I would look at an EAR 834p with some upgaded tubes.
4 responses Add your response
There are several factors to consider. On the one hand you have to make sure that the onboard phono stage in a pre-amp has sufficient gain for your phono cartridge. If you are talking about .5 mV and up, you will probably be fine with the on board MM stage you'll find on your average pre-amp. A good outboard phono stage can sound better than an onboard stage, and if you work with lower output cartridges it's practically a necessity because of the required gain.
The Lehmann Black Cube is one example of a phono stage you might want to look at. It sounds better than many on board stages and is MM/MC switchable. Very quiet - excellent value.
Might I recommend the Camelot Technologies Lancelot Pro. Michael Fremer did a piece on separate Phono Pre-amps a year or so ago and put this one on top of his enjoyment list, except for a couple in the stratosphere price range. I purchased mine from Audio Advisors (I think that is the company name) for about US$890 new. It has adjustable gain (will work great at the .5mV range), separate inputs for MM/MC and separate power supply. I ordered a different set of resistors from the factory and they were terrific to deal with. It is solid state, but the sound? Excellent. I really enjoy mine, so that's really the only comment I give to you. I have never seen one used, but that probably tells you something as well.
Hope this helps,
I'm not sure what cartridge you're about to use. There is a chance that you might come to the conclusion that Sumiko phono MM/MC box can do the same for your cartridge as Lehman Black Cube in particular. I believe that DACT pnono module that you can enclose in any pick-your-own chasis is reasonably priced for its performance. If I would go for upgrade I will definitely consider www.dact.com as my next project for the small signal part of system.