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? 


@tomic601 Thanks for the input. I did just replace a Graham 2.2 with the Phantom B44 and it was a very worthwhile improvement. I will continue to monitor the used markets for a Phantom Elite. I did email Graham Engineering a few days ago requesting information on their dealer locations so I could perhaps work through a dealer on stepping up the line, but so far they haven't written back.

I'm OK with setup, particularly with the Graham arms as they're so easy to do. (there's a simple cartridge alignment jig that makes things almost foolproof).

I have the Feickert alignment jig also but haven't needed it since selling my Feickert Woodpecker.

I'm on JR's email list and get frequent updates but so far I haven't spoken with him. It's something I might consider once I settle finally on an arm and cartridge. 

@larryi I wrote to Basis a couple of weeks back and got a quote from Alex for a new belt. 

I hear you on the sonic signature of the Basis deck. I also like it. A while back I had an Origin Live Resolution and a Feickert Volare side by side and found the OL deck to be highly resolving of detail, dynamic, a little on the lean side, but excellent overall, whereas the Feickert had more weight and authority, more meat on the bones, but sounded a little dark and dry. I think the Basis setup is more balanced, overall, and combines the virtues of the other two decks pretty well.

I’d like to try a Garrard deck at some point, but it’s lower down on the list for now.

Thanks for the input.

Find a Lamm LP2.1. I’ve heard a Steelhead and the Lamm would be a huge upgrade. They pop up used in your price range.