Its funny the way a person calls a Turntable a deck. I thought you possibly meant a CD player. 25 years ago of course you would have meant a tape deck.
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I have the Rega P3, and my friend just got a Clearaudio Concept. Pretty big difference in price but you can find the Clearaudio used <$1000, and you mentioned the RP3. I realize the RP3 is a step up from my P3, but the Concept is in another league from my P3. If I were looking in that price range I'd definately have that on my list of possibles.
I agree with Sebrof. Find yourself a Concept used for about $1000 and you will not be disappointed. Even if you have to pay $1500 for a new one it is well worth the price and is in my opinion the best value in a "deck" under $2000. You can upgrade the cartridge over the years as well.
Another thing to strongly consider is buying a really good phono preamp. You will never get that great sound you are seeking without the benefit of a good preamp.
So I just checked out the Concept, and it looks great! And I'm definitely looking to upgrade the preamp, I think first though is to purchase a decent table though.
Right now, I have a Audio Technia little 70 dollar preamp, that does it's job, but I know I can find better.
And it's running into a Dennon AVR-791 receiver, which I'm sure isn't ideal, but space constraints call for an multi-purpose audio solution, which I have my TT, my cable TV, and my computer running through.
All that is coming out of a pair of Epos ELS 3 speakers(which I got off A-GON a few years back at a GREAT price, and I love them)
I'll definitely keep my eye out for a Concept table, but if I do indeed go new, price difference between the table with a MM and MC cart is substantial (well, for me anyway) Is the extra 500 bucks for the MC cart really worth it? I feel like anything over what I have is an improvement so I'm sure I'll be happy with the MM cart, but I'm just curious about it.
You might also consider a VPI Scout. They have their admirers and their detractors, but for $1,000 or less used, they are hard to beat. A very broad upgrade path exists as well, if you find you like the basic sound. And the resale value is likely to remain high, so you are unlikely to be stuck with it if you decide you do not like it.
I also agree on the reco for a phono stage. Depending on your cartridge, etc. there are some fairly nice ones for not a lot of money. For instance, I picked up a Benz phono stage for less than $500 (for a second system) and I've been amazed at how clear and articulate it is.
Hope this helps!