I have both a custom VPI HW-19 and an Oracle Delphi MKIV that I've had for many years and still absolutely love and use all the time, (along with several other tables).
But, my end all be all turntable, if and when I could ever afford it, would be a Transrotor DarkStar Reference with a Kuzma 4Point arm. Maybe someday.
I have had my Basis Ovation for over 25 years, only upgrading it once to add the Debut's platter and vacuum hold-down system. Superbly engineered table, as is everything from Basis, works flawlessly
and is very satisfying. If I had additional funds I might want the Basis Inspiration table, but now that I'm retired that's not likely.
As long as the magnets continue to not like each other. and provide repelling force to lift a heavy platter.
JC Verdier La Platine Granito Original Thread Design.
If one day they decide to call a truce, they unite, and the platter collapses; I won't worry about it, because this world will have bigger problems.
I've had an AR ES-1 for 30 years. It's had every upgrade out there so by now the only original thing on it is the plinth, but it is not my last table. In the last couple of years I'd been planning to move to a table with either two arms or an easy way to swap cartridges. I was looking for a good arm with a removeable wand or headshell when I happened to find Harry Weisfeld offering a Classic 3 from his retirement "Harry's Workshop" venue. I figured "what do I have to lose" and went to hear it for myself. I came home with what I hope will be the last table I will buy. The upgrade path is there if I choose to use it, but I'm pretty sure I won't have to look for another outright purchase again.
Even a Linn LP12 sold in 1973 can be brought to current production standard. And with 150,000 LP12's in circulation, Linn has incentive to continue to improve the LP12. Linn is a substantial company with 150 to 200 employees, far larger than practically any other current turntable manufacturer. Linn has implemented a succession plan as Ivor Tiefenbrun's son now runs the company. So, the company appears to be here to stay, something that a much smaller company has a harder time assuring.
An LP12 with Cirkus bearing, Keel subchassis, Radikal motor and power supply and Ekos SE tonearm is a very high quality turntable, something toward which one can build if starting with the humbler Majik LP12. So as one's financial ability improves during a lifetime, the LP12 offers ways to improve, too.
The Turntable I purchased a lifetime ago and is still with me (sort of) - the Rega Planar II - way back in 1981.
Since then I've applied several upgrades - to the point where the only original parts left on it is - the lid/cover and the on/off switch.
I started with relatively small "tweaks" - like the Michell Techno-weight, the Cardas Incognito one piece tone-arm harness upgrade, a ceramic bearing and the Rega Motor upgrade kit.
Then the more serious tweaks, such as replacing the plinth, replacing the Glass platter with an acrylic one, replacing the sub-platter with a high tech aluminum sub-platter and finally - replacing the RB250 tonearm with an Audiomods Series 3 Tone-arm.
I could have simply replaced the old TT - but this was much more fun!
It would be really difficult to part with it after that "journey" :-)
Mine was custom built. The table itself was made from 12" dia. aluminum bar stock... Platter is 4" thick & plinth is 2" thick. The flywheel was made from 3.5" aluminum bar stock. Bearings were hand lapped & made of brass / hardened steel. The motor housing is also made of aluminum & holds a Hurst 300 RPM AC synchronous motor. The tonearm stand is adjustable & separate from the table. Everything is powder coated red &/or black with .75" thick white marble (sitting on .125 sorbothane) between the platter & the plinth. I'm using a Pole Star tonearm with a Denon DL-S1 cartridge. It took me over a year (worked on it in my spare time) to finish this project but have been enjoying it now for almost three years. It looks & sounds wonderful.
Maplenoll apollo is my lifer, its a massive table that had been modded personally by Lloyd before he started his current company. I have modded the tonearm and i believe it will match up with any table out there. Its not the prettiest or a sleekest table with all the bells and whistles but when the stylus hits the vinyl, you are transported to nirvana. I do have a trail of used tables to get here but i do not see another table in my future
Years ago I rebuilt an old Dual 1229 and installed a Grace 747 on it. I use it every day, and have never had a problem. It functions flawlessly, is dead silent and looks great in its refinished plinth and since I did the work myself It's probably my favorite piece of hi-fi. It repalced my Linn Sondek LP12, which I was never found of. (I know many love their LP12's)
Recently I finished a garrad 301 grease bearing table. Im using an SME 3009 on it with with great results. I suppose I lean toward the old vintage units for their sound and build quality. That and they are easily affordable. =)
In 2002 I began a search for the last turntable in my life. At that time there were some great choices, but not nearly the breadth of choice available today. I was fortunate to find my "turntable for life" back then, and it truly has proven to be exactly that: a table as competitive with the best today as it was over a decade ago: the Walker Proscenium turntable.
In the past decade, the Walker Proscenium has further evolved to the Proscenium Black Diamond version: https://walkeraudio.com/proscenium-black-diamond-v/
Mine is the earlier Proscenium Gold. But the core of the table is the same, and it could be fully updated should I choose to do that. I doubt that I will -- this table continues to be just so deliciously great at what it does. My comments on this forum from a dozen years ago still apply: https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/review-walker-audio-proscenium-gold-signature-turntable
Today, we are fortunate to have many really great new turntable designs and if I were starting my search today, and depending on my budget, I would love to explore the current offerings from Brinkman, Galibrier, Kronos, TW Acustic, VPI, Walker Audio (the new Procession turntable).
