Herron VTPH-2A Phono Preamp....anyone familiar?


Hi just reaching out to get any input/feedback  on the Herron VTPH-2A Phono Preamp.   While I'm happy with my existing Parasound JC3 Jr., someone recommended the Herron, so I got intrigued, as I've never run into, nor listened to, any Herron products.  
Thks, Jim

jhajeski
In my opinion....

The VTPH-2A is the best phono stage I've ever hear.  And I've heard most all the cost-no-object phono stages.  Aside from its very accurate and exquisite sound it is very flexible being able to handle high-output and low-output cartridges.  It also is capable of externally selecting moving coil cartridge loading by using RCA plugs rather than soldering resistors inside the case. 

And the free extra benefit that comes with the VTPH-2A is that it includes Keith Herron.  He provides great customer service.  Arguably the best in the business.  
If I didn't have the phono stage I have, that one would be on my very short list - it is very good.
It will be my next phonostage. 
Post removed 
I would love to hear some feedback to dweller’s question. I have a Chinook that I am thinking of selling and replacing with the VTPH-2A based on all the great reviews of the Herron. 
Yes it was better than the Chinook in my system, with that said I bought an Allnic it bettered them both in my opinion.
I haven't heard them all and have only compared a few in my system but I love the Herron--it is my last phono stage. It sounds incredibly musical, does nothing wrong, is built well, has unique circuitry and features and Keith is the BEST. Did I mention that it is also SUPER quiet?
Plus, the Herron is really well built, unlike the JC3.
Tooblue, Which Allnic? The H1201?If the Chinook circuit is like that of my Steelhead, then there are a few easy tweaks that dramatically improve the performance. For those with the guts to modify the product. I probably wouldn’t advise it, if your chinook is still under factory warranty. However, another potential advantage of the Chinook over the others is its use of an LCR phono circuit, again if it’s like the Steelhead.
@lewm, my comparisons were done with the Allnic 1201, it just put more air around the instruments in my system. Actually sold the 1201 and bought the H1500. The Herron was an exceptional phono stage and I could live with it for ever.
Never read a bad word about the Herron or Keith Herron during my years of frequenting this forum.
My components come and go but my Herron Phono is going nowhere.   I had my 2 upgraded to 2A.   It is the rock of my system.
 I echo all the good things said about the VTPH2A  It is an outstanding product with outstanding customer service. I love it! 
Come onnnnnn!!!  There's got to be someone somewhere who dislikes the Herron phono stage.  Or have you all been drinking Kool Aid at BPoletti's house?  (This is a joke, folks.)
@lewm You haven't been to my house or you would know that it's only red wine that is consumed when listening.  Maybe you should make some arrangements to have that sampling.  ;-)  

Is there ANYTHING to say BAD about the Herron VTPH-2A?  Doesn't ANYONE have ANYTHING to say BAD about ANY Herron Audio electronics?  As good as the phono stage is, the amps and preamps just don't get the proper attention.  


"bpoletti968 posts09-23-2018 1:18pmIn my opinion....

The VTPH-2A is the best phono stage I've ever hear. And I've heard most all the cost-no-object phono stages."

I would be interested to know which "cost-no-object" phono stages you have heard and compared to the Herron as well as any comments. Thanks.
Echo bpoletti--the VTPH-2 gets all the (well deserved) praise but Keith's linestage (I own the VTSP-3A (R03) is right up there in my view. I ran through a bunch of linestages from ARC and Modwright before finding my way to the Herron and it is simply awesome. It shares all the same qualities of the phonostage in spades--and is the quietest linestage I've ever had in my system. Super musical with incredible pace, rhythm and timing and a very clean, yet organic sound. Highly recommended!! 
I think VTPH-2A would be a huge improvement over the Parasound Jr. It easily bested any solid state phono pre I've tried, be it op-amp or discrete. It is an end of journey piece, IMO.

I am reminded of the great movie, “Manchurian Candidate”. Were you guys all prisoners of war in Korea, together with Keith Herron, by any chance?
@bpoletti 

I was asking a real question. I have seen so many raves I might consider the purchase, but I would like to understand the comparison
I've had the VTPH-2 for about 4 years, and can't think of any reason I would want to replace it. It is just plain great. Keith recently upgraded mine to VTPH-2a spec and I don't think you can find anyone better to deal with for support and service. I'm about to take delivery on a big speaker upgrade and I have no doubt that will just make the Herron sound that much better. If there is a better phonostage out there it has to cost vastly more. Others in the range just don't stack up.
@dwette....what're the specifics around the "2a" version/upgrade on the VTPH-2?  Also, what was the cost for the upgrade?

