Thorens TD-126 MKII is a wonderful table in that price range or lower.
Be sure you get a guarantee from the seller that the spped is steady in all three speeds.
Check Dual CS-5000 here.
You could look for a Technics SP-10MKII. But it would be hard to find one for your price. You could also look for the less expensive SP-15. You do need to change the cartridge for 78 rpm. Or you could get a Shure cartridge that would let you change the styli instead.
Thanks guys, much appreciated. Dave, are speed problems common with the Thorens?
I believe Rega still makes a 78 rpm-only version of the P3.
This might be overkill unless you have a lot of 78's.
Thorens actually has NEW tables that play 78's that are very nice and priced very nice also. See link below:
What's the word on the cheap Pro-ject tables that play at 78? I know they don't have variable speed, but I might be willing to give that up for the simplicity and reliability of a newer table.
Thanks for the suggestion, Albert, I'll look into that. How does the table sound, regardless of its variable speed?
Thanks for suggesting that too, Albert! Hi Lousyreeds1, let me put it this way, no one up here who has actually heard one hasn't gone out to buy one, the most recent convert being the erstwhile owner of a Sota Star Sapphire with vacuum hold-down equipped with a SME IV, who recently moved on to the Technics SP10 MKII equipped with a Rega (which he considered a major upgrade), and now having heard it is looking for a Lenco. It's a classic big idler-wheel sound (characteristic against a belt-drive context: slam, PRaT, bass, attack, focus) in the Garrard 301/401 mold, and very refined to boot, with a very fluid unstoppable sound. Many have sold their high-end belt-drives after getting into the project (and this continues), but it does require some elbow grease, unless you buy the plinth currently on sale here on Audiogon. You should set it up with a replacement tonearm to boot, as the stock tonearm seriously compromises the possibilities, which means more intervention/elbow grease. If you're looking for plug'n play, look elsewere, the other suggestions on this thread are all very good.
Hi john, thanks for the info. I'm very interested but still a bit confused. I don't quite understand what the 'Lenco project' is. I see the plinth available for sale but what else would be necessary if I bought that?
My comments are posted at the Lenco thread, finding it may be difficult as it is now over 2000 posts.
Basically, the Lenco is a very capable turntable and enormous fun to build and listen to. I found mine at EBAY for less than $100.00. The table was in perfect running order and came with tonearm, Shure cartridge, tone arm wire, walnut base and dust cover.
There are very few products in high end audio that cost $100.00 and fewer still that are fun to listen to. My Lenco was a blast to play and even with custom base, Decca arm and new super Shure V15VMXR, I still had less invested than most of us spend on a high end power cord. Below is a link to my Lenco project, complete with images. Albert's Lenco
Hi again Albert,
Thanks for the link, my feeble mind is beginning to catch up now! I'm definitely considering buying the plinth that's on the 'Gon right now. Looks to be exactly what I need...
Hi Lousyreeds, great to see someone getting enthusiastic! Albert is very definitely the greatest expert on setting up that particular plinth, but if you need any help in setting it up with a tonearm & etc. then don't hesitate to contact me. I've actually never even tried one of my Lencos on 78, and I've had them for more than a decade, ever since they blew away my high-end belt-drives, *sniff*! But I bought some mint-conditon 78 LPs and will try them soon.
I just went down this road while looking for a gift for my father. He has many, many old 78s that he hasn't heard in years as well as a fair number of LPs. This was my choice:http://www.esotericsound.com/turntable.htm
I can't make any claims about audiophile quality since I don't have much experience in the turntable department, but I've never heard 78s sound so good. It's belt driven and everything you need is included for far less than the $500 you mentioned. The great thing is that with 4 different "78 rpm" settings, it covers all of those off-speed 78s that Alberporter mentioned and it makes a huge difference. It's easy to tell right away at what speed a song was really recorded, even if you don't know the song. You do have to change styli between 78s and LPs, but it's quick and easy, provided your eyesight isn't too bad. All I can tell you for sure is that my dad is enjoying his tremendously. Hope that helps.
Also can play them (every product but the basic Scout, I think) - with the controller you can even phase shift. One of the arguements that almost swayed me to the dark side.
Delrin platter and bearing assembly, speed controller from 16 to 80 - the works. Looks like a fairly audiophile affair. Shellac rules.