Jolida JD9: I think I over-bought. Alternatives?

In my infinite quest of attaining gear that punches above it's weight class.... I landed a used JD9 to try it out and I'm frustrated. The AT120ET cart is too high of output to use the high outputs (even with 12au7 tubes). I ended up using the low outputs. While it still sounds good, I can't help but think that I'm not getting as much out of it with the cart i'm using. ...and I don't want to upgrade my cart.

I think I might go back to the Cambridge 651p or Musical Fidelity V90-LPS. Both sounded pretty good. I post here, so you guys can talk me out of it ... or suggest an alternative. On the plus side, I did score some 12ax7 mullards, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

I have a stock technics 1200 Mk2 that I'm quite happy with. Just need a preamp that matches nicely with the cart. I think there might be something in-between the $200 - $600 that might be a good match.

Conversely both the Cambridge and MF are pretty good. I'm not looking for a critical preamp. Thoughts?
have you tried different gain settings on the dip switches? I find a lot of flexibility in the JD9, which is what I like about it. In addition to hi vs lo outputs, you can use diff gain settings, or tubes.
Hi Martinman

I use a restored stock Technics 1200 Mk2 too but my cartridge is a Denon DL-110 with a Ortofon SH-4 headshell. The phono preamp I use is a Hagerman Technology Bugle 2.

It is a nice phono preamp on a budget IMO. I liked this preamp better than the Cambridge Audio 640P. I felt the music was more alive with the Bugle2.
Yah, tried all of that. I was really angling to use the high outputs, but even with them all off, the signal is too hot. 12au7's didn't help either.

Using the low outputs is the only thing I can do with it.
Try a Jasmine LP2.0 SE. In fact there is one here on Audiogon for only $350. I have used mine with a variety of LOMCs, moving iron. I upgraded the output caps to Janzten Superior Z caps.

I am very pleased with its performance and have no desire to upgrade. I use a Lenco with Mirko's platter and bearing and VPI JMW 12.5.
NAD 2 is good.
I went from the MF-VLPS to the JD9... granted, I replaced the opamps, output caps (biggest improvement) and dropped in some Raytheon 5751 Windmill Getter tubes and it is leaps and bounds better than the VLPS... I am running a Benz Micro Gold LOMC cart though... the JD9 has a lot of gain, why I went to the 5751 tube which is 70% of the 12AX7... you might want to drop by AK's Turntable forum and search out the Jolida JD9 Official Thread - lots of people over there who have made some simple mods to the JDP to get stellar performance... they might be able to shed more light on your cart with the JD9... I wouldn't give up on the JD9 just yet.
The JD9 has plenty of gain, no question. I've found 5751's to be the best tubes I've tried thus far in mine. They are a bit lower gain alternative to the AX7....may help your situation a bit ?

I only use the low outputs. Using the low output Denon 103D cart... still lots of gain, LOL. The gain is the one thing I've struggled with , but the JD9 is a great sounding phono stage, so I keep workin with it. :)

Good luck,
Heed Quasar may be a nice option. It has a warmer, relaxed sound to my ears.
I have a JD9 and best thing about it is you set pF to 0. Great for AT carts. But if you want to go to another preamp I can easily recommend the Hagermann Bugle2.
****I was really angling to use the high outputs,****

Why do you feel that the high output setting would be better? The opposite is usually the case since you are then using fewer gain stages (less is more). If you don't need the extra gain that is a good thing. One of the reasons that I have gone back to MM cartridges from low output MC's is precisely that; my phono stage sounds considerably better in MM mode (lower gain). Rest easy.
You could try the 5751 tubes. These are a 12AX7 equivalent and in most cases, have a 30% reduction of gain.

Depending on the circuit, they can sound even better.
03-04-14: Frogman
Why do you feel that the high output setting would be better?
I'm with Frogman, I'm not sure I understand the problem you have.
I have both the JD-9 and a Musical Fidelity X-LPS, and have previously owned many other low (<$100) to medium priced ($~600) phono pre's. If you think the JD-9 is more pre than you need, the X-LPS is a great alternative. It's pure simple, has both MM and MC, but no other settings to tinker with. I really like the sound - nearly as much as the JD-9.

They can be found for $160 +/- last time I checked, which is less than half what I think your JD-9 will sell for used.
Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

So regarding the high outputs. I read through many forum threads AG, AK, etc and the overall consensus is that high outputs sound better. So, out of curiosity, I'm trying to get there with what I have. I had 12au7's which is 80% lower gain than a 12ax7 for about a week while using the high outputs. I was just on the edge of overdriving the signal - about half of my records would distort (just slightly). Anyway, things sounded better.

