Entry Level Turntable-- Preamp Matching

I got my first turntable about 6 months ago, a Rega RP1, to kick off my new-found hi-fi habit. Next thing I got was a a Musical Fidelity V-LPS to replace the built-in phono stage on the receiver I was using.

I've upgraded to an Exposure 2010s integrated since then and got the upgrade package with Bias 2 cartridge for the RP1, but still the most noticeable upgrade in my system has been that V-LPS. No other change has opened the sound up or made as huge a difference as a new phono preamp.

So now I'm thinking, if $100 got me that big a jump, what could I get for $500? $1000? I've started poking around preamps in that range, a used PS Audio GCPH, Graham Slee Era Gold V, or Musical Surroundings Phonomena II.

So my question is, would it be foolish to get a preamp of that caliber and feed it with an upgraded RP1? They would give a lot of "growing room," which is important to me, but I plan on sticking with my RP1 for a few years yet and don't want to blow money on quality I'll never hear because my TT isn't up to it. Could something a little more modest like a Jolida JD-9A, Graham Slee Gram Amp 3 or Pro-Ject Tube Box be a better "match?"
The Musical Fidelity V-LPS is very good. I owned the Musical Surroundings Phonomena I, and think its better. I would go for the Jolida JD-9A if it were my purchase. It can be upgraded with different tubes and mods. Plus you can probably find a used one for sale. Good luck.
I can vouch for the Gram Amp, absolutely fabulous. I think the 3 is plenty for the set up you are planning on using and even do well with an upgrade. The real analog nuts may not agree but that's my story and I am sticking to it.
I think the V-LPS could last you through the entire life cycle of your RP1. I don't think the V-LPS is truly outclassed by the RP3 or even the new RP6. I'd save the money until you're into your next complete upgrade cycle. The V-LPS holds up with everything else I've heard in the $500-1000 range including the GCPH, Tube Box, and JD-9A. (You may find you prefer a tube stage. The JD-9A sounds great and I don't know if you'll find a more versatile stage in terms of impedance matching.)
It sounds like you are pretty happy with what you have now. I wouldn't be so fast to change it. If you are listening to music, thats all that matters. One thing I will ad given your statement about the phono preamp making a big difference. You're right about that. Preamps make a huge difference, be it a line stage or phono.
Thanks for the wise words, everyone. It's true, the upgrade bug bites hard. Now, if only I had seen your comments 12 hours earlier... I ended up finding a great deal on a Phonomena II on here, checked that the seller had a return policy (he did) and I went for it.

Who knows if I'll keep it, but since this is only the second preamp I will have heard I'm excited to compare it to the V-LPS.
Skza - please provide an update when you get that MS Phenom II. I am having a similar bout of upgrade-itis. Maybe it is this unusually warm March weather.
Dont be bummed-the Phonomena II is a great unit. I think you will notice the improvement over the V-LPS.
Oh, I'm definitely not bummed. On the contrary, I'm excited to try out a great new piece of equipment. And if it doesn't offer the jump I was hoping for I can send it back and stick with what I've got.

It should get in on Wednesday. Since there are probably others like me and Ghosthouse, I'll be sure to get back with thoughts.
Well..think where you came..a receiver with phono to a dedicated phono stage...that was the quantum leap...diminishing returns after...also nice to hear others with sensible advice
Well, the Phonomena II arrived and after a night of listening, I made a very easy decision to keep it in my system. The V-LPS put up a good fight, but the Phonomena presented a much more cohesive, focused soundstage than the V-LPS. No hint of distinct speakers, just a nice, focused sound with great placement of instruments.

Sonically, I was amazed by the control the Phonomena gave each note and musical line. This was particularly true for bass, where each note sounded far more more confident and sure-footed than with the V-LPS. On busy passages in rock or electronic music, each line was nice and distinct with very little sense of clutter. Listening to rock was actually where I was the happiest with the upgrade. I kept thinking, "yeah, this is what I thought it was supposed to sound like."

I might say the V-LPS had a slightly bigger sound (I should note I have the Pangea P-100 power supply for it), particularly in the lower midrange. From what I've read this should open up a little bit more for the Phonomena with time. Even if it doesn't, though, I will gladly take presentation and control over the more massive sound of the V-LPS.

Was it as big a jump as from my receiver to the V-LPS? Not nearly, but as my ears have gotten more sensitive to the nuances I should be hearing in my system, it provides every upgrade that I wanted to hear from a new preamp.

Music I listened to:

Sharon Van Etten- Tramp
Paul Simon- So Beautiful and So What
Delta Spirit- Delta Spirit
Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues
James Blake- James Blake
Tom Waits- Small Change
Girls- Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Bon Iver- Bon Iver
Destroyer- Kaput
Cut Copy- Zonoscape
Penfolds 2009 Shiraz Cabernet
(it was a fun night.)
Hi Skza - thanks for the update. Glad the new phono stage is working for you. Curious what you mean by more "massive" sound from the V-LPS vs Phenom II. Massive as in Louder?...or something else. The Phenom was bought used so broken in, correct? Could a difference in gain between the two stages be the reason? Your list of music is interesting to me. Have heard OF a few of the artists but actually none of that music. (it's a big vinyl world out there).
I like your music.

A closing comment: IMO, as one invests more money in high end audio, the rewards become less and less. In other words, the point of diminishing returns kicks in, and it becomes increasingly more expensive to acheive better sound.