System Advice Please

Well, it's time to do my part to help the ailing economy. I'm looking at an electronics upgrade in the near future and could use your input. Current system features Daedalus Audio DA-1.1 speakers driven by an ARC 150.2 and SP16 preamp. An Esoteric X-03SE and VPI Scout/Dyna 20XM round out the sources. Cables are Empirical Design all the way around.

Right now I'm focusing on the electronics with the goal of substantially improving my vinyl playback and getting better sound all around--particularly dynamics, detail and staging.

Here are the options I'm considering:

Art Audio/Gill Alana preamp with built in phonostage OR Modwright 9.0SWLP Signature Edition preamp. These will most likely be driving a McCormack DNA-125 with platinum mods or a stock DNA-500.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on either of these preamps, particularly those of you who have paired either with the McCormack amps.

The other option is to keep my ARC 150.2 and add an LS-26 with a PH5 phonostage.

Thoughts? Thanks everyone.
LS-26 and PH5 sound like a great route---you will definately hear a noticeable improvement in every aspect.

I use a Lyra Argo i in my VPI Scoutmaster as a cartridge and really like the results.

I'm in exactly the same boat as you, trying to get better performance out of my Scoutmaster/Dyna 20xl setup.

I would go with a seperate phono stage, very rare you get equal performance out of a built in phono stage.

So, I would go with the LS-26 with PH5, or keep your SP16 and use the extra money for a better phono stage, something like Art Audio Reference.
You could certainly use a better cartridge. The 20X is nice and good for the money but hardly the magic you will get with a better cart like the Shelter 90X for example.
The SP16 is a weak link. I would tend to agree with SNS and recommend the LS-26 with the PH-5 setup. That is, if you are basically satisfied with the ARC sound.
Ditto the LS-26, PH-5 it will take you a lot further. There's a synergy with ARC equipment, that combination will be excellent.
I have heard the LS-16 (5 mo ago) and the LS-26 (2 weeks ago) in my system. The LS-26 sounded to " HI-FI" for my taste, a big disappointment as I wanted to pair it with the VS-115 I already have, thinking it would be an improvement over my Calypso!!! The Calypso has a more "natural" sound, the 6H30 tubes in the LS-26 can't be switched out for NOS, so your stuck no home cooking there!

You might look into an Aesthetix Janus, used $3700.00 on Agon New $6500.00

I think replacing the LS-16 is a must first step.
The 6h30's can be switched out to nos! Conus Audio and the tube store currently carry nos 6h30dr's. They're costly but they're available. $310 & $320pr.
Ok you have a choice of ONE !!! I like having multiple choices from multiple companies affording me the opportunity to make fine adjustments. In the Calypso 12AX7's are the impute tubes (the body) having the largest affect on the sound and the 6922 are output tubes (the spices) and are used to make fine adjustments. An over simplification but the general idea IMHO.
Thanks everyone. My plan is to upgrade my table and cartridge at some point in the future but right now I want to see how much performance I can wring out of my Scout/Dyna set up. My thinking is that a separate phono stage or a better one that is built into either the Modwright or Alana will greatly improve my system and extend the life (so to speak) of my Scout setup. One thing that has me leaning toward the ARC gear is that in this economy who knows how long some of these smaller manufacturers will be around. I'm not wishing ill on anyone but I want to be sure there is a company that can provide service should I need it down the road. Also, I have experience dealing with ARC and they are a fine group of folks--again, not a knock on the other companies I just haven't had any experience with them.
Just wanted to get back to everyone with an update. I sold my SP-16 and picked up an LS-26 which I installed on Friday. I'm very pleased with the results. In comparing the two through the linestage only the LS-26 is simply cleaner, more detailed, relaxed, natural and focused. Basically it comes down to distortion--less of it allowing the music to come through without editorializing. Next step is to add a PH-5 or PH-7 if I can raise the funds. For those concerned that the LS-26 represents the "new" ARC sound and is somehow more clinical than past equipment, in my experience so far the LS-26 retains the body and naturalness of the SP-16 but adds dynamics, resolution, spatial cues and focus. Yeah, it's not as fat sounding as the SP-16 but fat isn't accurate and the LS-26 manages to pair accurate and natural in a way that is simply more believable.