What turntable, $500 or less

Okay, so I'm thinking that I'd like to get back to vinyl. I say "back" because I used to "dj" (beat match and mix records). Anyways, I used, and liked, technics sl 1200 with ortofon cartrideges. How do these rate in the audiphile arena? What are your recommendations for a complete setup (catridge, turntable, tone arm, phono stage (never even knew about phono stages unril recently, and I still don't know much about them)? Thanks for your help!!
Look for a used Denon 47F, one that can be picked up, no shipping. You will be pleased. Plenty of reviews.
The Pro-Ject Carbon at $399 sure looks promising and has garnered some favorable reviews. Helluva tonearm at that price.
I am in the same boat as you. Tomorrow I am previewing the Debut Carbon and The RPM 1.3. I have already heard the Rega RP1.

I own a Thorens 145mkii that I am getting sick of babysitting.....I just want a machine to play music, not fiddle with like a 20 year old car.....

I will let you know how it goes.....

Photodusty, how did it go?
I might be selling my entire Pro-ject Xpression III front end that was recently serviced at a local dealer. It also includes a phono tube box II that is only a couple months old and has upgraded tubes. It also includes a speed box I. I have made some upgrade choices so email me if you are interested.
Arrived at "the Sound Room" in Traverse City MI. on Saturday. After listening to the Debut Carbon Fiber and the RPM 1.3 for what seemed like 2.5 hours I decided on the Debut Carbon.

Once getting it to my dads { I Live 3 hours away and he is only 1/2 hour from Traverse, plus he has great gear to listen on! VTL preamp, Jolida Tube amp, Linn Sodek and these big ass Merlin speakers. All this really lets you feel like you are right there with the band!} We listened for a few albums and decided that the Ortofon 2M that came with it had to go. So I put on my Denon DL-110. BLAMM!!! The cartridge smaked the record like it was weighted with gold. After checking with tracking force and trying to figure what else might have changed we were stumped as to why the cartridge was riding against the record. My dad happend to leave the arm "next" to the record and as we watched it was drawn to the platter. So you see the Pro-Ject Carbon Fiber has a metal platter and the Denon Dl-110 has a strong magnet in it. We were floored at this finding. I have video of it I will post once I get around to it.

I notified the owner of The Sound Room and he was ever so gracious to meet me there on Sunday and I upgraded to the RPM 1.3. The Pro-Ject 1.3 has an MDF platter. We listened to the Sumiko Pearl for a few albums and determined it to had to go. Placing the Denon DL-110 on the Pro-Ject 1.3 is an incredible sound. The cartridge is brand new and I have to admit we were both very pleased with this set up right out of the box. {It does not compare to his Grado Sonata that is on his Linn, but it was in the same area code}

I have been waiting for this moment for months. Like many who read this you probably have poured over all the entry level budget turntable reviews wondering which one is right for you. I spent way to many hours on that subject on my google page. I have to say that this is the right turntable for me. I like everything about it. The sound is full, deep and high with this Denon. It has handled everything from Andrew Bird, Ray Brown, Miles Davis, Echo and the Bunneymen, Tom Petty, Don Cherry, Canonball Adderly, Norah Jones, Coutning Crows, Pink Floyd, Wilco and Neil Young exactly as I expected to hear them! {Thats all the albums I have listend to so far so if it sounds like this now I cannot wait until the cartridge opens up.

I have heard this set up on an incredible tube system and at home now I am using my Soundcraftsmen Pre-Amp, Music Hall 25.2 Amp and my Athena LS-500 Speakers. It really sound awesome.

Two Thumbs way up!

