performance I had for that same $1,000. That new Simplex model with the plywood plinth looks quite nice in photos. So that's my story. Other flowing ideas include a Rega table with a Funk Firm arm and upgrades, but I've not done any serious homework yet.
Rob, there are huge difference between many turntables and new Technics mk7, especially at your price range. Detachable headshell and VTA on the fly are great features to have, high torque motor with immediate start/stop will serve you for next 30 years without service. With mk7 you don't have to change or upgrade anything, the build quality is outstanding (I hope you can find one in the shop), this is solid Made in Japan, heavy turntable on adjustable feet. What is great is resale value. If you can buy this turntable for $900 new with warranty then I doubt there are better option under $1k.
How long is a piece of string?
It's ultimately an unanswerable question - far too many variables.
Assuming he hasn't yet found one:
That said, I'd suggest staying with a brand that has been around a long time continuously, has a proven record of servicing and supporting their gear, and that is reasonably widely available.
If he wants something that's basically "turn-key," a Rega is the first that comes to mind. Excellent reliability, excellent sound, easy to use, etc. If he wants to noodle with it more, a used VPI could be a good choice, although there are a LOT of possible variations.
There is no such thing as the best used at under $1000.
There are many, as suggested.
I would recommend Denon DP75. It sells at around $1000, mostly from Japan.