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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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