Pinging Raul, where are you when we need you?
41 responses Add your response
Dear Ctm: For the KRSP: Lustre GST 801 or Ikeda 407.
Allaerts MC 2 Finish: Ikeda 407.
Colibri: Sumiko MDC 800 or Brinkman.
Myabi 47: SME IV ( rewired )
XV-1: Lustre GST 801, SME IV and Ikeda 407.
Those ones are my experiences about.
For turntables I recomended any all metal design like: Galibier, Acoustic Signature, Micro Seiki, Avid, Verdier, etc. etc.
Regards and enjoy the music.
With any of the four cartridges you mention, (I'm including the 47, though I really don't know it) you'll want to make accurate VTA/SRA settings and/or adjustments on a regular basis probably.
That limits the choice of arms to either the Tri Planar (gimbal) or the Graham 2.2 or Phantom (unipivot) for easy adjustment as far as pivoting arms go. And I don't think any of the few straightline trackers currently in production offer any advantages in the VTA/SRA adjustment department, and some of your cartridge choices may not work with them at all for effective mass mismatch reasons.
Anyone want to add good (meaning: easy to make adjustments, preferably on the fly) alternatives to the Tri Planar or Graham? Please do.
TTs? Too many good ones, though if you're planning to run multiple arms, Raul will probably tell you to find a used
Micro Seiki ;~))
Nsgarch - Great points! Yes ease of VTA/SRA adjustment are desireable tonearm features and as is a TT that can accomodate multiple arms.
If I only had to choose between the Tri-Planar or the Graham, then the former would more likely get the nod. I have heard all three tonearms you recommended. In most instances, the Graham was "clinical/mechanical" and not as involving.
Can't wait to hear from Raul. Anyone have experience with the Helius or Schroeder arm (don't know of its adjustable features) with any of these cartridges?
Nsgarch - Just curious what cartridge have you found to work best with the Tri-Planar?
Vincentkkho - Thanks for responding. Please tell us what tt you are using?
Raul - Please detail if you have any experience with the Tri-Planar. If so, was it in your system and what cartridge was used? Does its performance reach the level of those you recommended above?
Dear Ctm: I have experienced the Triplanar but never in my audio system .
I have a very good idea about the VII due to my " in other systems " experience and to the opinion of one person that I respect a lot ( an Auiogoner ) who thinks that the MAX 282 is on the same league than the VII. This is an " elogio " ( achievement ) for the VII. Btw, this tonearm is not exactly my cup of tea, between other things: I don't like " unfinished " products, this one goes in its seven up date and counting: maybe I will buy it when it goes in the 11 stage: it will be a better one than today, don't you think?
Now, more important and a critical issue about the quality of the analog music reproduction is the Phonopreamp specially with all those top performance cartridges: the MC2 Finish ask for the best of the best : no exeption here, so take cere about the Phonopreamp.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Nsgarch - Thanks for the reference on an experienced TP user.
Raul - Please further elaborate as to why the TP does not do it for you relative to the arms that do knock you out (no pun intended).
I completely agree on the importance of the phonostage. My MCP-1 is a dual mono all tube, MC amp with a 6922 and 6072 gain stages in series with RCA loading plugs and external tube regulated PS. Electron Images is/was Canada based and had two highly regarded phono stages (with the top of the line model having more user selectability than the MCP-1). Both units were desiged by a former Sonic Frontiers guy and who later was a consultant to Audio Note UK, but he is no longer with them and cannot be contacted at the moment.
The MCP-1 was always a champ in my system when it comes to dimensionality, transparency and resolution. Thanks to the help of a superb circuit designer, it has gone through extensive and necessary mods to address inherent design issues having to do with power regulation. It was somewhat lean when it first arrived from its original owner. This person did not have a tube tester so the unit also badly required retubing. Consequently, equally involved was the tube rolling required to dial in that balance between tonality and dynamics while retaining the above attributes.
The above adventures have led me to the discovery of how sonically influencial are output coupling and other signal carrying capacitors. Boy was I floored when a capacitor change (at $18 to $35 each) impacted the sonic signature significantly more than an IC, PC and tube change. To add to this madness, the sound changed over a period of 2-3 days and at even a week or two, to the point that what I preferred sonically at the outset is different once voltage and signals have passed through the new caps. Although the power regulation issues and tube/tonality have been addressed, the caps experimentation is what is currently keeping me preoccupied.
