since the onkyo has a pretty capable pre already, a phono pre would be logical.
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Allow me to quote Robert Deutsch's Stereophile review of the Onkyo A-9555 from the Sept. 2007 issue:
PhonoI already had a Cambridge 640P when I bought my A-9555, so I used the 640P as my phono stage from the beginning. But a few days ago I decided to try the Onkyo's built-in phono stage, and I like it better than the 640P. Not only do I now hear more clarity, bass extension, imaging, soundstage, and inner detail, it also doesn't have the midrange glare I had before with the 640P in the signal chain. I find the Onkyo phono stage more compelling to listen through.
Based on that, I'd have to say to either be prepared to get a significantly more expensive MC-capable phono stage like the Dynavector P75 or better, or get an SUT for the Onkyo's phono stage. I'm so smitten by the Onkyo's phono circuit I'd try the SUT route first.
Let's assume for a moment that I ditch the Benz, as some of you have suggested. I just upgraded to a Rega P5 and really want to get the most out of this table. I'm intrigued by the "synergy" idea of pairing it with an Exact 2, but I bought the Benz with the (possibly mistaken) notion that a good LOMC, properly amplified, can generally sound better than an MM, as well as reducing the intrusiveness of pops and clicks.
So, setting aside monetary considerations for a moment, would pairing the Benz (or a comparable LOMC) with a preamp like the Nova Phonomena offer anything the Exact 2 (with just the Onkyo, naturally) wouldn't?
Synergy between Rega Table, Rega arm, and Rega cartridge.....This is exactly what I was considering when I upgraded my analog front end. After a ton of internet research, discussions with fellow 'Goners, and speaking with highly regarded "experts," I purchased a new Rega P3-24 table with the RB-301 arm and the Rega Exact 2 cartridge. I am thrilled with the musicality, resolution, soundstage, PRaT, and truth of timbre of this set-up, and it all works beautifully through the built-in phono stage of my Rogue Audio Cronus integrated amp.
I am sure that there's "a lot better stuff" out there, but with today's economic climate and my desire for the best way to listen to my huge collection of jazz vinyl, I am extremely happy. I'm sure that the P5/Exact 2 combination will sound wonderful straight through your Onkyo amp.....Give it a try.
By the way, I just bought a Herbie's mat to replace the Rega felt.....The Herbie's sounded considerably better than the felt when I auditioned it at my Rega dealer's place, so I'm pretty psyched to check it out in my system. And, in a few months, when I have some more dedicated "audio $$" laying around, I want to get the Rega TT-PSU. I'll keep ya'all posted. Happy Listening.