Analog Upgrade itch

Hello ! I would like to upgrade my turntable / tonearm / phono preamp 

currently I am using Kuzma Stabi S / Stabi S VTA 12” tonearm / Gold Note PH10 phono amp. 
Gryphon Antelion EVO + Pandora pre , Magico A5 speaker. 

My music preference : 50% classical / 30% pop / 20% modern Jazz 

I like my current cartridge: Etsuro Urushi Cobalt so I am going to keep it. I would like to upgrade my Turntable (possible Linn LP12 or Kuzma Ref2 or any suggestions ) with Kuzma 4 point tonearm (or recommendation in the $ range?). My biggest uncertain is phono amp : I’d like to have warmer sound (tube preferred ) with ideally 2 inputs (Manley Steelhead or EMT126 are recommended by my local dealer but not sure if they are worth the money ) .  I know matching (cartridge / arm / phono stage) is more important in analog system so I’d like everyone’s comments / experience that matches my system. Musicality / warmth is what I’m after rather than microscopic details. Thanks in advance


@karl_desch thanks , the StabiR + 4pt 11 is an upgrade to me, is worth every penny … now my itch goes to which cartridge I should try next 😂 : DS optical or SPU (I know they are very different) 

If the DS Optical Generator is available, the buying into the DS Audio Cartridge Line is not too expensive.

I have listened to DS Audio Cartridges and SPU's in very different systems, I recollect the SPU on all systems it has been encountered, as a Rich Presenting Cart' and the perceived level is more than I am liking on the systems it has been heard used in.

I have only heard from my recollections a DS Audio 'Upper Range' Cart used on one system that I am quite familiar with, I have no recollections of detecting anything not to like about the Cart' in use. I do recollect follow up MC Cart's were more favourable and noticeably more of a attraction.

These Demo's are in non-owned systems and for were a short duration, any comments are from a recollection of a initial impression that has been made.   

@pindac thank you and it sounds very in consistent with what I heard from other audiophilies’ comment. DS “nothing wrong but nothing attractive” my personal but very limited experience is they are very detailed with exceptionally low noise floor.

Which makes me more eager to toy with a “high end” SPU than an optical cartridge for the moment.  


This is not a criticism, just a observation of a trait that has been shared about your latest Phonostage acquisition. In Your Post it is stated,

" overall means it’s not overly coloured like some tube phonos but it has the density and 3-D holographic quality with excellent tonal balance and micro dynamics like some European phonos 2x the price "

I use Tube Designs that are towards the Lean Side in their presentation, I can add an increased Rich Tone through a use of a SUT. I use a Cart' that works with maintaining this attractive trait.

I can add a overbearingly Rich Tone by using a owned LOMC through the MM Input, it is certainly not to my taste, but is a achievable experience, with the Volume Maxxed Out . 

I'm confident the SPU is able to make the inherent Rich Tone become quiet noticeable, is this the desired outcome, to add Richness to a Phon' that is selected for it not having a too Rich Trait in how it presents.

I would think a Cart' that enhances the trait that caught your attention might be a alternative way to think about marrying a Cart'>Phon.