Cambridge Azur 640P for under $150 should be a big improvement over the built-in phono stage. You also need to make sure the cartridge is aligned correctly. What did you use for a protractor?
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I'm currently using a Cambridge 640p with a Denon DL160 and find it to be a very good match. In my opinion the 640p has a nice build quality for the price. It's been reliable and functioned without issue. It can sound a touch dry and may not be the best fit for a system that's already on the lean side. I'm not familiar with your system components however.
I'm pretty sure I read in the cartridge manual that it should be loaded like an MM cartridge at 47kohms. Where did you get the 1kohm figure?
I read the posts on Vinyl Engine about loading the DL-160 at 1k ohms. I don't doubt there's an audible difference between 47k and 1k, but I wouldn't make a mountain out of a mole hill. I'm not dismissing the thread, but I question whether loading is the most important thing to consider. Is it worth trying? Sure, but it's more important to get the fundamentals right so you can actually hear these subtle differences.
The DL-160 needs 46 dB of gain to get the best signal to noise ratio. You can get by with less, but read the KAB Phono Preamp Calculator to understand why 46 dB is ideal. If I'm reading your Technics spec sheet correctly, the input sensitivity of the phono preamp is 3 mV. This is equivalent to 38 dB which means you're missing 8 dB of gain. This shortcoming is in addition to any questions about the sound quality of the Technics phono section.
The DL-160 doesn't have enough output for most MM preamps. It's a "low output" High Output Moving Coil. A typical MM puts out 5 mV. The DL-160 puts out 33% of that. When you play vinyl, you're probably turning the volume up quite a bit more than when you play cds.
The Cambridge 640P and Creek OBH-18 are not ideal matches because they don't offer enough gain for the DL-160. A better match would be a Musical Surroundings Phonomena which allows you to adjust between 40-60 dB. It also allows you to load between 30 ohms and 100k ohms. This gives you everything you want from a technical perspective, but the Phonomena isn't a warm preamp (neither is the Cambridge or the Creek).
For a warmer, richer, more involving sound, I recommend a tube-based design. Here are some suggestions: Antique Sound Lab Mini Phono II (about 45 dB), Hagerman Cornet2 (44 dB), Wright WPP-200c (60 dB adjustable), WPP-100c (60 dB adjustable), EAR 834P (49 dB). The ASL Mini Phono II is a hidden gem. You can get it for $309 from Galen Carol. I've seen it used for as little as $150. It'll be an enormous improvement over what you have now.
I have had a couple preamps since originally asking about pairing with a DL160. I have had the Cambridge 640p which is extremely nice for the price however didn't have enough of some things I enjoy like mids,low bass. It did sound good enough for most though. ?However the tube phono Eastern Electric I have now does sound great in a different way. It is balanced but the need for 12ax7 tubes to make it shine is expensive. I enjoyed both with the Denon Dl160
I recently picked up a Jolida JD 9A phono stage to replace a Cambridge 640P. The Jolida is very adjustable, with three dual banks of DIP switches to control gain, resistance, and capacitance. It even has two different output levels.
I have a Denon DL160 that I put aside after I got my Audio Technica AT150MLX. With the Jolida I trotted it back out and dialed in the Jolida's gain, capacitance, and resistance what I thought was a good match. It sounded much improved over its sound through the Cambridge. It still doesn't extract all the ambience and detail of the AT150MLX, but it's much closer and it had a very detailed and dynamic, yet relaxed sound through the Jolida. If I played with the DIP switch settings a bit it might get even better. The list price on the Jolida is $450 but you can probably get it for a bit less than that.
It can be tuned up to a higher level of performance for very little money--swap in the Mullard 12axy reissues, put on some Herbie's HAL-O's tube dampers, some damping mat'l on the top cover, and some vibration absorbing footers. I was fortunate enough to have some Sylvania NOS 5751's to substitute for the stock 12ax7s. They are insanely quiet and buttery smooth.