a new denon 500m...new with arm...built like a tank..a keeper.
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05-11-07: JayboYep, Denon DP-500M, or Technics SL-1210 MkII from kabusa.com with tonearm rewire upgrade, or stock Technics SL-1210 M5G which has factory tonearm wire upgrade. I don't think you could lose with any of those 3. All have a build quality, mechanical integrity, and ergonomics far beyond the entry-leel belt drive 'tables at that price.
Here's an Audiogon review of the Denon: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/frr.pl?ranlg&1165037655&read&3&4& and the Technics SL 1200 MkII: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/frr.pl?ranlg&1093010514&read&3&4&
I don't know anything about the isolation and footers that come with the Denon, but the Technics come alive if you set them on an inert platform with shock absorbing footers underneath the platform. I used a butcher block cutting board and Vibrapods, but it could be a piece of Corian or glass or plexiglass with Mapleshade Isoblock footers or sorbothane footers or whatever.
To stay at your budget, you want about a $100 cartridge. Candidates include the Sumiko Pearl, Shure M97xE, Audio Technica 440MLa, or Ortofon OM Super 10 or 20. Here's an interesting review of the Sumiko Pearl written by an Audiogoner who's used all or most of those cartridges on turntables in your prospective price range: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/frr.pl?ranlg&1116306296&read&3&4&