went through all of this a year ago- went with the vpi scout with the dyna 20x, skipped the phono pre built into my mac, and finally found nirvana with the arc ph-5---its a bit over your budget ( around 1300-1500 used on agon) but , imho, far outdoes the two you mentioned-no contest-of the two you mentioned, I preferred the ear834p.
Thanks for the feedback. Waiting and saving a little more for my budget is always an option if that makes sense. What would you say were the differences you heard in the arc ph-5, era gold, and ear with the Scout/Dyna combo?
I am a VPI dealer and am currently investigating the same question as I use a MF M3 NuVista for demos. Have been using an older Vendetta step up into the MF's MM phono stage. In a recent HIFICRITIC test the PRO-JECT TUBE BOX 11 SE did very well, considerably bettering the Slee + Elevator. See test results on their web site. I am currently in negotiations with Sumiko for PROJECT and with Dynavector for their P 75 phono stage. I don't sell new products on audiogon so I am not campaigning for a sale, just letting you know what I had been looking at in the way of phono stages. These are $700 and $750.
I went to the HIFICRITIC website but couldn't find the article. Do you have the link. I would be interested to read it.
A remarkably little SS phono box. You just experiment with the user dip swtches to find the right impedance and gain. Ignore the supossedly correct positions they are just wrong but you can find the right combo easily enough. I am using it with an MM at the moment but it has the gain for a moderate MC.
It is a much more musical creature than my Graham Slee Amp 2 SE which I was told was a giant killer. I find it a bit harsh- but yes indeed -it has the cruel real audiophile's brutally sterile and that nUetral sonic.
Absolutely perfectly clean impossibly low noise floor and all that. It is very clean without noise or other obvious faults. I am using it with with my Scout. The cartridge is a ridiculously revealing detail retrieving finder, A Dyna 20X High output MC.
The name of this little miracle musical job I mentioned above is an Australian product by Redgum audio. The only place I know that has it in stock is Quest for Sound. You can find Stephen Monte or the Quest president and wholey owned NAT distributing- as one of the official Audiogon dealers. They are othwise beyond hard to find. The down side is that despite the crazy good sonics it seems like it should cost less than the $4-500 they do. Primarily because it is small.
My personal take on the sumiko project phono stage is that it was made to look like a good pre not sound any good I think they are dull and noisy. Just my 2 cents I am sure I will be toasted for telling the emporor he has no clothes.
If you e-mail me I have a bunch of really good tubes and a legendary phono just hanging about to put themm in.
I went through this too, with the same combination as you.
I had trouble getting the Grado Sonata to sound very good with the VPI arm. Eventually I got a VPI head weight (from Musical Surroundings, I think) which gave me the best sound. The Grado has a rich midrange, and sounded fairly tubby with the EAR phono stage I had. When I switched to a Benz Lukaschek PP-1 phono stage, I thought the combo was really quite nice. The Lukaschek is crystal clear and fast, and really helped me appreciate the Sonata. Although it is designed for low output MC cartridges (why I bought it), it actually sounded great with the Sonata.
Eventually I wore out the Grado and moved on to a Shelter 501-II, which had some definite advantages (clarity & extension) over the Grado, but didn't have quite the same sense of drive. Again, I needed the head weight to get a cartridge/arm resonance that was workable and would track records well. I've been running that quite happily for a couple of years. The Shelter needs a re-tip now, so I'm exploring other options.
Earlier this week, I bought a Dynavector 20xL, which I haven't yet received. Said to be a great match with the VPI. We'll see.
Hope you find a solution that works for you. Anyway, I'd recommend the head weight (maybe $20?) and the PP-1 phono stage which you can find at $5-600. I sold mine when I got an Aesthetix Rhea phono stage, but that's another story.
Have you tried the JASMINE LP2.OSE Phono Pre-Amp? I tries the Graham Slee,,,,,too rich for my blood,and the Jasmine takes no back seat! Really a great buy!
