Good stand-alone phono preamp?

Need a good phono preamp for a high-output MC cartridge. Can't spend mega-bucks but want a nice, high-definition unit. What do you recommend? Thanks in advance. Associated equipment: BAT VK-5i MR RM-200 Magnepan 1.6QR LP12 w/ET-2 DV 20X
I just did this research. For the low end, rotel is supposed to make a good $200 unit. For medium end ($600), I read the lehman black cube and mccormack phono stages are well regarded. Higher end, I heard that the $1500-2000 Sonic Frontiers and BAT phono stages are good. My decision came down to the ARC PH-3 and the Pass Labs Phono Ono. This is because I have Pass and ARC amplifiers + they are both reasonably priced and very well rated. The Pass is supposed to be one of the the most accurate and quietest you can buy. I didn't want something 'too revealing' for my mid level rega 25/super elys system. I found a 9 month old ARC PH-3, and could not be happier. It has that wonderful tube warmth and presence, but also very accurate. If you like the vt100/ls25 sound, you will like this. I think records and tubes complement each other. It only uses 3 6922's, so retube costs is a non-issue. They sell new for 1700, and used 900-1000.
I'm very happy with my Lehmann Black Cube with a Sonic Frontiers Line 2 and ML aerius speakers. Very detailed and Musical. Also very small footprint so it can be tucked away in a corner.
I used to own the Rotel RQ-970. It worked great for the money. List is $200. Used around $125 to $150. It is Stereophile recommended if that matters to you. If it a high output MC cartridge you can use a moving magnet preamp. The Rotel has a switch to handle both.
Thank you for all of the posts so far. I've heard that the Musical Surroundings Phonomena is a good unit. Anyone with experience on this one? Thanks in advance again.
i tried the musical surroundings unit,& it was a bit too dry for my taste. ask carl eber about his experience, tho - he thinks it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. during my search for it, and its replacement, i heard a couple folks say the anthem p-10 was better than the m/s or the black cube. based on that, i'd try the aragon 47k, as it can be had for ~$450 new, and it's the anthem's bigger brother. i'm very happy w/the pentagon ps-1, but it's ~$1750 new - i got mine for $600 demo, cuz no one in the usa has ever heard of it, & the dealer wanted to make it go away... i've also heard the benz lucashek is nice, tho i've never heard it. for bargain-basement, i'd get a db-systems from jerry raskins s the needle dr. (or elsewhere?), yust based upon the sound of their active x-over - great electronics for little money. doug
Does anyone have experience with either the Audio Electronic Supply PH-1 (Cary) or the ASUSA PP-1? Both are available in kit form, tube based and use passive RIAA EQ. Thanks again.
no, but my experience w/their amps/preamps would encourage me to try one, if i found a good deal on something used - that way, ya don't take a bath if iy's not what ya want. there's a cary fono-staage f/a on audiogon presently...


A real sleeper is the Michell Delphini. FWIW, Fremer chose the BASIC model as his 'second favorite' out of a half-dozen or so phono stages in a recent Stereophile. And the basic is NOTHING compared to the upgrade unit with highly regulated power supply. Unless you're dead-set on tubes, it's a major contender IMHO. Good luck and vinyl forever, -John
I'm going to order the Audio Electronic Supply PH-1 kit. At $399 there isn't too much else available. I'd like a BAT VK-PH5 or ARC PH-3 but can't swing the cost at the moment. Thanks to all of you for your opinions!
Why phono? Everyone knows that digital is better!!!
If you are getting the AES PH-1, get the upgraded oil filled caps. Worth the extra money. We don't sell the kit, but sell the assembled product, and it is THAT cool. Really great sounding. You'll be happy with it.