If you are in the market for a real high end phono stage, then you owe it to yourself to try an Aesthetix IO phono stage. Just a recommendation.
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I've heard about the Aesthetix but was looking for something cheaper and was curious about the newer PH 301 which retails for $3500. I'd love it Aesthetix and some of these other companies like Manley would do a cheaper version of their flagships minus the bells and whistles. For instance I'm not intrerested in balanced or switchable loading on the fly.
I can't afford the Aesthetix IO phono stage either, but man, I would love to have one. Maybe if I win the Lottery.... If you can find the very rare Counterpoint SA-9 Phono Stage, that could be a great alternative. Very few around. You might get it for about $3500. The problem is finding it. It is legendary.