I need help regarding tube phono preamplifiers

To the Audiogon community. I am currently considering one of three possible all tube phono preamps to incorporate in my two channel system. The three phono stages are 1.Aesthetix Rhea phono preamp 2.Zesto Andros Deluxe II phono stage and 3. Vac Renaissance phono preamp. I will incorporate the stand alone phono preamp into my McIntosh C48 preamp and utilize a Clearaudio Performance DC turntable with a Clearaudio Universal tonearm and Kiseki Purple Heart phono cartridge. If anyone has experience to help me compare the differences between these phono stages I would greatly appreciate the input. Thanks.


I would like to thank all of the forum members who responded to my posting.

I appreciate the feedback and will do some additional research. Hopefully I will be able to demo some products prior to making the final choice.

Best regards to everyone.

The OP asks for a comparison among 3 choices of phono and got almost nothing but suggestions that he consider a 4th, and there’s virtually no consistency regarding a putative 4th alternative. I’ve owned the Rhea which I converted to Signature status. The Rhea Signature version was way better than the base version. Otherwise I advise the OP to choose on the basis of features, because all 3 on his list are very good, provided that you sub in the Sig version of the Rhea. I have a slight bias in favor of the VAC Ren, but it’s not well founded.


The Hegel V10 is not tubed, but it’s warm sounding and detailed. Used with a tube line preamp (Cary SLP05) the combination has that tube “magic” yet is detailed with a focused soundstage.

I've always lusted after Vac phonostages, but haven't made the leap. Same with Aesthetix. Aesthetix worried me to have to always be chasing tubes and noise. Went Allnic and I could not be happier. Possibly last phonostage I'll need. But you are in a very good spot and really are going to have a hard time going with the wrong phono. 

I own the Zesto Andros Deluxe II phono stage. It's the best phono stage I've ever owned. I have not compared it to the two other phono stages you're considering.

Best of luck. It appears you won't go wrong with any of those choices.