Buying a new TT today


So I’m pretty hellbent on buying a new TT today! Or should I be?!?!? 
I started off kind of sour on vinyl several years back when I ignorantly bought a cheap TT that had a built in phono stage.... Talk about a disappointment! And a buzz kill for vinyl!
Anyway a year or so later I bought a Project Carbon Debut and it blew my mind!!!!  The step up in most aspects of the TT, carbon fiber tone arm/heavier plinth/much heavier platter/motor and remote position/better cartridge in a Ortofon m2red, along with the fact the it was now running through my Integrated’s Phono Stage was just such a leap in sound that I never expected, that now I’m looking for yet another leap like that again lol
Anyway, with pocket flush with cash and headed to two hi-fi shops I pause....
In my new price range, $2,000 or so, should I be looking for a new TT? Or a new cartridge for the TT I have ?
thoughts.
264win
Either one will get you another huge step up. So which one is best has less to do with how much improvement you will hear (massive either way) and more to do with your long term plans and goals.

For example, say you get a great cart like the $1500 Soundsmith Zephyr MkIII https://www.sound-smith.com/cartridges/fixed-coil/zephyr-mk-iii A great long term choice that allows affordable re-tipping. Huge improvement now and another huge improvement later if you upgrade to a better table and keep the Zephyr.

Then when you upgrade the table you can focus on the table and arm and get better. Whereas if you buy a better table now you have to accept a package with a cheap cartridge, sort of right back where you are now only at a slightly higher level. 

Either way you will hear huge improvement. I just think that with turntables you're really buying four separate components- table, arm, cart, phono stage. The sooner you can separate and start dealing with each on its own the bigger and better your long term results will be.

A new quality cartridge is just your first step down that path. 

Turntable. You will recoup a lot more for your Debut Carbon than you might for your cartridge.

You will need to listen carefully as any potentially huge improvements on your Pro-Ject deck will be hard to find.

The price of turntables and associated gear hardly have a limit. Thankfully sound quality tends to taper off quite dramatically once you reach the likes of the Technics SL1200G etc.

If you can't reach that you should still see a decent step up from the Debut Carbon with the standard SL1200GR plus decent cart and be able to offload your Pro-Ject plus Ortofon 2M Red etc into the bargain.

https://www.stereonet.co.uk/reviews/technics-sl-1200g-turntable-review
Are your plans to keep, trade or sell your existing Pro-Ject TT?
If you have Technics dealer make sure to check this turntable at some physical store, some people just don't understand what it is looking at the pictures online. You have to touch it, press start and stop button, put the needle of the record, adjust the tonearm ... and you will understand why this turntable is so good. Technics SL1200GR (in silver or black) is what you can buy quickly and easily. 

Ortofon M2 Red is an awful cartridge, it's entry level, forget about it. 

On Technics tonearm you could use many mid compliance MC or MM or MI, you can also use high-ish compliance cartridges (MM/MI) and if you will mount something like Victor X-1IIe you will be blown away, i'be been using this vintage MM on my Technics EPA-100 tonearm and it was shockingly good compared to many cartridges. Audio-Technica cartridges like AT-ML170 is amazing, actually many AT cartridges are great. I'm huge fan of Stanton and Pickering top of the line models like SC100WOS, XSV/4000, 5000, 7500.... stunning for Technics tonearm. Also Grace LEVEL II Ruby 
Turntable. You will recoup a lot more for your Debut Carbon than you might for your cartridge.

If the goal is to sell what you can get the most for, then maybe. I thought it was to get the most sound quality? I would hang onto the cart in order to have a virtually new cart to sell with the table. Most people at this price level are looking for a complete package. The table will be worth more as a complete package with the original cart. 
You will need to listen carefully as any potentially huge improvements on your Pro-Ject deck will be hard to find.

