Well, the Phonomena II arrived and after a night of listening, I made a very easy decision to keep it in my system. The V-LPS put up a good fight, but the Phonomena presented a much more cohesive, focused soundstage than the V-LPS. No hint of distinct speakers, just a nice, focused sound with great placement of instruments.
Sonically, I was amazed by the control the Phonomena gave each note and musical line. This was particularly true for bass, where each note sounded far more more confident and sure-footed than with the V-LPS. On busy passages in rock or electronic music, each line was nice and distinct with very little sense of clutter. Listening to rock was actually where I was the happiest with the upgrade. I kept thinking, "yeah, this is what I thought it was supposed to sound like."
I might say the V-LPS had a slightly bigger sound (I should note I have the Pangea P-100 power supply for it), particularly in the lower midrange. From what I've read this should open up a little bit more for the Phonomena with time. Even if it doesn't, though, I will gladly take presentation and control over the more massive sound of the V-LPS.
Was it as big a jump as from my receiver to the V-LPS? Not nearly, but as my ears have gotten more sensitive to the nuances I should be hearing in my system, it provides every upgrade that I wanted to hear from a new preamp.
Music I listened to:
Sharon Van Etten- Tramp
Paul Simon- So Beautiful and So What
Delta Spirit- Delta Spirit
Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues
James Blake- James Blake
Tom Waits- Small Change
Girls- Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Bon Iver- Bon Iver
Cut Copy- Zonoscape
Penfolds 2009 Shiraz Cabernet
(it was a fun night.)