Forever turntable under $2000


In search of: forever turntable.

I'm currently looking to upgrade from my existing Pro-Ject RPM 1.3 to a table that I will (hopefully) never grow out of. I'm looking for something that is *technically* competent, something where I know the engineering is extremely solid and "timeless," and provides a good analog platform to swap carts with. My budget for this is $1600 with cart (but up to $2000 if there's a good case for it). The rest of my system is as follows:

* LSA 2.1 Statement speakers

* Schiit Gumby DAC

* Schiit Freya preamp

* Adcom GFA555 power amp

* Schiit Mani phono stage

So far, I have looked into the Rega P6 (or a used RP6), a Clearaudio Concept, a variety of Pro-Ject offerings, and a Michell Technodec... but at this level there are so many choices, its hard to know where to start. Any ideas? Thanks!
primarist
Technics SL-1200 mk7 ($1000)
SoundSmith Carmen mk II ($1000)

Conform with Peter Ledermann that you should order the high-compliance option.

Just my opinion...be aware, you'll get 11 options for every 10 people that reply.
Hunt around for a Teres, something like this
https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649452242-teres-255-baltic-birch-turntable-with-signature-motor-...
The downside, they aren't made any more. But they are so well made mine has been zero problems in 15 years, their modular design means you can replace upgrade or fix a lot yourself, and Chris Brady is still around if you need him. Unlike most others the lion's share of the budget went into parts not profits so you will find it difficult if not impossible to get this kind of performance without spending a whole lot more. Mine is definitely a forever turntable. Definitely involves a lot more due diligence than what anyone else is likely to suggest, but you get out of it what you put into it, and then some. https://www.theanalogdept.com/c_miller.htm
Hard to go wrong with a Concept in that range. Ensure you get the fixed-bearing arm (Satisfy), though. The magnetic bearing "Concept" arms are way waaaay too sensitive to footfalls and heavy acoustic feedback, and will jump out of the groove when even slightly provoked. I think they were discontinued for this reason. 

You can start with just the Concept MM cart and upgrade later when budget allows.
+1 on the Technics.

Or, just about anything from VPI in that range, new or used.

Those LSA's will be true and faithful to whatever component feeds them.
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I'm looking for something that is *technically* competent, something where I know the engineering is extremely solid and "timeless," and provides a good analog platform to swap carts with. My budget for this is $1600 with cart (but up to $2000 if there's a good case for it).

Definitely Direct Drive, and for this budget definitely new Technics SL1200GR (available in black or silver) for under $2000 with warranty, or slightly lower price on used market. This turntable will serve you for 30 years easily. 

For $2000 you can look for vintage japanese Direct Drive too. 



Chakster is spot on.  
Ditto yogiboy! Can't go wrong with the new Technics tables!
The Technics is a great table.  So is the venerable VPI Scout with acrylic platter.
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Check out the offerings from Esoteric Sound. They have interesting options and their website is informative from a slightly different point of view.  Seems like they offer a good value.
https://www.esotericsound.com/

Used VPI HW19 MK III or MK IV.  Lots ow ways to tweak (upgrade) with suspension, stand alone motor, speed controller, etc.  

Technics SL1200GR or for even less money, under $1000 if you're lucky,
vintage Denon DP80.

Second VPI's HW-19 suggestion. The Mk.2 version is different from the Mk.3 only in having a layer of steel rather than stainless steel bonded to the bottom of the MDF plinth. Replace the stock spring suspension with something better (SIMS Navcom Silencers are popular, as are Herbies Audio Labs Tenderfeet) for an upgrade.

Perhaps the best used VPI value is the Aries 1, which is a mini-TNT without that table's suspension (use Townshend Audio Seismic Pods in place of the Aries' stock cone feet); an excellent platter and bearing (the exact same as found on the TNT-3/4), and a separate 16lb. motor pod.

How how does the sound quality of a new GR compare with the classic SL-1200?  On par or better? Thanks. 
Better in every way.
The SL-1200mk2 that is so popular with rap-“DJs” is not the ideal turntable for people who want to listen to music. The major flaw is the chassis that gives zero isolation from vibration. This issue has not been addressed in any of the “new from the ground up” models such as the SL-1200GR. Otherwise, the motor, spindle and platter are second to none, and the arm is very good. For this reason, the SL-1200mk2 and up are not suitable for HiFi. The “new from the ground up” models are so radically different in motor and drive circuitry design that they need to be proven over several years of daily listening to see how they hold up. So, what is a good bet? In my humble opinion, vintage direct drive, quartz PLL regulated Japanese turntables with SME style tonearm and spring suspension. Your mileage may vary, depending on what condition the vintage turntables you find are in, your abilities to refurbish them, and of course availability of parts and things like service manuals. 
My Technics SL-1700 was bought new in 1973. I still have it. It still runs. I prefer my Teres. But forever turntable? The Technics certainly qualifies.
Sleepwalker, besides the fact that every other bit of personal opinion you dispensed is debatable, name one good vintage DD with spring suspension, I can only think of Sony and the Pioneer Exclusive P3 Which has a very elaborate suspension and costs upwards of $6000 these days.

