First "real" TT...

Hey all, I am looking at buying my first "real" TT, and I need some advice. I have a cheapo stanton str8-20 TT that I got at guitar center for $120 a couple years ago, just to play a few of my old man's records. I've recently found myself listening to it alot, and am starting to notice it's shortcomings. It has a Audio Technica "universal" $30 cart. So, as you can see, I have a pretty low-end setup. I'm looking for a new-to-me table and cartridge. Total budget: $500.
I've been looking at Pro-ject's Debut III, Rega Planar 1, various Thorens (used), technics 1200(used). I keep finding conflicting reviews of all these things, and honestly I don't know a damn thing about cartridges. Any help is appreciated.
Thanks, Nick
I found a SOTA Satellite w/ an Audioquest tonearm for <200. Am I mistaken or is this too good to be true?
If you really found a SOTA Satellite with an Audioquest arm for less than $200 AND it works...RUN, RUN Forest RUN to get it!
well it's on ebay, i just bid it up to 300, and was already outbid. and now i notice it still has 4 days, so it will go much higher.
That's because its a Sota.
Besides a SOTA,if you look at Project,I've read here or somewhere else that it doesn't get along with a lot of cartridges.I've never owned one(Project)to give a personal opinion on it.
Most serious bids at eBay, on desirable items, are placed during the last 30 seconds of the auction. Bid amounts prior to that don't mean anything.

-- Al
Buy the Rega P-1 with cartridge for sale right now on this site for $395. Great entry table from a well respected TT manufacturer.
Yep-Ebay bidding is an art. You gotta be a sniper. Bid your number with 1 sec left and no time for them to counter bid. My wife is the ebay queen!
Cerrot- ask your wife if she'll win that thing for me for $301! :)

Hifimaniac- Is the P-1 comparable to a music hall 2.2? there's one on audiogoN for 250, w/o a cartridge. I'm thinking that would work well, leaving me 200 or so for a cart. That's where I'm really not sure what I want....cartridges.
Napalmblast, I can't say if the Rega or the Music Hall is better as I haven't seen or heard or read much on the Music Hall. I do know the 2.2 is the newer model. Rega's are always easy to resell, there is an after market upgrade to the platter and bearing and you might be able to negotiate with this seller. Best of luck. Be sure to buy a good protractor to check your stylus and also a VTF scale.
My take on this is well known your pennies and get a brand-new, modded 1200 from KAB Electroacoustics and be done for a while. When fully modded it will be in the $5K performance.

With psychic power and primal intensity,
I've never had any luck with used gear on ebay. I think mint condition does mean the same thing it means here on Agon. Another vote for the Technics 1200 series.

Un-modified or KAB modded it's a great. A bit ugly but still a great performer. It has a removal headshell for easy cartridge setup. The counter weight is numbered and you won't need to buy a scale. Buying used gives you the opportunity to get a little better cartridge and stay in budget.

Good luck
I say pro-ject the debut is a better starter then the rega p1
gentlemen. I took vegasears advice and got a SL-MK1210. I found it at a pawn shop for $175! Obviously this was a DJ table, cartridge was ruined, antiskate was up all the way, and it was dirty. But, everything works, speed is dead on, and I can't hear any rumble. Other than a bit of grime, the tonearm seems perfect to my uneducated eyes. It doesn't have any looseness, VTA and counter weight adjusts work smoothly, and if there's any bearing friction, I can't feel it, and could on the last one I had.
Now I need to know if there is anything else i should be checking for, problem-wise; and I need to decide on a cartridge. I since I saved a bit of money, I can get a slightly better cart, anything up to $200. I think I've narrowed it down to the following:
AT 440MLa
Ortofon 2M Blue
Goldring G2200
Grado Silver 1 Prestige
oh! forgot the Denon DL-160
Since no response since I mentioned the cartridge, I went ahead and got the Denon DL-110.
I am happy with the sound so far, but distorted electric guitar sounds mushed and strange. Bass, Vocals, Cymbals sound better than anything I've had in the past! Is my cheapo phonostage the problem here?
I've gone through three phono stages. Finding the right (for my gear) pre-amp was the key to good vinyl for me.

After getting my first Technics TT I was given this advise. Get hold of a Sumiko HS12 Headshell. They are a little pricy but adds mass to the 12xx's arm.

Good Luck and Enjoy!