I would go with the Pro-ject Debut III or MMF 2.2 or Rega P2. All are about the same price and offer similar performance. Good luck.
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You pretty much answered the question do you want set-and-forget or a hobby/project?
Linn was the marque that launched 1000 ships. Those ships were suspened belt drive turntables. Logic, Ariston, Walker, there seem to be tons of them out there. I am not sure about the MK1 but later Walkers had the refinement of allowing the springs to be adjusted from the top of the plinth, unlike all of the others. I love the Walker tables and, providing you can properly tune the suspension, it should outperform the entry level plank-and-arm tables. I think the 282 arm was a Jelco derivitive but Mel Schilling of MAS is still around somewhere, you can probably ask him. I think that it is a decent arm, and you can always upgrade the arm down the road to a Linn Ittok or the like.
Just for your information, the Astatic mf 100/200 are good cartridges. Have not heard the 300. Condition of the used equipment would be important. From Viridan's description it sounds like a good table to learn turntable setup on, to get the most out of all that vinyl your buying.
Stay out of my stores or you might get hurt. Those records are mine. LoL.
I have a Debut III. You can usually get these from NeedleDoctor for at least 10% off list if you ask. Also, They run the gloss white on closeout from time to time. I picked up mine for less than $300 a few months back.
That said, the Debut III is NOT compatible with MC cartridges unless you upgrade to the acrylic platter. If I were doing it again with the Debut III, I would either upgrade the stylus to the Ortofon 20 series or have NeedleDoctor swap out the cartridge for an Ortofon 2M Red.
Also, with the Debut III, the SpeedBox II makes the table sound significantly better. A pretty cheap upgrade when the time comes.
So, I would do the following:
Get a DebutIII and bundle the stylus upgrade. You should be able to get it for around $450. Take it out of the box, adjust the arm balance and tracking force and you're listening in 5 minutes!
Don't forget the usual accessories: carbon fiber brush, stylus brush, and a bunch of LP's.
Thanks for the input guys. I think the Debut is going to be the choice for now. I still can't any info on the MK1 from Walker. I'm sure it would be more than adequate and possibly with the right adjustments a better table than the Debut, but getting it off craigslist I can't really be certain of the shape it's in. There's also an ad for a refurbished Thorens TD-160 that is posted here. It sure is a handsome table I'm going to do some research on that baby to see how it would compare to the Debut.