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 ?

Showing 26 responses by sokogear

Really weird - different Rega dealers have different list prices. From $6700-7700 for the P10, but $4395 for the P8....strange. Sound Organisation included. Rega is a strange company from a marketing/sales standpoint.

If you are sold on the P10, $6695 sounds pretty good. I actually talked to Ron Sutherland a few times when he was helping me out with my upgrade and he mentioned the 20/20 was better than the Insight by a good bit from a materials standpoint, with a bigger difference than between the Little Loco ($3800) and and the 20/20. The power supply on the Loco is the same board as the one I got on the Insight (that recently became available and was only the 3rd person to do that install myself). But the Little Loco is better than the 20/20. The law of diminishing returns....

The LL is a different (I think newer) design that Ron really likes and he kind of mentioned that would be a good next step for me and he would just charge me the price difference - really nice guy, but I'm not going to drop $2K for an upgraded phono stage at this point. Who knows how crazy/obsessed with upgraditis I'll get in the future.

If the dealer is giving you the 20/20 with the LPS for $2K, that's a 25% discount and very good. You'd be at $8700 for the full Rega rig with the 20/20 w/LPS. You said $7700 - if he is giving you another $1000 off, that's an excellent deal. My Rega dealer wouldn't move on price, but I bought in stages with the arm first, and then the table 3-4 months later. I had to twist his arm to sell me the upgraded table for the difference between what I already paid and the P8. It cost me like $365 extra since I didn't get much of a discount $100 (I don't think the dealer knew the actual price was $100 more), but live and learn...I would never have bought the whole P8 at once and paid $2K, bit I got sucked in in stages.

So is he willing to sell you the P8/Alphreta 3 for $3500 (a 15% discount off of the $3095 +$1000)? That would mean $2200 more for the P10 (>60% more). You could get the whole analogue rig for $5500. Depends on what you want to spend. Either way, you can't go wrong.

If you go for the P10, you could be done with the analogue rig and it would be the absolute best part of your system which you wouldn't have to touch until after your speaker and amp upgrades. Just make sure when you buy each piece it is better than (or at least equal to) the rest of the components in your system. You should have an idea about where you want your total investment to be for this plateau. If the P10 fits in (40-50% for the rig) around $15K total, then go for it. 
I have to respond to Chakster's question about belt wear/speed of table.

There is an app (RPM) where you can test the rpms on your table. Mine is at 33.26 and 44.9 respectively, the slightly slower rotation due to the weight of my iPhone on the platter versus weight of a record I am sure. You know the physics fact that measuring anything reduces it's speed if some (even minuscule) weight is added to it. Even with that , it's off by about .2%. Exactly the same at both speeds.

The higher level Regas use 2 parallel belts so there is even less worry about elasticity of the belt. On my last Rega, after 9 years, they guy said it was fine, but just replace it for $30 since I was upgrading the arm. These are not rubber bands, but highly developed perfectly cylindrical belts that are short (unlike others I've seen that look stretched on unnamed belt drive tables made in NJ) and chemically manufactured to maintain their elasticity over great stretches of time.

The lower torque is all part of the Rega philosophy which makes sense. Lowest possible weight of the platter and table connection to the arm base and the highest rigidity will give you the least amount of effort possible to spin the platter. No record weights or big heavy contraptions to "add stability". With less force there is less friction, effort and torque which leads to much less internal noise absorbed by the arm/cartridge transmitted through the system. That's why they sound so completely transparent. Give it a try! You might see the light like I did 20 years ago.
Chakster is a tremendous hobbyist/tinkerer/researcher/turntable historian and quite knowledgeable about DD tables.

As I've stated before, it is not about the technology, but the execution of the specific model. Whatever table you have, there is ALWAYS something better sounding.

I believe in KISS - one table, one arm, one cartridge, one phono stage and spend time enjoying the music and the records and appreciating the quality of the sound from the music I like.
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.
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. 

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.....
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.
Wojo - there is no Rega merry go round. You must be thinking of Linn. Their LP12 has an option list like a Porsche. I've heard 

Rega is pretty clear- with each rung up the ladder you get a better arm (usually) a better power supply (usually) and better platter (I think always). Cartridges are separate, but packaged with a discount. I don't buy the Rega cartridges, because they would be better with a Rega phono stage, and I p/refer flexibility.

