Should I get a new cart, TT or phono stage?

At some point i want to replace all three but I'm wondering what will make the biggest improvement first.

I have an old Denon DP-45F with a recently purchased Ortofon 2M Red going into a Pro-Ject Phono Box II which then goes into a Simaudio i1 integrated.

What would you upgrade first. Some things i was thinking of were a Rega P3, Clearaudio Emotion, Simaudio LP3 or used LP 5.3, or a ortofon 2M Black.

If I made any upgrade i would likely be stuck with the remaining components for some time before I made the next upgrade.
I think the table would be the weakest link.
I agree with Stanwal on this. If you can replace with a Rega, Project or Music Hall that would be a nice step up.

Some will say Technics 1200 but I personally favor belt drives.
Thanks. Will both the Rega and the Clearaudio play nice with the Ortofon 2M red?
What is it you want to improve--what is it you're not hearing that you want to hear?

Does the turntable have built-in interconnects or are you using 3rd party interconnects? What is the turntable sitting on? Do you have an isolation platform or vibration controlling footers?

How carefully have you aligned the cartridge? Have you checked it against a good protractor?

Is your turntable level? Is is far enough away from the speakers to avoid feedback?

Maybe a record grip or damper puck would help?
Keep the 45F. The difference between a 45F and a Rega is not worth the loss of all the automatic features of the 45F, assuming your set up of the 45F is optimal. I would change the phono preamp to get a better match with your cartridge. I have a 47F running to a Marantz SC9 and also a VPI Aries. Yes, the Aries is better since it has a $2K cartridge and SDS box, but the 47F is also great and it has all the auto features.
You didn't specify the amount of money involved but IMO it is the phono preamp by default.

First, the turntables you mentioned are no better than the Denon. At best you're going sideways there.

Second, the Black is a bit better than the Red but in the Denon's arm the difference(s) will be marginal at best.

Go for the phono stage. A pre-owned Graham Slee Era Gold or comparable product would be a nice upgrade for a minimal investment.

You might also try some isolation devices on the Denon.

Good luck.
Worth taking a look at the entry-level SOTA tables while you're at it. I write from experience with the Rega, SOTAs, Music Halls, Micro Seiki, and Pioneer but not the Denon tables.

That's the tough part for me I don't know what I'm not hearing. I'm just looking to make improvements.

The turntable sits on vibracones and it has built in interconnects. The cart was installed by a dealer and I assumed it was done properly. The turntable is level and I don't think I'm getting any feedback.

Overall I pretty amazed at how good the denon/ortofon sounds, but I'm wondering if an upgrade of either will make a noticeable difference.
what you must consider is how far you will up grade? if you are going to move only a notch or 2, there will probably be very little imporvement. if you are going to move up 5 or 6 notches(out of 10) then the difference will be much more apparent, although, it will be dependant on your weekest link. if you buy a top of the line clearaudio tt but keep the same cart an/or phono stage the improvement will be limitted to to their ability and so forth up the chain. my advise would be if you are going to do it make sure you are committed to seeing it through, and move up the latter the furthest you feel you can comfortably afford. in the end, which probably there never will be, you will be glad you did. Vinyl, not just music, but a way of life.
I think AudioFiel's advice is on the money. However, don't necessarily believe that the dealer aligned the cart correctly. I'd go w a better phono stage but also buy an alignment protractor and double check the alignment. At that level, probably one of the $20-30 mirrored protractors would be the way to go.
I agree with Audiofeil and Buconero117: Keep the Denon. A sub $1K belt drive TT would be a lateral move at best. I recommend:

--Spend a little money on isolation--maybe platform the turntable on a butcher block cutting board with Vibrapods or gel pads under the cutting board

--Maybe try another turntable mat--perhaps a Herbie's Way Excellent in the same thickness as the Denon mat

