Help with Turntable/arm/cart decision

Hello Audiogoners please help me with a NEW turntable purchase. System is McIntosh C2200 pre with MC352 amp. Speakers are Dynaudio Contour 3.0's. OK, looking for a complete new turntable with tonearm and a cartridge for under $5,000. So far I am looking at: Clearaudio Performance DC w/verify tonearm, Pro-Ject Xtension 10 w/10cc EVO arm. I would like to be able to use my MM phono input through the C2200, I would consider an external phono pre if needed. I really like MC carts over MM's not sure why.....maybe mc seems to me to be more accurate and dynamic?? Or maybe I haven't heard a great MM. Tables I have had in the past are....Thornes TD160 w/TP16 tonearm with Grado Prestige woodbody, I think. Also, Rega P3 w/RB301 tonearm and a Dynavector 10X5. Help, I want something up a level or 2 from these, if possible?
Matt, I would look for a used Basis with Vector tonearm or a used SME 10 including Model 10 tonearm (under $5K on the SME would be a great deal). Either of those would be a huge step up for you, even if you continued to use your current cartridge.

Best Regards,

Jim Perry
Take a look at PTP Audio (idler drive) and Transfi Audio's site (rim drive). I had a Rega P3, VPI TNT, and currently use a Lenco with a PTP top plate from PTP Audio. My current Lenco is vastly superior to the former (I use a VPI 12.5 tone arm and Denon DL-S1 through a modified Jasmine LP2.0).

Also, read up on Lenco's turntables at Lenco Heaven. Note: The designers of the Transfi and PTP are members of Lenco Heaven.

If you want to hear a digital music file of my deck, send me a private email.
I'm going to suggest a review of your priorities.

As between turntables, tonearms and cartridges, most owners and manufacturers of high end systems agree that the priority when funds are limited should be table first, tonearm second, cartridge very much third (fourth, if one includes the phono stage).

My own experience with multiple setups confirms this. An expensive cartridge on a cheaper table or arm often sounds like dreck. OTOH, a capable table and arm will help many inexpensive cartridges play and sing well above their price point. I own a $200 MM that outplays any $1,000 MC and most $2,000 MCs... but only if it's mounted on my main rig ($6K table, $5K arm). On my cheap ($1K) rig it sounds totally blah. IMO, this is why you haven't fully enjoyed those MMs you've tried. You've never heard what they can do on a really good rig. I guarantee that if you heard them on a rig like Jim Perry's, mine or some other's here, they'd shatter your preconceptions.

Test every recommendation you receive against these priorities. For example, Jim Perry's recommmendations (while not "new" equipment) meet these priorities perfectly. His suggestions were sound and I agree with them wholeheartedly (with a personal preference for the Basis).

Additionally, with a really good table and arm, you could easily buy half a dozen MMs and swap between them.

Note: I am not dissing MCs. I own a couple, including an $8K LOMC that's easily the best cartridge I've heard. But if I put that cartridge on my cheap rig, it reveals all the weaknesses and the combination sounds like crap. To play up to their potential, highly revealing and dynamic MCs require highly capable tables, tonearms and phono stages. Your stated budget won't accommodate all that. Buy a good table and arm now and enjoy them for many years. Cartridges can come and go.

Happy hunting!
Your lucky day. Be bold, adventuresome and go for a U-Turn Audio table, available only on the Net. I know, how could something so inexpensive be so good? Little risk since you can send it back. Worst it will make you feel better that you spent mega bucks. Enjoy. Hey, I have been at this hobby for over fifty years and great sound does not mean spending mega bucks.