The new SL1200s are in fact elaborately damped, both chassis and platter, unlike the originals. The coreless motor is a huge upgrade over the old models but is hardly experimental.
The SL-1700mk2 semi-auto and it’s ‘1800’ manual and ‘1600’ fully auto models are the turntables that audiophiles want, due to the combined use of spring suspension, rubber feet and TNRC subchassis. The direct drive motor is the same unit as in the SL-1200mk2, as is the tonearm. The advantages of the SL-1700mk2 multi-approach to isolation is that no single method is completely effective by itself, but when combined, superior results are achieved. I’ve gone so far as to replace the simpler rubber feet on my SL-1700mk2 with the feet from the SL-1200mk2, which possess more robust damping, as they are essential the only measure of isolation on the 1200. As a result, my SL1700mk2 is exceptional in isolation of vibration. Technics has stubbornly stuck to the archaic and ineffective legacy SL-1200mk2 chassis design for one reason only: its main application is the high visibility rap-“DJ” target market, where ability to withstand severe abuse is valued over sound quality. 

Turning to the coreless motor, it does not have the lengthy track record of 40 years. This is why I said it is not the same proven commodity that the vintage design is. 

Now looking at audiophile interests, the SL-1200mk2 units available on the used market are almost always severely abused and heavily damaged from rap”DJ” use. This is much the same as why you would not want to buy a car that had been used as a taxi. On the other hand, the rap”DJ” market doesn’t like spring-suspended turntables for record scratching, so used spring suspended units will seldom be found in thrashed and trashed condition, making them better candidates for restoration for HiFi applications. 
Seeing that you have a fair amount of Schiit Audio gear take a look at this for something to consider:

https://youtu.be/3Ry_0okbbNo?t=699

Schiit is getting a new TT ready for this summer. Shown with the Mani phono stage. Would be in your price range.

For something that is not in budget but worth a look is a new Linn LP12 Majik. Somewhat controversial, but the Majik as sold is exceptionally nice and would allow for direct updates if you would ever want to. Yes, it is outside budget but worth a listen.

I'm working on my own LP12 project and while it may not be everyones cup of tea it sung to me so I jumped on board.
HRS base
Basis 1400 w Rega 300 arm

your phono Stage, while amazing is holding you back


I also add a third vote for Linn. Have the classic  Sonedeck XII. Bought used and tested for $1200 ..add a Hana EL cartridge for $750 and just listen to why the Linn TT'S still get top dollar after 35 years. They got it right the first time.
If history is anything to go by, you are left with Technics. Mine is closing in on 40 years with no maintenance except a few drops of oil around Christmas time (that is how I remember when the time has come again).

Not going into technical discussions about these new ones and their "audiophile-worthiness", wouldn’t it be strange that a company with such a heritage comes back, decides to make something good, banks a lots of its image and credibility on it, advertises it as "audiophile" item, and then forgets to address something every hobbyist is obsessed with? I would bet that thoughts about different important aspects did cross their mind during the development stages. I am not sure how they dealt with them, but they are no fools. Maybe they even listened to prototypes?

You can take a gamble and buy "new from the ground up" now, or wait 40 years to see if they are as reliable as the previous ones. (1200 G/GR, etc., maybe even new 1500)


For whatever it is worth, this is what Technics says on its website about what they did with their new $1700 model...

"The SL-1200GR ensures high rigidity by using a body with a two-layered construction solidly unifying the BMC and the aluminium die-cast chassis. For the insulators supporting the body, as with the SL-1200G, the SL-1200GR uses special silicon rubber that ensures both high vibration damping characteristics and long-term reliability. Vibration in the horizontal direction is absorbed by reinforcement with cylindrical tubes using microcell polymers. While inheriting the technology of the SL-1200G, the insulators have had tuning performed specifically for the SL-1200GR.

