More help needed, I'm not real bright.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with my analog saga. A brief review: I have about 400 LP's from years ago. My turntable, in my second system is a cheap Technics direct drive unit (no laughing). I'm planning on getting started into a nice analog rig in my main system (Classe/Threshold/ Vienna Acoustic Beethovens). I thought I had a great deal hooked up with a Linn LP 12 Vahalla/ Linn Ittock II/ Linn Karma cartridge for $850. The seller broke our agreement and sold to someone else at the last minute. I was looking to spend $600-800, but could stretch up to $1K for a starter rig. Now I'm willing to stretch that to $1.2K. Here is my question: I've seen other Linn setups for this price (a few years old), I've also been offered a Rega 25 w/ Super Elys cartridge (next to new, 1 hour use). I also could get a Music Hall MMF-7 and a VPI 16.5 record cleaning machine for about the same price as the aforementioned Linn and Rega. I've read many who swear that the wet/vac makes the biggest improvement of any 'tweak'. So, if it was your $1.2K and you were just starting over again, would you go for the older Linn, the newer Rega, or the MMF-7 and VPI 16.5 cleaning machine?
In case you were wondering, yes, I could get the VPI in about 6 months, if I bought the Linn or Rega, and thought the analog sound was impressive enough to require more investment. However, if these 20 year old albums don't impress me over the current digital setup I have (Both redbook and SACD), I may not pursue it further. Feel free to ask any questions, and thank you in advance for your responses.

Does your budget include cartridge? I was never comfortable about buying a used turntable I have never seen - just too much to worry about - unless you go through a dealer to check it out. VPI has a new small Aries called the Scout which retails for 1499 so you may get someone to give you a deal - check with the Elusive Disc on this - they usually work with you. Of the ones you mentioned I would be inclined to go with the Linn followed closely by the Rega (almost a toss up here though). I own an Aries but did once have a Linn.
I would tend to agree with Ljgi on used tables, particularly the Linn which can be a little tricky to setup. Buying a used one from a local dealer who handles Linn and could "tune" it for you would be safer.

Unlike many here, I'm not a big Rega tt fan, although their arms are good value. I think even less of the Music Hall product frankly.

Vacum cleaning machines are great, I use a VPI 16.5 and like it, but I wouldn't trade-off the quality of the tt/arm/cartridge for one. There are cheap ways of cleaning at least in the short term. The Allsop Orbitrac II ($35 at the Needledoctor) does a surprisingly good job IMHO, coupled with a brush like the Audio Quest (about $15), then save up for a vacum cleaner if you stick with vinyl. You could test these with your Denon and see what you think.

Keep an eye out for a Nottingham Spacedeck. They list for $1500 but used or demo pieces occasionally show up for around $8-1000. Don't get the Space arm (junk) but a Rega matches up well. A Grado or Goldring cartridge and you should be set for quite awhile.

BTW, don't apologize for the Denon, I'm using my 25 year old Luxman dd in my second system, and it doesn't do a bad job. Wouldn't trade it for a MMF even up.

And there's no such thing as a dumb question around here, only dumb, if emphatically stated, answers. Old Grandpas are 'Never right but never in doubt'.

Good luck.
Just so you know my budget, yes, $1200 includes the cartridge. $1200 is the whole analog setup, and that's really pushing it, so please don't suggest great deals of $1400 that also need cartridges. I will not spend more than $1200 now. 6 months or a year from now, if sold on the sonic bliss of analog, I may spend more. But as for now, $1200 is it. If I get a deal at $800, all the better. $1200 is the max for the whole kit-n-kubbudle, today, in fact, it's more than I should be spending.

I'd grab the Rega P-25 deal before its gone.
You may never feel the need to upgrade once you hear one.
Based on this and your last post, here's the best advice I can give you: Buy a NEW Rega Planar 3 2000 for $750 with a NEW Rega Elys cartridge. You will have a truly wonderful analog setup that will last you far into the future, and will make your records sound great! The Rega requires no particular setup - it only needs to be really level. If you want particular turntable mounting options, or have any other questions, e-mail me & I'll try to help. I've been listening to analogue for over 30 years, and have already made most of the mistakes. :-) As soon as you are able, pick up a record cleaning machine - either a VPI or a Nitty Gritty, both work fine, they're just a little different to use. I'd prefer the VPI, but I've used a Nitty Gritty for years with excellent results also. The results of record cleaning will astound you, and your CD player may begin to feel a bit slighted - but you'll save on electricity by not turning it on as often. :-)
Good luck,
i agree with david, go for the rega. i was in your situation 8 months ago and got a 25, with a super elys. regas are very plain and simple tt's, they are not tricky and transfer as used components well. i would even look at a used newer p3, they are close in performance to the 25. then go for the vac cleaner, well worth it. then like me, you will be bit, and upgrading again.

