I'd recommend going to the C500C/C500T in lieu of the C2300. Did that myself and never looking back. The C500 combo is down right quiet & had an awesome MC stage. Additionally, it is 99% of the soon to be discontinued 1000 series.
I have a friend with your amp and preamp and he can't say enough good things about the Aesthetic Rhea Signature in combination with them. He won't even use the C2300 phono stage, and didn't when he had an Art Audio Vinyl One, either. The Rhea retails at $7K.
I just bought the MC501 and have a C2300 on the way. My phono stage is a K&K Maxxed Out. In a few weeks I'll be able to give a report on how it mates with the Mac stuff. I think it's hard to beat at twice the price, though, and some people think it's better than the Rhea. I've never compared them.
You might want to check around and see if the phono stage in the C500/C1000 is substantially different from the C2300. Seems like I've read that it's not, though I'm not at all certain. Of course, the outboard PS and fully balanced circuitry of the more expensive Macs will make the phono section sound better, too.
Modded Jolida phono stage, Manley, EAR 324, Tom Evans Groove (choices, choices, choices).
I really liked the modded Jolida, and the Tom Evans models are really special.
I have not hear, but have heard great things about the Marchand phono pre's.
I tried many, mostly tubed, and ended up with a Parts Connexion (they are sold through Underwood HiFi)Modified PS Audio GCPH, and I absolutely love it. It's a great piece of gear.
Here's a couple links showing inside photos of the C2200 & C2300.
Here's a link showing inside photos of the C500/1000 boxes. Post #27 has the photos of the two units uncovered:
Quite a difference between the single box pre's and the dual box pre's & the MC circuitry too boot.
Your third post above slipped in ahead of me. You're right, the phono stages of the C2300 and C500/1000 look very different.
Post #19 in this link provides the irrefutable ocular proof:
Phono section on the C500 vs...
Bob & Macdadtexas,
What cartridges are you using? I currently really like my Lyra, but I want to take it up a notch. I would not be surprised to see the Titan get a facelift like the lower end carts recently got with the new cantilever design. I am seeing great threads on the new Ortofon A-90 and am intrigued by it--so it is on the short list. Do either of you have experience with these?
I will read up on the Mac c500 phono stage as well. How does it stack up with the ARC Ref 2 phono? Or the new Boulder 1008?