@jhajeski...WHen I asked Keith Herron about that he told me that every aspect of the phonostage is improved. He didn't provide specifics. As for cost you should contact him about that, not me. I live 10 miles from him, so dropped my unit off at his place and picked it up again when he completed the work. He didn't have to deal with inbound and outbound shipping for me, so I'm pretty sure he factored that into my cost.
I owned the VTPH 2 several years ago (not sure if it as the "A"version) and while I thought it sounded superb on classical and jazz, I missed that "bite" and leading edge on transients with rock music. I felt it sounded a bit "polite" and since most of my records are rock oriented, I ended up selling it. If you are a classical and/or jazz fan, the Herron could be your destination phono stage, at a reasonable price.
grk's post highlights the "problem" with personal anecdotes about the perceived sound of any given component. This is not to single out or critique grk, but we can't know if his impression of the Herron is the result of the phono stage itself, or of it as only one link in the chain that is his particular system. Perhaps it is his cartridge, or loudspeakers, or line stage or power amp, or even room, that is creating the lack of "bite and leading edge on transients" he hears. And what if grk is looking for more of that characteristic than are you? There is no substitute for a personal audition, in your own system, with your own music.
I listen to jazz and classical, but also a bit of rock from time to time. There is absolutely no lack of of anything on the VTPH-2 (or 2a) for any kind of music. It has plenty of PRaT, musicality, bite and is the best presentation of all kinds of music that I have experienced with any phonostage on my system. It is certainly genre-neutral as far as I can tell.
I’ve had a brand new VTPH-2A for a few weeks now. It’s done a brilliant job in my SOTA/Stax setup, handily dispatching my Rogue Ares Magnum (filled with exotic NOS tubes); I feel that the performance gain with the Herron well exceeds its $800 MSRP price premium. Very happy with this phono stage!

I also run a rather pricey VAC Renaissance SE phono stage in my main rig. I wouldn’t have dropped that kind of coin (more then 3x the Herron) if I wasn’t completely blown away by it (I auditioned the non-SE base Renaissance in my system before purchase, a year ago). I tried the Herron in that rig, thinking perhaps it could match the VAC - but no not quite there yet; the VAC still has some extra magic. I’m going to let the Herron burn in some more, then try the VAC match-up again with some additional experimentation of SUT’s, etc. If it can match or even exceed the VAC in the end, I'd have no problem buying a 2nd unit. But I'm already exceedingly happy with the 2 setups I've got now. 
I have had my VTPH 2 ( now upgraded to 2A) for a few years now.   It  does not seem to be better for any particular type of music in my experience. I listen to jazz, rock, pop, Acoustic, and world music. It excels with every type of music I play. It’s truly a pleasure to listen to.  It presents the music very organically, and is very involving. Plenty of detail without being overly analytical and a very natural tone.  And, Keith Herron provides the best customer service I have ever experienced. 
Yes I forgot to mention I listen to a range of music, but especially a lot of heavy metal! The Herron is certainly an all-genre musical instrument. And yes, A++ on dealing with Keith. Call him up if you’re in this price range for a Phono stage!
This talk makes me worry about buying this phono?

I have read so many good things, too many good things honestly but nothing is perfect.

One person didn't like it that much for his taste and now it must be or could be something else in his system like his speakers or preamp because it could not be this preamp?.

Maybe he just doesn't like it as much as something else to his ears regardless of system matching. That makes perfect sense to me for any audio product. He likes a different sounding leading edge or transients for his taste. I love to hear that. Means its a real product not just a fanboy based niche product like Merlin speakers. 

I have read this type of universal love for Merlin speakers with the rabbit loyal following and I bought a pair and wasn't overly impressed. I was like what was all that I read. Nice solid speaker for sure and better then average and in some way really good but man reading about them over and over you think they are the greatest ever in the history of the world. This phono has been giving me that vibe! 

Trust me I am not bad mouthing this product this is more in general and not saying this pre is like Merlin speakers either but when anything can do no wrong that makes me nervous. Especially when I am very seriously considering buying one. A seller reached out to me tonight.

Some people like the dry, analytical sound of some SS preamps for the super high detail and impact and super precise image so why would they love a great tube pre? 

