Substantial Upgrade


Longtime lurker, first-time poster:  My wife and I got into vinyl about five years ago and have been steadily collecting records ever since.  We love spinning records, and listen to a lot of jazz, pop, and classical music.  We started modestly with an AT LP120, and are lucky to have a friend who just happened to have a pair of Totem Rainmakers sitting in his garage collecting dust, which he gave to us, along with a TSC sub and all cables.  We have decided it is time to invest in our own system.

I've done a lot of research and read numerous threads on this topic here and elsewhere, and we've narrowed our choices down to two tables: the Rega P6 (in the $1500 price range) or the Feickert Volare (in the $3500 bracket).  Either table I'll be getting the Hana ML.  For phonostage, we've narrowed down to the MoFi UltraPhono or the Sutherland KC Vibe mk ii.  I'm hoping I can solicit opinions here on these choices and, in particular, whether the Feickert is going to make a difference for our use case.  Finally, I recognize that the speakers might be outclassed by these upgrades, but we are separately planning to move in the next year and I want to wait and see where our new listening room is going to be before investing in new speakers.    

Thanks in advance. 
bruinuclafan
why those 2 tables and 2 phono stages chosen among so many others? on what criteria?

what is rest of your system? what preamp and amp driving the totems?

better to ask the question you have XXX to spend for phono front end, what are recommendations...
Forgot to add, the Totems are driven by a PS Audio Sprout100.  I don't have a separate preamp because there is one built into the LP120.  

Those tables and phono stages were recommended to me by my local dealer based on my budget and listening style and preferences.  Especially on the phonostage, I wanted a good SS, since I have never dabled in tubes and want to start at this time.  In particular the P6 is compelling because it seems to have the reputation for plug-and-play.  I'm leaning toward the P6 just because I'm not sure the extra money is worth it for the Feickert, but I wanted to consider my options if I wanted to spend more.  

In general, I dislike thinking of these things in terms of budget.  It's hard to compare $1500 turntables when price is determined by so many variables, including import taxes.  So I was looking for tables that represented a good "value" in various price brackets and these two stuck out to me.  
What import taxes? Where are you?
Import taxes is the wrong word.  Tariffs, I think, is what I'm looking for.  
Smart approach waiting for speakers. The Volare with what tonearm?
I used AT120 Direct Drive happily for many years (see comments below).

I am going to suggest you upgrade it’s cartridge first, allowing you to take your time, research more, consider other TT’s now, you will use your new TT for several years, then likely move up.

You are considering two Belt Drives, I prefer Direct Drive (quartz locked) , but many love/buy belt or idler wheel drives. My earlier TD124 was idler drive, it was wonderful, however I had to wait for several minutes for speed stability, then make small adjustments during listening sessions. Perhaps modern ones have less/no problems unlike the old Thorens.

Of the two, I would go with the Rega, as neither are likely to be your ’final’ TT, and I don’t see any true advantages of the Feickert.

The Feickert has two negatives noted in this review

https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/dr-feickert-analogue-volare-record-player

1. Adjusting arm height (VTA) is done underneath the deck, a true PITA. I would never go for that, you are likely to try different cartridges in the future, requiring arm height adjustment for proper VTA.

2. The bearing, like the Thorens TD 124 I had, is susceptible to vertical vibration. My house has springy wood floors, the Thorens, wonderful, was a problem. The AT120 has no problem dealing with vertical vibrations. If your floors are solid, less of a problem, but, tap the plinth ....
I would ask about that specifically of the REGA.

from the link above:

"Does Volare have any weaknesses? In its price segment, few. Top-tier ’tables, however, are more stable in imaging; their silences are darker, their dynamic and tonal contrasts wider and better resolved. Critically, they are also much more resistant to acoustic or mechanical feedback.

This was an area that was a disappointment. During playback it only took a tap on the Volare plinth or my old Polycrystal platform to elicit an ugly thump through the system. A good isolation base along the lines of my reference Critical Mass Sotto Voce turned out to be the solution."

