Check out the VPI Scout, This falls in the price range you mentioned and I feel this is one of the best in the industry.
I was in your same boat about a year ago.
I started out with the Basis 1400, w/RB300 arm.
It is a great entry level table. (Actually it is a step up from entry level, IMHO.)
I recommend finding a used one however, as the new prices of the Basis line is rather expensive. (I also recommend buying used because you will avoid the hefty dealer markup, and won't lose as much if you decide that vinyl is not for you. It is an acquired taste. I love it myself.)
I upgraded to the Basis 2001, w/RB900 arm and am quite satisfied with the sound.
Now I am looking for a better preamp, w/phono stage. (Will the quest for better sound never end?)
PS Don't forget that you will need to buy a cartridge and a phono stage, unless your preamp has one (doubtful, unless it is an older model.) I started with a Benz Micro Glider II (Good starter cartridge), and an used ARC PH-3.
My total outlay was $1,000 for the used table and arm; $800 for the new Glider cartridge and $850 for the used PH-3. Total cost = $2,650. You could probably find a more entry level cartridge and phono stage to bring you back into your budget constraints.
Good luck in your search!
If you do get a turntable with Rega tonearm, definitely upgrade the counterweight. The one I use is F-2 Titanium Heavyweight Counterweight from Gregory Kerry,Inc. reached at email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Both of the ads you provided links to made me drool. But, they lacked the counterweight upgrade.
My Sonographe turntable with Rega RB-300 tone arm is so far below what you are considering, I paid about the same for it, second hand, as for my new VPI record cleaner machine.
Still, the titanium counterweight makes my vinyl listening a joy.
I think you might want to consider getting a Teres bearing, platter, and motor w/controller, and DIY'ing a base to your liking. Teres sells the items like this for DIY use. They originally came this way before Chris decided to make complete tables. It is fairly easy, and there are hundreds of others who have done this. And, it would really tie in to the DIY theme of your system.(And it would sound better than any of the other possibilities in that price range, IMO.)
You could put a standard or modded RB250 on it, and maybe a Denon DL103R, and have quite a package for the money.
I second Twl's recommendation. If you can DIY a plinth this would be a great way to go. Search the recent threads here for two other guys that are doing this project now.
The core of any TT is the bearing, and the Teres bearing is well beyond anything else in this price range. You'd have to go to a high end Basis model to equal or better it.
The Teres DC motor is quieter and more speed stable than the AC motors on the other tables mentioned. VA has quite a few testimonials from owners of other TT's (including some recommended on this thread) who've achieved substantial performance improvements by changing to a Teres motor. Why not just start with the best?
The motor controller circuit is world class. Some TT's make you twist knobs or, even worse, fiddle the belt to fine tune speed. The Teres motor controller makes the platter speed self-stabilizing.
Even the least expensive Teres platter is more massive than others in this price range. That gives it greater resistance to feedback resonances and stylus drag.
Sorry to go on, but in your position anyone with DIY skills who's concerned about bang-for-the-buck should consider this solution.
Enjoy the tunes whatever you do!
A number of good turntables are mentioned in the previous posts. At the risk of redundancy, here are the "recommended turntables" ($1000-2000) from the Oct-Nov 2003 issue of The Absolute Sound:
1. Rega P25 (Editor's Best Buy)
2. Basis 1400 (with Rega RB300 arm) (also an Editor's Best Buy)
3. Roksan Radius 5
4. Thorens TD850
5. Linn Sondek LP12
6. VPI HW-19 Mk4
Based on my own listening experiences, I'd add the VPI Scout (arguably the best value of any of the turntables listed above) to the list.
I own a VPI Scout. I don't know how good the Scout is, but I feel the JMW-9 that comes with it is world class. Very rigidly coupled to the plinth, very fine bearing (if you can call it a bearing at all), and fine construction. In fact, I bet you can get very good sound with a decent table when you put in the JMW 9. VPI internally likes the 9 over 10.5 or 12.5 and I can "hear" why. Less (adjustment) is more (sound) really applies here.
I think you know whose ideas I'll second., I mean third! You have seen what I'm doing. You could do basically the same thing for a hell of a lot less time & money. There are easier ways too. IMHO, the only way to go!
Well the Scout looks like the off-the-shelf favorite and the Teres diy route looks like it may be the "best" overall. I've been following your thread Joe and a few others at the Teres site. I've talked to Tom a bit too so I know the value there.
As I said above, I'm a bit on the busy side so another diy
project anytime soon is a handful(I've got four diy-audio going now) and a recent move has my work conditions less than ideal for a few months. Maybe I will put this off until spring and do it right the first time. Or buy a Scout used if one comes up at a good price and turn it over when I do a Teres?
Thanks all for the input keep the good ideas coming!
I have the tonearm fluid damper, modded Groovemaster cartridge and the outboard power supply for the 1200. I drove to NJ last October to visit my little sister and along took the creature and visited Kevin in Plainfield. He installed the power supply and later we listened to music in his living room. Kevin has gone through the trouble of doing these mods because he truly believes the 1200 is the last great affordable TT out there.
The few of us who have fully modded 1200s are convinced it would take $5K to surpass the sound, if at all. We're not exaggerating. Mine is floating on a Dennensen air suspension platform and the music is coming out very realistic, especially acoustic music.
I bought a used JA Michell Gyrodec SE and a new Origin Live Silver arm for about $2K, and took the Aurum Beta off the AR Turntable that I replaced, and my JJ 243 preamp has a very nice tube phono amp in it. I'm a really, really happy camper now! The only downside is now that I know what the rig is capable of, I want a better cartridge, mebbe a Koetsu! ;) Won't happen for a while though :( You could get a Gyro with the cheapest RB250 you can find and then upgrade the weight and wiring and do it all for less than I did.
I also hear wonderful things about the Scout but I haven't heard them in person. The Linn LP12 is a good old classic and sounds wonderful. Overpriced new but you can often find them for a steal on the used market.
Good luck and have fun! :)
Thanks guys after your help I've finally been able to make up my mind and went with the Bang and Olufsen 4002.
I think it stands for "Bang" for the buck! IMHO it compares with anything under 10k.
Never could have done it without you. My ABBA collection never sounded so good! I theorize it's the Scandinavian electronics. What synergy!