So, purely as a learning experience, does it really make sense to recommend upgrading a turntable, then immediately saying but it probably won't be worth it as any improvement will be hard to find?
IMO a TT is the way since the Project is an entry level and I doubt will show a big improvement with a new cart. With $2k to spend, I would set my sights on a VPI Scout. You may be able to find a used Scout for $14-1500 and have $$ left for a decent cartridge. The higher end Projects are good but not in the same league as VPI, IMO. Take your time & be patient.
One you may consider is the Clearaudio Ovation.
this one might be beyond your reach, but messing around in the price range you are in will likely eventually result in a similar net expenditure.

the Rega P10 ’package’ at $6000 retail will boost every piece of the current package you have to 2 or 3 levels above. and it’s a coherent, synergistic package.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/rega-planar-10-turntable-rb3000-tonearm-apheta-3-phono-cartridge

and if you can sell what you got, and get a 'deal' on this one......there you are.
Until things settle down and you can actually go out and audition different deck's I would suggest simply updating the cartridge and/or stylus.

For example you could replace your Red stylus with a Blue stylus for well under $200.

For not a whole lot more you could try the Bronze version as these Ortofon's would seem to be a good match for your tonearm (considering that the manufacturer supplies it with the deck).

In these times I would simply go for the Blue stylus, which is said to be a nice improvement (more weight to the sound, et cetera).

Then you would end up (eventually) with a decent backup cartridge with Two usable styli.

DeKay
What Mike says.

Thing about cartridges is that they wear out. And they wear out faster on cheaper equipment. And don't sound as good on cheaper equipment, or on incompatible equipment. So, what Mike says.
I think if you look long term, you should look at your whole system and try to figure out how you can get the most improvement for the $$.

if you are dead set on investing $2K on the analogue rig, Rega tables offer the best value at the low/mid end and hold their value incredibly well. They offer discounts with their own cartridges, which are OK at their lower end, better at the higher end. When you want to upgrade you’ll get a lot of this investment back. Their arms are the best value of all, and maybe you can get a dealer to put an upgraded arm on it and hold onto that long term and upgrade the cartridge next. Maybe a P3 with a power supply unit (If that’s fits with it) with an RB 880 arm? Otherwise a P6. Talk to a Rega dealer and push for a 10% discount. 
If you’re lucky, you can get a demo or used combo. All I can say is that the tone arm, cartridge and phono stage are the most important, assuming you have a TT that has a consistently accurate speed with good isolation.

Good luck and enjoy going down the rabbit hole and remember, the salesman will always try to get you to spend more as there is always something better. My guy turned an arm wire upgrade into an arm, then the whole table. Previously, my cartridge was the best part of my system,  and now I think it is well matched. That’s what you want.
I just bought a new VPI Super Prime Scout with some nice upgrades included from Upscale Audio in L.A.  I couldn't be happier and it would be a worthy upgrade from your Project.  You should check them out for sure.
This is an unusual thread. Not helpful. All the recommendations make sense in their own way. I started with thinking "turntable (Technics 1200GR)" then read millercarbon's view so I switched to "cartridge", then like that back and forth.

The only thing I could recommend is....do not go out and buy it today. Sleep on it, let it settle, develop your own feel for it. In not so long of a time, you will end up with a new cartridge and a new turntable anyway. So, you may wait a little and do what mikelavigne recommended, too.

Choices, choices.
Good luck and enjoy going down the rabbit hole and remember, the salesman will always try to get you to spend more as there is always something better. My guy turned an arm wire upgrade into an arm, then the whole table. Previously, my cartridge was the best part of my system, and now I think it is well matched. That’s what you want.

once you get into upgraditis with entry level vinyl you have to play the long game or you won’t know whether you are coming or going. and it drives you nuts (more nuts).....as you go in circles (rotate). hard to gauge baby steps with each step dependant on all the other pieces of the chain.

there are plateaus that make sense to reach.

so predict where you are going and go there. or open 15 more of these threads and drive us all crazy.

or just enjoy whatever process makes you happy.

