Vinylphiles...used/new TT/Cart combo under $700?

I've been researching relatively low-cost TT/Cart combos around $700 total. I'd like to keep the vinyl front end to $1000 including phono preamp.

Vintage Thorens (TD147 & others), Dual (1229), AR (XB, ES-1), Rega P3, MMF5, new KAB Technics SL1200?

78 rpm would be a nice bonus, not not necessary.

OK Vinylphiles, have at it.
There's a VPI HW19 MK11 with arm for sale here at Audiogon:

Should not be a problem finding a used cartridge for $50.00 to $125.00. If you splurge on the TT and have no budget for cartridge I may have a bargain one laying around here.

The VPI HW19 is a good little table, I owned one about a million years ago. I prefer the Well Tempered rig but right now there is only one here at Audiogon and it's a bunch more money. I remember last year about this time seeing an older Well Tempered with arm and cartridge for about $700.00. I was tempted to buy it myself.

Other option is if you can find a Lenco and follow the advice on the mega thread here at Audiogon on the topic of rebuild. I bought my Lenco at Ebay for $100.00 including arm, base, dust cover and cartridge and it only required a little TLC to get it running properly. It's a great table for NO bucks, definitely worth considering, especially if you upgrade the stock Lenco arm for a Rega or (like I did) an original NOS Decca.
I've seen a few Lenco tables on E-Bay. Which model specifically?
Mine was a Lenco 75, here is my Audiogon thread on the topic of restoring and building a pretty base for it.

I eventually sold it, was running it into a EAR 835P (the chrome one) with NOS Telefunken tubes. The Shure cartridge was surprisingly good for the money, bought it brand new.

The only reason I sold it was to make room for more LP's. I even moved my record cleaning machine into my photo studio for the same reason. Chasing software is a sickness with me :-).
hi Tvad, you'll have a hard time beating the Rega P3 for about $400 used, but you won't get 78.

Low cost cartridge options:

Denon DL103 (low output MC) - about $175 new
Denon DL160 (high output MC) - about $180 new
Grado Reference Sonata - about $200-350 used

Here's a detailed review of the Denon DL160 with an excellent followup discussion:
Go for the Lenco. Lots of fun to rebuild. Just takes some time, not too technical. Add a Rega arm and Denon 103. You get excellent sound. The L75 is 16, 45, 33 and 78.
Email me if you need more info.
Good luck.
Second the HW-19... a friend has it with the Audioquest arm and it's a giant-killer. Not the best-looking table in the world, which may be why it's underrated.

The Thorens TD-160/TD-145 (full manual/autolift at end of side) and their progeny are excellent with the standard TP-16 arm, and should still be around for about $200. They may well need work, at the very least a tuneup, but even for an extra $200-250 you're getting a table that will blow away any Rega or Music Hall or Pro-Ject... ANY one of them.

Better would be a Thorens TD-125 Mk II, and they often come with vintage arms that are worth the price of the table... SME 3009, 3012, or if you're lucky an Ortofon arm. Again, they will need a tuneup from someone experienced at the very least.

Another possibility is an SL-1200. Fit with an Ortofon Concorde plug-in cartridge and you're out maybe $550 with all new gear. I haven't found the much-vaunted damping trough to make a whole hell of a lot of difference... we have one running a Dyna 10x5 at the office... but this is a great table either way.

I appreciate your input Mingles. Thank you.
Of the 'tables listed the Lenco is by FAR the best, but requires some sense of adventure and elbow-grease to maximize. Here's what the owner of a near-TNT'd VPI HW-19 with a SME V/Koetsu Rosewood Signature had to say about a maximized Lenco (which can be bought in stock/used form for roughly $200-$300 on eBay): "Here's the bottom line of my initial impression. This turntable - the Black Beauty - with a $150 cartridge is blowing away my former rig that had a $3500 cartridge mounted on a VPI HW-19 MkIV tricked out as close as you can get to the TNT level. I'll need to try other arms and cartridges to get a fuller sense of what this table can do, but there's no doubt that it's huge jump beyond the VPI."

If you're not into DIY - and you need to be a least a little bit DIY to restore any vintage turntable, to the extent of fitting a new belt and cleaning and re-lubing the bearings - then the choices do indeed become bewildering. The best-value deck in the Rega arsenal is the P3, the Technics '1200 is indeed superb value for money, and Audio Technica now have a DD out which matches the Technics build-quality-wise at a lower price, see review here: AT-PL120.

If some restoration is in you but not much, then the Thorenses are killer, the TD-160 especially being very musical and with powerful bass. The TD-125 is more detailed and neutral, and versatile due to its removable armboard. Then there are the AR turntables, and the Aristons...have fun!
You all have highlighted the tables I have discoverd through some research and private tutoring from some kind Audiogon members.

My thinking is this. I don't have a problem with cleaning, lubing and replacing the belt on a table. I'm not likely to build a new plinth for a Lenco. From what I've read, the stock Lenco plinth is the biggest problem with the table, and therefore perhaps a Lenco with the stock plinth is not best suited for my purposes. If I have misinterpreted this, then please explain.

The Thorens TD-147, TD-160 or TD-125 are on my radar. Like most tables, these have their fans and their detractors.

Likewise AR, Denon DP-72L or DP-62L, and Garrard 701 or 1229.

