Consider the new Rega P2 (with the P3 motor) or the Project 2.1. I have the Rega and love it, the Project comes already with a Sumiko cart mounted - just plug and play.
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I had an MMF-5 for several weeks and upgraded to the MMF-7 because I loved the 5 so much. However, I find that the MMF-7 is a bit trickier to set up, and even though the MC cartridge is high output, you still need an MC phonostage. My integrated only had a MM stage, so I was forced to obtain a new phonostage. I do believe that the MMF-7 has a more detailed, livlier sound, but the MMF-5 was full-bodied and exciting as well. If I were to do it over again, I would keep the MMF-5, then make a substantial upgrade later. I would have been happy with the 5! Just my 2 cents.
Quote: "...was thinking of getting the best bang for the buck table/cartridge combo for under 1K."
Quote: "I want a table set up that will satisfy forever that I will not tire of or find too finiky."
Krell1, I had those same two issues you have now when I resumed my hobby after a six year 'leave of absence'. I carefully examined my choices and went the modded Technics 1200 way. The modded 1200 is a hard sell, anathema to the Voodoo crowd. However it *does* fill the criteria you have stated above. If that's what you're really searching for, the modded 1200 wins hands down.
I have 700 LPs vs 300 CDs, and a nice, extrememely musical sounding high end setup. The modded 1200 is my main tool and I am really satisfied with its performance. Along with an Ortofon X5 high output MC I got brand new for $110 (from 2Juki) and my Monolithic Sound PS-1 phono stage, it outperforms my CDP/DAC combo. It's a no brainer, even for people who are not audiophiles and listen to my system for the first time.
I suggest you do a search and read my posts on modding the 1200. Also, talk to Kevin Barrett of KAB Electroacoustics (www.kabusa.com). He's the designer of the tonearm fluid damper for the 1200.
You will encounter particular resistance from someone here--the problem lies in that he has the same DAC as I do. He can't get over the fact that my 1200 rig blows away that DAC...
I was recently reintroduced to vinyl as a result fo acquiring the Supratek Cortese pre with phono stage. I ordered the MM7 because 1) it has been highly praised in its price range (I didn't want to put a lot of $ in, as I have no vinyl invvestment, yet), 2) it was a complete package-none of this which for what will work with which, etc. I was so blown away with its performance that I am now on a vinyl buying binge that may cost me my marriage. But be prepared, it may make youwonder what is beyind its performance as it has me (now I'm shopping for the big expense stuff).