Want to get into Analog

I’m thinking of taking a plunge into analog sources by picking up a vintage DD turntable.
There seems to be an endless supply of vintage tables available on eBay and CL.

Which models would be good values for under $1000 (total budget for turntable, arm, cartridge.  Thanks.
^^^ You should read the thread I started called "Vinyl,What If"....Very eye opening...
A Technics SL-1200 would be a good start. Plenty of them listed on Ebay!
Freediver, I’m glad you posted on Mrpostfire’s thread as I was going to respond to yours, but by then you seemed to have made your decision to not try vinyl. I followed your thread and as I read Mrpostfire’s OP I searched for a way to describe what I feel was not conveyed nearly well enough in most of the responses to yours. Mrpostfire, I hope you don’t mind the “dual purpose” of my post on your thread.

Freediver stated that the comments to his thread were “eye opening”. I would say that the vinyl experience can also be eye opening and I would be the last to discourage anyone from trying it as many posters unfortunately did.

For me and many others, there is a fundamental difference in the way that vinyl presents recorded music in contrast to the way that digital does it. I know some will disagree with this premise as well as the idea that it is not necessary to invest in very expensive, or SOTA playback equipment to hear (and feel) this fundamental difference. Both can sound great while retaining their fundamentally different ways of sounding great. IMO, even at freediver’s $350 budget that fundamental difference will be there. That fundamental difference resonates with some listeners and not as much with others. A very personal matter; but, when that difference resonates it can trump other aspects of the listening experience that are mostly audiophillic in nature and, for some, not as important to the music. Unless one tries it there is no way of knowing.

There were and will be lots of different suggestions for tables. Looking through the listings here this caught my eye. As offered, this table is a good example of what is possible within Freediver’s general budget. IMO, it would give a good taste of what vinyl does well. With a well chosen cartridge upgrade and closer to Mrpostfire’s budget it would give a bigger taste; possibly much bigger taste. Yes, the fiddling that Freediver doesn’t want to do can make an important difference, but it is not necessary to find out if the difference resonates with you. (No affiliation to seller).


Good luck to both of you and do try vinyl; it can be eye opening.

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A Mitsubishi DD linear track TT would be a good choice! I have one in my collection.
Hi-Fi reviewer John Darko has a Pioneer PLX1000 ($699 new) DD Turntable and is singing its praises.

I "vociferously" reject Frogman's comments. Ask yourself; "Why did the millions of people who owned record players and records before CD go exclusively to CD?"

The answer is quite simple; CD's sound much better than records played on even good "mid-fi" rigs. There is no magic on a vinyl record without a "Hi-end" analog rig.

Why didn't the millions of people, including myself, hear this magic in the records as compared to CD when CD came out; after all, we had been listening to records for all of our lives; why didn't we hear the magic as compared to CD's? Let me give you the answer to that question.

It's because we we're not into "hi-end" analog. My cartridge, which is rated Class "B" by Stereophile; costs more than a Class "A" CD player, and you're good to go with the CD player, while you still have to purchase more good stuff to go with my Class "B" cartridge in order to hear music.

I had been listening to records for my entire life; why didn't I hear this magic of the vinyl LP before I got into the "Hi-end"?

"You have to run with the big dogs or stay at home"; anything short of that is a waste of time and money.
Find one locally at a tag sale for minimal expense and try it. I did just that after a divorce cost me my good TT set up which was a VPI Scout Dynevector 20X cart and Graham Slee phono stage.  Are they equivalent, no not even close but I still enjoy vinyl.  One day I will replace the better set up.
@mrpostfire You won't know until you try it.  Then you can formulate your own opinion.  Buying used presents some risk but it's a great way to dip your toe in the water.   Whichever way you go, try to get some help with the initial set up as it *can* be tedious and tweaky.  Personally, I enjoy this type of detailed work; not everyone does!  The Thorens table link in frogman's post above does look really nice.  I have no affiliation with the seller.  Good luck to you and please post your impressions if you go down this road!

I am with frogman. You gotta start somewhere.

My first vinyl setup was somewhat humble: A Clearaudio Champion with a Benz Micro Ace cartridge and Musical Surroundings Nova Phonomena phono stage. I bought them used for no more than $2.3k circa 2006.

I was immediately hooked after the first listening session. It was warm, full bodied and so organic that either my Sony SCD-1 or Shanling CD-3000 (highly modified) wasn’t no match.

