Well I don't mean to contradict you but, I went from an Aries to an HRX and there is no comparison. The HRX out performs the Aries hands down. I do happen to think the Avid Acutus is gorgeous. I hear it is quite a performer too. After I win the lottery, the Walker Procenium Gold will make my short list.
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If it's eye candy you want to talk here and nothing else it has to be a Teres, IMO. Very hard to beat the beauty of wood. However, I also get a great deal of visual satisfaction looking at my Gavia. I like the contrast of the black anodized aluminum and graphite platter surface with the polished aluminum arm boards. The mounted TriPlanar just adds to the same black on polished look. This arm also appeals to the mechanical side of my brain because of the engineering and machining that went into making it. The silver mylar belt is the icing on the cake. Not surprising that the race car I owned back in the 80's was painted all black laquer with polished aluminum wheels and air dams.
I'm using the new Grand Prix Audio Monaco table. I've owned many tables over the years, and this is the best I ever owned. Don't know if you will like the looks and the price is over your budget ($19,500 for the table only). My previous table was the SME20/2. Beautifully engineered, fantastic fit and finish and geat sounding. Surpassed my Basis Debut Gold table.
Save $9600 and buy a beautifully restored mint AR XA. You cannot beat their Zen-like simplicty, and I still can't believe how good that can sound given that clunky-looking arm.
No, they will never compete with these other tables for sonics, but I think you will be surprised how good they truly sound when restored and running properly. The venerable XA has started many down the audiophile path....
Many excellent suggestions. In any case I will throw out the SOTA Nova or Cosmos TTs as new production options not yet mentioned. However, some vintage tables that I have seen of late sure look great. The Merrill Heirloom is really nice from a simplistic perspective, and some of the higher end Micro Seiki tables (wood plinth and RX series) are real lookers.
I reluctantly bought a Bang & Olufsen Beogram 4002 from a client and after replacing the cartridge with a Soundsmith SMMC20EN and repairs I have a beautiful and sleek automatic linear tracking turntable that I'm quite pleased with. I know a lot of audiophiles thumb their noses at automatic and linear trackers but I believe the advantages should be considered. They include ease of set up, great tracking with 1 gram VTF, and the convenience approaching a CDP.
I have had the 4002 for almost a year and appreciate it more and more. It's prominently perched on a wall shelf in the living room, has a high WAF factor, and a low profile that I appreciate more after seeing so many massive platter turntable where the platter has a comparitively high profile. Living in California has exposed me to the principles of fung shei and I have developed an appreciation for low profile designs.
The 4002, cartridge, and repairs cost about $600 which was a lot less than I was ready to spend.
I currently own a michell gyrodec se with a zxy airy 3 cartridge. It is a very good table (though i am not very experienced with the high end tables) and always garners comments when anyone sees it. The weights on the bottom of the platter add a little "unique" factor but some people may find it distracting. I am going to try a maplenoll and pass my gyro to my daughter. She is already calling her friend to come see it when i deliver it to her. (she is a 19 yr old vinyl addict). I would rate the table as a 7 out of 10
Another vote for Teres. Their 320 and 340 offer high value for the dollar (a combination of truth and beauty) relative to what you'd pay for models passing through a distributor and dealer.
I like to look at my turntable - the real meaning behind "home theater". LOL!
Anything under $10K is basically a close and play phonograph.
You want something nice, be prepared to shell out the big bucks.
Walker - maybe nice sound but ugly as hell.
for looks I suggest the Basis work of art - cheap at around $25K
Goldmund reference II - now your talking, and slightly less than a nice Rolls.
.... okay I'm kidding.......
This thread caught my eye--I like tables for the looks too as well as the sound :)
Last year I bought a Transcriptors Hydrolic Ref for the looks. It came equipped with an SME 2 arm and a Shure III cartridge. The sound is amazing---every bit as good and detailed and holographic as the $34,000 ref table I had. I've almost finished reviewing it and need to pop on an original arm to make it a wrap.
One of my hobbies within this hobby is finding "sleeper" gear. This is one of them! Also, you can't beat the ergonomics of Lux tables--I love their touch points-so Lexus like.
And don't discount the Ariston tables--I rebuilt a RD-40 and its wonderful, bigger staging than the old Linns and it looks so cool. Its got pace and rythmn galore.