Check out some of the vintage gear some models the 301 Garrard modded commands a high price but I don't know for sure if it sounds good. You can find Automatics all over epray see if any have a good rep and then ask.
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I went looking for one in the mid-90s, and the only ones I came across were Dual (which had just simply terrible speed regulation) and Thorens, which didn't always shut off, though that might have been fixed with a simple adjustment. I figured I might as well get used to getting up at the end of the side. Take a look at what Thorens offers today.
Technics makes the best mass-market table around. It's the only thing a non-audiophile should consider, but as it costs about a tenth of your budget, I suspect you won't be satisfied with it.
Once upon a time there was a spring loaded/tension type mechanism that you could attach to any table and when the arm reached the end of the record it would trip the gadget and lift the arm. I asked a TT rep if they could make something like that and he said "sure, but we won't." It's not what audiophiles want according to the rep. Apparently they don't care what the consumer wants.
Actually, I currently have a Bang & Olufsen TX-2, which is a reasonable fully automatic, tangential tracking table which was their top of the line in the mid-80's. Unfortunately, this table requires the B&O MMC-series styluses, and B&O does not make them any longer, and for this reason the good ones cost >$300 for a new one (the MMC3 linear cut at least). And my cantilever just broke!!!
I was hoping to avoid buying a used/refurb turntable, in favor of something new, but auto-lift at the end of the record is really a must...
Please, someone give me some Good News here!
I'll just use this thread to rant about the lack of semi-auto TTs anywhere in high-end audio. While even luddite audiophiles expect a remote for their CD transport or even a volume/mute remote for their preamp, why is nobody else complaining that their expensive non-replaceable MC stylus is digging a trench through the endless groove once a record completes and maybe nobody is around at the time??
For a fraction of the price of that add-on electronic motor controller, silver tonearm wiring or vibration-damping shelf, the simplest of electro-mechanical components nicely integrated into the TT and tonearm will lift the arm and stop the motor once the record ends and interrupts a photodiode. How hard is that? Make it a modular unit that can be removed if it offends the sensibilities of some. VPI et al, are you listening??
This is the main reason I'm still using an '80s Thorens semi-auto when the rest of my rig is two decades newer...
You might look for a vintage Micro Seiki DD Series produced in the late 70's to early 80's. I have seen them for a really good price on both Audiogon and EBay (at the $250-$350 range how can one go wrong?). They offer a solid table package, incorporating the quality that Micro-Seiki was known for, albiet at the entry level of the brand. The automatic lift and shut off system is not mechanical. Instead, it's totally electronic, incorporating what they call a Hall Effect Sensor. At the end of an lp or if the power is shut off the viscous damped lifter raises the tonearm. There is a high quality tracking force application spring and tungsten wiring that seems to provide never-ending performance without deterioration problems typical of conventional dynamic arms, and, one can dial in tracking accurate forces ranging from 0.25 to 3 grams. It has many other quality features as well. I have owned one since 1979 and it not only is a beautiful table but it still functions wonderfully and ACCURATELY. I have a Grado Gold cart. installed in the arm. I have played many lp's on the M-S (I own over 2000) and have never had one problem. Seriously. The M-S is now hooked up to my whole house system (which my wife and I use a lot) but I have run it on my primary system (which is deliberately solid state)and it performed quite admirably. One key negative is the cheesy feet M-S put on the unit which can be easily remedied to satisfaction for just a few bucks. (In don't employ an automatic table with my primary system.)
Garrard, in their advertising of the Lab 80 Automatic Transcription Turntable in the mid-60s, said that automatic lift-off and shut-off adds an entirely new dimension of pleasure to record playing. My version is not available new; I happened across it serendipitously in reviving my Garrard 301 in a heavy laminated birch-ply/MDF plinth, when I decided to try a Rabco SL-8E linear tracking arm with a Decca cartridge. It doesn't shut off at the end of a side, but does pick up the arm, so the Decca doesn't keep playing the leadout groove after the music ends. As for the Garrard continuing to run, I don't think it's possible to wear out a 301 in a normal lifetime of record playing!