Longtime lurker First time Poster

so i have been around a while, but i have never had a reason to post. recently i have come into possession of a belari VPN 129 preamp and a music hall 2.1 turntable. i upgraded the cartridge to a grado gold, but i was wondering what other reasonably inexpensive upgrades i could make? can i use some different tubes? what makes one tube different from another? is there a next step in the phono preamp that i should read up on? i am really sick with the audiophile disease!
Hi Roggae, glad to see you posting! And congratulations on your turntable and phono stage. I would encourage first to focus on getting the most out of your current system that you can before thinking about the next upgrade. Until you do so, you won't have a solid point of reference for comparison. Make sure your turntable, arm and cartridge are set up and fine tuned as well as they can be. Think about the rigidity and level of the surface on which your table sits. The foundation under your table can make a big difference in your results. Look at all of the cables in your system to ensure they are optimally dressed and separated from each other. Check and clean all of your contacts, particularly important from cartridge through phono stage due to the very low level signals here. If you don't currently have a dedicated AC line feeding power to your system, and if you can accomplish this, do it.

Once you have things in what you believe are good alignment, read and follow Lloyd Walker's recommendations for fine tuning your turntable to get that next bit of improvement. His process for iteratively setting VTA and VTF to optimize the sound is the best fine tuning guide I know of.

When you've done these things, some further steps can include changing the brand of tubes in the Bellari, but don't go crazy here. Check the archives here to see if others have some suggestions for a brand of tube that might improve on the stock tube (but stay with the same type of tube), as well as any other specific Bellari tweaks that might improve on this good basic phono stage.

Good luck,
Great advice from Rushton.

The other big thing that is cheap, is to make sure you play clean records. Wet cleaning is a must, with good brushes such as Disc Doctor, and fluids from Walker or Audio Intelligent. Cheers,