25 years or so ago they were all the rage, and the major mags were always talking about them. You know how that goes- it's been a long time since they were "This Year's Girl", and now it seems that vinyl fans are fascinated with tables from eastern Europe.
They were highly recommended in the old days when the company was more active. I have owned only one I took in as a trade but can tell you that they are excellent tables. I have sold more brands of good tables than I can easily recall and would have been happy to sell them if the occasion arose. Just because a component is not one the current recommended list does not mean that it is not good. Like it of not, heavily advertised products are more likely to appear in magazine reviews. Have you tried searching for old reviews? Check Vinyl Engine to see what they have. Take my word for it as someone who has been around a long time, they are the equal of anything available now at anything like the price if well set up, enjoy it and don't worry.
maybe they refuse to spend big advertising fees..
I know that Paul Seydor of the Absolute Sound wrote a very good review on the Cosmos some years ago. A reviewer at Stereophile owned a Cosmos as a reference table but I forget his name and do not know if he is still an active reviewer.
I had a sapphire and loved it. I went up to a Cosmos with the vac and I am satisfied in the extreme.
I am done on the upgrade path. If my fr arm evers gives up the ghost, I will probably throw an Ikeda 407 on it.
Great tables and company to do business with in my opinion
My Sapphire is in great shape, but it's an older series I. I have no stores in the area that have tables on hand (they will special order a table if I commit to purchasing it). I have no way of knowing how my Sapphire ranks in performance with other tables. Been talking with Donna & Kirk at SOTA about trading in my Sapphire for a refurbished series III Nova; but before I commit, I'd like to be sure there's not a better table out there for the same money. And, if one reads Stereophile's list of recommended components, there's some great sounding (according to their reviewers)that look sexier than SOTAs.
Hard to advise you without knowing your arm and cartridge and how much money you want to spend. I am a turntable dealer but I would you to buy used or demo, get a lot more for money. As Forrest would say, "handsome is as handsome does." Actually, an aunt of mine use to say this also.
Arm is a Premier FT3 and cartridge is a Benz Glider. I plan to keep/use the Glider on the replacement table/arm. Budget for used table/arm is no more than $3000.
Sota is one of the oldest "hi end" turntable manufacturers still around. Their support is excellent (if a little slow sometimes) They dont kiss asses and wine dine at trade shows so the reviewers ignore them. Look at the table feature by feature. inverted jeweled bearing, pendulum suspension, one of the most advanced platters evermade,super accurate motor with power supply , vacuum, constrained layer arm board, best clamp ever made etc etc. Dollar for dollar no other manufacturer offers anything close for the money. Ive owned more tables than I can remember several costing many times what a cosmos cost's. Ive had my cosmos for a year and have no plans to upgrade.
A used Sota can be a great bargain (I have owned 3 ) The things to look for are the lip on the platter and bearing damage from a table not properly secured for shipping. Donna and Kirk are very helpful with used products. I would recommend finding one with the old style platter/lip for cheap and then having it upgraded to the current lip with cosmos bearing.The older star and nova are easy to remove the platter assembly from and then it can be easily (and cheaply) shipped. Most Sota vacuum table owners are converts for life.
To over simplify, there are two approaches to this hobby. Buy quality, matched components, keep them in top operating condition, forget about constant upgrades and enjoy your music for years. Or buy highly recommended components that may not necessarily be matched, continue reading reviews of the "latest and greatest", and remain on the merry-go-round of continual component upgrades looking for musical satisfaction.
Your SOTA Sapphire is a well designed table -- that does not change. The Premier FT-3 arm is a known match for your table. I won't suggest you could not find something better, but at what cost and would it be worthwhile to you? You say it is in great shape "but it's an older series I". Do you know that it is operating optimally? I recently sold an older Sapphire to a friend but only after I went through the suspension, making certain every piece was screwed down securely and that the springs still carried proper tension. If you are not up to such a do-it-yourself task, Kirk can check yours and redo anything necessary.
As others have suggested, I wouldn't worry about the lack of current reviews. But I would make certain my table and arm are functioning as intended before I considered making an "upgrade".
Good luck and enjoy your music.
At the risk of being right on the sharp edge of forum etiquette, if anyone viewing this thread is looking for a used SOTA Nova, email me off-thread.
Kirk overhauled my table back in 2005. It still has the original springs which probably need replacing. He recommends that I have my arm rewired, and have him upgrade my table to a series III Nova. That would be the most cost effective upgrade path. Either that or trade my Sapphire in for a series III Nova. That would cost a little more.
how or where you're components 'rank' does not matter if you dig them. the cool stuff nearly always lives outside the pages of magazines.
go for the nova upgrade, you wont be sorry
Once your into a Sota your always upgradeable. Kirk & Donna from Sota just upgraded my Star to a Nova and I'm a very happy camper! Perhaps someday (not in the near future) I will persue the Cosmos upgrade. FYI TAS did an extensive review on the Cosmos snd this table is still highly recommended.
I have had 3 Sota TT in the last 25 years. Star, Nova series V and now a Cosmos IV with Graham Phantom and Dynavector XV1's.
The Stereophile reviewer the guy upstairs is talking about who had reviewed the Cosmos a few years back was Paul Bolin. Paul Seydor from TAS concluded his review of the Cosmos as best TT this side of an SME30 or something to that effect.
Customer service and tech support is top notch. Actually i was talking with Kirk on Friday about a custom made armboard that i need made to my specs.
