Full-function/Phono-only vs. Line + Phono Stage?

Hi Everyone,

I am in need of a new preamp. My system is VINYL ONLY. I do not know if I should get a Full-function or a phono-only(like an EAR 834P/ArtAudio Vinyl 1) or a good separate line-stage and separate phono stage. I was thinking that a separates set-up would add more coloration given the need for an extra set of interconnects + the need to run through the linestage, thus a longer signal path. Although, it appears that there are some very good add-on phono stages out there. I don't know. Any comments or opinions?

Thanks in advance!
While it is always a good idea to have less in your signal path, in my view, the problem is having both enough gain in the stand-alone unit for records cut at mid- to low levels (remember, the line stage is adding 12-20 db of gain) and a volume control that's convenient to use. I know that the Aesthetix IO at the high end of the price scale has this capability (a friend of mine who only listens to vinyl runs that setup), but I don't know about the EAR/Art Audio units. As an alternative, you could consider a full-function preamp such as Audible Illusions, the new ARC SP16 or used SP9, 10 or 11, or (if you can swing it) a Hovland or used Jadis JP80MC (or, of course, any older preamp that has a phono stage). That way you could avoid the extra box and interconnects and still get top quality sonics.
It's the age old set of questions. Can you get the quality you want in one package? Will you need the flexibility to improve one and keep the other? Is the phono stage going to be the weak link in the system? Can you get more value in used separates?

The EAR has a version with a volume control - you could get double duty on the cheap that way, as long as you don't need any other devices connected. There's some others with this feature too, at higher price points.

I am a vinyl-only type person too. I have an Art Audio Vinyl One phono stage with volume control and I love it. It's warm, dynamic and full sound without lossing detail, very musical and not particularly analitical. Since I bought it, I have replaced the stock volume pot (Alps blue pot) with a TKD film pot. I actually wanted to get a TKD step attenuator but there isn't enough space for it unless I drill another hole in the front for it. The upgraded pot is much smoother. Overall this phono stage is very very good. It is way better than the EAR 834P. Now, I have only one dial to turn in my whole system. The sound is so pure and immediate, it's unbelievable. I have gone a full circle to come to realize the simpler the better. I've been in this crazy hooby for 20 years. I have tried tri-amping, bi-amping and now I am down to the most basic system. One thing about a stand alone phone, especially when partnered with Quad 63 speakers, is that it is like a mirrow, it shows everything. I had to replace interconnect and signal tubes to get it right. Everything you put in there shows. I tried different power cord with the Vinyl One and the one I ended using is the stock cord. It's much more natural than anything I have tried. The vinly One has 50dB for MM and 70 dB for MC. It should work with most caetridge. I use a Koetsu Rosewood Sig. with it. Also, I have tried it with a linestage, it is definitely better without better without a linestage. BTW, I am not in anyway related to Art Audio. Good Luck.
Furhter, the Vinyl take a long time to break in. It toke me 3 months to fully breaking it in. I suggest you wait for a used one to save some bucks. I have only seen 2 used ones at this site in the last 6 months and they both went within a day. So, keep watching for it.
You need to look into the Supratek Syrah. It is a tube pre
amp with a built in tube phono stage. Both are excellant
performers, absolutely the best in it's price range ($3500

Check out the "Pre amp deal of the century" thread under amps and pre amps in the discussion forums. It's as beauti-full to look at, as it is to listen to. I am not very good at descriptions of musical performance, but many of the cats in the thread are. It's a pretty fair education on a superb product.

Do yourself a huge favor and check it out, it's a huge thread so pace yourself so that you dont get overwhelmed

When I decided to buy one I was very fortunate to buy mine from a very fine AudioGon member who was selling his in
favor of a very high dollar pre, there is a 6 to 8 month
wait for a new one as they are made for you on order.

Go to www.supratek.biz for a peek

You can hardly go wrong with the Vinyl 1, but I may have some advice which would save you some $$. I just received my custom built K&K Audio preamp, which is the Art Audio Vinyl Reference + Stevens & Billington TVC. This unit was specially made for me by Kevin Carter, who is the designer of the Vinyl Reference. For about 1K less than the Vinyl 1, you can have the top dog, and this is completely turnkey. You can have it for less than that if you want to build it from a kit.

Either way, check with Kevin. This guy really knows his shit.

My first choice would be cj art/15 phono or ARC ref + ref phono. But if your not the Donald I would suggest the ARC sp16 it's great and it takes up less space and it cost 1/4 or less of the price of the big boys but it will still give you a taste of audio heaven
Manley Steelhead has one of the most flexible phono stages for different cartridge users and all so has a killer linestage. Excellent company to deal with