Help buying first analog rig - Clearaudio Concept or Rega P6


I am in the process of purchasing my first major analog rig since I was teen back in the 80's. My system has been digital. I had a period of about 8 years where I did not do much with audio as we were moving and building a new home. Shortly after our home was built, but before the basement was finished and the alarm was installed, we had a break in. Among the many things other things taken, they took a box of my CD's, basically all my SACD's. So when I the basement was finished and got setup again it prompted me to get into streaming. I have a dedicated listening room which is pretty big 16 x 25 and 9' ceiling on a concrete slab (i know that helps with turntables) with laminate flooring and area rug. My System is pretty straight forward digital.
-Innuos Zen mkIII to stream and play my ripped CD's along with other hi-rez digital I have purchased and some DSD's
-Chord Qutest fed with a Shunyata Alpha USB from the Zen
-PrimaLuna EVO 400 integrated
-Sonus Faber Sonetto VIII 
-Purist Audio Venustas Luminist Speaker and RCA  cables, Shunyata Venom NR V10 power cables

The only small stack of vinyl I own is what I had as a teen, 80's rock which I may listen to occasionally, but I plan on buying new vinyl. I listen to a lot of Jazz - Coltrane, Davis, etc, a lot of modern bluegrass mostly female vocal like Sarah Jarosz, Sierra Hull, Alison Krauss.
The 2 tables that I seem to have gravitated towards are:
-Rega P6 with Hana EL 
-Clearaudio Concept wood with the black satisfy arm and either their Concept MC or Maestro V2 cartridge.

I know the Concept does not come with a dust cover, no big deal for me, I can always add one down the road.

Phono pre
-Sutherland KC Vibe
-MS Phenomena 2+

My budget was originally 3000 for the table/cart and pre, but I really like the concept wood ascetically, it would fit nicely in my rustic/industrial decor which has a lot of wood. I know its not about ascetics, but I am just not crazy about the look of Rega, but it does get great reviews. My rack is butcher block and iron pipe, so the table would sit on the top shelf next tot he PrimaLuna. I am the kind of person that does not mind tinkering and I understand the inconvenience of records vs digital, but I am looking for the natural, openness and beauty that vinyl brings to the system. What am I missing?
82741803 0129 4c66 a92a 3b8942d03c82jmphotography
jm, it is really a toss up from a performance perspective. I would go with the one you like the looks of best. I would make one comment and this is going to cause some consternation. In this price range you are better off staying with high output cartridges. They are a better value and signal to noise in the phono stage is not as critical. The Maestro V2 is excellent although the outboard cantilever makes many nervous. The Soundsmith Zephyr another excellent choice along with cartridges from Grado, Audio Technica and Goldring. You would have to spend considerably more on a moving coil cartridge and phonostage to equal the performance of these cartridges. 
Congrats on the return to enjoying music. 
I have a Rega table (P8) and when I auditioned turntables part of my research was understanding the manufacturer’s philosophy on what design factors drive the best performance. 
I appreciated the low mass approach because it meant that the investment was in making the components effective and efficient. 
I like the P6 and the plinth along with the separate power source are strengths that hep with performance.  The difference in tone arm and cartridge as well as the selected phono are the areas where I believe hearing will guide your choice. 
Good luck!
Another MM cartridge so you can change stylus by yourself.

Ones your Hana MC is worn (after ~800 hrs)  you can’t use it and you will have to ship it back to the mafufacturer (no cartridge for some time). Also expensive.

There are better MM or MI availavle and styli are user replaceable!
Personally, I would go for  Musichall 9.1 or 11.1 - whichever suits your budget.

