Need complete analog setup options/recommendations

I currently have a CDP, amp, and speakers. I have bought some albums but now need to define all the components for an analog setup.

My current amp supports balanced, which is used by the CDP, and unbalanced connections. Eventually my current amp will be replaced by tube amps which I am leaning towards Tenor but not sure yet. Also, I have read some interesting things about passive preamps.

First question is what are all the components needed?

Are there any recommendations for setups in the 10K, 20K, and 30K range?

Well, at those kinds of budgets, I'm sure there will be alot of recommendations.

Besides the obvious need for TT/arm/cart, you need a phono stage. This will have some synergy considerations with the cartridge, so paying attention to matching these will be important.

Also a dedicated stand that is proper for the TT is a consideration, that will affect sound quality. Generally high mass rigid stands for non-suspended TTs, and lightweight rigid stands for suspended TTs.

Cables may be a factor, if your tonearm has a junction box for the phono leads.

For the $10k I'd recommend:

Teres 255 Signature DC model TT in Cocobolo wood. $3000
Origin Live Illustrious Tonearm $2170
Shelter 901 MC Cartridge $1500
Hagerman Trumpet Phono Stage(Balanced) $1895
Total: $8565

For $20k I'd recommend:

La Platine Verdier TT $8900
Origin Live Illustrious tonearm $2170
Shelter 901 MC Cartridge $1500
Manley Steelhead Tube phono stage $7500
Total: $20070

For $30k:

Get a similar setup to above, and substitute:
Clearaudio Insider Gold MC Cartridge for $10000
Aesthetix IO Phono Stage for $9000

For an additional $10000, which would give a total of


My comments would be that except for the phono stages, these systems are very close in performance level. The Teres 255 DC Signature is really about at the same level as the La Platine Verdier, and might actually beat it by a few hairs.

The Tonearm I suggested is the same on all recommendations, and is probably the best available, without going into something very unusual and exotic, and even then I don't know if you would really gain anything.

The cartridges are both excellent, and although there is a large price difference, it is debatable which you may like better. Another choice would be the Koestu Rosewood Platinum Signature at $4700. They are all great and you would have to decide which you liked. The Shelter is by far the best deal for the money.

The phono stages are all very good, and the order I placed them is where I think the performance order lies. Hagerman is a real good one for the money. The Manley Steelhead is one of the best, and the Aesthetix IO Signature is probably the best there is, at least that I know about. These all are tube phono stages.

If you wanted to get what I think is the best value in terms of performance for the money on an ultimate scale, it would be the Teres 255, OL Illustrious arm, Shelter 901 cart, and Aesthetix IO phono stage. That's $15670. In my opinion, that is where the best value for dollar lies. The only thing that is going to really beat that is a Walker Proscenium Gold Signature at $30k, without cart or phono stage. My "value combination" may surprise alot of folks at just how very close to the best it really is. I really only selected the La Platine Verdier above the Teres, because I had to come up with something that would cost significantly more than the Teres. I personally own the Teres, and prefer it over the Verdier. Personal taste may vary. Listener Magazine also did an article in early 2002, which placed the Teres squarely in the category with the Verdier. The writer, Phil Sieg, wrote on the Bottlehead Forum after the review, that "makers of 5-figure American TTs should be very, very scared"(referring to the Teres being superior). He went on to say that "if you had $3k(without arm and cart), you could make your final TT purchase"(referring to the Teres). Sieg owns a Verdier.

My prices on the Aesthetix may be a little off, because they have some different options, but it is somewhere in that neighborhood.

You would not go wrong with any of these selections, but you may be able to maximize performance for less money by considering my "value combination". Nobody likes to spend more money than is needed for the performance level received. I realize it may be hard to believe that a TT that is so much lower in price could be so good, but the Teres is a factory-direct product with no distributors or retailers, so both "middle men" are eliminated, and thereby giving much more for the money. If the Teres was sold through normal channels, the price would be over $10k, and then it would seem "normal" for the price/performance ratio.
Twl...thanks for the input. Other questions to add then are won't I have to consider a pre-amp or a phono amp? How does a linestage play into this if at all? What about volume controls?
I just assumed that you already had a linestage or passive volume control. You will need one. Depending on the gain of the phono stage, and the output of the cartridge, you may or may not need any gain from a line stage. If you get the Aesthetix IO, it is available with built-in volume controls, if phono is going to be your only source. If not, you will need some kind of preamp, whether it be active or passive, so you can do your switching and attenuation. The phono stage is a separate box that will plug right into your preamp high-level inputs. These phono stages that I mentioned are stand-alone units that will do all of the RIAA equalization and phono gain, and cartridge impedance loading. You just plug your tonearm cable into one end, and run a pair of interconnects out the other end, into a preamp input. That's it.

There are alot of good active preamp options, and you could take your pick. The passives are touchy, and I would personally only use a transformer-based type, like the ones that Bent Audio offers. They are much more impedance-friendly, and provide much better sound and easier use, than the resistive-based passives.

The other option would be to get a complete active preamp with a built-in phono stage. That would give you everything in one box. Many good ones are available. A popular one right now is the Supratek Syrah at about $2500. There is a waiting list, and about a 4 month wait. Alot of the members here have one, and many have said they liked it better than preamps costing many times more.