Good evening everybody, Just wanted to float a conversation concerning turntables and cartridges, vent a little and see if any of you might be able to talk me off the ledge. I've had a Technics SL-1200 MK2 for many years. During that time, I've tried a number of different carts and phono stages; most under $1,000. I listen to rock music; 60's, Punk, Powerpop, and even some Metal. Anyway, over the years; I began to become obsessed with sound quality. I've read these forums and audio gear reviews till I became cross eyed. I recently decided to get serious, so I purchased a E.A.T. C Sharp with the Ortofon black cartridge. I thought it sounded pretty good but It seemed like it was missing something. Slightly dissapointed, I mounted a Soundsmith Zephyr mimc star es low output to it and for the most part, all was ok in the kingdom. Even though I thought it sounded pretty good, I still wasn't wowed, for spending $6,000. I have a Puffin Phono stage. I know, a Phono DSP is probably a dirty word but it actually sounds pretty good and I love tweaking all of the different settings. Honestly, it's the best sounding stage I've come across under $1,000. I even demoed a $2,000 phono stage with the C Sharpe hoping to be wowed and it fell short of the puffin. Today, like many people; I've been house bound, bored out of my mind, due to the current virus situation. I've been recording a bunch of records lately, so I though it might be fun to do a comparison with my old table. I chose five records of various sound quality for my experiment. So it was the Technics, with a Dennon DL-301 II cart vs the E.A.T C Sharp, with the Soundsmith Zephyr. I connected them both to the Puffin; everything else was equal. I assumed the E.A.T. was going to kick the crap out of my Technics; I would laugh and carry it back down to the basement.. To my amazement; I found myself enjoying the sound of the Technics more, by a considerable margin! How can this be??? How can a $600.00 turntable with a $300.00 cart sound better to me than my beautiful C Sharp? The Technics had all the detail with a ton more punch! Have I been chasing a pink elephant , that doesn't exist? The dealer I spoke with when deciding to buy the C Sharp told me he preferred it to his $10,000 mcintosh table? So am I tone deaf or am I missing something? At any rate, I'm feeling seriously dejected; I'm considering selling my Soundsmith and C Sharp, get back what I can, go back to my trusty Technics and just give up on this Idea of audiophile bliss. If spend much more money, my wife may show me the door...lol. I know I'm rambling and raving like a lunatic but I have know Idea where I go from here? Both tables are set up perfectly and even if someone wants to make light of my phono stage, everything's equal; the more expensive table should win right? The price gap between them is so huge. I guess I've learned a valuable and costly lesson; more money doesn't always mean better..