Best budget phono preamp for Unison Unico?


Hi,

I was fortunate enough to buy a Unison Unico hybrid integrated amp here on Audiogon at a great price ($800). :-)

I'm driving a set of Totem Arro speakers. And I have a SOTA Sapphire TT currently being refurbished at the SOTA factory.

Since this Unico doesn't have the built in phono stage, I need an outboard unit. When I say "budget," I mean $250 or less, ideally. I was considering the Cambridge unit that goes for $169... the reviews look good. Any other suggestions? I'm not sure whether I'll be using MM or MC in in the tone arm. All I know is that the 20-year-old Audioquest cartridge needs replacing! ;-)

Thanks!
rebbi
Knownothing,

Check that... it's the OBH-15 that HCM has on sale.
08-01-08: Rebbi
Somebody's got an Antique Sound Labs phono mini up for grabs here for $250 obo... a 2-tube unit. Anybody familiar with it?
Grab it. You can't go wrong for $250. I haven't heard it, but in my experience, inexpensive tube phono preamps always outperform similarly priced SS designs. They tend to sound more realistic and spacious. Cheap SS designs may be quieter, but they're also lifeless and flat. I've owned the Phonomena, Musical Fidelity X-LPS, Parasound zPhono. If you don't like the ASL, you can easily sell it for the same price you paid. What do you have to lose?
Two things:

Rebbi:

Have you ever actually looked into purchasing the phono card for your integrated amp? That might be a very viable option for you if available. I have no idea on price or anything though.

Also, Mingles, I would honestly put my Phonomena against Tube Phono under $400 Used and I think it'll give any one of the a run for it's money. Between the convenience in adjusting settings and the clarity and detail that it is.. You'd be hard pressed to find another one so accommodating to so many cartridges at that price point.
Neway317,

I asked that question already! According to Walter of Underwood HiFi (who sells a lot here on Audiogon and carries Unison stuff) the Unicos without the phono card cannot be retrofitted with one. Doesn't quite make sense to me, but that's what he said.
Hmmm... the plot thickens. I wrote to Unison's US distributor and asked if the Unico could be retrofitted with the phono section PCB. He said "yes, but" it's a matter of getting the part. Unsion's on vacation now but somebody's supposed to be getting back to me to let me know what would be involved in getting the phono board installed. May or may not be worth the trouble, we'll see.