I have heard nothing but raves about the Lehman Black cube phono stage. From what I gathered its about impossible to beat for the price and is sold for very reasonable prices here used. I saw one not long ago, but did not have the chance that day to hear it so I cannot say personally if it sounds good or not. I feel given its present reputation I would choose it over the Creek without reservation. Just my two cents - Good luck.
I've been using a Lehmann Audio Black Cube for about a year and have very pleased with it. At used prices ($350-450), it's very hard to beat. There are some other models out there, however, that better it. Camelot Technology, for example, has a battery-powered phono preamp that sells for around $1000 that has gotten glowing reviews. The question I'd ask you: how much do you want to spend? If you are willing to spend $1000, there are several models that will beat the Black Cube, but if you want to stay under $500, I think the Black Cube is your best choice.
After I made my last post, another idea hit me. If you want to spend VERY little money for a very good phono preamp, you might consider buying a used Adcom GFP-565 preamp. It had one of the best phono stages available, and you can buy it used for under $300. (Infact, there is one listed now on Audiogon.) I owned the 565 for about 5 years, and thought it did a terrific job with my phono cartridge and other analog inputs.
There's a DIY kit in www.tnt-audio.com that is reputed to blow away the Lehman. Worth taking a look.
This is a recommendation along the lines of using an Adcom preamp---pick up a Bryston .5B, 11B or 12B. They all use the same Bryston phono stage which, when sold (used) separately people happily pay $400. A .5B should be $300 or a bit less, the other two $400-500. You get an excellent phono stage, a lot better than the Adcom (I've had all), and a complete line stage for nothing. I should also add that I had the nearest Bryston service centre increase the phono stage gain from the factory-set 35dB to 40dB and am very pleased with the results. Another similar suggestion is to pick up a used Meitner PA6 or PA6i preamp with MM phono stage. It's markedly better than either the Bryston or Adcom equivalents and for some inexplicable reason the Meitner preamp sells on the used market for as little as $300.
The PH3 is great at about $1k used. You have to hear it.
I'm using a Grado pickup through a Black Cube, sounds real good to these ears. The cube is the size of a deck of cards, and you can fool around with PC's, it's detachable. Can't miss with a used Cube
Sonic Frontiers Phono One, a current class A selection in Stereophile, lists for $2000 but shows up new for $1200 on Audiogon and used for under $1000. I think this is because it has been replaced by the $2500 SE version. Anyway, this unit has incredible authority and detail, quiet background, and tube palpability. I'm not a huge fan of the neutral Sonic Frontiers sound in other gear - I like it but it's not my first choice - but this phono stage IS my first choice.
I've been told by toooo many people that they love the audio research ph2 (which is solid state) and these are people with an all tube system so it makes me take notice. there's one for sale here now for $750 (no im not the seller :-)
For the money you should check out www.space-tech-lab.com
i lived with their bottom of the line preamp linestage for a while before my arc ref-1 and it was astonishing for the money.
I am using a Camelot Technology Lancelot Pro phono stage which is a huge improvement on the phono stage on my Modulus 3a. It lists for $900 but is available for less on the net.
I would add the EAR 834P to this list. You will need to replace the stock tubes with NOS but you can find used for $400 and it is exceptional at this price.
I just talked to Frank Van Alstine this morning. He claims his new Omegastar phono preamp ($485) outperforms Klyne preamps. That's a very bold statement, I'd say...if it's true, WOW!
for budget fono-stage, i'd check out the acurus 47k & the anthem p10 - several folks told me these smoke the black cube, when i was searching for a fono-stage last year. i ended-up w/a pentagon ps-3 - a german unit that retailed for $1800. i got it for $600, cuz no one in the usa has heard of it! ;~) discovery cable was an importer of pentagon electronics - i dunno if they still handle 'em. it's great - far nicer than the musical surroundings phonomena i had for a while. of course, the $1800 pentagon should be better than the phonomena, as the phonomena lists for $600... but, even the fono-stage in the linn kairn preamp i used to own, was better than the phonomena. makes me think the linn linto might also be worth checking out - these are awailabe used for ~50% of retail...
>He claims his new Omegastar phono preamp ($485) outperforms Klyne preamps.
Is he the same guy who authored this letter
that's on his website? Reading it was good for a few laughs!
it was also good to read the follow-ups - a person obviously sceptical about exotic cable being worthwhile, yet he's keeping the stuff in his system from the only mfr who had the guts to take him up on his challenge - this article should be posted in one of the many cable threads on this forum... thanks for the tip, mike.