Rob due to your $ budget constraint, you wouldn't want to (or even need to) replace your moving magnet cartriDge. Your test-results indicate that, as I suspected, there's no phono-stage option in Aux 2 input. First thing: you might contact Dennon (directly or via your dealer) to determine the price/availability of the phono stage for your (integrated amp?) or preamp if that's what the PMA250SE is? Usually this is an optional circuit board, which is installed by plugging into a board-edge-connector, or just bolted-in & hardwire cable connected. If you're not comfortable with this, then a dealer or shop could do this for you & shouldn't charge you very much for the labor (if they want a lot of $ for the work, then be wary). Dennon might even handle this for you, or via an authorized service center. The Creek, or any other external budget-model phono-stage is a good way to go too. You don't need a fancy phono stage, since this is only a MM cartriDge, unless you might be upgrading in the future (phono gain: MM or MC setting is an internal option switch or jumper in better phono amps). But then with an external phono stage, you'll need another pair of interconnects to go with it, so probably for the lowest possible cost, explore the Dennon internal phono option first. Also: don't settle for a cheap KMart set of plastic interconnects; get something decent used/cheap, like maybe Kimber PBJ.