Which: $1000 MM or Transformer and $400 MC?

My budget is $1000. Which would make more sense: a $600 used Bob's Devices step up and a $400 MC cartridge or a $1000 MM or MI cartridge? My downstream system:

Clearaudio Solution AMG
Aikido DIY preamp
Quicksilver M80s
Green Mt. Continuum 3s.

Look at high output MCs such as Benz Glider or ACE, or Sumiko Black Bird.
High output MC has my vote too. There is also the dynavector DV20XH that would do. I have one and I like it a lot.
yup, that would be my initial suggestion, but include the following also, because they are good even though some are MM:

- Dynavector 20X-H
- Clearaudio Virtuoso 2 (but the Maestro Wood would be worth the stretch)
- Sumiko Blackbird
What about the possiblity of a phono preamp that can handle LOMCs without an SUT?

A number of solid contenders in this category.

Why are you holding on to the Aikido? Sound quality, sentimentality? I ask as someone who ran DIY speakers for longer than really made sense considering what I paid for partnering components for them.

The Aikido works for me because I like the way it sounds, it's bulletproof, it has a Phono Dude phono section and it was inexpensive.

Nothing in my system was bought new. Where I live there's no opportunity to hear anything before I purchase, so I have to rely on what I read here, at Audioasylum, and in reviews.

The Clearaudio is a new addition to the system, it is quite different from my Denon 75/Lustre GST 1 with Grado Reference Platinum cartridge and I want to make sure that I get as much bang for the buck as I can while maximizing the performance of the new TT.

I hope this helps,

Very nice table, it can sound great and I think it looks very nice also. Certainly a well built machine.
I didn't see what tonearm you are using. If you per chance have the Satisfy arm a nice match could be the Clearaudio Maestro V2. It has a boron cant and the same Trygon PL stylus that is on the $13,000 plus Clearaudio Insider cartridge. It is a bargain at $1199-, a reach considering your budget but it may be worth it taking you to a level of refinement you may not have thought possible.