Looking for a Phono pre around 1K


Hey all,
My system,
VPI hw-19 mkIII, premier mmt arm, Ortofon bronze 2m, Yaqin 100b KT-88 push pull, Focal 1008be2
I've had :
Cambridge audio 640p that I modded (power supply, opamp sockets, ) 
Sound: ok , not much soundstage or detail
Yaqin ms23b tube. 
Sound; more soundstage, better delineation of vocals and room ambience, still sounds a bit muffled/recessed.

I know those are on the inexpensive side, but after upgrading my speakers to the Focals. I'm hearing hints of things in the recordings that, I'm positive, with a better phono pre could be more fleshed out.

I listen to mainly rock/pop (Bowie, Stones, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Carly Simon, jazz)

If I could stay under 1K that would be great.

I'd like more definition, without losing the sweetness of tubes, I know I don't have any tube stages on there but…
I'd like the ability to use a MC cart as well 9I have a Denon 160)
My list so far:
Musical Fidelity - MX-VYNL Mm/Mc
Sutherland - Insight Phono Preamplifier
Musical Surroundings - Nova II
PS Audio Phono Converter (would be great to rip the records)

Any Suggestions are greatly appreciated.

thanks
mdelrossi1
Why no tubes? Check out the Rogue Audio Triton,it lists for $995. There is a used one listed here for $649!
Look for JLTi mm/mc phono stage with plug-in rca resistors to change loading of the cartridge quickly. This is high gain phono stage based on diamond transistors. Absolutely amazing! From Australia. 
You might want to contact Aural Thrills Audio, he advertises here on Audiogon, he will build you a unit to match the output you are looking for and they are really nice units and within your price range.
I have the Simmaudio Moon LP 5.3 RS

Sounds excellent, takes most cartridges, dead quiet (even at full volume) -  connect with good cables and it really excels.

You can get a seperate power supply, but a great power cable will work just as well.

You’ll have to look at "previously enjoyed" gear. The problem is - they don’t come available too often

They do have a newer model, but it’s a little above your budget.

They do have the 110 LP - another good buy that is more in line with your budget and from what I have read it is a great performer - it’s just not as flexible

I also had a heavily mod’d Cambridge Audio, but the moon left it in its wake - it's in s different league.

Hope that helps
HEED Quasar?

@yogiboy ,

That's exactly where tubes mostly unwanted (at least by me) is actually phonostage especially MC-section if transformer-less. High gain tubes not only sound extremely far away from reality, but have limited time of clean and low background noise performance.

So my rule would say that neither headphone amp or phonostage needs vacuum tubes while it's OK with amp-preamp(line section or low-gain MM).


@czarivey ,
That's your rule. I prefer tubes in the phonostage.  Far away from reality? Noise? 
 Musical yes!
In that price range I would consider the following brands:  Graham Slee, Creek, Rothwell, Lehmann, Pro-Ject.
Musical Surroundings Phenomenon II sounds great if you have clean power in your house and knocked spots of 2 other phono stages I tried that are mentioned above. Brought everything out of my Dynaudio/Classe/MMF9.1 Lyra Argo based system. Good cabling (level 4 Morrow was a great step up and good value) is critical when driving loud.
Post removed 
Look into an Allnic H-1200 used for about $900.  It is very dynamic, and good at all the other audiophile goodies.  It also allows you to use a low output MC or high output cartridges.  It does use some small tubes.   I would venture it is a better sounding phono preamp than most anything south of $1800.
Modwright has a new ss phono stage coming (very?) soon that sounds interesting.... 

Have you seen the Sutherland PH3D? Runs on a pack of 16 D cells. Playing time
is said to be 1200 hours and has been derived from more expensive units by
this company.
The Transcendent Sound Phono Preamp is very well regarded, although factory-assembled it's $ 1099 . Under $900 for the kit if you can do it yourself . Only 2 gain stages ,all triodes . Many say it's still the best product he offers . Worth a look ?
No MC but a great phono pre.
https://www.audiogon.com/listings/tube-croft-series-7-micro-preamplifier-croft-preamplifier-2017-05-12-preamplifiers-60091-wilmette-il
PS Audio Phono Converter is too noisy for MC cartridge.
I'm using the same cartridge and can without a doubt recommend the Decware ZP3. It's little over your budget but worth it in my opinion. The soundstage is superb and to me sounds very real and musical. No unwanted noise what so ever. Complete satisfaction.
In that price range I would consider the following brands: Graham Slee, Creek, Rothwell, Lehmann, Pro-Ject.