I would not worry too much about the reputation of a manufacturer that has been around for 25 years. You would not worry about the reputation of Audio Research.....Same holds true with Sota.
Why? because they've been superceded years ago, that's why.
Definitely an 80's table.
I bought a brand new SOTA Nova about a year ago. It is a GREAT turntable, especially with an SME 309, and I have no desire for change. It's everything I need in a turntable.
Exactly how have the SOTAs been superceded? They were innovative at the time (saphire thrust plate, inverted bearing, easily tuned suspension), but it's only been recently that other manufacturers have caught up.
What makes them "so '80's?"
Sorry, that was a bit snarky sounding. What I should have politely said was, I listened to Sotas quite a bit in the 80's when they were prominent, and I always found them lacking musically, I suppose boring, or not being able to pull the music off the platter. There were better tables, musically, then for the same or less money, and I still find that to be the same. If you have one and like it, then by all means enjoy. It matters not to me about the design or looks, which are fine, I only care about its music making abilities.
Chas, I used to sell Sota during the '80s and '90s. I agree, they didn't always float my boat either. But the new owners of Sota have made a number of mods to the tables since then and I beleive they have addressed many (if not all) of the earlier issues. Do you really think it's fair to judge a current product based upon what you remember from 30 years ago?
I owned a Sota Star Sapphire Series III (with vacuum) for most of the 1990s. It was an excellent table. However, there are now better ones available, IMO. Among those that are superior, I would include the Sota Cosmos and Millenium. I think they've come a long way, as have some of the other manufacturers. Moreover, they take good care of their customers and have done so for quite a long time.
Anyway, if you like what you have and are satisfied, lack of the occasional mention in one of those magazines you mention should hardly deter you from enjoying it.
hey, he asked why not, and I told him. Probably the people who bought em then would now, and those that didn't wouldn't. Even with upgrades, most tables would still have their "house" sound. Look at Linn, Michell, others...
If a horse changed its stripes, then it's a different animal all together, and then it might be worth revisiting.
Otherwise, I say a sota is a sota is a sota...and I'm quite happy, thrilled even, for those that like them. He asked why most people don't consider them and that's what I addressed. and it's only my lowly opinion...and a maybe a few others...
Take care, enjoy your table whatever it may be!
I've been highly impressed with the sapphire tt I bought about a yr ago. Equally impressive is the SME arm and Dynavector cart I use in conjunction. Even though you didnt mean no harm please dont ever use the word poor with sota in the same sentence. I believe in part with great reviews from current owners on this website, and a magazine mentioning of the comet helped me to decide on purchasing a Sota.
PS. I only buy the high-fi mags anymore to see about the music and find most gear reviews boring.
I have not posted here for a long time.I've left the hobby,due to many mfgr's letting me down with poor service,extreme costs,and just plain old non caring attitudes....Not to mention way to over priced products....
but....I owned many Sota products over the 40 years in the hobby(I now collect and play acoustic guitars,so I still enjoy my music,actually more than ever).
I have a few old time friends who did write for TAS and Stereophile,with fabulous systems and they introduced me to many other reviewers/hobbysits over the years.
I basically have seen it and heard it all(almost).I had a huge LP collection that I sold last year."That",I still miss,but what the heck-:)
Anyway,SOTA absolutely makes a superb product!!!PERIOD!!!
I had many variations of almost every model.The COSMOS is amazing in being a "complete" design!!
It has been updated over the "years",to an amazing level of performance.....and....
"That",IMO is the reason why Sota gets little attention.They simpy have been around too long,and current audio "types" are way too into the latest gadget.Sorry!
A loss for those having to see something in a magazine(advertising costs a bundle,and Sota is fairly priced,so maybe they cannot afford to spend the advertising costs involved).
In any event,IMO,a "thinking hobbyist" who really looks at what is important in a table design will recognize these products are superb,by any standard.
I honestly believe that if they "blinged up" their products,with little improvement to actual design(not that they need any)and charged ALOT more many folks would take notice....A pity actually!
Reviewers(I know more than a few)"hype" the latest,and some of these are quite good,but SOTA stuff is rediculously good,"and" the ownership TRULY cares about their customer base.
In today's climate of insanely priced components,SOTA is a breath of fresh air....Fresh air that has been around a long time.
Just my two cents-:)
I have a Star Sapphire that's been upgraded. You can spend a heluva lot more money for a lot less turntable. Always a pleasure to use.
Where would you rank the SOTA Millenia in pool of big fish turntables? And is it a significant step above the Cosmos and Nova to justify the expenditure?
I like the appearance of the Cosmos,but that is just me.The benefit of the Millenia is having a separate motor,which would be easy to service,as well as a bit less noise introduced into the plinth.
Don't get me wrong,as there are numerous fine products out there,but virtually anything SOTA is going to be superb,and the vacuum feature is just fabulous,IMO.
This is a very conservative company,and they are concerned with keeping existing customers happy.They have thousands of units in the field,due to their long history,so that gets the most attention.
One reason why they don't(need) to really advertise much.
Reviewers' jobs are to keep us abreast of what is new.That is just fine,but new does not mean better,and it "does" usually mean more expensive.
Sirspeedy is right on the money. I have also long experience with the Sota line and would put a Cosmos IV or Millenia up against anything out there. The Millenia adds a further refinement which would be a possible benefit in an extremely revealing system. I have heard these tables in direct comparisons to several of the most highly reviewed tables and found the Sotas to be the equal of anything Ive heard them compared to.