I am very happy with a Benz Lukashek T9 PP1 phono stage i use a Dynavector 17D MK 2 and a Benz Ruby . The price for a used one is is well within your range save a little money and buy records. Marc
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While there is not necessarily a "best", I would consider the following:
- Vacuumstate JLTI
- Pass XOno
I preferred both to the Sutherland Ph.D., EAR 834R and some much more
expensive stages. Some others that look interesting:
- ARC PH3 SE
- K&K Maxxed out Kit (=Art Audio Vinyl Reference)
Also, you could get a step-up for your Cary MM phono stage to use with a
I think there is no way to judge the best phono stage without listening to a few for yourself. I went through the process and I like the Modwright 9.0 SE phono stage. I like it because of the sound stage it produces with the right amount of "tight" and thumping bass for the genre of music that I listen to: Reggae, R&B, soft rock, and Jazz. If you are listening to classical music I would try something else. I compared the Modwright to: Graham Slee Era Gold V, SAP, and the built in phono stage on my McIntosh C2200 preamp. The Graham Slee and the SAP are great units and I enjoyed listening to them, but they did not have the bottom end that I like. For under $1K the Graham Slee is highly recommended. The SAP cost $4K, and the Modwright $3500 but a used on would be in your $2K range.
I heard good things about the Whest PS30R but no chance to listen to one yet. There have been excellent reviews on some German forums comparing it closely to a Pass Xono which seems to fall in a similar direction sonically.
For the US$ used price the Xono is one of the best recommendation - for some reason the Xono is still more popular on German forums than here. And that is despite the new US$4200 vs. 5300 Euro !! pricetag.
Both, XOno and Whest would go in a very different direction sonically compared the Cary though. The XOno is much more detailed, quick, and neutral. Maybe not the richest tonal colors or texture. The XOno has the best low-end of any phono I heard to date.
Audiomat Phono 1.5, NEW; Cad 1,990.00 (price new Cad 2,990.00).
See Mutine site....special offers for new stock. can run MM and MC at same time and switch on faceplate. (Assuming you are inclined to have 2 tables in one set up) Would get this myself but Phono 1.0 makes me happy. Have no affiliation... just appreciation.
Keep an eye out for an Ayre P-5XE, (used $1,600-$1,800 I think). They show up for sale a few times a year but they go fast. It has plenty of (adjustable) gain, optional balanced operation (which I like and is recomended) and good flexibilty.
I will be looking at spending a lot more upgrading my phono pre in 2009 but I will keep my P-5X untill I am certain that I happy with the change.
Peterayer and Restock , I have a Pass Labs X1 preamp that's two unit boxes (power supply and preamp) and I can't figure two other units for the Phono Xono
I don't have enough space on my shelf
Theorically I could feed the Xono preamp by my X1 power supply that has two power output but I don't know if this is possible
If possible .. I can add only one unit and this is interesting
Anyone here knows something about this feature?
If you like the X-1 the Xono matches up perfect, plus you will have the synergy of the Pass Labs products working together. I'd e-mail Pass and ask if you can use 1 power supply for the X-1 and Xono. I'm 90% sure you can, and I believe one of the power outlets is specificaly for this. Neither pre uses alot of power. I also have the X-1 Pre and the Xono, plus the X-600 monos. I absolutely LOVE the detail and bass of the Xono. It is a very versitile phono stage to boot.
$1.5k to $2.5k is a tough price point for phono stages. Of course there are many units in that range, but very few not significantly bettered at the $3k-$4k range. While it seems obvious that more money will get a better product, the jump in quality seems bigger than the jump in price - at least to my ears. For what you want to spend, look at the used market.
That said, there are two sonic standouts that can be had used at your price, the already mentioned solid-state Pass Labs XONO, and the tubed Artemis Labs PH-1. The XONO has gobs of gain if you need it and this can also be adjusted downward if you don't. The Artemis is fixed at 50dB, but that should be enough to drive a .6mv LOMC, but probably not anything lower. Both are nicely configurable for impedance loading and both offer top notch build quality. The XONO has a separate power supply which you will want to keep separated from the head unit, so consider rack space.
I've had both in my system at one time or another for an extended period, and all things being equal (which they never are) I think I prefer the sonics of the PH-1 - especially if you have no other tubes in your system. Both offer an open, spacious presentation with good soundstage depth and width. As might be expected, the XONO offers slightly crisper transients on the frequency extremes and slightly more dynamic impact. The PH-1 is more resolving and lets you hear deeper into the music with more harmonic and overtone information - this yields a touch more of music's natural sweetness. For a solid-stage unit, the XONO is a wee bit on the warm side, which is probably a plus as far as distortion goes, though it doesn't offer quite the level of bloom and dimensionality as the PH-1. Either is a fine component and I could see folks having a different preference than mine. Either should be found used for under $2k. Good luck with your hunt.
