You own VPI, Rega and Clearaudio and it appears didn't like them much. $5000 used, new or it depends?
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Yes, I owned them. The models were entry-level, or slightly better, and i didn't expect them to be their best representative. That said, I think I can move on for the money I'm putting down. I want a versatile table, something that's capable of changing as my tastes change until I'm ready to drop another 5 or 10k. I would like it to complement the equipment I already have, because they're not changing anytime soon, and is the reason why i bothered to describe them. Used, new? No, it doesn't matter.
Two arms isn't a necessity, just a nicety, but thanks for the Transrotor suggestion, Manitunc--I'll look into it. I've found a couple of others in the Solid Machine Small and The Acoustic Signature; both, I believe are made by the same German manufacturer. Although both close in on my 5k budget, leaving not much for an arm, I can live without an arm for now--I have other tables-- and I'd rather have the solid foundation for a better arm some where down the near future road.
Gotta ask: is piece by piece a crazy method of acquiring a quality table? I mean, this table may sit a box for six months or more before I'm capable of purchasing a high quality arm to complement it. Anyone have a better method?
I did a similar tour listening to top tables a couple years ago and auditioned several great tables in the 20,000 to 30,000 range and liked them all a lot but was blown away at how good a vintage Technics mkll sounded in a custom plinth at a fraction of the cost. I agree with Mosin. Try a vintage mkll, Lenco, Garrard....You can put them in whatever plinth you want(1-4 arms) and I bet you'll find nothing at any price that beats them. It's often a bit of a project but if you're not in a hurry it's about the best way to go IMO.
For 5K you could get a Linn LP12, Ittok, Shelter 901 or maybe a 90X and have money left over and a fantastic sounding vinyl rig. In fact, you could probably have two LP12s, two Ittoks, a Shelter 901 and one other cartridge if you really need two tone arms. Probably better to have one setup and add an ARC PH5.
I have no objection to a vintage turntable, but, unlike new units, they are hard to audition unless you have a friend or a friend-of-a-friend with that particular unit. Even new tables are difficult to audition; hence, my driving two hundred miles to do just that.
@Sonofjim: since you've been down this path recently, was there a "thing" about the Technics which made it a comparable if not a better choice? Or was it more cost verses benefit?
I had a Technics SP-10mkII - it was very good to excellent. But I think if you could AB it with a Linn you might prefer the Linn which would be easier to find and service if you ever needed service. Often many good Linns to choose from on Agon. I hear you that an audition is preferred over advice. I'm sure there are some Linns somewhere near you that you could hear. You only need to get to the Cirkus level with an Ittok and a decent cartridge and you will experience what it's about. Good luck.