Moderately priced phono preamps

I have 500+ records and probably spend on about 5% of my listening time playing records. I have a Rega 3 turntable. I have Legacy Focus speakers ($5400), Rotel pre/processor ($2K), and 3 PSE amps ($1K each). I recently bought a Sony S9000ES CD/DVD/SACD player that I love. I'm still using my 22 year old PSE preamp ($1K in 1978) for my phono stage. I do not expect many to be familiar with the PSE, but would like to buy a phono preamp and compare it with the PSE and return it if it doesn't sound better than the PSE. Right now I'm thinking about the $200 Rotel preamp. Does anyone have comments about the Rotel or any other similarly priced phono preamps?
How are you using JUST the phono section of the PSE preamp ? Are you feeding the pre out of the PSE into into one of the Rotel's aux inputs or simply running the PSE directly to the amps when "phono-ing" ? Given your current system, you would need to be relatively careful as to the tonality of any phono preamp. In my experience, Rotel gear is slightly brighter and etched sounding while the older PSE amps had a soft high end to them. This should tend to level things out slightly. While the Focus' tend to be VERY picky about electronics, you might want to look at the cartridge that your using and come to some conclusions about it's tonality. Then you can see where that leaves you at in terms of what to look for in terms of a phono pre. Gain characteristics of the phono section along with loading versatility would be things to keep in mind also, as you might change cartridges somewhere down the road. Sean >
I'm not quite sure how to respond to your question, since it's not clear to me how you intend to operate the system. If you are looking ONLY for a phono preamp stage, the two choices which come to mind are either the Creek phono preamp, or the Lehmann Audio Black Cube. I have a Black Cube that I bought used for $425, and I use it for the analog input into my digital pre/pro. I have been very pleased with its performance. If, however, you want to completely replace your older PSE preamp with a newer unit that has a top quality phono stage, then I suggest either the Adcom GFP-750 -- about $800-850 used -- or the older Adcom GFP-565, which also has an excellent phono stage, and can be bought used for less than $350.
I have the Creek OBH-8 phono preamp, and I am quite satisfied with it. As for the previous mention of getting a new preamp, the Adcom GFP750 is a nice preamp, but I believe it is line only, without a phono stage (check the Adcom site)
Yes, I only use the PSE for records and use the PSEs Record Out to an Aux In on the Rotel. I do not remember it's name, but I have the cartridge that typically is sold with the Rega. Yes, I would like to replace the PSE--only if I can find something that's better sounding. My other option, which I did not mention, but several brought up, is to sell my Rotel 985 ($2.000 list) and buy something that has a phono input (like the Sunfire Theater Grand). If I went that way, I would wait until DAC upsampling becomes more common--probably a year or two. Your replies have been helpful and I will do a little more research.
I've heard the black cube. It wasn't lacking for much of anything. Excellent sound. Very detailed and almost 'sweet' sounding. A nice ergonomic consideration is that it does not require it's own shelf.
Puddles, you are correct that the Adcom GFP-750 is a line-level only preamp. I meant to list the Adcom GFP-710, which is an analog preamp with phono stage. Essentially, the GFP-710 is the successor to the GFP-565.
I use to own a Rotel RQ-970 and it was great for my needs. I now have a preamp with phono, the only reason I sold it. It is a Stereophile recommended component if that matters to you.
Iam on the similar trail as you. I have Vand 3A Signatures diriven with Musical Design 150B modified. I have been buying records and probably have 1500. If you dont have a record cleaner get one, its mandatory (mostly). I was using a PS Audio 5.5 heavily modified with the M500 supply. I thought it sounded okay untill a dealer from Sacramento loaned me a BAT 30;which buried the PS Audio. It was not in the same $ catagory as the PS, way more money. I value soundstage,focus,detail, phase coherence,dynamics,pretty much in that order. My searching experience so far is: You get what you pay for,mostly. One possible strategy is that you buy a linestage controller& phono stage separately.You could do this on the USED market, out of the very recommended lists, A word about cartridge loading try 20-30 mcgs of capacitance in each channel. This usually decreases the phono carts distortion greatly while reducing output some what. The tradeoff is well worth it. Keep in youch as I would be interested in your findings. Robert
Something you might consider is the NAD PP-1 phono pre-amp. I purchased an Audio Research SP 5 pre-amp because it had a phono section but I wasn't really satisfied with the sound. Being as it was over 20 years old I figured newer technology may offer some improvements. Tried the NAD and was pleasently surprised. At only $129 its a bargian and you could always return it if it is no improvement.
Pro-ject The Phono Box'll surprise you at $90, it'll kill anything less than $200.
McCormack phono stage is nice economical: used ~$300 to $400 w/ versatile cartrige R & C loading & strappable gain MM or MC, for any possible future directions your rig may take.