Best phono stage balanced under $3000 used

I own simaudio pre and power amp and will attempt to run it in balanced mode. I would like to get a phono stage/amp that has balanced topology and balanced outs. Now I am using ear 834p, vpi tnt, sumiko bluepoint.I want something that will bring world class sound.
The BAT VK-P10. I saw one just sold for $1675 here on the 'Gon.
Aesthetix Rhea.
EAR 324
World class sound, fully balanced phono in the $3k or less range? Wow, that is asking a lot but it is there. Keep your eyes out for the Aesthetix Io (non signature version) which is every now and then in the $3k zone. For just a little more than the going prices for the Rhea on the used mkt, the Io has the tubed power supply which gives it the rich full sound. ANd there is endless improvements to be done with all the various tube rolling in the audio and PS chassis.

And the Io is way ahead of the BAT VK-P10 and the EAR. I owned the BAT for a couple years and auditioned the EAR a number of times at a local dealer. Both are good but not "world class sound" vs. the Io.

The game is very different in the $2k or less range. And for under $1k, the ARC PH2, a fully balanced solid state unit is an incredible steal of a deal but only works for cartridges in the 1mv or higher range.
That's a hard question to answer. What are the sonic issues on which you will not compromise?

The Aesthetix Rhea is a good phono stage, but compared to the best, it's going to be noisy. Are tubes a big issue to you?

The best I have heard in my system is the Pass Labs XOno. It is also the quietest.
The Basis ASR Exclusive has been going for just a little more than $3K, used, and it truly is a world class phono preamp. My friend upgraded to this from the Aesthetix Rhea. (The Rhea was very good, but not quite in the same class, as the Rhea had a bit of tube noise that was distracting during the quiet passages. However, the Rhea is the most user friendly Phono Preamp I know of.)
The Clearaudio Balanced Reference fits your needs at used prices. The K&K and Ayre list new for less than $3,000. All of these will give you excellent, but not state of the art performance.
Throw some NOS Telefunkens and/or Siemens into the unit and the noise floor of the Rhea drops considerably. I agree the stock Sovteks are miserable. Unless I crank the gain and volume way up, my unit is rather quiet. Tubes add a sense of air, realism and palpabilty which will be absent from solid state phono amps.
K&K Audio sells a phono preamp kit for about $1500 which offers balanced as well as single ended topology. I own one. In my opinion, it is much better than the EAR 834p.
Perhaps you should consider the K&K kit; then take the money that remains in your budget and upgrade your cartridge. I suspect the improvement from those two purchases would exceed the improvement from any phono preamp you could buy for $3K.
There is also the Trumpet.
I agree with Cedar. The K&K is a couple of levels above the 834P.

Cedar is spot-on, as is Oz with his second.
Cedar, FWIW the "topology" of the K&K is decidedly single-ended. The output, which is transformer coupled, allows either a single-ended output or a balanced out. Check the schematic. BTW, I bought the first "complete kit" from Kevin and have loved it ever since.
Thanks for the correction. I was sloppy in my choice of words. With respect to Pedrillo's question, the points I wanted to make are (1) the K&K can deliver balanced output; (2) the cost savings (substituting elbow grease) are significant without compromise to the ultimate performance of your system; and (3) the cartridge, like the preamp, can limit the performance of the system. Pedrillo, I think, can obtain a better cartridge for his system.
I agree cedar I know I need a better cartridge thanks.
Apparently, I found out the new Simaudio phono preamp will be a balanced design with balanced outputs. It's supposed to retail under $1500 but I don't know anything else about it now except that it is supposed to ship real soon....
For those waiting for the simaudio phono preamp, it is available now. I understand that there are many loading options. and of course it is balanced.
My friend owns a Hagerman Trumpet, I believe it's a completely balanced design, definitely balanced outs. Quiet and dynamic.
Any new phono stages?
YOu might ba able to find an Atma-Sphere MP-3 used for that.
Where do you find a phono cartridge that has balanced outputs? While my SimAudio lp5.3 and PS Audio GCPH both have balanced outputs, I have yet to see a cartridge or tonearm that has balanced outputs. And if there is, what is the advantage I could expect to see.
05-20-06: Onhwy61
The Clearaudio Balanced Reference fits your needs at used prices. The K&K and Ayre list new for less than $3,000. All of these will give you excellent, but not state of the art performance.

The clearaudio Balance + for $2,500.00 new is fully balanced for input and output along with rca. I own one. Very quiet and dynamic.
No, I mean what cartridge puts out a balanced signal to run into the balanced input of the preamp
They pretty much all do.
Then why dont they have balanced ouputs from the tonearm instead of the rca phono jacks I always see
Marketing wins out over technology once again.
the ayre?
03-31-11: Manitunc
Then why dont they have balanced ouputs from the tonearm instead of the rca phono jacks I always see

They do. With my Clearaudio Universal arm, Balance XLR's can be an option. I have RCA though as I don't see the sonic advantage going from tonearm to phono-pre. My system is fully balanced on the digital side and the pre-amp to amp is balanced connections.
Ok, well I just ordered some Sigma tonearm cable with balanced connectors so we will see when they get here if its an improvement
Absolutely agree on the Rhea. Got mine here for $2,200 - $600 in tubes and I'm in heaven.
Manitunc, The reason for the general lack of balanced connectors on the ends of tonearm cables seems to be the general lack of balanced inputs on phono stages. Very few phono stages are truly balanced internally, so in most cases there is nothing to be gained by using XLR male connectors and XLR input jacks for phono. Where the phono stage is truly balanced, it is a worthwhile modification. So, I might add, if your phono stage is not electrically balanced, don't bother.

OK, lets assume your phono stage IS balanced. In that case you want to be sure that the signal from each end of the phono cartridge is being carried on conductors of equal quality. In typical RCA phono cables, the "hot" output from the cartridge is carried on a quality conductor surrounded by a shield. However, the "ground" output is often connected to the shield itself, and both are connected to the ground side of the RCA jack at the other end (the phono stage input). If you put an XLR connector on that cable, you would want to separate and isolate the shield and the lead from the cartridge from each other. This may require running another conductor inside the shield. I don't think all RCA-terminated phono cables are constructed this way, but some are.

I haven't read all the posts here, so if this is redundant, I apologize.
Both my PS Audio GCPH and SimAudio LP5.3 have balanced inputs and outputs. My Classe 30 has balanced inputs and outputs and my Classe CA100 has balanced inputs. I assume they are electrically correct. So if I run this balanced phono cable from my SME345 to either phono preamp, I should have a fully balanced output at the end. I think
Manitunc, the advantage of running the cartridge balanced is the fact that the balanced cable will have no effect on the sound.

The balanced system was in fact devised to eliminate cable artifacts. In doing so cable length is less important as is the cost. So if you have spent either a great deal of time auditioning single ended cables, or have spent a lot of money for the one you thought sounded right, with a balanced setup neither the former or latter will be necessary.
Sounds like a good thing