Is the Merill "Gem Dandy" turntable far superior in sound than the Project RPM-3 TT??

I am thinking of selling my Thorens TD 145 which was upgraded, but has overstayed its welcome on my audio rack. Therefore,   I have initially looked at the Project RPM-3 turntable which has been improved and is also packaged with a Sumiko Blue Point 2 moving coil. The official retail is $ 999.00 on Audio Adviser and the Needle Doctor

However, I read a recent review in Stereophile about  George Merrill's "Gem Dandy" turntable which retails for $1695 with A Jelco SA-750 (9 inch tonearm), or $1495 with the Jelco SA-250 ( 9 inch  tonearm)  Both  DON'T COME WITH A CARTRIDGE.  I have seen a few already on sale used on Audiogon.

Would like some feedback from any member about either the Project table cited above or the two Merrill tables with different tonearms.   Will either of the Merrill tables be far superior to the Project in sound quality?? And is it worth the extra money, plus a quality cartridge would have to be added.with the Merrill's TT. which ups the bottom line in price 

Thank you


I think if you change cartridges infrequently, the Project package would be the best bet; if, however, you like  to change cartidges around a lot the Jelco allows you to do so in 5 minutes or  so because of its detachable headshell.
At around your price point, you could get into a used VPI Scout.  I have had mine for 7 years and have no desire to change.
Merrill Gem Dandy is a quality deck

Thanks to all who have responded so far.  i appreciate your suggestions

To boofer,  I really don't change cartridges that often. My only concern with the Project RPM-3 is its overall performance;. and, I wished it was packaged with the Sumiko Blue Point Evo III which is supposedly a better sounding cartridge than the BP-2 and only retails for $50.00 more.

 The more "traditional" looking. Project's 2Xperience SB is packaged with either one but  the package retails for $1599 through several internet buyers. That is a $600 jump.  I am sure  latter table may sound better and comes with a dustcover, but is worth $600. more

I personally don't care for the Project arm's fishline antiskating system., Also, for reasons I have stated, I like a detachable headshell, as I interchange 15 different cartridges. Have you considered Regas, as they come with a dustcovere [but so does the2Experience, which may be your best bet.] Sounds like you want a MC cartridge, and I guess most people don't care about the fishline.
The new model Rega planar 3 is highly reviewed and you can purchase it at Needle doctor and upgrade to the evo3 for less than  $1600 ; they will install the cartridge, make sure  all set up parameters are correct, etc., and also provide free shipping. The  knowledgeable technicians will also provide over the phone consultations. Just say'n.

Boofer, Thank you for heads up about Rega Planar 3.  I wish Rega would stop changing models so quickly.

I owned Rega P3-24 for a few years; It was replaced by the RP-3; now that has been replaced by Planar P3.  I assume that this table is going to be  far superior than my previous Rega P3-24. If not, then  it is  not worth it.   However, I will check out the Rega's website to see if the new P3 is available. 

BTW, the Project RPM-3 does not use  "fishline" anti-skating.. which I also don't like..   Thanks   

I stand corrected! I looked at a video of the RPM3 and it clearly shows the more traditional antiskating dial in mechanism. Why don't you talk to one of the technicians and see how much more the Evo 3 would be ?  I've owned the Planar 3 and 5, RP6 and 8, also a Music Hall 5.1 SE and Project Expression 3. At the $1000 or so price point, I also would go with your first choice.

Boofer,  No problem.   I did check with Sumiko which I discovered is the USA distributor for Project.  I asked the tech rep if the Project RPM-3 could be order with the Blue Point Special Evo III  He claimed no and seemed a bit unsure. 

Nevertheless, I saw an ad on AG for a Music Hall 7.3 with a Ortofon Bronze cartridge, but it was  more money than Project RPM-3.  I ask internet vendor  the same question about the  Project and whether the Evo III could be substituted for BP-2. for $50.00 more;  his reply  did not make much sense so I did pursue.the issue 

I think issue about making such a substitution, is  that Project probably buys BP-2 by the ton which reduces their best column "COST" to half or better. As I mentioned before, the 2BXpression comes with a choice of either the BP-2 or the BPS Evo III ( the latter has a high and low out put version) Audio Advisor sells it either way for $1599  which seems a bit strange considering the Evo III's retail is 50.00 more than BP-2.

 I wish they had given that option with the RMP-3. However, they probably want customers to step -up and buy the 2BXpression table if you want the better cartridge, and so collect $600 more. In comparison, 2B Expression probably is a better sounding table with better specs

However, I am going to check out the new Rega Planar P3 table on their website  Nevertheless, thanks for you advice.

Comparing the tables is really a matter of preference.  Some people really like all the colorations introduced by Rega tables.  Others prefer the more neutral performance of the Merrills.

The Jelco SA-750 is a significantly better arm than the -250.  Both are good, but the -750 is well worth the price difference.
I agree with bpoletti about preference regarding turntables; by the way, if you look closely, the 2b experience has the fish line cleaverly concealed in back of the counterweight rather than out in the open unlike the dial in system on the rpms. let us know the outcome.

To bpoletti.  I owned  a Rega P3-24 TT issued in 2008. It came with Elys cartridge which was trashed during a transit to Hawaii I happened to put a few hours on that spike, and was quite impressed with the sound. However, after the stylus collapsed, I bought a Dynavector 10X5 MC which is far superior in performance.   I never felt or discerned any colorations in the overall sound that you mentioned with either cartridge and, I listen to variety of music.

