Is your OL Illustrious tonearm a recent MK3C? Properly set up I was able to use mine with excellent results on a OL Resolution mk3-2 with their speed control (LSC) upgrade. I used a Ortofon Windfeld Ti, Kiseki Purpleheart, and Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum. The arm is now moved to a dual arm OL Sovereign paired with the Enterprise C arm. Your arm takes a little attention to detail, as all do, to perform at a high level but you may be shortchanging yourself expecting to better its performance as well as acquiring a different TT in the price range you are targeting.
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Thanks to all of you for your suggestions, certainly open to more but I will pursue some of these. The Reed tonearm looks really nice but above my budget unless discounts and/or package dials are available..
I bought my Reed 3p "12 as a demo from the manufacturer, you could look for demo unit from the official dealers or simply on used market, it will save you a lot.
Denon DP-80 reference didn’t get me much except to a forum with little activity.
This is one of the best vintage Direct Drive turntables that luckily is not overpriced yet, tons of information here on audiogon from experienced members. In my opinion this is the one to grab quickly before it’s not too late. I bought mine after Victor TT-101, Technics SP10 mkII, Luxman PD-444 ... This Denon DP-80 is a high-end direct drive, very well engineered, highly recommended!
You will not find much even about top of the line and extremely expensive Denon DP-100, but it means absolutely nothing, because instead you will find so many information about mediocre turntables of today which does not make them any better than some unknown vintage gear.
How are the arms on the Technics?
Technics EPA-100 (and especially EPA-100 mkII) are superb for MM cartridges and for most of the mid compliance MC. They are better and more complicated than new Technics tonearms, but new are also nice.
SO you could buy new Technics SL1200G if you like new (complete system) for $4000
FWIW, should probably let you know, for much less than the cost of an arm you could tweak more performance out of your existing arm than you would believe. Maybe even more than any of the arm upgrades being considered.
First thing I would do is order some fo.Q tape and TC. This special tape has piezoelectric properties that transfer vibrational energy into heat. This lowers the noise floor dramatically revealing incredible inner detail and micro dynamics that really opens the sound up with a sensation of incredible presence.
I put one strip the length of the arm tube, on the underside where I don’t have to look at it. Very hard to see. Then I put more all around and under the base and counterweight area, again basically anywhere out of sight. But when you hear how good it works you might not care! It can also go on or near the motor, plinth, under the footers, anywhere you think it might be good to control vibration.
Its a super high quality tape with a beautiful adhesive that somehow manages to stick incredibly well yet be easily removed without leaving any residue. Just fabulous stuff. If you can’t use it all on the arm and table the rest can be used on speaker frames or the phono stage, just try it and see. For $40 by the time you use both sheets you will feel like you have a whole new arm.
Then coat all the fo.Q tape with TC. This will take the tape to a whole new level of refinement and extension. By the time you have done all this the improvement will be about as much, if not more, than when I went from a Graham 2.2 to OL Conqueror. In other words you get $3k of improvement for $350.
Next after that would be Synergisitic PHT. Green Dream and Black Widow. You can use both. Others who have followed my recommendation on this are really happy. Also ECT, which work great on the tone arm base. You can see all these being used on my table here. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367
Just a thought.
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