Ready to spend $1100 for upgrade and need inputs

I have AR turntable with Audioquest tonearm PT-15 for 15 years. Now I have $1100 to spend on a turntable plus tonearm; pre-owned is fine with me. (I got a new Denon DL-103 as gift). I only listen to classical music (all types). My other equpipment include: Black Cube (original) phono amp, Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp and Focus Audio FS-888 speakers.

What do you think of the AR + Audioquest combo if you have experienced with it? And how much is the re-sale value; say its in 6/10 condition. (since this is the only turntable system I've ever owned, I am unable to compare to others.)

Many thanks.
There are a lot of newer TTs out there, and there have been lots of improvements to TT since the AR. Is that the AR ES-1? I think your arm is an AudioQuest PT 5. That was a good arm at the time. The difference between the PT 5, PT6, PT 7 was the internal cable. So your arm can still be upgraded, I think.

There are too many TTs to recommend in one response and everyone will have their favorite, but you can do very well for yourself in that range.

I like some of the Sota products and it's possible you could get a Star, with the vaccuum. It is hard to go back to a non-vaccuum platter once you've spent some time with one. Project or Rega make several good tables too. I'm not a fan of VPI (I've never heard one that sounded as good as it should for the cost, and I've heard many from the 19 up to their flagship) but there are a bunch of them out there too.

Happy hunting.
Your are right Uppermidfi; its AR ES-1 and PT5.

How's Pro-ject and MusicHall and BlueNotes models? Any thoughts? I can stretch to $1300 if the difference of performance is "significant".

If I was in you situation, here's what I would do:

1. Goto and buy the Denon transformer($100). It's ok, but the magic in the Black Cube lies in the MM stage. With that transformer, you can move to MM on the Cube. If you want (and are savy), buy 2 silver wire interconnect kits from HomeGrown Audio($100) and soder them to the outputs of the Cube and the Denon Transformer.

2. Get a used VPI HW-19 Mk IV($400-$500) and a older SME($300) (before the Series 2 improved--the heavier ones). Order one with an SME armboard cutout (or you'll spend $220 for a new armboard). Send it to AudioOrgami and give them (around 100-200) to 'make it like brand new'.

3. Take you old table and make a super-deal for a young audiophile or someone who wants to get back into vinyl.

Lot's of work and time, I know...but think about the equivalent---(TNT Jr. With SME 309 and Denon 103R--$5,000).

Any thoughts?

I don't know anything about the Music Hall or Blue Note tables (sorry) so I won't comment on them.

Are you wanting a new table? Are you willing to buy used? As I've said, I'm underwhelmed with the VPI products other than their record cleaners, but that's up to you.

There are a lot of good tables for sale now. If I were getting back into vinyl I would probably get Project. Actually I've been talking to a friend about getting his currently unused Project. I guess that's the best endorsement I can give! : )
put a new arm on that AR. it is a classic...otherwise $1100 is gonna send you backwards

What would be a matching arm for the AR. So, you don't think $1,300 new TT+arm would beat my exiting AR?
I owned a music hall MMF-5 and it sounded really good for the $$; very good value. It was in my whole-house system which is not 2-channel. The MMF-9 sounds even better. But at that $$ point I agree with uppermidfi (above) that the Sota Star Sapphire with vaccuum is a wonderful route to take.

At your price range you can pick up a used unit or even a refurbished one from SOTA (?) and know with confidence that Donna at SOTA will be able to take care of any needs that may arise (if any ... the units are built strong).

I own said SOTA and would not trade it for a VPI. I also own a vintage Micro-Seiki of acclaim. I had also owned a vintage SOTA Star without vaccuum which had a very high sound reproduction quality, and, a newer REGA which my ears felt was overrated, very prone to impact of the slightest movements one might make anywhere near it (simply walking across the floor, touching the stand, etc.) and sort of sounded like some of the Music Hall MMF's but was higher priced.

So for comparison I find the sound eminating from the SOTA EXTREMELY rich, full-bodied, highly detailed. And it is DROP DEAD QUIET (no motor or vaccuum unit sound at all). Definately go for the vaccuum.

SOTA is little more difficult to set up then some others but worth the effort. I have the Rega RB300 OriginLive modified arm on mine which I find is quite good but it is the OL complete modification which is not cheap. I believe the Sumiko Premiere MMT might even improve performance and might have been a better route for me to take on the arm for probably the same investment.
sorry for the delay......a rega 600 would be a great upgrade from the audioquest. lots of great arms the needle doctor for other recommended arms.....nice table!