Both of these turntables seem to have a great feature list

The 9.1
MUSIC HALL MMF9.3 TURNTABLE – Vinyl Sound
  • music hall’s unique triple plinth construction
  • one-piece full carbon fiber tonearm
  • fully adjustable VTA, azimuth, and dampened arm lift mechanism
  • counterweight’s center of gravity is level with the stylus tip, is decoupled from the arm, and acts as a resonance damper
  • completely isolated/decoupled DC motor with 33 1⁄3 and 45 rpm speed controls located in the front left corner of the turntable, thus canceling any potential vibration from the motor/belt to the cartridge
  • motor sits on its own resonance damping puck
  • optional Goldring Eroica LX low-output moving-coil cartridge with Gyger II line contact stylus ($795 value)
  • the cartridge supplied is properly aligned and mounted
  • inverted ceramic main bearing for super quiet, fluid operation
  • non resonant, 1” thick acrylic platter
  • soft felt platter mat
  • high quality gold RCA connectors and detachable phono cable
  • adjustable tip toe feet with anti scratch cups
  • low noise fully manual belt drive design
  • built-in round spirit level for proper leveling
  • dust cover and 45 rpm adaptor included
  • excellent instruction manual and easy assembly
The 11.1
MUSIC HALL MMF11.3 TURNTABLE – Vinyl Sound
  • music hall’s unique quadruple-plinth design with improved TPE vibration isolation
  • new freestanding and completely isolated motor assembly
  • dual motor and flywheel assembly is located on the center left side of the turntable eliminating all motor and belt vibration from the cartridge
  • one-piece 9cc Evolution carbon fiber tonearm
  • tonearm uses hardened Swiss ABEC 7 ball races in inverted bearing
  • tonearm is internally wired with flexible wire drawn from high purity copper with only two contact points from cartridge to output connectors
  • counterweight’s center of gravity is level with the stylus tip is decoupled from the arm and acts as a resonance damper
  • fully adjustable VTA, azimuth, and dampened arm lift
  • exclusive microprocessor electronic speed control with dual motor single flywheel drive system
  • 33 1/3 and 45 rpm speed change at the touch of a button
  • adjustable magnetic-levitation feet
  • inverted ceramic main bearing for ultra-quiet operation
  • 7.4 lbs. (3.35 kg) acrylic platter
  • detachable phono cable
  • high quality gold-plated RCA connectors
  • display-style large removable acrylic dust cover
  • packed securely in a substantial wood box
  • excellent instruction manual and easy assembly
Good luck - Steve
.
Good point Chakster. In that light the Audio Technica VM760SLC and the Goldring 1042 are the best current cartridges I have heard with removable styli. On the other hand Soundsmith is local and charges very low prices for stylus replacement. There are reasonable arguments as to why these cartridges may perform better but in reality the AT and Goldring cartridges are going to sound just as good if not better in some minds. 
I'd go with the Concept for sole reason the VTA is adjustable, whereas shims are required on the Rega for VTA.  There's more flexibility with different cartridges that way.  The Concept was my first "good" table and it served me well.  Had a Concept MC, Lyra Delos and Benz Wood on it and all matched and performed well.
VTA is a plus. You do not want shims. That one's a deal breaker. You like the Concept looks. This matters. Together with VTA makes the Concept an easy call.
I gots the P6 and I really like it. only knocks are you can't use your own phono cables.   And the way the dust cover operates.  If you don't lift it all the way up ....it's a guillotine.

Everything else is +
@williewonka ,

That’s a very compelling and persuasive response with the only problem being the very strong competition to be found elsewhere.

In any case, such is the state of vinyl replay in 2021, whichever deck the OP buys is bound to give satisfaction.

I would suggest taking a look at some of the Technics decks too but I think the OP’s mind is already made up, even of he hasn’t fully realised it yet.

Perhaps he’s already answered his own question?