Also, the installation section of the insulators is equipped with a vertical adjustment mechanism using screws. This eliminates the rattle that occurs when the turntable is installed in a rack or the like, and prevents unwanted vibration. In addition, exact horizontal adjustment of the platter and record surface reduces rotation irregularity due to slanting, thereby enabling more stable record playing."

https://www.technics.com/us/products/grand-class/direct-drive-turntable-system-sl-1200gr.html

You could buy a refurbished Garrard 401 from AudioGrail for $2000. Add a $500 solid plinth and $1000 for a 12" Jelco 850 arm.
The Technics spiel about the SL-1200GR is obviously written by someone who has little or no technical knowledge.  “the SL-1200GR uses special silicon rubber that ensures both high vibration damping characteristics” everyone knows that silicon is a crystalline element that is as far from being compliant and vibration damping as trump is from truth. But wait, there’s more:  “Sine waves stored in ROM are used for the control waveforms at constant speed, and this achieves smoother and more stable rotation” again, fiction flying in the face of fact. Sine waves can not be stored digitally and still faithfully resemble a clean waveform. The tried and true method of using a PLL regulated quartz oscillator is time proven to be both effective and accurate. Perhaps Panasonic should have had a technical writer produce their cut sheets instead. It would make them appear more credible than this tripe. 
Love my Dual 604 semiautomatic turntable I purchased new in the late 1970’s. No issues at all after owning for more than 40 years.  The semiautomatic feature has never failed to work correctly. Very inexpensive German TT when purchased on the used market. 
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Now looking at audiophile interests, the SL-1200mk2 units available on the used market are almost always severely abused and heavily damaged from rap”DJ” use. This is much the same as why you would not want to buy a car that had been used as a taxi. On the other hand, the rap”DJ” market doesn’t like spring-suspended turntables for record scratching, so used spring suspended units will seldom be found in thrashed and trashed condition, making them better candidates for restoration for HiFi applications.

I will repead again for this ....... person @sleepwalker65 (who always complain to moderator asking for post removal).

He always abuse DJs on this forum in every post related to Technics turntables, i’m sick about it.

I want to remind him:
Technics support the Art of DJing in any form and whithout DJs they could NOT sell 3 000 000 copies of their turntables to make the price so cheap for Made in Japan DD.

I will also repead again that he has no idea what the DJs are doing on the turntables, because it’s impossible to damage turntable using it for scratching or whatever dj’s tricks. Those people can only damage their own cartridges and records, but they can’t damage Technics turntable. The platter constantly rotate forward under the slipmat (felt mat) even when a DJ spinning record back and forth, look here. It’s also impossible to damage a tonearm or anything else. If they could damage turntable, those SL1200mk2 and SL1210mkII could not be used for such a long time as the industry standard woldwide for professionals.

The story that DJs damaging turntable during the dj-set is a myth!

We have fixed many Technics turntables for bars and clubs and normally there is nothing serious to worry about, except for the wires, rca connectors, pitch control fader, or maybe armtube if it was damaged by someone else during transportation of the turntables. All these parts available from Technics and cheap as chips. There is nothing to damage, the main problem is liquid dropped on pitch control, then pitch control must be completely removed to a new one (available for $40-60 max). The pitch control suffer from liquid, if anyone near the dj booth dropped a glass of alcochol to the pitch control then it will cause speed instability, after pitch control fader swapped to a new one then everythin is fine.

I’ve been using SP-10mkII for High-End application, but my pair of SL1210mk2 served me more than 20 years almost everyday use until i have upgraded them with new internal and external wires, feet etc.

However, old Technics is not a subject of this post since we’re recommending NEW Technics GR with the OP’s budget up to $2k (while the old SL1200mkII is $350-500 used)

If the question is about OLD Technics then definitely SP-10mkII (i paid $1200 for a MINT condition, without arm and plinth).

Only sleepwalker talking about his old semi-automatic 1600 or 1700 models for some reason. New Technics GR or old SP-10mkII killing it !

Anyone who prefer suspended footers can buy Isonoe for any old or new Technics. I’m using them on my SL1200mkII.









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I have an LP12 and a Technics 1200 (among about a dozen more TT's in my collection). I prefer the Linn, but that's just my personal prejudice! Either table is capable of musically satisfying playback! So I say get a 1200 - the best "right out of the box" choice today! No tweaking required! And fifty years from now it will still be working fine!
The all-new SL-1200 series share none of the motor / platter / spindle / bearing design that has stood up to the abusive hands of rap-“DJs” for years. There is no history of performance, (good or bad), so don’t expect these mostly new designs to carry on exactly as the original SL-1200mk2/m3d/mk5/etc have. That would be like trying to compare a 1970 Dodge Challenger to a 2019 Dodge Challenger. They share the same name, similar appearance and purpose, but are essentially very, very different machines. 
It also needs to be said that vintage turntables are a potential solution for the OP. There were many fine examples built in the golden age of turntables, and very few that offer the choices and functionality that vintage turntables did in those days. 
Primarist,

I have heard some very positive comments about Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab turntables: They offer a budget friendly Studio Deck for $1,350 USD and a slightly more refined model known as Ultra Deck for $2,300. The spec sheets are very close and I don't believe the extra $1,050 is justified, but evaluate them as close as you wish. The S/N is 2dB better on the Ultra Deck; both have W/F range of .017%-.025%, and weigh in at 19 to 23 pounds. I believe that there are several cartridge options if you are looking for the total package delivered to your door. You can order one from Crutchfield or MusicDirect with a return guaranty. Best of luck with your search and evaluation.
The new Technics SL-1500C looks very good. Better looking than the 1200 in my opinion.