I now spend most of my time spinning the black discs.


Reality is whatever the majority on this forum say it is, unless you are a realist.
Actually, the only reality that counts belongs to the OP ;)
I’m thinking of taking a plunge into analog sources by picking up a vintage DD turntable.

You must be an experienced user to understand what you’re buying when it comes to vintage DD. Or you need someone you can assist you.

There seems to be an endless supply of vintage tables available on eBay and CL.

Post the links, what do you like ?

Which models would be good values for under $1000 (total budget for turntable, arm, cartridge.

Your total budget is too low, but if you can exclude a cartridge from this budget i think you can buy some nice vintage DD turntables like Denon DP-80, you will have to make your own plinth for it if you can’t find this drive in original plinth, then you can add Denon DA-401 tonearm. This combination could be under $1k, but then you need a high compliance cartridge, i think for $300-400 you can find a good one (i could help, got some nice spares).

You can use the same scenario with Victor DD turntables, find a TT-81 drive, make custom plinth, add Victor UA-7045 tonearm. And fidn yourself a mid compliance cartridge like Victor X-1IIe for $300-400

Anyway you need at least $1200-1500 for everything.

And if you don’t know for $1400 you can buy brand new Technics SL1500c with build-in phono stage and pre-mounted cartridge as a package deal. This is a brand new turntable, released in 2019. Maybe it’s better ? Technics motor is superb, turntable made in Japan. All for $1400 including phono stage and cartridge. Think about it. 

Technics SL-1600MK2 if you can find one.  It is fully automatic, and unlike the vintage SL-1200, it was not designed to be a DJ turntable.  I’ve had one for over 30 years and its still going strong in my secondary system.
The Technics SL-1200mk2 is a risky proposition. Most of them have been thrashed by rap-“DJ”s and will need all moving parts replaced. As OldSchool said, a fully automatic SL-1600mk2 is an vastly superior turntable, but very rare as are its SL-1700mk2 semi-automatic and SL-1800mk2 brothers. You could start off with an inexpensive AT95E to stay within your budget, and over time upgrade to an AT VM540ML, better tonearm wiring, interconnects, phono stage and KAB fluid damper. 
Why does it have to be vintage? For your first TT and for simplicity, you can get a new Rega P3 with an Elys cartridge within your budget. For a little more you can upgrade the cartridge to an Exact 2. It’s a great starter table.
Also, I would be very reluctant to buy a "vintage" turntable on Ebay.
Audiogon or US Audio Mart, probably yes.
The Technics SL-1200mk2 is a risky proposition. Most of them have been thrashed by rap-“DJ”s and will need all moving parts replaced.
Some "Rap-DJ" ruined @sleepwalker65 life?

Why so much hate for them in every post about 1200mk2 ?

Moving record back and forth does not destroy a turntable, tonearm or motor, they can only destroy a record and needle, but SHURE M44-7 needles designed for them, special slipmats designed for them (for your favorite "rap-djs", they are actually a hip-hop scratch or battle djs, because rap is rhyme, not a music).

And how a certain genre of music can "thrash" a turntable?

What he’s destroying in this video by spinning two identical James Brown records ? He’s manipulating records doing tricks (cutting samples right from the record in real time using cross fader on technics mixer), but turntable platter is always spinning forward, tonearm does not move, record needle does not skip. It doesn’t matter do you like his choice of music or performance - this is the best example how good and stable this tuirntable is !

Until someone physically destroy a tonearm (by dropping a brick on it) this turntable is bulletproof and this is the reason why SL1210mkII has been choosen for clubs, bars, radiostations for all kind of DJs.

And in 2019 Technics made improved SL1200 mk7 (retail is $1200)


If you're really serious, you'd not rely on others and go for what you feel.
This one could be a great option for you: Luxman PD-441
My reference DD is Luxman PD-444, but it's much more expensive than 441, you can find all info here.  
@orpheus10 Following the masses from records to CD implies nothing more than the same low-fi crowd bought the latest and newer medium. The interesting turnabout where many regret selling their records is worth noting.
You will get far better results with a Debut Carbon Esprit, for $600, than with any vintage turntable in you range.
If you are thinking of taking a plunge into analog, I would recommend going to your local audio store and buying something new.

