to upgrade or not, that is the question

There have been a number of posts from newbies asking about recommendations for turnables in the $100 price range. Most responders recommend getting something used for that price, and I agree. What I am wondering, however, is whether those of us who use turntables in the $500 range, used or new, are satisfied with the sound they are getting and if not, why? Or if so, have you listened to a high end table, compared to what you have, and felt the difference is not worth the difference in cost.

I realize there are many posts which claim phenomenal differences between one turntable and another, maybe only slightly more costly. I dont find that to be the case, and I am hard pressed to tell the difference between most tables between $500 and $1000 used. I am speaking about complete systems, table, arm and cartridge. There are a lot of choices in that range. Lots of older, former state of art such as vpi hw19, Oracle Delphi II, Sota Sapphire I, Linn Sondek etc.

This past year I have been lucky enough to own 3 newer exceptional turntables and have now found what I think I have been reading about where the differences between my old Delphi II and what I have now are easily heard by myself and others. I have been enjoying these tables immensely, and to quote an too often used phrase, have rediscovered my music. And when I play something familiar to someone that is used to an Ipod or cd in their car, they simply cant believe that vinyl can produce music like that.

So, to those that have decided to stay with what they have, in that under $1000 range, is it because the difference isnt worth the cost or do you just not think there is much difference beyond a certain point.

Oh, an try some JJ Grey & Mofro, Georgia Warhorse, for some real swamp rock reminicent of Credence Clearwater and nicely recorded.
Cost is the main factor for me-- I have always owned and used a modified Thorens 160 series, usually with a Grace arm and Grado, typically around 500 or less used. Even a stock TD166 with thorens arm is quite respectable and affordable. I have previously owned an Oracle Delphi I with SAEC arm, and more recently Rega P25, and both were light years ahead of my Thorens. The Oracle was perhaps TOO good, the speed stability and sliky quiet backgrounds really made most of my records unlistenable. All the stuff that supposed to be inaudible when the record was cut was now unbearable. I could only enjoy a few select "audiophile" recordings.

The P25 was different-- did most things right, but spins too fast. I could have upgraded the sub platter, but ended up selling it instead. Nice to have a fuss-free, no springs attached table for a change!

Now I'm trying an idler drive rek-o-kut with Linn Basik arm. It's quite good-- much better than I expected. Yes, its a bit primative, but a good design will hold its own for many decades. In some ways, better than my Thorens-- as people say, very "solid" sound but motor needs to warm up or its too noisy.

So, it is possible to upgrade without the steep price tag. Perhaps it's all a trade-off, but I really have not heard a tricked-out VPI yet, so what do I know :-)
Maybe you should have thrown in "tweek" as another option. Something as simple as new "tone arm wire" can make a big difference.
Odd that a more accurate sound would make your albums unlistenable. Maybe that phenomenom explains why the more people spend, the less satisfied they are. At least for some.

One issue I have with very speed-stable decks-- warps and off center pressings are very audible to me as pitch fluctuations. Even with a record clamp, most records are not flat enough or are not hole-punched dead center. As a musician, pitch fluctuations 33.3 times a minute is more than I can stand. My Thorens masks this with a slight motor cogging-- a fault I can live with.

One of my favorite records..."Aaron Rosand plays Sarasate" on Vox-- sounded quite bad on the Oracle. Audible fake reverb, adjacent groove echo, and of course pitch instability. Returned to my Thorens, all was good again.
I think the Rega P25 also masked some vinyl defects.

I believe amps can also hide faults in recordings, thus some prefer noisy carbon comp resistors to quieter, modern ones, and noisy tube amps are sometimes preferred to good chip-based amps. Silence is not a naturally occuring phenomenon, especially in a concert venue.

I suppose if LPs were all recorded and pressed without faults, I can justify an upgrade, but I buy my vinyl for musical merit alone. Interesting thread
Find yourself a used Nakamichi tx1000 which self centers a record if out of center wow is a problem.