"..but I really like the concept wood ascetically, it would fit nicely in my rustic/industrial decor which has a lot of wood. I know its not about ascetics, but I am just not crazy about the look of Rega."
@jmphotography,

If you like Clearaudio Concept TT, take a look at Dr. Feickert’s Volare turntable for $3695 with a Origin Live Mk3 tonearm. It’s a better TT / Tonearm combo and a great value, IMO.

https://youtu.be/tb08CgmR5aU

https://upscaleaudio.com/products/dr-feickert-volare-turntable?variant=36963057041592
ClearAudio makes nice gear.
+1 to what MC said

+1 gakerty and millercarbon:

I have the Rega and my only complaint is the VTA adjustment thing. Assuming all other things are equal, I would go with the Concept.
Based on my experience with Rega, a Planar 3, I would go Clearaudio. The Wood looks great and the fact that the plinth is Baltic Birch and not MDF is a big plus.
@cd318 - I get what you are saying
"..but I really like the concept wood ascetically, it would fit nicely in my rustic/industrial decor which has a lot of wood.
HEY GUES WHAT? - the 9.3 come with a walnut plinth option ! :-)

I came through the school of hard knocks - I had a Rega and tweaked the heck out of it to get it to sound good - to the point where the only original parts left is the cover and ON/OFF switch

Whereas the 9.3 has so many SOTA features - you don’t even have to tweak it

But I posted more for those reading this thread out of interest and looking for other choices than the more often recommended Rega and Cleaaudio tables

I think there is some very strong competition out there if you bother to look. Unfortunately they are up against older and more established brands.

Here's a similar thread
VPI prime scout VS Music Hall 9.3 VS Technics SL-1200GR VS Rega Planar 6 | Audiogon Discussion Forum

It’s time for some new blood to get in the mix !

Cheers - Steve
I own the Rega 6, but it was a tossup with the Concept. Musichall was also in there. I would also suggest you go with the one you like the looks of the best. VTA is a nice extra. Didn’t impact my choice. I would add for you to go with the MC. This is the first table I had with a MC cartridge and I doubt I’d go back to MM again.
The life span of an Elliptical tip of any MC cartridge is SHORT!
Then you will have to ship your cartridge back to the manufacturer for rebuild or to get new cartridge with disocount under manufacturer special program.

For an MC cartridge you need a really good MC phono preamp and if anything wrong with cables or phono stage it will be noisy.

Some people have no idea what they are saying, because an advice for MC cartridge to the newby is nonsense. It will cost more and can only cause more problem. Some people damage their cartridge during mounting process, especially on tonearms without removable headshell.

A good MM cartridge sound like mastertape and they are superior to cheap MC cartridges, especially if your music preferences is rock. The stylus can be removed during the mounting process to avoid damage. When the stylus is worn you can just buy another stylus. There are absolutely amazing MM or MI cartridges with exotic cantilevers and advanced profile of the stylus. On some models user can upgrade from one stylus profile to another just buying different stylus.

I wouldn’t even comment on Rega or some other belt drive turntables. A good MC cartridge will cost you more than a turntable like that. And when you look for LOMC cartridge make sure you’re buying the one with the most advanced profile, because the life span of advanced profile is 3 times longer than elliptical, so you will have more time before you will have to send your cartridge back to the manufacturer for rebuild. Otherwise it’s just a waste of money, a myth, fairy tales from audiophiles who never tried any proper MM or MI (they are better).

I'd stick to streaming ... 
10+ Chakster, given the price differential it almost makes no sense to get a moving coil cartridge and cheap ones Hana included can not compete with moving magnet cartridges in their price range. As an example the Clearaudio Charisma is $2000. It has the exact same stylus and cantilever that the $16,000 Goldfinger has. Soundsmith's Voice is $3000. The Sussurro is exactly the same cartridge with a few less turns on it's coils and costs $5000. I asked Peter why the difference in price and his answer was "different market."
If I were you, I’d grab the Music Hall mmf-7.3 with the pre-mounted Ortofon 2M Bronze. I’d get it in the more expensive walnut finish, rather than the gloss black. Cost is $1795. It is a real bargain in my opinion. Detached motor, thick acrylic platter, round belt profile, pro-ject 9cc carbon fiber tonearm, speed box built in, dual split plinth design, tip toe feet, threaded spindle & record clamp, felt mat, quality interconnects, great 2m cartridge already mounted and aligned, adjustable azimuth and VTA, and a very nice dust cover. It is hard to beat for what you get, and it is very well designed. A stereophile recommended component. Mike Fremer mentioned that he did not feel that the mmf-9 was worth the extra money, and that he thought that the mmf-7 had a warmer more forgiving sound. He also reviewed 9 cartridges, which included the 2m bronze. He liked the 2m bronze very much for its outstanding tracking and detail retrieval. The mmf-7.3 is the sweet spot in the Music Hall line up. The walnut version would fit right in with your surroundings.
https://musichallaudio.com/product/mmf-7-3-walnut-turntable/
I would go for an arm with removable headshell, then you could have a mono cartridge option for mono jazz lps you will want to hear.

