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When it comes to vintage turntables, nothing can beat the price/quality of Technics SP-10MKII (i use teak wood custom plinth), a little bit cheaper and quite rare is Technics SP-20 (i have a spare one). Adding tonearm like Victor UA-7045 will not make this combo much more expensive. Plinth or no plinth is a matter of taste. I would suggest Technics is the best DD choice when it's reasonably priced on used market (best buy, imo).
To me a new Music Hall MMF 2.2 or a Pro-ject Debut III from Music Direct, Audio Advisor etc. makes more sense. You’d have to step up $50 (both are $299), but you’d have a brand new table with the benefit of 40 years TT building experience. You obviously like vintage, and I get that sentiment (both styling/nostalgia or in the case of tubes, audio superiority). I sold mainstream audio in the 70- 80s in retail, and then some more esoteric stuff out of my house in the 90s. Ive sold and owned,(who hasn’t!), the PL12 or one of its variants. I doubt it offers the same degree of isolation between the cartridge and motor/ environment that the two newer tables would, (or track as well). In addition, that $50 gets you a new cartridge, belt, flawless dustcover, etc. You might get a new belt for the vintage Pioneer only to find out the four decades old motor is having issues. The new ones of course do have a warranty and typically a trial period, (tables may be tricky, so I’d check if you are concerned). Better yet, I’d run these prices by any local brick and mortar stores that carry these tables, I know my local Pro-ject dealer is very competitive with online sources.
Denon DP80 can "beat" SP10 Mk2 by a small margin. Can be found for $600 to $900. (I owned them both, both in custom slate plinths, ran them side by side in my system. End of editorial.)
What you may have heard from your un-named DD turntable may have been motor cogging, but it was definitely not "jitter". Jitter has a very specific definition related to digital audio technology. No need to muddy the water by misusing terms. Since you don't name the offending DD turntable, it is difficult to comment, but your experience with one particular sample does not prove that you would not enjoy some other refurbished vintage Japanese DD turntable, like either the SP10Mk2 or the Denon DP80 or any of several lesser models; other than the Technics brand, they are all relative bargains in today's market. By this I mean that the cost is a fraction of what you have to pay for similar performance from a new belt-drive. And then there's also the Lenco L75, for the biggest possible bang for the buck. Straight out of the box, the Lenco is excellent, but to get the most out of it, the Lenco is for a person who likes to tinker.
Dear Chakster, I guess I was responding to your bald statement that "nothing" can beat the SP10 Mk2, presumably in its price range and in the category of vintage direct-drive types. My remark was just meant in fun. However, I agree that "below $250" is not the price range for either the DP80 or the SP10 mk2. I've held on to my DP80, even though I do not use it regularly, just because the market value is so ridiculously low compared to its capabilities. (I listen to the SP10 Mk3 and the Kenwood L07D most of the time.) I'd prefer to have the DP80 around just to look at, rather than to sell it for the too low price it could command.
I don’t know any other top class turntables with such a high torque like the SP-10mk2 (or mk3). In terms of usability this is the best, i wish all my DD could immediately start/stop like the SP-10mk2 or at lest like the Technics SP-20. But none of them (Luxman PD-444 or Victor TT-101) can compete with Technics torque. Never tried Denon, but i’m sure the platter is like Victor’s. I know they have another advantages and i know why the torque is not that high and the platter is not so heavy. But for usability the high torque is amazing feature, that’s why it was studio broadcast turntable, that’s why even lower technics are "disco" turbtables.
The visual part of the hi-end gear is important for me too, i prefer the classics, in terms of design those SP-10mkII, SP-20 are so nice (but not in the stock obsidian plinth, imo).
All the Denon DD have an electronic brake and they do brake rather quickly. Not a quick as the Technics MK2/3 that use a mechanical brake. The BIG Denon the DN308 originally have a mechanical brake in addition to the electronic one. On my Rebuilds I do eliminate this as not stops with in a 1/4 revolution with the electronic one alone.