Where is the significant point of diminishing returns on hi-end turntable?

For those that don’t know me I am newish to this game. Yes, I believe this chase for perfection in sound reproduction is a game. There are endless variables affecting the sound of every system and 100x that in opinions on each of these variables. I love cool $hit as much as the next guy but I am looking for an analog rig and I keep getting drawn into the seemingly endless "what about this option that costs tons more?". I started with a $6 to $10K budget and now I am considering a $25K setup (Table, cart and phono stage) after talking to a local retailer. I will be blunt, I want to be that guy in the Memorex ad from the 80’s that is getting blown away by his system (my impression is he is overwhelmed by the amazing sound coming from that speaker not the volume). Now that I have acquired some pretty descent stuff I am spending 15 plus hours each week listening and really enjoying this hobby. I don’t want to have any regrets and just be marginally satisfied with my setup but where do I draw the line? Back to my initial question; what is a reasonable amount to spend on an analog setup to achieve the best bang for the buck? I may be somewhat unique in that I don’t want to constantly be upgrading my equipment, I just want to buy great products the first time that are very satisfying and spend hours listening to great music. I don’t want to be the guy always chasing the next great thing.

I assume you are referring to Oracle's newer acrylic platter mat. I have the original Groove Isolator on my Alex. Would the new mat make a significant improvement? (clearly discernable with mid-fi electronics and hi-fi speakers) Most of the owners of vintage Oracles I've heard from have not upgraded. What makes the Oracle acrylic different than the 2mm, 250g ones that cost $30? I'm not challenging your advice; I'm trying to make an informed decision, as $300 is not an insignificant sum for me to spend on something like a mat. My DL-301 mkII cost only a few dollars more.
The hard acrylic mat
          The hard acrylic mat represents a significant improvement with respect to the original Oracle Groove Isolator that was used by Oracle until the end of the 80’s. The acrylic mat is machined with a slightly concave surface which helps flattening of the record more efficiently when using the Oracle record clamp. The acrylic has very similar vibrational energy transmission properties than the vinyl used in records which minimizes its contribution to sound coloration. Listening tests have shown better results in transient response, stereo image and provided more control and detail in the low frequencies.


Scroll almost to the bottom. It's reassuring that you were probably referring to the hard rubber one I have.

If anyone out there has tried the new acrylic Oracle mat; please let us know how much of an impact it made!

Point of diminishing returns for turntables is approx. $400. Buy a used Rega, early SOTA Comet or a new Pro-ject Debut. Stick a $100 cart on it (Ortofon Red is a good choice), and buys lots of records — staying well away from the sappy crap most audiophiles listen to. Enjoy.
balthus makes an interesting observation.

I was reminded of this earlier this year when I was in Fredericton, NB visiting my daughter and decided to check out a used vinyl shop downtown.

I found a copy of Crime of the Century by Supertramp that looked in decent shape. I had the guy spin it up on their turntable (Rega & Red 2M). It sounded very good on the store’s system.

Once I got it home and cleaned it, I put it on and holy crap! I couldn’t believe the noise!? It’s unplayable on my system (modified Roksan Xerxes, modified RB300 arm, London Decca Super Gold cart, & Croft RIAA phono stage).

Some days I wonder if I wouldn’t be better off having a less resolving analog system?
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the more resolving anything is, the more setup is important.  when you get into high end cartridges and tables it is best to have someone who really knows what they are doing take a look at it.  Every mistake, is audible and magnified many times over so setup is key.
Wow, another never-ending thread! No surprise, there are as many opinions here as members. Just remember, opinions are like...well, you know, and everybody has one. If you start with the Walker table (as some have recommended), you still need to consider the arm, the cartridge, the phono stage, the amplifier, speakers, room anomalies...where does it end? It never does. My advice (fwiw) is to start low and work your way up. 
Tony, No thread is never-ending. (Figure that double-negative out.)  It seems to me that the thread did reach a very reasonable conclusion in the form of posts by Atma-sphere and by the OP.  Alma-sphere recommended the Technics SL1200G and the Triplanar tonearm.  The OP says he bought an Artisan Fidelity Lenco with I am not sure what tonearm.  Either of these choices would be a reasonable, but surely not the only, response to the question about "diminishing returns".  Of course I would think that, because after 35 years of trial and error, I have happily settled on owning both a tweaked Lenco and several DD turntables. Belt-drive aficionados might think that the OP's original question has not yet been answered (except by the OP for his own satisfaction). I wrote here last year that I believe you have to pay more dollars for a belt-drive than for a DD or idler-drive, to get to the same or similar performance level.  For example, the Technics and the Lenco flirt with the performance level of the Walker Audio Proscenium mentioned and adored by Rushton.  I agree with Rushton, in one sense; the Proscenium is the best belt-drive I ever heard.  But in its present iteration, the cost is ~10X that of the Technics or the Lenco.