are you considering used or vintage?

just searching 'wood turntable' on ebay

your Clearaudio wood, mint (fixed cartridge)

https://www.ebay.com/itm/265197423776?hash=item3dbeff8ca0:g:JDUAAOSw1Itgvi6K

marantz, DD QL auto shut off

https://www.ebay.com/itm/184873002990?hash=item2b0b4a27ee%3Ag%3AIMcAAOSwLDJgu-0t&LH_BIN=1

denon DD fully automatic

https://www.ebay.com/itm/363276686908?hash=item5494fa563c%3Ag%3A8ycAAOSwvFhgFNLj&LH_BIN=1

perhaps others could add their knowledge of these models, I just included them as examples
....................................

jvc wood plinth, tt81, mission arm (fixed cartridge)

https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649697908-jvc-tt-81-with-mission-774sm-tonearm-and-custom-mexica...
....................................................................

or, build yourself a two arm TT, stereo arm and mono arm instantly ready to go. begin with 1 arm, add second later or never. 

jvc 2 arm plinth

https://www.ebay.com/itm/324409089345?mkevt=1&mkcid=1&mkrid=711-53200-19255-0&campid=533...

jvc TT71, quartz locked DD

https://www.ebay.com/itm/324554946167?mkevt=1&mkcid=1&mkrid=711-53200-19255-0&campid=533...

pick your arms




+10 on the Concept TT but just a suggestion to consider on upgrades. The Concept Wood is a $500 upgrade over the standard Black or Silver plinth. I noted in your opening that you like the aesthetics of the wood plinth but maybe consider performance also between the upgraded plinth or an upgraded tonearm. The Satisfy Carbon Fiber Tonearm could be a nice upgrade over the Satisfy Black Tonearm that you are considering. Keeping the cartridge out of the equasion a Concept Black or Silver TT with the upgraded Satisfy Carbon Fiber tonearm is about $2300. The Concept Wood with the Satisfy Black Tonearm is about $2,500. 
Or even better go with the Concept Wood and for only an additional $300 over what you are looking at now you can get the Satisfy Carbon Fiber Tonearm. 
Regardless of what you decide on the Concept TT is a great choice. 
Thank you all for the suggestions. At this point I am definitely leaning towards the Clearaudio Concept with Satisfy black arm and Hana SL with the KC Vibe MkII pre. Since I am not experienced with this I prefer to buy from a dealer that I know can setup the TT correctly for me. 
My only other deciding factor is what color concept. I know the wood options have an upgrade in sound from the wooden plinth, but I am concerned that neither wood would match on butcher block rack. I think the black and silver would sit well with the PrimaLuna and contrast against the wood rack. https://i.imgur.com/aaFBYjW.jpg
JM, several years ago, I did a considerable amount of research and critical listening (auditioning) looking for a TT upgrade. The TT’s on your short list are both fine choices. In fact, both of them and the Marantz TT15S1 (designed & built by Clearaudio to Marantz specifications) with Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood cart and the VPI Prime Scout were on my short list just prior to my purchase. I was just about ready to pull the trigger on the P6 when I ran into the Mobile Fidelity Ultradeck+M (with Mastertracker MM cartridge). As you know, Rega is a major proponent of low mass design. Although any TT should be set-up on a rock solid surface, this is critically important for a low mass design like a Rega. Have a read of reviews of the Mofi Ultradeck+M (e.g. Julie Mullins; Herb Reichert - to name but a few). Better yet, audition one if you can. I’ve been quite happily living with mine for the last 3 or 4 years or so and wholeheartedly agree with the reviewers analyses, especially Herb’s take: "The MoFi UltraDeck is one of the most lucid-, engaging-, and natural-sounding record players available for under $5000. Highly recommended." IMHO, for under $5,000 you can get a different sound signature from a few contenders but not better. The Mastertracker is the best MM cartridge I’ve ever heard; even better than some MC. Most of my vinyl collection is from the 60s & 70s and has always been lovingly cared for. I’m in the process, now, of running them through my ultrasonic cleaner and treating them with LAST. As long as your vinyl is clean and well cared for (dust is the enemy of records, TTs and styli) and you use a halfway decent phono pre-amp, you will not be disappointed with the Mofi. It’s also a great value if you live in the USA. Good Luck and welcome back to vinyl!

