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I would sell the Shure and Rega cartridges, and the Cambridge integrated amplifier. Add these funds to your existing $600 cash and purchase a new/sealed Benz Micro MC Gold ($350 retail), a used Musical Surroundings Phonomena for $300, and a used Audio Innovations Alto integrated for $200.
Then, sell the PSB speakers and buy a pair of used Acoustic Energy Aegis One monitors for $150.
You'll be amazed...
What sonic characteristic does your system present that annoys you or lack that bothers you???.... or do you just want to spend $600.00?
If it's just the bucks, buy some concert tickets and create some memories with loved ones. It's a REAL investment, and will last as long as your collective memories. Just a thought.
So can you swing $800? At Alternative Audio in Toronto they have a used YBA Integre (not DT version) integrated amp with phono for CA$1250., which at current exchange rates is about US$775., so $800 with shipping. The DT (dual transformer) is Stereophile Class A, and this single transformer version is between it and YBA's Audio Refinement Complete. The link is:
Thanks for the responses so far. I knew that when I listed my current set up that I was opening myself up for suggestions that I sell everything except the turntable (or maybe except just the arm) and get "better" gear. Fair enough. And if Furry Lewis was still alive, I would go see him play. I guess I was just wondering what would be the best first step to take in my upgrade path (cartridge, phono stage, or integrated amp). I prefer to add to my system one piece at a time and live with something for a while before I decide what to do next. If I spend less than 600, that's great--more money for records (or my "loved ones" for that matter). I'm pretty happy with my current system, but I'd like to get more "presence" from my Rega--you know what kind of presence I'm talking about, the palpable, visceral sound of a plucked or scrapped steel guitar string, etc. At this point, I'm leaning towards a MM/MC phono preamp which would enable me to step up to a good MC for my next upgrade. Thanks again.
You are smart to upgrade a piece at a time. I also think you should upgrade the phono pre. Sonically, your MM pre (is) will pining back any upstream upgrade and you already have a couple carts that are well suited to the Planar 3. And it has been my experience that the Exact is a bit overkill, and not the best value for your TT. With your budget and need of a MM/MC pre, I'd get the Monolithic and pocket the change. Good luck