The Rega P1 is quite a bit under $500, and I believe Music Hall still has at least one under that figure as well.
13 responses Add your response
Here's my best shot for excellence in vinyl playback for $500 range:
Lenco L 75 on eBay. If you are lucky, you might find one for under $300. Easy to tear apart and bring it to perfection, mechanically (see lencolovers.com for instructions).
Build a plinth- easy to do. Time consuming with planning involved.
Eventually, you will want to replace the arm and cart which will be an additional $500 to $1k.
But, your friend will have an EXCELLENT turntable and spend all his free time scrounging for more and more LPs. Why? Because he/she will be in analog heaven.
See my system for a Lenco I just complete (my 6th). It is dated 8/28/08.
Of course, this one is 4 times the price you mentioned, however, with some elbow grease, a little luck and a few tools, you can get real close with your budget.
Don't waste your money on a cheap belt drive.
08-28-08: LearsfoolWell, I know there are still entry-level tables between $300 and $400, but they are starting to creep towards $500, and almost all of the European-sourced $500 belt-drive 'tables have been moved up to the $700-$1000 range.
You can buy Technics SL12xx MKII series. You will be hard pressed to find another table in its price range or double that to compete with it.
Don't rule out good used vintage stuff from the late 70's and early 80'.s Japan Inc. made some very good tables back in the day, ones that would still sit proud against popular ones today.
08-29-08: Les_creative_edgeHaving just had a listening session with a Rega P3/24, I have to say I'll take my Technics 1210 M5G with KAB fluid damper over the Rega any day of the week, and on any and all listening criteria--s/n, musical involvement, speed accuracy, and especially, how "real" and "in-the-room" it sounds.
My rig is a compelling listen.
Tell me something new. I would recommend going used. Dual 1229's used in manual mode are outstanding and robust. (I have a Grace 747 tonearm on mine) The idler wheel drive is dead silent and has pace, pitch and power like no ones business. Every now and then you;ll see a Thorens 124, or 150 at a fair price. The 124 is a jewell of a table. The 150, properly set up is as good as an LP 12. I also like the old Aristion RD 11s (the original Linn LP12). The motors, pulleys even the platter are directly replaceable with Linn units.
The Technics 1200 is as bullet proof a table as you will find. Direct drive or not, the are strong, and quiet. Parts are still available.
08-31-08: MgattoneAnd they LPGear sells'em even cheaper yet. There's some positive buzz out there for this turntable. At $200 or $300, I think it's a no-brainer over a Pro-Ject Debut III or Rega P1. It's such a close copy of the Technics, I wonder if KAB's fluid damper would fit on it. You can also experiment with headshells made of ZuMetal, magnesium, Technihard, ebony, boxwood, and others.
If the Origin Live armboard to adapt a Rega-geometry tonearm to a Technics fits, you could really put together something special for crazy-cheap:
SL-120 from LPGear: $205
OL armboard: $89
OL-1 tonearm: $240
= $544 for a transport with s/n and wow & flutter figures of a $4K turntable with the RB-250, which often shows up on $900-1200 belt-drive turntables.
Now THERE's a $500 turntable!