Strongly recommend the Eastern Electric phono stage. Will work fine with the Shelter and at less than $1500 is a real bargain. Read the reviews. I agree with them. It's dynamite.
And the distributor is a great guy to work with.
I have a Hagerman Trumpet and use it with a K&K Audio step-up. It provide loads of warmth, especially with NOS tubes. The Hagerman Coronet is no slouch either at half the price. However, if I had to do it all over again, the K&K Audio tube phono stage would get serious consideration.
Ear 834p has a very nice, naturally sounding soundprint.
The Audio Research PH5 is in your price range. I was planning to buy the ARC Ref when I entered the dealers store and walked out with the PH5 instead.
Pass Labs Ono- I have had one for 5 years. Built a tank with a separate power supply and you will never have a problem with gain as it goes up to 76db. Extremely quiet. There is a used one for sale of $1,775.
Suggest the K&K phono stage (kandkaudio.com). Call Kevin, who used to design for VAC and was the designer of the Art Audio Vinyl Reference before starting his own biz. It WILL best anything shy of $5K, including (from personal testing experience) 3 of the 5 mentioned above (other two not compared). Within your budget, too.
I second Springbok10's recommendation for the Eastern Electric MiniMax Phono Preamp. If you want to get an idea of how well it will work with a Shelter cartridge then you should read this review;
.6moons minimax phono review
Here is another recommendation for the K&K phono pre. This is one great sounding phono stage and comes in right at your price limit. Give Kevin a call, you won't be disappointed.
I'll second 4yanx recommendation of the K&K. I have compared it to the ARC PH3SE and the Pass X-Ono and preferred it to both (although it was close to the X-Ono). I really don't think you can do better under $2K and this includes if you purchase used.
I owned both the Eastern Electric Minimax phono and the K&K Phono and would really recommend them both. The EE Minimax has a midrange that is absolutely to die for. It was maybe a little rolled off on top and bottom but really a nice piece that I could live happily with. The K&K is the best I have heard to date with no weaknesses that I really know of. It combines the best of solid state sound in a tubed unit. It doesn't quite have the midrange of the EE Minimax but it has a very sweet midrange and significantly better lower and upper frequency extension. I don't think you could go wrong with either unit. Good luck in your search.
check out the aes/cary ph-1: it's a great value and kevin at upscale audio will help you roll/tweak it to perfection, well within your budget and killing lots of higher-priced models. i picked up one used here on a'gon and have been very pleased.
Second (or third) the Eastern Electric recommendations - very musical, and a thing of beauty to behold. Rated Stereophile Class B. U.S. distributor is wonderful to work with. I've had one in my secondary system since January - - - very pleased.
Just 2 cents here. I owna Linn Linto and just tried the Ayre PH5 for the weekend and well I gotta save the dough but it was much better than the Linn. Stereophile rates the Linn above the Ayre but I disagree. The Ayre sells for 2350 but maybe your local dealer could cut you a deal. It has a great soundsatge. Full range with a very natural sound. It is like it isn't there in the signal path at all. Again just my 2 cents.
You should listen to the Art Audio Vinyl I. Some have two inputs for MM and MC cartridges. Should smoothe out the Belles a little bit but still have tremendous extension both ends. A little under the radar but nice reviews out on them. I have a friend who is selling all his stuff who may be selling his if you are interested.
3rd or is it 4th for the KandK, buy it in kit form at $1550, or built for about $1900. I have'nt heard a steelhead or Aesthetix, but the KandK is the one I will be keeping. Detailed, even across the freuency spectrum, but not fatiguing.
Yes, the K&K. I posted this many moon ago, but a bunch of us auditioned the K&K against SEVERAL units both SS and tube some time ago (and that was before the uprgaded K&K) at a local audio haunt, most of the units mentioned above not excpeted. It outperformed everything short of an IO Signature (on the order of 5x the cost). It got to the point where the haunt owner half-jokingly said, "tell very few about this piece and none locally."
I have yet to hear ANYONE say anything bad about this piece (if they've actually heard one), and that might be the loudest testimonial of all.