Agree except for the Pro-Ject.  I had a bad experience with their Tube-Box.  Basically it was no better than my integrated's phono stage.  I have had good results with Slee and ifi.  Better again is the Benedict Audio Hothead (I am using the MC version).

PS Audio Nuwave for $999.00 works for me. I'm using it with a Denon 103r MC going into an Audion 300b amp and Zu Soul Superfly speakers. Sounds great to me. 
Pre-owned Pass Aleph Ono. Accepts MM and MC. 
Second the transcendent sound,
found it to be a fairly easy build w great sound
If you don't mind spending less The Van Alstine Vision  is very nice in general and very dynamic in particular .
Thanks for all of the suggestions.
I came across a used Lehmann black cube SE2 for a good price.
Should have it up and running next week. 

Thanks again. 
mdr
I myself purchased a Brown Audio Labs SP-2B preamplifer earlier this year.  I first read about Brown Audio Labs from Dick Olsher.  My model is a full function tube preamplifier with both a balance control as well as a mm phono preamplifier.  I am presently using it strictly as a phono preamp connected to an Audio Research LS27 tube preamplifier.  The sound is truly wonderfully sounding.  ure tube magic at a price of only $1184, which includes shipping.  
No mention of Jolida jd9. The modded jd9 may be the true giant killer under 1k. 

Haven't had the opportunity to hear it, but the Tavish is supposed to be
very good. I enjoyed the Heed Quasar very much. I generally veer to
tubes, but the Quasar was very convincing. If I were looking in your
$ range, the Tavish would be where I may start.
Out of the stages you mentioned I have experience with two of the Brands.

Sutherland - Insight Phono Preamplifier
Musical Surroundings - Nova II

I own the Musical Surroundings Nova Phonoema I (1200new/500 used). I also have heard and compared directly with the Sutherland PHD (3k new/used 1500).

Honestly the MS stood up pretty well to the more expensive Sutherland. The MS is much more neutral and balanced throughout. It had more of a tight snappy bass. 

Sutherland was warmer and had a more round bass that sounds a little slower. It did seem to bring voices slightly out of the mix more so than the MS. It might of had a tiny bit more detail.

I have also compared the MS to a 3k Ayre phono. Let me just say the MS phono is a lot of bang for the buck and is quiet as some of these phono stages double the price. It also has more loading options and can handle just about any cartridge. Further I don't think the battery adds that much performance for me or others (from the forums I have read).

It soundstaging, loading options and quietness is right up there with 3k units. I think you may get a little bit more detail and maybe a tonal balance you like more going with 3k units but it really didn't seem worth the price to me. Just my thoughts. 
Hear, hear schubert! I am not familiar with Van Alstine's "Vision", but in the 80's I had his redesigned Dynaco PAS, and it was better than my ARC SP-3!
darkstar1
I own the Musical Surroundings Nova Phonoema I (1200new/500 used). I also have heard and compared directly with the Sutherland PHD (3k new/used 1500).

Honestly the MS stood up pretty well to the more expensive Sutherland. The MS is much more neutral and balanced throughout. It had more of a tight snappy bass.

Sutherland was warmer and had a more round bass that sounds a little slower. It did seem to bring voices slightly out of the mix more so than the MS. It might of had a tiny bit more detail.

I am not sure why darkstar1 found the Sutherland Ph3D's sound the way he described it. Could be several reasons but in any event I have spent considerable time with that Sutherland piece and always found it to be quite revealing, very fast and accurate.  I just sold my unit several months ago for $600 on A/G.  It was configured as an AC unit with the hardware to convert it to battery power.  The only reason that I parted with it was that I acquired the Sutherland N1 Preamplifier, a complete phono/line stage device of exceptional build and sonic quality.
I suppose any choice will be dependent on your personal preferences and associated equipment.  +1 for Sutherland
bdp24

Pas 3 design is cleanest ever in audio . I heard a home-built PAS 3 with the best mod boards available , best connectors, silver wiring, all encased in a
lovely aluminum case with only volume and source knobs .
Cleanest , most natural sound I ever heard , not a trace of "hi fi" .
Tubes were Sylvania 12AX7 grey plates pulled from a Baldwin organ
and Sylvania 12x4 rectifer.
With Pas every time you switch 12Ax7’s you have a new preamp .
Jolida Jd9.
absolutely superb. Use a MC cartridge. Preamp TRL The Dude, Sota V TT, OL Illustrious arm and it doesn't embarrass itself in this vaunted company.
replaces an EAR phono,preamp and I don't hear a deficit!

