As much as I hope you get responses, as soon as they are known, prices for them will suddenly double. Maybe folks will email you privately with suggestions. Then we can keep those "sleepers" just that.
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The Technics tables have already been "discovered", but like others have said, I would look for the better Pioneer, Kenwood, Victor, Sony, and Denon tables. IMO, they are all "sleepers" and still quite affordable. (Well, maybe the Sony and Denon products have already been recognized for their performance and are priced accordingly.) The Vintage Knob website could give you some hints at what models to look for. Plus, T_bone knows them all. I particularly like the looks and build quality of the Pioneer dd tables.
Dear phasecorrect: I owned ( now is with my brother. ) the Pionner PL-630 and I can tell you I miss it.
It is very good and comes with very nice tonearm with a magnesium headshell that is very good too.
Here you have two options on it:
this one is on Mexican Pesos ( I think ) that are around 200.00 dollars.
Regards and enjoy the music,
Back in 1976 I bought a Hitachi P38, and it had great synergy with the top end Grado cartridge of the day (Z1+ or something like that), which today would be represented by the Grado Gold. This modest Hitachi had (with the Grado) amazing imaging and soundstage for the time, and also a great sense of pace and timing.
As much as I like my very tweaked up Technics SL1210 M5G, I haven't been able to get tbe wide soundstage and holographic imaging that the Hitachi had right out of the box--as I remember it.
A few months ago I purchased an SL1210 M5G in order to use my moving magnet cartridges more easily. It became a major PITA mounting and dismounting these cartridges on my more expensive fixed headshell tonearms.
In any case it's a very good table but the arm is simply average even with the KAB tweaks. Sadly it will never be anything more so relax and enjoy the music.
However, I love the 60 second cartridge changes. :-)
You should check out the vintage Kenwood DDs. The KD500 and 600 were giant killers back in the day. I used to see them with Black Widows, SMEIIIs and sometimes heavier arms more suited to MCs. This is the era that produced the LO7D. The ones with the white base that looks like corian, have a big advantage over the most wood base tables. It's a composite material with limestone and I think polyester resin. Whatever it is, it works.
The KD550 and 650 came with arms. They look like decent med mass arms but I don't have much experience with them. There are also a couple of less expensive ones with that base material. One is the 5070 I believe. It might have auto functions. I have a KD500. At the moment I have an Alphason 100S on there. I also have a 770D which is a nice table w/arm, but I had to modify the wood base.
I guess you can tell that I'm a DD freak. I used to have a Goldmund Studietto/Zeta. Anyway Kenwoods are pretty cheap and have great potential. If you find a 550 or 650 and don't like the arm, just put something else on there.