Looking for turntable for under $1000

I've been looking at turntables but don't want to spend over $1000. I like the Pro-ject line because they have RCA jacks at the base of the tonearm which allows the user to choose any interconnect he wants. Also like the fact that, unlike the Rega, the the VTA can be easily adjusted. I've narrowed it down to the Xpression ($500), RM-6 SB ($900) and the Xperience ($1000). Would be interested in all your thoughts. Thanks everyone. Bob
Watch for a used Basis 1400. They usually come with a Rega 300 or better. Same motor that is used on the Basis Debut and has a single set screw for VTA adjustment. Way better than the tables you mention. Of course this is assuming you will consider buying used. While the ability to swap out cables can be a positive, it is also adding an additional connection in the path of a very small signal. Something to think about it.

Good luck with your search!

Check out www.vinylnirvana.com for used quality tables.very nice stuff.....
Dan ed and Thorman - Thanks for your suggestions; it would appear that there is not much interest in Pro-ject tables here on Audiogon; probably should opt for a Basis or VPI.
For the VERY BEST, go for a Lenco. It is vinyl nirvana.
How about a used Linn LP-12? Also, consider a Rega P2 or P3.
I would ask this question in the Asylum...
Oregon - I'm not familar with the Lenco but will sure look into it. Thanks.
M16707 - I had a Linn LP-12 back in the late 70s; it was a wonderful table but continually went out adjustment; evenually went to a CJ Walker and then to a Heybrook TT2 which I liked better. I'm now seriously considering the Rega P3 with Rega Elys 2 cartridge; all I would have to do is set the tracking force and I would be ready to play albums. Thanks for your thoughts.
Owned a number of TTs under 2K, and the fully KAB modded technics really stands out for value, sound quality, reliability, and ease of use/setup (this is often overlooked by those getting into vinyl who are not very experienced or don't like endless tweaking).
Why not a brand new Technics? Seems the belt drive only hysteria has subsided over the years. Hard to beat for the price.
Nzera & Pbb - are you talking about the old Technics SL-1200 direct drive turntable? Had one of those a long time ago. What does the KAB mod consist of?
The new improved Rega P3 and motor controler upgrade due out in a couple months with the various aftermarket upgrades including VTA adjuster, Boston Audio Design Mat1, Kerry Audio Design F2 counterweight, might be the sweet spot to beat.
Bob - Check the KUBUSA site for the Technics. Many folks think highly of them. Also, I just ordered a 2Xperience. There's a thread on it started by "reddmadder" on the Vinyl Asylum. Here's one my replies:

I just went through this exercise and ended up ordering a Pro-ject 2 Xperience at $999 w/a Sumiko Pearl catridge included. My currnet table is an MMF-5 with a Golring 1012. It's difficult to make a decision because it's nearly impossible to get several or even one loaner to listen to in your listening room. On your choices:
1. The MMF-7 comes with a Goldring Eroica cartridge. I don't think you can order one without one. Given the reliable performance and of my MMF-5, and favorable comments on AA, I considered purchasing the 7.

2. Horizon - I was never able to listen to any of the Nottingham's but they sure get good comments. I think there's a new Horizon SE with an RB250 arm on A'gon right now. You'll have to purchase a cart for the Horizon, so add another $200 - $500.

3. Emotion - I did listen to the Emotion but in an entirely different system than mine. It sounded quite good with Benz Micro, high output Ace ~ $550, I think. Also the Emotion doesn't come with a dust cover. That's an additional $175 or so. It has an Acrylic platter and I wanted to try something else.

4. You might want to look at the Marantz TT-15SI which is basically an Emotion with a few changes. It is delivered with a Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood Cart for about $1,750 for the package. Go to the Music Direct website.

I purchased the Pro-ject because:

1. I've heard and liked several systems with the 9c arm.
2. I like the idea of the platter composition.
3. The Pearl cart is "ok", and it provides an opportunity to upgrade later.
4. Dust cover is included. (not a major factor)
5. I wanted to buy local, and this was one of my choices that this dealer had, the other being the Emotion.

Hell, I may not like the table once it gets here, but I do think it will be an improvement over the MMF-5. If it's not, I'll try again. If my passion for vinyl continues to grow, then I'll start looking at some of the high-end stuff. Hope this helps. Good luck!
Piedpiper - wow that's interesting; maybe it would be best at this point to just wait for the new Rega P3; it's about time Rega did something about the speed, which has always been slightly fast, and also the VTA (that's sure been a long time coming). Thanks for the heads up. Bob
Really - go for a REGA sir! You cant go wrong...