Find something within your budget to get started . You will have everything new, under warranty , they can set your turntable up with a new cartridge  and you will have their support and guidance for any issues , or questions afterwards.
Thanks to everyone for the comments. Lots of differing opinions here. I’m leaning towards second hand because I wanted a DD (I want a simple button to change speeds) and the Pioneer PLX 1000 seems to be the only decent new one that would fit within my budget.  

In on the other hand, there are an assortment of Luxmans, Pioneers, Yamahas, Kenwoods, listed in CL at the moment. Most are under $750. I’ve used CL with success before and was able to audition before purchasing.  I also see that there are eBay sellers who specialize in restoring vintage TTs.  I am willing to expand my budget but I prefer to purchase something that is ready to use out of the box.

I have heard TTs at local dealers but most new units are way beyond $1000 or even $3000.  
@mrpostfire-  If you live anywhere around Indiana, use this site's Member Contact, and message me.

I lived with Snap, Crackle, and Pop, all the way up to the advent of CD, 40 years later.

Wow, no Snap, Crackle and Pop; these CD's are amazing. Later on, some guy who was into the high end, said "What's the big deal"?

He didn't tell me that his cartridge cost as much as my entire rig; consequently, there was no big deal, the big deal was on the high end analog rig, but you had to be able to pay the cost in order to be the boss.

Today, we have convoluted cheap Snap, Crackle and Pop record players with the sound of "high-end" analog rigs in such a way that the "newbees" think they're going to get the "vinyl magic" out of one of the cheap Snap, Crackle and Pop rigs; it ain't going to happen. Almost any CD player will sound better than a cheap record player. Why didn't I hear all this "vinyl magic" 40 years ago before I got into the high end, and before CD?

The answer is quite simple; without high-end components, there is no magic. Anyone buying cheap analog is wasting their money.
How about getting into  the ultimate in analog and
get a reel to reel,you won't be disappointed.

Reel to reel is not as expensive as you might think. While I only recommend new TT and Cartridge; a good used reel that has been refurbished can be as good as new.

Believe it or not, when you guys who like to "stream", record that music on a 2 track reel, you will have some of the best "analog" you have ever heard when you play it back.

mrpostfire, you don't have enough money for what you seek, and that is the "vinyl mystique" many of us are enjoying. I've read the recommendations, and if you followed them, you would be buying someone else's junk, without sufficient knowledge to put it together.