P.S.  I would recommend you put as much separation or space between your TT (or any TT, for that matter), your amp and pre-amp as possible.
Hello,
First I love the Sutherland KC Vibe. What I don’t think many know is he now has a new TZ Vibe now.This is a Micro LOCO preamp. MC only. The Little LOCO won the over all analog award back in 2018 or 2019. Same topography just scaled down. I asked the store where I was demowing the Little LOCO from to see if they could order one a TZ Vibe so I could demo it.  I think I am the first customer to listen to this preamp in the world. At $1400 it is very good. It has less weight in the sound than the Litttle LOCO but that might not be a bad thing. The other thing I love is no dip switches for setting up the MC cart. Plug and play. I was told by Ron Sutherland there are jumpers inside for the gain. + or - 6db. Which you can change it on the fly. Also, you can hook up two MC TT at the same time because there is no voltage on the inputs it reads the current instead. As far as the table I really love the Rega line a lot. Aside from the VTA they are fantastic tables. Hell, John Darko has a P2 with a ZU cart on it. If you are going to get a MC cart not made by Rega I would go with the Hana SL instead. For $750, this thing is a bargain. Regardless of the table you choose. Also as far as the fixed cables on the Rega it is not a big deal. Even MC says every connection you make degrades the sound. I believe in supporting our brick and mortar Hifi stores. If you want to listen to the P6 or the Sutherland TZ Vibe and you live near the Chicagoland area this is where I buy my gear:
https://holmaudio.com/
BTW, I am demoing the Rega P6 with the Ania MC cart on the Sutherland TZ Vibe right now. I do have to say the Ania Pro MC cart was better and I think worth the extra money due to the Diamond stylus. I hope this helps. 

Thank you all for the suggestions. At this point I am definitely leaning towards the Clearaudio Concept with Satisfy black arm and Hana SL with the KC Vibe MkII pre. Since I am not experienced with this I prefer to buy from a dealer that I know can setup the TT correctly for me.
My only other deciding factor is what color concept. I know the wood options have an upgrade in sound from the wooden plinth, but I am concerned that neither wood would match on butcher block rack. I think the black and silver would sit well with the PrimaLuna and contrast against the wood rack. https://i.imgur.com/aaFBYjW.jpg


First, wood always works with wood. Especially since the look and finish of the CA is enough contrast anyway. But more importantly, it is only a matter of time until you realize it will be so much better on Townshend Pods, or maybe a Platform, and the PL amp as well, and then you will have the best of both worlds, the looks and the sound. 

+1 on the Mastertracker MM cartridge. An amazing cartridge with great soundstage, lots and lots of bass…..surprising. I bought it “open box” from music direct for a second turntable I was working on a thorens td 165. What a great surprise. My point is moving magnet cartridges have come a long way in my opinion. 
@millercarbon..I agree with the value of adding the Townshend Pods but from your experience would you see the impact of the Pods being greater than the initial impact of upgrading the tonearm? Thanks.
Have heard the Dr. Feickert Volare. Really amazing.
@bajaed I am sure it is, its just way out of my price range.
A wood case sure perks any metal/plastic TT up. Seems they also sell just the cases for many models. I made one many years ago for my Thorens TD124, with leveling feet

