Start with Project 1.2?

As a die-hard digital fan (ducks the chucked fruit) who wants to play the occasional record, does it make sense to start with something like the Project 1.2? I really like clean sound (read that: no pops, clicks, wow, flutter, hiss, etc) but am interested in seeing if I can hear the oft-mentioned warmth and quality of analog through my current gear. My early years of playing records were through gear that did justice to nothing but harmonic distortion. Given that most of what I was listening to at the time was not really much different than distortion it didn't make much difference. Once I started to transition to classical, jazz, folk, etc I really wanted to find better sound. I'm obviously looking to make the minimal investment that will still be worth listening to. If it truly takes, like, $2000+ to get a reasonable setup it ain't going to happen for me. FYI, my (tube) preamp already has the appropriate inputs for a turntable.
This is not a troll, but a serious question from someone who had really bad experiences with analog, albeit on crap gear.
I'd go with something well known and used so, if you don't like it, you can easily sell it. For example, a Music Hall MM7 is available now in the classifieds for about $750, with cartridge. If the popping and hisses drive you nuts, you can always sell it. Conversely, if you end up loving it and feel the need to upgrade, you can sell it on your path to analog nirvana (there's also a good deal on an Origin Live Aurora Gold setup right now -- that is one nice turntable, but above your price range).

Cleaning the records helps with the noise, but you really can't escape it unless the records are new or mint. Cleaning is a whole sub-culture and involves much research, possibly some machines, and trial and error.

Do make sure what your preamp can accommodate. Not all cartridges are high enough voltage so check to make sure the preamp is set for both moving magnet and moving coil. If it is, you're probably OK. Otherwise, make sure you determine the cartridges output voltage before buying the turntable or you may need to buy a separate phono preamp.
Hi, I was faced with the same questions you are asking only a few months ago. It was my birthday and my girlfriend wanted to get me a TT(and listen to her records..hehe) but I didn't want to get a junky TT. I had a price limit of around $350. I went on the Needle doctor site and found a Project RM-4 table with a grado blue cart for $450. So I splurged a little and it turned out to be a descent table for the money. It's a no frills, manual TT but the sound is good enough for me in terms of getting back into vinyl and enjoying my old records. Check it out online you may like it.
I have been running a Project 1.2 for about 3 years now. Re pops and clicks, even after getting a record cleaning machine and with a huge availability of mint vinyl (Los Angeles) they are still there but well managed. This will be true regardless of the table. Record maintenance is a time consuming fact of life and probably not for everybody.

Now about the 1.2. Mine came out of the box with a Sumiko Oyster. It was not until I upgraded to a Grado Red that this setup showed up my CDs. Nothing earth shattering, but my best listening experiences, i.e. realism of presentation, depth of soundstage, emotional high, etc..., have been on vinyl. So the 1.2 is capable but not perfect. It does occasionally reveal some wow/flutter and the Grado likes to 'dance' around on some records. I hear Ortofons are better about this. The previously mentioned RM-4 is probably a better deal in the end since it comes with a better cartridge and the price of the 1.2 has gone up I believe.

For reference my CD player is an Ah! 4000 with Siemens tubes, which by itself sounds pretty damn good.
I didn't want to wait so I pulled the old direct drive from the basement along with some pretty pristine records from our combined collection. All I can say is WOW ! Even with a run of the mill Pioneer table and an audio technica cartridge ( that I'm sure I paid about $25 for) these albums sound great ! I can begin to see what the hubbub is about. I'm not sure where I'll go from here, probably something like one of decent upgrades pointed out above. (I keep drooling over at needledoctor) Right now I am enjoying the 'alive' sound that these albums have ( even with click, pops, and so on).
I did't get many responses, but the ones I did get forced me to reevaluate my assumptions and I'm grateful that I did.
I won't get rid of the Rotel cd player any time soon, but we'll be spinnin' albums around here a lot,...
I STRONGLY advise to go the quartz-locked direct drive route. You can start with $500 or so and then buy mods. The mods will slingshot the deck into multithousand dollar performance.

This is what someone e-mailed me a few weeks ago:

"Thanks again for taking the time to help's great not to have
to go it alone with a new table/arm...hopefully it will my last for
awhile...BTW--great recommendation on the SL. I've had a Linn, Denon,
Rega, two Thorens, a Music Hall, Luxman and a Dual and the SL-1200 is
the best by far. On one hand, I wish I bought it years ago...on the
other hand, I'd never have been fully able to appreciate it had I not
wasted so much money on's really amazing more people don't
appreciate this 'table..."

Take this from someone who's got a Dan Wright modded *belt drive* CD transport...

Instead of getting a whole new deck, keep using table you got, but for sure get a new cartridge. Jack's Music Factory is a great source (just google it). You can get setup gear at

And if you want clean records, spend the $80 for Disc Doctor brushes and fluid. Excellent stuff, provided you follow the instructions. Seems like a lot of work, but if you set it up assembly-line style, it's similar to doing the dishes.
In case anybody cares, I'm back to spinning vinyl and loving it. I upgraded my cartridge to a Grado Blue. I still have some tweaking and much album cleaning to do, but for now the vinyl bug is firmly entrenched. I'll continue to play vinyl and will probably start buying certain recordings on this medium. I am certainly going to go through the album collections of all friends and family to rescue anything not being played and will probably scope the area garage sales. Thanks to the folks who took the time to reply.