Music Hall MMF-5.1 or Project RM-5SE

Should I spend an additional $200 (plus shipping) to upgrade the MMF-5.1 that I just received to a Pro-Ject RM-5SE, or should I save my money for a year or two to get a significantly better turntable?

I've recently gotten into vinyl - dusted off an old Pioneer direct drive. I'm enjoying it, so I just got a Music Hall MMF-5.1. It's definitely an upgrade over the Pioneer / Grado Black, but I'm not super impressed with it for the price, even with the good price that I paid. It makes a motor noise that is audible when the room is quiet. The Pro-Ject upgrades the tonearm from aluminum to carbon fiber, the platter, and has a different cartridge (Sumiko Blue Point 2 vs. the Goldring on the Music Hall). My concern is that the RM-5SE will have the same motor as the MMF-5.1, which is made in the Pro-Ject factory using mostly Pro-Ject parts. Should I be bothered by that?

Any comments will be greatly appreciated!
Vic... You're right, they both come out of the same factory. They are advertised as a lot of bang for the buck, so I bought in as well. I just could not get the sound that I wanted, so they didn't do it for me. I ended up with a Rega and am very pleased... really sounds musical.

Before you jump again, look around as there are many good turntables. I came down to the VPI or Rega and am happy with the decision.

the same table most likely both are made in Czekoslavakia. Not that this is a bad thing but they are made to a very low price point. Stay with the Hall right now and save your pennies for an upgrade down the road. I would look to improve the table by experimenting with different isolation platforms and if you upgrade in the future. The new table can still be used with the platform you are using for the Hall.
I had an MMF 5.1, and I thought it was a decent table. My daughter has it now, and I still hear it and enjoy it when I'm over at her house. I upgraded to a VPI Scoutmaster and there is no comparison whatsoever. Obviously, the VPI cost a lot more, but that's about the price range where you start getting heavy duty high-end performance. There's a lot of choices in that price range, so look around and see what you find.
I see that Music Direct is selling the VPI Scout for $1,399 right now. That's a pretty nice price (no cartridge, though). There's also the Marantz TT-15 which comes with a Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood cartrige for $1,595 and there's a demo unit for $1,395. That seems like a pretty good price, too, considering the quality cartridge it comes with. I would definitely save up a little money and upgrade to a table that's significantly better.
Good luck.
If you hear any motor noise at all, there is a problem. Period. I would call the dealer and discuss it. (Is it new?)

Assuming you have already made up your mind to upgrade, and you are just putting feelers out there :) I would recommend the RM5SE. I have the Xperience and I LOVE it. For the reasons you mention, too. The cf tonearm is astounding and will mate with very high end cartridges. The optional speed box is reputed to be a nice upgrade, too, but I did not need it for mine - is very stable without it.
Thanks everyone for the responses.

Schipo, the turntable is on its own table resting on a concrete slab floor. I listen to it through headphones. So there are no vibrations induced through the floor or by speakers. The only vibrations come from the turntable itself. So I would think isolation accessories are unwarranted here.

Don, I have received two new MMF 5.1 and both have the low, but audible-when-the-room-is-quiet, electronic sound from the motor. According to my seller, Music Hall listened to the one that I returned and there is nothing wrong with it. "It meets spec and has no more motor noise than they typically make." It is more motor noise than my 38 year old direct drive Pioneer. And I don't recall any of my other old inexpensive turntables from decades past making any motor noise that I was aware of.

I am a little impatient to have a better turntable and don't know when I would get around to upgrading (other pieces to upgrade by and by). I was wondering if the the Pro-Ject, with the carbon fiber tonearm and Sumiko Blue Point 2 was ~$200 better than the Music Hall (alloy tonearm with Goldring 2200) and a worthwhile turntable to have for a while. On the other hand, impatience is what landed me with the MMF 5.1 which is reasonably ok, but not quite what I thought it would be.
I had a MMF-5.1, and I upgraded the stock cartridge to a goldring 1042 by buying the 1042 stylus. Probably the most noticable improvement I have heard for $200. Just slide off the old stylus and put on the new stylus, no adjustment required...
Toufu, can you describe the change in the sound characteristics: bass, treble, resolution? Also, did your TT come with the 1012 GX cartridge or the GL 2200 like the newer ones (like mine)?

