Looking for a phono stage to go with my system

I have a VPI Aries Scout with an Ortofon 2m Bronze mm. running through an Onkyo TX NR905 Receiver's phono input. (70mv (mm,1khz., 0.5%)

I understand that an independent Phono Stage will do wonders for the quality of sound coming from the VPI.

Looking to spend no more than $500ish.

You may want to try a bellari - have not heard it in my system but was sounding really nice at " in living stereo" audio shop in nyc. You can swap out the tube, and upgrade the power supply for upgrades.
Phenomena ll
Hagermann Cornet
Jasmine LP 2.0. Handles MM and MC cartridges and you won't have the itch to upgrade or the disappointment of having spent too much money.
Try the AMR IPhono which costs about $400.00 new. Probably one of the big on line retailers sells it. You can Try it and return it if you aren't happy. Extremely great sound, ridiculous amounts of adjustability at this price, and it sounds good too. Solid State and small.
Are you running the receiver as your amp and pre? If so I would wait and save for a good integrated with good phono.
At your budget, normally I would suggest the Phonomena II too. But running your great table & cartridge though the Phonomena into an AVR is simply negating all the 2 channel performance you can be enjoying.

So I agree with Truemaineiac and save up for a quality 2 channel integrated that already has a good phono section. Make sure the integrated has a HT Bypass or "power amp" direct feature so you can easily incorporate this unit into your existing surround sound system.

Sorry, but I have found the 2 channel preamp sections in modern AVR's are merely an afterthought. There is 2 channel stereo that dedicated stereo components are designed for and then there is HT Surround sound. Two different things entirely and with the table and cartridge you have invested in, I have to believe you are more serious about the former.
Thanks for everyones input.

I now have two trains of thought. Need to think about this.

Truemaineiac and Paraneer, ( or anybody else ), do you have any suggestions on reasonably priced integrates that have good reputations on quality that would have the features you pointed out?
Would need to know what your main speakers are and budget. Then I could give you several suggestions on integrateds to consider; all having the HT bypass feature that I mentioned above.
My system consists of

Onkyo TX-NR905
VPI Aries Scout TT with Ortofon 2m Bronze
Polk RTi12 Fronts
Polk CSi A6 Center
Polk CSi5 Surrounds

My budget is around $1000. I would be okay with a unit that was $2000+ but a couple years old. It seems you can always pick them up unused at 1/2 the price or so once the newer models come out.
Meambler, I think truem is most likely right. You may also find some used classic separates - audio research sp9 has a really nice phono stage as well as older counterpoints. You may find one at or about $700.
Thanks Meambler. Your speakers are reasonably efficient at 8 Ohms and 90 db sensitivity. An easy load for most amps to drive. A couple integrated amps immediately come to mind. These have the HT bypass feature I spoke about and quality MM phono sections. Install one of these in your system and it will be dedicated to driving your L/R Mains full time - for your 2 channel analog listening as well as multi-channel. Your Onkyo AVR will drive your center and surrounds when you wish to listen to strictly multi-channel HT stuff. All at the push of a button.

Marantz PM8004
Music Hall A70.2

Either of the above will get the job done and sound superb with your table/cartridge and rest of your system. You should be able to find these models new or as demos with warranty at your stated budget. Hope you get some other suggestions. Good luck!
Wow Paraneer,

Thanks for the help.

I'm always amazed and humbled at the generosity and willingness of people who help others.

What would you recommend as a step up from these models?

The one I end up going with will be my systems brain and as I upgrade the rest of my system I would want it to be capable of handling better speakers and such as I continue down the rabbit hole of the audiophile world.

Thanks again

What about a Harmon Karmon HK990? New they are around $2500 but I
found a used one in my price range.

Better than the Marantz PM8004?
Take a look at the Jungson JA88D. It is a pure class A integrated amplifier and it has a built in phono for MM and MC. Though, I use my Jasmine phono, which is superior. However, it is respectable.
You're welcome Meambler.

I have read good things about the HK 990. I don't know if its better than the Marantz but it is more feature laden and powerful. If it has a HT Bypass feature and your interested in upping your budget, I would sure put it on my short list.

I am usually quick to recommend the Marantz PM8004 because like its more expensive big brothers, it is built at Marantz' reference factory in Japan. Its quality and construction is first rate. So since you are now asking about more expensive models, consider the PM15S2 LE that is now being closed out because a new model has taken its place.


This is the integrated I use and could not be more happy. It drives 4 Ohm VA Bach Grands and I don't plan on upgrading for a long time.

Other integrateds to consider are the Creek Evolution 5350 on sale too:


But with this one, you would have to get Creeks plug in phono section or a separate phono pre. Nevertheless, a good quality amp at a great price. It has the HT Bypass feature too.

Hope all of this helps. Good luck in your journey to get the VPI Scout singing at its very best.
Rogue Cronus might be good to look into, as well as jolida (no phono).
There are a large number of 2 channel integrated amps that are high quality but do not always have a built in phono section. Since you were considering a separate phono stage you can always use one of the inputs (on your new 2 channel integrated) for you TT/phono stage. I like the Graham Slee Gram amp 2SE for $4-500, as a MM free standing phono section.
It may well be much less expensive to use an integrated with a decent phono section but it might not have the sound quality that a separate phono would yield. Something to consider. There are some vey inexpensive phono pre's to tide you over while amassing the funds for the project I am suggesting.