Help needed re:cartridge/preamp/setup?

I just bought a used Rega P2 with Denon DL160 high output (1.6mV output at 47k) MC cartridge. Unfortunately, it is still paired with the MM phono stage (2.5mV input sensitivity) in my receiver which is being used as a preamp. I'd heard you could mate this cartidge with a MM stage, but honestly, the combo sounds rather lifeless, not really an improvement over my old Pioneer/Grado MM combo. I really don't understand too much about the electronics and setup, but I'm guessing it could be:
1) really need more sensitive MC phono stage
2) cartridge is not setup/tracking properly
3) this is as good as it gets with this equipment
I've ordered the Harley book to teach me how to set this up, and thought about trying a Creek OBH-9SE, but hoped for some insight before simply playing the trial-and-error upgrade game. Any thoughts or opinions? Thanks!
Receiver? Which one? Unless it's a high end receiver, chances are the phono stage is not going to be adequate for a MC setup. The Creek SEs are good units FOR THE MONEY. I would not dare to call 1.6 mV high output exactly. That's less than a third of an average MM output. It seems to me kind of borderline...try contacting Creek at to find out what they think.

Cartridge setup could be at issue, also.

Have you cleaned all the contacts in the path with something like Pro Gold? We are talking very low voltages here. Please note that the Rega tonearm's weakness is its wiring...

Go for it.
1.6 isn't what I'd call "high output" Get a "real" high output cartridge like a Dynavector, BLue Point Clearaudio and consider dumping the rest of your system and a Rega 3
There is definitely another preamp in my future, but all in good time, guys. I'd like to make the most of what I have in the interim. And upgrade the right component.

Lolo: While the Dynavector and BPS specs 2.5 mV, the Clearaudio MC is only 0.6 or 0.7 mV - definitely not "high ouptput" either. But are you really thinking it is the output level causing the lack of dynamics?

Psychicanimal: What, you can't just "sense" what's wrong here ;-) Well, I'll start with the simple stuff and work my way up. For the price my friend gave me, I can afford to buy a new phono stage and still have less than the table/cartridge retail in the whole thing. But I'd rather wait til I can get the preamp. Unless of couse I'm better off with a separate phono stage anyway. Anyone ever hear the AES phono stage?

Well, any more thoughts welcome.
oops ... definitely not high "ouptput"
Not that it makes much difference, but when the folks at tested the output from this cartridge, I believe they found it to be 2.2mv, not the stated 1.6mv.
Most preamps sound bad. It's a sad fact of life.
A really good preamp will be expensive, unless you buy from the 'renegades'(Van Alstine, Steve Decker).

Are you good with kits? There's free plans for a superb MM phono preamp in

If you opt for an outboard phono preamp now, you will be able to step up to a decent integrated amp. I am seriously considering this option, given that I own a really good high end low output MC preamp and that I bought a classic Pioneer tuner (almost mint) from the late 70s at a pawn shop for $20...

Low output MC cartridges demand quality electronics. If I were to replace the one I have (which was a present) It would cost me around $1000 dollars. You can get decent performance with a Dynavector 10 for $295 and get it over with. It's in the stars...Call me now for your free reading!