Help with TT ideas for my first TT

Hi All,

I have been reading alot of reviews and searching around for my first TT.  ALot of recent recordings that i want are basically only coming out on vinyl or super crappy mp3.  I have an Aaron integrated amp, with some custom built SB Acoustic Monitors (Bromo).

I am looking at the marketplace in the 1 - 1.5k range and see I can find alot of different solutions and wanted to get peoples thoughts:

Marantz tt-15 - Seems like  bargain at 1500, but difficult to setup
Clearaudio Concept - good reviews, bumps against the magnetic arm (Cement floor at my place)
Music Hall MMF 7.3 - Seems like a great solution
VPI Cliff Wood
Pro-ject X1 or X2 - Have read some reports of motor noise
Rega Planar 2 or 3 - Seems to be they are what they are

With such a crowded field how do people choose?  I live in Central Mass, and dont have alot of options in terms of auditions so would love to get peoples thoughts. 
Rolled my own phono cable, and it seemed to have taken some of the top end brightness off the system.  What fun the tweaking is.
Continue to listen and it seems to be coming along.  The phone cable I put together I think is better than my reused rcas.

morphine is sounding really good.  
Can a cart change make really a huge difference? Looking at a clear audio virtuoso v2 for what seems to be a good price.

Can a cart change make really a huge difference?

huge, as in bigger than big :)
Is it the biggest contributor to a decks sound?  Looking at the ultra versus studio they seem pretty close except for the carts.

Have a lead on a Clear Audio Virtuoso v2 for about four bills, which seems to be reasonable and what was in the Marantz.  Would this make a big jump compared to my studio tracker?

Is it the biggest contributor to a decks sound? Looking at the ultra versus studio they seem pretty close except for the carts.

No, the cart is not the only difference between the two. The Ultra has a heavier platter, a better bearing, actually uses a sapphire thrust pad, similar to what is used in my SOTA Sapphire, thus it’s name, the Ultra uses a layer of aluminum in its plinth vs only MDF, the Ultra has Cardas wiring in the arm, the arm on the Ultra is also internally dampened and the bearings used are better. So no, there are other differences between the two, not just the carts used. I was strongly considering the Ultra before going the SOTA route with separate arm and cartridge.

Be careful not to ‘chase’ something you think you are missing just by swapping carts. I’m certainly not saying the Cearaudio may not be an Improvement, it may be, it should be. If you can get it for $400, that is a good deal, but how many hours does it have on it? That isn’t a stylus you can replace yourself.

I guess the question should be; what are you trying to improve? What do you think is lacking? And most importantly; what are you trying to make it sound like? Are you comparing it to something else?