tt advice. best arm/table combo around 4k used

looking for a good neutral turntable. looking at vpi; space decks; basis; etc. not a lot of comparisons. would like to have vta during playback. would appreciate your suggestions. i will be using a shelter 501mkII cart.
I would recommend that you look at the Michell Orbe SE turntable. Its an execellent suspension table with a very high quality motor and power supply. Michell has a good reputation for building outstanding tables with good value/dollar. They have been in this business for about 30 years.

For a tonearm I am not sure as I am unfamiliar with the cartridge you will be using.
If you are on a suspended floor, have speakers that do LOW bass, like listening at high levels, won't have the TT mounted on a concrete slab anchored 60 ft into the ground, etc... there is NOTHING that will touch a Sota Star Sapphire for the money in terms of isolation. Since minute vibration is how the signal is extracted from a record, isolation from external vibration is the mass majority of the battle. Especially when trying to achieve the highest level of resolution and tracking ability.

I just read an old review that did a direct head to head comparison between the Sota, a Linn LP 12 and an imported Japanese table that is no longer available. Here are some excerpted comments in regards to the Sota:

"Our best estimate is that the Star Sapphire's isolation from base-conducted vibration in the audio range is at least 40 dB better than the BEST we have previously measured !"

"Phenomenal" is the most conservative term we can apply to this performance.

"Placed on a sturdy base, which its 44+ pound weight surely justifies, it seemed to be immune to anything less than an explosion".

After badmouthing the Linn, this was the first sentence when going back to talking about the Sota:

"In contrast, the Sota Star Sapphire is almost literally a gem among turntables"

Further down in the article when talking about isolation, acoustic feedback, external vibrations, etc... they state:

"The Sota Star Sapphire is the turntable of choice in such a situation. If IT has feedback problems, switch to CD's or use headphones ! Nothing else i have seen comes even close to matching the Sota's solidity and immunity to external influences."

Couple the Sota Star Sapphire with an ET II air bearing arm and you're home free. Complete isolation from external vibrations, linear tracking so you have minimal to no tracking error across the ENTIRE disc ( unlike pivoted arms that are only "correct" at TWO spots on a 12" record ), an air bearing arm for no drag, etc...

On top of this, the ET allows adjustable vta on the fly and is capable of phenomenal performance once fully dialed in. This does take some time and patience though, but fiddling around with it can pay off big-time in terms of sonic dividends.

"For the record", i have the above mentioned set-up. I purchased this combo before i had read the review of the Sota. Needless to say, that review only re-affirmed what had made me select the Sota in the first place.

I am also in the process of setting up another Sota Star Sapphire with my Clearaudio / Souther TQ-1. As you can tell, i'm a "linear tracking fan" and put my money where my mouth is.

If he doesn't respond here, try dropping Albert Porter a line and see what he thinks. He's an acknowledged "vinyl guru". I know that he likes the Basis tables in this price range and i'm sure that he can recommend an arm to go with it. I know that he has mentioned the Graham to me before but don't know about compatibility with this table. Either way, i'm sure that he'd be glad to help you out. He's good like that : ) Sean

As an owner of a VPI turntable for more than 10 years, I can certainly recommend you give serious consideration to the VPI Aries -- either the standard version, or the newer "hot rod" version.

However, if I were buying a new turntable today, the new line of Acoustic Signature turntables would be near the top of my list. They have gotten some excellent reviews, and they have been on an introductory sale at Jerry Raskin's Needle Doctor ( The top-of-the-line model, the Acoustic Signature Analog One MkII, has a MSRP of $5,500, but is currently on sale at the Needle Doctor for $2500. Combine this turntable with a good tonearm, and you'll have a hell of an analog front end for about $4k NEW.

Among the tonearms you might consider for this table -- either new for the less expensive models, or used for the pricier ones, are: the VPI JMW 12.5 or 10.5; the Graham 2.0 or 2.2; the Wheaton Triplanar (used)l and the new Rega RB1000 (MSRP $1500).
Just read the previous post concerning a recommendation for a SOTA with an ET2 tonearm. Since the SOTA is basically suspended down on springs (rather than on top of springs), using it with a linear tracking arm like the ET2 will cause it to move perpendicular to the direction of the suspension. More than one reviewer has made note of this and this may be something you'd like to consider.
I agree with Scott. The Acoustic Signature's at least look very nice for the money. Don't know a whole lot about them though, but i bet that they might be worth checking out.

I would venture to say that those tables along with the VPI's, Linn's, etc... would probably benefit pretty measurably from a lot of isolation "tricks". This is not to say that they are bad tables at all, only that they are pretty susceptible to external vibrations. The above mentioned article that i made reference to really went to town on the Linn and its sensitivity to external vibration. On the other hand, I know several guys running VPI's that absolutely love them.

The guy that i bought my Star Sapphire / ET II combo from went to a VPI / pivoted arm. He told me that it was much more convenient to use since the arm wasn't as finicky and he didn't have to have multiple hoses and an air pump to deal with. As such, he said that he was listening to more records now and able to enjoy them more due to less hassle and "cluster" to worry about. If you've ever seen one of these set-ups, you'll probably understand : )

Sknnyc, you're loosing me on this one. Can you or anyone else explain what your talking about a little better or point me to an article that can ? Thanks for mentioning it, as i was unaware of any so-called problems that existed with this combo. Then again, sometimes we don't notice something until someone points it out to us. Even if it was right in front of your face the whole time. Sean