Upgrade My Turntable - How Much Do I Need to Spend?

I have recently fallen in love with listening to vinyl on my turntable.  In recent years, I have spent most of my listening time with digital music stored on my server (flac files recorded from CD's), but recently I discovered the beauty of placing an album on the turntable and listening to the entire album.  It's been a wonderful find for me.

My 2-channel room features:

  • McIntosh C260 Tube Preamp
  • McIntosh MC452 Solid State Amp
  • Martin Logan Montis speakers
  • Various upgraded cables and wires
  • Acoustically treated listening room
  • Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC turntable
  • Ortofon Blue Cartridge

My question is:  how big of a step up do I need to make with my turntable to take full advantage of the other components in my system?  I do not intend to do further upgrades with my speakers or amp system, but I would like to step up my game from the introductory level turntable that I bought years ago.  

I've been doing lots of reading and studying, but I would love to hear advice from some of the analog experts on this forum.  (Please don't flame my current system - there are reasons I love my McIntosh and those components are not going anywhere!)  Should I make a move to a $4000 turntable?  Or????  I would love to find a lightly used Rega RP10, and call my search over - but what do others think?

One thing that I believe I value is a simple setup.  I have read horror stories about how much time and frustration can go into getting a turntable setup and then constantly having to tinker for optimal performance.  I don't see myself enjoying that part of the process.



@terry9 I can only stand by my suggestions, as a result of having experiences that are showing strong evidence there is value in creating the certain types of conditions I refer to, as well as not resting but keeping the investigative side alive.

I could have rested on the use of Densified PUR Foam when used as a Support Plinth, it proved itself to be a Wonder Material in a comparison to other available board materials, but then maybe my later discovery of how valuable a Phenolic Resin Impregnated Densified Wood is when used as a Plinth / Sub Plinth and other adaptations, will have been lost to myself. 

Off topic but relevant to the thread, I own several cartridges: stereo, true mono, that is single element single coil, or bridged internally to be mono.  I no longer own it, but did own a preamp with a mono switch.  In spite of what you might have read elsewhere I can assure you that no matter which of these methods is applied, they yield electrically identical results.  There is no difference to be heard using any of these methods to play your mono records. 

Yes, 3-4K for a turntable upgrade is about right. The turntables mentioned by others all are a definite step up.  You might also consider the MoFi Studiodeck or Ultradeck, discount if bundled with a cartridge.


your mac preamp has an excellent phono stage and can support a nice LOMC csrtridge .5mv and above.  A LOMC cartridge is a fantastic upgrade in sound from your 2M Blue cartridge.  I recommend a Lyra Delos if budget allows or an Audio Technica ART 9Xi.  Both sound amazing.  

For a new turntablea Technics SL 1200GR is all you need to get the most out of a decent LOMC cartridge.  An accessory mat like a 4mm Herbies is also recommended.