Digital guy, thinking of taking the analog plunge.

What is the simple way to get stated with a turntable. I am looking for something easy to use that does not require hundreds of upgrades and tweaks. Is there a good starter set up out there or is buying a used table somebody upgraded a better bet.

Where does one start?

I was in you shoes about two years ago ... all I can tell you is in my case it's been well worth the "journey". I say that because at first I just wanted an older vintage table with a basic cart and be done with it. We had a little "audiohead" gathering at a local pub and I asked the question "what table should I purchase?" I basically got my head ripped off for asking such a dumb question and never did get a straight answer. Every question I asked was answered by 3 more questions back to me. I continued on to my local used audio dealer and was given so my options I had found myself back at square one.

Here are some of the mistakes I made :

1. Don’t underestimate the possibility you may stay in analog for a while and start buying LPs which could bring on the upgrade bug regardless.

2. Invest in a good LP cleaning system - I bought the Spin clean because it's inexpensive and seems to do a pretty good job.

3. If you pickup a turntable w/o a cart make sure the cart you purchase works with the turntable. Yes, I actually bought a cart that was such that the VTA on my turntable didn’t accommodate it very well. The same goes with the cart and the phono pre - not all MC carts are created equal.

4. Space ... No, not a Deadhead interlude - LP's and cleaning systems take up a lot of it as well as the table itself. Just something to think about.

I like the Rega/Ortofon combo because it's been matched. I almost wished I would have gone that way but I have picked up a lot of knowledge about what I like along the way and I am still not into my analog setup nearly as deep as my digital setup. I find myself listening to entire LP's now where with digital I hop around a lot. I have rediscovered a lot of music I had long left behind which was an unexpected bonus. The sound is very pleasing but then again, so is the digital setup. I’m glad I did it and I hope you are too.

Good luck,
I do have budget considerations and found that my first trip into the digital world of hifi was on a tight budget. I moved up rather quickly, but spend more time in a gear hunt than relaxing with music. This time I have the speakers, I think I have the amp, and will be looking for a source that lets me relax and spend time with music rather than tweak and upgrade all the time. I love some of the old vintage stuff, but am not sure I have the patients early on to let the learning curve work. I would like to get into something that is ready to go and if possible be under a grand used. I have looked at the empire decks, VPI Jrs., and a few of the oracle units. There is a tipping point between ease of use (albums spinning), quality of sound, limited maintenance, and cost effectiveness that i am looking for. For now I plan to stick it out with my old pioneer deck and scott nixon dac for cds. I want to keep the collection small with albums I want to listen to for hours.
I reserve Friday night for LP listening. I wait all week for it in fact.

My rules are;

I have to listen to the entire LP both sides.

No breaks - just keep them spinning.

No new music - just classics.

Last night was a blast. I picked up Elton John's - Greatest Hits and it was great. I spun Linda Rondstadt - Made in the USA and Bob Seger - Night Moves. All I can say is I approach it the same way you just mentioned. I want to sit down and just enjoy the music. Dont worry too much if the speakers are toed in perfect or the amp has warmed up enough. Just grab a beer, sit down and relax. It's really worked out great.

I agree with your second post - get something you dont have to mess with much. I ended up with a modified Technics 1210 M5G and a Denon 103r. Seems like an excellent match to me and I enjoy it very much. I thought about a big investment but I wanted to see how it went first. It's going very well and I'm not sure I will move up at all; why spoil a good thing?
Looking to stay under $1k, that is my max unless I move some other great or find a great trade. I am set with speakers and amp, but everything else is in the air.

I really want to keep it as simple as possible. Set up, maintenance, and updates are going to need to be simple. This is key for the arm/cart choices as well.