SO, YOU HEARD VINYL IS AWESOME AND SOUNDS AS GOOD OR EVEN BETTER THAN THE BEST DIGITAL? These latest discussions are why I am super hesitant about getting folks into TTs. It's going down the rabbit hole that either leads to wonderful or severely messed-up results. It's Lucy in Sky with Diamonds and Are You Experienced. You have absolutely no idea what kind of trip it's going to be. Take it from me, I f'd up three times with on-and-off efforts over 20 years before I got it right. ON VINTAGE OR USED GEAR These are mechanical devices with precision parts. We have no idea if the person is selling because they got a bum unit or did something by accident that smashed the bearings in the tonearm. I would easily recommend a new Technics SL1210GR, but any remaining vintage SL1200s are iffy. Most vintage SL1200s have something wrong with them that non-experienced people would not notice. I would only buy vintage or used gear from well known refurb outfits that offer some sort of warranty or return policy, or someone you know where the history of the TT can be established. For new and cheap, some of the AT tables look interesting like the AT-LP5 for $450 - like x10 better than an entry level Pro-ject for the same price. THE PHONOSTAGE Phonostage is just a crucial as the TT, cart, etc. I'd say even more of a factor if the TT is the typical MDF plinth deal because it will influence the sound more than a table swap to another MDF plinth. The problem is that phonostages all sound different and decent ones or specific ones that best synergize best with your cart and table may not cheap. I haven't even settled on a phonostage yet for my main TT. If you are starting out and want to keep things cheap, this can be a nightmare situation. Did I mention that the phonostage is just a crucial as the other parts? ALL TOO EASY TO SAY VINYL IS AWESOME Don't listen to me when I say with a straight face that I can enjoy almost any cheap table more than any DAC (well, other than the low-end Pro-Jects). I have records from an era when the production chain was AAA (analog recording, mixing, and mastering). I have about a dozen carts lying around. I have four or five phonostages. I can plug-and-play to obtain fantastic results from almost anything. 95% of vinyl for new releases sound like butt, unless they are from Japanese boutique outfits, and even then, the old stuff from the Golden Age of Audio in the late 50s and early 60s sounds better. FREE IMPROVEMENTS - 10000 ADJUSTMENTS THAT YOU ABSOLUTELY 10000% NEED TO F*** WITH: VTF. Play with VTF to get different transient behavior. Just remember that too light may mean poor tracking. Don't worry about too much VTF. It's needles that fly all other the place that wreck you records. Cartridge alignment is crucial. You will hear audiophiles say they purchased Mr. Feckhart's kit and suddenly got betterer results. That's because the local audiophile store techs who set up the table did a craptastic job - they don't give a shit about you. You don't need the expensive kit if you have a PC. Just go to Conrad's site and download the program to print out a protractor. Azimuth and anti-skate. Some tables don't have these, but if you do, tweak them, maybe even by ear instead of by eye because the needles are never aligned right with the body. This needs to be done for the best stereo imaging and focus. If you want to be more precise, some ideas here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...setting-azimuth-with-a-pc-and-soundcard.1905/ VTA. Another big one. If you want more lows, point the end of the arm with the cart with an upward slope. If you want more highs, point the end of the arm with the cart downward slope. Get a center weight (not free). Helps flatten the record and adds mass. There's a reason why 90% of high end tables have platters that weigh more than several bags of dog food. And oh yeah, different center weights will sound different. PHONO CARTS Oh gawd, f***. Phonocarts are all over the place. Some are more mellow and tube-like (Grado), some are known for being extended but with body (Nagaoka), others are all over the place depending upon their place in the lineup (Ortofon), and the rest cost more than a car. Yeah, the upper end of the 2M series is a ripoff, but some models have their place and can perform excellently in the right system with the right tweaks. A huge fricking problem is a lot of carts will have slightly screwed up FR. MM carts may need a specific poof or resistance loading to sound right. See here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...-black-measurements-and-optimal-loading.1899/. MCs are no different, but will always have that rising last octave (good for anyone older than @Serious). Some like the Denon DL-103 are super duper sensitive to loading. So just in case you didn't have enough to worry from above, there is the cart to worry about now. And there's probably a 50% chance you may have gotten the wrong cart for your table. And as far as adjustments to "EQ" your cart correctly, you are shit-outta-luck if you have no money unless you want to play with RCA splitters, resistors, and a soldering iron. The cheapest unit I know of with all these adjustment options is the iFi Phono3 which starts at $999. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the needles are wear items and start to suck after as little as 500 hours? Or that little brat who is your brother's kid just ripped the cantilever off of your cartridge. Or maybe it was you who accidentally caught your sleeve on the needle and ripped it off? Every long term TT owner had had something like this happen to them. It's not any different from motorcycles where there is a 100% chance that you will dump your bike, so it's best to be prepared. IMPERMANENCE AND OTHER CRAP Records are wear items and start to sound like shit after you've played them for the 200th time. They get dirty. You may lose grip with one of your hands and gouge the record against the edge of the table or record cleaner. If you are used to digital, you are going to hear surface noise, clicks, pops. Very few records, even new, are perfect. You have to get off your ass and flip the record after four songs or two movements. WTF, where did that record go? Physical media is not as easy to find as something in Random Access Memories. Crap, why do I have hum - it wasn't there yesterday. You are in analog-mechanical world now, but it seems that everyone who was already in it conveniently forgot to tell you of its downsides. CONCLUSION Bring money, patience, tenacity, and a massive amount of anal-retentiveness. If it sounds like I am trying to scare you away, I am. P.S. It's best done if you have a friend who is experienced that can help.