Clearaudio ref phono - any reviews or comments?

i have about a 3k credit with a store and can get a clearaudio ref phono for that price (it's the only phonostage they have i'm interested in) or i can just spend the 3k elsewhere.

anyone have experience with this product? if i had 3k in cash i'd go find a counterpoint sa-9 but since it's eather the clearaudio ref phono or no phono amp at all i'm tempted to go for it.

any comments are welcome.

oh yeah...hey, to everybody.

I have a client that's looking for same piece as you are.I'm being told by our Clearaudio's US Distributor Musical Surroundings that the Reference phono stage is not available in the US (it means they don't bring it in) but I'm not sure if your dealer can special order one for you. May be a good start is to have your dealer to contact Musical Surroundings and arrange to get one from Germany. I also heard that Clearaudio is working on a new phono stage that supposes to be better than the current Reference one. Other option in that price range is the Herron VTPH MC phono stage which I thought is outstanding for the sub 3k range. Good luck.
Well HELLO, Kubla -- pleasure to see you again!! Hope you've been well & kicking...
Clearaudio: the champagne ref or the two-flat-box battery powered one? The champagne one (I'll assume that's the one for 3k) is good. I tried it on my rig (Simon Yorke/ Pluto/ Clearaudio Accurate) using ears that don't incorporate precious metals (mine). So, can't you give it a go?
Speed is very good. You get resolution across the basic spectrum, getting better and better mid-range upwards. It is correct in every respect: maybe not an Aesthetix, but were I to copy the musical score from the sound alone, I could probably do it -- loosing some when it came to mid-lower bass. And forget the piece of music I was listening to... I never got this machine to sing to the music or play MUSIC, as it were. Remember: my rig, and I'm deaf. OTOH, the phono loading was optimised for my cartridge, cable was clear's own, my electronics include german machines (the faterland spirit was there, somewhere). Maybe the speakers fault? They're american.

BUT, it is a seriously good phono: it does its job well and then some; it just didn't put its soul to the job at my home. My other (german) phono, is not as resolving but it plays BRAHMS 1st piano concerto or JL Hooker, and I forget the score because the music is too involving!

thanks gregm, but...does that mean it's good or bad?
Kubla, sorry. Good is a relative term. It's "good" compared to a plethora of other offerings (that are usually cheaper, too). It's not that "good" in absolute terms and to my taste, in being over-analytical but under-musical, and somewhat cold sounding in my system. At its price & engineering level -- and coming from an illustrious analogue manufacturer -- I'd expect analysis (yes), but also a corresponding musicality, pratt, sense of space...
BUT, by no stretch of the imagination can I say "bad" -- if the ref were "bad" then the vast majority of other phono's should be trashed! So, TRY it in your system.
Some time ago my dealer told me a story about one of his customers,a vinyl collector, who has a very expensive stereo system and lots of cartridges ( Insider, Koetsu, Benz ), too.
He was looking for a new, good phono preamp. He had for loan, both clearaudio units ( their best ), a Manley steelhead, a Klyne 6 with the better phono board and some others I forgot.
He liked the Klyne best, the clearaudio was nothing special,
comparable to some other units, but no highlight.
Unfortunately not my own experience, but I think, I won't influence your opinion too much.
good luck