I am not sure about a restored Garrard and I am not so keen on the retro look though I do agree it could be a favorable unit for a lot of people (the cosmetics is quite important to me).
SME 20/3 is definitely an option - but I have never heard one so I will need to try and arrange a demo. How might an SME compare to a Linn LP12?
Guys, what do you think of a KUZMA STABI REFERENCE 2 WITH TRI-PLANAR Ull and mk2 PSU? Any experience with this combo or turntable?
Look for a turntable that has a tonearm with a VTA micrometer that permits you to adjust the VTA while the record is playing, and don't settle for anything less, or you will be sorry. Some of the tonearms that allow this are VPI Memorial arm, Graham and Triplaner. Myself, I recommend a heavy table, with either none or very little spring.
I wouldn’t get hung up on if a table is sprung or not. It boils down to the sound you prefer between the options. They have distinct differences and NO ONE can tell you what you like. That’s a recipe for someone else’s cake , that you put up the cake to buy . Listen to the difference yourself and now that you have heard a couple decent sprung tables , see if you can hear a non suspended belt and a non suspended direct drive. Your post though, in your 6 thousand quid budget lacks a crucial part as often these posts do. The Phono pre . If it isn’t up to task , you won’t really know how good/bad for your wants that table/arm/cart will/could be.
I have a suspended / belt drive (Orbe SE) and a non suspended belt drive (Micro 5000).
I like what both do and there differences. I don’t do direct drive anymore as I don’t
find it as natural sounding as I once thought, (IMHO, and that could be a change in my hearing) but the dynamic drive of them can sure be fun. The older Garrard tables brought up to new spec can be quite good. Try to hear one if you can. You may overcome the looks after you hear one that’s well set up.
Others will completely 180 my view and feel the direct drive is the only way to go. That’s fine, I get it , but what matters is YOUR opinion and 6000 quid will get you a long way down the road. Just make sure its the road you want to be on. They all have their pitfalls and strengths in sound and set up. And don’t make the phono pre an after thought, it needs to be able to match your cartridge choice(s) if your pre amp can’t to have success. You may want to also consider
how much cost , access and size of a record collection your first turntable will lead to. Good clean reasonable sized selection of records is the only way to enjoy a good vinyl rig, obviously. Good Luck.
Why not check out the Rega RP10 if you have not already?
I am assuming you are in living in the Royal playground as you are talking
in the UK's bees and homey...................