Prices of CD vs. record players

People seem to agree that the quality of the music obtained from vinyls is far superior to the level that is reached with (red-book) CDs. Of course this depends also on the player, and for instance a very expensive CD player will give better results than a very cheap turntable. I wanted to know at which budget level record players are better sources than cd players.

I have a CD player NAD C541i (its value is about 350 USD), that I plan to upgrade with an external DAC that costs about 1000 USD (e.g., Benchmark DAC1 - I have not decided yet). How much should I invest in turntable + tonearm + cartridge + phone stage to have a sound that definitely overcomes the quality of what I could obtain from my NAD CD player + external DAC?
Having heard the Benchmark DAC, I would say that 1500 for a VPI Scout table would beat it. For a cart, something like a Dynavector would work nicely, and the ASL Tube mini phono stage. Total cost $2200. However, I think even the Music Hall MMF7 could compete nicely with the CD setup you want, and that with the ASL would be about $1350.

Good luck!
IF you don't already have a collection of LPs then in my opinion you should invest nothing. Spend the money on CDs and a better DAC.

I have a Rega P3 with a Goldring 1042 and an audiolab phono stage. Together this would cost over $1500 new, yet I would not say that it is superior to my $1000 CD player ... just different.

In short I have never convinced myself that LPs sound superior to CDs .... just different, and a well recorded CD will be far superior to an average LP (and vice-versa).
Arafel and Seandtaylor99: thanks you for your comments. Indeed, I should have specified that I have a collection equally distributed of about 500 CDs and 500 LPs. So far I have been listening to my LPs with an old DUAL 606 + some cheap Ortofon cart.
In that case if I were shopping for a new turntable at a reasonable price I'd look for a Nottingham Horizon with an RB250 tonearm. The Nott addresses the key deficiency of the cheaper belt drives (Rega, Music Hall, Project) which to my ears is speed stability. I'm sure there are good buys in US made decks, but I have never listened to them myself so I can't make a recommendation. I wouldn't get another rega ... it's good, but I think the Nottingham offers better value at a slightly higher price.

The RB250 is a good arm on its own and can easily be improved later with replacement of the counterweight (with the Michell tecnoweight) and wiring.

For cartridges I like the Goldring 1042, but in my opinion it is overpriced in the USA (importer gouging) It can be order direct from Mantra Audio in the UK for significant savings.

Other cartridges that are regularly recommended (but I have not heard) are the Denon 110 and 160 high output moving coils.

I'm not sure I can recommend a phono stage, not having any experience of them. I would imagine the creek unit to offer good price vs performance based on what I've heard of their other stuff.

I would expect the above to run about $1500 total and would probably give a similar (but different) level of performance to a $1500 CD player.

But I wouldn't expect any jaws to be hitting any floors, because I just don't hear that level of difference in vinyl.
With your substantial investment in vinyl it's worth buying a table that will give you a great analog listening experience. You will need good speed stability, isolation from resonance and an affordable cartridge and phone stage.

The Teres 160 at $2240 is a great turntable that offers rock solid speed stability and the lead loaded acrylic platter works great for the money and is well worth the extra $ over the 150.

A Rega RB250 based tonearm is the way to go. If you're in the US look no further than the Expressimo Mongoose RB250 (there's a link from the Teres site). I have one and for $640 it's stunning value for money. It has deep tight bass and is very neutral; because it's medium mass it works with a wide range of cartridges.

I'm very much in love with the Denon DL-103 at around $200. It's dynamic and exciting to listen to, it's very tolerant of set-up and it punches well above it's weight.

For a phono stage I would suggest you look here to buy a used EAR834P for around $650. It's a tube circuit but doesn't sound it - it's pacey, neutral and very relaxing to listen to.

If these are beyond your budget then I would suggest looking at a Technics SL1200 from Kabusa. It's not particularly fashionable but, being a direct drive deck, it delivers great speed stability and freedom from resonance. It comes with a tonearm and you would be best fitting a moving magnet.

I wouldn't look beyond the Grado Prestige Gold. It would be a good match for the arm on the Technics and because of the moving iron design it's a very responsive cart that sounds very attractive. Because it's a high output cart you could save on the phono stage by buying a Bellari VP129 for $200.

The other alternatives are diy (check out Bix) or used. There's a thread on this list about the Lenco L75 with a title including Home Despot.
I also have to throw into the mix the Michell TecnoDec ($1,695 new - around $900 used). I recently set one up and am astounded at how good it sounds. It blows away the prior Rega (P25 & P5) tables I've run.

I've got it paired up with a Dynavector 20xL running through a Dynavector P-75 phono stage. All the PRAT of the Rega with better speed stability, quieter background, more detail - it's great.

The stock TecnoDec comes with a Michell mod'd RB-250 and is fantastic right out of the box. I happened to luck into a TecnoArm (a more fully mod'd RB-250) and it's now as good a deck as I'll ever want at this point given my other gear.
I'm gonna have to second the Tecnodec. Give it a try, you'll love it.