Just be aware that the MP-3 is designed to be used, and in fact must be used, with balanced associated equipment via XLR connectors, both in front of and behind it. Except for tape sources, of course.
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You may want to take this with a grain of salt as I am a dealer for Atma-Sphere, but also consider I was a satisfied customer for several years previous.
The MP-3 is a nice preamp and a good value for the money. As for options I would somewhat agree. I did the power upgrade and V-caps only in the line section, not phono section. Regarding power cords I would say if you enjoy listening to them swap them out to your hearts content. I find just using a good quality power cord did the trick for me. The idea that the MP-3 is sensitive to power cords is well....
As for the phono section being noisy that is system dependent. It will depend on the sensitivity of your speakers, the type of cartridge you are using, and the tubes in the phono section, among other things. With MM/MI cartridges there is very little noise with my 94 dB speakers and virtually none with my 86 dB speakers. With LOMC even with 0.2 mV cartridges the noise level is very acceptable. The key is to use the tubes supplied by the manufacturer. NOS tubes I tried from reputable sources were noisier. BTW, you will also want to get a balanced tonearm cable to further take advantage of the sonic benefits and low noise operation of the preamp.
FWIW before going down this path I would evaluate this preamp not just on some of the items you mentioned, but on how it may fit into your entire system. That is where people like Ralph Karsten and your local Atma-Spherer dealer can help.
Thanks Clio09 and Bpd24. That all makes good sense.
I have quote for MP- 3 of $3,966 then it would $600 each for the power regulator and V-caps upgrade for a total of about $5,200. I'd also need new XLR cables, so probably another $300 on top of that.
So trying to decide if the Atma-sphere is competitive against other options at $5,200 to $5,500 when all is said and done....
Good point by Brf. If you don't want to purchase a separate phono stage at this point, though, keep in mind that you can use the built-in phono stage of the M6Pre in conjunction with the SLP-05. You would do that by connecting the tape output of the M6Pre to an input of the SLP-05, and setting the input selection on the M6Pre to phono. The line stage of the M6Pre, including its volume control, would not be in the signal path in that configuration.
I do realize that I'll need to get a phono preamp, which will bump it up over the Atmas-phere by a grand or two but I think I'm getting much more of a preamp with the Cary, at least IMHO.
Brf an anyone else: do you have recommendations given my setup for a phono preamp in the $1,000 to $3,000 range?
You can buy any Atma-Sphere preamp as a line stage and add the phono section later. In the MP-3, the phono costs $800 to add after the fact.
Our UV-1 has gotten some nice comments from customers comparing it to phono-only sections that cost several times more than it does. Set up for LOMC cartridges it retails for $2800 so its within the budget.
I've had Atmas-phere equipment on loan in the past. Had the 60 watt mono blocks in the system for a couple of years even. I've heard two of Ralph's pre-amps in the system too. Gorgeous sounding equipment. I say go for it ... it will blow away the solid state pre-amp in terms of realism and tonal correctness.
The other day after dinner with friends in Atlanta we went to one of their homes, where we demonstrated the Atma-Sphere UV-1 in his very high end system. The preamp acquitted itself very well even before being warmed up. They will have it for a few more days to try in their systems.