I recommend that you start an analog savings account, and gather more information in the meantime.
I'm a 71 y/o geezer and my hair cells are deteriorating.  Hi fidelity was great when it came in.  My father helped pay for his college education playing is small combo's in the pre-war 1940s and gigged some and played sax for fun as an adult.  I tromped across a lot of his 78's as a toddler.  My first stereo was entry level, affordable, Dynaco stuff bought through a catalog in 1968.  35 years ago I passed those Dynaco speakers onto my father with his first and only component system.  My parents are gone and those speakers still sound pretty darn good and one of my sons will pass them onto my granddaughter in a couple of years with some other used components.  I've been through some moderate components and speakers as my income picked up and bought Mark Levinson mono-block preamp and amp, Magnapan 33s and a Velodyne 15 SW, Proceed, Audioquest and Kimberwire  in 1988.  The stuff is probably worth $12 - $14K these days but was bought with the intent that it would be my system of a lifetime.  I'm a doctor and knew then that my hearing would only deteriorate with time.  By the early 1990s I was only listening to digital media, CDs and as streaming and downloads came and quality improved turned to only buying and listening to that medium.  I have sons, two of whom are musicians one like my dad only part time now the other full time in New Orleans.  Twenty years ago I was taken aback by their purchase of vintage turntables and a third son having picked up my old mothballed Technics TT.  At the time they were primarily interested in new "Indy" album releases but they also began getting into some other stuff    Jazz from the 60s and 70s and some classic rock and more recently Jack White and the like. They do listen to their digital mixes and streaming for the most part day in day out.  For me long work hours and the convenience of digital without having to get up to change records and the need for a new cartridge or better TT left me with no interest in my vinyl until a few years ago.  Four to Five Years ago I was fascinated that they were able to discern quality differences between their affordable but good digital systems.  Even as I listened to their systems when vacationing with them in Portland OR or New Orleans LA I could detect differences as well.  Clearly the digital crushed the flaws of the analog recordings but even on those vintage turntables with modestly priced affordable upgraded cartridges there was an appreciable quality to the analog recordings.  I have listened to the latest digital, expensive but getting more affordable and it is true that for my 70 y/o ears it is difficult to appreciate anymore that analog vs digital difference.  I had been sitting on a pretty large Jazz collection from the 1960s through the early 1980s as well as rock including first issue Hendrix, some C&W and Classical.  So three years ago I bought an entry level Pro-Ject carbon TT with a heavy acrylic platter and dived back into the vinyl having slowed down on work hours now finally retired.  I still mostly buy digital media but occasionally buy that special vinyl recording.  Sometimes a well preserved vintage album, sometimes an moderately priced audiophile jazz or rock remaster or occasionally a new artist's album.  When I buy these vinyl albums are special.  That is my background from a lifetime of listening.
This is what I want to tell you.  What we are listening to are art forms.  Only at the turn of the century did recorded music begin to vastly enhance accessibility.  Hi-Fi was good Stereo better and equipment has only gotten better and better.  Live performance is one medium but recording, some in studio and some live are other types of media and the delivery vinyl, CD digital and so on are all valid forms.  Vinyl albums are their own special things.  Think of original one of a kind as in a live performance.  Think of a print, in some cases a limited edition woodcut, texture other kinds of prints or a high quality photo of the work.  My rig is now vintage audiophile.  For me it is still good but there is better stuff for only a little more than what I have in mine.  So I ask.  How much wall space do you have for art work?  How much do you have to spend.  What value do you find in a slightly damaged work from a famous artist.  Are some pieces not about resale value or what others value but what catches your eye, tickles you, makes you laugh or cry?  Is it about what connects you to other sentient beings living and dead?  In short does it deliver?  Many of you enjoy Jazz.  There are no recordings of Billy Bolden perhaps the earliest of Jazz notables but in the early 1940s Bunk Johnson, who was the only living person to have actually played with Bolden in that first decade of the 20th century, was discovered old and toothless in the deep south.  A bunch of those early 40s jazz musicians like Armstrong pitched in to by him a new set of false teeth and a trumpet.  Johnson was recorded live and in studio.  The music was/is wonderful and the recording quality good for the times.  As was the case at the time bass register recording was shallow but his trumpet rings pretty true.  In the late 50s the recordings were remastered in Hi-Fi.  I still have my fathers vinyl 33 1/3 bought in 1959.  The cover and recording are worn.  I also have the album in digital and bought a new re-release 180 gram vinyl album with the original album cover and liner notes for a gift to my musician son in New Orleans.  I still listen usually to the digital (although the vinyl will still play it sounds rough) while holding the old album cover with its wonderful liner notes.
I just recently joined and this is my first post. I don't blog anywhere but have enjoyed reading these Audiogon blogs good for some laughs as well as having found some technical stuff helpful and the perspectives all valuable. So thanks! I would say don't stew too much.  Enjoy, love, laugh or cry and live it up while you can!  Music makes life sweeter.
@haircellcandy-- geezers are welcome in audio.
@mrpostfire-used is the way to go if you know what you are doing; you’ll buy more for the same money. Cartridge- maybe not used (though I’m starting to explore old cartridges).
@frogman - nice spot on that little Thorens for the money.
I also participated in the @freediver thread-and will offer the same observation to @mrpostfire-- ultimately, the biggest outlay, even if you got all spendy on turntable, arm, cartridge and phono stage, will be the records. (Reel to reel tape is a prime example of this-- the source material is what is going to cost you far more in the long run, even if you are running a top tier deck).
It is a commitment. Not something that requires extraordinary knowledge (which can be acquired through time and effort, like anything else) but in freediver’s thread, he was on the fence about whether he wanted to make the commitment and didn’t want to get into the weeds, he wanted plug and play. A lot about playing records is the stuff in the weeds, from basic good quality table, decent arm, cartridges- you can spend like crazy and may not be in much better a place than at a fraction of the cost. Getting it dialed in is key and knowing how to do it yourself is important. Record buying is a lifetime pursuit. Record cleaning is a PITA, but will be important, especially as your collection grows and you explore older copies.