Something from the Rega range ideally the P 10-Whatever your budget allows in the Rega Range.Its an easy way to get a good combination from the get go.
Like @Dekay says, the Red can be upgraded to the Blue equivalent with just the stylus.  Under$200. On the Project I have, the improvement was immediate.   No break in,  or 50 hours, or convincing myself.  Would $2000 in a new system beat that?  I hope and expect it would.  Thanks for asking this as I am exactly "there" too.
For $2k I suggest an Mofi Ultradeck.  Designed collaboration from establish audio designers/manufacturers.  Many great reviews.  If you can stretch to $2.5k,  buy their combo turntable/cartridge deal and save $300 off the Master Tracker cartridge - also very good reviews.  




So many reasonable opinions and suggestions here. But I'm going to be a contrarian. I owned a ProJect Debut Carbon DC for a few months, and...sorry, despite advice from well-informed friends, despite all the rave reviews, I HATED it. First of all, it made a mechanical hum that was infuriating, especially once I found out why. The internet will tell you, because many people have had this problem. The motor is isolated from the plinth and the platter by a rubber assembly that lets it "float"--except that the tension from the drive belt bends the capstan, in its floating mount, toward the platter, which apparently throws the speed off. So, to compensate for this, ProJect anchored the motor to the plinth with three screws and rubber washers. Of course, that "solution" simply negates the vibration isolation of the original design! I tried loosening the screws, removing them entirely, using different washers...I only got different hum frequencies and intensities.
The table also has a cue that never drops the stylus where you think it will. And the stand for the tone arm is just stupidly designed: too high, so that you have to learn to lift the arm high to miss bumping into it. And it's ugly to boot. So I sold it. Everybody wants them, for some reason, so they're not hard to re-sell.
I replaced it with a 15 year old Denon, and installed the Ortofon 2M Blue in it.
I've owned tables by Thorens, Lenco, AR, Gerrard, and Linn; the Denon is sweeter than any of them. I say "sweet" because it's more than just the sound. In fact, the Denon does sound great with the 2M Blue: very low noise floor, no hums at all, no audible variations, slow or fast, in pitch, etc., and the Ortofon cartridge tracks infallibly in the rather weird Denon arm, even on badly warped or damaged records. Vibration isolation is also great; I've had dance parties with no problems. But, besides the fine sound, this machine also performs beautifully. By "performs," I mean all the automatic things it does with balletic precision. I've always preferred manual tables, until now. Part of the pleasure I take in a piece of audio equipment is superlative engineering, and this table is so efficiently functional as to transcend mere engineering. The cue is precise every time, the buttons sure in feel, start and stop routines are carried out with real grace. And, in my opinion, it's a lovely object, too.
I mentioned the weird tone arm. Tracking and anti-skate are controlled by a chip; with the turntable turned off, the arm levitates at 0 grams. This is disconcerting, and if the chip ever fails, probably the whole thing is junk. But it's already more than 15 years old, and it functions flawlessly still. 
And the cost: bought used and then fitted with a new Ortofon 2M Blue, under $500!
snilf,

Ok, do not keep us in suspense. Which Denon is that?
I thought the OP had a set expendature of $2k. So, not what Mike said.

The Ovation is a great deck in a small neat package. German engineering, an ingenious magnetic anti-skate mechanism, DC/adjustable speed control...wow! Should be a keeper and be a show off of upgraded cartridges for years.
I hope you read this before comitting to what ever you buy . First the Ortofon red even though a good cartridge for its price is rather rough in its sound .

 But what ever cartridge you buy the ultimate sound you are able to get out of it depends on the tonearm and its support or turntable . Best sound quality for cartridges are in the moving coil camp which normally are low compliance so if you go with moving coil you would need a at least a medium mass tonearm and a high mass tonearm as best option .

Moving magnets are high compliance so a low mass arm would be best or a true medium mass as the ones that come with project turntables .

