Classe phono stage?

Hi folks, I just bought a Classe CP-35 with no phono stage. I would like to get input on the optional phono stage. It is cheap (as these things go) at $250 list.

Has anyone used this phono stage, and how does it compare to reasonably-priced external phono pre-amps (say, $500 or less)?

Unfortunately, it is not available to hear locally.

Thank you!

- Eric
Eic, it really depends on the investment you've made (or plan to make) in a front end. Will your 'table/arm/pickup be a giant killer, or something musical yet modest? The phono stage in my Classe Model Thirty peamplifier is pretty good, very close in sound quality to my Lehmann Black Cube. Assuming your analog set up is sub-$1000 I'd go with the Classe phono section. Pretty hard to find a quality phono stage for $250, I'd buy the Classe and throw it in your preamp, you really don't have a lot to lose. If you have a $500+ budget for a phono section you'd likely be able to do better, but my hunch is the Classe phono stage will be more than adequate.
Hi Jeff,

My Turntable is a Denon $150 model (nearly new), so definitely low-end by standards here. It has a switchable pre-amp of it's own.

In testing with a Rotel pre-amp (RC-1070), I found the phono stage of the Rotel sounds *much* better than the turntable's internal pre-amp. So it's clear that pre-amp does matter, even with this low-end turntable.

Based on your advice, I expect I will go with the Classe add-in phono stage. Sounds like it is "good enough" for what I have.