Upgrading Clearaudio Performance

When I ordered my clearaudio performance turntable I had to compromise and started with their basic Aurum Classic cartridge. It is an OK cartridge but I miss warmth and smoothness. I have my turntable running into the phono pre-stage of a Rotel integrated amp RA1062. In trying to get warmer, rounder sound would you recommend investing in a phono pre-stage or a cartridge upgrade? I've been thinking on getting either the Clearaudio Maestro or a Benz L2. The Benz will probably force me to get a phono pre-stage since the Rotel expects a 2.4mV input. I'm trying to stay around $1000 budget.
I use the same turntable with a Sumiko Blackbird, and it sounds stellar.
I'm using a Clearaudio champII with a basic silver catridge.
I was going thru my AV-8s phono card.Then I purchased a Allnic-1200PH-stage from David(Hammertone audio)she's tube driven.
She has a very relaxed smooth sound,huge sound stage and the
clarity between each instrument is excellent.I wonder what the
1500 would do.The 1200 was a Major upgrade for me,considering I have just the silver catridge in there.Totally satisfied,but can we get more musical emotion out of her.
IMO, you should consider upgrading your phono first. Even if you go with a higher class cart, you will eventually need a better phono.

I recommend the Maestro and the Virtuoso for MM, but go with the wood versions for a bit more warmth.

If you get a more flexible phono, then you would have far more choices of MM and MC carts.