the way turntable recs and evals are made here

How many starter, mid level, giant killer, top of the line turntable recommendation threads have we seen recently in this forum? I know there have been quite a few starter ones lately in the $400 to $600 range. Some like the Regas, some like the Pro-jects (while others rip them apart - not sure why this is), some like vintage and the list goes on.

So, how many people have actually heard all of tables they recommend with the following eval process:

- the same lp being played
- the same cartridge correctly setup on all eval tables
- the same system downstream of the eval tables
- the same room
- the same / similar mood of the listener

I find it somewhat frustrating it is not only hard to demo turntables in the Seattle area (I can find only Rega, Pro-ject and VPI dealers plus maybe a Clearaudio dealer) but it pretty much impossible to demo cartridges because of the setup time it takes to change cartridges. I know my local analog shop has the same Ortofon cartridge on Rega and Pro-ject tables in the price range listed above, but that only goes so far. And would the same dealer that is a die hard analog tube guy also sell both the Rega and Pro-ject tables if Pro-jects were deemed crappy because of their setup, carbon arm, etc?

I also find it frustrating that local dealers selling VPI tables only have a Classic on their floor. I've been dying to hear a Traveler and maybe a Scout for comparison.

Yes, demoing in your own house is best but not always possible. Plus, shipping turntables can be riskier than other equipment plus expensive. Some will let you bring home demos but if they do not have the demo product in the first place you are out of luck.

What are your eval opportunities for your local analog / turntable dealers and what is your eval process?
The first thing to do is take a deep breath and realize that once there were scads of entry level tables. Every major manufacturer made one. Now there are but a handfull, and IMHO the fittest have survived.

Once you get to the Project and Rega level all of your options are very accomplished turntables and there is not a dog in the bunch. And this is a good thing, since your odds of making meainingful comparisons are, as you have found, highly unlikely.

I truly don't think that you can buy a bad table, with the exception of all of those digitize it to your computer plastic things.

So why the difference of opinion? Well there will always be subjective preference. You like one flavor and I like another.

Since they are all good, and you understand the perils of shipment, perhaps you should shop for a dealer rather than a turntable brand. One that can support her products, do a decent setup for you, and advise you on proper siting of the table and help you to overcome any problems involved.

Just my 2 cents; good luck in the journey.
I rely on others reviews and opinions to get a baseline of what I think I might like. I then read information on the theory and features of those components to see if they make sense to me. Because of that, most of my main tables are suspended, with the notable exception of my Transrotor Fat Bob. After that, it comes down to price, as I always buy used. If something i am interested in becomes available at a price I can justify, I buy it. If it turns out not to be what I thought or wanted, I can always resell. Even if I sell at a loss, it is usually not a great loss, and much less than if I had bought the unit new.
So, since I can't meaningfully audition anything I'm interested in locally, I chalk my process up as a cost of doing business in this new economy. Its the same risk I take when I buy an album sight unseen or heard. If I like it, good for me. If not, I can live with the loss. Only you can decide if the time and effort of research, buying, listening and then maybe selling, packing and shipping is worth it to you. If you just want to make one purchase in a lifetime, then the odds are against you.
Good question!

My advice to someone who is mainly is it for the music is once you have a setup that sounds "right" stick with it until something wears out, breaks, or otherwise needs work to maintain quality.

OR if you are in it largely because you just like to dabble with turntables, then by all means have at it. But when I hear that changes are made frequently and all or most deliver "better sound", I gotta take that with a grain or three of salt.

I am in the first camp these days and plan to stay there until either one of us (my table or I) is no more....