Many of us started modestly- my first table back in 1969? was an AR XA which was a very basic manual turntable that retailed for around 90 or 100 US$. As my interest grew, I upgraded. I still have a few records from the early days of my involvement in this hobby; over the years I acquired many, many more.
The learning, both about improving playback as well as music and various pressings--an ongoing adventure -- is great fun if your interest lies in that direction. I’m still learning and have been around this stuff quite a long time.
I had suggested to freediver that he get a local dealer to loan him a used or demo table to try. I don’t know what your market is for dealers with access to trade-ins, demos and the like. It is almost impossible to evaluate turntables and their associated parts-arms and cartridges in a meaningful way in stores or at shows because there are so many variables at play- (this was the subject of another thread here recently)- but if you could try one at home that would be ideal.
I actually do agree with @orpheus10 to the extent that you can keep improving everything on a vinyl front end, including phono stage, wires, tube rolling, etc. at some cost. But where you realize magic is pretty individual, as is your comfort level on price and adjusting things. (Turntables can be plug and play but you’ll get more out of a good set up by tiny adjustments and learning- something that could be fun or a nightmare, depending on your point of view)

It took many years for me to get where I am-- I didn’t just go into a dealership and write out a check for the turntable I have now. Nor did all those wonderful records I have (and play, though I have more than I could possibly listen to and still keep buying, mostly old copies of things) just land on my shelves at once. It took years and I’m still sorting through copies I own. Time and effort are rewarded in this. And as was mentioned in freediver’s thread, the sonic outcomes are very source material dependent (which is true with CD as much as with the LP).
If you decide this is for you, you can have great fun with it. I think you probably can do it without a deep expenditure of money, but it will take some time and a little effort.
bill hart

Being still curious I have been looking on ElusiveDisc.com, Musicdirect.com,Crutchfield & One Call & am blown away at all the really cool table/arm/cartridge set ups they have from $250.00 to $400.00..Really amazing looking set ups from Project & Music Hall & Rega & others..
Nice post, whart.

**** But where you realize magic is pretty individual ****

Exactly! That was precisely the point of my post. Most of us who have been in this hobby for a long time know all too well that what is considered “better” sound is often very individual. “Magical”? .... that takes the question to an entirely higher level of individuality. To say that a well chosen and very expensive vinyl playback system would sound better than a budget system is stating the obvious; but, I also chuckle at the attempts to assign a specific price point to when it is that the “magic” happens.

For this individual there is a fundamental difference in the way that analog sounds compared to digital. It can be a very subtle difference which gets more and more subtle as the quality of the gear in question improves (more expensive...usually). Other times, depending on the recording, the difference is huge. However, my point was that this fundamental difference can be heard (to varying degrees) even with a modestly priced, well chosen and well set up truntable system. Whether that difference constitutes “magic” for any one listener is another matter entirely. Many listeners new to lp playback are immediately turned off by the presence of even the slightest bit of lp surface noise to the extent that this obfuscates for them what analog is doing right. Others are not and are turned on by the qualitative difference in the sound and their emotional reaction to it; and, for them, it rings true in a way that some digital playback does not. Is he the type of listener that has to sit in “the sweet spot” to enjoy the experience? Or, is he the type of listener that can fully enjoy the music while being in the adjoining room? Again, a personal matter. What is “better”? How much experience does the listener have with live music and what are the preferred genres? These are not judgmental questions as they are often made out to be, but they factor into how the difference is perceived. However, to deem it necessarily a waste of money to not initially invest thousands of dollars to get one’s feet wet in the analog experience? Hardly! Again, it should be obvious that my tricked out TNT6/ET2 setup would sound a lot better than a modestly priced vintage Thorens. But, tell you what, the reason that listing caught my eye was that a neighbor and fellow audiophool owns that same model Thorens and in the context of his modest well chosen system that turntable sounds, to me as well as him, consistently more “magical” than a couple of currently (recently?) popular mid level CD players (OPPO, EAD, ?) that have gone through his system.

Your mention of the AR XA brought back some memories. My first decent turntable was back in college when I purchased a Technics SL-1700 (or, was it 1600?). I was perfectly happy with it and its ADC XLM going into vintage SAE electronics and EPI speakers (I’m showing my age). Perfectly happy until my college buddy brought over his AR XA with XLM. Well, magic would be a pretty good way of describing what I heard as the difference. Having said all that my next turntable will probably be a Technics SP10; or something along those lines.