Specifications  Technology for Rotational Stability
  • Coreless Direct Drive Motor
  • High-Precision Motor Controller
Construction for Vibration Tolerance
  • High-Dumping Turntable Platter
  • Rigid Cabinet Construction
  • High-Dumping Insulator
High Quality Parts
  • High Sensitive Tonearm
  • Detachable PHONO Terminal
Technics Definitive Design
  • Inherited SL-1200 Series
Turntable Section
  • Drive Method: Direct Drive
  • Turntable Speeds: 33 1/3, 45rpm
  • Starting Torque: 0.18N・m / 1.8kg・cm (1.56 lbs-in)
  • Build-up Characteristics: 0.7 s. from standstill to 33 1/3 rpm
  • Wow and Flutter: 0.025% W.R.M.S.
  • Turntable Platter: Aluminum die-cast
    • Diameter:332mm (13-5/64")
    • Weight:Approx. 2.0kg (4.5 lbs) (Including Turntable sheet)
https://overtureav.com/turntables-a-accessories/turntables/technics/technics-sl-1500c-detail
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Want to spend $2K on a new table?  Go buy one second hand that cost the owner $4k when he bought it. Most owners of tables in that category are very careful with them and they are usually in great condition (Technics perhaps accepted).
The new Technics SL-1500C looks very good. Better looking than the 1200 in my opinion.

@rwwear 
I think so. But I found this model is not "Made in Japan" like higher graded Technics such as SL1200GR
Didn't know that Chakster. Guess that's why it's less expensive.
Some outside the box options: 

MoFi Ultradeck

Oracle Origin

Vinyl Nirvana TD-160 Super

Funk Firm Little Super Deck

Soon to be released (allegedly) Schiit SOL

Any number of pre-owned $4K tables being sold for <$2K

I'd look for a nice used TT like @wspohn suggested.  I like VPI personally.  Clearaudio looks nice too, but never heard one.  A used VPI Prime would be ideal.  
"Sine waves can not be stored digitally and still faithfully resemble a clean waveform."
The text mentioned (“Sine waves stored in ROM are used for the control waveforms at constant speed, and this achieves smoother and more stable rotation”) does not talk about clean waveform, but about smoother and more stable rotation. Both being relatives, "better when compared to..." in some way. It is definitely a marketing description, but does not promise eternal accuracy.
When it comes to reliability, pretty much everyone agrees that old Technics have been quite durable. New ones may not be and time will tell. However, the same is true for old ones that are pushing 40 years now. What will last longer starting from today? 40-year-old turntable or a new one?

Technics SL-1200 did not start as a DJ turntable. It got adopted by DJs. Not all were used hard. Many have lived a decent home life.
sleepwalker65,
"...everyone knows that silicon is a crystalline element that is as far from being compliant and vibration damping..."
Could the trick be that Technics does not use silicone, but silicone rubber?

I have a hard time believing that their marketing material did not get proofread by someone technically adept. It would be unexpected that someone can design multiple widely-praised machines and have no clue what she/he is talking about.
Looking at that Technics webpage again, the full statement is...

"Sine waves stored in ROM are used for the control waveforms at constant speed, and this achieves smoother and more stable rotation compared with using the simple sine wave generation with an external coil as in the conventional SL-1200MK5."

sleepwalker65,

That omission you accidentally made actually changes the perspective and presents new turntable as superior in what you considered its flaw. There are even two graphs right there. They show smoother waveform of the new motor, as promised by the text. Not perfect, but smoother.

https://www.technics.com/us/products/grand-class/direct-drive-turntable-system-sl-1200gr.html


I'd read up on The Classic from Pro-Ject. I bought with the intention to have a forever turntable. It was between The Classic and Funk Firm's LSD. It's been over a year and I have no complaints or desires to upgrade the table. The VTA and azimuth is adjustable, which is great if you like trying out different carts. The damping is excellent too. 

I'd maybe go MoFi.Got a Merrill GEM Dandy.Sounds way better than it's price.TAS Editors Choice for a few years now.