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For about 25 years I have been listening to an XA I picked up at an estate sale for $5. It was cosmetically perfect and complete with dust cover and manuals. It had an arm wiring problem that led to an early and careful retirement.
Over the years I have replaced cartridges (currently a Shure V15Vx/Jico SAS) and experimented with platter mats. I alternate two carefully maintained original belts.
At times I read a turntable review and think, well, maybe for about $1500 - $2000...
Then I play a record, enjoy the music and leave the money in the bank.
You're absolutely right, but on the used market that $1500-$2000 can easily be bettered for about $350 often with a cartridge worth the asking price if patient.
...but concerns with condition, shipping, etc. complicate a used turntable search beyond what is reasonable in my position.
I know it is not very audiophilic of me, but I am quite happy listening to what I have.
The AR XA is a great table, no apologies needed, as mentioned it was my main deck for more than twenty yrs, even over my Thorens. It would take serious green to surpass on the new market, and with modifications even harder to beat.
That said, as for worries about shipping, I've purchased four decks on eBay in the past couple of yrs and all were fully functional, and survived the trip to me intact. If not Ebay's buyer protection plan covers anything that could go wrong so what's to worry.
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