Rega P25 with good cartridge ~$1800. Record Cleaning machine ~$500. $200-700 for records, (to start).
Most suspensionless TTs, and arms in your range have similar setup issues. It is more of a matter of a more precise setup yielding better sound. Basically the exception would be the P25 with a rega cartridge, and cartridges that are less dependent on VTA, such as the Dynavectors. Sonically the Nottingham Interspace ($1000) w/ Ol-250 ($480) and Dynavector 20x-H ($380) is superior to the P25 with Exact, but there is a tradeoff in looks and the P25 is a nice sounding table. In general, what you describe sounds like what i have heard said about and seen from the Basis 1400. I have seen package deals on the internet that includes the 1400 with a rega arm (i would opt for the rb-600) and a Benz MC or Glider. Do you have a dealer in your area? If you do not want to deal with setup, that would be the route i would take. Good luck, have fun.
I am in the same boat as you are right now. And with that, I am planning to ultimately spend about $2,500.00 on an analog system as well, though I am going to do so over the next couple of years. What I am going to do is acquire the phono stage this year and see if I can make due with a Thorens until I get the table I really want (which means I want to start enjoying vinyl THIS year). But over the next couple of years, here's what I hope to end up with (not to say that this is the combination that you may want. I will put another one out there just for you in a moment):
Phono Stage: Monolithic PS-1 Dual Mono Phono Stage + HC-1 Dual Mono Power Supply (to be bought separately).
Interim Turntable: Either a Thorens TD150, TD160, TD165 or TD166 (from August 2002 to about October 2003).
Turntable/Arm System: Either a Rega Planar P25 with RB600 Arm or a VPI Aries Scout with JMW-9 Arm.
Phono Cartridge: Grado Reference Sonata.
Record Cleaning Machine: Nitty Gritty Mini Pro 1.
Cables: MITerminator 2 or Cardas (their MOL cable).
But now, here is a combination that you can try as well:
Phono Stage: Monolithic PS-1 + HC-1 -- $658.00.
Turntable/Arm System: Rega Planar R25/RB600 -- $1,200.00.
Cartridge: Clearaudio Aurum Beta MkII -- $350.00, Dynavector 20XL -- $525.00, or the Grado Reference Sonata (the one I am going to end up with) -- $500.00.
Record Cleaning Machine: Nitty Gritty 2.5Fi Vacumn Record Cleaning Machine -- $625.00.
Cables: Cardas (don't know which ones, nor how much you want to spend) -- $500.00.
I will re-interate again, the first combination listed is the one that I am striving for (but of course, you are welcome to audition as well, if it turns out to be your cup of tea), and the second one was the one that you may try out. But if you come up with other substitutions or suggestions, try those out as well.
Good Luck as you start to seek out and put together your analog system. I know you're going to have as much fun as I am.
I cant be quiet about this. If you want good looks, go to circuit city and buy a goddamn sony with all the pretty lights. They even have remotes that let you set every band on the 400 band EQ that is built in. I understand that the model that still has a phono section had the budget increased to allow for 1.20 worth of guts behind the phono plugs.
OY VEY..... LP-12 is about as solid a table as you can get. With any of the Linn gear, you get about as close to what was put on the vinyl pie as is possible.
While I agree with the advice of a good record cleaner, I would listen through the dust that remained after a brushing in order to get the best arm/cart as possible.
My suggested system: LP-12 Val/pwr suppl. Rega arm and one of the billion carts out there.
Talk to David Wilson @ Accent on Music in Mt Kisco NY
(914)242-0747. You can get a used one and have him look the thing over for you. I have seen people pay big money for substandard tables when they could have bought a used Linn and had David go through it for the same $$$ and in the end had a MUCH better deck.
If you want pretty, take the money you saved and buy some art for your wall. :>)
By the way, I love your handle. My family are big fans of early Sat Night Live. Mine is from Ace Venture Pet Detective 2 when when Jim Carey is trying to speak the tribal language and says, "Bumblebeetuna".
Anyway, about the looks thing. As I said, I wouldn't substutue looks for performance but your comments assume the two things are mutually exclusive. For example Nottingham Spacedeck is a beautiful table and is long on performance also. I like the look of VPI in general and the Aries in particular. I am sure there are others.
I spend as more time looking at my equipment than listening and I really appeciate the art behind engineering and design. I will not apologize for this and don't think others should either. This is a legitimate part of the hobby for those who are visually driven.
Some people see beauty in elaborate designs and others see it in the simple straight foward approach. Like I think the new Hovland amp is state of the art and others would think it is guady. Some would think the Audio Research is rather bland and others would see the simple lines, traditional design, and almost retro look the best thing there is.
With that said, I like the look of Rega and Linn because they have a sort of retro feel with a simple straight forward approach but I prefer something more toward the Nottignham but I would seriously consider both.
However, I have heard that Linn's are hard to set up and difficult to maintain and I want something I can set up and forget about. I think the vynl itself represents enough of maintenance without adding more.
I don't want to skip the record cleaning and I don't think I will need to but if it came down to it and I was at the end of my budget I would take the table/arm/cartridge over the cleaner and plan for that purchase as soon after as possible.
by the way, I want new wall art also...:)
Zero set up issues brings one table to mind... A wall mounted Planar 3!
Pretty too. I know where there is a rare wall mount for one of these (made by rega) my buddy might be willing to part with.
But LP-12 horror stories are a bit "puffed" from what I have read. Once set up, they dont have to see the tech for years at a time.....carts need attention in between, but you cant get away from that regardless.
My Linn has not seen the wizard in 5+years and still is fine. Based on the listening time I have had since the last session with David, I would call it a bargain.
Pardon the sarcasm about the looks, but I am of the op. that sound is all that matters.
(But, you know.......I hear true canvas brings out vocals better than a print hehehe ;>)
Where are you? as in State?
Gumb...no thats Gumbydammit, not just Gumb,
Kansas city. Thanks for the ideas. Yes you represent one of the folk on one end of the specturm, or near the end, and I am definately left of center when it comes to looks but again, I won't compromise sound for looks, but I don't think a person needs to.
How far right are you anyway? I dealt with Mappleshade and bought some of the Omega Micro cable. Now there is someone committed to sound only. His cables build quality is appalling but I would stack them up against anything I have heard so far. I understand in his place he has all his cables suspended by string from the ceiling to try and ensure totally 0 dialectric. By the way, I would own them again. They aren't pretty but they sure are interesting.
Oh well, that is what makes this hobby fun, there is something for everyone and there is such a diversity in taste.
I am really leaning toward the Nottingham since I think I can get looks, simplicity, and performance.
I am very excited but need to keep control because it will be awhile before I can do anything. I am in the middle of buying some other gear so the waiting begins. But, my day will come and analog will be in my life! :)
Thanks again to everyone for your input it has been helpful.