So whatever turntable you buy check the tonearm and its quality and mass . Rega makes excellent and very musically capable turntables and its tonearms are great . Clearaudio and VPI also design very capable turntables with very good tonearms . 

You can't go wrong wirh either of these options . Your Ortofon 2m red will sound better with any of them . If you go with Rega go from the 3 upwards , VPI scout upwards or Clearaudio concept upwards . All are in your price range with left over cash for a better cartridge ( but not much ) . Project also is a option in its higher range turntable but if it were me I'll go with the ones I mentioned . Take care .


So many reasonable opinions and suggestions here. But I’m going to be a contrarian. I owned a ProJect Debut Carbon DC for a few months, and...sorry, despite advice from well-informed friends, despite all the rave reviews, I HATED it. First of all, it made a mechanical hum that was infuriating, especially once I found out why. The internet will tell you, because many people have had this problem. The motor is isolated from the plinth and the platter by a rubber assembly that lets it "float"--except that the tension from the drive belt bends the capstan, in its floating mount, toward the platter, which apparently throws the speed off. So, to compensate for this, ProJect anchored the motor to the plinth with three screws and rubber washers. Of course, that "solution" simply negates the vibration isolation of the original design! I tried loosening the screws, removing them entirely, using different washers...I only got different hum frequencies and intensities.

Reading this i think people who recommend such belt drive turntables are masochists or really know nothing about turntables.

There are excellent vintage Direct Drive turntables on the market that works for 50 years without any single problem (Denon DP-80 is one of them, really the best value on the market today).

We have new direct drive from Technics that will work for another 50 years without service.

Belt Drive is inferior technology and most of the relatively cheap Belt Drive turntables are toys, some others are overpriced.

I’ve been posting about it before but i want to remind that Neumann Lathe machine operates with Direct Drive Technics SP02 motor. Every record pressing production starts from this Neumann with Technics motor. 

And the new motor from Technics now is the best you can buy. They gave their customers so many options to buy different models with amazing Direct Drive motor, starts from $1700 for SL1200GR and going higher and better in every next model.

People still talking about some cheap belt drives wrapped in some fancy looking materials to mess around with all that masochists rituals instead of buying a proper turntable that work forever and cost only $1700 (minimum).


But what ever cartridge you buy the ultimate sound you are able to get out of it depends on the tonearm and its support or turntable . Best sound quality for cartridges are in the moving coil camp which normally are low compliance so if you go with moving coil you would need a at least a medium mass tonearm and a high mass tonearm as best option .

Not every Moving Coil cartridge is low compliance, Dynavector KARAT series are not low in compliance. Most of the modern MC are mid compliance. There are even high compliance MC cartridges from the past like the Ortofon MC2000.

Also not every MM or MI are high compliance, they are mid compliance, some modern like Nagaoka are even low compliance. Vintage high compliance cartridges from the 70s are still the best and bests many modern MC.  

So mid mass tonearm and mid compliance cartridges is mainly what we have today on the market.  



my vote is for any restored Thorens, Lenco, AR, Gerrard,  Linn or Denon in place any of the new entry level painted fiberboard VPI, Clear Audio, etc with cheap DC motor and wall wart.  Buy used and restored,  may come with decent cartridge. When you sell and upgrade chances are you will get all your investment back.  Check out Audigon listings. Sort by low to high and stop when it hits 25% above your budget.
chakster,

"I’ve been posting about it before but i want to remind that Neumann Lathemachine operates with Direct Drive Technics SP02 motor. Every record pressing production starts from this Neumann with Technics motor."


I'm glad you reminded us. These little 'details', whilst so important, can so easily get lost, forgotten or just simply ignored. 



"And the new motor from Technics now is the best you can buy. They gave their customers so many options to buy different models with amazing Direct Drive motor, starts from $1700 for SL1200GR and going higher and better in every next model."


