I have my table now I need a phono, please help

I have just recently purchased a Michell Gyrodec with Orbe platter + SME V arm and Koetsu Black cart. I have a max budget of $1k but would much prefer to come well under that.

I am not opposed to buying used. I have been reading incessantly and I have narrowed my search to:


Ear 834p (priced nicely when used, easily modified, easy to resell)

Wright Sound WPP200C (couldn't find much on this amp, is it really quiet with low output MC's? reselling could be tough)

Sonic Frontiers Phono 1 (well received when originally released, upgrades available through Parts Connexion, does use the 6dj8 family of tubes which is known to be a noisy bunch, though the Phono 1 is said to be extremely quiet)


Ray Samuels Emmeline XR-2 (can handle nearly any cart out there, built very well, supposedly very very quiet, may be difficult to resell, price is right at my budget)

Audiomat Phono 1 (can handle any cart, very quiet unit, hard to find, not well known in North America, said to be an excellent all around performer)

Rogue Audio Stealth (can handle the carts, price is right new, sound may not be up to par with the other offerings above)

Dynavector P-75 (price is right, hands low output MC with some special mojo apparently, how is the noise floor?)

Grado PH-1 (price is right, handles both high and low output carts, though some have stated the gain is not enough for .4-.5 mV carts. May be a bit noisy compared to the other amps I am considering)

So that about sums it up. I am not interested in reselling per say, but I list that as something to think about since I most likely can't listen to the above phonos at any local dealer, though I do have a local dealer willing to order the Dynavector for me to listen to, obviously with the hope I will buy, but they are willing to get it in without an "in blood" commitment.

Thanks for any advice. I'm a complete newbie so please take that under consideration. Also, for the time being, I will be using the SME phono cable, I would rather invest much money in the phono and deal with cables later.

Take a look at a Phonomena, very flexible, sounds nice, very quiet, can be had used for $350 or so. If you're happy with that you can add the battery supply later. I'm using one now while waiting for a reference phono stage and it does nicely in a system where it is the cheapest componenet by at least a factor of 10 to 20.
Your list is well considered. I just want to point out the Wright has a rather strong following with posters at the Asylum. Opinions of this unit are universally positive, and it has compared favorably to several on your list. If one were to come available for sale, I imagine it would go rather quickly. I, for one, have been keeping an eye out.
If you decide on the Phonomena, don't bother with the battery pack. Mine stopped holding a charge in less than one year. The Phonomena worked fine, however.
Since you worry about being able to try something out with a minimum of financial risk I would say to try the P-75.
I am very please with mine, it as replace 2 well kowned and appreciated phono amp in my house, one tube based unit at twice its price and an SS unit at 4x its price.
Was it better than those two, I dont know, but better to my ears' s list wishes, absolutly... and the only reason for me as why I kept it over them.
If its '' phono enhancer '' circuit mates as well with your Black Koetsu as it does with my Denon DL 103 you might enjoy a similar Japanese connexion of great musical value.
It as not short-change the musical values of the five tables that have hosted the RB 300- Denon combo and it has always made clear the differences among them.
Connected to my integrated SE Antique Sound Lab KI 22 I can hear the sound of silence...so I gess it is quiet
I'll put in another vote for the Phonomena. I can verify that it's a very high bang-for-the-buck piece. I'm presently using mine with a Michell Orbe SE with a Wilson Benesch Act 0.5 arm and a Shelter 501 II cartridge. I'm very surprised at how nice it sounds and how much inner detail it provides. And this is with the standard power supply. I also like the range of loading and gain options it offers compared to many other units.
Nice rig. I was lucky enough to audition the Sonic Frontiers SFP-1 Signature, the Dynavector P-75 and the Audiomat Phono 1 and the Coph Nia all at the same time. (the first two were my friend's). My auditioning was mostly with a Rega P9 TT and Dynavector XX-2. Please note that the XX-2's output is only .23mV so it really was unfair to the SF. Another friend with a VDH cart. at .65mV was more telling of what to expect with the Sonic Frontiers. I had a very short time with a Shelter 501 mk II as well.

All will have enough gain for you but the SF is only rated around 57db so you wouldn't want to go much lower than your Koetsu's output before hitting the noise floor. It is a beautiful sounding phonostage. Wide, deep soundstage, great bass extension airy natural highs and decent midrange. Drawbacks are the limited gain, more noise, inverted phase (it says that in the manual), and a loading option that need soldering should you want to change it. These are minor unless you plan to try other cartridges. Like we found though, it really has an excellent sound.

The Dynavector is decent and can sound quite good but is not in the league of these other two. Lots of punch and power, but suffers a bit in imaging and subtlety. Layering is a bit confused and the presentation is quite forward. I think it's very good at it's price but I think you can do better with your budget. It lacks some refinement the others have.

The Audiomat very easy to live with. Just plug it in. The power cord is captive so you don't even have to deal with that. And... to my ears, it is overall the best sounding phonostage of the three mentioned.
Like I said, I was using a .23mV cart most of the time so obviously this one worked the best for me but my friend compared all three as well and we both ended up with Audiomats. It has the speed and punch of a SS design (and very quiet) but only gave up a very little bit (to his ears, not mine) of micro dynamic detail of the Sonic Frontiers. The midrange though is fantastic. Detail retrieval is great. Bass may not seem quite as full but it's hard to day that it isn't more accurate. (we disagreed on this issue) I can just say that when I first got it home and set up, I put on a record just to check if it was working properly and ended up listening for over an hour.

I won't get into the Coph Nia since it's not on your list but it's another unsung hero. Quite laid back but something about it really seems "right".
I had an 834P and liked it a lot. At the time it was the first tube piece in my system. Very musical and 3-D sound. So then I had it modified, all new Auricaps, resistors and NOS tubes. Took that little black box to a whole new level. Everything that was good about it was compounded. I had bought the unit used and even after mods I was only out about $1k. It took an Aesthetix Rhea to get me to replace it and for a lot more money. And, as you know, the re-sell quickly.
Wow, excellent advice from everyone who replied. OF course, with such good advice it makes my decision a bit tough. Perhaps I will hold off for a few weeks and see what pops up for sale here before asking the local dealer to get the Dynavector P-75 in for me to listen to. He has a Sonic Frontiers SFP-1 SE as well but I heard from Chris Johnson that if I am going to get one of his phonos...it is best to just head straight for the Phono 1 and not bother with the SFP-1 SE or stock.
I had problems with a Rosewood signature recently. Not really problems, but my phonostage then did'nt match, it was quite warm and so is the koetsu. I think a tube stage might be too much of a good thing. I settled on A 2nd hand Clearaudio reference, quite neutral and a lovely match. That may be too expensive, but I would be going for one of the SS options. The Clearaudio has a 57db gain which is enough, but I would say a minimum and the output is the same as your black, I believe.
I am not sure about other cartridges, but Koetsu's seem to like the right input impedence. The makers do'nt give much guidance, but 100ohms seems most peoples advise. Whatever you choose needs to be set for 100ohms, or adjustable. Hope thats useful.
Thanks a lot David,

I went today and ordered a Dynavector P-75. I hope this will do me well. I also have a friend searching out an Ear 834p for me. I will eventually have that to compare with the SS phono and make a judgement and then sell off the one I don't like/want. I believe the P-75 can be set for 100 ohms and it has enough gain with the special low out setting. I shoudl have it this weekend and the system should be setup within a week, I'll let everyone know how it turns out. Thanks again for the advice.