MM/MI Phono Stages

I am switching from a Dynavector 10x5 to a Soundsmith Aida. I was always very happy with the 10x5 even after hearing way more expensive carts I was never left dissatisfied with its performance. With its price increasing quite a bit in the last few years I have made a decision to go with a more expensive SS model that can be re-tipped and repaired instead of shelling out money for new MC every couple of years. 

I have been using a Musical Surroundings Nova Phonoema. I also have a very good internal MM in my pre amp that is pretty close the SQ level of the Nova just different.

If I buy used what MM phono stages should I be looking at? I want Capacitance loading options, better sound quality and I don't really want to spend money on the MC option because I don't need it. So are there really good stand alone MM Stages that give you more bang for your buck then getting one on of these MM/MC stages. 


If you insist on front-panel adjustability for load and capacitance, there are only a few choices, either vintage Japanese or modern ones that may or may not include MC gain options inseparable from the design.  EAR is one I can think of right away, but there are several more.  For vintage tube types that do NOT have front panel adjustments for capacitance or load R, I have been very happy with my Quicksilver full function preamplifier.  I also own a Silvaweld SW550 which is excellent.  Then there are all the classic American products from Marantz, McIntosh, Fisher, etc.
front panel adjustment are not big for me. Looking for a musical stage more so than analytical. Would consider tubes or SS. 

Ear, Allinic and Herron are on my list.

Do you actually get a more money going in to the MM stage in the models that don't include MC. If not then I might as well open it back up to all phono stages. I was just wondering if there are advantages in SQ by going with a dedicated MM/MI. Thanks 
Take a gander at this!
Get a Leben phono stage
Being a dedicated user of a very high output pickup, I like you did not want to pay for an extra gain stage (or step-up transformer) I wouldn't be using. So I gave Keith Herron a call to see if he had the long-since discontinued VTPH-1mm laying around. He didn't, but he did have a -1mc which he offered to rebuild into a -1mm for me. Give him a call, you may be as lucky as I.
If you're not shocked to go under the chassis, Violectric has fully adjustable balanced phonostage:

Bbp24 exactly. I was looking not to pay for whole bunch of features and parts I don 't need. I wanted all the money going to what I am going to use.

Above can be configured for MM only and if so can be fitted with up to 6 different Capacitive loading options.

Yes I do make them

Good Listening


Darkstar, if you want to go SS take a look at Peter's Liberty B2B. I saw and heard it at last year's T.H.E. Show in Anaheim, and it's real nice. For tubes, Herron does some direct sales, and may occasionally take a VTPH-1mm in on trade for a -2 (my -1 was one such). If doesn't have adjustable loading, but Keith will set it up any way you want. He put in the specific resistance and capacitance I wanted in mine, and even sent along a couple of extra tubes. A great, great guy to deal with. Ask him to contact you if and when he gets a VTPH-1 (mm or mc) in. Also read Art Dudley's review of the Tavish Design Adagio in the June Stereophile. He liked it a lot, and it's priced at only $1490. 

Get a Herron.  IMO, with either model, they are very musically satisfying.  I think it's a good idea to call Keith Herron and just discuss what you want to do. 

The great benefit of owning a Herron Audio product is that you get Keith Herron's personal attention.
yeah I just put the Aida on the prime today. I really am enjoying it so far. I have some dialing in do. I am going to listen for a month or two then decide if I want to go SS or Tube. 

If you asked me today I would say tube. My system is pretty netural and so is the Aida. Its really enjoyable but a slight tube warmth may be a really good fit but I need sometime before I really decide. Thanks everyone. 

The question is how to get optimal results in the cheapest way.

My answer is a good MM phono-pre in combination with a SUT.

In my second system I use Jasmine LP2 with improved MM

part with Denon AU-S1 SUT. I started with FR-FRT-4 because of

its versatility ( 3, 10, 30 and 100 Ohm) but the Denon sounds

better in my opinion and ''cover'' 3> 40 Ohm ''range''. While the

MC input by Jasmine sunds very good the combo with the SUT

sounds much better. Total cost +/- 1200 euro.

I like the Vincent pho 700 mm/mc tube/solid state hybrid , this beats out numerous phono pre-amp's  costing many times more money 😎

Just for fun check out Tavish design Adagio MM/MC for about $1500.

No affiliation just a very happy customer - this great separate power supply phono stage is on par with my Shindo Aurieges paired with either the Auditorium 23 Denon or Hommage. A friend of mine borrowed it and A/B with a few others and was very sad when he had to return it to me.

Worth at least a look - YMMV

I just finished building a K&K Audio Trio kit for a customer of Kevin's and got to listen to it for a couple of nights in my system. I was very impressed. This unit, the kit which costs $1395 in MM, pushed all the right buttons for me. Sparkling highs, fleshed out midrange, and solid bass. Excellent depth and width to the sound stage. Had a nice way of enticing one into the music it was playing. When I was listening I was engaged and not critical, not wishing I had my full bore K&K beta Venice in the system. In fact, the Trio  reminded a lot of the Venice, call it a Venice lite. And that is saying a lot. I have a SS Sussurro on my TT (0.4mV output) and the noise was not objectionable running into the MM input. So noise performance with a normal high output SS MI cart. should be fine.  There are socket pins on the main board so different loading resistors can be used. These pins could also be used to plug in different caps if one replaced the 1M soldered resistors with 47K input resistors.

I like the idea of building a Kit. Value wise and DIY is something I have always wanted to try. Could a beginner with reading and real effort pull this off? 
Absolutely! Kevin designed this as a easy kit. The most important thing is to have good soldering technique. The use of a temp. controlled solder station and good quality solder like Cardas quad eutectic or Wonder Solder makes good results easier. Also, take your time and read and understand the directions before you start.
Yogiboy, I'm thinking your rec was while not without merit was given more tongue in cheek please don't say it isn't so.