Take Care & Stay Healthy:max b
I live in a fairly remote area so I don't have an opportunity to try alot. I did just buy a used GSP Era Gold V to try (should have it next week along with the speakers). I am hoping to try something with tubes also for a comparison and then sell the one I like least. I think I am going to like the Sonata cartridge, but alot of people really push the Dyna 20x with the Scout so I have to wonder if I am missing out there. Oh well, Such is the addiction.
I used the Grado PH1 phono stage (500 $USD) with my Grado Prestige Gold and lately with the Statement Master.. and it has always worked very well giving a very good sound
I picked up a used Graham Slee Era Gold V. I am happy with the sound, still am curious at some point to try a tubed unit. Anyone else with feedback on their findings with associated equipment please let me know your thoughts. For now I am very much enjoying the combination of the Scout / Sonata / Era Gold V.
I will second the Jasmine LP2.0SE. I just got one a couple of weeks ago that I am using with my Scout and a Dynavector 10x5 cartridge. It is outstanding IMHO, especially for the money. They have a 30 day return policy for the full retail of $649.00, so if you don't like it, you could send it back for a refund. Build quality seems to be very good, and you don't often see a two box unit at this price point (the power supply is in a separate box from the preamp). Most units in this price range have wall wart type power supplies. If they do offer outboard power supplies, they are usually an upgrade and additional cost. I have not heard the Graham, so I couldn't comment on that.
I so glad I came across this post! I currently own a VPI Scout II with a Black Knight platter and 10.5SE arm (the TT Michael Fremmer demo'd a cart setup at the 2012 NYC audio show - not why I bought the TT, I got an incredible deal). I'm currently utilizing a Grado Gold cart through a Dynavector P-75 phono pre, thru an old Mac C-32 pre. My speakers are Focal 935's which are extremely accurate and IMO bright. I've played with speaker placement, VTA, azimuth, and cables for endless hours and cannot seem to control the harshness of the highs and sibilance.
I too am impressed by all the rave reviews of the Dynavector 20X2/VPI/P-75 setup. I posted another thread here, "Cart for under 1K" and the responses have been tremendously helpful, but everyone has a different opinion. Unfortunately there is no way to borrow ten carts from a dealer and evaluate each prior to making a decision. I'm more than likely going to give the 20X2 a shot, but just for shits and giggles, I was thinking about purchasing a Denon 103 for comparison. First, it's not expensive, and two I'll be able to have a comparative measure with my current cart. Once an understanding of the type of sound developed from my cart compared to the 103, I think that will help better direct my decision. Just a thought since there are so many choices.
I am also thinking about playing around with the P-75 setup, adjusting the output to see if that controls sibilance. Does anyone have any opinions or should I just leave that alone?
Thank you everyone!
I had your problem and virtually the same set up. I cured it with an honest tube pre amp -the Cary made AE-3- which may still be available from Upscale Audio.
I now love my phono stage the Graham Slee Gram amp 2 SE. put through the pre. Alsoyou must get Cardas Golden refs or other Cardas "Golden" upper level interconnects between your pre and your amp. If you don't have a tube power amp consider it seriously.
If you just get the pre (roll the 6SN7s if you want I like rolling so I did) and the Cardas cable which will have to be used as Cardas is not making that style of cable, you will be happy and amazed. I guarantee it!!
Mechans...be careful what you guarantee. In MY system, I tried many cables, but not were worse than Cardas.....I tried their whole line
Well sorry about that, It worked so well for me ...with my Focal Electras.... that I thought it would work for anyone.
The question does remain though have you tried a real tube preamp? It is a critical piece to the puzzle. Tube power amps makes it even better!! I only wanted to share my success after almost a decade of reiiteritave gear and cable swapping. I once had a MF 308 integrated, for instance, and had to sell it as it just didn't work with my gear.
I wish you could hear my set up but I am moving and it is now at my ex's house but will be with me soon. I will have to figure out a way to fit it in a small apt. I hope it still sounds as good but I duobt it.
I am genuinely surprised the Cardas Golden Refs didn't take some edge off. Can you describe how they sounded?
I have all Ayre equipment...sure the Golden Ref's took the edge off, as well as the depth, air, and all the stuff that makes us Audiophiles.