--Upgrade your cartridge by replacing the Red stylus with a Blue. It's a little cheaper than buying a whole new cartridge. There's quite an improvement in transparency and detail when you go from a bonded to a nude stylus. For a bigger jump in quality (and price), go for an Audio Technica AT150MLX. They go for $300-350 if you know where to look (LPGear and

--Spend most of your upgrade money on a better phono stage. Read up on the A-gon reviews of the ones in your price range. And in addition to the Graham Slee, look into the versatile and highly configurable Musical Surroundings Phonomena II at $600.
Keep the denon actually your system looks good 2 me unless u go hi hi-end the marginal uprades not worth it table is from denons best era imho
I agree with Swampwalker and Phasecorrect - your system looks OK and you would have to spend a bit to make a large improvement. But you should check to see if everthng is setup correctly. First, check your cables. Then, check that you are using the correct cartridge setting on the back of your Phono Box II - it should be set to MM. Then check your TT setup (cartridge, turntable isolation or coupling, etc).

My rule is (and some might disagee with me) that all else being equal (meaning no setup or mechanical issues), your biggest improvements in sound will come from the "outside" in. For analog, that means that biggest changes in sound quality will come from improving cartridge/arm first (they must be considered together), then TT deck, then the phono stage, then preamp, then power amp; with diminishing improvements in overall sound quality as you go down the list. As with all rules there are exceptions, and YMMV.
Thanks everyone for the advice. I had no idea the Denon was that well regarded.

One thought I had was to replace the stylus on the 2m red. I read somewhere that all 2m have the same body. Is that true? If so could I put a 2m black stylus into my 2m red body?

I think I'll upgrade the phono pre first and go from there.
I would replace the Phono stage first
this unit is the most important in analog Playback
06-07-09: Djn04
One thought I had was to replace the stylus on the 2m red. I read somewhere that all 2m have the same body. Is that true? If so could I put a 2m black stylus into my 2m red body?
Although the four cartridges appear physically identical, they 2M system is really two separate cartridge bodies and four stylus assemblies. The Red and Blue cartridge bodies are identical. The Bronze and Black cartridge bodies are also identical--to each other, but not to the Red/Blue bodies. The Bronze/Black bodies are built with better materials and closer tolerances (and slightly different design IIRC) to take full advantage of the higher-res--but slightly different compliance--Bronze and Black styllii.

You *may* be able to slide a Black stylus onto your "Red" cartridge body, but it won't make it a real 2M Black. However, if you replace your Red stylus with a Blue one, it will be identical with the factory 2M Blue.
Some great advice here from everyone.
Phono stage would make the most noticeable improvement,
however, sounds as if your set-up is well matched at the present.
I would wait awhile before changing things up and enjoy.
Maybe spend that upgrade money on some new vinyl.
Have u tried a denon cart? They are well reviewed here
So I've taken the advice of many here and bought a Era Gold here on A'gon. I'll report back when I get it and I can A/B with the pro-ject.
Congats on a fine choice. In addition to the above and perhaps to highlight some of the above implications, I would emphasize that saving up for a better table/arm would definitely yield worthwhile benefits, although you may need to up the ante. I would also add that a table/arm upgrade will give more than that of a cartridge. Of course, it would be that much more worthy of a cartridge upgrade. IMHO, the Rega are the best of the forementioned contenders but perhaps not enough of a step up. If you're curious, it's likely to be not too difficult to get hold of a P5, which would be slightly more likely to be an improvement, especially if you can audition it with the outboard power supply. Then you can hear for yourself just what kind of sideways move you're talking about. Sometimes a different flavor of icecream can be very educational. Of course, a P7 or P9 would give a more refined taste of the Rega option, especially as a reference for other higher end aspirations. As a Rega dealer, my point here is not to promote them so much as to answer your question, or even more to the point, to encourage you to put yourself in the position of answering your own question. You may even be able to bring your table in to a dealer and compare it there.
So I had the Era Gold in the set up for a few days and it does make a noticeable difference over the Pro-ject. I'm very pleased with the set up as of now. I'll probably enjoy it for a while then look to making an upgrade in the TT.