You probably didn’t mean it that way, but that sounds like an endorsement to me
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I get ur gripe with analogue and why u like DD.
1. The silence of digital backgrounds
2. stop start bass
3. Better timing - not in the musical sense but in terms of slowing down in complex passages
4. The cleaner sound
I appreciate as I am much the same and I like DD decks and the Townshend Rock as they both display those digital qualities I like plus the musical tone you get with analogue which has that ability to keep you listening.
I agree with posts relating to the JVC and Technics. The Denons are supposed to be excellent but many an idiot has ruined the magnetic tape on the platter. Contact @pbnaudio as he is an authority on denons
"If you want to buy a direct drive turntable you might as well buy a digital front end - its the same sound."
That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! Just because a TT maintains perfect speed as the better DD tables are prone to due doesn’t make it sound digital. By that logic the worse a TT maintains speed the more it sounds like analog produced music, totally absurd. The decks used for cutting the master disc are designed with perfect unwavering speed in mind.
If you have a good digital front end you may be disappointed with analog at your budget. I have no experience with the Technics table you mentioned, but I would avoid anything with a "built in" phono stage.
Consider purchasing used. You might be surprised at how good a $500 vintage direct drive can sound. You can still find SL 1200 MK2 tables that weren't used by DJs and there are a lot of accessories available that can improve sound quality. I have one and enjoy it a lot. It's not the same as my Sota Sapphire, but it was about 1/10 of the cost.
I have a JVC QL-Y66F from the 80s that's really nice. It does have a couple of week spots - the base is hollow and flimsy and it will howl at high volumes. The feet are junk. I put a few pounds of plasticlay inside the base and replaced the feet with MNPCTECH feet and now it sings and no feedback issues at high volumes. I'm using a Denon DL-301 MK 2 cartridge on it and currently running it with my Manley Chinook. You could pick up a table like this for around $500, around $500 for the cartridge, and get a Parks Puffin phono stage for less than $500 and have a nice setup. The feet and plasticlay were another $150 I think. Not much more than you're planning to spend, but a much better setup.
We all have different budgets and ideas of what's "good enough", and we don't know what your digital setup looks like, so it's hard to say how far you would need to go to get enjoyment comparable to your digital front end, but for a lot of us, the "sweet spot" budget wise usually starts around $5K and then goes up from there.
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