Definitely save the money! The RM-5 will not significantly better your MH - in fact, I would argue that your MH betters it, at least in two different systems I have heard them both in. I would also agree with the poster who said that Regas will better both of them - especially in the areas of soundstaging and imaging.
I didn't realize you had the newer version, but I got the Goldring 1012 cartridge. The sound of the 1042 is much fuller, more lush, better top to bottom overall, but it was the midrange that made the most impression on me. And on top of that, less surface noise as well. Hope that helps.
By the way, I tried the blue point 2 on my MMF5.1 before returning it and getting the 1042, 1042 is way better than the blue point 2. Blue point 2 was on the same level as the 1012.
On my MMF 5.1 the motor can be heard in a silent room, from within maybe three to five feet. It should be noted that this is not noise on the RCA outs, but mechanical; zero impact on the amplified signal. I defy anyone to hear it with music playing at even the lowest (listenable) level. I often ask folks with good ears, sitting in "the chair" ~12 feet away, if they can hear it. The answer is no, every time. Even from the best ears, young and old. So yes, a bit disconcerting, but realistically not an issue.

I prefer the MMF 5.1 to anything else I have heard under $750 used. Rega, Pro-Ject, vintage Thorens, vintage Denon, etc. Not being a dealer I have not been exposed to everything, and I certainly know that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," so I understand there may be better stuff.

It came with the Goldring 1022 cart with the 1042 stylus (bought on Audiogon for $600 with free shipping; thank you Derik Sedik!) What I find is that it is fabulous with intimate music, like a string quartet or jazz trio (Errol Garner's Concert by the Sea, Fogelberg's Souvenirs), but can be overwhelmed with big sounds like a full orchestra (Haitink's Shostakovic disappoints).

I have been advised by a number of shops - both face to face and via e-mail - that going from MM to MC will make a huge difference in the ability to resolve complex passages, so that is where I am headed.

QUESTION: Anyone have experience with the Denon 103R cart and this table? The Denon has a fairly low Compliance rating and I am wondering if it is good with the MMF 5.1?
I also own an mmf 5 and notice that even the slightest overtighting of the record clamp can cause an audible motor "grind"
Absolutely, in fact I stopped using the clamp because of it.
Older thread, but I wanted to add this to the mix.

(1) One, after less than 3 months use, the MMF 5.1 developed, not just an audible low motor noise, but a ferocious motor noise that was simply unbearable. 3-1 oil onto the motor spindle will not fix this. After sending an email, with an attached audio/video clip capturing the noise to Music hall (unanswered email) I called. Roy shipped a new motor. However, although supposedly they are identical, I was shipped a 2.2 motor (yellow tape) instead of the white taped motor for the 5.1. I replaced the motor, buttoned everything up and it was quiet for another year or so. The same noise came back. I emailed Music Hall once again asking to purchase a motor. Again, no response. I decided to just buy a motor from the Needle doctor (50.00). I also ordered a Cruise Control 2.0 and a acrylic platter from Music Direct. I will be repairing and testing this evening to see what I think. I do like the sonics of the 5.1 compared to my past tables so I am looking forward to the upgrades. Even with the "overall" quality of this table, I have been very disappointed with the level of service they offer regardless of their reputation.

(2) I also purchased a Marantz/Clearaudio TT-15 turntable for another perspective. Once assembled, I try to post a review and comparison of the two. If I can't tell the difference or if the differences are simply unremarkable, you will see both listed on Audiogon and I will purchase a VPI as a final table. This will be about all I can ever justify for a turntable based on my income :-))

Do yourself a favor, research the "motor noise" syndrome on the MMF 5.1. I think you might find this is a very well documented problem. Resolution? Simply a better motor. I don't mind normal service and maintenance for audio equipment, but please....50.00 a year for a motor? No way. My old Denon has traveled the world, been in the attic, in basements and simply "used" and enjoyed. Motor noise? NEVER! Good luck with whoever chooses to buy one. If this one fails....I will replace the motor once again and "kiss it goodbye." :-)
As a Pro-ject RM 5.1SE owner, I can honestly say that I have had this unit close to two years now, play it at least an hour practically everyday and have never heard any motor noise. And I use the supplied the record clamp screwed down onto every LP I spin. Do not know if I got lucky or if those having issues with their Czech motors were simply the result of a bad batch that got straightened out by the manufactures before I bought mine.

Finally, enjoying vinyl as much I do and being gravely afflicted with upgradeitis, I toy with the idea of a new table constantly. But when I listen to a good LP, the performance and sound quality of my Pro-ject diminishes the notion. I suppose it I were to eventually upgrade, it would be a VPI though.