Clearaudio Bluemotion w/ Virtuoso..which phono pre

Ok, I recently bought a Clearaudio bluemotion with a Clearaudio Virtuoso wood cart for LP playback as digital was sounding, well, too digital. I remember the sound of vinyl as being rich, warm, and full. Not sure if its my phono pre or what but its still not quite the quality of my CDP.

the phono pre I am using is the clearaudio BASIC. Any recommendations?

My system:

AES DJH preamp
Cary Rocket 88R F1
Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento
Cambridge 840C CDP
Cardas twinlink cable
Clearaudio Blue w/Virtuoso

Im trying to find a nice phono pre that will get me the sound I remember. Also, don't get me wrong, my LP playback sounds very very good, just not AMAZINGLY good like i had hoped. I was told by a dealer my weak link is the BASIC pre.

Any suggestions?


As always, a question of how much you are willing to spend. I lived happily with the Basic for a couple of years and eventually upgraded to the Quad QC-24P (valve phono stage by Tim de Paravicini with variable output to enable direct feed into the amp). No question, musically clearly more engaging but for three times the price of the Basic.

Let's stay in that price bracket for a while. If you like to stay in the "family" the new Basic+ is an improvement on the former Basic at about the same price (EUR 500). The crux is, though, you can upgrade with the Accu+ unit (costing as much) and that really pushes it into another league (I've heard this combo fairly often with the Clearaudio Maestro). Alternatively, go for the Symphono+ (EUR 1,000 and again you'll have the possibility to upgrade with the Accu+). And then there is the Balance+. Interestingly, we're now talking the same price level as the Quad 24P, and as it happens the Balance+ has variable output as well! (Again, later battery upgrade possible, although I have no "first ear" experience how much it will bring here). Btw all these are very good with MM as well as MC, should you want to change on that front some time.

Of course, in that realm there are a number of excellent alternatives (fellow Audiogoners will take over from here, I'm sure). One I auditioned together with the Quad was Tom Evans Microgroove Plus. I eventually chose the beautiful flow of the valve unit over the "groove" (what's in a name) of the Evans. A pity the Clearaudio Balance+ wasn't there to compare at the time, I guess it would have been a close contender.

Will that level be AMAZINGLY good? Only you can find out of course. Surely, it will get amazing if you push the budget out even further. Just one more I'd like to mention, then, that has amazed me quite recently: Ayre P-5xe, superbly authoritative and transparent with any kind of music, admittedly with entirely other accompanying gear (e.g. Shelter 901 cart). Twice the price of the likes discussed before, but that is in Europe where Ayre gear is always offered at a very hefty surplus. Perhaps in the US this is a much more viable alternative.

Good luck
Try a tube unit, I played my virtuoso through a basic for awhile and although good it wasnt great I tried several other solid state units and then an Ear 834p which was a substantial improvement.After that I built a bottlehead seduction and then it really sang. The virtuoso is capable of very high resolution and a smooth balanced sound with the right preamp although If your looking for warm you may need to try something else.
Dear Steve: I can't be sure that your " trouble " is on the phono stage,

The Virtuoso is a very good cartrige but needs a good tonearm match and carefully set-up specially on the VTA. Unfortunately I don't have any experience with your tonearm ( and I don't know if you can mount in your TT a different one. ) but could be here ( other than cartridge set up ) where you could achieve a better quality performance changing it.

Now, I don't know if the Clearaudio tonearm has a dedicated IC cable if not you can try here with a different one. Additional you have to be sure that your TT is has good internal/external isolation, that it is mounted in a good plattform.

Regards and enjoy the music.
VTA? You might want to set the tonearm so the pivot is a scoche lower then level and see if you get that full-bodied warmth you're looking for.

When VTA is too high (i.e., arm is tilting down to the cartridge) you get the opposite--all leading edge transients and treble without the bloom.