I'll nominate the Spotheim La Luce and the Oracle. The new VPI HR-X is also a real beaut.
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I've always loved the looks of the rega P25 with cherry. Slightly retro, but nice clean, timeless lines. 1275 new
The clear acrylic Basis 1400 with vector arm is the best looking at any price. It has a frosted platter, a clear acrylic body, and rests on three brushed aluminum cones. It's fairly small & looks like a piece of art. 2k?
For 3K, I would have to choose the rega p9. I just like small tables. I might also go with the 'classic' linn lp12.
For prices above that I'll pick my all black Basis 2500 with graham 2.2 arm. It's reasonably sized, and looks like something Porshe would design.
Not for a living room, but the most impressive looking TT is the Rockport Sirius. Also head and shoulders the best sounding component source I've heard. The owner played a $7500 and a $20,000 cd player side by side with it. Wasn't even close.
There are a lot of gorgeouos turntables and you may want to look at one of the turntable galleries on the web. Assuming new the most beautiful table under 3000 is the audiomeca romance and arm imo which I own. You really should take a look. For the lesser prices you probably have to get used, but consider the oracle. In very expensive, the vpi top of the line is pretty pleasing. Pictures of the clearaudio are not to my liking but may be yours. The verdier is very interesting but some think a bit mechanical looking.
I like the Rega TT's at all price points you specify. Small, clean lines, and with a good cartridge and phono-pre, the sound is excellent. My P-25 fits perfectly with my Dainish and Swedish furnishings.
If you are looking for a TT that makes a statement (like sculpture), take a look at the Teres Audio web site. They have very good photos (and a sonic reputation that matches).
Agree with the vote for Teres Audio. They are beautiful looking, and sounding, turntables, with a clean, functional, and elegant appearance. If you want something that is an industrial art statement, look at the Vyger Atlantis. Now that is a chunk of metal. Very good performer too, from what I've read.
If you want form follows function, in a beautiful package, take a look at the Walker Proscenium. One of the best looking, and performing tables in the world.
I am an trained Architect, so I know what I'm talking about ;-) (Ha! Ha! The truth is that I'm biased because I own one of these babies!) But the Orbe SE does look pretty cool with my industrial (more specifically, modern deconstructionism, for you architects out there) interior including some furniture from the modernism era (Corbusier, Marcel Breuer, etc)! I just wish the importer would have the chrome/black finish option on top of the gold/black finish. Another option would be the German Acoustic Signature Analog One. Well, that constitutes my "professional" opinion, and you can quote me on that!
Of course, your personal taste may vary (in sound as well as aesthetics.)
Thanks to all for their responses. I am also a collector of great modern furniture and lighting from, Hans Wegner, Breuer, Eames, Juhl, Arne Jacobsen, Poul Henningsen/Louis Poulsen, Artemide, Flos, Knoll....God, the list goes on.
In the 30+ years that I have enjoyed high-end audio...most of the time it has been ultimate sonics that made the final choice. That said, looks are important to me(too bad all the B&O stuff is all mid-fi).
The CJ ART, and others that I have/had, satisfy both needs!
Shasta, could not agree more about the natural Ash. One of the things I like about some older and current modern furniture from Scandinavia is their use of light/natural woods..Ash, Beech, White Oak and others.
I worked at a hi-fi store in the days of the 50H and sold the heck out of them...of course with V15 Shure or ADC XLM...God gotta quit...I'm starting to sound very old..to myself!
The fact I live on Ashwood Drive of course has nothing to do with anything. But in looking at everything from natural finished guitars to hardwood flooring, and excluding the Exotic hardwoods, good 'ol Ash is my reigning favorite.
To your question- appearance is a large factor in my decisions. These days, I'd say that just having a TT installed is bound to draw attention. I have to deal with enough "what's that?" questions that I lean to a slightly low profile appearance.
IMHO, especially in this digital age, *all turntables are lovely and make quite a statement, especially alongside rows of LP's racked up. I'd exclude a thrift shop BIC or Garrard changer in that picture though. My VPI 19 is now so humdrum looking that no one really sees it. I'd say a TNT or an Aries would be the upper limit of making a stement.
The Empire, of course. It struck me at the time as looking a bit to expensive and foo-foo vs. the 50H. I remember where I was when I saw the ad for it in a mag.
It took me 5 seconds to remember the 50H had (I think) an ELAC cart.
The times were simpler; the perhaps thousands of sides and cuts played w/o any clue or worry about soundstaging or power cords.