SOTA STAR Sapphire Turntable Care and Feeding

I'm seriously interested in a used SOTA STAR Sapphire Series III Turntable with Vacuum, Electronic Flywheel and SME Series IV Tonearm, that is close to me and a very reasonable price.  It would be a big step up from my current Pro-Ject X2B, but I want to make sure it is not too technical for my dinosaur brain before I pull the trigger.  How difficult it is to get set up?  Once it is set up, do you need to constantly fuss over it or just the occasional check?  I have an upgraded Joliida JD-9 phono pre-amp.  Would this pre-amp be sufficient for the SOTA  or would I need to upgrade that to do justice to the SOTA?  Any other quirks of this turntable that I should be aware of?  Thanks in advance for your advice.


John Cotner

New Ulm, MN



CRC brake cleaning fluid and Electronics cleaner are virtually the same stuff! You can use either. Both are excellent at removing oils. Without a smart phone or any way to know how much you use your turntable I would certainly replace the belt every three years or sooner.

The MP 500 and 1042 are in the same price range as the lower Hanas.

To check TT Speed it is best done with a Standalone Strobe. 

The Standalone Strobe will show speed fluctuation. 

I am with first hand experience where the Standalone Strobe can also detect eccentric rotation as well.

The inbuilt Strobes on TT's will  in general not be as informative as the Standalone option. 

@mijostyn Thanks for confirming on the Hanas. I appreciate your depth of knowledge in this area and it was one of the things that led me to the SOTA path in the first place.

@pindac Thanks for your words about the Hana as well!

The Hana will serve you well on the sota and VERY competent for $ Rega arm. The Blue and Red didn’t just happen by luck…. they build on extensive knowledge, scale and quality control acquired lower in the line…


The generators of cartridges, with few exceptions, are very simple devices and very old tech. The performance of cartridges assuming similar construction quality, is due primarily to the stylus shape and cantilever. The Hana Blue is a $2000 cartridge. The Goldring 1042 is a $600 cartridge with a high performance stylus and boron cantilever. The Nagaoka MP 500 is a $900 cartridge also with a high performance cantilever and stylus. These cartridges are better values because high output cartridges have a very different market which will not spend mega bucks on a cartridge. The profit margins are not as high. They also are much less demanding of phono stages resulting in better signal to noise ratios and a more dynamic presentation. 

As @lewm has discovered. The MP 500 is a first class cartridge in many respects. I think it is a shame when financial constraints are at play that cartridges like the MP 500 are not considered.