Look for longevity of design and a clear upgrade path for the future. Get a used LP12 and have a dealer tune it up. When Linn introduced the Cirkus bearing for the LP12 a few years ago, many owners traded in their relatively new bearings. There are still many floating around the used market for buyers of older tables. Where are you going to get service for a SOTA or Micro Seiki? Even an ancient LP12 can be slowly upgraded to new specs. Given that a turntable is a mechanical aparatus, proper setup is vital for good sound: spring tuning, bearing oil, arm adjustment, cartridge alignment, even new drive belts count. Linn dealers have always given great service to me. Tune ups every two or three years have been free of charge, even though I bought most of my Linn gear used. A Linn dealer will have leads on good used gear for cheap. This way, he can sell new stuff to the customer trading in. Be forewarned, your budget for LPs will explode!
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