What am I doing???

I am sure its somewhat common that as someone needs different things from their system the system itself needs to change.

So let me tell you a bit about my system. NAD T742 with PSB Image T55 towers, B15 Monitors and C40 center. Using an oppo dv-981hd as my main source. I think its a budget minded but not bad system....

Well now I want to move to vinyl, and of course the t742 doesnt have a phono in. So I have been looking for a nice phono stage. I am getting quite confused now, I kind of like the idea of going with tubes, but then I read reviews for the onkyo a-9555 and wonder if it makes sense to just go with that?

Could I just use the onkyo and sell the nad? Is it better to go with something like the pro-ject phono stage? I was considering a Conrad-Johnson EF-1 Phono Preamplifier.

I would like to have the ability to build up my system piece by piece so part of me things that a seperate preamp even if it is a bit nicer than necessary is a good investment in the longer term.

Also vinyl wise listening to lots of Beatles, U2, and some indie pop-punk type of stuff oh and the Ramones. TT is a technics sl 1210 mk2 kab modded. Shure Hi Fi M97XE cartridge.

Hope that helps....any suggestion at all is welcome.
step back and decide how much of this bone you really want to chew. if you start with separates the path to upgraditis is endless and expensive. if you are happy with the sound of your receiver, but want records, try a cheaper phonostage from cambridge or nad, play the records and see how that feels for awhile before adding to it.

once you start on the road to sonic satisfaction know that it will never really be what it could and that the search is endless, here they call it a "hobby" others might call it addiction.
Start slow. With what you have now, there's a really nice cambridge 640 on sale for $120. Get it! You won't find better on here for less than triple that price and will never really hear a difference with you table, receiver and speakers. Yes, this is a nice budget minded system.
Sell your cars, refinance your house and by all means get divorced and put your kids up for adoption. You can get a really good turntable that will make you want to upgrade everything else to match it!

If you are happy with your existing performance and find yourself singing, dancing and tapping your feet then get the Cambridge and keep smiling.
Ctsamg, without giving us a budget, this is a guessing game, so bear with me... You have an excellent TT. If we can put the issue of a phono stage aside for a minute, let's look at your cartridge. I encourage you to read this TNT-Audio review:

Shure M97xe cartridge

Of course, you should take any review with a grain of salt, but if you sift through this forum, you'll find others who thought the M97xe was dull and lacking:

Technics SL1200MK2 Cartridge

My point is that you should seriously consider a different cartridge. You don't have to refinance your house to get something decent. If you read through the above forum, you'll find some excellent suggestions like these:

Sumiko Pearl
AT 150 MLX
Denon DL-160
Grado Sonata

You should read this testimony from a group of Technics SL1210 owners that have an Audio Technica AT150MLX:

I just went up two notches in resolution

Here's another forum worth checking out:

denon 160, AT 150, orton 540 mk2 or Grado Sonata?

As for a phono stage, I *strongly* recommend tubes. In my experience, low-cost tube phono preamps always sound more realistic than low-cost solid state phono preamps. The only exception is the Bellari VP129 - avoid it. I haven't heard the Cambridge 640 to be able to comment on it, but I've owned several other SS phono preamps in that price range to know they don't offer three dimensional realism or a lush smooth midrange. If you combine any of the above cartridges with one of the following phono stages, I'll bet you'll be very happy.

Jolida JD9
Pro-Ject Tube Box (and Tube Box II)
Wright WPP200c
Wright WPP100c
Antique Sound Lab Mini Phono

DIY kits:
Bottlehead Seduction
Hagerman Cornet2
Ckoffend - I second that. One can live without house, car, wife and children but certainly cannot live without good gear.