low output MC phono preamp for Audio Research pre

I have auditioned and am considering trying an Audio Research sp16 pre-amp in my system.

The one snag is that I use a low output moving coil cartridge, a Denon DL103R in my system and need an affordable phono pre-amp solution in that the phono pre-amp built into the sp16 does not provide sufficient gain.

One possibility that my dealer is investigating is if AR can do a step-up tweak to the sp16.

If that does not work out, an external phono preamp that matches well to the Denon DL103R is the other solution.

Any suggestions on which phono pre-amps offer good sound at reasonable price and can work with the DL103R and an Audio Research sp16?

Does Audio Research provide a phono pre-amp that works well with low output MC cartridges? I would probably be content sticking with a pure ARC solution if I can find one.

4b9c724a 509c 4bb1 a384 a61b6782a9d0mapman
Maybe this could work?

What's your budget?
Under $1000 unless a good reason to go a bit more.
I use a Heed Quasar with a low output Dynavector cartridge with excellent results. Adjustable for Low or High output MC carts, and for MM carts. Adjustable impedance loading. Also has high and low gain MC outputs. Separate power supply. Should be no problem matching with the ARC.

$999 new.
I recently purchased a used Eastern Electric Minimax and was amazed ( after tube rolling ) how gorgeous this little phono section sounds..It took a few different tube roles to dial in but once dialed in with the right tubes,for the price this is a no brainer...Usually used under $1k
What is the output of your cartridge? Audio Research PH-3 and PH-3se phono preamps have a gain of 54db which should be sufficient enough for most low output MC's
You can get a PH-3 for around $700 and a PH-se for about $1050-$1100.
Output is ~ .25 mV.

Unconfirmed things I've read in other threads n this site indicate a gain of 58db or greater is needed.

My current Carver c-9 pre-amp has an input sensitivity of ~ .7 mV I believe and does very well with the Denon DL103R. It achieves realistic volumes with the volume at ~50-60% gain.

It also has switchable impedance settings for MC cartridges. I am using the higher impedance setting of ~ 100 ohm, I believe, with the Denon. This provides very clean poerful and tight bass compared to the lower impedance setting where the bas becomes more poorly defined and less distinguishable.

The AR SP-16 barely achieved realistic volumes running full out with volume at max. I must say however that even at this level, the noise floor was extremely low and very impressive and the sound was very impressive, tight and clean with lots of natural detail and an overall flow that was exceptionally easy on the ears.
Sorry, its a Carver c-6, not c-9.

I've had the beast for so long (almost 20 years) that I always seem to get the model # wrong.

Anyone have experience using the above referenced Musical Fidelity phono pre with a DL103R or something similar?

I like my Musical Fidelity A3CR amp very much and think I could probably live with a MF phono section as well assuming it is a good fit.

I also see on their website that MF has a new V series phone pre-amp coming out in December. Anybody know anything about that?
Mapman, if the SP-16 has 54dB total gain from phono input to main preamp output, then you only need +24dB added gain to get to 2V.

There are some good choices in MC stepup transformers that would do the trick for lot less than $1k.

Look for ones like these Altec/Peerless, UTC, etc.that have been mounted in cases for easy use.

How are you doing my friend?

I'm still working on this pre-amp deal. Thanks for feeding me tips!

Do these stepup transformers affect the resulting sound quality typically in your experience, or are the better ones able to just stay out of the way and boost the signal with no ill effects?

I've heard various opinions on this topic but have little practical experience by which to judge.
How are you doing my friend?
Not too bad. I'm still in an apartment too small for my system, so no real music. May have to get a headphone rig + phono to get by.
I'm still working on this pre-amp deal. Thanks for feeding me tips!
I think you are going to find a big sonic difference between your Carver pre and the SP-16 - for the better.
Do these stepup transformers affect the resulting sound quality typically in your experience, or are the better ones able to just stay out of the way and boost the signal with no ill effects?
Well, this opens up one of the great vinyl debates around here. There is one camp which thinks transformers, especially phono stepups, seriously degrade the quality of low level cartridge signals. And another, equal, camp thinks they are great when done properly.

To me, it's all about cost, ease of use, and personal preference. Whatever works best for you in your system. If you can find one of these MC transformer boxes that has ~24dB gain for a few hundred bucks, give it a try for a few weeks and see if it works. If not, it will easily resell here quickly.

Another approach would be finding something like Graham Slee's EXP "transformerless" stepup. It sells for ~$1k new and $650 used. The EXP is an active solid state circuit that has +22.5dB gain and is dead quiet. I used it with Slee's Era Gold mkV phono premap and the combination was great(tho, the Era Gold didn't have enough gain for my DL-103D).

In your setup, the GS EXP would give you 76.5 dB gain, or about 1.6V-1.7V output from the SP-16. It would all depend on the sensitivity of your MF A3cr amp. MF lists it as 1000mW, but I'm not sure what that means as most manufacturers use volts as a sensitivity.

A used EAR 834P might be a great solution - wonderful sound and should be close to your budget. A PH5 is a great unit but even used will be past your budget - but is defnitely better than a PH3SE -which is pretty good but maybe not as musical as the 834P. If the 834P has enough output for you it is worth seriously considering.
Hello , I 'm using a Dynavector Te Kaitora cartridge with the ARC PH 5 , not enough gain , so I built in a stepup xformer of exellent quality , Jensen ( ARC have used them in their REF phono).The result is super.Perhaps if possible you can built in this xformers in your SP16.
Greetings from the Netherlands Hans
The latest from my dealer is that it looks like I would need to add an outboard device to the sp-16 for the Denon DL103R.

He has access to a second hand Electrocompaniet step-up device of some sort for not too much that he thinks could work well. I'll most likely be trying that out with his sp-17 in his shop shortly.

If that doesn't pan out, I see several options from this thread that look like it could work, so thanks for the info.
Here's an update.

I'm running the new Audio Research sp-16 pre with a separate Electrocompaniet mc-2 step up pre that I acquired second hand for not much from my dealer.

I've only listened to a few lps so far but this new setup is working well and sounding great so far... a clear step up from my Carver c-6 with built in phono prior.

Phono level closely matches other input levels and there is plenty of gain and no problems with noise levels as long as the Electrocompaniet is not located in close proximity to external power supplies.