I looked at the Linn, Nottingham, Regas, and a few others. This was 6 years ago, but it was the Linn that started my search for a good-excellent front end.
My neighbor has a Linn and a a fantastic LP collection. The search was on.
Six + years later, I have become a Lenco fanatic! I have 4 in my home.
My recommendation is to consider a vintage Lenco. They are superior to many super expensive tables, simple to use and set up. Best of all, once you have this as your front end piece, good electronics down the chain will provide what we all strive for- dynamic, detailed, full spectrum sound/music!
I have photos and links for more info.
the linn is still a benchmark product. you might even look at the threns td160hd, or td350. i will tell you though, that moving up the vpi chain is an option too. the scoutmaster seems to have lots of happy campers, though moving to the linn will be different for sure.
If, years ago, you grew weary enough of your Linn's setup requirements that you decided to move on, what makes you think you won't grow weary of those setup requirements once more?
Maybe a turntable with simpler setup would be a better choice: Galibier, Teres, Scheu, Nottingham Analogue.
Tobias has a great point. I was a long time LP12 listener and upgrader. I really did like the table but hated dealing with it every time I wanted to change something. I Finally purchased an Avid Volvere which is not only a better performer but also easy to setup on your own. This is especially true if you use an SME tonearm.
No easy answers here. Tobias's point is well-taken and only you can answer the maintenance question. I have no problem with it myself. My setup is an LP 12/Cirkus driven by a Naim Armageddon power supply, with a Naim Aro arm housing a Dynavector XX 2 Mk. 2. Right now, I'm using a Dynavector P-75 Mk. 2 phono pre (fabulous for the money and great synergy with a Dynavector cartridge), but will be upgrading to the new Naim Superline. No Trampolin. If you can wall mount or have a dedicated stand on a totally solid floor, the LP 12 is quicker and more dynamic without it. People argue until the cows come home about power supply, phono pre, and cartridge choices for the LP 12 and I haven't heard a wide enough sampling to offer anything but my own choices. But as far as tonearm choice is concerned, I have heard a number on LP12s and strongly recommend the Aro. It totally plays to the Linn table's strengths. Good listening!
Just my $.02 worth but since you are looking for "particularly dynamics, detail and soundstaging." I would give Acoustic Signature a look. I have been using their Samba TT w/ a rewired Rega 300 arm and am very satisified. When the time comes their Final Tool is the way I am leaning, but a used Challenger is in your price range. Put any arm/cart combo that you like and you have a maintenance free setup.
Great dynamics comes with weight and non-suspended designs.
I second Tobias choice of TTs - with a preference for the Galibier/Teres/Scheu/Redpoint/Acoustic Signature range.
Arm/cart/phono has to be considered as a whole. Arm/cart for resonant freq and cart/phono for sufficient gain. Here your budget will play a major role.
The reason I chose the Avid was for its ability to have the bass weight and dynamics of a non-suspended design but the depth and dimension of a suspended design (which it is).
I am a 20+year Linn LP12 owner. I have gone through all the upgrades during that time (Tramplolin, Lingo, etc.) and used the full range of Linn & Naim arms and cartridges as well as other cartridges.
When Linn announced the Keel upgrade I decided to check out other tables before making this expensive commitment. The fully loaded LP12 is now at a price point where it is competing with other state of the art modern designs (in addition to other established and still viable technologies). Additionally, the Linn is not the easiest to set up and keep optimized. It definitely helps to have a local expert.
I would definitely look at Teres, Avid, DPS, Galibier, Grand Prix, Redpoint, Clearaudio, SME and the Raven before making a decision. You will be able to find a lot of valuable insight in these discussion forums. After auditioning all of the above, in the end, it wasn't really that hard of a decision for me to move away from the Linn.
I am currently awaiting delivery of a new Galibier Stelvio which I will run with a Triplanar arm and Dynavector XV1-S cartridge.
Hey everyone--thanks for the helpful advice. I am somewhat limited in which tables I can consider since (aside from budgetary restraints) I need to place the table on a Target shelf which is housed within our entertainment center (you can see the set up pretty well by clicking on my system). Thus, I cannot really use a table that is either too tall or too heavy, ruling out some of the choices mentioned here. Jazdoc--your experience is very helpful since you have been there and done that with the Linn and decided to go elsewhere. I think the current exchange rate is really putting many European products out of reach (sadly, including the DPS) and it may turn out I end up moving up the VPI chain. However, I am open to further suggestions should anyone care to share.
If you are constrained by the entertainment centre, then consider the Clearaudio Performance TT with the ceramic magnetic bearing - which basically floats the platter. Another forumer, Cytocycle, reported good results with the bigger Ambient (upgraded with the magnetic bearing).
He's on this thread
I remain a satisfied Linn owner after 10+ years. I have followed the upgrade path including Lingo,Trampolin II, Ekos, Cirkus etc. No Keel though. I must admit when I heard the Keel I was very impressed. I also like you have ARC (LS-15). I have since moved from the PH-3 to a Rhea. I was at a show this past weekend and auditioned a Schu (sp)/Clearaudio combination which sounded thin and a Kuzma Reference/Triplanar/Airtight combo that was scary good. When/if I ever move from my Linn it will be a big leap i.e. SME 30. Staying the VPI course with upgrades is solid advice if you prefer that sound which is what I chose to do with my LP-12.
Dear Dodgealum: +++++ " My goal is to improve vinyl playback across the board--particularly dynamics, detail and soundstaging " +++++
IMHO you can achieve your goals changing the cartridge and a better phonolinepreamp.
Regards and enjoy the music.