help me pick a phono preamp.

Ok I just purchased a VPI Scout with Grado Sonata 0.5mv combo here on Audiogon. I now need a little help picking a phono stage. What I don't quite understand is "input load", how do you match that? What about gain? Budget around $1200 Any help appreciated. Thanks
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.
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.
I agree with S. In that range, the Dynavector is very tough to beat.
the dynavector can easily be ordered though music's the link(disclaimer: i'm not associated with them in any way other than being a satisfied customer who ordered mine through them...)

dynavector p-75
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 like tube Antique Sound Lab phono preamp for $250.
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 may be wrong, but i would think that 56db is just not enough for a .5mv cart. the p-75 has up to 63db, although im good with 60db in my rig using a .3mv cart.
That's interesting. I tried the calculator on and it shows 56db of gain to be just right for a .5mv cart.
Wonder if I've got a bad PH1 or something. I'll try switching to a different input on the pre, but wonder if there are any other PH1/Statement Sonata owners out there who can compare the relative volume of their phono inputs v. CD or other line stage...
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

Paul Green
OK, how the h*ll can I verify that its the PH1? Is there some way of using my multimeter to measure input V and output V?
Just a thought... Have you tried calling Grado and asking them about what you're experiencing? They've always been pretty good about talking directly to their customers who have questions.
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.
I think it says it has about 50db gain. Is that enought for a .5 cartridge?
If memory serves, it is 54db, stock. With the Lundahl step-up (which is included in the price I stated), you'll have more than enough. More than enough for my 0.28mV Benz!
I'm hardly 'mr experience' on phono stages, but I went thru this same process recently and ended up with the EAR 834p and really dig it. And rolling tubes is a lot of fun if you like to fine tune the sound you get. Should have plenty of gain for the grado...
Breeno, to ask a dumb question, rolling tube means...?
"Rolling tubes" is to swap the tubes that came with the unit from the manufacturer with other tubes of different make or vintage (but that are still electrically equivalent). Swapping the tubes will change the sound; the obvious goal is to gain an improvement.
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.

what a lame answer...maybe you should call them?
edesilva, I also just emailed Grado regarding "hum" and their response to me was, "this will not be a problem, please enjoy"
the K&K phono pre.
4yanx, Kenin has some new mods for the K&K phono pre. You should check them out.
Hey Todd, ignore my former posts. Heck, ignore all of the other posts. I'll give you a great price on a slightly used Grado PH-1--well matched to your cartridge, and they have such informative customer service.

Please enjoy. ;)
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.
Thanks for the offer. However I'm going to get the JA Michell dino, as it has finer adjustments.