best mm/mc preamp under $200 and best mc cartridge under $500 for an SME 3009 S2 arm ?

I guess the title says it all.  The arm is on a Linn Sondek LP12.

- Has anyone had any ACTUAL experience with a moving coil cartridge on an SME S2 arm, which is very light and hence needs a hi compliance cartridge ?  $500 is the max I want to spend.  Bass slam & needing extra treble to the point of being too bright  is the most important factor to me.  At my age, my ears are not what they used to be :-)

- Also, can anyone suggest an under $200 mc/mm simple preamp ?


You must be kidding? 
$200 for mm/mc preamp??? 

It's not enough even for simple MC step up stansformer if the sound quality is what you're looking for. 

I think even for used MM/MC phono stage $400-500 is minimum.

But $500 is fine for a great cartridge, but it must me MM or MI if you want better for less money. If yoy need high compliance look for Grace F9, Stanton 881, Pickering 3000, ADC TRX just to name a few. 

There are many recommendations in the different threads, people ask same questions. 

Best phono preamp that I have ever heard and at any price (for both MM and MC) is the Micromega MyGroov. It regularly sells on eBay for under $200. I also have a Parasound JC3+ that I enjoy. Micromega is pure magic. 

Just to show how serious I am about vinyl... In the past two years I've also owned phono preamps from Ayre, Bryston, Pass Labs, Simaudio, Jolida, MOFI, McIntosh, Rotel, Rega, Goldmund, and Arcam.

I use the Micromega with an SME Model 10A turntable. 

Hmm.. That does not look bad to me at about $130, especially with a PASSIVE RIAA equalizer

You can judge only when you will make a comparison by yourself in your system with your cartridges. Even if someone will try to make it yourself (DIY) the cost of the high quality parts is more than $200 anyway.

The cheapest phono preamp i've been using for a long time was Grado PH-1 (can be find used for $350 max), i had two and modified them for a friend by replacing stock resistors with the best Naked Foil 100k ohms Vishay audio resistors. Pair of Vishay Naked Foil resistors cost me about $60 with shipping. People usually upgrade caps and it's also not cheap when it comes to the best caps. Even those RCA (mother) plugs on the back of any phono stage are not cheap when they are good. 

So i have no idea how a good phono stage can cost $130 new ?
Schiit Mani for less than$150 shipped.

The subject is LOW BUDGET + performance.

That's a tough nut to crack. Search the reviews.Great for the money, and ,competes with units many times its price. 

I used one to pass time while my "proper $2500 unit was serviced.


The subject is LOW BUDGET + performance.

yeah, with pocket size bluetooth speakers 
The Emotiva XPS-1 phono preamp is pretty good and under $200. I used it in the past and didn’t have any issues. I recommend reading up on it. 
"yeah, with pocket size  Bluetooth speakers"

what does that even mean, Chakster?

Your often know it all response doesn't  address the OP's question.

The OP can go to the Schiit website to see the recommended unit IS below his threshold,and read the specs/reviews.

Hi invictus, I will definitely try your recommendation.  The price seems very reasonable and more importantly, you have personal experience with it.  Sometimes price/performance ratios do not make sense and personal opinions are more valid.

Thanks again

Google "Audio-Technica VM540ML" which is a MM that sells for around $250.

Considering your tonearm (9.5 grams effective mass) and your stated tonal preference it's a good prospect, IMO.

It's a fairly new entry into their line, but perhaps someone here has tried it (I've only read ambiguous online reviews).

I use an SME 3009II/non-improved with an effective mass of approx. 12.5 grams and would not consider using many/most moving coils with it (wouldn't consider using any of the ones I know of with your 9.5 gram version of the SME arm).

Hi DeKay,

Thanks for your suggestion.  I was thinking almost EXACTLY the same cartridge :-) or maybe the 740ML.  I read somewhere that bass had a bit more oomph on the 740.  But these things are so subjective.

Thanks again

Bass slam & needing extra treble to the point of being too bright is the most important factor to me.

I’m still not sure how you can get these from a $130-200 phono stage?

The bass is the most problematic for all cheap phono stages, not only this, but it’s an illusion that phonostage can be good at this price point.

Also if you want a extra treble then you have to definitely load your cartridge at 100k Ohm (not at 47k Ohm).

As we can see the RCA on Schiit Mani are the cheapest as all the parts, i’m sure, otherwise it’s simply impossible to make a phono stage, a pair of Vishay 100k restistors cost $40-60 alone.

In my opinion you can buy much better phono stage used for $400

SoundSmith selling preamps too:

What do u think about the Denon DL301 Mk 2 ?  It seems extremely well priced.  Or, is the treble response better on the AT740ML ?  I DO like extra treble to compensate for my age :-)

Unless I am mistaken it looks like hi compliance (16) and therefore would be suitable for my SME 3009 Improved II with fixed headshell.

Comments ?


I’ll second the Audio-Technica VM540ML, in fact I own two of them and love them. The 740ML is basically the same thing with an alloy body, which in my opinion is a negative when it comes to electrically isolating the cartridge wiring (often bonded to the body with one of the signal negative leads) from the tonearm ground.

The NAD PP2 is a nice platform for upgrading with a Burson V6 Classic discrete op-amp and replacing the wall warts with a beefy regulated power supply. You can also replace the input RCA connectors with nice Neutrik XLR jacks and replace the interconnect to your turntable with a nice shielded, balanced cable to extend the tonearm wiring as it should be all the way from the cartridge to the phono stage.  That easily puts you in the ballpark of the midrange phono stages, but you don’t have to do all of the upgrades at once.