The AR turntable

I have a mint AR turntable that I bought new in about 1985. It has a Rega RB300 arm, Blue Point from the mid-90's, and a machined armboard I think I bought at Audio Advisor.

It's been in storage for several years. I pulled it out yesterday, dusted it off and hooked it up to my Rogue Magnum 99/McCormack DNA 1-A+++/ Martin Logan Ascent/Depth system, and was blown away by how good it sounded for such an old piece of gear.

It has me considering either selling it and replacing it with something newer (and presumably better), or spending a few bucks to upgrade it.

What's the received wisdom on these ideas? I'd like to spend no more than $1000-$1200 net (i.e. after selling it if I go that route).

Your insights would be appreciated.

Happy New Year to all Audiogoners!
Dump the tonearm and find a nice pre-owned SME or Graham.

You can upgrade the existing tonearm all you wish but at the end of the day it's still a Rega.

If you decide to sell everything, buy a pre-owned table/tonearm from a seller with good feedback. Analog is hot at the moment and many folks are upgrading. Bargains abound.

It will buy a lot more performance as opposed to purchasing new.
If its so good, why do you want to upgrade. If you do - a better cartridge would be appropriate
I owned one of these; wish I still had it.
If its so good, why do you want to upgrade

Stringreen, you know better than to ask that question - this is Audiogon, after all. :-)

Bbopman, if you decide to sell and replace the AR, you'll get many different recommendations. I've had suspended tables in the past, but now that I have solid floors I prefer unsuspended designs. Right now it's a Technics SP-15 with a Rega RB-250, but my Well Tempered Record Player was pretty good too, if you like to futz. It's more a matter of taste than any inherent advantage.

If you decide to upgrade, go here:

and you can see all the options for upgrading. I've corresponded with Dave and he's very knowledgeable about AR and vintage TTs in general. He'll be able to lay everything out for you.

Good luck! You're already starting in a pretty good place.

anything else you get, won't be 'the' ar turntable. the arm could go, but the table is forever.
Ditto Armstrod..I am waiting for an AR AX rebuilt/modded by Dave at ; if you already have a nice the ar tt, he's the Go To guy.
Thanks for the replys.

Springsteen: What I meant was that I had forgotten how engaging vinyl can be after several years of listening only to CD's/SACD;s through my Wadia 830/ Sony 333ES. My real question was this: If 25 year old gear is this good, is the newer stuff THAT much better? In other words, for $1500 to $2k, what is the best way to listen to vinyl?

I have maybe 500 LP's, mostly unduplicated by my 2000 or so CD's, so it would be great to to get reacquainted with all the music I "left behind" when we bought a new house several year ago and I packed up the T.

I still have a hard timing writing a check for four figures for an arm or cartridge, but can if that's the best way to go.

thanks again to all who took time to reply.
Although there are certainly better tables than the AR, you may have to pay more than your budget allows. I would second A'feil's arm recommendation or similar and then think about the cartridge. If you want to go for the throat then be prepared to spend more.
Keep it for awhile. It's more than good. You might find it is all you need. The only thing I would consider is a new cartridge. The Bluepoint is OK but you can do better for not much money. The table is fine and the arm is good.
I disagree about replacing the Rega. The Rega is a great match for this TT and an SME (Im asuming a 309 IV or V) or a graham would be overkill. I have set up and restored many of these and they are a fine table. To get noticably better performance you will have to spend serious money. Check the AR forum on vinyl engine and as mentioned above Dave, also Sound of the wood Eric Whitacre. The most beneficial upgrade is an improved motor and power supply. If you want you can go nuts with upgrades and teaks on this table which is one of the things that makes it so much fun to own.
>>I still have a hard timing writing a check for four figures for an arm or cartridge, but can if that's the best way to go.<<

If you're unsure, always stand pat. You'll enjoy any purchase much more it you are committed to it.

If you make only a single move, replace the arm. It's a loser.
I disagree that the Rega arm is a loser. It punches well about its' weight class and responds well to various upgrades. It is not a world class arm but quite good.
My guess is that if you were to keep your TT (for comparative purposes) and purchase something else that’s current and an upgrade, and do an A/B compassion you might find out that what you originally have sounds pretty darn good and the additional investment in a TT (might look better and mentally physic better) however not sound that much ($) better. Law of diminishing returns.
You can always try the above suggestion and be the judge yourself.
After all it doesn’t really matter what all of us think, just be happy yourself and enjoy the music.
Can't get much better for the kind of money you mention.
how good is the sound quality of your records? i have a mint copy (played a couple of times) of jefferson airplane-surrealistic pillow. i played it on my aries/benz fancy/schmansy system and it sounded AWFUL. HORRIBLE. i usually can just accept reality and enjoy the music but while i didn't rip it off the platter and throw it in the garbage, i wish to death i had a thorens td-160 with my old denon cartridge. on that machine rock and pop alblums sounded okay, certainly not in need of a complete overhaul (like getting the group back together again).
sometimes i feel a bit out of place talking about records. i have some nyp records from high school (with lenny doing overtures, rhapsody in blue, etc.) on columbia 360's. those records sound INCREDIBLE on my system and i played them into dust (i thought). i can put up with the pops and scratches ALL DAY on those records. but alot of what i "thought" were decent records are junk. my beloved copy of "sweet baby james"? not good, just doesn't sound right anymore. i hear they recently re-did it in "audiophile". for $30? could i get a copy for $15 please?
anyway, if you have some very, VERY good sounding records, a better turntable is more revealing which sometimes means WAY BETTER SOUND. if you have allman brothers and lynard skynard (just an example!), keep the AR and make sure the cartridge's needle and cantilever are in excellent condition.
french fries.....i still have a goldmund studio/orion helius combo to remind me of why a stick with my thorens for everyday use....and yes surrealistic pillow rocks!
I doubt if you will improve on the table for the amount you mention. I would concentrate on small upgrades like building a good support for it if you dont have one and eventually upgradeing the cart. I use SME arms myself but have used Rega and they are good arms. I am not sure the difference would be audible on the AR and it would certainly not be cost effective.
Ignore the negative comments on the Rega arms. It is a solid arm offered at a price that is an incredible value. I've heard literally dozens on these mid-80's ARs.

I sold my AR ES-1 just a couple of years ago, purchased new in mid-1980's. It definitely has a warm, musical sound, deep but slightly soft bass. Personally I love turntables with suspensions (many don't) for their palpable and musical sound. I'm trying to remember why I sold it..... I do have a $6000 rig based on Basis 2001 which is substantially more neutral and detailed while still quite musical. However it was a stuggle to find a modern turntable that was satisfying musically while also achieving a substantial increment in sound quality.
The AR is a solid tt. I owned one with a Premier MMT arm for a few years. I replaced it with a VPI W19 MK3 with Grado arm, and in my opinion the overall improvement in resolution, bass extension, and overall refinement was very significant, and not subtle. What the AR did have, in comparison, was a nice sense of drive, or prat. But the soundstage was smaller, the sound less weighty, and a little cloudy in general. I would rate your Rega arm as superior to the Grado arm; so add that to the mix. A friend has that HW19 with a Rega arm, and the sound is very good. IMO, in a different league than what I had with the VPI/Grado combo.

My advise would be to keep the Rega, and mount it on a VPI HW19 Mk3, or better yet a MKIV. For an investment of well under $1000, you will realize a very significant improvement in sound.

Good luck.