Many other units have come and gone and yet the analog is just not yet at the "reaching out and grabbing me" stage. I've had opportunity to hear the BAT VKP10SE, Air Tight ATE-2, Steelhead, Hagerman Trumpet, Groove, Basis Exclusive, Art Audio Vinyl One, and now the Whest and Ear 88pb. In my system and as you might guess, I prefered the tube units, especially the Steelhead followed by the BAT and ATE-2 (the rest were not close), but their prices were a bit steep for me at the time. Only one other unit was able to handily compete with the above preferred trio. It is also a tube based design; a MM phonostage with a cathode follower circuit and an overbuilt external PS that required the use of my Bent Audio step up device for the MCs I use. Unfortunately, it was a prototype/work in progress/experiment by a designer/solo operator who was swamped with many other higher priority orders that I simply could no longer wait. The MCP-1 came during my evaluation of the above units and was REALLY good for the price. It was flexible with its RCA loading plugs and it had ample gain for MCs with outputs as low as 1.5mV all the way up to about 0.8mV, thanks for the headroom allowed by the gain of my linestage and the input sensitivity of my amps.
I will soon receive the Wavestream Kinetics phono stage and I cannot wait! Others have suggested the Doshi full function pre but, as always, one step at a time. The VPI Aries and convenient arm wand interchangeability has allowed me to hone in on the cartridges I like. It would be great if I can complete the arm and tt upgrade before I really focus on the phono stage. Or should I do that now before I decide on the table or arm? TIA and best regards.
I really think the Brinkman LaGrange/with Brinkman's own arm is a major player,if it can be found at a reasonable price.List is a bit over what you want to spend,yet there is frequently some interesting pricing found,if you search a bit.
This combo is built to a ROLLS ROYCE standard.BIG TIME,and can accomodate the fine cartridges you mention.Also,the tubed power supply can be had here,as well,which supposedly puts this combo on a very short list of SOTA arm/table combos.
For a nice American combo,and more in line with getting a lower price,but "killer combo",with superb vacuum clamping,you may want to consider the Graham Phantom atop a SOTA COSMOS.The SOTA tables of the last couple of years are in another league from the older units,as to fit,finish,and attention to detail.Quite stunning,but the Brinkman line really floats my boat!
Nsgarch and all - In my prevous post aboout the Tri-Planar and the Graham, I mistakenly referred to the Graham when I really meant the Brinkman tt, arm & cartridge. So this brings me to...
sirspeedy70680@'s comments - A few of our audio club members recently got together for a phono stage shootout. We began this task by deciding which tt/arm/cart we want to use. We preferred the Graham Phantom with a Shelter 90x vs. the all Brinkman setup, which was more analytical and not as involving. I forget the tt used with Phantom and 90x for now and will provide this info when I recall or when one of the shootout attendees either email me or chime in.
Surely this was not an apples to apples comparison, but it certainly gave me a taste of the Brinkman sound.
Thanks for your continued suggestions and follow-up.
With repect to my previous post, I just remembered (one of the great benefits of getting some sleep) that the Phatom/90x was mounted as a second arm on the Brinkman tt. Also as an FYI, the rest of the equipment used for the phono stage shootout were all current production versions and includes the Avalon Opus Ceramiques, Air Tight pre and Rowland amps.
BTW--Though I'm not sure this was mentioned,and it is probably widely known anyway,there is quite a chasm(love that word)between some of the cartridge weights,mentioned.This will definitely require careful arm consideration,regarding effective mass.There is quite a disparity between the Colibri and Koetsu you mention.They will most likely require different arms,unless you source one with different arm-tubes.Each with a different mass.BTW-In the price area you mentioned,the Oracle,and SME-10 are fine products with good field records.I hope my comments have not mirrored what may have already been stated,as I haven't read all posts.
Also,as for the seemingly negative Brinkman statements,all I can say is DRATS.I kinda liked them.I have never really heard the products,but to me they had a really magnificent appearance,regarding integrity of build,and design.This usually means fine performance,but I've already shown how little I actually know.Just read some of my older posts!
Dear Norm: +++++ " The above adventures have led me to the discovery of how sonically influencial are output coupling and other signal carrying capacitors. Boy was I floored when a capacitor change (at $18 to $35 each) impacted the sonic signature significantly more than an IC, PC and tube change. " +++++
We have to understand this kind of statement ( btw, about the TP I will let you know " alone " by e-mail, I don't want a heavy controversy here. Dan, well was almost a joke but how far we are on the 11 version when we almost are in the VIII one? )
Like the step up transformer: the best capacitor is NO capacitor at all.
