Save a bit more money and look for a used Pro-ject Xpression. $300 may get you one. But i found when i moved up the ladder it took more money than i thought. I went from $300 used to $900 used.
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YES definitelly a used SL-1200MkII (not from a Dj)!
Maybe it's better to hold on for it, even if you have to spend $500. You will never regret it. All of it's competitors are pricier & weaker.
UNLESS.....you want to try a LENCO L78 (that fits your budget). It is an excellent toy that you can enjoy to listen & modify whenever you have the mood. I guarrantee for your satisfaction. You can't go wrong with it either.
The small but intense 'flock' of Technics fanboys are gathering around another victim. oops i mean sucker, oops i mean some know nothing who may be easily swayed by a cluster of fanboys salivating over one more ordinary TT with a crappy arm. Funny how they flock to these posts.
My opinion, if you are happy with your TT stick to it!! Spend the money on LPs!!!
I just blew Thousands on TTs but I already HAVE 6,000 LPs. between yesterday and today I bought $80. in used LPs locally.
KEEP THE TT, BUY MUSIC
As you can see, the Technics table and its adherents have a few vocal detractors on this and other forums. I find the more venomous and derisive the language, the less trustworthy the source. From certain parties, it comes to sound like a broken record, devoid of any constructive information and pregnant with language that delights only its author--over and over and over again.
You'll be better off listening to more reasoned and reasonable voices, perhaps ones who know that the noun "flock" takes a singular verb and who will refrain from calling you a "sucker" or "some know nothing" (sic).
Depending on what your using for a phonostage, your return on ivestment may be better upgrading that. I have a DL160 and it didn't really shine until I found a proper matching stage. In most cases any standard MM stage will do, but the output is low enough that I heard unwanted noise from my amp. to compensate. You may not have that problem though.
Orpheus10 is making up fantasy nonsense due to personal issues between him and his mother.
I actually have no opinion of any kind about your TT. I only know you say you like it.
The reason for keeping ANY equipment is if you LIKE IT. then no reason to change it. period.
When we swap stuff just to fiddle around. AND we liked what we HAD, we can wind up with something we do NOT like. So, best to keep what we have 'if we like it'.
So the ideas i gave of what to do with the money were: save it, try a different phono section. Or, just spend it on more records.
I still have a Reference by Quadraflex that looks really similar to your Realitics Labs, and I can tell you that when I sold a turntable a few months ago and waited for the new one to come in I took my cartridge (Sumiko Blackbird) and replaced the Shure 104e that was on the Reference and it made a HUGE improvement. I used the old turntable quite happily for a while.
In that timeframe I also bought a Bang and Olefson Beogram 8002 and although it could have used some work, I was really happy with the sound of it as well.
Maybe a new cartridge and/or some slight upgrades and you could get 95% of what new rigs do?
That said, I have helped quite a few friends get into vinyl the last few years with the Project turntables, and the lower level Rega's and it has worked out great for all. I love the entry level Project, I think it sounds great.