I just picked up a Rotel RQ-970BX off of Audiogon for $100. When I got it in, i hooked it up, let it warm up for about 15 minutes, and while it was initially better than the receiver I've been using, I was a little disappointed. It just sounded a little flat, like the receiver, just a little more detail. Not nearly the kind of disappointment I had from the bluepoint I borrowed, but still, a little bit of a letdown.
I then opened her up to see what was going on. All I can say is, wow! Just the capacitors in this thing would cost more than I payed. There are at least 15 F series black gates, and half a dozen nichicons. The RIAA filter caps are polystyrene, and the coupling caps are wima polypropylenes. The power supply was also really nice. Unfortunately the opamps were a pair of AD744's, very slow chips, so I unsoldered them and plugged in a pair of AD843's I had sitting around. That made a huge difference. There's as least as much high end detail as the bluepoint, and almost as much bass impact, but unlike the bluepoint, there's a really nice midrange and no sibilance. Granted, I haven't heard many phono stages, but this is the best aside from the XR-10B I heard in Ray Samuel's rig, that one was much much better, but also thousands more.
I'm just listening to My Bloody Valentine - Loveless, and its amazing at the difference. Every time I upgrade, this album sounds better and better. I can't wait to get a better cartridge.