VPI SCOUT --- You will not be dissapointed
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The Audio Note and Michell Gyrodec 'tables are suspended designs, and so less susceptible to environmental noise and vibration, and easier to site. The other three 'tables need more careful support, though support is an issue with all 'tables. Other than this practical consideration, all record players have their own particular flavors, so the best advice is to seek them out and listen to see what appeals to you. For instance, classic suspended designs like the Audio Note major on rhythm, while more massive designs like the VPI Scout tend to reproduce a wider frequency and be more even-handed in their presentation. Which will appeal to you? While the VPI is arguably the best 'table on this list, the Gyrodec will allow you to try different tonearms in the future.
Either of the later two table you list will suit your needs.
There are lots of others, but since you listed the ones you are interested in, I will leave it at that.
For the phono stage a used Ear-834 or ARC PH-3 are both good phono preamps for the money, IMHO.
Good Luck in your quest for good Analog sound. It is worth it.
I don't know the Audio Note, so I can't comment on that. I've heard the MMF7 and it is NO contest to th Gyrodec IMHO. I hear the VPI Scout is an outstanding 'table if you don't mind an unsuspended design. The VPI HW19 Mks III and IV are both very good, too, as far as I'm concerned.
I love my Gyrodec SE and would highly recommend it. Got mine used at a very affordable price...the sound is stunning. As far as upgrades, VPI HWs are easy and relatively affordable to upgrade; Michell also offers good platter and PSU upgrades for the Gyro, and they work very well with SME as well as Rega and Rega-style arms (I put an Origin Live Silver on mine) and of course there are a zillion mods for those bad boys.
All these tables are good however I will second the nomination of the VPI Scout. This table is very easy to set-up, does everything it is supposed to do and does it well, and the arms with cartridges can be interchanged quite easily (although not cheaply).
I am very happy with mine.
All the best in you choice.
Thanks for all of the input. This is an interesting endeavor for me. Turntables seem much more mechanical than other components and I'm looking forward to learning more about them. I have not decided on anything yet, but I'm leaning towards the VPI or Michell. I'll see what I can demo locally.
What about isolation? As crazy as it sounds, because of space reasons the TT will initially be on the floor. I want to put something under it to reduce vibrations.
Of course, if you go for the Michell, then isolation is less of a problem, as it's a suspended deck. Cheap alternatives include a patio stone or other large slab (thick ply-wood, large marble kitchen cutting boards, etc.) sitting on tennis balls cut in half, or on a half-inflated inner tube, or several half-inflated inner tubes from smaller tires.
Why not get a wall shelf for it? Arguably the best place for a TT to sit, anyway...Otherwise, I'd get something massive to put under the 'table to help keep vibrations at bay. Make sure the TT is level!
I think you'd be happy with either Michell or VPI. When I was shopping, it came down to those two and I went Michell though it was a VERY tough choice--eventually, "vibe" won out! ;) I'm very happy, but I think if I'd gone VPI I'd still be very happy!