You won’t go wrong with the Technics!
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So I have a VN TD-160 Super with a Hana SL cart in my basement system. That system also has a Node 2/Benchmark DAC3. Both the analog and digital front ends sound nice - neither better than the other but with a different presentation.
I do need to add a caveat - one of the reasons my analog front end sounds so nice in that setup is because I'm using a Herron VTPH-2A phono pre (which costs more than the table and cart combined). I've used a $350 Project Tube Box DS instead and the sonics are massively degraded. So don't underestimate the impact of the phonostage with a pairing like that.
I have a Hanna SL. It is awesome for the price. Good choice. I also have a Thorens TD165 I've own from new MANY years. Thorens is a very good turntable but I also own a Feickert Volare turntable and have sampled other modern turntables. I found the modern turntables outperformed my TD165 pretty handily. But, my Thorens hasn't been professionally upgraded either. I've done many things to keep it in great shape to the point that I'm not sure how much additional work would help it to start with. I also have a Whest two.2 phono pre. That made a significant difference in the system with any TT/Cart combination. Don't discount the importance of the Pre. I also have a very well performing digital path. I enjoy my TT very much, but you have better/worse digital executions and analog executions. But rarely does the analog path sound better than digital path to me. My wife, who also grew up with records now simply refuses to listen to them vs my digital path. She has certifiable bat ears. Her hearing tests are off the charts. So I trust her analysis too. But ALWAYS go with what keeps you in the room listening to the music. That's all that counts!
In the September 2020 isssue of the Absolute Sound a strong endorsement is made for the Technics 1500C, which at $1199 seems to fit the bill for you nicely. I believe any Technics TT is worth consideration. Thorens makes good TTs and I have owned a couple over the years, but must say that in my experience the Technics products (and in fact Japanese TTs in general) have proven to be more satisfactory.
With respect, I believe you should carefully reconsider your cartridge choice. From your description of the problem you had with the 2M Black it likely has at root the Shibata stylus. The Shibata is fussy about set up and the condition of record grooves. If all is not perfection itself, Shibatas are prone to be noisy. I use Shibata on mint condition records, older records and especially mono records are often better served with an elliptical stylus. If your new TT has a tonearm with removable head shell it would facilitate having more than one cartridge. Were I you I would probably buy an elliptical stylus mounted on an aluminum cantilever type cartridge. There are several good brands.
Believe me, sometimes less is more. I have two TTs side by side, one is a $15K item fitted with an $8K cartridge (stereo) and stepped up through an almost $6K SUT. Next to it is a $4K TT with an $8oo cartridge (mono) connected directly to the built in SUT in my phono stage. Depending on the record it is very possible for the less expensive rig to sound better than the more expensive rig. My point in telling you this is to advise you not to get hung up by labels or what other people are using or claiming is "the best" whatever that is supposed to mean. When you are playing a record, what matters is how well your needs are served. It is really all about the music.
Great cartridges for Technics tonearms are Pickering and Stanton top model, NEW OLD STOCK like this.
Stereohedron stylus is as good as the Shibata. The benefit of the MM is user replaceable stylus, but replacing a stylus with Hana MC will be a disaster for you, you must ship your cartridge back to the manufacturer via your distributor (it means no cartridge for some time) and it’s pricey.
The equal Stanton to that Pickering is 980 series. Those cartridges sound like mastertape and much better than most of the MC even at higher price. You should realy search for and read about Stanton 980 or Pickering XSV/4000 online.
Thanks for all your replies. Everyone here provided some valuable advice.
I purchased a Technics SL-1210GR from a fellow Agon member yesterday. It comes with two head shells and a Denon DL-110 cartridge.
I will probably at some point pick up a Audio Technica VM750SH cart and a better phono-pre. If I get a GAS attack may go the Chakster route and order a Pickering!
Again thanks all and I will update this thread with my thoughts on sound when the TT arrives.
Joe, another fellow audiogonner @luisma31 replaced his DL103 MM with this NOS Pickering XSV/3000SP (MM) on Technics GR turntable. You have to read his opinion about it. The XSV/4000 is next model from Pickering and no doubt it will put DL-110 in the dust forever :)) Stereohedron stylus is one of the best profiles ever. You can constantly upgrade phono stage for LOMC, but for MM you can use any phono stage. My advice is to sell your DL-110 before the stylus is worn.
Some people hear excellence in moving magnet or moving iron cartridges, some do not. I am not one of those folks, its been my experience that a well executed moving coil cartridges offers greater detail, refinement, subelty, and is an improved listening experience. Of course the drawback of a MC cartridge is that the stylus is not user replaceable, so the owner has to be attentive in their handling of the cartridge. With a person new to vinyl, this is a mistake that can be made. So its best not to buy too far up the cartridge tree, unless you are assured you are able to safely and comfortably handle an upper tier cartridge.
Candidates for that first MC cartridge often include the Audio Technica OC9 series, or their 33 series cartridges, the Hana offerings, the Denon DL 301 MK II, and perhaps Sumiko. Personally I would look at the OC9 cartridges, or the Hana myself. But that is just my opinion.