AJ - Excluding cartridges, P8 is $3100 and P10 is $5700. Even if you can get the dealer to give you all your money back from the P8, it's still $2600 more, not $2K. I know, it's the round down factor when you're buying as opposed to the round up factor when you are selling. Please let me know if you do it and your thoughts.

I wanted to keep my total out of pocket below $10K. If I ever want a very noticeable improvement, I know I will probably have to spend another $10K or more (electrostatics, subwoofer, more amp(s), P10 or Linn LP12, Lyra or Koetsu or upgraded Van den hul cartridge & phono stage) so if I can get an audible improvement under $1K at this level, I'll do it. All depends on your philosophy and how the law of diminishing returns affects you.

Now when I do get something new, it's with the mindset that I am done "for now". My amp is 15 years old, cartridge 8 1/2 (will need an overhaul or replacement within a year or so), table is a little over a year old, and when I discovered how much a phono stage would help, I got the Sutherland Insight with Linear Power Supply a month or two ago. I didn't even know how important this was until this damn virus unfortunately (or fortunately) has given me more time to think about my system and look at the Audiogon site, and discover that this was a giant step over the Phono stage in my Plinius amp that has a switch inside between MC and MM. I had always thought that it either has a phono stage or it doesn't. Furthest thing from the truth.

Hey AJ, - personally, I would look at other cartridges. I know Rega is giving you a good deal by combining them, but look at it this way: does anyone ever buy a Rega cartridge for a non-Rega turntable? Probably not. How 'bout the arms? You bet - plus they OEM them for other tables as well.

The Sound Organisation (Rega US distributor) has the P10/Alpheta 3 shown for $7700. If you can get it for $6695, that sounds like a deal - only $1000 for the cartridge. Logically, it should be $6995. $4395 for the P8 combo is charging $1300 for the cartridge.

I love my Sutherland Insight, but maybe the Rega Aria Phono stage is worth considering for $1500 if you're getting the Alpheta 3. I've heard some good things about it, and I am sure it is perfectly set for the Alpheta. Sutherland 20/20 is supposedly great, but I bought a used Insight for $875 and Ron Sutherland (great guy) sent me the linear power supply upgrade package for the $350 upgrade price (I installed it and he said he would do it for free but i would have had to pay back and forth shipping), so it was less than half the price of the 20/20 combo, and it was my first phono stage and I was skeptical about their value. Ask your stereo guy what he thinks about the Aria. I hate to take business away from Ron, but I think it is worth considering. I think I saw a used Aria for $1000 on Audiogon when I was searching for the Insight.

Sorry for muddying the waters, but I wonder if the guy will let you try the P10 also so you can see if it the difference is worth it to you. I am sure it sounds better. When I got the P8's arm, the home listening was what sold me. I wasn't given it as a trial, but was told I could return it if I didn't like it. With my maneuvering I was able to be all in for the complete analogue rig for under $5K (P8/Insight wLPS/Van den hul One Special). With your P10/2020 combo, you're looking at almost double. Maybe it's worth it...but it would be about what I spent on my entire system.

Depends how much you want to jump around to save some cash. I think I've bought one or two components from every high end dealer in my area that is knowledgeable, some new, some used. If you can get a dealer to sell you something used he can attest to, and it is reasonably priced, that is the best of both worlds. Don't let the dealer intimidate you into overpaying or overbuying or feeling guilty about not buying a high enough level product. Remember - there is ALWAYS something better out there. Sometimes these guys act like they're doing you a favor by selling you exclusive pieces. These days there is no such thing as exclusivity. Everyone is hungry for business. My go to guy will give me 15% off at a minimum. (He is not a Rega dealer - doesn't want to carry their entire line).

I am a big Rega fan and don't know too much about Direct Drive tables other than my experience I mentioned in an earlier post with the Phase Linear 8000 which has many motors and sounds nothing like a clean belt drive turntable. Even the $500 Music Hall sounded way better. But like all debates, I don't think it is about the technology, it is about the execution of the individual product/model. I am sure there are great sounding direct drive tables, I just don't know anyone who has one or recommends them other than these guys on Audiogon saying to buy a 30+ year old one.

Hey Chakster - you may be correct about the speed of belt drive tables in general if their power supplies are not great, but on all Rega's mid tables and above, the speed is fine with external PSUs. I have an app that measures it - right on the money for 33 1/3 and 45 rpm speeds.
Chakster - if you knew anything about Rega, the first thing they were (and are) historically know for is their tonearms. They OEM them to many others turntable companies. Why would you ever put an arm on one of their tables with a much lower value proposition? They offer their cartridges packaged with their tables at a significant discount, but can handle pretty much any cartridge natively or with a spacer that they sell, anticipating people like me either don't want their cartridge or are not in the market for one.