Unless this pre does that also just like a dry, etched SS preamp with low end slam that many people love? Maybe it is the perfect phono that will adapt to any system and know the person's likes and become a chameleon? If that is the case I would pay dearly for that...  

This is not a shot anyone that owns and loves these and has written about them. I appreciate that but man this is the highest rated owner spoken about phono product anywhere by anyone.

We don't all get to try them in our system before we buy and we all know that is best to do. We look out there for people's thought and feedback and try to make the best informed decision we can with the resources available to us at the time. I guess its better than negative feedback but not sure how objective any of it is other than it has to be one dam good phonostage.  

 


The Herron VTPH-2A is a superb phono stage, no doubt about it, but the way some owners make it out to be the Non Plus Ultra of phono stages is frankly just silly. A little sobriety and a little less fanboi talk would be seemly.

Personally I had a VTPH-2A on extended loan and auditioning a while back, and yet I ended up buying an Allnic H-1202. Is that the best phono stage in the world then? No, of course it’s not.However, barring any super deals being available to you on more elevated stuff, I’m pretty confident that the Herron and the Allnic are the two best phono stages available at relatively reasonable prices.

Are they the equals of the likes of the Manley Steelhead or the Aestetix Io? No they’re not, but they come uncomfortably close at a fraction of the price. And if you’re someone who either can’t or won’t shell out for the latter, but still want a superb phono stage based on tubes, then they’re both frankly no-brainers.
Don't overthink it.
The VTPH-2A a great phono stage, very neutral with traits of SS and tubes thanks to the JFET MC stage (I only have MC cartridges). I find I do still prefer my VAC Renaissance SE phono stage in the main system (pure tubes but must use a SUT for MC); at more than 3x the cost of a Herron it adds a dash of "romantic" tube sound but also yields all the details and layers of music, can rock too, and simply makes music have more presence and come that much more alive. That's what money buys (for my ears), and I'm happy to pay it in this case. 

Now one honest annoyance I've found with the VTPH-2A is how far the grounding lug is from the MM inputs. This has made it difficult for me to achieve an external SUT connection (bypassing the JFET stage) without hum. I haven't been able to get that setup right yet, but when I do I strongly suspect I'll prefer the fatter tone imparted by SUT's like Bob's Devices Sky or EAR MC-3 vs the JFET stage.
Has anyone here compare a Herron to an ARC PH7? Mine is getting long in the tooth and if the Herron compares or exceeds I would love the added flexibility.  
Not side by side, but I believe I can state pretty confidently that both the Herron and my Allnic are better phono stages than the PH7, which I've spend many an hour listening to at a friend's place.  I can't claim it to be unequivocal truth, given that neither our systems nor our acoustic spaces are identical, but it is what my ears tell me.
@agrippa       As the previous owner of the Herron VTPH-2 and the current owner of an Allnic H1201, my experience aligns with yours, and I appreciate you bringing a measure of balance to the sometimes evangelical fervor of a few Herron advocates. I greatly enjoyed both phono stages, but perceive no great advantage of one over the other unless someone needs the extra flexibility afforded by the Herron.

Not to derail the thread--we can converse via private message if you are inclined--but I wondered if you could speak to whether the H1202 is much of a step up from the H1201? I have not read any reports of a comparison between the two so far, given the fairly recent release of the H1202. I am not assuming you have any prior experience with the H1201, but if so, I would appreciate your point of view.


I'm afraid I've no knowledge of the H-1201 beyond the plethora of enthusiastic reviews available online.  Comparisons will no doubt be available soon, but considering how recently the H-1202 was released I wouldn't expect any just yet.
However, given what I know of Mr. Park I doubt he would release a new model unless it had real and tangible improvements.  Whether the improvements are sufficiently signifiant to warrant an upgrade is of course another matter.
As for derailing the thread: I seriously doubt that any further illumination will be offered here regarding the Herron VTPH-2.  Both its sonic excellence and immensely favourable cost/performance ratio are already established facts, whereas more people really ought to be made aware of the Allnic H1201/2 and the fact that the same very much applies to it.
Did we ever end up with any serious detractors for the Herron?

I was close to buying one couple years ago but Keith himself thought it would not be a great match for my then Lyngdorf 2170 integrated and I went with a Goldnote ph10 instead.

Well that amp has long gone and I likely have my final amp in the shape of Ayre EX8 and now come back to the Herron question.