I'm not saying the low outputs are bad. It's more of a recognition that I'm not getting as much out of the JD9 with my setup. I was expecting to hear a big difference from some of the $200 solid state units that I demoed. It's just not that big of a difference.
Going a little further with the "high outputs sound better" theory

My impression is that the high outputs provide more sensitivity which = more detail. I have the older JD9 with trim pots on the low output. This basically allows me to attenuate the signal -- the high outputs don't have this in the signal path. So, my goal is an un-attenuated signal.

I don't know much about pre-amps in general... My suspicion is that there is some attenuation happening?
I just looked up the circuit of the JD9. It appears to be a solid state phono stage connected to a tube line stage packaged as one phono preamp. If the solid state phono stage has enough gain already then a 12AX7 in SRPP line stage will have way too much gain. And if you switch to 12AU7, which is a better tube for line signal, and still have too much gain then the whole tube line stage is redundant. It's really a solid stage device trying to use tube to "flavor" the sound and there's nothing wrong with that but they should wire the tube as a cathode follower, which has no gain. In full signal it can reach 80dB of gain! That's one hot preamp!

If you are handy with a soldering iron, you can bypass the line stage entirely and get a purer signal but you will lose the tube flavor. The difference between the high and low output is just a resistor voltage divider at the output, one resistor in series and one resistor to ground, essentially a fixed volume control. Changing the value of the resistors will provide you different gain but will change the output impedance. I don't understand why they didn't just add a volume control in front of the tube stage is beyond me. Or you can just change one input resistor and it will get to where you want. Look at the schematic and change resistor R01 to, say, 220k, and you will get half of the gain. Just try till you get the gain right for your system. Or simply add a pot in there. Add another input and a selector and, voila, then you have a full function preamp! One with solid state phono stage and a tube line stage.

Good luck.

Ditto some 5751 tubes and keep playing with the switches on the back.

It is a very good phono amp.
03-05-14: Dsper: "Ditto some 5751 tubes and keep playing with the switches on the back."

The three dip switches allow 3 gain settings. If he already switched it to "MM" setting and that's the lowest gain he could get. He needs further reduction of gain.


Line Stage

Phono Stage

DIP Switches


You say you don't want to change cartridges but you are willing to spend $600 on a new phono preamp. The JD9 is a good one. I would get a better cart. There are some MC's that are way better than your cart. and you don't have to spend $600........
Hiho -

Thanks for your posts -- the schematic analysis really helps. I don't think I'll modify it though. I'd rather pay (at some point) and get a better cart that is more inline with the JD9 expectations. Or sell it now and get something in the future when I upgrade things. I have the MM switch on, and the other 2 off. When using the high output, I had them all off (still about 50db of gain!). The 12au7s helped, but still was overdriving things.

The Bugle2 is intriguing so I placed an order. Can't beat $139 for the kit. I've built tube amps before, so this should be a snap to put together. Looking forward to the comparison!
I run an Audio Teknica AT150 and that gives more detail than my KB Ortofon sty40. Also have used a Denon 103R and that was more detailed than the Ortofon, I thought in my system.

Did not really notice a whole lot of gain difference between the three cartridges. Using the MM on the JD9, I believe.
Hi Everyone,

I took Jedinite24 and Gadfly's advice and bought a Bugle 2 Kit from Jim Hagerman.

I am absolutely blown away by it's performance. It's exactly what I was look for. We all love products where the price to performance ratio is maximized. You can't beat this at $139 kit / $189 assembled. The bugle 2 is far better than anything you can get at this price-point.

If you are handy at all, get the kit -- the directions are very very good.

Glad you like your new phono preamp. But it's curious that if you're technical enough to assemble a kit and yet you couldn't bypass the tube stage to lower the gain, just jumping couple wires, which would have cost you nothing. Essentially you're replacing one op-amp for another. Oh well, you're getting what you want so that's what matters.

Hiho -

Yep, I hear you. I thought about it, but didn't want to mod it (even it wasn't permanent). I bought the jolida to get that warm tube sound. Bypassing it would have removed the primary deciding factor of me buying it to begin with. Well, that and I didn't want alot of $$$ tied up in a pre that I wasn't getting full use out of.

I really appreciate you help on this. I wish I could read schematics as good as you!! Would make my life alot easier!
I enjoy a Cambridge 640p with the now seemingly unavailable Pangea P100 power I bet the new version sounds great, although again, likely too inexpensive for the true audio geek.