And this is also going to be difficult to argue against. For any belt driven turntable at any price.
I believe you will get greater improvement from upgrading your cartridge. The impact they have is HUGE!!
I start with 2 positions that some folks will disagree with. For analog reproduction the turntable is the most important purchase. And, at a given price point (anywhere near what you would like to spend), a belt drive will provide better SQ than a direct drive.

That being said I would suggest a used VPI. Because a TT is a mechanical device you can quickly evaluate what you get (including a look at the bearing and thrust pad--ask the seller to photograph these). There are lots of VPIs out there so you should find something at your budget. There’s also lots of help out there from VPI owners, and at VPI and its forum, should you need it. They are flexible and upgradeable.

The major advantage, as I see it, of a DD TT is the "set it and forget it" ease of operation--no fussing. If you see that as a major factor then go for it.
VPI Scout Prime - You can score a 'demo' or 'blem' for $2,000. From there you are into a system like a camera with interchangeable lenses: you can keep it basic or upgrade over time. Motor, platter, arm mount, arm tube,cabling, even the plinth. That kind of investment protection is something no other table can claim.

Look, for $2,000, any table you look at is going to be pretty damn good. But they are all mostly dead ends except the VPI. 

And as others have suggested, throw a Blue Stylus on your Ortofon, and listen to what it is capable of - which is quite a bit, actually - while your bank account recharges, then step into MC cartridge land. In my nearly 50 years in the hobby, there have never been so many excellent MCs available, and so reasonably priced - under $1,000, even under $500.

Ortofon, Audio Technica, Dynavector, and Sumiko aren't exactly slouches in this area, but the buzz is all over Hana, and they are available in low and high output versions (as are some Sumiko and Dynavector), making the MC preamp and another set of interconnects 'barrier to entry' optional. If you are listening to mostly vintage vinyl, the EH (elliptical) is the easiest to setup and live with.  If you are more into the Music Direct re-release catalog, then consider the $750 SH (Shibata) or $1200 MH (Microline). 
melm4
For analog reproduction the turntable is the most important purchase.
Is it? If you seek the best analog playback, many suggest you can only to that with tape.
Upgraditis - I like it - never heard that before....very appropriate for this entire site. When your system is evenly matched and sounds great, enjoy it and spend your money on well pressed/mastered records.

Music Direct and Acoustic Sounds are the best I've used. Any other suggestions????

I view the analogue rig the most important, and spent roughly 52% of my out of pocket net on that (table-arm(new)/cartridge (used)/phonostage (used)), 18% on speakers (closeout), 17% on integrated amp (used) and 14% on cables(new)/power conditioner (used). If you lose the quality in the source, it can only go downhill from there.   

When it comes to new retail value, the numbers are quite different: analogue rig -43%, speakers - 19%, amp - 24%, cables/conditioner - 13%. I know I am OCD/anal. 


Gold Note out of Italy, love my Mediterraneao. 
I’m going to give you two responses, one involving upgrades and one involving a new setup, because I’ve done the first and considered the second. The Debut Carbon/ Ortofon 2M Red is a good deal. I assume you have a DC model TT and don’t have hum or motor vibration problems. If you want to buy some time to research a new TT, get an acrylic platter for the Debut and an Ortofon 2M Blue or Grado Timbre Opus 3. I found the acrylic platter was a big improvement. Ignore the folks who dis the 2M Red. It’s a very nice cart, and if you like it you’ll like the Blue. I got the low-output version of the Grado when I got a new phono preamp and the Ortofon’s 5.5mV signal could overload it. The Grado also fits the Debut well and won’t require VTA adjustment, which the Debut’s tonearm doesn’t allow. That kind of rules out MC carts right there. As far as new, I’ll just say to commit to spend all your budget or more. Don’t scrimp now. It costs a lot to really step up a TT setup. Take your time to listen to different carts for sure. Finally, consider a separate phono preamp. I built a Pass Pearl 2 and there’s a good chance there’s more to be had from your TT setup than your amp’s phono stage is capturing. No substitute for listening here, and lucky you that you’ve got two dealers available. Good luck!
Hello,
A lot of turntables come with OK carts. I agree with an upgrade on the cart to maybe blue or black Ortofon. But you have to decide can you afford to godown
the rabbit hole or should you buy what you want. First, sell your TT with the original cart. Take the money and the 2k and buy something that sounds better.  So many people have spent a lot of money trying to turn their Honda Civic into a Porsche. Just save up for the Porsche and sell the Civic when you get enough money. VPI is really good and so is Rega. Rega’s can be picky on some models due to hum from the motor once the cart gets close. Buy the Rega P6 with the MC cart so you have great sound and no hum. Best bang for your buck right now. When you are ready to upgrade you will sell the P6 quickly due to its great value. 
264win,

