Pass X-ONO they come up used near your price max, possibly $200 more!!
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I have owned a Vacuum State JLTi w/power supply for several years and still enjoy it. The one thing I wish it had were adjustable gain settings, but it does sound good to me.
I have considered a Pass XONO and a Cullen modified PS Audio GCPH. All three should be <$2000 used.
Unfortunately the Pass takes up more room than I have on my rack and the Cullen does not come up often.
Good luck with your search!
Would you recommend the JLTi standalone or allways in the company of the external PSU ? That raises the price substantially.
Also as far as I know it is quite rare to find it in the used market. I have a Shelter 501 mkII, so your experience is most valuable.
I'm also looking at the x-ono suggestion.
Thanks so far. Would gladly hear more suggestions.
I have a BAT VK-P5 which sounds very good in my system, even though it is roundly criticized as second-rate by many. You could also pick up a Audio Research PH-3SE in that price range which I have not heard but so many rave about that it deserves mention here. Based on the several other Audio Research components I've owned, I'm sure it's deserved.
Would you recommend the JLTi standalone or allways in the company of the external PSU ?
I have only used the JLTI without the power supply a few times. From what I remember the highs seemed to be more prominent and it sounded thinner with less weight.
It could be that changing the loading would help or depending on the rest of the system (dark sounding) it might be better.
I think you should be able to find one with the power supply used for ~$1200-1400 maybe less. Shipping a SS unit that is this small is relatively risk free and you save yourself the wear on your cartridge while burning it in.
They are not that rare just watch for one over the next few months spring is a good time to buy.
There is a used ZYX Artisan for sale now @ $1500. Comes v., v. close to some top notch phono stages like Doshi Alaap, Manley Steelhead, or top end VAC. Battery operated, accepts MM or MC (active gain, NOT SUT), and was dead quiet w 0.25 mV LOMC. It's a very small, ss unit w no fussing or adjusting. Plug in and play. A steal IMO. No relation, etc, etc.
So, my friends, with the products you suggested and some else, my list now includes:
JLTi mkII (PSU optional)
ASR mini basic
Sim Audio LP 3.5 (PSU optional)
Herron Audio VTPH-MC
Jasmine LP 2.0 SE
Arent there any more tube phono preamps to add to the list?
Im kind of biased against integrated circuits, preferring discrete components (tube or transistor), I admit its a bias and probably unfunded.
The Herron is the only tubed component, with a FET front end, I dont like that it is either mc or mm, not both, so it limits your options in the future, anyway I think its a good candidate. JLTi has great reviews, but I dont know how often it appears second-hand. Im currently leaning to one of those two options (as I read more I might change my mind).
It would be great if you comment on the list, maybe add some components or perhaps some step-up device as long as it adds to the assigned budget.