The Music Hall is a good turntable, I own the MMF-5. However, I must admit that I've never heard the Vestax table.
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Listen to the Psychic...modified Technics SL-1200MKII. It's the best turntable under $1000. Built like a tank, reliable, extremely long service life AND musical.
Mine has Phoenix Gold interconnects instead of originals; a Sumiko HS-MMT headshell w/silver Litz wires; a JA Michell record clamp; an old Disctracker by Discwasher headshell damper. It's sitting on a marble cutting board w/brass cones underneath. There is a silicone fluid tonearm damper you can buy from www.kabusa.com/ for $149. I'll buy it sometime in the future and rig it w/an Ortofon low output MC.
Don't believe the Voodoo crowd. It's NOT a DJ turntable. It was designed as a budget audiophile TT for those who could not afford the more expensive Technics DDs. It's a pretty much indestructible TT. That's why DJs love it. As for its musicality, I'm currently using a Grado Prestige Blue and it's not that far from my Cambridge D300SE CDP + Soundstream DAC-1 combo (I'm using Phoenix Gold digital cable). This morning I played a Linclon Mayorga direct to disc and was completely wowed at the performance. Once I buy the tonearm damper and the Ortofon MC cartridge it should outperform the digital rig.
Psychicanimal has it about nailed. Technics quart locked direct drive turntables are a good bargin. The SL-1800 MK II is a cosmetically more pleasing SL-1200 MK II, the latter really was intended for DJs. They made it so essentially by making the speed control a slider instead of a rotated dial button. The SL-1700 is the same table as the 1800 but with the auto lift off at the end of the record, and the 1600 is a fully automatic version. While I've not heard any of the 1600 or 1700 tabels, I've owned two 1800 Mk IIs for nearly 20 years. They are not far from the performance of my current table, an Oracle Premier IV, limited edition with SME 345 arm. The frequency extremes are superior on the Oracle, and some trackability because of the superior arm. Still, vibration resistance is excellent with the Technics tables -- another reason for DJ's love for them.
If I were you, I'd by a used Technics table, upgrade the cable, and dump as much money as possible into a MC cartridge.
At last, an enlightened soul!
The electronics technician at work changed the cables for Phoenix Gold, I bought a Sumiko HS-MMT headshell with silver Litz wires and a JA Michell record clamp. The TT sits on a marble cutting board I got at a moving sale for $15. It is supported on four adjustable brass cones with brass bases. I am using a Grado Prestige Blue as an interim cartridge ($50) and the sound is clear and detailed. No feedback. My speakers are 92dB efficient JMlab Tantal 509s powered by a Proton 50W Dual Mono beast via a Biotronics preamp w/outboard transformer and a Tice A/V Solo. Decent, to say the least...Santa Claus should bring me an Ortofon MC.
My first TT was a 1700 (I was in high school). It's so rugged my parent's house got burglarized and when the alarm sounded off the SOBs ran with the TT and tried to throw it over the fence. The stylus and dust cover were busted but the TT kept on going...
Bookner, try getting the tonearm fluid damper from www.kabusa.com/ Also, Kevin is coming soon with an outboard transformer!
I'll tell you what there are some Amazing bargins out there. I just got an old (mid 1970's) Miracord 750 with a Grado cartridge for $95. It's in great shape and everything works. It sounds wonderfull! Yeah, there is some rumble but get the music going and the music gets going. I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of a Thorens TD-160. I picked up a new Stanton 681EE cartridge to go with it for a song. Heard this combo in 1978 and was jolted by the sweep of the music.
My point is there is some GREAT stuff out there for less (sometimes MUCH less)than a couple of hundred bucks that will serve your new collection well.
The turntable I'm currently using, a Miida 70's era model 3115 (Ac drive direct drive table) just sold for 27 bucks on Ebay a week or so ago. When it comes to turntables, don't forget ebay!!! People get rid of top dollar tables from yesteryear (and which are still very good ya know) all the time because they are just cleaning out attics and garages and assume the record players are just old useless relics
well, if its sound youre after, go for a belt drive manual tt with a medium mass arm. the regas and music halls are great bargains and some actually come with cartridges all set up and ready to play.
if you just want to hear the records and want a durable player, the dd technics tables will serve you well.
the more refined sound you can garner from the belt drive audiophile TTs will be more rewarding of your efforts than the more rugged and easy to use dd models.
dollar for dollar, better sound with the audiophile oreinted belt drive tables.