SOTA Sapphire Upgrades

Have a SOTA Sapphire with Premier FT-3 arm and Benz MC20E2 cartridge (and reflex clamp). Would like to upgrade if an upgrade would actually make an audible difference and wasn't expensive. Anyone have any upgrade(s) that they strongly recommend? Obviously, I'm looking for the biggest bang for my buck. Is this turntable even worth upgrading? Is the FT-3 an entry level arm? I'd ask SOTA but I'm not sure they'd give me the straight scoop.
You have a really nice table that is certainly worth keeping. Start with a new belt. While you have the belt off check the bearing by rotating the platter without the belt attached. It should spin freely and for quite some time. The least expensive upgrade would be to change the tonearm cable if you are still using the one that came with the arm, cost $80.00 to $200.00. Next would be a new arm; the SME 309 is a really nice match to the table, cost $700.00 to $850.00 used. The cartridge is also well below the capabilities of the table. Too many choices here to go into but for a couple of hundred you could have an Audio Technica ATOC-9 or a Grado Platinum, both nice but somewhat different sounds.
Rockyboy, I had my 15 year old Sapphire reconditioned and upgraded by SOTA. I would do it again in an instant. I spent over an hour talking to a tech who answered ever question and explained all work that could be done and why it should or should not be done. My table sounds terrific!!
I understand your hesitation to talk to the manufacturer but you don't need to worry. I sent my Sapphire back to Sota in Decmeber for recommendations on upgrades or a possible trade. I ended up getting a Star after considering several possible upgrades. Kirk and Donna were more than fair in everything. My new Star sounds fantastic. Actually I have never heard a better turntable, which isn't to say they don't exist but this thing is great. I upgraded to a cosmos armboard and the more expensive record clamp: the reflex. Everything I bought was well worth the money. I have a Rega RB 900 arm and a Benz Glider (which I bought from Sota). Talk to Kirk or Donna but I think they will recommend a new arm, I would! The Sota website: has a list of all the possibilities if you want to check it out first, or call 1 800 772-SOTA or 7682.
Rayd is right about how they treat you. If they don't think you need a certain upgrade they will tell you not try to talk you into spending money unnecessarily.
I'm sold on them and their tables.
I agree with both of the two responders. I have owned 2 SOTA turntables. Each time I wish I had never sold either of them. The vaccum upgrade for the Star is a very worthwhile upgrade. It lowers the noise floor many times over. The FT-3 is a good tonearm but does not resolve like the Rega and some other good arms. A RB 300 with the origin live rewire would make that Sota sing. I would opt for the latest upgrade plus the vaccum platter as well as upgrade the arm if it is in your budget. If you like some of the audiophiles I know love getting a bargin then I would get the latest Upgrade, Platter, springs, motor and add the vaccum. After that I would add the fantastic Rega RB-300 or better Origin Live wiring. As for the cartridge AT OC9, Grado wood body $300 cartridge, Benz Glider 2.

If you want to sell the FT-3 I will be glad to purchase it from you for a reasonable cost. Contact me at I have one with a damaged bearing. The FT 3 needs rewiring but once you find someone to do that you could buy a great Rega. The Audio Technica is a great cartridge. I haven't heard the latest one with the improvements but if you want highs that shimmer and spaciousness and excellent mid bass you will love the AT OC9. The older version had great bass but did not take you down to the lowest levels. I am not a big bass fan but when you listen to Grace Jones, "Slave to the Rhythym" you will hear things you never knew existed in the recording. The first time I heard it was on a Sota and A Rega RB 300 with a Audio Quest 404i cartridge. Moving Coils Rule. However, the latest Grados are excellent as well.

Yours In Listening
I've also had extremely good advice from Donna and Kirk at Sota.They truely care about their customers and products they offer.Going from the Sapprire to the Star is a major improvement however if you can spring for the Nova or Cosmos,you won't be dissapointed.Good luck.
Analogue lovers,

Appreciate your comments and recommendations. And it's nice to hear positive comments about the folks at Sota. I'll have to look into their upgrades.
Thanks again.

PS My wife was reading your responses over my shoulder and gasped at the costs of some of your recommendations. So selling her on the idea of an upgrade is really going to be a challenge. Pray for me!