In your price range, go with a tried and true classics like the Conrad Johnson PV10 or Counterpoint SA-3000. Both include a phono section that will probably be much better than your current NAD.
The Counterpoint can still be upgraded in steps by the original designer at Alta Vista Audio
into a truly outstanding preamp. Another one to consider is the Audible Illusions Modulus 3.
All three of these have earned really strong reputations for good performance over the ears and will hold their value.
I have owned an Audio Experience tube preamp Line stage and it's nice but needs some upgrades to get it to sound it's best. I sold it. I went to a CJ PV5. Wonderful but
it's old and may require a $400 upgrade. I sold it! I then purchased an Audio Research LS9. Nice, wonderful sound but only 6 db of gain. Not enough for my speakers. I sold it too. So I took a chance on a VanAlstine Super Pas 3si (very similar to a Super PAS 4(i or si)and the next version is the Transcendent 4. The Super PAS 3 I have (VA design not Dynaco) is one of the best preamps I have ever owned. For sure the best over the past 5 years. It immediately tightened up the bass, gave me a wonderful soundstage with very good depth and I simply love it.
I'm using the Super PAS 3si with a modified Dynaco ST 70, driving a pair of Magnepan MG12QR's, with an Oppo 980 w a Scott Nixon Tube DAC, A Rotel phono and DB Audio phono stage(s). My analog setup is a Systemdek IV with a Rega RB600 and Audio Technia OC9MLII. It's wonderful. I want a little more power but the ST70 is playing very well at the moment. I call this my ultimate budget system.
The Counterpoint is a real nice preamp and fit's into your budget. Many audiophiles like this unit. Check out ebay for the Trancedence 4 preamp. You won't be disappointed.
All the ones mentioned are cut from the same cloth with sound characteristics.
There's a newly listed Music Reference RM5II that is listed @ $550 here on the 'Gon. You'll not find a sweeter sounding, more reliable, easy to maintain tube amp with a phono section for about $500 than that one. I've had one for over five years and it's an excellent preamp for the small price of admission. The RM5 was in production with minor alterations for over twenty years, a classic if ever there was one.
there is a TAD 150 (regular version, not signature) listed her on A'gon for $500 that's worth considering. (I have a TAD 150 signature, but have no relation to the seller). It has a MM/MC switchable phono, so you can sell your PP2. The TAD150 has the added bonus of remote control.
The Belari will not be a satisfactory solution for your requirement IMO. It has limited gain, and the volume control is cheap, not useful for full function purposes.
Hi,have you looked at the Transcendent Sound Grounded Grid pre amp.It has been called a giant killer by many.Many glowing reviews on line about it.Has no phono though.I have an unbuilt, unopened,one.Just never got around to building it.If you would be interested send me an email.Take care,keith
If I could find a working Counterpoint SA-3000 for under $600. please, sell it to me!
I have both a TAD-150 Signature and a CJ PV-10, both are excellent tubed preamps for the money. As was mentioned, there is a TAD 150 for sell here at a reasonable price (I have no connection to the seller). I have had both in my main system at times and have employed both phono stages there. Both are on the warm side, the PV10 being the warmer of the two, and cast a nice soundstage and either match well with tube or SS amps. The PV-10 of course has a tubed phono stage while the phono stage in the TAD is SS. Therefore, the phono stages sound a little different. The 150 seems to resolve a little better but the PV10 is a little more mellow. I would not hesitate to recommend either in the $500-600 used price range.
Here you go
, Elizabeth. $600 obo and has been up for sale for a week.
I remember reading lots of posts here and on Audio Asylum raving about this preamp over the years, is it really that good?
I had one I bought new in 89 for 1900 and its that good.Still with Counterpoint after many years,go for it,which is not to say the others mentioned are slouches either.Lots of choices at that pricepoint,good luck,Bob
Lots of good advice here. I did the basic mods to a Dynaco PAS3, number of years back, compared it to PV8, PAS sounded much better. Updated PV8 to PV11, PAS still gave it a run for its money. Have also heard good thinks about the Trancendent. Wish you luck.
do you guys think the nad would be ok into a line level tube pre? like a van alstine or similar?
I've owned most of these. Vintage tube pre-amps can be great but also can be a royal pain due to age and wear.
I finally settled on a Cambridge 640 phono pre and can't believe how much happier I am than with vintage dynaco, pilot, CJ 5,8, 10 or 12 or many more.
The less junk in one box, the easier it is to get clean sound and isolate any trouble too.
The Cambridge is my favorite of the sub $300 phono pre's.
Don't know about the Cambridge 640 vis a vis the CJ's & Dynaco Elevick mentions. I owned a Cambridge 640 preamp at the same time I owned the Music Reference. The Music Reference RM5 performs at a much higher level of musical competency & fidelity than the Cambridge. Not to dis the Cambridge, it's a fine performer for a modest sum. It's just not playing in the same league as the Music Reference.
An older pre w/built in phono like Audio Research SP9 or a Conrad Johnson will give you much better phono than the NAD. They were pretty popular, so availability shouldn't be too tough.
Another vote for the TAD150. I have a 150Sig and love it. It responds well to tube rolling also.
Look for an older Audible Illusions 2. You should be able to find one for less than 400. A great little pre with a very nice built in MM phono stage (enabling you to sell the NAD and apply those funds to your next purchase). I thought the AI2 was better in most ways than the CJ 10 it replaced.