those are all excellent choices. i'd look at a used linn lp12 w/ valhalla as well.
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If you are going for used one, you would want to go for Basis 1400/Basis RB300(not like regular Rega arm!). Most-definitely you will need to change the phono. Monolithic phono is much better performer except the gain range(only 54dB max). Moreover it'll save you some bucks if you sell Black Cube and get Monolithic. A step up to improve will be EAR834 wich is available at bargain price if ordered directly from England. To me Black Cube and Phonomena both lack definition and imaging or simply saying their "floor" is too shallow.
I recommend the SOTA Star or Star-Sapphire with vacuum and an Audioquest PT-6 or newer tonearm. The suspension system in the SOTA is second to none. They are upgrade-able. Sota is selling upgrades as well as refurb units and there are plenty of used ones available.
You could also consider the SME tonearms. I agree with Marakanetz on the Black Cube...don't cut corners on the phono stage. You should plan to invest a similar amount ($1400-$1700) on the phono stage. The Krell KPE ($1600 new) is your best choice if like to rock. It has bass and slam that are just unbelievable.
Like the above poster, I would recommend a used Linn LP-12 w/Akito arm at that price point. Make sure you also have the Cirkus upgrade. You could probably also get the TT w/Lingo outboard motor instead of the Valhalla for your listed max price. The Lingo is a substantial improvement on the Valhalla; I found the Ekos tonearm not as noticeable an improvement on the Akito. My dealer disagrees strongly but I have to differ. The Akito is a fine arm and I don't even have the Akito II.
I don't mean any offense to the Linnies out there but I think the design of the Linn is very out dated and the sound especially in the bass region is bloated. I think all tables with spring suspension systems in them tend to sound very lush. I myself use a Michell Gyrodec which I think has many of the strengths of the Linn with better bass but is also a spring suspended table. From what I have heard and read, VPI tables are great and require little fuss with set up. I think the Linn requires more expertise to get it to sound right. My table the Gyrodec is also a pain in the neck to set up right. I have heard fantastic things about the nottingham tables and if I were buying right now I would probably buy one of those. I also think the basis tables sound good and are easy to set up. I've had a Rega Planar 2 but not their higher end tables. It sounded good but shallow in the bass and used to hum with Grado cartridges. Lastly I would consider two factors in purchasing a table, 1)fuss with set up and 2)if it's used the fussier it is to set up the more difficult it will be to ship. Unless the person you are buying from has experience packing turntables the table may not arrive in good condition.
Thanks to one, thanks to all. I have recently disposed of the Sonic Line 2. I have instead added a Kora Eclipse pre/phono with a Ensemble Megaflux power cable along with a Nottingham Spacedeck/Spacearm for my table. I will keep the Black Cube for a time to A/B against the Kora phono stage. If not all-world in sound, the system is getting to be all-world in manufacture! :-)
McCormack, Cardas, Zu, HT - US
Lehmann - Germany
Nottingham - Great Britian
Stratus - Canada
Ensemble - Switzerland
I will give this stuff a go for awhile, let the Zu and Cardas cables burn in, and then see where I need to go from there regarding wire, tube rolling, tweaks, etc.
Ejcj, I do not own a Linn, but know about the design. I don't understand your comments about it being outdated. Just about all the newer tables out there are merely copies of the Linn with fancy looking plinths. The precision bearing assy. with pointed spindle and diamond lapped thrust plate, and the suspended solid subframe which provides a rigid structural loop between platter, arm and cartridge is now standard design practice in high end turntables.I agree that there are several excellent turntables out there now, but to call the Linn outdated is going a bit far. Perhaps the set-up difficulties are a bit off-putting, but any bloated bass response may be due to to improper set up, or arm/cartridge combination, or even the turntable revealing a bloated speaker response which is very common.