If you compare a phonopreamp DC coupled against any cap/transformer coupled the quality differences is really great in favor of the DC coupled one.
The Allaerts MC2 Finish, that is a glorious quality performance cartridge, deserve not only a very good phonopreamp circuit design but a DC coupled unit with around 80 db of clean gain with out distortions/noise and with out SUT. The MC 2 is an around 7K dollars, please don't tell me that you will " leave " the whole cartridge performance in the " hands " of a " cheap " capacitor and transformers. Well you can do that but in that way you never/ever know which one is really the MC2 Finish quality and you never know why you do a 7K payment for that cartridge.
We can do an analogy: would you buy a Lamborghini Contact to use it in " your virtual home " that is located in the mid of the Sahara where there is no any serious ( German Vans ) roads? I think that you don't. Then why try to do the same with the MC2 Finish? or the Colibri or other top jewelery/cartridges.
With all my respect to you that does not makes sense to me: it makes sense to you?
Other example: just imagine a Soprano singing through a paper box instead to do it directly/in a natural way. It don't makes sense, no?.
Now, if I were in your position to buy those top cartridges/tonearms/TT before I take action about my very first step should be to have the phonopreamp that will be abble to do " justice " to those great " analog devices ". At the analog stage ( in the audio system ) the phonopreamp has a vital " work ", we can't do mistakes here. Of course many of us already take the wrong " road " and many times we take the wrong road because a misconception about the critical importance that has the phonopreamp. I think that sooner or later we have to give to the phonopreamp the vital " life " that represents for the correct quality music sound reproduction at home.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Ctm and Speedy, I have to second the Brinkmann LaGrange TT. Amazing unit. Besides being a work of art to look at, the details brought forth from those micro grooves in my LP's just make me and my friends shake our heads and smile. From the bass to the top end nothing that I have heard short of a Rockport III will beat it by any real margin. I think it might be a bargain considering what one would need to spend to match it, let alone beat it sound wise. I don't know if a LaGrange would fit your budget but if you could swing it, I doubt you would be looking for another TT any time soon, if ever.
I have tried the Brinkmann TT in my system with a Brinkmann arm. While this might be a great combo, it needs to run with the Brinkmann cart otherwise a mid level mismatch seems to occur. This means that if you like to experiment with different carts, the Brinkmann would not be the optimal arm. I found the Triplanar VII better suited my taste in the dynamics and tonal balance department when using my XV-1s or UNIverse.
Raul,of course you are correct regarding the phonostage.The potential problem that exists,is that there are really very few real audio dealers anymore.Many folks get their info on the internet,and that is where many buy from as well.I really don't think there are too many hobbyists overtly concerned with the "phonostage" match,because the subject just doesn't come up that much,as many sellers simply assume the buyer knows this information already!Hence,the usual "hot cartridges of choice" are sold.Of course the syndrome takes on another light,when some time later,the new owner is not totally happy with their sound,not really knowing the actual reason why,and the merry-go-round of buying and selling continues.Then we wake up,years later,after dropping a load of dough on "audio stuff",and begin to understand what really are the important factors in putting together a fine system.Call it an initiation fee,I suppose.
I know NO person who has not gone through this.Myself included! Best!
Dear Sirspeedy: Unfortunatelly all is in the " way " that you post.
I think that we are putting the " finger where it hurts " and maybe it is time to make a " stop " in our system race and try to " understand " the PHONOPREAMP " figure/real importance.
A few years ago I I was interested in to have a better phonopreamp but today I already learn that the Phonopreamp is the brain/hearth of the analog system, its importance is unique and unfortunatelly for many of us its validity is a misconception/misunderstood and no know how about.
Well, in my humble opinion ( right Neil ) we have to take a very serious look to the phonopreamp " figure " in the quality music sound reproduction and that with out the right phonopreamp all what we do in the audio chain before it is a waist of time and money.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Norm: +++++ " Boy was I floored when a capacitor change (at $18 to $35 each) impacted the sonic signature significantly more than an IC, PC and tube change. " +++++
This statement tell you what you are really hearing: to that capacitor not the " real quality sound reproduction of what your cartridge has ". Think " a little " about.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Vetterone - Thanks for chiming in. No doubt about the quality of the Brinkman and if their tt comes up for sale with a quality arm in the $5-10k range I will certainly give it serious consideration. As mentioned in a previous post, we uninanmously preferred the Graham Phantom/Shelter 90x vs. Brinkman's arm/cartridge and both were mounted on a LaGrange. We will soon revisit this and keep the cartridge the same to get a better sense of the the Phanton vs. Brinkman sound.