Thanks Peter for your help and thanks to Srwooten & Jtimothya for your exquisite suggestions.
At this point it's clear I should choose the XOno for a optimal solid state solution and three or four interesting choices for tube units.
I 'll think about and I 'll search in the pre-owned market
If someone else has some other interesting tips about please don't be shy
Merry Christmas to EveryOne
The used Klyne 7 just listed is a rare steal. A used Vendetta if you can find one was what I hunted for and eventually found. In the ss camp, these are IMO far ahead of the others mentioned.
In the tube camp, phono stages need a relatively RFI-free environment. Unless you know that's not an issue for you, I'd tread lightly. Coming from a tube lover, phono stages are the first place to consider ss over tubes. Cheers,
This is based in my system in another system the results may well be different
I tried about 9 phonostages I have a super scoutmaster with the rim drive I use a trans fi Terminator arm with a zxy cartridge
Here are a few I tired
Ps Audio phonostage was the first I tried just spiked a lot in my system
The Tron is really well built but felt coloured seemed to add something to the sound.
Alinic 1500 really great with acoustic music but not great with rock, felt it did not cope with elcetric bass and kick drums but on some music just creates pure magic
Noteworthy Yet again adds something to the sound
Orgin Live Great for rock but yet again adds its own colour to the music
Ayre really good but just thought the ps30r allowe more music to flow
Whest ps30r just allowed the music to come through with nothing added. Music seems really natural. dynamics are great and plenty of detail
The Aesthetix Rhea is a great sounding phono stage. It offers unusual flexibility (inputs/outputs/loading, remote, etc) and is beautifully put together. Used prices have dipped below $2500 from time to time, and (with a bit of patience) you might find one at your price. I haven't auditioned quite as many phono stage as John, but I've tried quite a few (including several extremely expensive alternatives). IMHO, the Rhea sounded as good as any - YMMV.
BTW, my analog set-up is more complicated than most. I have multiple tables and use both SE and balanced connections, swap carts occasionally and prefer a single box solution of reasonable size. For this reason, I'd choose the Rhea over any other phono stage I've heard, including Aesthetix' own stab at the bleeding edge, the IO.
You still should heer the Allnic if you can on acoustic music it is very special but for me just not great with rock music. I heard it twice once on my system and once at the dealers and both times just did not allow the energy to come through I tried Eygptian Danza and it made the recording sound really muddy did this to a few other tracks on different LPs as well but on something like Passion by Peter Gabriel really magical.
If my music taste was different would of gone for this phono stage
Evidently, early production Rheas (including mine) commonly had noise issues. Within a year, Aesthetix had addressed the problem with a modified version. I'm local to the company, so I drove mine over and Jim White installed the mod at a nominal cost. Since then, it's been pretty much dead silence.
Just explaining that you're not the only one to encounter noisy Rheas...especially if someone happens to find one from those early production runs. I'm sure some of the later units are noisy, too. Just not as many of 'em.
Mine was much quieter after Jim did his thing. But your point is taken, especially since I was recommending buying used. Your caveat is certainly appropriate.
I heard the Rhea in a shootout with several other phonostage and neither of us was impressed - we pretty much unanimously felt it was very disappointing. It was slightly noisy too.
Some short comments:
- Sutherland Ph.D. (nice balance, good flow, quiet)
- McIntosh C1000 pre (excellent flow, not the best resolution)
- Canofer S (best overall balanced and very good soundstage resolution)
- Vacuumstate JLTI (finely detailed, very wide soundstage and excellent separation between instruments, lean)
- Rhea (slightly noisy, average soundstage resolution, forward upper midrange, loose bass)
Some more phonostages I have more experience with:
- Pass XOno (excellent resolution, best bass and extension, dynamic, slightly mechanical and not the most saturated tonal colors
- Wright WPP200C (good balance, average resolution)
- Trichord Dino (dry, good resolution)
Most of the above comparisons were done using the following combinations:
- Verdier, Da Vinci, ZYX Universe
- DPS 2, Schroeder No.2 Allaerts, Lyra Argo
- Scoutmaster, JMW9 Plus, Dynavector XX-2
Of course mostly my personal impression and YMMV.