With a budget of $2K, you don't really have to choose between upgrading your TT or cartridge - you can have BOTH! I don't have as much experience as others on this group, but here's my experience.

I have a Rega P3; I loved it when I got it, with a Rega Elys 2. When I upgraded to a Dynavector 10X5, the improvement was not subtle!  I've had this  combination for years, and still enjoy it.  Since it's a high-output Moving Coil, it'll work with your Integrated amp.

I think the combination will fit nicely into your budget, and the Rega is scalable enough that it'll support you well when/if you later decide to upgrade your cartridge (though beware, that way madness lies :-)

If you have money left over after trading in your existing TT/Cartridge, you could look at upgrading to a standalone Phone Preamp. I have the Project Tube Box . Again, the improvement was dramatic, not subtle!

Enjoy your quest!






hshifi,

"So many people have spent a lot of money trying to turn their Honda Civic into a Porsche. Just save up for the Porsche and sell the Civic when you get enough money."


Wise words. Unfortunately some of us had to find out the hard way.

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is not a bad deck, as the OP has discovered. It's got much of what the high end decks have. 

What will a top tier turntable give that the Carbon won't?

Maybe a touch more low bass, certainly more scale, and perhaps a finer sense of separation and image. Even then it will have to be the right record, some will still sound more or less the same as the Carbon.

So it might well be better to save up first before making a sideways move. As you say, if it's a Rega then it's going to have to be one of the better ones. 
I’ve noticed that questions about turntable upgrade on this forum coming from people who own those Rega, Pro-Ject and related belt drive turntables, we have over 50 posts about it, almost even week a new post (and same turntables) over and over again.

I can’t remember posts/threads from the new Technics (GR or G) turntable owners who are not happy about this Direct Drive and willing to upgrade. I do remember only optional (very expensive) tonearm upgrades for this deck. When people invest in Tri-Planar tonearm for their Technics SL1200G i think this is a proof how how this turntable/drive really is. But i can’t remember anyone ever posted something like "I bought this Technics SL1200G and i don’t like it". I can’t remember anyone ever mentioned any technical issue with this Japanese made Direct Drive.

But i read about technical issues with Rega and Pro-Ject every week on audiogon.

Some people just don’t want to learn.

Those Rega, Pro-Ject and all these brands simply can’t make anything even close to the Japanese high-end Direct Drive. And if we remember more great products from Technics it will be hard to find any better tonearm than EPA-100 under $1500 or EPA-100 mkII under $4000. And those older DD from Technics like SP-10 mkII (under $1500) or SP-10 mkIII (under $7000) are ultimate. Now new SP10R replaced them all. Stock tonearm on $1700 Technics SL1200GR is fine for what it worth.

I know for sure than none of those Belt Drive (Rega, Pro-Ject and related) owner never ever touched those Technics DD turntables (old or new).

