$3,500 for analog front end

I have $3,500 to spend to upgrade turntable (with arm), cartridge, and phono stage. What combinations have worked for you within this budget range? Listen to 70s rock, 80s pop, late 50s jazz, and classical. Feeds into an Audio Research VSi55 intergrated amp and Magnepan 1.6s. The TT is on loan but I own a NAD PP-2. Thanks for your thoughts, Scott.
Rega P5 turntable w/ power supply - $1640, Boston Audio Mat1 platter mat - $199, Mapleshade Heavyfoot cones x 3 - $120, Grado Sonata cartridge - $500, Grado PH1 phono stage - $500, Mapleshade Clearview Excaliber Plus interconnect - $335, Acrotec armwire straight thru to male RCA upgrade - $150, total $3470.
I recently bought used:

Clearaudio Champion Level II - $1,700
Origin Live Encounter Arm - $1,000
Benz Micro M2 moving coil - $5,00
Pro-Ject Tube Box phono stage - $400

Subtotal - $3,600

Periphery (ring) clamp and center clamp - $500

I think it's great.

There's a Clearaudio Champ2 listed just today w/arm and cart.
You're going to get tons of ideas with most people recommending their own gear. So here's a more general approach:

Buy a used turntable and tonearm combination. No need to spend money on something new.

Buy a new cartridge. Buying used is a minefield.

Buy a used phono stage. Buying new is a waste of money.

Invest in a good record cleaning device. A manual machine is a good start and will save you money for above items.

If you're careful and shop smartly you will have a very nice analog front end for $3,500.

Have fun.
forgot the Kerry Audio Design F2 counterweight for another $129. WHich brings your total to $3598 list.

Audiofeil is right on the money, of course, but not everyone wants to deal with the used market. Definitely factor in the LP cleaning machine and a record clamp. Those and the other upgrades can be budgeted over time if prefered.
Bill (Audiofeil), I just noticed: You are the first Hifi dealer that I have seen that recommends buying used. Cudos to your honest recommendation even it might not positively contribute to your business.

As for recommendations: You can save quite some money when buying used. Somehow I ended up considering mostly new turntables. A couple of different directions to consider:

- Galibier Serac (due out soon) with Thom's recommended arm.

- Teres 255 (with Hadcock or Moerch arms)

- Nottingham Spacedeck (consider Ace Space, Hadcock, or Moerch arm)

- restored Thorens 124 or Garrard 301 with arm of your choice

As for cartridge, I like the Denon 103 a lot (I have been using it one for the last 10 years). Tube phonostages to consider would be Wright WPP200C, Bottlehead Seduction, etc. Also, you will need a MC step-up for the Denon, e.g. K&K Lundahl or Cinemag transformers)

Good luck!

Call Jim Hudson at Hudson Audio (do a Google search) for Huson Audio)and discuss the Scheu Turntables. They are German made with quality bearings, motors and platters. The Cello and the Premier MKII would fit your budget, get a used Graham Slee ERA GOLD V phono stage for around $600.00 or a Jolida JD-9 which is very flexible and good while inexpensive (lots of loading options)then modify the caps and the Op Amps and change the tubes. The Denon DL-103 is good and cheap, Cinemag tranformers for step-up. Buy used when you can to stretch your budget. Good luck.
While it is hard for claim that any one setup will be best, it is hard in that price range for anything to compete with a Nottingham Space Deck & matching Nottingham arm, and either a Shelter 501, or Dynavector 17DmkII cartridge. Tons of phono stages to fit the bill, but a Blue Circle BC27 is a good bet for not too much money.
I second the Spacedeck/ Shelter or Dynavector
or Sumiko Blackbird

As far as a phono pre, I'm in purchase mode on a major upgrade to a low output MC system. I have an Audio Research PH2, built like a tank that would mate great with your system (MM, HoMC). Search the archives, it has great tonal balance and dead quiet, if interested contact me.

i think audiofiel gave excellent advice.follow it like he says and you should be happy with the results.