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AT120. Are you using it’s provided cartridge? If so, if you first change the cartridge on it, an easily discerned improvement, you will be very pleased, and you can move that cartridge to your new TT when you get it. To use AT120’s preamp now, you need a MM cartridge, I think this one an excellent choice

https://www.audio-technica.com/en-us/cartridges/type/moving-magnet/vm740ml

An MC might/probably will beat it, but slightly, not much.

I agree with you, AT120’s built in Phono preamp is better than most might think. I had McIntosh SS Preamp C28. I preferred the AT120 phono to the C28’s. When I changed to my current McIntosh mx110z Tube preamp, I much prefer the McIntosh phono. So much so, that when I chose a MC cartridge, I chose to use a SUT (step up transformer), to continue to use the McIntosh’s phono.

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Cartridge/Phono Stage: I think a careful selection of cartridge and phono stage is more important than a ’better’ TT within the affordable realm.

Therefore, don’t rush into the Hana ML. You may eventually choose it, but consider phono stage and cartridge together.

I recommend a phono stage with optional settings to accommodate your next cartridge as well as what you choose now.

MC. It’s a whole different world than MM, which is why I suggest the excellent MM I suggested above to move up, then upgrade TT, then consider MC and external phono stage.

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Buying the Rega, or something in it’s price range will leave you more money to spend on cartridge, phono stage (especially phono stage with options).

good luck happy listening

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BTW, changable headshell can be a real asset for a single arm TT. You could use:

1. current elliptical for certain LP grooves; fun but ’not great engineering/sound’ (avoiding wear on your more expensive MC cartridge with fixed Stylus)

2. new MM for AT120 now and use on new TT/Phono Stage later

3. new MC when you choose new Phono Stage

4. MONO cartridge for Mono LP’s, the Mono cartridges do not reproduce vertical movement, the sound is better or far better than Stereo Cartridge used in Mono Mode.

I’m old, turned 70, decided to upgrade system, and TT, with a lot of help here.

I ended up with a TT with 3 arms, and a SUT with 3 inputs, and the SUT has pass for MM, and 4 optional loads for MC, vintage Fidelity Research FRT-4. btw, none of it’s optional loading is best for the Hana ML.

see TT in last photo of this LP listing

https://www.ebay.com/itm/133613364198


Elliott


Import taxes is the wrong word. Tariffs, I think, is what I’m looking for.

No, its what you’re looking to avoid. What I am looking for is where you are. Which is why I asked, where are you? Anyway, had your chance. Bye!
If it is about imports, it is more reliably called "import duty". That is why they are called "duty free shops".

What a silly picking on OP's very clear concern.

Anyway, bruinuclafan, welcome to the forum.
op

my 2 cents

i would choose the rega and save the $, pass on the feickert

with your sprout and totems the rega will be just fine and the extra $ on the feikert has dubious benefit... rega’s are plug and play, sound great... just set up the cart once properly and no more worries

re phono stages, those you have identifed are fine but i would suggest a lehmann audio black cube, stunningly neutral quiet dynamic sound at a very modest price


@mijostyn - I was looking at the OL MK3A tonearm if I went with the Feickert.

@jjss49 - I'm leaning heavily toward the Rega if I go this route.  I will take a look at the black cube.  Thanks for the suggestion!  Are there other plug and play competitors to the Rega P6 you would suggest I look at?

Elliot - Thanks very much for the detailed response.  I've seen those reviews on the Feickert and they are certainly concerning.  For those reasons and the price differential I am leaning toward the Rega.  As far as sticking with the LP120, one reason I want to upgrade i that the 120 is loud.  I often listen at low volume and the motor sometimes overpowers the music.  Since you prefer direct drive, are there any you would recommend?  

@Glupson - Thank you.  