Just in case my post was confusing, I was suggesting getting the new improved Rega P3 and adding the moter controler upgrade and the other aftermarket upgrades including the VTA adjuster, counter wieght and mat. You can do the upgrades over time if you like. As far as I know, the new stock P3 will not include an easy way to adjust VTA.
See this thread for info and testimonials from Lenco maniacs. The table is a serious, true audiophile, INCREDIBLE machine. Note Jean Nantais's posts as he deserves the credit for sharing his ideas and hard work. I have built 3 and i am in the process of completing 2 more.
This past weekend a local audiophile placed his $4k table on the auction block after hearing one of my tables in his Naim system. Same thing happened 2 months ago with another audio local.
Before you make a decision, see the "systems" and read through the thread.
"Building high-end 'tables cheap at Home Despot II"

Midirons - thanks very much for your comments. It will be interesting for you to hear how the 2 Xperience compares with the MMF-5; if nothing else the Xperience sure looks a heck of a lot nicer. I read up a little on the Horizon; Michael Fremer talked about it in his column in the Feb. 2003 Stereophile where he compared it with the Rega P3 and the SOTA Comet; interesting article. By the way I had the Emotion and wasn't very impressed; it's a pretty table but the tonearm looks kind of cheap; especially compared to the Rega arms. Thanks again for your thoughts. Bob
Piedpiper - thanks for clarifying that.
Oregon - I will take a look at the Lenco; thanks very much for your input. Bob
Direct drive or idler wheel drive at this price point. Belts are a real waste of money anyway you put it.
I considered the Lenco, but after watching several E-Bay auctions and reading several Lenco threads, it became clear that the investment was eventually going to exceed $1000 once a better plinth was built and a good tonearm was purchased. I decided I was more interested in a plug-n-play solution. The KAB Technics SL 1200 series tables would be at or near the top of my list at the $1000 price point due to their reputation and ease of use.
KAB 1200--the Creature on steroids? It's not 'audiophile approved'. Wait, what happened on TNT reviews? Oh...one of those Creatures w/out the revved up power supply smoked a MMF-9. That wasn't too much of a challenge. Totally revvved up Creatures do go in the $5K performance level.

I'd just suggest you throw a Dynavector 10x5 cart on that P3 instead of a Rega cart.
Midirons - thanks very much for your comments. I went through a similar exercise and ended up ordering the Pro-ject RM-5 today; it is the most recent table to be brought out by Pro-ject to compete with the Rega P3. There's a great review of the RM-5 on 6moons (notice how the sub platter resembles that of a Rega):

Synthfreek - thanks for your suggestion; that's a very good choice; I heard it is definately better than the Rega cartridge. Bob
The P3 doesn't come with a cartridge.
Well I'm curious to see how the Pro-ject RM-5 compares to the Rega P3. I'll know soon. Bob
Just a thought: seems like VTA would be easy to adjust on a Rega with some kind of mat type interface of different thicknesses between platter and subplatter or between platter and mat.
Do you have a P3 around for comparison?
Piedpiper - yes I do; bought the P3 a while back but have not been completely happy with it; I'm very curious to see how the RM-5 compares.
Excellent, I'll be curious to hear what you think. Bear in mind the option of upgrades.
Bob - Congratulations! My Xperience is supposed to arrive today or tomorrow. On the cart, I'm just going to use the Sumiko pearl that comes with it for a few weeks/months. The Dynavector noted above would be good match as would the Sumiko's. I was also advised to try a B&O cartidge.

Also, you can always purchase a Speedbox or Speedbox SE, which I understand is a nice upgrade. Good luck!

If you start asking about a cart, start another thread.This one's getting too long for me............:)
As far as I know B & O carts only fit B & O arms.

You can improve the sound of the Pearl by removing the stylus from the cart body and snipping off the plastic housing around the metal insert before reinserting. Considering the price of the stylus it's pretty low risk. I've done it to numerous Pearls for a bit more transparancy. I usually use a band saw, very carefully!
Thank you, Piedpiper. I understand that there is an adaptor although I haven't researched if they're still available. Thinkin' about it, that could end up being a lot work just for a certain type of cartridge. Also, thanks for the tip on the Pearl. I will try that.
Thanks everyone; the RM-5 is being delivered tomorrow so I'll be able to compare it to the P5 over the weekend. I'll post the results within the next week or so. Will be picking up a Speedbox also; there seems to be a general consensus that the Speedbox brings the level of performance of the Pro-ject table up a notch.
Midirons - I'm very curious how you like your Xperience; I was seriously considering this table and decided to try the cheaper RM-5 first. The Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 is the cartridge I have been using; very nice for the money. I'll be comparing the RM-5 to my friend's latest version of the Rega P3 over the weekend; should be interesting. The people at the place I got the RM-5 from prefer the RM-5; they are a Rega dealer as well as a Pro-ject dealer.
It won't come in until tuesday, so I'll post something a few days after that. THe dealer from whom I purchased mine has an EMotion set-up, so, if I have any exta time, we are going to try and do a comparision. ( I live in the New Orleans area. Things are still a MESS here. Extra time is rare. Good thing I have music!) Feel free to email me through a'gon if you like.
The RM-5 was delivered yesterday and I have been listening to it with a great degree of satisfaction. I've owned a variety of turntables (Linn LP-12, Rega Planar 3, VPI Scout, Clearaudio Emotion, etc.) and have to say this Pro-ject table is really a wonderful performer; I think I have found a keeper. Will be doing some additional tweeking over the rest of the weekend but at this point the sound is very impressive.
Not sure where you live. If you can find someone with a Lenco in your 'hood, or even a hundred miles, it will be well worth the time and trouble. I've seen Well Tempered, Nottinghams, Regas, Music Halls fall to the DIY Lenco within the last 12 months alone. Last night I hosted an audio night. We tried my Denon 103, 103 R and a friend's Grado- they all sound fabulous throughout the range, especially the mids.
I hope you have the oppurtunity. Come by my place if you'd like. The room is always ready.
Oregon - thanks for your thoughts on the Lenco; I don't think anyone around here has one. Is the Lenco still being made?
Bob, I'd really like to hear what you think of the Pro-ject RM-5. It's been on my mind since I read the review at 6moons:


The price point is exceptional and the design is sleek. It reminds me of the old Micro Seiki DQX-500. There's scant information about Pro-ject tables in the Agon forums. It would be nice if could do some sort of review or follow up. Did you pick up the Musical Surroundings Phonomena? Have you chosen a cartridge? -Mark
Mingles - I really like the Pro-ject RM-5; it sounds superb and is very easy to set up in terms of the overhang, VTA and tracking force. The only negative thing I see about the table is that, after setting the anti-skate, there is a slight tendency for the arm to want to drift toward the outer edge of the record as it is being lowered. This may be due to the fact that I am using a very lightweight cartridge (the Ortofon X5 only weighs 4.1 grams). Have the tracking force set at 2.1 grams. The table comes with both a felt and cork mat. I have been listening to the cork mat recently which seems to provide a more neutral sound with better dynamics. For $650 this table is hard to beat.
Bobgates, does your Pro-Ject arm have the three-position anti-skate adjustment with the weight-and-fishing line device? I'm guessing it does because the arm and the arm on my MMF-7 are similar if not the same (yours might be carbon while mine is not).

Anyway, I was checking the anti-skate with the HiFi News Analog Test LP, and even with the fishing line at the last position on the arm, it caused a buzz in the left channel of the test LP on a couple of the test tracks (there should be no buzz). In other words, I am not able to apply enough anti-skate to satisfy the test record.

I mentioned to Roy Hall an idea I had to add a heavier weight to the anti-skate device in order to add more force, and Roy's reply was, "Throw away the test LP and listen to music."


Music does sound good.

My arm does not drift to the outside when lowering to the LP. In fact, it drifts in slightly while being lowered.
Bob, I'm glad you like the table. I think the drift is due to the fact that the Ortofon X5 is too light for the tonearm. 4.1 grams is at the lower limit for the counterweight. The 9c is not a low mass arm. You can see from Pro-ject's web site that the optimal cartridge weight is between 6-10g:

Effective tonearm mass 9,5g
Supplied counterweight cartridge weight 6 - 10g
Optional counterweights cartridge weight 10 - 15g and 4 - 6g

You'll get better sound (in particular, better bass) from a properly matched cartridge. The effective mass of an arm and cartridge plays a key role in how the needle tracks the groove.

However, if you plan to keep the Ortofon and the drift continues to be a problem, you might think about putting a small amount of light tacky glue (like reusable glue) on the lift bar that lowers the arm. I know this doesn't sound elegant, but it works.
Tvad - I had the MMF-7 a few years ago and yes the Pro-ject tonearm is very similar with the weight and nylon thread for anti-skate; it also has the choice of three places on the arm to attach the thread; I have it on the lowest setting or the notch that is closest to the pivot point.

Mingles - what cartidge would you recommend for the Pro-ject RM-5 tonearm? I like to stay under at a $400 or less budget when it comes to cartridges.
Just got a used MMF-7 that has a Grado Gold cart, $710 plus shipping. I'm not lusting for the scout That I heard at my local dealer.

Bob, I'm a big fan of the Denon DL-103R. It's 8.5 grams with a tracking force of 2.5g. It's a killer cartridge for the price, but don't take my word for it, read this review:


Of course, there are better cartridges (Shelter 501, Sumiko Blackbird, Koetsu Black, all come to mind), but you'll pay quite a bit more. There's an unopened DL-103R for sale on Agon right now for $249. You can also buy one from www.audiocubes.com for $259. The only issue you need to be aware of is that it's low output and needs 60 db of gain. What is your phono pre?
I looked at the Tonearm Database on Cartridgedatabase.com, and according to the chart, the Denon carts are not good matches with the Pro-ject arms.

Shelter 501 MK II, Benz Micro Ace, and Shure V15 III are all good matches (I threw the last one in as an out-of-the-box suggestion...)