Technics is only one brand from a bunch of amazing Japanese brands like Denon, Pioneer, Micro Seiki, Victor, Kenwood, Luxman ... All made superb direct drive turntables in the past, some still making them, some are gone. 
Please...some of the most expensive turntables in the world are uhm...belt driven🙄
Pro-ject's higher end turntables are very nice "belt drive" tt's. If u want a DJ TT then get the technics...at best its ugly...
Find an older scout.  They are just as good if not better than the new one.  
Please...some of the most expensive turntables in the world are uhm...belt driven

This is pointless argument. We’re talking about turntables with stable rotation and they are Direct Drive, no one using belt drive motor to cut lacquer (acetate) because you don’t want variable pitch on your record. Records are made on Direct Drive (Neumann Lathe to cut lacquer disc). Think about it.

Coreless Direct Drive motor is the most stable motor in the world, before new Technics there was JVC, Yamaha .... coreless DD motors.  


Pro-ject’s higher end turntables are very nice "belt drive" tt’s. If u want a DJ TT then get the technics...at best its ugly...

This is another pointless argument because the best Direct Drive turntables are NOT for DJs if you don’t know yet, DJs definitely adopted them because of the powerful motor and stable rotation. This is my ex Technics, do you think it’s a DJ turntable with Reed 3p "12 inch tonearm ? Or it looks ugly ?

Let me show you some and if the price is the argument for you then you will be shocked for how much this Denon Direct Drive goes for nowadays.

Pro-Ject is a joke like many audio components designed in the digital world of plastic toys. In this world turntables are not designed to last forever like it used to be in the 80’s. And the buyers know nothing about turntables today.



chakster,

"Pro-Ject is a joke like many audio components designed in the digital world of plastic toys."


That's a little harsh, don't you think?

I once helped a friend set up his Debut Carbon (Ortofon blue/ acrilyc platter) and it's an excellent deck. With the right record you'd never guess the total price. Just one level below the very best.

Yes, the Debut Carbon won't match the Technics for specs (but nothing else anywhere near the price will either) but it would still make an excellent first turntable for anyone (as would the Fluance, Rega or Audio Technica decks).

Wasn't the 1200G frighteningly close in performance to Michael Fremer's Continuum Caliburn deck?

Unfortunately vinyl replay much like CD replay depends very much upon the source recording. Possibly this explains why some audiophiles may find their music selection decreasing as their system resolving power improves.

Shows are often notorious for featuring a very limited but well recorded musical selection. 

Who wants that?
When I "upgraded" my Phase Linear 8000 (DD, made by Pioneer) around 20 years ago (the one with the linear tracking arm) because it broke, it was a revelation. I bought a $500 Music Hall turntable with the existing cartridge (I think it was a lower end Linn) and it absolutely blew me away. All those motors and electronics built into that thing made all kinds of noise. The simpler the better. Straight line and all that. I had that damn table for 15+ years. I wish it broke sooner.

2 tables later, the Rega P8 with the RB 880 arm is fantastic. Usually if I can get a noticeable improvement for less than a $1K net investment, I'll do it. The newer P10 has a new arm, RB3000, and has a better platter and power supply unit. Would probably cost additional $3K net. I'm too cheap for that, as Mike said on a post on one of these discussions, I'm at a plateau and happy. For now.....
I would go for the Technics 1200GR.  I doubt you would be unhappy with it.  Don't buy a VPI without hearing and using it first.  I found the Scout/Scoutmaster models very unappealing with wonky tonearms and a rather anemic presentation.
I am more interested if the OP actually bought a TT ‘today’.

I also bought a Caron Debut a little over a year ago (my old Kenwood 2055 just had too many issues, some of which existing when I put it in storage years ago) and quickly equipped it with the acrylic platter and Grado Red cartridge. I’m happy with it and the Mani pre w/LPS . All have served their purpose of digging back into my old vinyl again, and also making a lot of ‘new’ LP purchases. Now I know vinyl will be back in my collection for many years to come, and that was ‘my question’ after moving to primarily CD’s since the mid-80’s. I also now know that I will replace it (all) at some point, but a fine table for the initial investment, and is serving me well. I have zero regrets.