https://www.ebay.com/itm/284314164864?hash=item423271de80:g:tvMAAOSwtfVgtALB
I have the Rega P6 with the Rega Exact MM cart and the Rega Fono stage. Meh is the best I can come up with to describe how I feel about it. My digital front end (Lumin S1) sounds a lot better than playing the same album on vinyl. Because of this, I rarely listen to vinyl nowadays. I don't know if it's because of that Rega Fono phono stage, the crappy built in rca's, the cart or something else. All is setup according to Michael Fremer's turntable set-up DVD (yes a DVD).  
Well, I thought I was all set on the CA Concept, but then I found the CA owners group on Facebook and joined. A lot of owners posted about issues with the motors needing to be replaced for speed issues. Started browsing down through other post and I see people complaining that the "Concept" logo on the front of the TT is crooked, and the photo proved someone was drunk at CA when they applied it, along with a lot of other complaints. The cheap feet they give you on the table is also a sign that I think CA just didn't put their heart into their entry level table, so it makes me think I need to look elsewhere. 
So I think I am going to pump the brakes for a year or so until I can save for something like a Feickert or VPI. I am sorry, I know the Rega's and MoFi are great TT, but I just can't get past the looks, not my style. I know its about sound but I just can't enjoy something if I don't care to look at it. I guess it will be all digital for another year or so. Thanks everyone for your help.
Never a bad idea to save and reach higher. Patience is a virtue.
“So I think I am going to pump the brakes for a year or so until I can save for something like a Feickert or VPI”

@jmphotography

Good call! As I suggested earlier, save up for Volare with Hana cart.
Hello,
Bad call. All of these manufacturers are raising their prices due to inflation. Get a VPI Prime 21 in wood. You can order their cart (AT Art 9 plus) for a few more bucks along with a weis cable( Nordost Blue Heaven) same price for wood or black. New Gimbal arm is very good. Pull the trigger or get ready with more money. 
If you are interested in the wood aesthetic, you may want to look at the Gold Note Pianoso which I believe sells for around 3 thousand dollars.  I have a Marantz tt15s1 with the Satisfy black tonearm which is a competent starter table and excellent at the price point.  I purchased a Gold Note Mediterraneo in walnut approximately 2 years ago, and it is a significant upgrade sonically and visually when compared to the Marantz.  I have never heard the Pianoso, but the wood on the Gold Note tables is stunning.  That said, all of the tables mentioned in this thread should provide you with a satisfying listening experience.
@millercarbon..I agree with the value of adding the Townshend Pods but from your experience would you see the impact of the Pods being greater than the initial impact of upgrading the tonearm? Thanks.

Done both. Still can't say. Put Pods under enough different things to say with confidence they are a very significant improvement. Changed tone arms as well and that is another really big one. With tone arms though they are all different and so not having heard yours I just can't say.  

A good tone arm, wow. Had a Graham 2.2, it is a really nice arm. Went to Origin Live Conqueror, could hardly believe how much better it was. No way any amount of Pods or BDR or fO.q tape or ECT or PHT, all of it together cannot touch what the Conqueror did. Which I guess is fitting, seeing as it cost more than all those put together! 

That's the thing. For what Pods cost it is hard to believe the same amount of money will buy an arm that much better. But you would probably never buy an arm "only" a couple hundred bucks more than what you have. Usually for a component upgrade to make sense it takes a larger increment. That is where the tweaks come in. They let you get the improvement with smaller incremental costs.
Shoot JM, get yourself a Clearaudio Statement and be done with it. The Goldfinger might just be a little rich so you can cheap out and get yourself a Lyra Atlas.
JM - 

I recently tried a Rega P6 with the Ania MC against a Clearaudio Concept and a MoFi Ultradeck.  I kept the Rega (and then bought not 1 but 2 LP12s - but that's another story).

For me, it was the best sounding of the three - it goes the best job with musical flow, pitch, timing, etc.  It also went lower than the Clearaudio and MoFi, with better definition.  There's a lot more technology in the Rega than meets the eye, as @mrklas pointed out above.  I also bought a Rega Aria Mk3 phono stage, which, as you'd expect, synergizes beautifully with the P6/Ania.  