I'm surprised at your experience with the Rhea. I haven't heard any of the stages you mention, but I've directly compared the Rhea to:
Lehman Black Cube
Putting the Io aside for a moment,
IMHO, the Rhea easily outperformed each of the above in every way meaningful to me - other than noise (some of the comparisons were done before the unit was modded). It has beautiful "bloom" and tonality, imaging is the best I've heard (except for the Io) and deep bass is astonishingly good - FOR ME, better than all of the above - including the Io. After the mod to bring the Rhea to current spec, it's pretty much dead quiet - so I doubt noise is a meaningful issue now.
The Io sounds great, maybe marginally superior to the Rhea in stage depth, but FOR ME not significantly better than the Rhea in any other way. The Io had a darker character through the mid bass that I found less convincing, and it's also bigger and obviously much more expensive.
I also had a less controlled opportunity to compare my Rhea to an ARC Ref Phono and preferred the Rhea again, but there were enough uncontrolled variables to make this conclusion less reliable. Overall, IMHO it's the best sounding phono stage I've heard. Obviousy, YMdidV.
Other than the ARC Ref audition, I mainly used an Oracle, Graham 2.2, and Transfiguration Nightingale or Lyra Dorian (on a second wand) for my comparisons, although an Acoustic Solid Table with a modded RB-300 and Clearaudio cart were also employed from time to time.
I might suggest giving the GCPH a try. With a 30 day no risk trial period I doubt there's much to lose. You might be surprised how good it is. I've had one for three years now and will upgrade at some point but I have a lot of trouble finding any Phono stage that looks like it would potentially outperform it and has anywhere near the flexibity. I guess that says something. I bought it with the intention of upgrading to something else and can't bring myself to do it. Mine has now been upgraded by the way. It's not just a money thing, I've spent plenty elsewhere in my system(may post my system with photos soon), I'm just not sure if this is an area where spending more would be worth it.
After many "thoughts" I got the last decision and I reserved for the new Whest Audio PS30RDT and improved new version of the well known PS30R
It is already acclaimed as one of the best solid state phono stage available , I 'll tell you more when I 'll listen it into my system.
Thanks to EveryOne for the helpful suggestions/opinions
Hey Curio - Arle
Howz the PS.30RDT? Did it arrive. I love mine (as you know) and really can't get enough of it. It takes some time to warm up, between 3& 5 days but it's all worth the wait, but change the mains supplied cable. I use 'home brew' Belden sheilded cable - design found on the net.
I bet it sounds great on your TW Raven One. I think it takes the 'cheese' for best phono stage under $10000.00! That's not just me saying it either.
I just found out that TW himself recommends it and Dr Feickert (Feickert turntables) uses 3 at shows...
Mine is turned on since two days and some hours more so I can't judge it or give you a final opinion about ..
Btw it's already sounding magical compared to my previous Grado PH1 phono stage .. wide soundstage more deep more tall and an awesome resolution .. I can't imagine what's able to do later!
I already changed the stock mains cable using my Groneberg Quattro Reference power cable
I absolutely prefer the MintLP Tractor to any Feickert around .. try one and you 'll understand my "absolutely"
I have a good friend that uses the MintLP and says exactly the same thing. He uses an Amazon Reference/ Schroder and says the MintLP made his whole system come 'alive'. The 'big' Feickert with the software is supposed to be excellent BUT at 300Euro for a 'do it once', it is quite expensive. I mainly use a Kuzma Air Line so it's no use. I looked at getting some cleaning fluid from them, do you have any experience of it? re
Is there a price difference between the Whest PS30.R and the PS30.RDT?
I totally agree on the Mint tractor. It is much more accurate than the Dr. Feickert universal protractor. IMO, it doesn't matter how much you spent on your analogue setup, the Mint tractor will bring a high level of accuracy to record playback.
The Dr. Fieckert Adjuts+ software is also amazing. It takes into account the value of level and phase angle to set up the azimuth. Before I got Adjust+, I used a test record for setting up the azimuth, by playing an azimuth dedicated tract with my phono preamp in mono, and rotating the headshell until the signal from the L and R channels get canceled.
The problem with this method is that, depending on the cartridge design, it's possible to have both L and R channels produce the same DB, but each channel could be out of phase in reference to the other. This condition produces undefined lower notes, muddy midrange and splashy highs. In other words, the sound is out of focus. With Adjust+, the phase angle of the L and R channels are set to match, even if, due to particular cartridge design, there is one channel producing +-DBs than the other channel. I went back and forth with both methods, and the sound with the Adjust+ is absolutely in focus. One I got acquainted with Adjust+, there is no going back.
Besides setting up correct azimuth, one can set the turntable speed much more accurate than with any strobe disc and light. Other measurements are wow & flutter, cartridge/tonearm resonance and cartridge frequency response.