Upgrade Questions

Hello everyone. I am exploring my options of upgrading some components in my main system in the next month and am weighing the options. Here is what I am considering upgrading:

1. Turntable: (Ariston RD-80 SL \ Linn Basik LVX tonearm)
Considering something more modern like a VPI Scout.

2. Cartridge: (Ortofon 2M Blue)
Something like an used low hour Grado Master Reference cart

3. Phono Preamp: (Yaqin MS-22B)
Thinking of the Grado PH-1 phono preamp.

4. Preamp: (Parasound AVC-2500)
I don't have any ideas here. I was maybe thinking a nice Mac piece like a C32 or maybe something more modern??

5. Speakers: (Soundlab Dynastats)
I am wanting something that's not so tall but loves lots of solid state juice to work with my amp. I was looking at something like B&W 703's, Revel F50's, Paradigm Studio 100 V4's, something around that size.

I am happy with my amp (Parasound HCA-2205A), and DAC (Monarchy NM24) and probably wont think of upgrading them for a while. I will be replacing my Linn K400 speaker cable with a pair of Acoustic Zen Satori's or Avanti Allegro's. As for a budget, I am thinking in the range of $1500-2000 for one or a couple of the upgrades listed above. I am hoping that your expertise, experience, and knowledge can help me out with what would be the most benificial upgrade to my main system. I really appreciate any insight you can give to help me with this tough decision :)

I'll give you my take, which is worth exactly what you paid for it.

Your front ends are very nice and well matched. If you have not already done so, the oil should be changed in the main bearing of the turntable and the springs properly adjusted. These small things will give you a new lease on life. If anything is to be changed in the analogue front end, I would change the tonearm cable, as it deals with signals at their weakest in the entire chain. With a bit more money and a front end focus, perhaps a new tonearm. But I would not go that direction.

Your phono preamp is quite servicable as well and I wouldn't change that.

Speakers same.

The disaster, as it sits, is your preamp. Of all components in a system, IMHO the preamp is most critical. It deals with all sources, and save the phono preamp and tonearm cable, deals with signals at their lowest and most fragile level. The distortions of preamps and amps are electronic in nature and are the most jarring to the ear. Those of transducers, even a magnatude greater, are more consonant with the fabric of the music. Your preamp has to go and this is where I would spend every penny available. Buy once, buy right.
I don't think the Grado phono would be an upgrade to what you have .I would check out Croft Acoustics tube phono preamp($995.00)sold at Acoustic Sounds. As for the cartridge if you want Grado which is my preference I would just get a new Sonata for $600.00. Why buy used?
Never heard your pre, but as a matter of philosophy, I agree that the pre-amp is the heart of the system, with one proviso. You must have a proper match of speaker and amp. Low and/or varying impedance; low sensitivity usually requires solid state. Due to their unusual electrical characteristics, Soundlabs are reported to very good w tubes, but if you are moving away from them, that may not matter. 6 ohm or greater w relatively flat impedance curve typically works well w tube amps. Get that match right, and then put get a great pre-amp and you will be a happy camper.
Thanks everyone for your responses. I agree that the preamp is definitely the weak link in the system. The oil and springs on the turntable are in great shape. The amp/speaker combo I am running are a nice match. I was running them with a restored and updated pair of Dynaco MK III monoblocks but the Parasound amp really opened the speakers up as compared to the Dynaco's. I was looking at a couple tube preamps for sale here with balanced outputs. Would it be worth it to upgrade my power amp to one with balanced inputs?
I'm with Swampy, if, as you say, "The amp/speaker combo I am running are a nice match." you are ahead of most of us here. Why not just buy your new preamp, use it for six months and reassess at that time? By then you will be buying NOS tubes and other crap to drain your bank account anyway. Hey, it's a hobby and we love it that way.

I will reiterate that the standard Linn phono cable is a bit of a choke point in the analog part of your system.
I can't say it any better that Viridian does in his first post. Assuming no miss matched components, I feel the preamp is the most important component to get right for a great system. The only caution I would give is not to be focused on getting a "tube" preamp. There's all kinds of tube preamps. Some are great, others are not. Focus on getting a good preamp, not a tube preamp. If you happen to pick a preamp that you like the sound of and it uses tubes, great. Solid state has come a long way. No reason to rule a SS preamp out just because its SS. I've had great results with both tube and ss.

Here's a few preamps that I know well and you may find in your price range (used). My first choice would either be one of these 3: CJ Premier 18, VTL 2.5 or an Ayre K5. All 3 are great, but they sound very different from each other. Others I would consider are: Older Sonic Frontiers, BAT and Audible Illusions. I'm sure some of the other posters can give some excellent recommendations, as well. If I can think of any more, I'll post.
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not set on a tube setup and am open to any preamp that would be a good match to my system and of good quality.