Turntable suggestion -- budget.. or not?

Not another budget turntable thread, you might sigh... Heh. Well, I promise to make it interesting. A bit about myself first before I get into the main reason for the thread:

I am a musician and fully embrace tube technology and the general 'tone quest' that goes along with (in particular) guitar playing. I've built most of my amp gear -- circuit copies from the late 50s/early 60s. Some of the same characteristics that I seek in guitar tone, i'd like to also have in my listening setup -- warmth. I'm already familiar with the adjectives that get thrown around when describing tone. So, no need to hold back.

So, I'd like see what all the fuss is about... Vinyl appeals to me purely from the sound quality aspect. I have an extensive cd stash, and very little vinyl (this will change if the 'proof' is there).

I'm currently demoing a Pro-Ject 1.3 TT at home right now with a Cambridge 651p into a solid state power amp and out to speakers. The later two pieces gear likely won't change. However, going forward (and if the quality is there) I will build gear to surround my TT setup.

The 1.3 is nice, but the motor on the side is a bit gimmicky IMO. I can hear the hum from the motor (and I *do* have it on a good base). It definitely looks the best! The 651p sounds a bit bright to my ears too. Despite this, I'm quite impressed with what I hear from vinyl. I've been playing alot of recordings I know very well (Miles "kind of blue", and some wes montgomery) and in general things sound not only different but *better*!

Now to the questions. I'm leaning on sending both the 1.3 and 651p back for the reasons I mentioned above. I've had about 6-8 hours of continuous playback and I realize the break-in period is still happening, but I'm not hearing the warmth that I'm looking for. Sure, it will get better with more break-in, but I want something to knock my socks off right out of the gate.

Thoughts? Where should I go from here?
BTW, I'm a DIY person and like to tweak things. Buying something that I can upgrade later would be nice, but performance out of the gate is nice too :)..

Other considerations:
Pro-Ject Carbon
MMF 2.2

Rega RP1 is out due to the hardwired interconnects.

Will I be happy with these?
You could pick up a used Linn LP12 turntable for a decent price. It will sound more like what you are looking for.
Rega RP3 with a Herbie Mat, non Rega cartridge and maybe a GT reference subplatter down the road. Check out my system page for more info.

I had 2 pro-jects and the new RP regas are so much better with the motors and tone arms. Some of the cheaper pro-jects have really poor bearing tolerances.
used vpi hw-19 mk iii/iv
IMO you need a used REGA RP3. You can then slap all kinds of cool upgrades on it(groovetracer.com). AND it will except a few AMAZING cartridges.I highly recommend the Dynavector 10x5 with the RB301 Tonearm.This is a match made in heaven. The music is all there and correct, the bass is deep and tight.the Highs are not chopped or rolled off they are effortless and the mid is liquid rich and smooth. The whole musical event is presented with authority. You wont find a better Combo then this for the $$.
BTW Martin, If your into Tone...Consider a Tube preamp from MODWRIGHT the SWL 9.0SE to be exact. Sells for 1500 used. It is an amazing toneally beautiful sounding unit.One of the best buys in preamps out there. A real sleeper.
Also , All those 200 $ phono preamps SUC! buy a Musical surroundings for 300 used or 600 new its worth it!!
Thanks for the suggestions so far everyone.

Yah, I didn't think the entry level stuff would cut it given what I'm after. Mattmiller -- agree on the $200 preamps -- tube all the way. Also appreciate the Rp3 suggestion. Seems like the next step up is where I should start looking. BTW, do you use your setup for home theater as well? I thought I read you were all analog, but I took a look at your system and I see the big tv :). The other gear I spoke of was a Pioneer 1120k and Orb Audio which is almost 100% dedicated to home theater. I was surprised (in a good way) with the way the 1.3 and 651p sounded through an analog source.

I'm going to audition the Rp3 this week at a local shop. They are also a LINN dealer too. We'll see what happens. LINN hasn't been on the radar for a turntable. I'll have to do some research. Although, it seems way out of the ballpark price wise (the guy I spoke with said they are 4x the RP1). To me, this translated to "too much to spend out of the gate", but we'll see.

I use my setup for music and home theater. 2 channel for both. If it is setup correctly, it should sound as good or better than multichannel.

Again, check out my system page if you are curious with the AV two channel hybrid setup.
Check out SOTA! They have some real nice tables! If you are looking for used you can't beat a VPI HW-19 for the sound you are looking for!
Arg -- sorry Sbrownnw -- that was your setup I was looking at w/ the TV. (a topic for another thread, but...) Subconsciously, I think I want to ditch my 5.1 setup. I always have problems with the center channel -- the dialog is never crisp enough.