Yet I have not interest in changing from the Walker Proscenium. It continues to deliver on all of those aspects of sound reproduction that are important to me.
Best wishes for those moving forward in your search. It's an important search because the sound we get is only as good as what is being extracted from the vinyl grooves at this earliest point in the reproduction chain. If the information is not coming off the grooves, no amount of investment further down the component change can replace the loss.
The Walker is quite a bit out of the league I play in with the old Dual and Garrard. I remember seeing these at CES years ago. Amazing fit and finish. At the time they were really one of the few who were competing against micro-seki. One would be hard pressed to find a nicer table. It truly is a turntable for life. One thing that I remember is that there used to be quite a few companies that were modding micros, but I don't believe anyone offers "upgrades", (different bearings, platters, motors, belts, etc) for the Walker. To me, that meant that they got it right the first time! Which I truly believe they did.
Off to read your review.
I would prefer a Rockport. I remember clearly the Stereophile review if that turntable, I think in 1996. I can't get past the Cobra arm, and of the two people I know that actually have it, they say it's a total pain in the butt to set up and swap out cartridges. Something it shouldn't be for the price paid.
I have a turntable that looks a lot like an old Empire 208, but it has a different platter pad, damped platter and the plinth is machined from solid aluminum. Its equipped with a Triplanar arm.
Its been hard to beat. I've been running it since 1992. I have to replace the belt every 4-6 years or so.
The motor and bearings on this machine are proven bullet-proof. I've no doubt that it will outlive me.
+1 to williewonka and smoffatt! The Planar II with a DV Karat 17 RS was the table that first taught me that audio could be a lifetime hobby full of magic. I replaced it with a new Sota Sapphire Series III in 1984 that I'm still using today. Had Sota upgrade it to the Series V platter & suspension along with a custom arm board for my Graham Phantom Supreme (sadly, only 18 months or so before Kirk passed away). There is better stuff out there, but not by leaps and bounds to my way of thinking. I'm satisfied and now spend my time searching for new music instead of chasing table tweaks. That's what I call happy listening!
First of all, I am not claiming that any of my "lifetime" turntables (plural) is "the best". I can only say that I've arrived at a place where I feel no urge ever to make major changes. I own 5 turntables, but my lifetime keepers in no particular order are: (1) Technics SP10 Mk3 chassis mounted in 100-lb slate and wood plinth incorporating an Albert-Porter-designed damper block on its bearing and the Krebs mod; (2) Kenwood L07D; (3) Lenco L75 mounted on PTP3 in slate plinth with "Jeremy" Superbearing and heavily dampened but stock platter. The latter using my own tiptoed Del Monte Mandarin Orange slices in water footers. No belt-drives here. If there were, it would probably be a Kronos.
You read correctly, Peter. Of course, my way of describing them is meant for laughs, but I do use small cans of Mandarin Orange slices in water (sealed, of course) for footers on both my Lenco and my Denon DP80, which also sits in a slate plinth. I use 3 such cans per turntable. On the bottom side of each can I have affixed a Black Diamond Racing tiptoe, so that the can contacts the shelf via the tiptoe which in turn contacts only the top of the can, not the circumferential raised ridge, the idea being that energy coming up into the can would more readily vibrate the thin metal bottom of the can, which energy would then enter the internal milieu and be dissipated. Ideally, I would put another tiptoe on top, between the can and the slate slab, but I've never gotten around to it because the footers "work" fine as is. The idea is that energy traveling in either direction will be absorbed and dissipated in jiggly the contents of the can. Having some unevenly distributed solid matter (the orange slices) floating in the water further should help dissipate energy (entropy, you know). FWIW, sauer kraut might work too. Probably canned peas too. But I like Mandarin orange slices, so I figured going in that if I did not like the footers, I could eat the contents. At $2 per foot plus tiptoes I had lying around, it was a low cost solution. Further, if you remove the paper label, the naked cans with their circumferential rings look rather Art Deco-ish.
To me, a nutcase is someone who spends hundreds or thousands of dollars on footers without looking at or thinking about the physics of what a footer needs to do and how the problem might be approached using readily available materials. But yes; I suppose I'm a nutcase for other reasons, like having 5 turntables.
i might add that once I committed to create the slates for the lenco and the denon, I needed also to have feet that were tall enough to keep the chassis from touching the shelf.
I have two Luxman PD444 turntables in long term use. One is 40 years old this year, the other is 36. They've outlasted numerous turntables used alongside them over the decades, including Linn, Pink Triangle, multiple VPIs. The only upgrades have been replacement of the stock sprung feet with a combination of brass cones, damping membrane and bearings, which improved the 444's sound substantially.
I have owned a Garrard 401, Linn LP12, SME20/2, KuzmaXL4 and now the DC motor version. I would certainly not recommend the Linn, I have heard a few TT which better or equal it at a lower price. I cannot see me changing the Kuzma now or in the future, it needs o be placed on a very solid foundation though.
I had a ProJect RPM 10.1 for a little over four years and this was the TT for me.
About 4 months ago I listen to the new VPI Prime using the same cartridge as my RPM 10.1 and much prefer the sound of my 10.1 I have recently sold it and put a down payment on the new ProJect RPM 10 Carbon which I will not get until early April of this year. For me, the ProJect RPM 10 is the Turntable for life. I love everything about it.