Turntable qualities

Can anyone describe the sonic differences between a $400, 800 and 1,500 turntable setup. I'm looking to get into vinyl again and can spend up to 1,500 but don't know if or why I should.
Have integrated with phono so don't need to worry about amp as part of cost.

Any solid recommendations would be nice too.

You will be presented with a few choice up to the $1500 range. I'll offer you one that will make life easier for you, present you quality sound and some easy along with affordable upgrades.

Technics SL-1200MKII series. Out of the box you get way more than just a $500 table. You get near 30 years of product continuity, which has recouped for Technics (Matsushita Co.) all of its R&D cost many times over. Really if a turntable maker were to R&D/design and introduce the SL-1200MKII series today it would have to retail easily above $2500 to make it worth while. Technics only has to now recoupe direct manufacturing costs today.

Try KAB USA for choices offed and suitable upgrades that may interest you. You can get one all upgrades for a little over $1000. That leaves you a few hundred $$$ to look into
some pretty good cartridge choices.
The differences amount to reduced distortion, IMO.

Reduced distortion will contribute to more refined highs, clearer midrange, and better micro detail and resolution.

Personally, I don't believe the differences between a $400 and $800 table will be significant. The difference between the right $1500 table and a $400 table will be audible.

I have no relation to this seller, but there is a nearly fully loaded KAB Technics SL1200 MK II presently listed for $700. It's a no brainer.

Spend an additional $110 and buy a MintLP Best Tractor for the Technics, and you'll be quite happy.

Thanks for the replies. I'll take a serious look at these tables and do some research.
Can someone comment on dollars spent for CD player vs dollar spent for turntable setup. I'm familiar with Ayre CD players Sim audio, Linn, etc in the 1k to 5k range. I can hear the differences in air, detail, presence, etc. I'm also familiar and really like the smoother analog sound.
Should I hold off and save more $$ to get the air and detail in a TT setup? I don't mean to rely on dollars but in general can I get the sound from a 1500 turntable in the above qualities that I can with a comparable $$ CD player?
There's simply no definitive answer to your question regarding CD versus Turntable, and relative dollars spent on each. There will likely be as many diverse answers are there are Audiogon members.

You're going to have to put in the money and time to listen for yourself. There's no shortcut.

Your playback collection (CD, vinyl) will dictate the answer to a large extent.
Wow, that's a hard one to answer. I've had a number of tt setups through the years $1.5k to $8k total price of analog setup. My digital setup is at about $8k. I seem to be in a tiny minority (perhaps a minority of 1), but I prefer my present digital to the equivalent price analog setup. Both are very carefully setup, modded, no excuse setups.

Yes, the analog is smoother, less mechanical sounding (all my tt setups have been), they also have richer harmonics. I consistently have problems with analog dynamics and resolution (detail). I may be the only one in the world with these criticisms but I know what I hear. I'm further modding my phono stage and purchasing a much higher cost cartridge in the near run. I suspect my analog setup will cost well over $10K to compete with my digital. And my digital setup is not state of the art, I've heard better.
To answer your last question first - I think the cost advantage analog used to have over digital is starting to slip as digital systems improve. There is still a trade off between detail and warmth, but digital systems seem to be able to bridge that gap with greater ease than the current crop of TTs I have heard recently (<$5K).

As for what you should spend on a TT now, I think you can get a TT setup that starts to approach the elements you want in a good turntable for $1300-$1500 new. Things like decent speed control, quiet motor, good tracking and a stiff tone arm just to name a few. It wont be a world beater, but it will play music with rhythm and some bass authority.

I currently own an older budget table and was shopping recently for tables in the $700 to $1500 range. Even using with modest electronics for demos, I could hear the difference in the more expensive tables. Depending on the rest of your set up, you can probably get a new table that will have you tapping your toes in this upper price range. Much above that and you will be wasting your money IMHO unless you have a very good phono amp and other gear up the line.

