I would upgrade your phono preamp first. I think upgrading your TT would put the cart before the horse.
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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.
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.
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.