Love to hear if anybody is actually feeding an Ayre with the Herron.
^ good looking integrated! Nothing like a tube phono pre, particularly the vtph-2a 
hopefully someone can chime in. I didn't see any mention for input impedance unbalanced, maybe I missed it. 
From my EX8 manual.

Unbalanced 1M Ohm
Balanced 2M Ohm.
Keith says line stage with input of at least 50k or higher. 
Yes I remember which was the potential problem with the 2170 which I think was down at 10k.

Still be next cue to hear from anybody who made get have this combo.

The ph10 is good but I feel the Herron or a Manley Steelhead would be Ubervana.
I had the Herron for a while but preferred my Einstein Turntables Choice MC preamp. I wanted to prefer the herron because it has more flexibility in terms of two inputs. But for an MC cartridge, the Einstein was more articulate. I have heard that the MM stage on the herron is exceptional, but the MC can be bettered with step up transformers
I participated in a "shoot out" with the Herron, Allnic and Manley Chinook.  I think there were about 8 or 9 people there.  The only thing we changed was the Phono Preamp, and it was an otherwise excellent system.  

They all sounded great!  But, the vote ended up being that more favored the Manley than the others.  IMO, the Manley was the smoothest top to bottom, and others seemed to agree.  The Herron and Allnic both were excellent as well, but I found them to be a little more forward in the midrange.  That's a matter of taste, of course.

In the end, I have the Manley, and I'm very happy.  I think I could be happy with any of the three... but the Manley is least expensive of the lot.  I just didn't see enough improvement with the Herron to justify double the cost.  And, I think the Manley is a little easier to configure.
Just had a very pleasant phone conversation with Keith .
Both in agreement that present amp and his phono should be a match made in audio heaven.

And his direct sale pricing is VERY fair imho.

Just have to sell the Gold Note now.....
I sold my Gold Note in favor of the Herron, the VTPH-2A does everything better. I'm sure you will enjoy the Herron @uberwaltz
@uberwaltz
Just had a very pleasant phone conversation with Keith . Both in agreement that present amp and his phono should be a match made in audio heaven. And his direct sale pricing is VERY fair imho. Just have to sell the Gold Note now.....


You gave up so quickly after so many praise for the Gold Note in your posts.

Tube phono stage is not for everyone imo (same about tube amps).

But in general this is a prime exaple that we like something only until we will find something better. But you must check the Herron in your own system first, before you will sell Gold Note. Looking forward for your reports about it, but not in the first week after purchase :)

@jcoehler

I sold my Gold Note in favor of the Herron, the VTPH-2A does everything better.

Is it better in low register? The only weak point of the Gold Note in my system is the bass. But the best bass i have with mosfet phono stage (no tubes).

Chakster

I do not call 2 years " gave up so quickly"

You may not recall but at that time I was convinced I wanted a Herron or a Chinook back then but thanks to sensible advice right here it was decided that certainly the Herron would not be a good match impedance wise for my then present Lyngdorf 2170.

If the Gold Note was the be all and end all of phono stages then everybody would have one and there would be no need or market for anything different/better.

Sometimes it is indeed a case of the grass is greener but in this case with so much overwhelming support for the Herron ( and the Chinook) I do not believe it is just smoke and mirrors.

The only weak point of the Gold Note in my system is the bass.


And there we have it.... " in my system".

One cannot expect everybody to get the same results as in your system Chakster.

You have some good advice to offer at times on certain subjects but also it appears that when someones decision does not align with yours then they must just be wrong.
@uberwaltz It is not about right or wrong and i am not advocate of Gold Note here, in fact you guys promoted it for 2 years. I feel the lack of bass with this phono stage, sadly.  

Just curious how many phono stages we have to buy. 

I bought two, but my first one still better in low registed than all of the new phono stages i bought (including gold note) pretending for upgrade. Comparison is the key. 

After reading audiogon for years i see most people are from the USA and they are always vote for Made in USA products when it comes to the phono stages. 

I'm looking forward to read your comments about Gold Note vs. Herron 

Chakster.

I have not actually made the decision to purchase the Herron yet, hence digging up this thread and asking further questions.

Still using the Gold Note right now and possible the lower bass is a little lacking but not terribly so in my system.

However tubes were and have always been on my radar.

Just as an example, I purchased a very simple iFi audio tube buffer which I placed inline between my Nak tape deck and Ayre and it really fleshed out the bones a fair bit. Now sounds flat without it inline.

Still chewing it over.