I would buy a used Clearaudio Performance or VPI Classic instead of a used anything in that price range.
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Concur with Macdadtexas. Both he and I drive a Classic with VPI Zephyr cartridge. Be advised that a new Zephyr has a MSRP of a grand last time I checked. I picked up a used Zephyr on A'GON with about 10-20 hrs on it for $700.
The only caveat I have with the Classic is that it comes stock with a VPI JMW uni-pivot arm. The uni-pivit is a quirky arm because it is balanced on a needle-like steel tip. So the arm rolls around a bit. Azimuth is a bitch to adjust but I have read that Sound Smith sells a device called the Counter Intuitive that makes azimuth adjustments easier.
The reason I like the Zephyr is because it's a fine sounding MI cartridge with output of 2.3+ mV that works really well on the Classic. This is no surprise because Harry Weisfeld of VPI and Peter Ledermann of Sound Smith collaborated on the design of the Zephyr.
Can't speak to the Clear Audio Performance, but I have read good stuff about it. Clear Audio also makes some really fine cartridges like the Virtuoso Wood and the Maestro Wood.
I doubt you will go wrong either way. Just understand that the Classic's arm can be funky, but with the right cartridge and set up, it sings.
There are really nice options in this price range and the VPI and Clearaudio tables mentioned are both excellent and front runners. But since neither is to my taste sonically, I will throw out some other options.
Nottingham Analog makes some nice decks and arms, the Space with arm should be in your range.
The Michell TechnoDec is a killer turntable that doesn't get a lot of press on this side of the pond. This is the one that I would be spending my own money on.
Origin Live has a nice deck, the Aurora MK2 that has really good pace and drive.
The humble Rega P5 gives a perception of poor material value, but sometimes material value and sonics are not at all congruent. Though not my first choice, it is a nice deck for quite a bit less money.
If I buy a used table I am concerned that it may not be set up properly or modified. If I buy a new table from a local dealer, I can have the dealer install the cartridge and make all the adjustments. That way I know everything is set up properly. I would have no problem buying a used table from a dealer but so far I have not seen one that I like.
Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. Both the Michell TechnoDec and the Origin Live Aurora MK2 look very interesting. I will see if I can find local dealers. I had also thought about a VPI Scout. The Classic is a bit out of my price range.
Buy your cartridge from you dealer, they will set it up, pretty simple. None of the tables mentioned really get modified. Just buy one standard from someone here, most of us "exchange" gear on here all of the time.
I reiterate my love of the Clearaudio Performance, simple, great sounding table, easy to live with.
Macdadtexas, That is a very interesting point that I had not thought of. My main reason for wanting to buy new was so that I could have someone who knows what they are doing setup the table. Buying used would give me a lot more options. It never occurred to me that I could just buy the cartridge from a local dealer. Assuming that I did this, how expensive should it be to have the dealer install it and setup the table? I had assumed that if I purchased both the table and cartridge from them it would probably be included . Thanks!
Nottingham, Michell, Origin Live, VPI, Clearaudio will all sound different. Not to mention cartridges. What kind of sound are you looking for? They may also require to various degree different isolation approaches and particular choice of these products especially if you want to fine tune your system. Analog is more than just getting a good table. And what about the phono stage and cable, by the way?
I mainly listen to classic rock. But also some blues, jazz and classical. I like a very accurate and detailed sound with excellent imaging and soundstage. Nothing that sounds overly romantic or syrupy. I have owned a number of amp/preamp combinations in the past 20 some years but I have always come back to ARC gear.
My system consists of an Audio Research Ref 110 amp, Audio Research LS25 mk2 preamp and Martin Logan SL3 speakers. I will probably get a used Audio Research PH5 or PH7 phono preamp but that is not written in stone.
As I said I have not had a turntable since the early 90's and that was an inexpensive Harmon Kardon. I had bought it along with a HK 680i back in the mid 80's. I don't remember ever playing with the setup or doing much to it.
For a budget like yours, your desire for simple set-up and desire for a new table I'd look into the Well-Tempered Simplex. It has great reviews as does the higher priced Amadeus. An ingenious design, no need for separate arms or temptations for tonearm swapping.
I have an Amadeus and it sounds fantastic. Not sure if the Simplex is available in the US or not yet, but shouldn't be too long if its not currently available.