I am beginning to recognize that the most highly regarded tables have substantial indicated by the Lenco project tables and the VPI and Well Tempered tables mentioned earlier in this thread.

The Technics SL-1200...especially the KAB modified versions...seem to be the best new production table for my purposes. However, equipped the way I'd like it sends the price to nearly $1100.
Do the classic Thorenses really have detractors? I'm not familiar with the 147, but I've rarely, if ever, seen anyone diss the 145, the 160 or the 125.

Some like turntables with minimal plinths, such as the Regas. Personally I'm not a fan of the Rega sound, but that may or may not be due to the minimal plinth.

So far as getting a fully tricked-out 1200... you can always start stock, and add upgrades.

There's no doubt that Johnnantais is correct that an idler wheel drive would be killer, and from all reports the Lenco is particularly amazing value. I use a Garrard 301 which I picked up for a few hundred on eBay and had a carpenter friend rustle up a skeletal plinth from Baltic birch ply for about $160... it now has a more substantial plinth from a guy in Ireland name Neil Hollow (click System below to see it), and this TT blew away my multi-grand, 3-arm Acoustic Solid One (a Scheu-Eurolab-type table from Germany, which I promptly sold).

The highest priority 1200 mod is the tonearm rewire. It's better done before shipping the unit, the same goes for the threaded spindle (I'm still deciding on that one). If you want 78 RPM, that would be next. The outboard power supply follows, then the fluid damper and last the strobe disabler (have it too, but not installed yet).

Patrick, I'm impressed by your system--and very few systems actually impress me. Anyone with plenty money can buy stuff. Carefully assembling a system and reaching particular goals is a whole different arena. Like yours, my interconnects use naturally insulated silver, too. Now, you're missing a lot of good music available in digital formats. I solved the issue when I switched to a belt driven transport, which Dan Wright later modded. It's a mean salsa and merengue playing machine...a machine gun with a silencer!

Deano sold me a Densen air suspension platform and that's what decouples the Creature. It's really effective at dealing with vertical & lateral vibrations.

Deano sold me a Densen air suspension platform and that's what decouples the Creature. It's really effective at dealing with vertical & lateral vibrations.

Psychicanimal  (Threads | Answers)
This is for the Technics table? Then this platform does the work of a custom massive Lenco plinth?
The platform is comprised of three metal boxes, each with an aluminum half sphere 'piston' on top. A granite slab is placed on top of the 'pistons'. When the whole load is pushed down the 'pistons' act as springs ( and also work in the lateral plane ). The frequency of up and down cycles is dialed in to about three to five per second and the turntable leveled. It works like industrial platforms where the resonant frequencies are shifted down, but with pumped air instead of metal springs. It's really good, especially because the 1200's problem is handling lateral vibrations--not vertical.

This device and sticking Marigo Dots on the gimbal bearing housings & cartridge has brought a new dimension in clarity and definition. Keeping the bearing oil all the way to the top brings big improvements, too.

The Lenco doesn't need a plinth in order to be Great, it is inherently Great. The plinth just brings it to a higher level. If you were to buy a Lenco, replace the rubber V-blocks with new ones, solder a better tonearm cable to the tags, put in some new oil for the bearing, apply some Dynamat here and there, and buy a Denon DL-103 which LOVES the high-mass Lenco tonearm, you would have several thousands of dollars worth of performance (and in terms of bass, dynamics and PRaT simply world class) for very little money. The trick with the original Lenco plinth is simply to defeat the suspension: remove the springs, torque down the Lenco to its own plinth via the provided screws, remove the bottom entirely as so many do with these "hollow-box" designs (like the Thorenses and LP12s) and mount the corners up on rubber feet or Tiptoes. If you are fortunate and can find one, the Decca International tonearm fits with precise geometry into the tonearm-hole of both the Lenco L75 and L78.

I once restored a Lenco in original plinth and fitted it with a Decca International and Grado Platinum for a fellow who had an Acoustic Signature Final Tool turntable with a SME 309/Benz Micro Ruby, and he MUCH preferred the Lenco/Decca/Platinum. He sold the Acoustic with no regrets, to put it mildly. Another fellow set up a Rega tonearm in the original hole despite improper geometry and VTA (as I did for a long while), set it up on bricks with no plinth whatsoever, and reported this combo easily beat his maxed-out Linn LP12. A friend of mine still, after 6 years, uses a Lenco with Rega RB-300 mounted in original hole, his system sounds glorious: true speed stability goes a looonnng way to reducing mistracking. Check under my "system" under my name on Audiogon to see the "Oak Lenco", which shows this set-up.

Once the suspension is defeated, then a stable platform does a lot to further improve the sound.
Done. Under $600 total...all from E-Bay.

A mint Thorens TD 160 MKII with TP16 II tonearm, a Stanton 681EEE cartridge, and a Lehmann Black Cube SE with PWX power supply.
That'll work and sure was cheap. If you don't like it you can sell and get your money back at that price.

Hope it's great Tvad!
That's the plan, Albert. Thanks for your advice along the way.
Yesterday, I received and installed the Shure V15-III phono cartridge w/new VN35MR stylus. More extension and apparent resolution versus the Stanton 681EE. The Stanton seems a bit warmer. The Shure is more "audiophile" and conveys a larger image.