Thorens 160 Super. One of the best Thorens ever made. But
you will need an tonearm also.
Nice Denon DP1200 is on here now. I owned this years ago ago and it was real nice. If you can get it for $400 go for it.
Photodusty & Sbrownnw,
First, Photodusty, so you went with the 1.3 instead of the carbon? Howcome? I just read a few reviews of the 1.3 and they said they were having vibration problems in the tonearm because the mdf? Did you experience this? If I were to buy one of these, how should I hook it up to my pre amp? Which phono stage do you recommend? I don't know much about this, so forgive me. Also, do you recommend that denon catridge that you are using? I'd like to keep it around $500 for the whole set-up, or at least the initial set-up, where I could upgrade just the catridge later. Thanks again for your help with this!

Secondly, Sbrownnw, how much would you want for your setup?
Hey B_limo, re-read my post and you will see why I went with the 1.3. I have not had any vibration problems. I have had zero problems. My wife has problems with me playing all my records!

As far as keeping it around $500 then my advise would be to get the carbon and maybe you will like the Ortofon that comes with it.

I dont know your system but you could get the Cambridge pre-amp or even the Pro-Ject phono pre...or something cheaper and keep it all at $500 easy.

The Carbon sounded fine but not once I went to the Denon DL-110.... {See my post above}

Hope that helps a little....

Photodusty, well maybe I will go with the 1.3, and just upgrade to the denon catridge when I can. I don't want to skimp and save $200 if I can gain quite a bit better sound if I go with the 1.3 and denon catridge vs. the carbon and ortofon catridge. What phono pre amp do you recommend? Would you suggest a pro ject just to keep it all in the same family? If so, there looks like there is one for $199, and then a tube ond for $299. Im asking you because it seems likd you've done alot of research on this. Thanks!
There certainly are other options out there. But after my long search I landed at the 1.3.

I have the Cambridge 640p which sounds fine, but just came into a fantastic and rare Soundcraftsmen pre-amp that is incredible.

You certainly wont go wrong with the Cambridge or the Pro-Ject.

This is where this hobby can shake your brain and your cash :-) {and we are in the "budget" audiophile market :-)

Good Luck and listen to as many systems as you can.

For those of you who may like the new Project Carbon, you can by paying extra get the Acrlit platter to swap out the standard metal one and thus any issues with a MC cartridge would be eliminated. The Acrlit platter goes for around $130 U.S. though. But still keeps a high value turntable in a relatively lower price point.
Is the 1.3 s better turntable though? The carbon at $399 + $130 for the different platter brings the total to $530, which is $30 more than the 1.3. I like the looks of the carbon more and I like the idea of being able to upgrade as funds become available. I think I will want to use that denon catridge. I've heard good things about it. Also, which pro ject phono stage? The tube one or not? I like the idea of having a warmer sound, would the tubes be the way to go? Thanks again for everyones help on this. I feel totally lost about the whole turntable thing.
Ortofon offers a good upgrade path for its MM cartridges. I started with an affordable OM 10 Super, and later replaced the stylus with the OM 30 Super. A very big jump in sound quality was the result. IIRC, the 2M series offers similar upgrade paths. Start with the $100 2M Red, and I think you can upgrade styli up to the Black. IOW, the cartidge bodies on these models are the same, only the styli are different.
B_limo, I sent you an email about my system that I am selling.
On the Carbon you cant adjust the VTA. You can on the 1.3.

This would come in handy if you decided to flirt with different cartridges. When I put the Denon on it was almost the same size as the Sumiko Pearl that came with the 1.3 so I left the VTA alone. But its there if I need it :-)

I use tubes for listening. Once you get the right system tubes are the only way to go. {In my opinion}

For background listening I have a solid state Music Hall. Works great. But my Jolida really brings the music alive.

Good Luck!!

If you are serious - No unit!
go into the 1000 region. you will enjoy it!
@B_limo, did you get a table? I posted my entire Pro-ject vinyl system for sale about a week ago here. Consists of a couple of Ortofon cartridges, Xpression III recently tuned up and a Pro-ject phono tube box II that is only 4 months old (2 months on factory tubes and 2 months on upgraded electro-harmonix gold tubes).