Nice to know you have good experience using the TP arm with the Dynavector and the Zyx. I have not heard the XV-1s and look forward to the opportunity when it presents itself. Thanks to a fellow local audio club member, I have heard the UNIverse in my system and it is a remarkable cartridge. It was impressive relative to the Colibri and KRSP. It did not have the speed and resolution and dynamics of the Colibri and leaned more toward the sonic signature of the KRSP, but with a little more refined transparency and focussed dimensionality; smooth and musical overall. It was so impressive that I seriously considered it relative to the MC2 Finish at nearly the same pricepoint. However, because IMHO I felt my KRSP's performance was close enough to that of the UNIverse, I decided on trying the Allearts.
Raul,I think you may have missed my point.Nobody,at this hobby, for any real length of time,will dispute the significance of the phonostage.That being said,the beginning of this particular thread clearly asks about arm/table/cartridge matching.That seems to be where this particular poster wants to spend his money.
My contention is (and I completely agree with you about the phonostage)that anyone in the "emotional" buying stage,for the arm/table/cart is concerned with those choices,and usually(most often)does not want to start analyzing a different "playback" concern,like another "box",in the fashion of the phonostage.
It is here where a close association with a good dealer would normally come into play,yet today the vast majority of purchases are made on the "net"(nothing wrong there,btw),so that "personal involvement in the system",by the dealer, is diminished.
This is why I stated that the commonality so much of us share,is the "buy and sell"(until we actually learn something)syndrome.
WELL,those fortunate enough to read,and maybe ponder some of the stuff discussed in forums like this one,can possibly save some time,and money,by thinking about the kinds of stuff "The Great Irigues" speaks to!!
How's that one!
sirspeedy70680@ & Rauliruegas - Yes I agree that the audiophile merry-go-round process of buying and trying equipment, can be tedious and costly. The assistance and expertise of seasoned hobbyists like yourselves can help relatively newcomers like me to be more efficient as we search. In the end when the latest and greated piece of equipment is introduced into our system, it is our own evaluation of its performance that dictates whether it stays or goes.
I also agree with the importance you place on the phonostage. I hesitated when deciding on the title of this thread, trying to decide whether or not to include it. I am aware that the performance potential of my cartridges surpass those of my arms, tt or phonostage. I purposefully left out the phonostage in the title so that I can focus on the tt and arm with the intent on searching the archives for highly recommended phonostages. Admittedly my current analog setup, despite being made up of quality gear is, in the grand scheme of things, midfi and no where near reference level. As you can see from one of my previous posts my search for a phonostage has already been fairly extensive. I am lucky that I did not have to pay for the chance to listen to many of these units as they were brought over by local audio club members. The ones that came with a price tag were acquired with the option to return the unit if it did not work out in my system.
Rauliruegas - It can also be concluded from my previous post, that I prefer the sound of a tube phonostage. I have heard one old and one new generation Rowland in my system and along with my Threshold FET10HL, Groove and more recently, my Whest and ASR Basis Exclusive experiences, none of them did for me what the top performing tube-based gear has done. I will look forward to an in-my-system chance of evaluating an Ayre, FM Acoustics, Connoisseur, Boulder, etc. and see if they can reach out and grab me. Unfortunately, the latter three are simply too costly.
So as tempting as it is to want to qualify my statement about output coupling capacitors relative to your stance on the merits of DC coupled designs, I will bow out for many reasons, the most important among them are: 1) I am not an engineer so am in no position to prefer one design over another based on technical/theoretical knowledge, 2) it has the potential to lead to a ss vs. tube discussions, which is a non-issue for me as I am open to trying all types of phonostages, and 3) the design (whether right or wrong) of an audio gear is of less importance to me than how it ultimately performs/sounds in my system.
