Analog upgrade time

Alrighty Minions of stereo nirvana, here's one I am struggling with the most. I need to upgrade my analog equipment (you guessed it digital side is now creeping past analog side). I have a Rega P6 turntable and a basic Mofi phonostage going into Audio Research LS17SE preamp and to AudioResearch Ref 75 amp. Yes I like tubes. Sadly I do not know the name of the cartridge company.  I want to upgrade cartridge and phono linestage as a set that match well with each other and are well suited for a tube system. I prefer MC vs MM.  Thoughts please. This is the one area that is my blind side. Thanks in advance.


Huge topic:)

I would think it through this way ( assuming P6 is staying )

Cart that is a good match to Rega arm > phono that is good match to cart / system gain.

This means ( to me ) a relatively light weight MC, one that can be set to a decent SRA/VTA with spacers ( assuming you didn't mod the arm with a vta adjuster ) and then ( since you like tubes ) a synergistic SUT + Tube phono.

Of course budget range needs to be at least loosely defined to get more specific. 




On phono stages…since you have ARC pre and amp, seek out a used ARC phono stage. I had MoFi UltraPhono and it was ok. Not bad not very good either.

I upgraded to Sutherland KC Vibe mkii then went up the Sutherland line to 20/20 MkII with LPS  

On cartridges…I haven’t tried a ton of different MCs but used Hana EL on Rega P2. Then upgraded table to MoFi UltraDeck then upgraded cartridge to Hana ML. Both the EL and ML are very good. The ML is in a different league though. 

One downside with the Rega P2 for me was the lack of capability to do VTA adjustments. And that was one of the main reasons why I moved away from Rega tables. 

Definitely the phono stage first. I was holding my turntable back (a lot) until I got  an Audio Research PH8. I now have an Audio Research Reference 3. I highly recommend moving to in between these two end points in Audio Research.

I have been upgrading my phono stages since the early ‘80’s, several horrible sounding, highly recommended, budget phono stages, then finally the Audio Research PH2, PH2SE, PH3SE… PH8.



@audphile1 thanks so much for the info about the Suttherland 20/20. I spent some time perusing the website. Turns out they are local for me. I rang Ron and chatted about what I'm looking to do and he had some good thoughts. He is going to let me preview a few things (little Loco and 20/20). Great suggestion thanks!

@ghdprentice I was leaning towards trying the phono pre first, your advice dovetails with that. Appreciate it. I think previewing the Sutherland and the ARC is likely my next step. I'm trying to find a sweet spot, somewhere between 3-5K.



I would definitely be looking for a used in that price range. Buy a used Audio Research or other top notch audiophile component and you can get really outstanding performance and high reliability. 

If considering a used Phonostage, which is not a bad idea. It will most likely be one that is outside of a warranty period.

With the warranty period spent, it makes the idea of modifying a model more attractive.

Any used models on the shortlist can be checked out to discover which are being altered by using circuit mod's done by others.

Modifications can be done in various ways. One, might be a send away for the mod', another a DIY method where a local skilled individual is capable to produce it, or the final option a DIY undertaking.

This can be a very cost-effective way to achieving a design that might even surpass more expensive models' performances from the same Brand and in doing so, produce an end product that surpasses, as well as competes closely to a much wider range of Branded Models.