@ millercarbon - I'm in the U.S.  I'm not looking to avoid import duties as I am likely getting an import.  The point I was trying to make is that using budget as a guide seems highly flawed given the many and variable inputs that comprise a given table's market price.  
bruinuclafan,

"Since you prefer direct drive, are there any you would recommend?"

Any newer Technics should do. You will have a hard time finding a bad review, professional or user's. However, SL-1500 C reportedly has had a flimsy lift in some units. Hopefully, it has been fixed since it came out.
@elliot btw I just looked at that photo of your TT--looks awesome!
Dear @bruinuclafan : I think that a better option for the TT is this one today design:

https://www.technics.com/us/products/grand-class/direct-drive-turntable-system-sl-1200g.html

https://hifiheaven.net/shop/Technics-SL-1200GR-Grand-Class-Direct-Drive-Turntable-System

It’s really hard to beat and will performs very good with any cartridge of your choice ( including the Hanna. ) due that comes with a very good removable headshell tonearm ( builded by magnesium, same material as the SME V. ) design.
So you always can mate it with the needs that cartridge weigth/compliance ask for just changing the headshell weigth when need it and the removable headshell designs gives you several alternatives of headshell builded materials ( magnesium, aluminum, wood, blended materials. ) that makes that with the same cartridge you can " flavored " the cartridge performance as you like the more as more neutral and better balance.
You can improve too the headshell wires for better quality and this " move " you can hear it as a better quality sounds. Latter on you can do the same with the Technics internal wiring changing it for a top one.

I think that you can’t go wrong in any way with this first class Technics TT/tonearm.

In the other side:

" I recognize that the speakers might be outclassed by these upgrades."

I’m not to sure could be that way, those " humble " speakers are better that what you could think and you will attest this when the Totem’s tells you every single improvement coming from your up-date new units in your room/system.

As you said next year you can stay with the Totem’s adding a pair of self powered subwoofers and you will be surprised of the outstanding quality sounds that today can’t even imagine how achieve it.
Along those subs you need to think of your room treatment that always is a necessity due that the room overall response is one of the main links in your system chain and in any system chain.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.

audio2design

I am long winded, how many drinks to get thru it?

I hop about, checking equipment mentioned here, have fun, research, learn, and then I like to share what I've gathered, hoping mistakes will be caught by others.

And pass on the old dog curmudgeon's attitude.


Elliot makes a lot of sense. I think the Feikert, OL combination costs more than it is worth. I would consider the Rega P8 and use a Moving Magnet Cartridge such as the AT Elliot mentioned or the Goldring 1042. If you want to spend more the the Clearaudio Maestro V2 is an excellent cartridge which will run with $2-3000 MC cartridges. If you really want a jump up in turntables then put your OL arm on a Sota Sapphire. This turntable has a completely isolated sub chassis. Nothing in the environment bothers it. Jump up and down, hit it with a hammer (not kidding), call up a worm, whatever. This turntable runs with $30,000 turntables like the SME 30/2. If you decide you would like one https://sotaturntables.com/product-category/heritage-series/
Call Donna and put your order in now. They are buried and new orders are 4 months out. I know because I just put my name in for a Cosmos Vacuum. 4 darn months, misery for an instant gratification guy. The Sapphire is easily a destination turntable. You will most likely never feel the need to buy another. Don't forget to order the dust cover with it!
bruinuclafan

I’m really happy and proud of that TT, it was bit by bit with lots of help here. Sneaking the compact arm on the left side was the icing on the cake.

I started out asking here about using a long tonearm. The vintage JVC Victor arm came up. That got me into the vintage JVC Victor Plinth and TT81, Direct Drive, quartz locked.

I eventually took a chance on a 12.5" arm, from Russia, that’s on the right side. Next, a very cool and unique vintage 9" arm with removable headshell in the back. The left side is a compact arm chosen to fit within the dust cover when on, for a Mono cartridge.
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My AT120 is downstairs, waiting to give to a friend, but I’m not going there till after covid. My AT120 never made any noise even when close.
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I like vintage, and I like wood, so I was drawn to the TT’s made by Pioneer, Denon, and my choice JVC Victor.

