Check out the J A Mitchell's.
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I am a fan of solid state electronics so you may want to discount my response. Early last year i was in the market at about the same price range as you.
After a long drawn out search I ended up with a Pass Labs Aleph Ono which had just been upgraded. I was leary about it since I was not very familiar with it, but I consider it to be one of the best purchases I made. I wrote a review of it if you are interested. Even if I had more money to spend on another phono stage I don't think I would do it now.
I would look for a Sonic Frontiers SFP-signature version. You can find one on Audiogone for around $700-900. I had one and it worked well for me, very flexible (adjustable gain for MM/MC and you can SOLDER in various loading resistors). The thing was probably not as quiet as some solid state designs but it sounded great. I stopped using mine only after upgrading to an ARC Ref. Also check out a used ARC PH10 SE.
If you have a medium to high output moving coil cartridge, or a MM cartridge, look into the VTL. I believe it costs about $1100. It's an all-tube unit. I think the dealer has to take care of the cartridge loading, though. I am using one with an old Spectral cartridge and a Quicksilver step-up transformer (into the moving magnet input). The output of the Spectral itself is too low to use the MC input without a lot of tube noise, but with the step-up it's fine. And the sound is ravishing.