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Not in any particular order, Basis Mk4 (or 5), VPI TNT, Walker Proscenium, Rockport Cirrus, Immedia RPM, SME 20, Goldmund Reference, Versa Dynamics, and probably for sheer popularity and/or value, the Well Tempered and the Linn. Fortunately, there are a good number of beautifully performing turntables to fit every size, price, ultimate performance or simplicity of choice option to fit any buyer's needs.
As a breakthrough design, I have to pick the original AR turntable (1962) as one of the most significant tables. While the arm had excessive friction, the table itself revolutionized the genre. The three point suspension and low speed synchronous motor in conjunction with proven belt drive addressed the most significant limitations of those that preceded it, i.e., acoustical feedback at loud levels, suseptibility to shock and audible rumble frequency. An audio shop in Evanston, Illinois offered a conversion for the table that fitted an SME arm which should have made for an excellent combination.
I have had little experiene with some of the elite turntables, mainly brief audtioning in audio shops, but those that have been in my possession or close ear are as follows. My favorite to date is the Clearudio Reference with Clearaudio Souther tonearm. Followed by, Versa Dynamics. I ived with VPI TNT with most of the upgrades for nearly 4 years. It was really quite good, but did not match the dnamic charge of the other two I noted. Good luck, other than the cash involved, they are all worth of auditioning.
I've always been impressed with the Basis Debuts and Ovation. Also, I have a warm spot in my heart for the Well Tempered, which is what got me back into analog in the late 80s and is really an innovative design. And a special vote for my son's old Fisher Price, which was indestructible even though, after the 500th consecutive playing of Big Bird's greatest Sesame Street hits, with my son sliding the needle over the whole record to play it again every time, I felt like throwing it out the window.....
AR- historic/influential Linn Sondek-successful/influential Transcriptors-innovative Roksan-innovative/radical Townshend-obsessive Well Tempered-innovative Verdier Platine-innovative Oracle Delphi-styling Roksan XerxesX/TMS-musical Michell Orbe-musical Nottingham Analogue Mentor-musical Verdier Platine-musical The Voyd(AudioNote)-musical Townshend Rock-musical Well Tempered Reference- musical Oracle Delphi MkIV /V-musical Linn LP12/Naim Armeggedon-musical
Well lets throw Rega Planar into the mix here. The Model 2 and 3 have become legendary hallmark turntables almost since day one. The early versions had the Lustre Arm, then Rega developed their own arm the RB 300. The Planar 3 with Rega RB 300 tone arm is truly an outstanding combination.
Few products in high end audio have enduring value. The Rega Planar 3 certainly fits that description to no end. Is there better? Sure there is, but at what cost. The return on investment, one would be sorely tested to do better and with a company still in business all these years,it becomes a moot point. Truly a icon product that has passed the test of time.
elizabeth...As it happens, for the first time I have seen a Sony PSX800 turntable for sale: current bid is $115 and we'll see what it sells for. You may be right about the price, even if I am right about the quality of this item.
The question is: Why would an outstanding turntable not command a higher price? Here is a theory...Only audiophiles still have any interest in turntables. The PSX800, as I stated, goes against all the accepted characteristics of audiophile turntables. It is direct drive, ugh! (Well maybe some direct drive tables have problems, but not this one). It was made by a mass market manufacturer. It is fully automatic, ugh! ugh! The servo controlled "biotracer" arm requires an engineering degree (and microprocessor experience) to understand. (I was always afraid it would go into "woodpecker mode" but it has never happened). Since I plan to keep mine forever, its resale value is interesting, but not a concern.
By the way, popularity of the AR turntable is easily explained..nostalga. I was around when it was introduced, and it really was a breakthrough. Soft suspension with the arm moving with the platter, belt drive instead of those horible rubber idler wheels, synchronous motor, and all for an affordable price. Many people feel about the AR turntable the way I feel about 1947 Dodge cars, and my first real girlfriend.
There are several Rega 3 on the Audiogon site and eBay site for some very nice prices. I picked one up recently for $325.00 with Sumiko BP cartridge. Sold the cartridge for $125.00. Seeing as I have 2 more of the BP Im not using. Installed a very nice Signet MC. So basically got a very nice table for $225.00. Some serious shopping could yield the same results.
The Oracle Alexandria certainly merits a nod. While not quite in the same league as thier Delphi it offers a very high level of performance. The one in my collection is the Mark I with Sumiko Premier FT3 tone arm with Dynavector 23R MC cartridge. For me this is as good as it gets,unless I decide to move up to the Oracle Delphi. This one was acquired off eBay about two years ago. Since then have installed the Mark II suspension upgrade, which is really worth the time and effort,made a large difference in sonics and performance. Well thought out design with way above average parts and build quality are the benchmarks of the Alexandria with stunning good looks as a bonus. Well worth seeking out,plus Oracle is still in business. So service is there should you need it. Never get tired of listening to this combination. Just stellar performance.
In no order, and includes only those that I've listened to carefully.
-Goldmund Reference w/ T3F arm
-Linn Sondek LP12 fully tricked out w/Ekos arm
-VPI Aries with JMW10.5 arm, flywheel, and SDS
-Rega Planar III w/RB300 arm
-Ariston RD11 Superieur w/Linn Ittok
-Pink Triangle w/ Syrinx PU2
-Oracle Alexandria (Brooks Mod) w/The Arm
-La Luce Spj
-Walker Proscenium Gold
I'm biased as an owner, but my vote goes to the legendary Voyd turntable. See - http://www.vinylengine.com/library/voyd.shtml - produced by Guy Adams in the UK and taken over by Audio Note in the 1990s who went on to manufacture a reall heavyweight variation called the Audio Note Reference (and to my mind impractical - 2BHP motors, times 3!).
It's a high-end turntable which doesn't look like an oil rig. The secret is in the three-motor design which gives massive speed stability without having to carry a heavyweight platter. See http://picasaweb.google.co.uk:80/nickmcb0/HiFiPics for details.
Teamed up with the Wilson Benesch Act 0.5 carbon fibre unipivot tonearm, the results are: crystal clear high notes, soulful midrange, powerful musical bass, inky black background.
It's Selling on Ebay just now, as I'm moving towards digital and fed up with miles and MILES of cable connecting all my separates ... or maybe it's just middle age.
Continuum Caliburn, of course!
Not just because I distribute them (I am biased, after all), but because they changed the rules and elevated design out of a 2-dimensional realm into the 3-D realm by employing a combination of FEA analysis and AI reshaping programs (http://www.advea.com/) to enhance their (already sufficient) staff of uber-engineers.