I'm not very familiar with VPI tables (I think they are overpriced and I don't like the way the arms float which makes it more difficult to cue the record and their wires hang in the air) but I believe you can change arms pretty easily, as they make multi-arm tables. There are less expensive belt drive tables in addition to the lower end Regas from Rega imitators like Project and Music Hall, which at their low ends tend to offer complete packages for entry level costs for the younger crowd on tighter budgets. Those guys are improving their tables these days, but problem is their arms aren't as good as Rega's. Not sure what Technics offers these days, but I just don't hear much about them (other than on Audiogon from the old timers). Maybe it's the noise their motors generate....

I'm not a Rega zealot, and a lot of dealers don't carry them because Rega forces them to carry their whole line. I think they are the only company that makes everything except Linn (who seems to have lost their way, shrinking their TT offerings down to just the LP12 and reducing their dealer network significantly in the US). I do believe Rega either stopped or will stop making CD players and never started with streaming devices. It's a shame about Linn because they used to make some really nice mid end tables like the Axis a while back.I almost bought one, but it was before my Phase Linear (Pioneer-Japanese) table broke. I wish I did.  

I guess Linn went for the money selling out their name to car makers to badge their stereos just like Bose, Mark Levinson, JBL, Burmeister.....You'll know the end is near for Rega if Roy E GAndy ever does that.

Enjoy the music, not the noise.
I beleive Rega has stretched a little thin going for growth, but now are paring back, discontinuing CD players and not getting into streaming. Both good news. I think they are at the summit. Who is their competition? Linn? VPI? Clear Audio? I don't know....

Linn must have been bought or polluted with short term investors or something, because they used to be great and highly respected. The LP12 was the ultimate table. 

Now nobody in metropolitan Philadelphia sells their equipment. Hard to beleive....

I have a P8 and don't know the 1200G. The arm on the P8 (RB880) was a dramatically noticeable improvement over the arm on my P5 (RB 700) and I upgraded that before getting the P8, so I was able to see where the audible improvement was, and that's all that matters. The arm made a bigger difference than the table. That is no disrespect to the new design of the table, based on the "cost no object ultimate Rega table" Naiad, but Rega tables are quiet, and accurate with their PSUs. I don't regret getting the table because there are a couple nice new features I like, but I would have been 97%+ where I am purely from a sound standpoint from where I am today. Is it worth the extra I paid less what I got for the remnants of my P5 of about $1300 - hard to say, but I do like the design and the dustcover and the power connection to the PSU from the table. Some improvements are listed so it can be cost justified but may not be detectable to the trained ear, only to the most critical listener.

I would love to test the new arm on the P10 (RB 3000) at some point, but right now, I would never hear the end of it from my wife if I bought that after I recently got a phono stage with upgraded power supply and speakers in the past 4 months.
Congrats AJ and Mammoth Guy for joining the Rega club! I would love to try the RB3000 but it isn't being sold separately at the moment and the Rega dealer who let me buy the RB880 separately before it was available as a stand alone purchase, hasn't even received a P10 yet, so you beat him to the punch. Now you have no where to go if you want to upgrade your table in the future you're at the pinnacle....maybe cartridge or phono stage?

AJ - I've never been a real tweaker and don't get sucked in by big expensive cable upgrades and other nonsense. Rega designs their tables not to be tinkered with. I guess if you have isolation problems, you should try to remediate them, but the rubber feet were put on the table for a reason. On the P8, you can't replace the power cord from the PSU to the TT as it is hard wired into the table. Same for the tt interconnecting cables. You'd have to completely rewire the whole arm (which Rega just redesigned, so I'd leave it alone). Mats are very important, and Rega put a lot of thought into it - so trust them. I don't know who you are talking to at Rega, but the sales guys at the US distributor don't know much. If you talk to their tech guys who fix them (can't see that happening except for abuse), they will give you the real deal about what you can do to improve the sound (and what won't). They are very nice, and not super serious. They know where Rega cuts corners and aren't hesitant to relay that information. The point of this pursuit is to enjoy the music. 

