Looking for a phono stage with pleasing coloration

I have recently completely overhauled my analog front end. I have gone from a Marantz TTS TT-15S1 with a Clearaudio Charisma to a Rega Planar 8 with a Soundsmith Paua II cartridge. There have been definite improvements; improvements in dynamics, resolution, and spatial separation.  Phono stage is currently a Tavish Adagio running into a Prima Luna Evo 300 preamp and Parasound JC 5 amp; speakers are Monitor Audio PL 100 II. I’m overall pleased with the system but I find it a little too modern sounding; instrument separation, and mid and low bass are a tad too tight and disciplined. While the Paua generally outclasses the Charisma; I preferred the tonality of the Charisma. Maybe it’s because the Charisma has a wooden body but it has more of a warmth and vintage coloration to its tonality that I like.

I would like to make change to Phono stage to address these issues, so looking for recommendations on a phono stage that has a bit more of a vintage coloration, body, warmth, slightly looser bass and low noise floor and retains good top end extension. I currently have the PS Audio Stellar phono on order for a home trial but every review I have read has praised it for its neutrality but what I really want is added coloration that I find pleasing.  I guess I can try tube rolling the Adagio but I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of trying to find low microphonic NOS tubes. Finally I want to stay under $3K and I’m open to vintage phono preamps (but I don’t want to sacrifice dynamics and sound stage).

OP, I can’t help but think of an earlier phonostage I loved before moving on to the ARC REF3 phono: the Manley Chinook.  
Stop the presses. The self acclaimed guru of high end audio has spoken. The EAR 834P has not changed from 1995 to the present. Here is a list of the  new listings and sold listings from HI-FI shark.   A few hundred bucks?
I recently upgraded from the Aria to the JC3+ and love it...
The highest load the Decware SUT can provide is 470ohms from their 1:10 transformer, assuming a standard 47k phono input.


Mr.donvito, pardon me!

It’s 1:20 if you read, there are 3 selections, of SUTs
V1 is 1:20 Low MC
V2 is 1:10 High MC low ohm
V3 is 1:10 High MC hi ohms

And yes you can change the preamp settings on the fly...for RtR NEC or IEC, thus the SUT also... Does that impact the SUT, OH heck yea...

BTW, they are not the only one with on the fly adj for carts... I’ve done it for 35 years....YES there is magic in that pot, in spite of the "I haven’t tried it, so HOW could I know it crowd", friggin DA, to be polite.

Two ears one mouth use it accordingly. Cotton out of the ears and in the BIG MOUTH...

Should read before you go spouting off. I’ve dealt with Decware for almost 20 years, now...

Again Ear834 clones are abound...I’ve used them, quit impressive to. They also make a good RtR pre with a few mods, like the Marantz 7 pre/ C22 clones. Clones 2-400.00. The real THING, ad a ZERO 2-4,000.00.
That’s 10 to 1. LOL
Just need to look up a schemo or two and do the mods, LIKE 600 ohm for the RtR input and on the fly Bias for NEC and IEC tape standards.
2-400.00 MAX if you can solder a little and read a LOT...

OP You want a type of sound, Valves are always the way to go.. But it sounds like you got tired of rolling valves. I don’t think you can have it ALL unless you are willing to roll a valve or two.. It takes me a whole 5 minutes to do a roll.. I wish you the best, in any case..

Decware is the BOMB, the problem is the 4-6 month waiting list. I wonder why? Different ideas, and better in a lot of cases... The word Art comes to mind. Wonderful workmanship... ART.....Point to Point ART...

Picky, is good, perfection is not...It will drive a person NUTS....Ay?


What does this have to do with my comment on the price of a used EAR phono preamp? Please clue me in!