Need an Entry Level Phono Preamp

Well, it's been 22 years and I'd like to go back and spin some vinyl. I'm considering a Cambridge 640P and a Rega Fono for a Shure V-15 VMR on either an old Dual CS5000 or Thorens TD160. I was ready to buy the Bellari but the 60Hz hum problem I heard about here on A'gon scared me away. I just want to listen to my old records, not troubleshoot ground loops. Also considered tubes from an AES PH-1 and the new Pro-Ject Tube Box II. OK, let's through in the Jolida JD-9A for kicks. That's a price range from $169 to about $550 which is fine. Line Pre is a Bryston BP-25.

I welcome your comments and recommendations. Oh, I listen primarily to classical music. Someone has to keep it alive!

I am listening to a Jolida JD 9 with level 1 mods from Underwood HIFI which is suprisingly good for the money. I would look in that direction
The Jolida has so many options that you can run through a number of MM/HOMC/MOMC/LOMC cartridges and not be limited by that pre. It will accommodate them all BUT if it's just for that one MM then the 640P will do real nice.

I had the 540P and it was a very good starter phono pre. I moved on to a Hagerman Bugle but if I bought that 640P (which wasn't out at the time) I would still be listening that that. I bet I would've been happy with that inexpensive pre for sometime.
Lehmann Black cube with PWX supply should work for you well within that price range.
I'd go for the Cary. Of course it all depends on what flavor of ice cream you like. And why not a Rega instead of the Thorens or Dual? The P1 is very cheap and a great value.
The vp-129 hum issue is old news. There was a grounding issue that Bellari acknowlged and they have since fix the problem. All of the newer models sound great.

I listen almost exclusively to the classical repertoire as well and I could recommand you the Dynavector P-75.
I have had two phono stage amps before this one, was a tube based one costing almost twice the price while the other one was solid state costing four time the P-75's price,....yet in my system and with my music this is the one a prefer.
This component is inherently musical and transparent to the rest of the system......but it cost 650.00 (new) and might not be the bargain you are looking for......specially if you dont need to use it's MC imput.
In the context of your present MM cartrige and of your Bryston amp you could do pretty good getting a second hand MM (only) phono stage.........if on the other hand you want to start slowly and cautiously with your renewed vinyl interest.........then get a Rotel phono stage
that often appeared in the classified for a little over a hundred dollards.
I think in this price range it is best to look for an inboard phono. I know that Bryston has an inboard for the BP-26, you may want to check with them to see if they have one for the BP-25. You get better phono 'innards' as you're not paying for an additional chassis, interconnects, power cords, connectors, etc.

That's just my $.02

Dynavector P-75,without a doubt. It is only 595.00 and does better than any 1500.00 preamp out there. I just bought one with a Nottingham turntable. This thing is fantastic. JT
If Bryston makes a phono board for your pre that would be the most sensible (and direct) way to go.

With the money saved you can get a real good power cord for the pre, like the Absolute MKII (have it cryo'ed) and a nice set of cones (I use DH cones on my phono pre).

By the Cary I meant the AES PH-1 you mentioned.
Thanks so much for the feedback! Before I make a move I'll check to see what Bryston has in the way of a phono board.
Smart move. You eliminate the purchase (and shipping costs) of a chassis, power supply, interconnects, power cord, etc. Everything stays in place inside a well designed, ruggedly built, quality preamp. As a plus, the sonic signature stays the same you now have (and like).

My next suggestion? Start with a *nice* moving magnet cartridge and take it from there. I'm personally a big fan of older moving magnets, having a Sure V15 III, Audio Technica AT-15S and KAB modded Stanton Groovemaster. As a matter of fact, I'm sending Kevin of KAB a NOS Stanton Trackmaster I of the very early production runs I snatched in eBay ($54.95). It has half the coil windings of subsequent production runs and once revved up will deliver a performance rivalling $2K moving coils. Make this clear, that does not mean I don't like moving coils. I'm really fond of my Ortofon X5 MC and is among the best cartridges in its class. If your budget is entry level a Stanton 681EEE moving magnet will rock your world--guaranteed.