Here are some tables I would look at in this price range:

-Clearaudio Emotion/Satisfy
-Music Hall MMF-7.1
-Origin Live Aurora
-Pro-Ject RM-6.1 SB
-Rega P3-24
-Sota Comet w/ S300 Tonearm
-VPI Scout (used)
Apart i was disappointed with their time response years ago i would include a scheu analogue turntable, budget cost but meaty sound for the price. At a slightly different price point acoustic signature are even better but i am biased here as i happily own one. Good luck
Are you referring to the Scheu Cello?, and in comparison to the Acoustic Signature Manfred tt? Just curious because I am steering towards the Cello but the last review that I read said that it lacked punch and was best suited for classical music. I have heard neither one.
Table not withstanding, focus on the cartridge. That is where you will hear most of the difference. A used Denon 47F would be a good choice, used about $400. Add the Denon 103 cartridge and you are set to go. The cartridge can be moved to other tables if you are not satisfied.
Clearaudio, Rega, VPI Scout, MKII, III, IV, and Scoutmaster are all good and very musical. The Scout is leaner than the II-IV, which are richer and fuller, a bit dark and forgiving with bad recordings. Matching to a good cartridge is equally important. Look at the latest Absolute sound issue on vinyl options....very good. Jallen
I am in a similar position. I have an old Yamaha YP-71 that was around $400 in the eighties. It has an old cartridge in it and sounds pretty nice. I think it's very stable and operates like new. I've been given lots of vinyl but listen more to cd's because that is where favorite collection lies.
I too would like to upgrade but for me it is probably better to look at other parts of my system first. Do you have a large record collection, that you like, or would you be starting from scratch? This is a factor in my financial decision making right now.
Speaking to your original question, there are definitely differences between those price ranges, but it depends on the make. You will hear plenty of difference between a Rega P2 and a P5, for instance, but not nearly so much in the Project line, IMO. The Music Hall tables I would say are in between the two, and I personally would stay away from Technics. In particular, the Regas will have much better soundstaging and imaging than any of these others, if these things are important to you. They also have quite a bit better resolution of acoustic instrumental and vocal timbre, and a wider dynamic range. i ended up with a P5 myself, with the TT-PSU. IMO, this set-up beats any digital rig I have ever heard that costs up to 5 times as much. However, as the previous poster said, if you do not have a large collection of vinyl now, it may not be worth it to you, especially if you also need to find room to store your records. It also depends on what your sonic priorities are - there are many people out there who prefer digital, as they are usually mostly concerned with surface noise. It sounds like you are not one of them, though, from what you have said, so I would advise you to get the best turntable set-up you can afford.
I endorse the Technics SL12XX tables, especially one with a few KAB mods. Excellent soundstaging and imaging.

Completely embarrasses the Music Hall MMF-7 I owned previously.

Competes well in many regards to my $6500 digital source.
Tvad, any thoughts on which of the SL12xx models is best? And if the Cardas tonearm rewire from Kevin is a good idea? And...if Cardas to RCA or to DIN is best?
Drubin, some say the tonearm is slightly better on the SL-1210M5GSE and SL-1200GLDSE. Both include upgraded tonearm wire, which is of no importance if one is going to have KAB rewire the tonearm anyway. There are other differences that make more difference for DJ use than for audiophile use. Personally, I didn't think the "upgrades" on these tables was worth the expense considering the KAB mods I was having installed.

My table has the Cardas rewire. I never heard the table before the rewire, so I have no personal before-and-after experience to share. However, I have only read positive comments from owners who have heard the table before the rewire and after.

Kevin suggested RCA to me when I asked him about the RCA vs. DIN connector. He made a good point that the RCA connector would allow easier experimentation with interconnects. Also, the RCA connectors made it very easy for Atma-Sphere to fabricate a balanced RCA>XLR phono interconnect for use with the fully balanced MP-1 preamp that had LR inputs.
...that had LR inputs.
Tvad (Threads | Answers)

Should be "XLR inputs".