I know sometimes that is tough as we all get obsessed by it at times, but if you read Van den hul's FAQ on their website, it talks about a lot of these things and has plenty of humorous insertions to keep you alert if you choose to read it. They are about the most serious engineers out there and they don't want anyone to lose sleep over an enjoyable avocation. Here is the link: Happy reading - the hifi tips white paper is interesting, the others can get a bit technical, but still worthwhile. After reading it, you'll never move a cable again.
I think the upgrade game is more something Linn does. Their upgrades are numerous to the point that the guy who sold me my Rega told me a guy spent $25K on an LP12.

Question for Chakster (Mike Lavigne - feel free to chime in although you seem to be focused on the highest end options, or any other cartridge experts):  I've heard of a couple of the brands you mentioned above in your vast cartridge inventory, and seem to be a cartridge analyst for Absolute Sound, but I was wondering, of the cartridges currently commercially available and in production, what cartridge would you recommend for a Rega P8 (other than Rega's 2 MC's) from a value standpoint? I like a detailed sound that is transparent and tight without anything being added, which gets all that is on the record to come out. Not bassy or shrill or tinny sounding, just natural. I currently have a Van den hul One Special with probably 2250-2500 hours on it that I am pleased with (it's rated 25-3500) more lately with the virus, and in a year or less, I will either service it at the factory in Sweden (and limp along for a month or so while it being brought to new specs) for around $5-$600 or look for a replacement. I've heard good things about Hana, and of course there are the usual suspects of Koetsu, Lyra, Clear Audio, Ortofon, Dynavector, etc. I have a Sutherland Insight phono stage with the Linear Power Supply that has 4-5 adjustable load settings from 100 to 47K ohms.Thanks for your advice.
Thanks Chakster. Sounds like I should probably just send my Van den hul One Special back to the factory for the $5-600 overhaul. They do whatever needs to be done to bring it back to new.

It’s  interesting that you mention cantilever length-that is something VDH talks about extensively in those links I sent out from their Web site. Theirs is extremely short to minimize travel in the rubber base of the cantilever that wears. It makes life between service intervals to 2500-3500 hours instead of normal 1500-2000. They also have a special stylus shaped so it actually goes deeper (like a sharp pencil tip versus a rounder elliptical one) into the groove and produces less residue (called VDH stylus) which also extends the length of service intervals. Koetsu I believe has no rubber base at all (it might be Lyra).

Although it retails for $1850, I was able to get the One Special from a highly respected local dealer who had taken it in as a trade for a higher level VDH cartridge after his customer only used it for a very short time.for $700, the amount VDH gave him for trade in credit to the new $3500 Frog (I beleive).

It is a high output MC with .65 output with 200 ohm recommended impedance and I’ve been very happy with it, and it sounds even better with the Sutherland Insight I mentioned above I recently bought privately.
Please keep up the banter with AJ-it is hilarious.

BTW, I didn’t think Panasonic (Technics) ever went out of business, just stopped making tables for a while. Interesting....
Max gain the Insight offers is 60 dB. Looks like the ART7 would be more than the VDH maintenance cost any way. Probably will just keep it. Just have to figure out when to do the service....Will be 9 years in November-about 5 hours per week, but last 4 months has probably been 15-20. So total of about 25-2600 on it. 
Does anyone have a way to figure out when to do the service? The range is so big (2500-3500 hours) It’s hard to know for sure. I’m within the range now. I know that my records are in fantastic condition -almost no warped albums which cause faster cartridge wear.
Thanks. I live within an hour of VPI, so I would drive up there and let them handle it (and hope they don’t sabotage my Rega when removing or reinstalling the cartridge 🙂). Hopefully they can insure AJ dies it himself or maybe swap a remanufactured one for mine for the same cost.

Any idea how to know when it’s time?
So it either breaks or not.....just like a Rolex needs service when it stops working?

The sound quality doesn’t gradually get worse?
Thanks and for the $25 word I just learned. Good to know it will be obvious.
No one is talking about cheap belt drives. That is Chak's argument. He thinks the Technics new DD table is a better value than the more expensive belt drive tables. Cheap belt drives without external power supply units have a harder time keeping the speed constant.

BTW- I just saw VPI coming out with a 40th anniversary direct drive table, so once again we see that the technology doesn't matter, it's the design and build of the specific product. I do disagree with Chak that the exception to that rule is that MC carts are GENERALLY better than MMs. That technology seems to be better from all that I've read and heard, especially if you have a good phono stage.
Yes, and it is I guess a matter of taste. When I went from a good MM cartridge that is no longer made (you might like it because of that) the Acutex 412 STR, to the VDH One Special, I remember thinking the VDH was much more alive, vivid, and detailed. But the Acutex back then was inexpensive - I think $2-300. I still have it, plus an extra brand new stylus the guy gave me since he stopped selling them.

