What's A Good Upgrade From A Manley Steelhead?

I'm on a mission to improve my vinyl front-end. Starting point is to replace the Graham 2.2 on my Basis Audio Debut Gold Vacuum, followed by a new compatible cartridge, next will be a different phonostage.

I like the Steelhead but I'm sure there's something better out there. I've around $8K  to play with and prefer to buy used. Has anyone stepped up from the Steelhead successfully, if so, what did you buy and how much of an improvement was it?

Appreciate any thoughts/ideas? 


Using what with a SUT?  The Steelhead has three pairs of phono inputs.  Two are for MC cartridges, and one is for MM.  You can choose up to 65db of phono gain.  So there would be no need for a SUT with most LOMC cartridges down to about 0.2mV output. (I actually used mine successfully with an AT ART7, which outputs only 0.12mV, but that is probably owing to the fact that the Beveridge amplifiers are "sensitive".)  Right now I am using it with Koetsu Urushi, and the attenuator is not even at its midpoint for very high SPLs in my large basement room.  But maybe you did not refer to the Steelhead.

Van Den Hul Grail - very quiet current mode, I have the SB model

Esoteric E-02 - compares well to top phono stages-  seems to be a sonic bargain 

@marantz8  Not presently. I ran an Audio Tekne MC 6310 (0.1mv) and used an Audio Tekne SUT for a while, but it actually worked better without the SUT.


I have Chinook SE, not a Steelhead, with a Bob's Devices Sky 20 SUT and a Hana Umami Red cartridge. Adding the SUT was an improvement.  I'm very happy with the results.