Also, think about service and spares - which is something Rega, in particular, has been terrific about over the 45 years they've been making turntables.  

Do yourself a favor and buy Japanese MM cartridge with long history and good reputation. All those Rega or MoFi are inferior carts and people compare them to some other inferior cartridges trying to hear the difference.

Even dirt cheap Empire MI from the 70s is better than all of them.

Audio-Technica carts are great, I’m a big fan of AT-ML170 OFC and AT-ML-180 OCC, but they are very expensive. 
Hi. I had the same challenge when getting back into vinyl/audio. Same TT’s. Went with the Concept. As I had no opportunity to audition either, it was based on reviews and aesthetics. Plus, I had a Rega back in the 90’s, thought I would try something different. 
I had an issue with the lifter, It wouldn’t hold the arm up. And I did pull the motor and remount it as it was starting to get noisy.  I replaced the feet with spikes which I put onto aluminum discs which rested on thin sorbothane pads. The whole thing sat on a 40lb box filled with sand which was on a wall mount bolted to the studs.

A friend picked up the P6 which is a very nice deck. However, the VTA issue, has forced him to add spacers. Not sure it’s such a big issue from a performance standpoint, but it is a pain to adjust…





Build quality against VTA tweaking?

Surely it's no contest?

Back in my days of LP12 ownership I did experiment with adjusting VTA but it did next to nothing.

On the other hand even an increase or decrease of 1 gram of tracking weight was easy enough to hear.

None of this extra curricular dabbling into the hellish pits of audio nirvosa was ever necessary with my Rega Planar 3 / Nagoaka MP11 combo.
JM,

I was on a similar quest so I can relate to your question. You will receive a lot of different opinions that will more or less justify the various responders own buying decisions. The path they chose or their research effort might differ from your mission though.

Let your ears decide. Listen to as much kit as you can. I live in Seattle and heard TT systems costing as little as $1200 all the way up to $125,000. 
I started with an all Rega system plus a SONOS Connect as my streamer. I then set about upgrading everything. This included adding a Rega P6, Ania MC and a Rega Aria II for a phono stage. I then upgraded my amplification, speakers and digital source. I found new annoying things in my digital system which led to more changes and trial and error. My mission was getting more consistent satisfaction from my digital kit as I was getting from my turntable station. I found that you never quite get there.

I found myself being both hot and cold with buying and playing records once I had a really nice system. Lately I find it enjoyable to play records. I upgraded my phono stage to a Parasound JC3+ which is a nice upgrade from the Rega Aria. I have contemplated upgrading my table and cartridge but to be honest I am really enjoying the sound!

You would not be the first digital guy to think he should go all in with vinyl but later found himself still streaming most of the time. I think a lot of this is how you pick albums to buy, the access to record stores and the kind of music you enjoy. The quality of digital recordings can be great or cold and harsh. Same thing with vinyl. So I would not bother buying a top grade “last table I will ever buy” table right now. You might suffer from poor resale if you decide to back out. Same thing with records. I would go slow: get old favs, get known audiophile recordings and get new stuff to expand your horizon. But don’t buy records just to have a large instant collection. Go slow and compare the sound against your streaming system at different sound levels. Only you can determine if adding a record collection and table station is right for you…
Save up for a Rega P8 - much better arm, no plinth, you just see the spinning platter and a silver brace recessed attaching the arm, and the removable dust cover design is much better (I had a P5 which is the same or similar dust cover). I have a Sutherland Insight with linear power supply which is excellent and a van den Hul MC ONE special that is a little high for your budget, so look for a less expensive non-Rega cartridge. If you do get a good MM one and your preamp has a regular 47K ohm phono stage, you may be able to eliminate that expense.

Best to put it on a wall shelf because of its low mass design. Townshend platform a plus also, as a future upgrade, make sure to get the AA size or you won't get enough movevent in the pods to have any effect.