Get a better turntable or better phono preamp?

Guess I'll start a new thread as the older one got side tracked.

My main question is if I had to spend $400 on improving my vinyl rig, would my money go further by buying a new $400 Technics SL-1200MK2? Or keep my vintage Technics SL-D3 and use the $400 to buy a(new or used)better phono preamp (replacing the DJ phono preamp I am using now). Since my vintage table is a direct drive table also and built in the same era as the SL-1200MK2, would changing my table be a noticeable improvement? Specs for both tables are very similar, differences are build and weight favoring the SL-1200MK2, and that my table is an automatic vs. manual, but all else like wow and flutter, rumble noise, etc are very close.

Since my DJ phono preamp(Gemini)is built for mixing, I don't know how good it is for using it as an audiophile phono preamp. Can I do better in this area, like going with a Creek OBH15, Cambridge Azur 640P, Bellari Tube Phono Preamp VP129, Project Phono Box SE-2, Project Tube Box 2, Graham SLEE Gram Amp2 SE for MM/ Gram Amp 3 for MC, Clearaudio Nano, Simaudio Moon LP3, MF X-LPSv3, Rega Fono, or CIAudio VPP-2 with VAC1 power supply? Looking to improve in these areas: resolution, imaging, soundstaging, blacker backgrounds,quietness,stronger bass output, and smoother more natural playback.

So should I get a better turntable or better phono preamp?

I would upgrade your phono preamp first. I think upgrading your TT would put the cart before the horse.
Agree with Pops, get a better phono preamp.
Second the phono preamp
I would suggest you upgrade your phono preamp first because the two turntables you mention have very similar specifications.
I'd agree on the phono pre as well, but you don't mention what cartridge you're using. Can the Technics take different cartridges? If so, depending upon what you're using and the age of it, a new cartridge may also be worth considering.
Definitely the phono pre but certainly not because the specs are similar, they do sound different.
Unanimous. No question about it - get a better phono stage.
No longer unanimous. I really don't know how anyone can make any recommendation until you say what phono cartridge you are using. A poor phono cartridge will ruin your records. Additionally, a phono cartridge is a transducer, like a speaker, that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. It's where the rubber meets the road and has a very large effect on the sound of the system.
Thanks guys for the responses. I am using a Shure M97Xe cartridge on my Technics SL-D3 now. The turntable was purchased in late 1970's but the cartridge was bought new in 2006 and has about 100 hours of playing time. I also changed the headshell leads to Audioquest.

Looks like most people suggest that I ditch my DJ phono preamp. So from my phono preamp list above, which phono preamp deserves to be looked at, any other strong recommendations under $400 budget (new or used) that I didn't list? The audio qualities I am seeking are listed in my thread above.

Nice cartridge. Now we're unanimous.
Not unanimous... The SL 1200 is a decent table and would make a reasonable foundation for your system. I personally don't like any of your options of phono stages in that price range. Get the table and when you have some money saved up get a decent phono stage...




Nrchy - If the answer is save even more money to get an even better phono stage, what good is dropping the money now on a TT, and putting off the phono stage even longer?
Have to totally agree with better phono pre . But...Nrchy has a valid point the sl 1200 is a descent table and it is what I used before the JA Michell Gyro SE Mk11 my daughter bought as a gift for me . If you choose the phono pre I would spend a few hundred more and find a used graham slee reflex era gold over any of the ones you list and many not listed . I picked up a used one for 650 ( very good deal ). All the areas you are wanting to improve would be good with the gram amp se but steller for a few hundred more for the reflex era gold .The caution here is once you get a better phono pre you have to re budget for the new vynil you will want ! Cheers and enjoy .
The table is still going to be a very good foundation, regardless of what phono stage he employs. The table can be upgraded when the opportunity arrives, but a cheap phono stage will always be a cheap phono stage. By saving a few hundred bucks, and maybe waiting six months he can get a lot better system for playing his LPs.

Maybe in June he could afford a used Pass Labs Aleph Ono phono (just one example, not a recommendation per se) rather than the passable units he's talking about now.

While I think the TT has longer term service potential I don't think any of the phono stages are longer term keepers... JMO.



Nate, this is audio, "long term keeper" is like the sasquatch, often discussed, never seen.
Marty, I saw a picture of you in your natural habitat... once!




LOL, Nate touche.

Ok, I think I will upgrade the phono preamp first as a start. Narrowed it down to these: Cambridge Audio 640P, Pro-ject TubeBox SE II, Clearaudio Nano, and Simaudio Moon LP3. Which will be best for what I am seeking and best value?

Highly recommend ear 834p for phono stage.
Would like to comment that turntable plays a huge role, that's why the best sell for big bucks. In my experience improving the table got me into the big league. Not sure if this is your long term quest, but if you get hooked it just may become one. And also before upgrading the pre or power amps or speakers try to get the source right, then move onto improving the rest of the system.