Those TT’s are from the end of the LP era, the peak of very skilled engineer’s with big budgets competing with each other.
.......

WOOD. Be careful with vintage wood, know what you are looking at/buying. There is hardwood, wood veneer, and wraps of artificial wood plastic coated paper, some look darn good, some well taken care of, some delaminating, chipped, 

PLINTHS. Denon and JVC Victor made 7 layer decks, I think Pioneer did not go that far. Sony made a unique metal sandwich, never saw one, but it is interesting.
I have already seen some good advice, if you are looking are at an MC cartridge I would suggest a Soundsmith Phono stage, the best bang for your buck which allows you to dial in any loading for your cartridge. When you get down to table selection you need to look at tonearm comparability along with whatever cartridge you plan to use. As I saw in another comment it is important that you get a system that works together as well as keeping within your budget. If you post everything you are planning to do including the room you will use as your listening I am sure you will get lots of good feedback, the more information the better.
The sprout 100 has a phono section. Have you ever given it a try?
"Had your chance"... more like dodged a bullet.
I recently purchased a Dr Feickart Volare with an Origin Live tonearm, with after a very long and careful process. This is a second turntable in my home, the first being a Spiral groove. Having such a special tt, and buying a second table without breaking the bank was difficult. Very little would compare to the SG. I believe the Dr Feickart line was  a great choice. The Volare uses lots of the same  Feickart build quality for a fraction on the cost as there highly regarded Blackbird, Firebird, and Woodpecker. German engineering as we know they know how to build great products. I think in your budget, that would be an excellent choice without feeling the need to upgrade in a cpl years after the bug really sets in. I also considered a Sutherland phonostage, and had a very nice conversation with the owner. Though it was in my top three, and also highly regarded. Also the Herron, and Manley Chinook. It took   3 phonostages before finally feeling satisfied . I think you would be very happy with those choices. On a side note, Kat the turntable specialist at Upscsle Audio recently purchased a Feickart Volare for herself. That speaks volumes, or at least to me. Good luck and enjoy. Also, you are lucky to take this journey with your wife. 
I had a Rega RP6 with the Exact 2 MM cartridge.  I paired it with a Pass Labs XP15.  I know you mentioned you will be getting a Hana, which I think will make all the difference in the world, as I found the RP6 with the Exact 2 to be unlistenable-- as in I wanted to throw a sneaker at it every time I put a record on.

I checked in with my very spendy local hi-fi shop and the sales guy delivered the news-- either you are going to have to spend a lot more money on a turntable and cartridge, or I should sell the table and the phono stage and get a better source for CD player.

I gave vinyl 1 more chance and went for the Rega RP10 with the Apheta 2, pairing it with the Pass Labs XP 15.  That was 2 years ago, and I am now totally content with my system.

What I have tried to do is leapfrog over incremental improvements and go up several rungs on the chain.  It's more expensive initially, but not in the long run if you get the right stuff and particularly if you buy good gear used.

Enjoy the search, and trust your ears.
Vertere Acoustics Phono-1 is a very good phono stage. $1000 or so. All the capacitance and resistor toggles are at the bottom of the unit. Not inside like some.
The Phono-1 has received great reviews and hits way above its weight...Vertere is a UK company but there are N.A. dealers who carry Vertere in the U.S. and Canada. I can refer you to a dealer if where I bought the same if you ever are interested.


