I have previously owned a LP12 back in the day and enjoyed the timing end engagement it brought to vinyl. Have now upgraded to an SME 20-3 with the SME V Arm. Certainly an improvement with much better detail, instrument placement but retaining the all important timing and engagement. Certainly a more stable deck than the LP12. Seems comparable with medium weight arms too.
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In 2013 the Spiral Groove SG2 turntable with Spiral Groove Centroid Arm really attracted my interest, and kept my interest for a number of years while I was looking to acquire one and finally did. I posted some attributes of the table and arm and my thoughts comparing it to a VPI Classic 3, FWIW. Since you are a Linn guy I figured you would appreciate the understated look of the table and arm.
Link to audiogon thread:
A bit late to the party here, but I have direct experience with the Graham Phantom on a SOTA Sapphire. IMO, it is one of the most synergistic combinations available at any price. The arm is exceptionally well-suited to the table and the table is quiet, stable and isolated to the point that it simply disappears in the combination. Get everything dialed in just so, and it's absolutely magical. And well under your budget brand-new. Leaves a fair amount of coin to get some more vinyl;-)
I'd also strongly recommend the SOTA Reflex clamp. It will work on any table, but was specifically designed for the sapphire bearing system SOTA uses.
SOTA is a great company, makes their stuff here, stands behind it and services it forever. I bought mine in 1984 and it's been one of the very best values in audio I've ever enjoyed. The woodwork is beautiful, too.
Good luck no matter which way you go and happy listening!
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