Musical Fidelity X-LP or X-LPS. Has both a MM and MC section that is switch selectable. Whether or not you like the cosmetics is the question. Sean >
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Best phono stage for under $300 is probably a full-function preamplifier: the Bryston .5B, though I foolishly didn't bid past that amount for a 12B which has more inputs as well as an MC step up transformer. People happily pay $300+ for the Bryston BP-1 phono stage, not realizing that it's identical to the onboard phono stage used in the Bryston .5B, 11B and 12B preamps, and a very fine phono stage it is. Only difference is some 12Bs incorporate a step-up transformer for MC cartridges as well. Another thing a lot of people don't know is that Bryston will increase the gain on the stock phono stage --- as well as often make upgrades you didn't ask for --- I paid $50. It's factory-set to 35 dB, but sounds better set to 40 or 42 dB, especially if you're using a high output MC, which typically produce 2-2.5 volts. Even the phono stages on the latest, highly-regarded Bryston BP-20 and BP-25 preamps and on the B-60P integrated are the same circuit design, but with better parts. I've had this information directly from Chriss Russell, Bryston VP If you want to spend a little more, I've seen Meitner PA6i preamps with MM or MC phono stage for as little as $400 --- and for that you get a full-function preamp that compares to the highest of the high end of the period (1988-91), e.g., Levinson, Krell, Rowland, etc.. In short, I think the best phono stage deals require buying a full preamp. Also much more saleable if you decide to upgrade or whatever. Hope this helps. Joel.
I forgot to mention the Acurus P10. It's an MM/MC phono stage, still in production, lists, I think, for $400, and I've seen a few on eBay lately, selling for perhaps $225. I auditioned one some months back and its a very nice unit. The Aragon 47K is even better, better perhaps than the older Bryston phono stages, but on the used market I think they're around $400.
Joel, Thanks 4 your advice I agree with you on buying the pre w/phono but the thing is I love the sound of my ARC tube pre-amp? I'm try to keep the current sound so I guess I'll have to add separate phono stage. What do you guys think? Thank you everyone that read my tread and help!!!! again thanks, Rute. P.S have you guy got a chance to listen to Pro-Ject The Phono Box? I would love to give it a try!