Hands down, the best $1500 turntable available is the Music Hall mmf-7.3 (best bang for buck in the Music hall line-up). It would take a turntable 2 and 3 times its price to sound *significantly* better. I prefer the more expensive ($1795/Ortofon 2m bronze) Walnut version myself, beautiful. Maybe take the 2m bronze off and stick another killer product, the Hana EL mc cartridge ($475), on the end of the tone arm, nice....and then send the signal to a Jensen mc 2RR-L SUT, and ultimately to a Tavish design Tubed phono preamp like The Classic 😉....sweet.....then roll in some nos tubes...RCA, GE, Tungsram, Amperex, Mullard, Telefunken....even better....😁

Joining the aforementioned are the following;
-Sugden A21se signature pure class A integrated
-Tannoy Legacy Eaton
-Marantz SA 8005 sacd
-Marantz HD CD-1
-Marantz st6000 tuner
-cambridge T500 tuner
-Aiwa AD F-770 3 head deck
-Musical Fidelity V90 dac, *another killer product, low class A recommended component (Stereophile)
-Graham Slee Novo headphone amp
-AKG k550 reference headphones
To OP, I've gone through a similar consideration last year and went with Dr. Feickert's Volare table with Jelco TK850 arm and Hana ML. I am extremely happy with Dr. Feickert's table and would highly recommended it. The table is very solid and stable. Currently the table is connected to a Manley Chinook amp which I am also very happy with. I could live happily with this system for a very long time. But I have no experience with Rega P6 so I would comment on that.  
I have a Rega Planar 8, Apheta 3 and Aria (mk 2) phono stage. My dad landed on the Planar 6, Ania Pro, and Aria phono stage. We are both very happy with our purchases. We like the simple set up and how well the Rega components work together. I can't offer a comparison with your other options but we are content. 
Opinions are nice and plentiful but I own the P6, buy the Dr. Feickert. If you get serious you will eventually want to upgrade the platter, sub platter and tonearm, $2000.00. It will then sound almost as good as the Volare but you’ll never get your money out of the mods.
 I love my P6 but I bought an Oracle Delphi for my main tt my second choice was the Feickert.

Enjoy the vinyl
I just got the P6 with their MC for $2300. No set up issues at all and sounds great out of the box. If I listened to more vinyl,  like it sounds you do, I would have gone one step up, such as say the P8 or 10 or the Doctor with the higher priced Hana MC, which will run you around $5k. Just don’t let the $5k take away from your future speaker purchase.
I owned the rainmakers for years. Loved them. 
Glad that miller carbon has left the thread, now you will get valuable responses. The sprout 100 is a nice piece especially for your totems. I have this same integrated in my office.
If you are just starting out, get a decent TT with a decent MM cartridge and use the builtin phono preamp in the sprout 100 until you decide what your new room will be like in the future. If your room is much larger, you will be upgrading your amp to maybe separates or another larger integrated that has a phono preamp builtin.
If you get any of the tables suggested above, you are limited by the tonearms on the quality of the cartridge you can use on them. If this is a starter system, then by all means get any of the TT's mentioned above with the Hana cartridge, you probably won't hear a difference between these tt's. Later on, if you want to upgrade to say a $3000 or more cartridge, you won't be using any of the TT's tonearms listed above. I have had over a dozen TT's over 5 decades and each 1 cost more and the later TT's used another manufacturers tonearm.
Marantz TT-15s1. $1500, looks great, and comes with a great cartridge. I think its a steal. 
Wow. Tons of great posts in this thread. Thank you all very much. Let me try and respond:

@p05129 - The sprout is great and works well with the Totems. As for whether this is a "starter," it’s hard to say. I’ve had my AT-LP120 for five years and have been slowly amassing a collection. So I don’t think I’m necessarily a newb, but I haven’t upgraded anything since getting the Totems so I am new in the sense of upgrading and perhaps its a starter system that is beyond entry level.

@deadhead1000 - what I spend here won’t impact my future speaker purchase one bit. Glad to know you loved your Totems! Since you are happy with your P6, why would you upgrade if you used it more? Do you find it to be "good enough" or is it a price/quality equilibrium for what you were willing to spend given your listening habits?

@rockyboris - I have two questions for you. Why didn’t you ultimately go with the Feickert? And if you love the P6 why would I want to upgrade it? Just curious.

