better phono stage

current system has 1000i electrostatic speakers nordost frey speaker wire and solid silver interconnects and power cables. have a ref 3 preamp and old nakamichi pa7 amp nelson pass design with a nova phonomena preamp. entertaining thoughts of a better phono stage any suggestions greatly appreciated. my source is a vpi classic
with shelter 7000.
My current system has Final 1000i electrostatic speakers, Nordost Frey speaker wire, and solid silver interconnects and power cables. I also have a ref 3 preamp and old nakamichi pa7 nelson pass amplifier with a nova phenomena phono preamp. Entertaining thoughts of a better Phono stage; any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. My source is a VPI classic with shelter 7000 cartridge.
What's wrong with a Ref 3?

Maybe you could explain a bit more about why you're unhappy.
Happy with the ref 3 not happy with the nova phono preamp.
What price range?
My budget is $3000.
I got my Basis Exclusive used for about this amount; a really good phono stage with battery power and two separate phono circuits. I would also look for a used Audia Flight; I have their linestage and it is very good.
I bought a fosgate signature and like it very much. Very quiet in my system. Hve to turn volume way up before hearing any tube rush. I use it with a pass x1 and pass 30.5 to acoustic zen adagio. Source is benz ruby 3 on vpi scoutmaster.
Docdan are you using stock tubes. Heard the fosgate and liked it very much. Perhaps some tube rolling can further the improvement.
I have a Herron VTPH-2 running with my VPI Classic and it is simply an amazing phonstage; very detailed and quiet. And Keith Herron is as good as it gets to work with. Don't know how you could go wrong or even perhaps buy a better phono stage regardless of price. The rest of my system is a Cary SLI-80F1 direct coupled integrated (triode mode) driving Focal 1007Be monitors and HGA DNA/X32 cabling and Benz wood sl cartridge.

Czbbcl what is the price range for the Herron is it tubes or solid state. Thanks for your reply.
I second the Herron VTPH-2. It is a wonderful very musical phono stage, very quiet and is a tube unit. Call Keith Herron and see if you can try one, I bet that you will not send it back.
After a little reading I bought a different rectifier tube. Not sure it made a difference but it's fun.
The Herron VTPH-2 is a tubed unit and as stated previously very quiet. Excellent detail but to my ears more importantly is the accuracy of the unit. I think it retails for around $3500.00 or so...

You can go to the Herron Audio web-site for more information (

A Conrad-Johnson Premier 15 should be easily under $3,000.
Their Tea2 which is currently in their line up goes for about $2,500 new. I have heard the Premier 15 and almost bought one, for a lot more I ended up with something else, but it was a contender.
You could probably get Kevin to build you a Maxed Out K&K for around $3K.
I have Quad ESLs electrostatics and the Art Audio Vinyl One phono pre feeds them some wonderful music. I think it's in your price range. I've messed with others in the range and it just makes better music.
I also recommend the Herron VTPH-2. It's a great phono pre on it's own but I happened on some vintage Telefunkens that just take it to an unbelievable level.
Thank you all for your wonderfull support you have certaintly open my eyes for the better many good suggestions. Will keep you posted when I buy another phono stage. Keep listening.
To beat a dead horse and join the bandwagon I would also suggest you consider the Herron. I didn't try a slew of options before purchasing mine but have never thought of replacing it since I put it in my system. Keith is one fine person to deal with and you would be getting an extremely well made, glorious sounding, quiet and musical piece. The Herron just does everything right and gets out of the way so you can enjoy your music collection.
Hi Needfreestuff. My front end is similar to what you have. I have a VPI Classic TT with VPI Zephyr cartridge. My linestage is an ARC Ref 3. BTW, you didn't mention the name of the manufacturer of your Ref 3, so I am assuming it's an ARC model.

My phono pre is an ARC PH-7. It works hand-in-glove with the Ref 3. I think there is a natural synergy between the Ref 3 and PH-7.

Again, assuming we are talking about an ARC Ref 3, if your budget is about $3K, I suggest that you try to pick up a used PH-7, which goes for a little more than $3K. Alternatively, ARC just came out with the PH-6, which lists for $3600. Based on informal conversations with ARC folks, I hear that the PH-6 sounds almost as good as the PH-7. As I mentioned above, I think that system synergy is something to think about.

Good luck.
Yes I do have the ARC Ref 3 and the PH 6 could be a good fit. Thanks for the response I wasnt even aware of a PH 6.
the audiogon is just a wealth of information. Thanks to all of you who participated in this thread.