Hi Jeremy72 I have a bad news for you.....your budget is too low for what you are expecting.....
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No offense to the EAR 834P (which is a decent performer) but I am afraid there are newer phono stages out there which give this aging piece of equipment more than a run for its money. Have had the opportunity to spend time with the 834p also, so this is IMO. Its better than the Grado I have sure, but the best for my budget, not so sure about that. appreciate your thoughts though.
I have a cheap ART DJ II that is a great deal but I never intended to keep it long term. I have the same budget as Jeremy72 and am looking forward to hearing a better stage in my system.
If gear makes a difference in stage selection, I have the following:
MH 7.1 w/Goldring 2400
Rogue Cronus Magnum Integrated Amp
Energy RC10 speakers
I do not like harsh clinical sounding gear. In the future, I may upgrade my cartridge to an Ortofon 2M Black, Nagaoka MP-500 or something else you guys might suggest in the $5-700 range.
One thing I do like about the Art is the adjustable gain. I use it every time I play an album to get the best output from the stage.
Maybe adjustable gain is not as big a deal as I think in a nicer stage like the ones being discussed here.
So, is it:
or something else?
Hope this is not a hijack Jeremy as we are talking about the same thing.
Jeremy72, we will have to disagree on this one. IMO, you are making a mistake with the " getting on with age" concern. Think about how many classic pieces there are that are still held in high regard. I have not heard the Sim Audio, but have heard the Dyna and the PS Audio, and if one's concern is wether the preamp let's pass through it something resembling the sound of music, the EAR is head and shoulders above the other two.
Just curious, why then was the EAR one of your contenders?
Well, I've learned my lesson, never try to offer help to an elitist know-it-all.Just in case you've been asleep the last 10 years,quite a bit of everything is now made in China.As for the "cheap DIY looking" piece I referenced for you, it is very well built and nice looking to boot. It also sounds great and is well within the price point you mentioned. Sorry for trying to help.
Advice is one thing and I appreciate the input of everyone here including yourself, but you're over the top with your Taiwan/Chinese built "hifi" loyalty remarks. Funny that someone who is so defensive about Ebay Taiwan hi end audio brands has a system made in USA, Japan and Europe, according to your system page that is. I'm sure not everything hifi wise produced in China and Taiwan and sold on Ebay is poor quality and poor performance, but its not worth risking for me that is. Peace and thanks but no thanks to your suggestion in phono preamp.
Peace to you too Einstein,maybe look into some reading comprehension classes when youre done shopping. I'm hardly "over the top" or overly " defensive" of Chinese products, my issue is with your elitist attitude. I would venture a guess that a very large group of people on this site own at least one component manufactured in the far east, and were just made aware (by you) that they merely posess "ebay hi-fi". Way to make friends,jerk.
Haha, ok already Wino, we get it, you support the Ebay and Taiwan "hifi" underdogs - well they're all yours, bon appetit. Sorry your feelings are obviously hurt but you are going to have to accept that not everyone shares the same sentiment when it comes to rolling the dice on some obscure Taiwan Ebay audio equipment. Some of us, like myself, would much rather try equipment with a little more of an established and trusted reputation within our small hi end audio circles. But that's ok, because at the end of the day, its just hifi....so,take a big breath and relax everything is going to be ok, really. People buy a lot of things from a variety of places and I could care less what audio gear you or anyone else in this world buys - whether good or bad. You are the name caller here and the aggressor pressing this fantasy "elitist" issue from atop your tiny little digital soapbox, not me.
Consider this o mighty man of the vineyard, some of us have been hobbyists long enough to possible have good reason to steer clear of relatively unknown inexpensive Chinese/Taiwan made so called high end audio, that idea ever cross your fermented mind? Then there are those, no doubt having much less experience who simply would not understand why others may have adopted this train of thought. In the end, after you've sold all of your current USA, European and Japanese mfg. audio gear (which is clearly only suited for the elitist, which you are not!) and purchase all the new Ebay Taiwan/Chinese hifi you can get your little "Buy it now" hands on, maybe you would be so kind as to lead the rest of us unknowing little audiophile souls down the righteous path of true hi fidelity salvation! In closing, I say peace to you Vintner and thanks for engaging in this delightful, entertaining and informative commentary, its been fun.
(Disclaimer: No cheap Ebay Taiwan hifi audio equipment has been harmed in any capacity during the course of this deliberation.)
Really though, you might want to take it a little easy, after all its only hifi.
This is a good topic and one that am very interested in. Let's get back to the subject of $500-$700 phono stages.
Based on what I posted above, would a JD9, GCPH or something else be a better choice? I'd like to have variable gain control but don't want to buy the wrong stage just to get that feature.
I'm up for mods later on but want it to sound good out of the box. Is the stock GCPH that bad?
Another one that may be worthy of consideration is the Musical Surroundings Phonomena Nova. Runs on batteries, charges with AC. New @ $1K, would be right in your sweet spot used. I have one and like it, but don't have much experience with other phono stages so can't comment too much on how it rates against the others suggested.
I use it with a Denon DL-103r, and it has DIP switches for Cap, Resistance, and Gain which made a huge difference with the LOMC Denon.
Made in the USA (California) which may or may not matter to you, it does matter to me.
How about the Bottlehead Seduction Phono preamp?
You can either build it yourself and tweak away or have Bottlehead build it for you.
Bajaed, wanted to give you a heads up on the GCPH in stock form, I would say it is not the most musical or tonally accurate phono stage. Heard it with a Thorens TD124 and Jelco setup with Benz Glider and compared to the EAR (in a friends system not in my own.) and when switching back and forth between the two, the clear winner was the 834p. The Stock GCPH sounded cold sterile and bright.