If you had $12k / £10k to upgrade your analogue front-end...

Hi all,

I am upgrading my system in my listening room bit-by-bit. This room is for focused listening of music only. No movies. In the future I will be looking looking to upgrade my analogue front-end and am thinking of a budget of around $12k / £10k for a turntable, tonearm, cart and phono stage/pre-amp. I listen to all sorts of music from electronic, bass-heavy vinyl, jazz, hip-hop, rock (new and old), ambient (Cinematic Orchestra, Nils Frahm etc...) and lots of soul/funk type tracks. So quite varied.

If you had $12k/£10k to spend, what combination of turntable, tonearm, cart and phone stage/pre-amp would you go for? I'm looking for suggestions to help with my research. I'm unsure what the balance should be between them. For example, should I go for a Rega Planar 10 with Aphelion 2 cart (£6,840) and give myself just over £3k to spend on a phono stage. Or spend less on the cart (Rega Planar 10 with Apheta 3 is £4,950) and get a more expensive phono stage.

Turntable brands I've been thinking of are Rega, Clearaudio, Technics, VPI, AVID, Thorens, Michell Engineering, VPI, SME etc... but don't really know where to start.

Any help would be much appreciated.



@antigrunge2 This is off the beaten track. Amazing. Thanks. That's certainly a rabbit hole to explore and will keep me busy.

My advice is to find the best phono stage you can.  You can easily get a nice TT and cartridge for decent money.  We use a modified Lenco, and a Lady Bug cartridge.  Denon also makes a nice cartridge and there is a guy on eBay who makes the wood body for it.  Much less that spending thousands.  Since we are manufacturers of audio components including phono stages, we have the opportunity to try many TTs, etc.   To us the phono stage is critical and most important contrary to what others may say.


Happy Listening.

Rega 10 with Aphelion.  Pass Labs XP17.  Keep the change for cables and miscellaneous expenses.  Enjoy the music.

If it has to be new - the decks you cite have a great variation in sound style and quality.

The Rega's are a bit of a Lotus Elise to the Avid Mercedes SL. 

Do you want to buy new or second hand? For instance second hand would allow you to buy a very good 70's DD deck and then you can go to town on the cartridge and phono stage. I bought a Townshend Rock Elite for £300 and a JVC QL0 for about the same price.