Personally, I think every person who fancies him/her-self an audiophile and music lover should experience, first hand, analog sound in their system and on their terms (time, place, etc). It may not strike that chord that it does for some; but, it may and at least they’ll know for sure.

A few years ago, serious and learned audiophiles had a debate as to what price point that analog exceeded digital, and we arrived at 3K. Since that was a few years ago, it must be at 4K now.

Once money is spent, it can not be "un-spent". When someone who doesn't know about analog, but wants some serious sound, why recommend something that will not even get them there halfway?

Freediver, is that the cost of your rig $250. ?
I always thought playing vinyl creates noise and less detail compared to playing a 16 bit and 24 bit CD?  If I am wrong, I would like someone to explain otherwise.  Also, can you really hear a sound difference when playing a $20,000 turn table?  What if you purchased a $600 turn table and added an $1,800 cartridge.  Wouldn't that still sound good.  I would like to hear a demo comparing CD to vinyl and compare a cheap turn table with expensive cartridge to a $20,000 turn table using the same cartridge.

I have been listening to records since I was born (over 70 years ago), and then CD's came along; good bye, and good riddance noisy records.

Now records have been re-discovered. No, what has been discovered is records + high end audio. Records without high end audio is still a "no go" for me. None of the people I know, are about to pay the cost of high end analog to hear their records in the fashion being discussed, which means they only play CD's.

Now, according to some, all you have to do is dust off those old record players, and you're in business. Anybody who was around the first time knows that's a lie; the average CD player will leave those old record players in the dust.

Why you are trying to entice young people who don't know, into believing there is something special about an LP without expensive analog gear is beyond me.

Oh, I know, I just can't hear what's special about the LP; I couldn't hear it then, and I can't hear it now; not without expensive high end gear.

Larry,it's quite apparent that you know next to nothing about "high end analog"; no audiophile would even consider the ridiculous stuff you are proposing; however, there is no question in regard to the superiority of analog over CD, even when one can't hear to well.

My contention is the fact that the price point at which this superiority occurs is not made plain, and some one with only 1K should accumulate more funds before they take the leap, otherwise they will blow the 1K and not reap the benefits.
Larry, you are being totally inappropriate and I will explain. Most of these guys won't be able to tell whether it is record or cd playing, given similar level of equipment, unfamiliar music and analog mastering for cd. Even less probable with something like XRCDs.
But I have faith in Bill and frog. Damn, I myself sometimes get confused for a few seconds with my own system and very familiar music when analog recording is quite compressed.
To the OP. Don't listen to them or yourself regarding cheap DD tables. They are junk and will give you stupid even if at times sort of exciting sound. If you want real thing extend your budget and get Nottingham Analogue Interspace table/arm. Add Goldring 1042 MM cartridge and that will do it. For phono get Sutherland least expensive model. Another thing - buy only best pressings of records. Since you probably have no idea ask us, especially Bill. He's been roaming entire world for years searching for those, and finding them, usually. And clean the bloody records well on a machine.
Again, don't waist your hard or even if not hard earned dollars on mass market and DJ BS.

What's with this "analog sound"; millions of people threw their "crappy" turntables on the junk heap and never looked back; a cheap crappy record player, and a record of any kind will give you crappy sound that every body gave up when they got a CD player.

Personally, I'm not paying money for someone else's junk; there is way too much that can cause a TT not to be up to specs to chance a used one when you can get a new guaranteed one.

This stuff is rated by class in "Stereophile", and if you want better than a good CD player, you got to go to class "B"; otherwise you get something no better than a good CD player, and I'm sure you already have that.

The cheapest tables with arm come in at 3K. Cartridges come in at 1K, phono pre at less than 1K if MM with tubes preferably; total 5K. You can find ways to chisel 1K off the total, and still come out right.

Or, you can go to Crutchfield, and get everything for $399.


The cheapest tables with arm come in at 3K.

@orpheus10  No, since Technics is back to business with Coreless Direct Drive (considered by many audiophiles as the best DD available today) and for very reasonable price, for example the 1200GR is under $2k and there are few more between $1200-1500 from Technics coming later this year. 

So the $3k mark is definitely not the cheapest. 
I think it would be hard to find anything close to the new 1200GR which can be purchaced for under $1700 used @inna  

Two things come to mind when reading this posts...

