How good is the phono stage on a Plinius 8200MK 2?

My new cartridge(clearaudio virtuoso wood) sounds exciting but rather hard and analytical through the plinius MM stage.How much would I have to spend on an external stage to get something better-more liquid/more bloom? Any suggestions for under $600...
A tube stage somewhere would probably musical-ify that a bit. Plinus is a natural sounding peice of equipment, but you could run something out and back into it to great effect.