This is the problem when it comes to phono cart's. I live in a major metro area (Wash. DC), and exactly NO local dealers could demo ONE $500 cart, let alone do a comparitive demo. How is one supposed to make an informed and personally satisfying selection when you can't hear the product? The only way I could do it was to call specialist dealers around the country, and try to glean a consensus opinion in my price range. I wound up buying the Benz Glider M2 from Bob at The Elusive Disc, for a little above your quoted price range w/trade-in. It seems perfectly competent, if not exactly inspiring, but I'll never know what the other choices might have sounded like. If any of the audio mags really wanted to help us out, one of them would take the initiative to do a round-up review of cart's by price point (ideally using multiple reviewers), and rank the results. I know the usual review ethic militates against this sort of thing, but cart's are a unique situation - you can't hear them at the shop, and you can't try them out at home first with return/exchange priviledges. In this case, expert opinion is just about all we have to go on!