Wow I listened to my old AR ES1 last night

I've made many system upgrades and it's been awhile since I listed to my TT. I was blown away by how good it sounded, so I was thinking of how good I could get my analog setup sounding without spending a ton of money. What would be a big improvement to the AR ES1 for around $2500 used?
My phono stage is an EAR, Pre amp SF Line3SE, ML 332 amp, Hales T8 speakers.
Thanks in Advance
You can buy new for a used price at they cary Michell turntables that are extreamly musical.
New Basis 2000 with RB/300 for basis.
If you plan to place cartridge inside $2500 budget, you should probably get Benz Glider 2 series(low out version) or Dynavector 20Xl. If you order it from Hong Kong(you can also win it on ebay from Hong Kong dealer) you'll save a couple. I hate to buy used cartridges and even if I buy used cartdridges I come only in person to pick it up with my pocket microscope to check cantilever and the stylus.
Kind of amazing isn't it ? I went through the same "eye / ear opening" experience a few years back. Puts the "glories of digital" in a new perspective, huh ?!?!?! Sean
Welcome back to analog! From a quick view of the classifieds, there's a Basis 2001/Rega/Benz Glider for sale for $2500, and Well-Tempered Classics are always available, it seems; as far as new goes, the Michell tables are indeed nice, and for a lower price you could get an MMF-7 complete with arm and cartridge and still have a lot left over for records. I've heard all of these and would say that they all should be an improvement on the AR in absolute sonic terms, although you may find you like the colorations of the AR (which was a pretty good table in its time) enough to stay with it--by this I mean that the better the turntable/arm combination, the more neutral the sound, and while you'll be getting more information sometimes you lose some colorations (like a mid-bass bump) which you may find pleasing and may have masked some deficiencies in your records themselves. Ultimately I'm very glad at the upgrades I've made over the years (particularly as my tastes turned to classical recordings), but I do note that some of the older rock records I liked from the 60's just don't sound as good as I remember them (Ah, nostalgia just isn't what it used to be!), and that is likely attributable to the less neutral sound of my older turntables. See if you can audition any of the ones you are interested in with your own records. Good luck!
If you like a "lush" sound go with a VPI 19Mk whatever or an Aries basic and slowly but surely do the upgrade path.Got a Loaded Aires extended w/a 12.5 (yeah thos edeals are out there) for $2500 and it ROCKS (or jazz's as my case would be).Now I can upgrade my Grado Sonata when ready and add an SDS controler.Fremer speaks highly of this Final Tool and it looks spec and build wise like a winner for $2K.Like the idea of multiple arms as instead of swapping arm tube you could have a seperate cheaper arm for trashed recods or another witha mono cartridge mounted (believe me mono records sound better with a mono cart-more important than having a mono switch on pre-amp).
Look for George Merrill, Underground Sound, he used to hot rod/modify the AR tables... you might save yourself $$$ and end up with a KILLER analog front end.
Well, it depends on what you mean by improvement. A Well Tempered Classic can be had (used) for around $700 and it will put to shame just about anything short of the big buck turntables. If you want a serious improvement, you'd have to consider a VPI Aries or a Basis 2001... I'd just as well spend the difference on buying records. I have a WTT and a VPI TNT 2.5. Yes the TNT is better but I can listen to the WTT without fell like I'm missing out.
I dropped a wad of money on Basis 2001, Van Den Hull Frog, modified Rega RB300, and Sonic Frontiers Phono One. This system kills my old AR/ES-1 in terms of detail, soundstage, etc, and it demonstrates the superiority of analog over cd to new-bees, BUT.....

my old AR/ES-1 with stock arm and a simple MM cartridge (Rega) sounds WONDERFUL. It sounds rich and beautiful and certainly has enough detail for me to enjoy the music.

I don't regret my purchase - my system is awesome - but I can tell you that if I had to live forever with that AR/ES-1, I'd be happy too.

Take a look at the Teres turntables at
They are great sounding tables in the price range you are looking for.
I really can't say enough about how good the Nottingham Spacedeck/Spacearm sounds with the right cartridge. There is one up right now on the 'Gon (no I don't know the seller). In the neighborhood of the asking price and the rest on a cartridge to equal the $2500 budget indicated, you'd have a table very hard to beat. Easy to set up and mount and a pleasure to sit back and listen. I've had a Linn in the "old days", a VPI Jr., and Rega P25 and the 'Not humbles each by a wide margin in terms of musicality, pace, and deep extended sound on both ends of the spectrum, as well as in between.