If you can find another LP12 setup within your price range, I think you should go for that. No matter what knocks the Linn takes in this forum, I really don't think the other tt's you mention even compare. Add to that the fact that the Linn will then be upgradable to a Lingo power supply (a major improvement). With the P25, you are at a dead end.
Like Grandpad, my initial inclination was to suggest the NA Interspace. Great table for its price, but it might be tought to find used, w/ cart under $1200. Really, if I were you, Mr. Jmcgrogan2, I would just take the P25 deal you were offered. Nice table, and imo opinion, is soundly better than the P3. Easy to setup and doesn't get pissy about every little detail; headache free is a great way to go, no doubt.
OK here's my two or three cents:

cent #1) Don't buy amything that you think you'll have to upgrade soon. Buy in the biggest possible steps to avoid financial losses on upgrades. Every upgrade costs money, especially if you bought new, so minimize the changes

cent #2) Get the record cleaner first with the disc doctor solutions (expensive but worth it) and start cleaning your vinyl (and play it on your current TT for a while if you have to). Dirty records will be damaged by the best setup and would do damage to any new stylus.

There is a remaining problem.. you have clean records but no turntable (think about it, this IS the correct order... you CLEAN the record BEFORE you play it) so cent#3) You bought the VPI 16.5 so theres not enough money left for the rig of your dreams... So upgrade to a REGA planar 2 or 3. They are common as mud, very durable and reliable, available used, and easy to sell or trade-in used with little loss of value. I believe they would be easier to set up, enjoy, and re-market than an MMF or Project. Good Luck!!
Fzxguy is right. You won't be happy playing dirty records. You don't have to spend alot of money on a cleaning machine to do this. Just buy an attachment for your household vac, or buy a yardsale vac, an modify it for cleaning records. Check this out; You can use your old Technics for a base to spin the records.Then buy the week old Rega25with cartridge.
WOW, so much great advice. Jsbail, thanks for the link, that looks like a handy little project that could save a few bucks. Many here seem to prefer the Rega over the Linn this time around. About a week ago, when I was asking for the first time, more seemed to prefer the Linn LP12 Valhalla over the Rega 25. Now I admit, that confuses me a little. Maybe a Linn 'table with a Rega arm would be the ticket (there is one on Ebay now). While I'm at it, there's also a Linn with a Syrinx PU-3 arm, that the seller makes a big deal out of. He claims it one of the most sought after arms ever for the Linn. Has anyone ever heard of this arm? Is it really that good? Or is this guy just blowing smoke?
It's really amazing how many different viewpoints you can get on this subject. I also posted this question at AA, and there was an English gentleman there who claimed to have over 5000 pounds invested in his analog rig, but no wet/vac record cleaning setup. His advice was to sink as much into the 'table as I could, and don't worry about the arm or cartridge, as that could be upgraded in the future. It seemed odd to me that someone who had that much invested in analog, wasn't big on the cleaning the LP's. Maybe that's an American thing, just a thought. There are a couple of Linns on Ebay that close today, I will keep my eye on them. If I wind up not getting one, I'll probably order the Rega P25 tomorrow. I think Jsbail's link for cleaning looks real good for right now.
Thanks again for all of your suggestions. I'll let you know how I make out.

John, "that" Linn was a great buy with that arm, in that condition. The Rega will give you a table that is easy to set up. Beware of the fact that a few of the Linn tables I have seen for sale out there have arms that no one would want today. I saw one with a Grace 707. It is not that the arm is not well made, it is that it is very low mass and designed for cartidges that were made at the time with very high compliance. These are sort extinct,and about as useful as coprolites(fossilized dinosaur droppings)in todays tables.
Clean them lps and set it up right too! Lots of info around on this but try the mounting/aligning tips at Sure there are lots of others. Once you decide exactly what too buy talk to someone who has same table.

Good Luck

I remain,
The MMF 7 is not at all a bad table and the VPI 16.5 is a very effective cleaner. I have the VPI and it makes all the difference in the world. Are you going to be frustrated listening to dirty vinyl if you go with one of the other tables. I have a Sota Star with a Rega RB 900 and a Benz Glider, but I'm not sure how much I would listen to it anymore if I suddenly lost the VPI cleaner. You might consider one of the other tables if you can land a cleaner some time in the near future. They can be found fairly inexpensively. Compared to what you've invested in vinyl and are willing to spend on turntable $300-400 for a cleaner is not unreasonable. Dirty vinyl and poor setup are the biggest enemies you are going to encounter. Take care of those issues first so you can enjoy the music longer.