BTW, I'm all for buying used EQ here.I like country music also.
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Hi - The phono stage is easy - check out the EAR834P Classic or Signature ( 900 & 1200 ) on audiogon. Covers MC/MM and is good enough for a turntable upgrade later. It has a very easy and musical sound. With regard to cartridge I would stay with a moving magnet as I dont think the arm is good enough for an MC. Check out the Clear Audio Virtuoso. The Soundsmith cartridges are quite nice as well. I would not buy a second hand cartridge, your records are valuable and you never know the condition of second hand cartridges.
The Clearaudio Concept TT can be purchased with a MC, so I assume the arm is good enough for that type of cartridge. I do appreciate the response.
If my AMP Already has a built in phone stage, is adding a phono stage for a MC needed then? I was getting the impression that a phono stage would still be needed for MC.
Just because your table and combination can be purchased with a MC does not clear it for a glabal recommendation for all MC's. I assume that most of the time this table is sold with Clearaudio cartridges. These are all high compliance which tend to be easier to match with an arm than models with low compliance or those that pump alot of energy back into the arm. Caution is warrented otherwise you can end up with a very unhappy marriage of cartridge and arm.
All cartridge companies have a house "sound" that seems to run through their line, for the most part. I think the first step is to determine what type of sound you like and see which manufacturers are more likely to please your ears and preferances.
Then move on to the phono stage and see if the properties of tubes or SS are more to your liking. With tubes you may also need a step-up if the MC cartridge output is too low, so keep that in mind.
Everyone's individual recommendations are just that, their choices, and that may not work for you unless you share their preferance. Staying with brand loyalty just because you own a table by a particular manufacturer may not make total sense in the long run. There are lots of variables.