Do you get a decent frequency response with the monitors? No need for a sub?
Come over and listen. Don't need no stink'n sub. Happy New Years everyone.
Some good suggestions above, particularly re getting a better phono
preamp. I bought my son the Cambridge that you have for his modest (and
pretty good sounding) system, and while pretty good sounding, it's far from
high-end; lean midrange with an obvious electronic character. But, my
main suggestion is this:

When considering turntables remember that a turntable is a
"system". You can work towards the "tone" that you
want via wise tonearm, cartridge and cable choices; as well as phono pre,
of course. The main thing that a turntable brings to the table ;-), (OR
NOT!), is the GROOVE of the music. While the tonearm and cartridge are
also important contributors, what determines wether you will extract the
FEEL of the music encoded in the vinyl is the turntable; determined by
wether it has correct speed stability and accuracy. I strongly suggest that
when considering a turntable you focus more on this aspect of
performance. For a starter tt with this attribute I would second the Rega
suggestion. Used, earlier vintage Oracles are also killer in this dept for not
a lot of money; and look very cool. Good luck!
Used Denon 47F should satisfy your needs. Don't buy of these unless you can pick it up, otherwise you will be wasting your money.
Maybe I missed it but what cartridge are you using currently? I did have a Cambridge 650p and thought it sounded lean and bright with my carts as well. I suggest you start with a vintage Denon, Pioneer or Technics DD. I don't care for the build quality of entry level Pro-jects and Regas.
If you don't mind me asking, what is your estimated turntable budget?
TW ACUSTIC big step up.
To answer some questions, the cartridge in the 1.3 is a Sumiko Pearl Phono Cartridge.

TW ACUSTIC? The raven one is $6500 -- prolly not :)

I'm not quit sure on the budget yet. At first, I was looking at entry level tables, so ~$500. After the comments, I think I might bump to at most $1k. But even this is a stretch.
I pretty much started where you did albeit with a slightly higher end Project table with carbon arm...same Pearl cartridge,etc...and although this set up would be an upgrade to your current one...it is not the quantum leap it sounds like you want to make...note: the Project required a dedicated stand/wall mount to operate at its full potential...I decided to go in a more practical direction with a Technics DD...12xx series easily in your budget if you are patient...not a true audiophile table...but for reliability, build quality, and sonics, pretty hard to beat for the price...there are also plenty of mods, upgrades,etc...and they also hold their value on the used market....good luck....
At your budget the SOTA Moonbeam II at $750 would be hard to beat!
As promised I went to demo the RP3 w/ (i think was the) Elys2 cartridge. When I got there the room was occupied, so the guy asked if I wanted to be 'ruined'. Of course I said 'yes', and then we headed into he high-end room. :)

Long story short, I listened to the RP8 and RP3 through the same system... Wow.. What a *dramatic* difference between the two. The RP8 was smooth, organic, even, full in the midrange and upper bass. Trebles were just right and not shrill. The RP3 was nice too, but the trebles were just to shrill and unrefined (compared to the RP8). Now, there is about a $2k difference in price between the two.

Back to the drawing board. I don't think the RP3 is for me, unless the trebles can be tamed significantly.
Buy a used Linn Lp12 with an Ittok for $1250 or so.

Are you from Quebec? Yes I know, strange question. I just got that feeling from you.
****I listened to the RP8 and RP3 through the same system****

Same cartridge? If not, all bets are off.
I would go with the best TT I can afford, if it can be upgraded that's even better. Then upgrade the tonearm, cartridge and phonostage as cash flow allows.
The carts on the RP8 and RP3 were probably not the same. I honestly think you are focusing too much on the TT and not enough on the cartridge. The RP3 can sound bad with a cheapo cart or great with the right cart.
Just say no to rega carts. RP3 is a very good table for the price, especially if you can find it used. Ortofon 2M blue with that would be a good start.
Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

Definitely not the same cart on the 8 vs 3. I asked what would it sound like if they were swapped. They guy said that a 'better' cart (referring to whatever was on the RP8) would highlight the shortcomings of the RP3. To me, this translated to 'why would you want to put a set of $10k interconnects on the RP3' type of logic. Sure I get it, but I wasn't convinced that the RP3 would sound 'worse' with the RP8 cart :)

Anyway, maybe I'm getting a little too specific -- sounds like an RP3 w/ an upgraded cart would sound pretty darn good.

@Royaloak: No not from Quebec, but close to RoyalOak, Mi :)
Martinman...Linn LP12 = D-45 Rega RP3 = Smartwood. From Monroe.
Try a Nagoka MP-150 or MP-200 Cart on a Rega.
Thanks for putting things in perspective Polk :)

So, what would be a D-28 Marquis w/ Madagascar rosewood ?? That's kind of what I'm looking for. LOL.

Martinman..LP12 w/ Ekos Skip the D-35 the 28 is much more worth it. I've owned both.
Hehe -- thanks polk!
The VPI Traveler is a great sounding and solidly built table with great support from VPI.....you should look at that one.
I put this thread together covering a Pro-ject, a Traveler and a little about the Rega I currently own.
mitchell gyrodec is an excellent table. they can be upgraded to near Mitchell orbe quality with a variety of upgrades kits or better arms. Easy to get into at a reasonable price. If you are really adventuresome and willing to tinker, find an ariadne signature (maplenoll)and get it set up. IMHO, the best sounding table for the money. once set up properly, you will be wowed by the soundstage, bass depth and dark background. I have owned many tables including the gyrodec (my daughter has mine now) and 3 maplenoll tables as well as several versions of Duals/Denons in the 70's to early 2000.