Why go used when you could buy a Manley Labs Chinook, New! It is the little brother of the $8,000 World Class Stingray. It is all the Phono pre amp most would ever need. You can use any cartridge with it. They sell for around $2,000 to $2500 talk to Kevin @ upscaleaudio.com.
I really liked the manley chinook with my technics...and you could save about a grand...a lot depends on the cart...the dynavector p75 sounds particularly good with dynavector carts....but to start to get real use out of that level phono....you might want to mount a rega arm or other better quality arm on there...unless you've already gone the kab rewire/damper route.
You need to stay away from darker sounding phonos...to overcome the inherently darker sound of that table.
Just my experience and opinion.
Both the Herron VTPH-2 and Allnic H-1201 have been selling for under $2500 lately.
There is currently a Herron VTPH-2 for sale on this site; no affiliation. I have one and it is an excellent phono stage in your price range with great support from Keith.
I'd lean toward the Allnic H-1201.
I really like mine, but I've never heard the Herron VTPH-2.
In a prior thread there was someone who compared the Allnic 1201 to the Chinook they much preferred the 1201. Maybe they'll chime in here, but just FWIW.
If there is a Herron VTPH-2 for sale around $2500, there is no need to look further. I have one. I have never heard anything better. Period.
I have no financial interest in Herron Audio.
50/50 chance $2500 cartridge is in great shape good luck
Why buy used? I have one of these and it is outstanding!
Mike Sanders is a lot like Roger Modjeski---both excellent tube circuit designers whose Quicksilver Audio and Music Reference (respectively) products don't get much attention, for some reason, flying below the radar. I'll bet it sounds great Yogi, and if a buyer has any special phono amp requirements Mike will probably be willing to incorporate them into his amp as a customization.
I recently bought a VTPH-1MM directly from Keith Herron, and he put in the 15K resistance and 220pF capacitance called for by my London cartridge, and even substituted a pair of 12AT7 tubes for two of the four 12AX7's in the stock PH-1, to reduce the amps gain a couple dB (the London puts out 5mV's!). And this in a product discontinued over a decade ago! (Keith had a VTPH-1MC that had been traded in laying around, and rebuilt it into an updated PH-1MM for me). I love buying from a smaller company, where you deal with the designer/builder himself.
yogi - not even close to a Herron. Not even in the same zip code.
Bpoletti, Having never had the Herron in my sytem I can't comment on it. I presume you tried the QS. How does the Herron excel? Maybe I'll give one a try!
I compared the Herron to the ARC reference model (don't remember the reference #) at the time (3-4 years ago) and felt they were very similar in sonic signature, the ARC was($9600)so I purchased the Herron.
Herron VTPH-2. Simple like that.
Yogi - Almost all of my listening is to classical music, mostly from the late 1800s to modern day.
In my system, the Herron VTPH-2 has no sonic signature. It is extremely clean sounding top to bottom. Very detailed. It is not warm or bloated, nor is it dry or etched. It is neutral. Period.
The Herron is dead silent. All the music comes from a totally black background.
Instrument textures are there without being over-emphasized. They are just part of the performance.
The soundstage and imaging do NOT bring the musicians into the room. Instead, for me, the listener is transported to the original venue and time of the recording.
The VTPH-2 just does everything correctly.
Bpoletti, I appreciate your description of the Herron. When you had the QS were you using stock tubes?
I did not have the Quicksilver in my home system. Heard it in a couple of other systems. I don't think different tubes would help bring it up to a competitive level with a Herron VTPH-1, much less a VTPH-2.
Then why are you knocking something that you never had in your system? In my zip code we call that blowin' hot air !
I use NOS Telefunkens in my VTPH-2 and they made a noticeable improvement over the stock Ei tubes. Smoother more detail definition across the audio spectrum.
Yogi - Because I've heard the Herron VTPH-2 in a LOT of other systems and they ALL outperformed the Quicksilver and every other phono stage.
In MY zip code, it's called objective evaluation.
And Yogi, why would I have under-performing equipment in my system? Face it. The quicksilver just isn't in the same league as the Herron.
Whest is the best jump on one now!!
One thing that gets overlooked in the Heron is how good its MM stage is.
In my experience, the MC stage has too much of an s-s signature. Others will no doubt differ, but even when viewed as an MM stage, it's a great value.
I run my Heron into the MM inputs, using one of several step-up transformers: an Air Tight PH-1, a Hagerman step-up (Cinemags are inside), and Quicksilver .
If you're struggling with your Heron (thinking there's untapped potential), it's worthwhile give it a try this way.
Thom @ Galibier Design
Update - post Audiofest (06-Oct).
A lot of updates to the system over the past 4 months: (1) the new NiWatt amplifiers, (2) the pre-production prototype of the Eiger rim drive turntable, and (3) all new cabling (some litz cables I'm developing).
All of these developments, in combination with RMAF visitors presented a perfect opportunity to revisit my assumptions.
Well, the short story is that I've gained new respect for the MC stage in the Heron, and it is currently the gain stage of choice. My Air Tight (Tamura) step-ups, along with some very nice Cinemag transformers are on the shelf.
The transformers are close, but in comparison with the Heron's internal MC stage, they don't deal with fast transients as well (a bit of hashy overshoot,in comparison).
Disclaimer: as a manufacturer, I have accommodation pricing to the Heron.
In my humble opinion, the next step up (no pun intended) is the likes of EMIA and Alnic, but YMMV. No association or financial interest, other than knowing Jeffrey Jackson (EMIA).
Thom @ Galibier Design
The saga continues. As I mentioned above, I’ve been playing with interconnects. They are in general, very low capacitance (about 15pF per foot).
The one lagging item has been the shielded IC between the step-up transformer and the input to the Herron. Getting this architecture "right" has been a bit of a challenge.
Over the weekend, I came up with two configurations. 95% of the "hashy overshoot" reported (running into the step-ups) is gone. This was clearly a resonance interaction between the inductance of the transformers and the capacitance of the interconnects.
I’m now back to running the step-ups. To my ears, there's more dynamic subtlety ("bloom") with no down side, but as usual, YMMV.
At the end of the day however, the Herron’s MC gain stage is very good, and while you can start with it, exploring step-up trannies might ultimately suit your tastes and your system better.
The Herron sets a very high baseline, and presents a good platform for experimentation as well.
Thom @ Galibier Design
I’m late joining this post, but IMO the Parasound JC3+ should be included in this list. It can be found new for about $2400 if one shops around, and about $2000-2100 used. Over the past 4+ years I’ve cycled 5 phono pre’s through my system, looking for one that brought out the best from my analog front end. I finally chose the JC3+, and will simply say that the JC3+ is an outstanding phono pre for the price -- and it will likely remain in my system for a LONG time.
I am currently using the Zesto Andros phono pre-amp. I have compared it to the Whest and the ARC pre-amp at around the same price. You should be able to pick up a used one for about 2500.00. I don't think at the price point you can do much better.