The Music Hall MMF-7 is a fantastic turntable for the money if you set it up properly. It is a popular turntable, at least in the realms of audio lovers, and can be found online in a variety of places. With the right system, this turntable will easily outperform even very expensive audiophile CD players in sound quality; however, to achieve this kind of performance one must put up with the hassle of dealing with analog, such as cleaning records, cleaning your stylus, and getting up to change the record when playback on one side is done.
If the above requirements haven't made you decide that analog isn't your forte then here are my recommendations for making this deck a world class turntable. It goes without saying that you should purchase a good record cleaning machine. You can find some manual ones with vacuum cleaners that will do the job. Also purchase good record cleaning fluid for your use with the machine.
When you buy the turntable also purchase the Anniversary Ringmat and the Pro-ject Speed Box II. Both of these items are a little more than a hundred dollars each but the improvement you'll get in sound quality make them worth it. The Ringmat will improve the bass performance of your turntable and the Speed Box will lower the noise floor of your records. The Speed Box will also allow you to change playback speed at the push of a button so you won't have to move the belt from one pulley to another.
For a cartridge, I would replace the Goldring cartridge that comes with the turntable or order a turntable sans cartridge and buy the Goldnote Boboli MK II (an Italian cartridge marketed by Koetsu) for $695. This cartridge is a high output moving coil that has excellent tonal quality across the spectrum and fantastic bass. It is, by far, the best cartridge under $1000 and I highly recommend it. Also, if you need a phono pre-amp (or phono stage), I would recommend the Graham Slee Era Gold V. This phono stage is highly rated and sounds wonderful. It does have a long break-in period, so be prepared for that.
To finish out your setup, find a good isolation platform made from MDF with sorbothane feet, get granite tile (you can find separate 12x12 tiles at Home Depot or Lowes) have the tile cut to size, and place the tile on your cabinet or rack then the isolation platform on top of the tile followed by the turntable on top of the platform. Ouila! You'll have an excellent analog playback system for a reasonable amount of money. It isn't cheap and if you don't listen to a lot of live performances, it may not be worth the trouble for you to spend the requisite amount of money on a good turntable and its support system. However, if you do like good music and have the system (an amplifier and speakers) to produce it, this turntable is a great buy.
I've had this turntable for some years now and it's about to go on ebay for whatever I can get for it. It came with the over priced Goldring Eroica, which is only an OK cartridge, but in fairness, hard to really evaluate given the shoddy design and execution of the table. The first big problem I encountered about a year after purchase was a VERY audible speed flutter, which when I examined the belt/moter system was due to an obviously visible wobble on the motor pully and shaft. When I took the belt off, I could clearly tell that the pully was no longer attached to the shaft of the motor and was only driving the table from the tension of the belt and downward pressure of the spring and circlip assembly! (I could physically rock the pully on the shaft with my fingers!) I wrote to the company and did get a prompt reply, advising me to remove the circlip holding down the pully, and super glue the pully to the shaft of the motor! This seemed a less than adequate solution to an inferior machining fit! Super glue? I followed their instructions, and it improved the wobble but it still doesn't sound right to me; the motor may be as steady as the atomic clock, but if the interface between the motor shaft and pully has to be held together with super glue, it can't be right. I've had to re-glue it a couple of times when it's come loose again..
In addition, and for me most importantly, it has been plagued from the get go from low end feedback through the floor of my listening room when played at anything more than medium volume. I've not made any elaborate isolation arrangements, but for $1500 I would think I should be able to play one of my pristine jazz records at more than a background level before the whole bass breaks up in a big rumble of feedback! I've tried various foam and foot isolation treatments to no avail whatsoever.
What finally convinced me to jetison this piece of crap was when a friend asked me to refit his old AR XA turntable with a new cartridge. I hooked it up to my system to check it, and even with the relatively cheap AT cartridge I had installed, it sounded SO much more focused, with lively transient and bass/low mid responsiveness than my Music Hall I just let go of my denial that I had utterly wasted my money.
There are yet further issues, but I think you get the picture.. do not buy!
I bought my MMF 7 shortly after they came out. It came with the stock Goldring cartridge, which I have never replaced. I've used it with a battery-powered Cambridge phono preamp, which is about 4 dB down in output from a typical CD player or DAC playing the same material.
I recently transcribed about 100 LPs to 96-24 digital with excellent results. The files that I generated sound generally better (surface noise aside) than the CD equivalents, which I have for some of the music. (BTW, that process took a couple of months, given that I have a day job.) The high-rez files typically sound more alive and have better imaging than files of the same music ripped from CD with error correction. This is in spite of the fact that there were two additional amplification stages necessary in the vinyl-to-digital-to-analog chain. My digital playback was via a Bryston BDP-2 and BDA-2 (cost of roughly $5K).
My little vinyl rig is nothing fancy, but it is good enough to allow me to enjoy my vinyl collection in an otherwise mid-to-upper-tier, high-end system. I've had no issues with the motor, no turntable noise, and no noise feedback problems. If I'd had vibrations coming up through the floor like one reviewer, I have no doubt that I'd have the same feedback problem as he. Realistically, though, anything less than an air-bearing suspension is going to transmit floor-borne, low-frequency vibrations. That reviewer needs to come up with a better placement of speakers and turntable unless he wants to spend a fortune on an isolation platform or air-bearing table. I do sympathize with him.
Since I've never changed the cartridge, I can offer no insight on how hard it is to achieve good alignment. The table has always been bone stock.
My bottom line is this: The MMF 7 has been a stalwart for me for over 10 years. I'm even using the same belt that came with it. I have absolutely no complaints other than the belt is fiddly to put on. Based on my sample of one, this is a good unit and a great way enjoy vinyl at a reasonable price.