One, nostalgia and profit drive much of the comeback of analog turntables and vinyl. Much like the comeback of the Volkswagen Beetle and the Chrysler PT cruiser, auto manufacturers capitalized on the “I want the good old days again” mindset of middle aged consumers. When kinds were playing mom and dads records and turning away from CD or IPods, those sales of albums brought it back... which leads to my second thought.
Secondly, one MUST spend a very decent sum of money to begin to get good sound from turntable rigs. CD players are getting much better, streaming and digital downloads are offering hi-resolution files that sound very good and clean. Therefore a good turntable, cartridge, tonearm, phono preamp and record cleaner will cost you thousands of dollars to better digital sound. A vintage crappy turntable may come close but only if one really knows what to get and again you would spend a very good sum of money on a vintage Garrard 301, reconditioned or new.
I recently picked up a JVC QL-Y66F DD table with a Stanton 981 HZS cartridge for $545. Is it better than my digital sources (which isn't something the OP asked for by the way)? No.  Do the used records I buy sound really nice on it after a good cleaning? Yes! Do I get more enjoyment out of it than my digital sources? Yes! Is it more pleasing on the eyes than my CD player or DAC? Yes!

I have a more resolving belt drive table with a better cartridge and better phono stage that I play my best records on. It doesn't best my Marantz KI-Pearl CD player, but it's close.  For me there is some nostalgia involved, but I think more than anything else I get more involved in listening to records than digital sources.

I don't think everybody buys a turntable because they are trying to get better sound quality than their digital sources.  If the OP is looking for that with the budget mentioned then they may be disappointed, but if they're looking for a decent turntable in that price range they are out there to be had. Of course the definition of "decent" is subjective. 

**** Do I get more enjoyment out of it than my digital sources? Yes! ****

**** ....more than anything else I get more involved in listening to records than digital sources ****

Honest question: So, what exactly is it that, for you, still makes your digital sources “better”?
My Marantz CD player is more revealing and has "better" sound quality than any other source in my current system. 

I know what my problem is; "Nobody passed me the bong"; that's what it takes to get this romantic involvement with the "old-school" records and record players, that they now refer to as "Analog"; which said record players could be had for $200. new.

Frogman, "Do I get more enjoyment out of it than my digital sources? Yes! *"

BTW, Frogman has a TNT6 plus ET2 tonearm.



Frogman says, "* ....more than anything else I get more involved in listening to records than digital sources ****"

I wonder why?

big_greg, thanks for your response. I’m trying to get a better sense of what you consider to be “better” sound; while admitting that you get more enjoyment from the (apparently) lesser.  “Revealing” can mean different things to different listeners and isn’t always at the top of list of priorities for some listeners. Feel free to expound if you would like. Thanks again.

orpheus10, I learned a long time ago that it is pointless to try and have a meaningful dialogue with you. Case of “Mars and Venus”; and that is being very generous. As usual, you are missing the point with your insistence on “winning” an argument that should never have become an argument. Please look for the argument elsewhere. Peace.
There are some very good points raised here and I am just going to throw this out there.
I am currently selling a fully restored Dual 1019 ready to go at $299. No it is not a shameless plug ... Lol.
Would I recommend this tt to a new to analog person? Heck no, even though restored and in perfect working order it is still not your definition of plug and play. I am usually fiddling slightly with antiskate and vtf depending on records. This type of older vintage idler drive is usually going to need a bit more fiddling than a simple belt drive.
For example only couple days ago I noticed it sounded slow even with pitch adjusted fully up. Investigation revealed that the brass drive cone was not truly tight on the shaft and had slipped down on the shaft a little, hence running slow.
Reset it, tightened it up and checked speed and set with strobe.

Relatively simple task for me but for a newbie to idler drives or tt in general?
May have driven them crazy.

Plenty of sub $500 tt especially used would be a lot easier to live with and still give a nice experience.
@frogman "Better" is by definition a subjective term, however what I'm referring to are the things that seem to tick the check boxes for "audiophiles", dynamics, details, black backgrounds, soundstage, excetera excetera.

I personally get more enjoyment out of spinning vinyl even if technically the sound quality isn't quite as good. I'm more likely to get up and walk around or be doing something else and have the music be in the background if I'm listening to a CD or streaming than if I'm listening to a record. Does that help with your understanding of the point I'm trying to get across?
big_greg, it does help; a lot. Thanks for sharing; and for making MY point.  Regards.