@guy-incognito - since I am assuming you listen to your dad’s system as well, are there noticeable differences between your setup and his? Maybe this is a loaded question since I don’t know what else is in your chain.

@ocean2059 - what made you choose the Jelco over the OL arm? Also, you mention that the table is stable. So you’ve not had any of the issues that the two reviews noted above experienced?

@liamowen - I too want to leapfrog the sideways upgrading I see a lot of folks doing. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to jump all the way to a P10. When you say you had the RP6, is that the old one or the new P6?

@tastypeter - wow, that is quite an endorsement coming from someone with such an expensive main TT. What phono stage did you ultimately pair the Volare with? Also, are you happy with the OL arm, and did you consider any others (I see some people opt for the Jelco)? I actually had a very long conversation with Kat, which is what made me seriously consider this option. She also has the Sutherland. I agree, it speaks volumes.  And yes, having a wife who enjoys this hobby makes it so enjoyable. In fact, she is the one who got us into it!

@yogiboy - I do have my LP120 plugged into the Sprout’s phono section (labeled "vinyl") but since the LP120 has a built-in phono stage I don’t think that can be bypassed. I could be wrong.

I notice from this thread that there is perhaps a divide between MM and MC, with some strongly suggesting I move to a more expensive MM while others welcoming an MC. My thinking here is that if I was going to buy a new phonostage, I wanted to get one that would work with both so I would have flexibility in the future. Other than cost, are there any downsides to switching to an MC at this point?

Finally, in a weird twist of fate, I actually bent the stylus on my cartridge this evening. I had a spare AT95e and did my first ever cartridge change. It was slightly terrifying but it went well. I can definitely see the value of a removable headshell now as @rauliruegas mentioned.
Adding another recommendation on already crowded recommendation would not help any, so I will just second Technics SL1200GR, or SL1200G if you can afford. I almost purchased SL1200GR, but changed my mind when Denon DP80 became available for local pickup.
By the way, I own Clearaudio Bluemotion (similar level at Concept), Garrard 301, and now Denon DP80. All three are very good tables and I would recommend them all too.
@ bruinuclafan
If you are using the phono on the sprout you should not be using the built in phono on the LP120. There is a switch on the rear to by-pass the LP-120 phono section. You might want to check that out!
This is from the owners manual!

If the system you are using has a PHONO input, set thepre-amp selector switch to the PHONO OUT position andconnect the turntable’s output cables to the PHONO inputs onyour system, observing Red for Right channel and White forLeft channel 
I would buy the Dr. Feickert Volare over the Rega P6. I have heard both brands extensively in familiar systems. One of the compelling differences of the Dr. Feickert is the high torque drive resulting in a bigger sound. I would check and see if one of the tonearms available comes with VTA adjustment you can easily do without getting under the TT. Many tonearms come with an easily adjustable VTA collar.

I noticed most of the negative comments on the Dr. Feickert turntable came from posters who had not heard the Dr. Feickert turntable. Something you should consider carefully.

Currently I don't own either, but I used to own a Rega. 

My recommendation for a phono preamp, is that you work with a local dealer, so you can try a few, or just buy a few used and keep the winner.

My system is posted here if you want to look at it.

Best of luck with your decision 
"Anyway, had your chance. Bye!"

Hi again MC
No doubt OP is pleased you have signed out.
You really are not a very nice person. 


From experience — in your listening room, do you have wood suspension floors under a concrete foundation like most colonials or high ranches in the US? If so and you choose the Rega, make sure you also buy the shelf for it — footfall is a nasty attribute in these types of homes and the Rega can’t always handle it resulting in vibration, skipped records, etc.