The Merrill Gem Dandy despite good reviews is overpriced, and may not sound any better than Project RPM-3  or, new Rega Planar P3, or the Music Hall Accura table. Yes, Merrill has been making tables for decades, but so has a lot of other engineers like Rega's Roy Gandy.

The review on the Project table in HI-FI News in 2015.(?) was very strong, noting its good  build and sound quality. At the time, it was pre-packed with an Ortofon 2M Blue which is OK. ( I used one with the Rega P3-24 ) It is now prepacked with a Sumiko BP-2, though Sumiko would have served their buyers better, if pre-packed with a Sumiko Blue Point Special Evo III which is supposedly an excellent MC 

I may have to buy the Rega Planar P3 so as to acquire thet Evo III installed The early reviews have been good/.  However, vendors like  The Needle Doctor and Elusive Disc are not running any summer fire sales, and allow just a 10% discount, and buyer also pays shipping. Both  carry Rega and Project tables.   

To Boofer, Thanks for the tip about the fishline anti-skating on the Project 2BXpression TT. I never used one of those devices that was either reliable or accurate.

To each their own.  Like I said, some people like the colorations of the Rega.
Thread title:
Is the Merrill "Gem Dandy" turntable far superior in sound than the Project RPM-3 TT??

Given that the Merrill is only $500 more than the Pro-Ject, it only needs to be incrementally better, not "far superior."

If it were $2500 vs. $1000, it should be immediately noticeably better, but still not "far superior."

To make an illustration from (the "golden age" of stereo, the Technics SL1200 DD ’table was $350 in 1975. The Hitachi P-38 was $250. Adjusted for inflation the Technics would be $1556 and the Hitachi would be $1112 today. That’s roughly the same price difference adjusted for inflation. The Hitachi had an MDF plinth finished in rosewood-grain vinyl. The Technics had the aluminum/synthetic constrained layer construction and more sophisticated controls. It was better built and probably held up better, but to my ears didn’t really sound better. IME good imaging and soundstage came easily to the Hitachi while it's proved elusive with the Technics. Anyway, a $100 increase in 1975 is equivalent to a $500 increase in 2016, and while we expected some sort of "improvement" for that $100, nobody expected "far superior" for $100 in 1975.

The GEM Dandy may be worth the difference just for the fluid-damped Jelco arm. And while I like the Pro-Ject Carbon line, I really get some use out of interchangeable headshells, esp. when I want to spin some mono records with a mono cartridge.

I have numerous tables (custom Garrard 301, 401, Rega RP3 and RP6; Luxman PD-444 and 555; VPI TNT and Scout; Analog Seduction; Scheu; Technics SP-10 MkIII to name a few) all were used with a variety of tonearms (SME, Schroeder, Wheaton, FR, Stax) and cartridges too many to mention.  I now own a Merrill Gem Dandy Poly table with the Jelco 750 10" arm and a Hana low out put MC cartridge.....  I can confidently say that the Merrill is one EXCEPTIONAL table that performs way beyond its price tag of $2000.  Don't be fooled by the price tag....this table is one awesome sounding tt, with or without the price as a consideration....
I realize that this is a ancient thread, but since Samurai bumped it I just want to share:

NEVER buy a pro-ject table packaged with a Sumiko Blue Point 2 - You're paying a large premium for what is essentially one the crappiest cartridges for the money that I've ever heard (been there/ done that).

Just sayin'

Greg. Thank you for your comment. It is useful if I go shopping for a new cartridge, or cartridge and table.    S.J
I know this is thread hasn't been active for a bit.  Samurai2, I'm wondering where you landed on a phono preamp.  I've got the GEM Dandy with the Jelco 750E (10") and the Hana EL cart.  Currently using an Emotiva XPS-1 and am sure I could get some pretty significant performance increases by upgrading.  Looking in the $500 +/- range but could be convinced to go higher.  Any advice you might provide would be much appreciated.  Gabe
Samurai 2, so you would pick the gem dandy over the vpi scout? Getting ready to purchase my next turntable and have been researching the two.
I heard a friend's Scout with a 2M Red. Not the greatest cartridge but the combo did nothing for me. I like a clear and transparent sound and this was veiled and grey. If you go for the Poly, get the better Jelco arm.

One thing is for sure , most bang for the buck is Project .
Don't buy a Scout without hearing/using it first!
YMMV but I can't think of a table in that price range that I like less.
Getting ready to purchase a turntable. Trying to decide between vpi scout and gem polytable. I already purchased a soundsmith zephyr star. Any comments to help my decision would be greatly appreciated!
twoerner-- I'm with Samuri on this one and would go with the Polytable. George Merrill is a master turntable engineer and I believe the Polytable is one of his masterpieces of sound quality. I also am a huge fan of both the Hana cart and Jelco tonearms he offers. And yes the 750 is SO much better than the 250 discussed in the earlier posts, but the 750 has been discontinued. They now have the 550, 850 and 950. The 550 is the closest replacement for the 750 but needs the HS-25 headshell with adjustable azimuth IMHO. I use and love the 850 and recommend it because it's better able to accommodate today's lower compliance MC carts (higher mid weight arm), particularly with a Rosewood Jelco headshell that George sells for just $99! That combo handles my Zephyr III wonderfully and even my Koetsu Urushi Gold.
@sunnyjim What did you end up doing?