looking for separate tube phono stage for use with VAC Avatar SE integrated amp

Yes, the VAC Avatar SE integrated amp  has a great phono stage built in. I know this because I'm using it to swap between a Miyajima Zero Mono cartridge and a Hana ML stereo cartridge. But now I want to add a separate tonearm.


- Above mentioned VAC Avatar SE integrated amp - upgraded and has a pre-out.

- Slagle SUT.

- Garrard 401.

- Schick 12" tonearm with graphite removable head shells.

- Currently swapping between Miyajima Zero Mono and Hana ML stereo.

- Klipsch Forte III speakers.

- Morrow cables.

- Room: 12' x 11' 10' High office.

I'm experiencing crosstalk and finding out that "swappable" is not so swappable as I'm needing to reset things when I switch between cartridges. The idea is to get two tonearms and dedicate one to mono and one to stereo and just set it and forget it. Then I would only have to switch between phono and line on the integrated amp.

And now the question:

What would be a good tube phono stage for the above set up, and would it plug directly into one of the line in RCA inputs? I also have tap in/out, CD and pre-out available.

Thanks All in advance!




I’m doing something similar with a two arm 401. I’m using a tube Croft RIAA phono amp plugged into a standard preamp input. With select tubes, it sounds very good. More info in my profile. Any phono amp can pretty much do what you are looking for.

Thanks! - Nice set up you have there.

I've tried a few phono stages plugged into the preamp input but I always preferred the VAC phono stage in the integrated amp. I'll have to keep trying different ones until I find the right one.

Thanks again!

I haven't heard the VAC at length, but I have a Garrard FWIW.

I am using the phono stage in my Luxman CL-38Uc. Luxman makes a separate EQ-500 tube phono stage with 3 inputs. Maybe worth a look


Audio Research produced the first phono stage i found satisfying… ARC PH2. I then upgraded to,Ph2SE, 3, 3SE, then PH8 (holy cow.. what an incredible Phono stage), now Refernce 3. This is ARC’s thing… phono stages and preamps.

I have two vacuum tube phono stages in separate systems and both were previously mentioned. In my system with Harbeth M40.1 speakers, I have the original Zesto Andros. It’s so good that I haven’t had any desire to send it back to Zesto for upgrades. In my system with Klipsch Cornwall IVs, I have the Luxman EQ-500. The Luxman is a great phono stage and very quiet. I like them both and I would have a hard time picking just one. The rest of my equipment in each system is listed in my profile.

I have a rogers high Fidelity PA-2. The thing is fantastic. It can do MM or MC and what's nice about the MC is that it uses a built in SUT. The thing is built like a tank and the tube swapping options are extremely interesting. Being a tube phono stage, I'm trading a little bit of tube noise for magical Soundstage and holographic imaging. They're not cheap but definitely worth a try. 

Zesto is great stuff.  My Leto preamp is there right now getting the ESP power supply upgrades.. ..  they are a First Class company to deal with.