after 15 yrs w/the same setup it's upgrade time

the old: rega planar 3/Benz Micro Silver/Musical Fidelity XLPS
the new: VPI classic/ClearAudio Maestro/???

so excited for my TT to arrive!!! Now researching a new phono stage (2-3k budget) that will:
1. be a jaw dropper in comparison to my old one,
2. mesh well with the warmer wood bodied cart (is this important?)
3. complement my record collection which is mainly funk, jazz, soul, rock, disco, electronic.

thx in advance for your thoughts!

Audio Research PH5.
If you don't run a lot of other stuff through your preamp, or need a home theater bypass, have you considered going with a Steelhead MKII? I've had one for a year now, and will NEVER go back to a linestage with all those wasted taps. The one line it has, that gets the CD/SACD run through it is a champ, and well, you can imagine how good the phono is.
They go used for about $4000.00.
So lets see, put the linestage up for sale, and the set of cables you will no longer need that connect the linestage to the phono...
You'll never look back.
Funny thing is, with vinyl sounding this good, the Cary 306 Pro hardly gets any use. I'm thinking of selling it and upgrading my arm/cart!
actually will be using in a audio production enviornment so i'll go from phono stage into a speck line mixer and focal twin monitors.

look for a ARC PH3SE, often seen for less then $1,000.
I'm thrilled with a modified EAR 834P. I bought the base (non-chrome) version and had the tubes,caps and connectors upgraded. Cost me around $2250. I got the work done at The Analog Room in San Jose, CA. They made the recommendation. Brian is the owner and Scott is the Technical guy. May be worth a call. The website is woefully out of date but they are still doing a lot of high end business for Silicon Valley Execs. FYI - Brian and Scott are also the owners and developers of Wavestream Kinetics - a very high end line of tube based equipment.
Recommend you add the Nagra BPS to your list of candidates.