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


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.  

First - Nothing against either of the MM carts you and Lew have recommended - hopefully Christian at SOTA sells them and sets up for the customer vs. the Hana which he recommended AFTER it sounds like a detailed conversation about tastes, upgrade path , etc… I’ve probably sold, setup and optimized 100 or so SOTA tables / Arms / Cartridge over the years…. in your quasi accurate assessment of cartridge design / execution / test and quality control you left out the VERY important alignment of the diamond on the cantilever into your “ commodity “ motor. Hana changed the pricing premium applied to the mystical MC by pricing it for volume. Oh and they sound excellent…i’ve owned them ( on SOTA, Denon, Basis, and Brinkmann TT …

Best to the OP