I'm enjoying my MMF-7. For the amount of time I listen to LP vs. CD it's perfect.
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Second Stringreen, but with a twist. If you put virtually your full budget into as good a table/arm as you can get and skimp temporarily on the cartridge by getting the cheapest possible, like a $40 Grado or Sumiko. You'll get better sound both now and later when you decide to upgrade the cart. If you don't already have a phono stage you can get the cheap Rolls for $76 new and upgrade later. IOW, stretch as high as you can one item at a time, table/arm first, and minimize the wasted investment in the other items.
This is an extremely common thread theme. Check out the back threads by scrolling down and you'll find plenty of prewritten advice.
I know to go more for the table / arm now. My phono stage comes integrated in my McIntosh 6900 - so I don't know specifics, but everyone I talked to said it should do well with just about anything I'd throw at it for now.
My real question I guess is to go vintage (mod) used or recent (demos, returns, light use) used. I know you can get a bigger bang for your buck with used, but is vintage king?
At $1K, you could get a Technics SL 1210 Mk2 from Musicians Friend for $400 HERE, and an Origin Live armboard, VTA adjuster, and OL-1 tonearm HERE. I'd get at least the mechanical mod and maybe the rewire if I could spring for it.
Cartridge? For starters, a Denon DL-160. I've already gone through the Ortofon OM-10 and Shure M97xE and have decided life is too short to not start with at least the Denon DL-160. And I love it for blues and orchestral music, and also for acoustic pop and folk, jazz, rock, and vocal music. I just plain like it. Good tracker too, and smooth in the high treble while giving good detail for the money.
What would messing with two sources get you over an all-in-one solution? A better drive system with lower noise, wow, & flutter than you'd ever find in a <$1K belt drive system, combined with an over-achieving tonearm. The build quality, controls, and ergonomics of the Technics platform is also worlds ahead at $400.
Disclaimer: I have a Technics TT and Denon DL-160, but don't have an OL-1 tonearm. It *is* on my short list, however.
Thanks for restating Metalsymph. Good question, and not easily answered. There has definitely been some evolution in TT design but economy of scale and inflation make it a complex question with no definitive answer IMHO. But that's ok. You're likely to do fine and enjoy your music no matter how you cut it.
08-10-07: PiedpiperAnd that's what you get with the Technics platform and the Rega-sourced arm. You can buy both new rather than used, but in both cases economy of scale gives you more performance for the money spent.
This is a $400 platform with noise and speed accuracy figures of a $2K-$3K platform combined with the only sub-$1K tonearm (or an assembly-line cousin) in S'phile Class B.
You really can get both plus the Denon DL-160 for $1K or a little less.