dropthearm wrote:As for my budget for my next turntable, I was hoping to keep it below $1500 but may be able to go a little higher. Is this a reasonable budget or just wishful thinking on my part?
My advice is: Instead of spending <$1500 for other turntable, first spend more money on the cartridge.
AT95E for $49.95
LPGAT95SA for $149.95
AT110E for $69.95
AT120E/T for $79.95
Goldring Elan for $60.00
Goldring Elektra for $95.00
None of those will really suprise you, except maybe the AT95 with the $150 shibata, but still there are better options than it at that price level(see below). The AT95 is excellent for the money but is still limited by its bonded elliptical stylus and regular cantilever construction. You can't get around physics, despite the engineers at Audio Technica deserving a Nobel prize for doing the best budget cartridges.
A cartridge with a special alloy cantilever and a sophiticated low mass tip will be able to extract much more detail. Instead of shelving out $1500 for another turntable, try a really notable cartridge such as the AT150ML (MM) or the ATOC9MLII (MC). Boron cantilever, microline nude stylus. This will cost you around $300-400. Or at least an AT440MLa (around $150-180).