Try the Jolida. 
The Dynavector P-75 MKIII would be in your price range. Used it w/bothe the Dynavector 10x5 and 20xl2 w/excellent results.
I've used the phenomena II for several years and can't be beat in terms of functionality. Sound is very good too. I prefer the eastern electric minimax I have now however. That's not a knock on the phenomena, there is significant price difference and the minimax is a tube pre. Though new it is $1500, they can be had for less. It's a wonderful phono pre but not as functional in terms of loading adjustments. I am using a clearaudio concept MC cart without issue
perazzi28

I might have the sutherland model wrong. It was a 3k retail unit. I agree it is revealing/detailed. In fact I thought it has a small bit over the detail of the Musical Surrounding phono. I also do think the sutherland is warmer than than the MS. 

It was not a knock. I think the sutherland has a more traditional tube "sound" while the MS has more of a good SS presentation. I do think the Sutherland did have some qualities that exceed the MS but I do see the diminished returns starting to come into play. 
Well , I've put the Lehmann black cube se2 into service. 
Wow!
detail, soundstage, transients, bass.
It's all there in spades!

Too busy listening to it to do an A/B with my other preamps.
I'll get to that later this weekend. 


darkstar1
I admit that I goofed when making my remarks.  You were using the Sutherland Insight Phono Preamp and I the Ph3D.  They have a great deal in common but probably not exactly the same in terms of sonics.  My apology.
Sutherland Insight is a great option.  You might be able to find one used for around 1k.  It doesn't run on D cell batteries, which is a nice convenience.  

Ron has a new KC Vibe phono out for $895, which might sound almost as great as the Insight.  Here is the link:
http://sutherlandengineering.com/products/kc-vibe/

Made in Kansas...cannot go wrong there. 

Check out Blue Circle Audio phono stages. The designer (and owner), Gilbert Yeung, is big on tubes EXCEPT in phono stages.

Here’s one for $1,295, which is close to your budget: http://www.canuckaudiomart.com/details/649341370-blue-circle-audio-flt-iab-phono-stage/

This one comes with a separate power supply.

These don’t come up on the used market very often.
Ifi Phono 2. Amazing piece of equipment. Music Direct gives you a 60 day tryout. Using mine for almost a year and competes with much more expensive preamps. Loads of gain and power plus a wide range of load settings. $500 retail.
The Brown Audio Labs (BAL) SP-1B tube-driven line/phono stage preamp listed at $850 at the time of Dick Olsher's TAS Review looks promising, but BAL's website doesn't have much information. Maybe if you contact Brown directly you could get more information.
They're not easy to find, and I don't know what their current status is, but the all-tube, handwired PTP MAGI Phonomenal (last known price $995) should give you exactly what you're looking for. I bought an earlier edition in Aug. 2014 and I'll never part with it. I got a a used earlier version for $750 and I'lll never let it go. The last version that surfaced was $995 with a few more features. Easily worth if if you can find one.

Check out the Croft phono preamp!
you need an outboard power supply and large transformer to approach the sound of the "big boys" - e.g. paraasound JC3, manley chinook, lehmann decade (take a look under their "hoods").  
you can get there with slightly above $1K with the lehmann black cube se ii.  i have one and love the sound that it gives me.  
I am really liking the Jolida JD9 I paid $600 for then.......installed Audyn Copper Plus caps. ($90 shipped), NOS Siemens 12 AX7 ($75), threw a good power cord on it and away you go.......challenging many higher $$$$ units. Some say op amp upgrades move up also. Not sure of this units MM cartridge ability with minimum 60 DB gain but will run any MC out there with as much as 85DB of gain. Decent ability to load cartridges for this money also with handy dip switches on the back. I owned a Lehman Black Cube SE one time and this is better (by a bunch) and if you do the math I am still under $1K and I can flavor with tubes.