SOTA and don't skimp on the phono pre either (audio research?)
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FWIW, I wouldn't sell my VPI HW-19 for anything. It is somewhat of a custom build, but that's the nice thing about the HW-19 tables. You can upgrade/modify them with better platters, plinths, arm boards, motors, feet, suspension, arms, etc.
I was a VPI dealer for many years and have personally owned 40-50 different HW-19s. I LOVE this table.
Are there better tables out there? Sure, but the current prices for the HW-19 make it a wonderful buy.
The HW19 Jr. is not the same as a HW19 MK?. The Jr. uses an inferior bearing, platter and chassis. If you want the speed stability and tonal fullness of a full fledged HW19, the only thing you can keep from Jr. is the plinth (outer wooden box). I found the Jr. to have unacceptable speed stability issues and lacked the low end weight of the HW19 MK2; and certainly nowhere near that of the MK4. I would not consider the Jr. to be an upgrade from what you have at all. Go to AudioAsylum (and here) and read the various threads about the various iterations of this table before you decide to try and upgrade a Jr. to a full fledged 19 MK?; it is not that easy to find the chassis, platter and bearing upgrades. The HW19 is a very good table. Good luck.
I have a HW-19 III and there is no comparison between it and a Jr. The Jr. is really an entry level table, the 19 III is a huge step up. Pretty much everything is different except the motor and outer frame.
I've seen several Jr.s for sale on eBay that are called IIIs but they are not. A III has a black platter about 1" thick and a separate armboard that mounts to a stainless steel subchassis.
The Jr. has an "white" acrylic platter and one-piece MDF chassis. The sonic differences are pretty big. Since the outer case is the same as the III, sometimes the model ID on back might say HW-19 Mk III but they are not.
There is also a HW-19 IV that uses an original TNT platter and bearing. They are quickly spotted because the platter is about 1 1/2" think. Same motor and chassis / subchassis as a III. The HW-19 IV is an outstanding table worthy of a very good arm and cartridge.
There are HW-19 IIIs with nice arms for sale at around $800 - $1000. Great bang for teh buck. Just make sure you're getting a genuine HW-19 III and not a Jr.
Jr.s should go for around $600 but they are often misrepresented at the higher price.
HW-19 IVs are available but are in the nice price range up. IMO, they are often one of the best buys in used equipment.
Be forewarned that these are all sprung tables. Care must be taken in set-up.
Well, the Classic is a very good sounding table; for a lot more money than a good HW19 MK1-3; but, it won't give you the flexibility to change arms that the HW series will. If by "better buy" you mean more bang for the same amount of $, I would say no. If by "less difficult" you mean easier to set-up, then the Classic is hard to beat. But a HW19 with a great arm, and a better cartridge afforded by the less expensive HW19; then things get really interesting.
Bpoletti does a nice job of explaining the options in the HW line. I would only point out that part of the flexibility of the series is that the suspension can easily be changed from sprung to non-sprung.