What does this all mean? I have to face the possibility that if I cannot find a tube unit to work with the MC2, then I may have to settle on the need to have two phonostages. I also realize that this can occur before or after deciding on a tonearm to ideally mate with my cartridges on a quality tt. So it is possible that I will have to settle for a solid state unit (DC coupled or otherwise) for the MC2 and whatever tube phonostage I end up liking for the other MC cartridges with higher outputs.
I look forward to receiving your TP comments offline. Feel free to recommend either here or offline your top choices of DC coupled phonostages in the $4-7k range. Also curious if you and your colleague(s) manufacture your custom full function preamp? If so what is the cost to have one made? If you do manufacture it, do you have adequate inventory of these units available for someone like me to try?
Dear Norm: +++++ " Groove and more recently, my Whest and ASR Basis Exclusive experiences, none of them did for me what the top performing tube-based gear has done.... " +++++
If you heard those SS phonopreamps in your system and the only thing that you do was to disconnect your tube unit and connect the SS one then I understand your statement.
It is almost imposible that with a totally different technology you could hear the differences for the good/bad with out " touching " any single link on your audio chain, it is the same if you pass from SS to tubes : what we have to do is to set up again our whole system: VTA, load impedance, cables, speaker position, etc, etc.. If the new unit is really a very good one then this new unit could tell you some problems that you have in your system and that appear with this new unit in the system chain. As a fact those problems always were there but the " old " unit hiding through its lesser quality and higher distortions/noise/colorations. You don't have to be and engineer to have a point on this statement, everyone can do it.
If with the new unit you don't like what you are hearing you don't have to conclude that this new unit is the problem, why? you have to do a research for to know where is the problem because maybe the problem is in other place in the system and till now you never knew you already have it.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Rauliruegas - Let's please take the phonostage topic offline shall we? You are also welcome to open a new thread.
All - Thanks for contributing to this thread. Lots of great info! It would be great to hear specifically from owners of the Koetsu RS Platinum, Van Den Hul Colibri XGW, Miyabi/47 Labs and Allaerts MC2 Finish to see what tonearm they've found to be most synergistic. TIA & regards.
Ctm_cra,You clearly know alot more than you let on!!
You might want to consider buying a used Audio Research Phono stage,for a fairly low cost,and having a reputable "modifier" like Great Norther Sound,give it a significant facelift.They mod many lines,btw!Both I,and my friend had our older units completely rebuilt,a couple of years ago.INCREDIBLE results!!!Steve Huntley(the owner)does absolutely amazing work.I have never seen any manufacturer/or modder pay the attention to detail,that he does.
I know this may seem like like I'm going a bit over the top,but they work on a ton of tubed designs,turning them to "gold".It wouldn't hurt to take a look at their website.You may be able to get what you want,for less dough!
Raul,you are way off base in thinking everything has to be gone over(in the system chain)to be able to identify whether something is "sounding good"!Are you implying that when I swapped out some NOS phono tubes,for a better sounding set,that it is unclear to ascertain the reason for improvement?Or a cartridge change,or arm,or amp,etc!
I hope I misunderstood you!
Dear Norm: +++++ " . Feel free to recommend either here or offline your top choices of DC coupled phonostages in the $4-7k range. " +++++
This is what you told me in this thread: I'm sorry to disturb you about, I'm only trying to help " someone " with a very high targets ( real music ), that's all. Maybe there was a misunderstood by me.
Btw, I already give you my experiences with your cartridges ( that I own, too ) and in which tonearms.
+++++ " but the VDH, although fast, transparent, detailed and dimensional, it is also lean and uninvolving... "+++++
This tell me that something is really wrong in your system or in the set-up of the Colibri: my experience with it tell me that in no way is a " lean and uninvolving " cartridge. Plkease take a " look " to this thread:
There is something important about the Colibri: Dr. Van denHul recomended that after 250-300 hours we have to send the cartridge to him for he makes the " final touch ", when the Colibri return it was amazing ( he do this for free, you only do a payment for the shipping ).
Sirspeedy, oviously is a misunderstood, please re-read carefully and off-line we could talk about for not following disturbing Norm.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Vetterone - We recently revisited the question of the sonic characteristics of the Phantom vs. the Brinkman arms. If you recall last time we compared the Brinkman arm/cartridge combo vs the Phantom/90x on the La Grange. This time we used two cartridges - the Dyna XV-1S and the Shelter 90X, evaluating them one at a time mounting/aligning each one on both arms on the fabulous Brinkman tt.