When people are in the studio, they produce records trying to make a certain sound - not what is played in the studio, but mixed to achieve a certain sound. I guess those guys are the ones you should ask if the sound on a stereo from a particular cartridge is closer to the mark. Not the techies, but the artists themselves, especially if they produce their own albums.

You'd probably get lots off opinions there too.
If I did that, I wouldn't need a phono stage, correct, or would it still help?

Acutex is not a top level MM - it is a good mid level one. What is MI? Sorry I'm not a cartridge analyst like you....

BTW, I listen to jazz and rock and (I guess you would call it} pop (Beatles, Paul Simon, Elton John, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt), so it has to be versatile.
Arm and cartridge and then phono stage seem to have a bigger impact than the table, assuming the table can spin the platter at the correct speed with minimal rumble/noise from the motor, whatever that motor may be. Also, the table has to accommodate the arm base’s placement of course. Maybe these are big assumptions.

Matching the cartridge to both the arm and the phono stage is critical. The sum of these is not the result of how good each one of these parts are individually. 

Porsche analogy is very appropriate-sticking a Porsche engine with a Ferrari transmission into an Aston Martin design may not be as good as a car built with those major components as part of its basic clean sheet of paper design. It could, but it’s probably not.
You can't go wrong with your choice AJ. The deal you got was fantastic, and you got to hear the differences as you compared each level of Rega's offerings and assess their value to you. Like you saw though, all Rega would have been a mistake if you bought their phono stage. Some of us like Chakster are trying to save some cash and get as good a sound and value as possible.

I've never regretted spending money on stereo equipment except in my college days when I sold stereo equipment and was constantly swapping my own system. Fuses blew, turntables couldn't track and it was a merry go round of upgraditis. Now when I buy anything I make sure it's equal to or most likely better than the rest of my system and fits well.

15-20 years ago I had a Music Hall MMF 5 and I was going to put a Rega arm on it (RB700). When I looked at it, it was almost the same price as trading in the whole table ($7 or $800 versus $1150) for a P5, so I did it. That's how you get sucked down the rabbit hole. The P5 ended up holding it's value a hell of a lot better than what would have been a bastardized MMF 5.

Fast forward 30+ years from college and my speakers I recently traded were 25 years old. My amp is 15 with no plans of ever changing it unless there is major failure, which I don't expect as it is built like a tank. Current similar performing models are now 4 times what I paid. My cartridge is going on 9 and it looks like I will service it instead of replacing it. It is the best of both worlds; a high output moving coil with output of .65mV.

If I had cash burning a hole in my pocket, my local stereo salesmen would be glad to help me empty it to get something that sounds better. There is ALWAYS something better (or coming out) as even Mike Lavigne knows.

The system that supposedly won best at any cost at a stereo dealers show (I guess given a set room size and one table/arm/cart/phono stage/preamp/amp/with 2 speakers and cables-conditioner) was $400K. I am not sure if digital/streaming were part of it or not - I don't think so. There were others >$1M it beat. The cart/phono stage were both Van den hul top of the line, and there are far more expensive options out there for those things.

So, until you have $400K invested you are on the never ending journey. Enjoy the ride - there is no destination.
hshifi - 

I don't think anyone cares about a stock cartridge being on a turntable unless it is a really inexpensive rig (if you want to call it that) when they are looking to buy a used table. If the one that comes with it is OK with you, you might as well just keep it and play it. If you want a better one, buy it and I guess hold on to the old one, depending on the cost of the new one.

You can always replace it, or get a new stylus or the cartridge serviced to original specs.

My $.02
The ones who just buy the most expensive without doing any research of course cannot appreciate what they own.

I am sure in certain situations the most expensive is the best, but you still need to confirm that.

Chakster - "It is not about saving as you can see, but when it comes to the price for some new equipment it is simply insane (a cartridge for $5k for example or even higher, a phono stage for $10k, a turntable for $20k ... etc)." 

As I said it is not about savings, but value. Just being a little nit picky on verbiage, but I think we are saying essentially the same thing.

You must be an active seller on Audiogon with all those cartridges and tables going in and out of your hands.
I’ve probably spent roughly the same on hardware as software over the years. How about you?