Personally? I’ve been keeping my eye out for a used VPI Scout, or similar.
chakster,

"Pro-Ject is a joke like many audio components designed in the digital world of plastic toys."


That's a little harsh, don't you think?

Can't help it. It's my opinion. All those decks replaced some nice machines from the past and they are way different in many aspects. I much prefer old design, big and heavy direct drive turntable, in my opinion something wrong with modern designers of the turntables. My favorite is vintage Luxman PD-444 (made by Micro Seiki). 


I once helped a friend set up his Debut Carbon (Ortofon blue/ acrilyc platter) and it's an excellent deck. With the right record you'd never guess the total price. Just one level below the very best.

I did the same, mounted Stanton 881s on Pro-Ject instead or stock ortofom 2M and a friend was blown away. After a few years he's thinking about proper vintage direct drive instead that Pro-Ject. 

Yes, the Debut Carbon won't match the Technics for specs (but nothing else anywhere near the price will either) but it would still make an excellent first turntable for anyone (as would the Fluance, Rega or Audio Technica decks).

It's impossible with Belt Drive like that to compete with Technics DD motor, now way. But on the other hand i believe we're hearing a cartridge first. Technics is iconic turntable, the SL series is not the best, the SP series is the best. 



Wasn't the 1200G frighteningly close in performance to Michael Fremer's Continuum Caliburn deck?

Everyone can find it on youtube 


I was really wanting a PRO-JECT 6 PERSPEX SB. It looks great and I thought the mag suspension sounded pretty awesome. Problem was the salesman really wouldn't sell me one. He said the mag suspension was a joke and a mess and that although they had them in stock he wouldn't sell me one unless I really wanted that TT.  He suggested Rega's and VPI Cliffwood over Pro-Ject for TT's under $2K. Then the VPI Super Prime Scout caught my eye. It was at the top end of my budget but I bit. I have a Sound Smith Otello cart on the VPI, Threshold NS10 Preamp, Parasound HCA 800 Amp, and today just hooked up some Snell J3's (The Cherry on it all). I managed to cobble it all together for well under $6K. Man I love the VPI. I also loooove those Snell J3's. Anyway I am sorry if my enthusiasm for the VPI veered off topic. I just can't get over how great it all sounds.
So here's my quick  story.  Always digital -had a cd or bluray player in my home theater using the dac in a variety of pre/pro's.  I live just outside NYC and while hunkered down in quarantine in April I got the itch to go analog and vinyl and set it up in my living room. 

 Did a bunch of research and bought the Rega 3,  Sutherland KC vibe phono and powered ELAC ARF51 tower speakers which are an all analog design.  Elegant. Simple. All analog. No digital. Started building a vinyl collection. Have about 10 so far.  It sounded so good and better than any CD set up I've ever owned. 

But Loved it TOO much I immediately got upgradist fever and swapped the 3 for the Rega 8, and swapped the vibe for surherlands 20/20 with sep power supply. 

Now I'm going thru it again and looking at a Linear tube audio w40 integrated amp, a rega 10, and salk  SS9.5 speakers.. 

Moral of the story this is a sickness and my advice is to get the best TT you can afford and then slowly build around it. 
Technics 1200GR is also a good deck
AJ-you’re doing so many changes at once, it’s hard to determine what improves the sound.

I’d be interested to hear (if you can break it out individually) if the P10 is worth the 80% increase over the P8.  When I went to the P8 from the P5, I upgraded the arm first and was amazed. When I swapped tables after some deep thought, it sounded a little better, it was subtle,but it has a couple nice features (better designed dust cover, better wiring, better PSU) so I don’t regret it. I don’t think there are any new features on the P10, so make sure it sounds noticeably better. I would bet that whatever the improvement, it would be 80-90% due to the new RB3000 arm.