Consistent with our suspicions that began when we first visited this topic, it was unanimous among the members of our local audio club who were present that the Brinkman arm tends to be more analytical and tonally thinner than the Phantom, at least across these two cartridges. The owner was so convinced that he ended up selling his Brinkman arm to fund his next tonearm to audition (a Morsiani, Helius, Da Vinci, Pluto or Tri-Planar). Interestingly, he is bypassing the Schroeder as he feels the TP can at least equal its performance.
Raul is absolutely right about tonearm & phonostage matching with the Mc2 Finish. I use it now with a Schroeder DPS, but have ordered a Reference SQ because while the DPS is an excellent match sonically once you've found the right settings, the cartidge really asks to be reset up for 180 gm records, and its a bit of a job without repeatable fine-tuning.
Also re the pbonostage, I can confirm that using a non-exceptional phonostage will loose what is extraordinary about this cartridge. The other problem that is vital is to check that your phonostage/s don't produce any kind of dc kickback, or there is a danger of melting the coils. I use it with a Groove Plus, but turn the phono on for two hours before plugging in cart, and never switch immediately off and then on again. One also has to be particularly careful with valve phonostages. The valve phono that is compatible is the new Tron (which I hope to try), but I fear that there is no SUT I can find that actually sees 845 Ohms (this is absolutely vital with the Finish).
Ebarker2 - I have no direct experience with the MC2 Finish. I just missed the chance to try it with the Wavestream Kinetics and I am kicking myself for not prioritizing it.
However, I thought it would be worthwhile to mention that an MC2 Finish owner, who has tried many arms, does not recommend the Schroeder or any wood tonearms with this cartridge. It just happens that the Allaerts distributor also represents Schroeder. However, this does not necessarily mean that this is the best arm to use. If you have extensively listened with other arms and settled on the Schroeder, then please detail your findings.
As to DC kickback, please pardon the following rookie-like questions. Exactly how does one know or measure if they have this or not? Besides melting the coils on the cartridge, how does it manifest itself through the system? In other words what early symptoms, subtle or otherwise, should one be looking for?
Brizonbiovizier - We used two phonostages when we evaluated the Brink cartridge (and arm). First was the ASR Basis Exclusive and the other is the EAR 88pb. With the ASR we preferred a loading of 350 Ohms and with the EAR we liked 500 Ohms.
The the amps were Rowland 302 and speakers were the mid line Avalons with ceramic drivers.
The Finish is certainly worth prioritizing. An exceptional cartridge by any standards. I disagree with your friend. I don't think its so much a question of 'wooden' tonearms or who distributes what. To my ear there is a natural synergy between the Shroeder and Allaerts (though it is true that they both require considerable patience and work to get the best out of the combination). I have heard the Finish in my own arms (6 or 7) and in a few more elsewehere, and would always choose the Schroeder as natural mate. It also likes a good air bearing and the Sme V or 312 (if they are rewired). As a combination the Schroeder / Allaerts can sound flat if not carefully set up. The Finish can sound v. odd and even thin, white/ wintery with wrong SUT or phono.
You can measure DC kickback when switching on a phonostage but it's a complicated matter, and its not clear exactly how many millivolts will initiate damage (40mv?). The symptoms are a loss of some volume or signal in one channel (usually the right) which means a rebuild. The main thing is to be safe than sorry, and i would contact Jan Allaerts directly to ask about specific phonostages. The Tron Seven is completely safe with it, and sounds excellent. The TEAD Groove SRX needs to warm up 2 hours before connection and will sound leaner but incredibly fast. The Kondo SFZ step up/M77 is amazing but needs a resistor to bring it up to 845 ohms. It can be dangerous to feed the Finish an incorrect load as it can snap the very thin/delicate gold coil windings. After all this though it can reward with really wonderful sound.
Ebarker2 - Thanks for the detailed and insightful response. I'll just let my friend chime in about the Schroeder/Allaerts when he has time. I'll email him offline to prompt him to do so.
As to DC kickback, is it generally safer to turn on the phonostage first before connecting the ICs (or tonearm wire to the RCA junction box)? As a general precaution I often mute the preamp when turning on/off the tt motor or when cueing/lifting the cartridge. From your explanation I assume the risk to connecting the ICs (or tonearm wire for the VPI JMW arms) to a phonostage that has been on for a considerable amount of time, is far less than having the IC connected when first turning on the phonostage. Is this summary correct?