You should consider Grado phono pre-amp since you are using Grado cartridge already. Otherwise Audio Research PH3 and Dynavector P75 would be a good choice but Dynavector is harder to find. Good listening.
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others will answer your question about input load, but i would highly recommend the dynavector p-75. i use mine with a scout, first with a benz glider l2, now with benz ref 2 silver. with a low output cart, it has a special "enhanced" setting that essentially takes load setting by you out of the mix. incredible sound, and it's gotten rave reviews(check out hi-fi+ review from last issue). $599 new.
the dynavector can easily be ordered though music direct...here's the link(disclaimer: i'm not associated with them in any way other than being a satisfied customer who ordered mine through them...)
If you want to experiment/learn about the effect of load settings, try the Phonomena (is that how you spell it?)
It has all sorts of easy-to-use settings for different loads and gains. It sounds mighty good, too. Once you decide what load is best (gain is less important, once you have enough, say with a MC), try a few other brands with matching loads. I'm using the Musical Fidelity A3CR preamp. I think the X-LPS should sound about the same.
I just put together an analog rig using a Grado Statement Sonata (0.5 mV output) w/the Scout/JMW9 combo and the Grado PH-1 phono pre. I'm using the setting for low output cart. and have gain problems...
I'm well past 12 o'clock on my ARC LS16-II to get decent volume, which introduces a large amount of background noise from the tube pre-amp. The PH1 is supposed to be 56 dB of gain (yes, I've tried the little switch on the bottom and I am on the right setting, not the 40dB setting), wondering what I'm doing wrong here... If I switched from phono to CD on the pre-amp without adjusting the volume, I'd blow my ears out. Any ideas?
I use a Monolithic PS-1 with HC-1b power supply and get a great sound. This model has been replaced with the PS-2 and it offers even better sound and higher gain. There was a lite review in the last issue of Stereophile and they loved it.
My PS-1 has 53 db of gain and the PS-2 has 60 db. It's a great phono stage and the price of both the pre-amp and the upgraded power supply would be around $750.
For Edesilvia, my 53 db of gain is enough for my Denon DL103R MC cart and it has only .3mv. So something's wrong with your PH1
Todd, speaking to your question, if you can stretch to $1500 or so, DO NOT overlook the phono stage built by Kevin Carter at K&K Audio. You can either build it yourself (cheaper) or have Kevin do the deed for about this price. Beats anything up to around $4K I've heard, and while I haven't heard 'em all, I've heard quite a few.
Graham Slee Era Gold MK V
I'd never heard of Graham Slee either, until I did some research. Try a search on Audioasylum, the Vinyl following is bigger over there. I found one used here on the 'goN, and it sounds incredible. Here's a review:
Also, Class A is stereophile (whoop-t-do, I know) but it is by far the cheapest Class A phono stage in their listings.
Anyway, good luck
Well, I did as Rushton suggested and emailed Grado Labs. Their response to the fact that the gain on the phono in through the Statement Sonata/PH1 is disproportionately low compared to any other input was "That is normal with this cartridge. Please enjoy." Somehow less than satisfying. Based on that, I'd say 56 dB is not enough gain.
Edesilva, sorry you've had a bad experience, but just to balance the dialog over the Grado PH-1, another Audiogoner, "Dennisb," recently purchased the Grado Sonata 0.5mv cartridge and the PH-1 phono stage and he seems to be very pleased with the combination. I don't recall what line stage he's using, though.