First up, a formality. I'm not affiliated with Audio Technica in any way. This is a bit of a heads up really. I listened to one of these in Berlin in September and got a review sample in recently. Unlike the bulk of affordable turntables, the LP5 is a direct drive design and for $500 you get deck, arm, cart, phono preamp (switchable in and out) and USB connection for vinyl. It isn't the prettiest turntable in the world but the build its good and setup is a doddle. Once you've got it up and running, it sounds big, confident and fun. I'm lucky enough to have access to two excellent decks in the house and the LP5 hasn't had me rushing to chuck it back in the box. This is a great piece of kit for the money. Where it really scores though is in the longer term. This is the sample that has been with me for a bit; In the face of it, it looks the same but there's been a few tweaks. The supplied cart has been removed and replaced with a Grado Gold that I had spare. The phono stage has been switched out and an ADL GT40a Phono Stage (also kicking about from a review) used instead. Finally, the supplied rubber mat has been kicked into touch and replaced by a Funk Firm Achromat. All of these changes comfortably exceed the base cost of the deck but the LP5 has responded incredibly well to the tweaks. On this forum and others, people are constantly (and correctly) told to stretch their budgets where possible to avoid buying twice and this is a brilliant example of what can be done if you can hit $500. This is a great deck and it has the potential to get even better if you want it to. I've been seriously impressed by the thing and as Audio Technica has been 'out of the game' for a bit, I thought it was worth bringing it to people's awareness.