You can get both a nice phono stage and a nice turntable for that budget and it will make all the difference in the world. I'd look at a Rega RP3 + Dynavector 20x2 and a Dynavector P75 II phono preamp. That's in the range and a GREAT sounding setup.
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions I do like the sound of manepan speakers and when I upgrade it will be to 1.7 or 3.5 Or 3.6.
Any other suggestions on phono pre and turntable that are good performance price ration also considering used equipment.
Does the upgrade From m-150 to m-180 make such an improvement in sound the upgrade is about $1495 when I checked.
There was a Pro-ject tube phono box II in black for sale here a couple of days ago for $350. Not sure how you can track down the seller if it is still for sale. I really like mine, which sounds better than the Vincent Pho-8 and Musical Fidelity V-LPS.
I also really like my Pro-ject Xpression III TT with Ortofon MC-3 turbo cartridge. The RP3 and Traveler are getting very good reviews also.
For interconnects, you can get a big improvement for not much money. I could not believe the performance of my Mogami cables that Pro Audio LA built for me (not affiliated) for $24 a 3 foot pair at Pro Audio LA - Mogami 2549. I had them float the ground on one end to make them "shotgun" directional. I also use Mogami's speaker wire (see my system page).
I went through the same thought process about what component to upgrade. I'm my case I had a sense my QUAD 22L2 speakers were the weak link versus Monarchy amps, and N.E.W. P3 (Cary made) tube preamp.
A friend of a friend built me a pair of custom speakers. He used the drivers from the 8571 speaker. He modified the tweeter and built a much better crossover using Hovland caps, exotic inductors versus the stock crossover. Bottom line is that for less than $2k I brought the performance of my system up considerably. I don't think any amp, preamp swap running through the QUAD speakers would have offered the same performance improvement.
For your budget you can lift your whole system, or you can think of the upgrading as a continuing process and focus on one thing at time as you can afford it. When I look back at all the "upgrading" I've done over the past 20 years or so, I find that the times I've stretched to get a really spectacularly good piece of gear have given me more long-term satisfaction than just getting things that are slightly "better." The risk is that you won't get the real benefit of some great stuff until the rest of the system is raised to a similar level.
For instance, the Maggie 1.7's is a great suggestion, and you could definitely spend a few years getting the rest of the system up to the point where you can get the absolute best from them that they have to offer.
OTOH, if you have some specific things you don't like about your current system, then I'd recommend that you focus on fixing those things first. What gives you the most pleasure might be pretty different from what floats my boat, or others'. So you need to decide what you are trying to achieve -- set a specific goal -- rather than just buying "better" stuff.
Um. System. So there's synergistic effects that can make the whole of the result from a system much more satisfying than what you get from individual purchases. For instance, MagTech/Sandersound amps are spectacular partners with Maggie 1.7's. BTW, you might be able to get close with a pair of used Maggie. 1.6qrs + and a used Innersound 300 ESL amp (also Roger Sanders design) for about your $2500 budget. Maggies love power!
IMHO, you'd get more bang from the speaker end first, but ultimately the front end will really determine your enjoyment. But there's a risk too. Doing new speakers first might frustrate you by over-exposing the weaknesses of the rest of your gear. The paradox is that you will not get the full benefit of front-end improvements without the speakers to realize the gain. And vice-versa. And so it goes.
If you do your homework, listen to other systems if you can to better understand what's possible, you should be able to figure out where you'll get the most joy. If you already like your system sound, maybe the best use of funds is to buy more records!
Hope this helps.
Hmmm, for your analog front end, I would suggest a Well Tempered Simplex ($2100ish, with a built in arm, incl a golfball) and a used Dynavector P75 phono stage (can be bought for around $400 used). Then figure out a good cart upgrade down the road.
But like so many others here, I am just reporting on what worked well in my experience (tho it was an Amadeus, not Simplex in my case). But I have read a number of Well-Tempered users claim that the Well Tempereds are an improvement over comparably priced Rega and VPI tables tables.
I suggest two moves at once. There's a NYAL SuperIt phono preamp up for auction right now on Audiogon. It can replace your existing NAD phono pre and the VAC line stage. Sell those items along with the MG-1 and get a newer used small Maggies with ribbons. Eventually you'll need to update your turntable/arm, but what I've recommended will give you a much greater sonic impact then spending your entire budget right now on a turntable/cartridge/phono stage.
I also like the suggestion of the Mogami wires.
There is a couple of nice demo under full warranty Marantz tables with cartridge for sale here at what I would call a good price (below $1000 and you can make an offer, 2 days left on the listings - not affiliated). I wish they made a black plinth on this table. Has gotten very good reviews and comes with a Grado Red cartridge.
I've heard Linns and they do sound very good when setup well and tweaked / upgraded, but they can be tough to setup yourself and it is recommended that they are only setup at home.
I think the Marantz, Mogami interconnect and speaker cables I mentioned plus a nice phono preamp would run you south of $2000 (about $800 for phono preamp, not sure which one at that level). Again, I really like the Pro-ject tube phono box II and that would put you about $1600 total and would leave you $900 for upgrading speakers if you want to go that route...