With psychic power and primal intensity,
11-24-06: Psychicanimal
Smart move. You eliminate the purchase (and shipping costs) of a chassis, power supply, interconnects, power cord, etc. Everything stays in place inside a well designed, ruggedly built, quality preamp. As a plus, the sonic signature stays the same you now have (and like).

Ditto, smart move Av2k.

I don't believe Bryston has a phono board for the BP25. I checked their website and couldn't find anything.

At the moment, I have my Shure V-15 VMR installed in my old Thorens TD-165. The question is to try tubes or go SS in a phono stage. Does anyone know how quiet the Jolida is compared to the AES (Cary)?
Have you called Bryston?
If you can solder, the Hagerman Cornet kit is an exceptional value. When I got back into vinyl, this is the unit that got me listening to classical on vinyl rather then CD.
Av2k, Bryston does have a phono card for the BP-25 as witnessed in this ad. Since people are selling used BP-25's w/ phono, you know Bryston makes them. Give them a call.
About the AES PH-1. Like any other electronics it has its strenghts and short-comings. Which ever you end up with will depend solely on what you are willing to compromise.
The ph-1 is a solid performer considering what it can deliver with its price/performance ratio. Audio Asylum has a lot of discussions with mixed reviews (IMHO).(From my experience) It will give you prat and the musicality of tubes . Have the flexibility to tailor the sound by tube-rolling.
One minor (for me)thing worth mentioning (from my expereince and forums)is a slight HUM at high volume (85% volume setting and above). This hum can also vary depending on which MM cartridge use and how good the unit is built and placed. I've read varying reviews/coments from being very quiet to audible hum at listening levels.

If you decide to try the PH-1 may I suggest to get a factory-built unit with the upgrades (and a 30 day return policy if possible). I believe Upscale Audio still sells them at $599.00 (last time I checked). But if you check the AES/Cary website the price is bumped-up to $900.

I've had mine since 2002 and very happy with it. I can only compare it with SS phono preamps (Luxman Tp117 and 1 unknown brand I still use for sanity check :^)
The Ph-1 has that nice bloom at the mids. I use an LP12TT/grado gold cart. Try to use a MM cartridge with at least 5 mv output as the PH-1 has a gain of only 36dB. A 6.5mv output MM cartridge would be the ideal match for this Phono preamp.
For more info on cartridge/phono preamp matching visit "KAB" website.
Just my 2 cents. Hope this helps.
I've heard from reliable sources that the Heed Quasar is one of the best phono preamps for the money. It is compared to stages 2-3 times the price and retails for 1000 USD.

I heard back from Bryston about a phono stage for the BP25. They do the mod at the factory for $600 plus shipping costs. That seems fair but I just had my BP25 serviced and tested in July. It's perfect. I'd rather not part with it at this point. So I'm back to an outboard phono stage.

But I did some homework and I find that I need 47 kOhms impedance input with a 100pF capacitive load for my Shure V-15 VMR. Gain should be at least 39dB. So now it comes down to the sound.

The new Pro-ject Tube Box MKII looks interesting with two 12AX7A output tubes. Gain stage is probably op amps. On the cheap, the Parasound zPhono meets the requirement. Class C rated and all that. Rega Fono MM and the Cambridge 640P are options too.

Let's see....what else is out there? Do any of the above stand out as a decent phono stage for an old Thorens table with the Shure cartridge. I also have a high output MC Adcom Cross Coil hiding somewhere too.

Or, I save a little more and go for the Dynavector?
I think it depends on your future plans. If you're going to stick with your Thorens/Shure rig for a while, then any of the choices you've listed should be fine, and maybe you'd be just as happy with NAD and Creek's less expensive phono stages too. But if you're thinking of upgrading your rig in the next couple of years, then holding out for the dyna makes sense. You really can't go wrong one way or the other.
Thought I'd try the Bellari after all. I haven't listened to tubes since my old LEAK preamp/amp. Gain is only 30dB but this should be OK for a 3.6 mV output Shure V15 VMR.

With only 250 LPs I'm not sure if I'll need to go upscale from here, unless I get addicted to vinyl! This may be just the beginning.

Thanks for all the help!

Can't go wrong with a Trichord Dino, very flexible and upgradable with different power supplies too. I use one with a Denon DL103R and it sounds fantastic.