Posted: Feb 16, 2010 10:58 am
Anything heavy is better than anything made out of plastic.
If you buy something from a well-known Japanese company, make sure it's OLD and was made when people primarily listened to records. Newer Sonys, Onkyos, Sansuis, etc. can be had for cheap, but they're mostly shit. I bought a used Sansui to match the stereo I had as a kid for $30.00 on ebay. It does the job, but it's pretty crappy. However, it's way better than the $130 Sony I bought new at Circuit City my first year out of college.
If I was replacing my current turntable, and my budget was under $500, I'd look at used Thorens, Regas, Music Halls and Projects. You can find good used ones around $300. Unfortunately, most (Thorens excluded) don't have automatic speed change. Some also have an outboard PSU that will regulate speed at the push of the button (Speed box-by Pro-Ject--should also work on Music Halls).
A lot of folks like even older Gerrards, Duals, ARs, Denons, etc.
Some people (mostly DJs) like direct drive turntables, where the motor is directly attached to the spindle. This allows you to scratch. Most audio-nerds don't like direct drive TTs (they think the motor can affect the sound). Regardless the Technics 1200 is a very highly regarded deck.
There is a wide variety of new turntables at www.needledoctor.com
The store is VERY expensive, but it will give you an idea of the variety and styles of new turntables.
From $99 to $150K!!http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-Store/Show-All-Turntables?sort1desc =F&sort1=Item_ONLINECUSTOMERPRICE&range=
Also check outwww.audiogon.com
for used stuff. I LOVE this site.
Ebay is also great. Belts are cheap!http://cgi.ebay.com/PIONEER-PL-10-Belt-Drive-Turntable-boxed-NR_W0QQit emZ250578143962QQcmdZViewItemQQptZVintage_Electronics_R2?hash=item3a57 9f0ada
If you're tired of headphones, I'm guessing you'll need a phono pre-amp. I think the Cambridge Audio 540p is the best budget pre-amp out there. If you had an older receiver or integrated amp, it'll probably already have a phono output.