With respect to the 1200 idea-it's cool, easy to use, speeds change at touch of button and arm height adjustments are readily doable...... BUT it just sounds a little clinical to me. Get a Rega 3.
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12-29-09: LindisfarneA Rega P3/24 is 2 or 3 times the price of a Debut III. And a bone stock SL1200 handily outperforms a Debut III in several ways.
As for that "clinical" sound of the SL12x0 family? It's easily tamed with better feet, better mat, the fluid damper, and/or a tonearm wrap. I'd start with the tonearm wrap--removes the upper midrange glare so wrongly attributed to direct drive or the speed correction mechanism.
Yeah, I would like a Rega P3 but even second hand they seem to be out of my price range at the moment. The reason Its between the Debut III and Technics MK5 is because a shop is doing £45 of the Debut 3 and have been offered an Technics 1200 MK5 at a similar price (slightly) cheaper then the Debut III. Most people seem to be saying the Technics outperforms the Debut III and with some upgrade in the future I can make even better so think I will go for that.
The Technics is a better table stock, and it has an upgrade path that the Pro-Ject simply does not. As time and budget allows, you can experience dramatic improvements by doing the following:
1. Add a Herbie's Way mat. Makes a very noticeable difference. Around $70.
2. Substitute a Sumiko HS-12 headshell for the stock shell. About $50. Adds mass to the arm, gives you a more stable and adjustable mount for high-quality cartridges.
3. Add the KAB Fluid Damper. Around $100, I think. Or perhaps change out the arm entirely for a Rega, Jelco or...SME 309!!!
4. Swap the feet or put it on an isolation platform.
5. Rewire the stock arm, if you decide to keep it, and it is good enough.
My SL-1200 makes music. It has the Herbie's Way mat, Sumiko headshell, AT disc stabilizer, KAB fluid damper and a Denon DL-103 cartridge.
I highly recommend the Denon DL-103 cartridge if your phono stage can handle it, but if not, get a Denon DL-110 or DL-160. Over the years, I've found those to be the best bang for the buck in terms of performance and synergy.
I pretty much concur with everything E Kobesky recommended. I consider the Sumiko headshell (also available as LPGear and other brands; actually sourced from Jelco) a must. In addition to the improvements he mentioned, the tonearm wrap I mentioned (Teflon pipe thread tape) will kill the midrange glare and give a more linear, relaxed presentation.
The Denon DL-110/160 carts are a nice match, especially when mounted in a Sumiko/LPGear/Jelco headshell to better match compliance to effective mass. Recent reviews indicate that the Orotofon 2M Blue is also a great match at the same price range. I upgraded my DL-160 to an Audio Technica AT150MLX when they were only $50 more than the DL-160. Now the best price I've seen on the 150 is $299 from LPGear, but it IS a significant upgrade in speed, neutrality, transparency, and inner detail.
I also have the KAB fluid damper. They're $150. I also recommend getting a tube of spindle oil and oiling up the spindle. Some probably leaks out during shipping. I found a slight but noticeable improvement in noise floor and speed smoothness when I oiled mine up.
Technics SL12x0 'tables are ridiculously well built for the money compared to the competition. You only need to update the handling of vibration and resonances to get a very nice table in the bargain.
I love the original SL 1200 MK2 or 1210 MK2 with the voltage selector for possible US or EU use. The build quality of the 1200 are superior to any other DD Turntable on the market for the price. Save yourself some money on the MK5 model and get the original MK2 and use the difference on money saved for an upgrade. You really do not need the MK5 model with the "no click" function if you are just using it as a listening turntable. The No Click is really meant for Dj's in live mixing enviroments such as night clubs or studio beatmatching use. Hope this helps your quest .