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.




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.  

After spending over 100 hours studying, shopping, visiting local stores, and researching every source on the matter I finally pulled the trigger and bought a very gently used, 6-month old Technics SL-1200G. The Seller included a Benz Micro Wood L2 cartridge with the sale. The turntable has been set up and dialed in and I have now listened to about twenty albums.

WOW - I love, love, love my new setup for listening to vinyl. I’m really happy that I was patient in my pursuit of finding the right table. The Technics table pairs well with my McIntosh C2600 Tube Preamp, and my MC452 Amp. I’ve listened to lots of Jazz, Female Vocals, as well as my favorite rock artists (Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, Dire Straits, and others). At times I considered spending a smaller budget but now I am 100% happy that I went for the Technics SL-1200G.

The SL-1200G is an absolute beast. It’s massive and heavy and beautifully built. Best of all, it looks like it is brand new (it was built last summer).

I’m now in the mode of re-listening to all of my current albums (and I am trying to control my spending on additional new albums).

Lastly, my wife loves the table and was quick to remark how great it sounds. (She doesn’t spend much time in my 2-channel room, but she sure is impressed with the new setup!)

Thank you to everyone who provided input on this thread. I know it can be frustrating to read some of these threads when people fight and argue and go off on crazy tangents, but this forum can certainly be very helpful to a person like me who’s trying to quickly come up to speed on a new subject matter.


@hikerneil , Congrats & welcome to the Club.

I'm lovin my GAE for a few years now. Happy spinning!

 Anything will best the Project table.  I prefer Direct Drive, and the OP didn’t specify a budget, but if he has say, $3K to spend I would get two tables, say a Technics 1500 and an equivalent priced belt drive and go to town