I never had an analog system until last month. I bought a 1989 SOTA TT with vacuum/Sumiko MMT arm/Dennon 103R retyped with elliptical/sapphire cantilever. My phono is Kitsune MK5 WBT that is amplified by Don Sach 2 tube preamp and Pass X350.5. My speaker are Sound Lab M545 ESL. The TT has been very well maintained despite its age. It sounded very good until I heard my friend's system which has the same TT but with Lyra Skala cartridge and first generation Triplanar arm (Spectral pre/amp). His sounded noticeably clearer and fuller. What is the best way to get a noticeable improvement in my system without breaking the bank (or before I have to squint to hear the improvement). I would love to hear some wisdom from analog-philes.
I always like to use SUTs (step-up transformers) in front of phono stages with mc cartridges. Bob's CineMags are good ones! I hear more detail and lower noise floors with them compared to a high-gain active stage.