Are you anywhere that you could audition any of these? If not I'd buy from a retailer that has a good return policy. Music Direct carries a number of the brands you mention. Chris at Music Direct would also be a good guy to discuss these options with.
And for sub-$2000 tables I would add to your list: the Avid Ingenium and the Well Tempered Simplex.
I went from an old Thorens TD166mkII to a VPI Classic 1 and the improvement was staggering with regard to bass improvement and the blackness of the background also isolation from footfalls. I would expect the scout would elicit the same improvements. I would buy the VPI and not look back.
Also vpi offers excellent customer support. They even e-mailed me on a Sunday when I had a question.
@djwilbourn, I'm having a RP6 setup this weekend and will be using a double sided suede leather mat instead of the thin sound factory wool one. Many say this is a great sounding combo.
I was in possession of a V2 Traveler for 1 week. Didn't put a cart on the arm, but did power it up to make sure it was received ok and did not like the belt chatter on startup, but that is my opinion...
You can't go wrong with any of the TT's you are considering. That said, I say get a VPI Scout. The price is excellent for what you get and the upgrades are excellent as well. You should never need another TT. There's nothing wrong with the arm, either. You can get one from Music Direct. I've bought some stuff from them. You can get a good deal but don't count on good service. If you have to go mail order, Larry at Hollywood Sound in FL would be a better choice if you want good advice and help with setup. Also, I've been to his store. I'm pretty sure he has every TT on your list in stock ad on display.
If you do not like the JMW unipivot arm, you can also get the Scout with the Traveler arm for the same price. Matt Weisfeld posted a picture of it on Facebook and I asked him if it is available and the price.
Thanks for the help so far. No way to audition anywhere close. Birmingham, AL. We have Best Buy and Radio Shack. Great city, no brick and mortar audio though.
Go to Hollywood and listen to them. Even if you fly, you'll loose a lot more $$ if you buy one you're not happy with. Or you could drive and have an expert set up your choice and bring it back. Keep the UPS gorillas away from your 'table.
The Vinyl Nirvana overhaul is not a bad idea. A friend here locally bought an AR table from Dave and it was an excellent table. I would also add SOTA to your list. They are under valued and you can go direct to SOTA and talk to them about some of their refurbished tables. Something like an older Star or Star Sapphire can be had for a very good price. They are quite stunning to look at too in those wood finishes. My old Nova Series V had a beautiful cherry finish and sounded great to boot.
thanks for chiming in, you actually helped set my AR up with Danny a few years ago :) The Scout is getting most of the love so far, what thinks you of that table? Envious of those Jazz Modules you have fyi.
Ellington Hifi (http://www.ellingtonhifi.com/
) in Loxley, AL carries VPI, Rega, Clearaudio, and Pro-ject turntables. It's kind of a drive from Birmingham, but you could always enjoy a vacation/trip to Gulf Shores as part of your excursion. Not sure what they have in stock so definitely call first.
I bought a VPI Classic and it knocked my socks off! Then I added the rim weight and the improvement was obvious. After using that weight, I would not be satisfied with out it. Then I got a PS Audio Premiere Power Plant, and the turntable improved again. I think the PPP did the same thing VPI's own controller does, and I would not have expected to hear that step up so clearly. So, count me in the VPI camp. I have not owned something that gave me such pride of ownership from the audio world.
David I do remember the AR table. Hope you and Danny are doing well. I miss hanging out with you guys. Don't get back that way any more though as I live in Las Vegas these days.
As for the VPI tables I am not much of a fan. Personal preference though in my comparisons with other tables like SOTA. They are well built and have good resale value so those are things to consider in your purchase.
Here is a very nice table and arm set up:http://app.audiogon.com/listings/turntables-scheu-cello-with-unipivot-cantus-tonearm-2013-04-30-analog-10017
If you recall I had the Scheu Premier back when I lived in the Magic City. These days I am a fan of vintage tables and have a refurbished Denon DP-3000. I think you would be surprised at how good a refurbished and upgraded AR table will sound. So I would still consider that option along with the SOTA.
If you see Danny tell him I said hello.
Hello I use a PrimaLuna Prologue 3. My turntable is a upgraded Rega p3/24 I have the groovetracer ref sub and acrylic platters and I use a Nagaoka MP200 cart. The sound is neutral to warm side. Very big soundstage and awesome at capturing the sound that's on the record. The only other table in my sights (and trust me I resist the urge all the time)would be a JA Mitchel GYRODECK SE with the custom RB250 arm.Now your talking a lot more $...in the $3to$5000.00 range. I'll keep my P3 for now :-)
Liked my SOTA Sapphire as well as the owners of the company. Easy to access and talk to. But bought a VPI Classic 1 after it was introduced and loved it. Traded that into VPI for a Classic 3 and will never look back. As great as the SOTA folks are, IMHO the VPI support is even better.
I bought a restored Thorens from vinly nirvana and I am very happy. Check out some of the Thorens or have David do some mods on your AR.
How can you beat a VPI at the price? Harry is first class, contacted me on a Saturday when I was in a pinch.
There are a number of solid competitors to VPI at all the price points they offer tables at. It is a matter of figuring your priorities out (sonically, cosmetically, tweaky vs easy set up, features, customer service).
Tweaky I do not want. The only drawbacks to the VPI Scout is a few folks not happy with the arm quality and unipivot quirks along with some utilitarian looks. However, the build quality does look better than the rega tables (arms excluded). I am surprised no one has commented on the tecnodec or Horizon SE? You VPI guys are strong on Audiogon :)
I'm not a VPI fan. I dislike uni-pivot arms. VPI has no consistent design philosophy. Rim drive one day, belt the next, one motor, two motors?, extra flywheel or not, aluminum platter or super platter, feet that spike, feet that dampen and on and on.
Do you want to purchase new or used?
Another vote for SOTA.
I think you will find this article
to be well worth reading.
I have an early SOTA Sapphire, which is approaching its 30th birthday. It works as well as when it was new, without ever having required servicing. I have never felt the need to upgrade or replace it, although more recent models are reputedly significantly improved. It is built like the proverbial tank, looks beautiful in a classy way, and by all accounts the present owners are a pleasure to deal with.
Unipivots require a little more patience when setting up. However, the simplicity in design pays off (one point of contact versus multiple for gimbaled arms).
I have used Hadcock, Mayware, and VPI JMW unipivot arms. All 3 have reproduced music exceedingly well.
Have you considered a used Rega P9? The RB1000 tonearm is good enough to survive many cartridge upgrades giving you a long term turntable at a modest cost.
Looking to buy used (figured I would get more for the money). P9 prob out of the budget. Looks like a used Scout, P5, Tecnodec, Horizon SE. Something keeps drawing me to the Tecnodec, maybe find a demo for sale? Has anyone heard this table? Comparisons? Like the idea of a Rega arm with adjustable VTA.