OK...I'm getting ready to buy a new Phono pre amp.

.........but......should I consider buying a new pre-amp first???? How about upgrading my TT???
I am very interested in replacing my ARC PH3 SE with a the Aesthetix Rhea. However, before I do that, do I replace my ARC LS 25 mkl with...the Calypso?? Then, maybe replace my Aries with the new VPI TNT X HR? I don't want to do this all at once so your advice would be helpful. Thanks all!
I would consider an Art Audio Vinyl One with volume pot to avoid a preamp altogether. I recently received a Vinyl One. It is extremely quiet and all the positive sonic cliches apply. Overall, it sounds better than running it through my CJ preamp. I also seriously considered a Rhea and I'm sure it sounds great. But I don't need all the flexibility the Rhea provides. It seems to border on bells and whistles to me. Joe Fratus, of Art Audio, is great to work with. Another consideration could be the Hagerman Trumpet with step/up. No extras, just great sonics. Both phonostages retail at about 2.8k.

Thanks Richardmr.....would I still need a pre-amp with either the Art Audio or the Hagerman? I am, believe it or not, considering an SACD. Besides, I use a reel to reel occasionally. I do, however, love the flexibility of the a phono pre amp like the Rhea.
Hi Rwd: I am wondering what makes you "very interested in replacing" your ARC with the Rhea...
I second Zaikesman on that one.......... It sounds like you have a pretty good setup..... It'll take a boatload of dough to make much of a jump in performance IMO.
Good points Zaik and cmo.....I like the idea of on the spot and easy loading and gain setting. Although with my LS 25 and PH 3se I have a good amount of gain....possibly driving my Helikon with a bit more would help? I also have my PH 3se set at 47(?)....I think the helikon like 100...not sure.
I also have a Benz m2....
Finally, the PH 3se is a few yrs old (not ancient) and the Rhea is brand new...possibly better design....????
Are you possibly suggestin upgrading elsewhere?
I'm not suggesting anything, I was just curious what made you want to make this move, whether for instance you were dissatisfied with anything about the ARC (I don't have experience with either unit). It doesn't seem as if you've actually heard the Rhea, which for me would be a prerequisite before I 'wanted' to spend the amount of money involved. BTW, my B-M Glider M2 sounds best to me loaded at a few hundred ohms, and I agree that having easily adjusted loading/gain options is an attractive prospect.
Zaik....I like the PH 3se very much. Although the features in the Rhea are quit intriguing. I'd also like to add just a pinch of warmth (the ARC's are a hair light). However, you are totally correct. I plan to hear the Rhea in the system first!!! Want to come by when I have it installed for a listen?
P.S. Others welcomed too!!
Really all I am thinking is that you have a pretty good phono stage now, but like a lot of us the urge for something more is always there. From my experiences having owned a PH3se and a Sonic Frontiers SFP sig, and now an ARC Ref. I saw incremental jumps between all of them with a significant jump when switching to the Ref. Then again I went from a $2000 pre to one costing $7000. I have not heard the Rhea it could be REALLY great but listen first, a simple tube swap in the ARC might just do it for you too.
Thanks Cmo....I hope to pick up a demo unit this weekend. I'll give it a listen and report back.
My feeling on this subject is that if one were in a position to consider the Rhea, then why not also consider the Manley Steelhead, which is supposed to be quite the animal. It will be my eventual phono pre upgrade when funds again become available. Currently using a Krell KPE Reference.
Hi Steve....yes I also heard the Manley is a great unit also. I believe it is as flexiable as the Rhea. Can you adjust the gain and load of the cartridge "on the go" as with the Rhea??
The Rhea's flexibility is mighty appealing. When they start showing up used, I may take a look. In the meantime, Rwd, can I buy your ARC?
If you are looking at a bit more wamrth, I doubt going to the Rhea is going to do it. The PH3 is quite warm sounding and the Rhea will add more apparent detail with a nice warm bottom end. I would look at upgrading the pre-amp first as the LS25 is very detailed and will add brightness if your system leans that way.
ps the loading is very system dependant, I currently have my helikon loaed at 47k and it sounds nice and extended, with my old speakers it had to be loaded down to 100ohms.
Dear friend: Great audio system. If you want to improve your quality analog audio reproduction I recomended that you have to change your pream/phono stage ( first ). The best is to buy a preamp with a built in phono stage ( no step up transformer inside ). I can tell you that if you do this then you will hear your records " for the first time ". If you use an outboard phono stage or stepup transformer then you are adding more stages to the signal chain that's comes from your cartridge ( the out board/step up transformer/stage, conectors, cables, etc. ) and doing this you ALWAYS degraded this critical and delicate audio signal. If you love the music: Don't do it any more.
Best regards.
Hi Rwd: Now, if you change your Helikon for a better cartridge you can have an improvement in the quality of your analog sound reproduction. When you already have this cartridge then you can think in the phono preamp.
Always enjoy the music.
You should try one of Graham Tricker's amps (GT Audio). He has a long pedigree in tube amps and has a small but committed group of devotees. You can find his stuff on http://www.tron-electric.com. I think Jim Smith from Avantgarde USA distributes his gear.