As for the phonostage, you can’t go wrong with a Sutherland (it’s all he does after founding and leaving Martin Logan a long time ago). I also had the KC Vibe, then the 20/20 LPS and the thing about his design is that it’s dead quiet, he focuses on the power supply and really just well made with high end components. There’s really nothing negative ever said about it - it just does everything well. And the new version of the Vibe is supposed to be even better and at less than $1,000 it’s got to be considered right there at the top or near top of its price point.
@bruinuclafan, the reason that I went with Jelco TK850 arm on my Dr. Feickert Volare table is that it can be order with an add-on with the VTA at the time. I also ordered my TT from Upscale Audio and Kat helped me set up the cartridge before it was shipped to me. All I did for the setup was leveling the TT and adjust the counter weight to set the vertical traction force. The TT is very stable and I didn't have to make any adjustment since the original setup, although I do check periodically. I didn't experience the problems that were described in the links, maybe the opposite. From my email communicated with Chris Feickert, the motor in the Volare table was a bit 'over designed' to provide speed stability and accuracy.  

But I agreed with jperry's comment two posts above that you should check with Kat to see if you can order the OL arm with an add-on VTA.  
Sounds like you may need to do a little more research and auditioning. No need to hurry as hearing improvement in stages is really fun.

Someone else mentioned this...but I will repeat.
Put a VM740ml cartridge on your current TT first. I had this cart on my Technics 1200G. It will give you a really good improvement right off the bat.

Then upgrade to a stellar Phono stage. Something that you can grow with...go big here.

Then try a new TT. You will notice the improvement but it will not be as vast as you think and you will be able to quantify the level of each improvement.

As for turntables, the Technics 1200GR is my recommendation. Made in Japan and built to outlast most premium TTs out there. 


Post removed 
@yogiboy I just checked and the table is set to Phono out, so my past self must have already figured this out correctly when I bought the Sprout100!
OP

Unfortunately my Dad is in Louisiana and I am in Kansas so it has been some time since I've heard his system (Thanksgiving 2019). The last time I heard his Planar 6 he was still running the older Ania cartridge and the cheaper fono MC. I have not heard it in the current configuration with the new Ania Pro or Aria phonostage, but he thought the difference was very noticable.  I can say I always thought the table sounded better than its price point and it's part of the reason I upgraded from a Planar 2 to a Planar 8. It has been my experience with Rega you see noticable upgrades as you move up the model line.

I had a Planar 2 that started with the RB220 tonearm. I found a deal for an RB330 and the positive change it made was very noticable. I started with the Ania MC cart and Fono MC with my Planar 8. Changing to an Aria phonostage was another large positive improvement. Going from the Ania to the Apheta 3 again yielded big ppsutuve changes. Every time I have moved up the Rega product line I have not been disappointed.

Regarding MC vs MM I like both but wouldn't buy any of the Rega MM carts. It is worth your time to look at the package deals on the Rega MC carts if you are considering a new Rega deck given the package discount. The Planar 6/Ania Pro combo is pretty attractive given the Pro has a finer stylus profile than the original Ania. The original Ania's stylus is the big downside to that cartridge but I only realized that after going to something with a fine-line profile. 

Good luck and happy hunting. 
I would consider a Kuzma arm with the Feickert. 
That would be a good place to start.
@sandthemall - Why do you suggest the PS Audio Stella Phono?  It seems like a $2500 phonostage would be vastly out of place in my system.  Also, from browsing the forums, it seems like PS Audio as a brand is pretty controversial.  It's interesting that you recommend them because I actually emailed them about pairing the Stellar with my Sprout100, and the response I got was that I should insteadtrade in my Sprout for a Stellar Strata.  I frankly found that a bit odd given that the person responding didn't even know what speakers I had.    
@bruinuclafan - it was the price/quality equilibrium as you so well state. For instance, I only stream for background music and finding new music, if I listened more 'seriously' I would invest in a better streamer. Same with the choice of TT. It sounds wonderful and fits my use and system. 
@bruinuclafan,
I wrote "stellar" meaning 'a really good one' of your own choosing. I did not state a brand. That's up to you to decide. 

