Separate Phono Stage-Worth the $$ ?

I have a Levinson ML26 preamp with separate power supply but it has a built in phono stage. I have someone who is getting out of analog and would be willing to swap his ML 26 with separate phono section plus some money.
Good idea? Money spent better elsewhere?
Thanks, Clavio
If you can arrange to audition this you should know right off if it is worth the $. I would think you are doing just fine with what you have unless yours is a very high resolution system.

I have been using the built-in phono section in a Musical Fidelity A300 Integrated, and so far I have auditioned two other phono stages but have not heard any improvement. The job of a phono stage is complex, as you have to match many variables, so unless there is a marked spec difference with the outboard Levison, I would not bother.

Just my $0.02
I think Goyescas' advice is spot-on. In theory, the advantage to a separate phono stage is a dedicated power supply and the ability to place the phono stage away from components (such as transformers) which might affect its operation and induce noise or hum. However, the disadvantage is an additional set of interconnects; there is no interconnect as good as no interconnect at all. If your Levinson is working fine without problems (and I'm sure something from Madrigal would address any noise problems which might affect the phono section), I'd be surprised if there would be a substantial difference between the two units, but it's worth a listen for yuor own ears to decide.
Thanks for the feedback. Being a Linn guy...believing simple is best. I tend to agree about introducing more cables etc. On the other side the system is very revealing. Martin Logans and a Lyra cartridge and it's logical to assume a "separate" phono would be better??
Not necessarily in your case, particularly considering (as I just noticed on re-reading the question) that you already have an outboard power supply for your preamp. With that you can locate the power supply's circuitry well away from the phono circuitry. Also, does your friend's separate unit have a separate power supply for the phono, or does it have the phono and line units sharing the same power supply like you have? If the latter, it's unlikely that you will achieve any improvements from the power supply. The only other benefit from the separate phono section I can think of, of course, is the ability to substitute a different, hopefully better, phono stage for the Levinson (an IO, Lamm, Boulder?), but you've already got a pretty good unit there which is likely upgradable, and you wouldn't have to worry about compatibility issues. Just my random thoughts.
I believe all the above comments are valid and to the point; i.e., better unit, dedicated power supply and separation from other components versus another set of interconnects and those associated problems. Another point to consider in the "better/different sounding" category is a tube phono stage. I don't know what other components you have (beside the ss Levinson), but a tube unit might be a wonderful compliment to your system. Just a thought. Happy listening!
Tube it!

AES PH1 for fun???

Pretty much a Cary.

I've much prefered tubes phono stage to solid state.

If an AES PH1 comes up I plan to buy it. I'm sure that I'm not alone on that one.

Try tubes and let us know what you think :)
I am not familiar with the Levinson unit, but another theoretical advantage of the separate phono stage is that many (not all) of the built-in stages have preset impedance and gain, while many (not all) separate ones have selectable/adjustable settings for these, allowing you to better tailor it to your particular cartridge.