I have heard his tube set up at his house several times. He uses them with a Platine Verdier, Schroeder Reference, Allaerts MC2 Formula and Avantgrade Trios (he is the UK AG distributor). When you turn the volume pot full on phono with the Trios (107 db/W) , all you get is silence. Not only are they deadly quiet, they sound great too. I'm going to buy a Comet soon and sell my JC Verdier Control B. They can come as two box or one box pre-amps (with the phono stage built in). In the UK the one box Comet costs about £3k. The better Meteor costs £6k.
Hi Rwd: I think that is not a very good idea to buy the phono preamp that Topoxforddoc told you. I explain why:
- first: both units ( Comet and meteor ) are an outboard phono stage, so the signal has to goes trough additionals cables and connectors that degraded the critical signal that comes from your MC cartridge. - Second: Both units use ( internally ) transformers for achieve the gain for a MC cartridges, so here the signal again has to be degraded for many meters of wire in the transformer where the signal has to goes and- Third ( not last ): maybe the most critical issue in the analog sound reproduction: the RIAA frecuency response of those units; a good phono preamp design ( with a good execution of that design ) has to have a RIAA frecuency response of at least: +,- 0.1 db from
20Hz to 20,000 Khz. Those units has a deviation of ten times ( 1 db at 20Hz ) over this RIAA response, this number is by a high-end standard: inaceptable.
Once ( maybe still today ) the Vendetta Research was the standard, it has a RIAA frecuency response deviation from 20Hz to 20,000 Khz of only: 0.05 db, I think the FM Acoustic preamp meets this number, too. I'm not a man of electronic specifications but in the phono stage the RIAA frecuency response is extremly critical and no one has to leave " pass-on ".
BTW, I give you my advice: first change your phono cartridge ( trying to match with your tonearm ) for a better one and a second step will be to change your preamp for a new one that has a high gain ( depends of the phono cartridge ) buil-in phono stage ( with out transformers ).
Regards and always enjoy the music.
Rwd- I also am of the opinion that you already have good stuff.I personally would keep the PH3SE and look at finding a different cart first. Perhaps something that matches up better with the VPI JMW better. It seems to do better with the higher compliance cart around 15cu..like the Dynavector 17d2Mk2. Then you can add a high quality step up transformer like the Bent Audio MU( $775.00) (www.bentaudio.com.) which will also let you vary the load for the cart you choose. In this way you will optimize your playback and bring more life and dynamics to your music. This is the route I choose and am very happy with my Aries/JMW/ Dynavector and PH3 SE. Not saying you should not change anything like pre amp or table..but I would try to get the most of what you have also.. The suggestion of the simple tube swap is avalid idea also..The ARC's will respond nicely to something like the Siemens 7308's or Amperex BB 6DJ8's. Good luck!- Ken
In response to Raul,
1. the Tron preamps are now available as a one box item as opposed to a separate line stage and phono stage.
2. there is a lot to be said for transformers providing they are of high quality and shielded correctly
3. remember you should use your ears when evaluating equipment. I used to sell hi-fi with Ken Kessler - before he became a critic and I became a surgeon. I know what I like - that's live music. The Trons go a long way to getting there. They're also supremely quiet - not only for a tube preamp, but also as quiet as a good solid state set up! You don't believe me - then have a listen.
Thanks all...wow. Many suggestions! First off, I also have a Benz M2 cartridge besides the Helikon. However, what (besides the Dynavector) would be recommended? I was actually considering a London Decca or a Koetsu.

How about that? And I must confess to all...I placed my order for the Rhea. But I would love to hear more!!!
Rwd, congratulations on you decision to order the Rhea. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I enjoy the Io; its a beautiful phono stage.

The Calyspo will give you another improvement in sound quality, but you may want to live with you new Rhea phono stage for a while and think about what changes to your system will really improve the sound you want to achieve relative to your listening priorities. Your system will be at a very high level. Changes from here need to be matched carefully against your listening priorities and synergies with either (a) the rest of your system or (b) your system as you want to have it evolve from here. I think the sound you will get from the Rhea may lead you to consider some directions you might not currently contemplate.

Best wishes,
Thanks Rush...I'll keep you all posted when my Rhea comes in and what the improvements are.
Hi RWD: " I was actually considering a London Decca or a Koetsu ". These are very diferent cartridges. I wonder if you really know what do you want or what are you looking for ? Please, let us to know it.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Yes Raul, they are both very diffeent....which of the two would you suggest may fit into my system? Thanks...!
Rwd: I think that the point is: what are you looking for ( in the analog sound reproduction ) that you don't have it ?, what kind of music use to hear?, wich are your " bias " at the sound reproduction?.
Please let me know about it.
Regards and enjoy the music.