I use a Project RS phono stage with an outboard power supply I got from eBay. It is dual mono and very good. I can recommend It...but it's also $1000 with a wall wart. The wall wart is noisy but Project offers a battery power supply. It was too pricey for me so took a chance on an $175 18v power supply on eBay and couldn't be happier.

Project has other power supplies at different price points. My advice to you is to stay away from wall warts...and get something that allows you to contour to a wide variety of carts...so it will grow with you. So spend a bit more than you might here. 
I have not heard the Hana ML, but I suspect the $450.00 upgrade will be subtle compared to the SL.  The difference between the EL and the SL is immediately apparent.  The SL is probably the sweet spot in the Hana range.  I would pause on the ML until you have figured out your phono preamp and can dial in the exact load and coil capacitance that would be needed to extract that last drop of goodness.Cartridges in the $1000 - $2000 price range (and I put the SL and ML in that range because they are exceptional values) should be considered along with the phono preamp.  Anything more expensive and you are in a rarified area I cannot comment on.The KC Vibe is awesome.  I seriously considered it, but went with something (a bit more expensive) that works better for my system and intended cartridge range.I am currently running a Hana SL on a Technics SL1200 GR running through an Odyssey Suspiro (SS phono pre).  Also use an Mofi MasterTracker MM (also awesome and in some ways - and with some records - better than the Hana).  Also llike the AT 740ML, my trusty Shure V-15 type III, and a few Grados and an old Pickering that are fun to mess with.  The Technics handles them all with aplomb (well, the Shure is a little wobbly, but it works fine and sounds like it is supposed to).  One of the great things (and there are many, comsidering the price) of the SL 1200 G series is the romoveable head shell and ease of set-up, which allows me to play with cartridges without much fuss.Get the front in dialed in to suit your needs and preferences, then worry about amplification and speakers to fit your room, tastes, budget, etc.

@bruinuclafan
Since you mentioned MoFi UltraPhono I’m assuming that you’re not against Mofi import duties/tariffs/tax.

$2K Mofi Ultradeck - great reviews, newer design by established highly regarded manufacturers. I am building a high-end bucket-list audiophile system from scratch and am interested in best bang for buck without sacrificing sonic performance so this was on my short list (but I gave in to a much higher $$ VPI mass loaded used turntable- upgradeitus?). Optionally bundled with the positive reviewed MasterTracker cartridge to save you $.

Somebody’s review on https://www.stereo.net " MoFi UltraDeck ,Clear audio concept , Rega Planar 6 which to choose?"
"I recently auditioned the UltraDeck against the P6.
To me the UltraDeck was a fair leap ahead.
Firstly in plinth isolation from whatever you sit it on. Also it seemed to retrieve a lot more from the groove than the Rega. In particular the lower registers. "
Stick with the rega.  It’s a forgiving table that gets the job done.  Plus you should expect your local dealer to set it up so it’s plug and play to you 
@sandthemall  - gotcha.  My mistake.  I've been seeing that stellar phono pop up in discussions everywhere and assumed that's what you meant.

@kahlenz - glad to hear you think the  KC Vibe is awesome!  

@kennyc - I seriously considered the UltraDeck, but my local dealer said hey have had some issues with it and thought the Rega was a better fit in that price range for me. And just to be clear on the whole import/tariff thing, I have no problem paying that stuff (and since I'm in the U.S. both the Rega and Volare will be imports) I was just using that as one variable that I felt makes discussing purchases using budget as an absolute guide less than ideal.  

@co93 - Thanks for the suggestion.  Do you have personal experience with the P6?  And what do you mean by forgivable?
I’ve got a P6 rega for my son (and a pro-ject for my daughter)   My tables are $10k and $20k with carts.  More often, the higher priced tables need more precise set up and tweaking.   Rega is a good, solid table.  I like the aesthetics of the higher priced Feickert and love his protracter.   But he is a small batch producer.  And you pay a premium for that.  Rega is pretty large, and normally that means a better value with a larger support system.   You can get them serviced anywhere....
But the worse thing you can do is overthink it....