Turntable cost:benefit

I read the new Garrard 301 review in the current "Stereophile" with great interest, especially as my father owned one which he jettisoned decades ago...most unfortunately. Anyway, appealing as the re-issue is, the cost is punitive, as noted by the author.

With that preamble, I'm interested in forum members' thoughts on the cost:benefit ratio of a high priced turntable for a modest vinyl collection. In my case, that's around 800 LPs. Another reason I'm curious is that I have a friend who simply "decided to get into vinyl" and bought a ~$15k turntable plus a comparably priced tonearm + cartridge. He owned zero vinyl at the time of the purchase. Now I think he has about 20 "audiophile" pressings to enjoy on that TT.

To answer my own question, I can't justify a turntable at that price level for my own vinyl collection. Actually, I can't really summon up a compelling argument for such a purchase. Plus, I'm quite content with my  VPI HW-19 Mk 2 (though a better cartridge would be attractive).

Assuming disposable funds are not the absolute deciding factor and other components in your system are good enough to support a high end TT, what size record collection do readers think justifies a turntable costing over some arbitrary (say around $3000 for the purposes of argument) threshold? Is that even a consideration?
Kac, cost benefit ratio was what I was taking about. You want the most performance for your money and don't feel like spending $60K on a phono set up like most of us. So, you look for the point of diminishing returns. Somewhere between $10K and $15k (I am talking about turntable, tonearm and cartridge) there is a steep cliff in performance for dollar. The equipment I suggested is right at that point not only in performance but usability. You can put this turntable on a flimsy  card table and it will work fine. You can get it with a dust cover which for me is a critical issue. Put a conductive sweep arm on it and you have a record playing system of the highest caliber. 
As far as records are concern 800 is quite a lot as the vast majority of music listeners have none. Be it records, files or CDs having a lot of music is fun. Listening to the same music over and over again is boring. When you have a big collection there are always records that you have not listened to for a while and especially if your system has evolved it is always fun to listen to older records and discover that they are actually better than you remember. 
With vinyl records you have the same diminishing returns. Hyper capitalism has spoiled the record collectors market as well and first pressings are now trophies for the rich: $1000+ for ’original’ blue notes anyone?

But when you do a little homework you will discover that the sound quality on those records is determined by the metal work (lacquers and stampers), which was often the same with second and third pressings. This means you can get more or less the same sound quality for a fraction of the price of an ’original’. This applies to just about every record label worth collecting.

So in my opinion this is what the smart audiophile record collector with limited funds should do: buy a turntable in the ’sweet spot’ of the price range (around $10-12k for a complete record player is about right, considerably less if you dare to go used) and play 2nd or 3rd pressings from the analog age, manufactured a few years after the first pressing. Obviously these are always previously owned, so condition is everything and access to a good record vacuum cleaner is a necessity. And don’t waste your time and money on modern 'audiophile' reissues.....

Almost six years ago I wrote an essay about analog where I asked the same question: what is my cost to benefit with all the different superb formats out there?


Since then, I’ve updated my turntable and phono preamp and I’m listening to vinyl again. And DSD. And SACDs. And Redbook CDs. It’s all good. 
The correlation of price of a turntable and the amount of records one owns is zero.

The correlation of price of a turntable and the level of sound quality one wants to achieve is everything.