If you go the K&K route, do yourself a favor and buy a pair of Herbies Tube Dampers. They really do take the sound up another notch. It also benifits fram frequent frequency sweeps using the Cardas set-up record.
Funny, I've tried both on mine to little or no effect. The dampers may have helped some, but I'm not so sure. :-) The sweep did NADA, at least in my system.
Boy, thanks for the ideas. I think I need to add the K&K to my list and give it a listen. I have also been thinking or perhaps springing for a Sutherland Phd as the battery really appeals to me, and the $400+ savings on a power cord.
Audio_blow_hard, the Belles really needs no smoothing out. Super combination couldn't be happier. The Dynaudio's do have a slight forward personality and are about the best sounding speakers I have ever heard regardless of price on about 80% of the albums with the right electronics. With carefull cabling I have increased that to about 90%. Perhaps with the right phono amp I'll get 95%. (I do have a small to med. listening room so a big speaker is not needed)
Thanks again to all, I will follow up on some of these suggestions. David.
Nicksgem10s, I am sending you an e-mail but will also post here so others may benefit from the question. I have read some of your earlier posts, when you had the Eastern Electric MiniMax Phono were you using it with the Dynaudio 20XH? The reason for the question is that I spoke to a few who have reviewed the EE and they felt that it was a little shy at the extreme's of high and low, this was also mentioned in Fremer's review, in the MM mode that did not take advantage of the MC transformers. I get the impression that for this amp to really shine one would need to mate it with a low output MC cart. Your input is appreciated.
I have heard the same thing about the Minimax Phono really doing its best with low output MC. I didn't have the chance to hear it at its best and it was still darn good. I only got to use it with my Dynavector 20xh. I forgot to mention that when I was speaking about my experience. Excellent point.
you may want to give the allen wright designed jtli stage a try. i just got one from jay at audio revelation, and im very impressed. using it with a scoutmaster/jmw9 signature arm/shelter 501 mkII cart. it's extremely neutral and it's really helped unveil my system. give jay a call and he'll probably let you try it out before you buy. he's a good guy. i'm just a satisfied customer, nothing else...
Sberger, how would you compare the jtli to the Dynavector P75, I see you have used the Dynavector in the past.
A suggestion, and another candidate for a nice phono stage, and one I had gotten myself used recently, but in absolute mint condition from another A-Gon member here, is the Sutherland PHD. I acquired this Phono Stage for exactly $2,000.
This Stereophile Class A rated Unit delivers beautiful, dead quiet performance, listening is smooth, very detailed, defined with my VPI 19 MK-IV-Glider Combo, is battery operated by 16 D-Cell batteries, and has virtually unlimited possibilities for Load, and Gain with boards that are user adjustable, and that also custom values can be configured-gotten for the unusual requirement of a special loading resistance.
My own personal freind of 10 years, Thomas M. Back, an Optical Designer, and Amateur Astronomer par excellence also owns the Sutherland PHD, and give a short review-commentary on the Acoustic Sounds Website about this Unit.
I believe Tom is using a Clearaudio Master Reference Turntable, top of the line Clearaudio Tonearm, and Lyra Titan Cartridge. Tom's biggest problem with other costly Phono Stages he's owned-auditioned, was living very close to many Radio Station's Antennas, and the consequent RFI problems he was having. He gets absolutely none with the Sutherland.
I've found the Sutherland to be very dynamic, and with the dead silent noise floor, Many LP's begin to take on an almost "CD" level of slam, bass solidity, and another nice quality I note is great separation-individuality of individual instruments-voices.
I was looking for a great sounding Phono Stage that offered good versatility with the ability for no compromise loading, and gain features, and the Sutherland provides this perfectly.
My other choices where the Aesthetix Rhea, and the PS Audio GCPH. Looking back, I'm sort of glad of not going with a Tube Driven Stage, and the headaches that can be caused by tube issues like hum, tube rush, bad tubes, tube rolling, and being at the mercy of sellers with their NOS boutique tubes running into the hundreds of dollars alone.
Wish you the best in finding what you desire, and hope this helps you. Mark
the p75 is really terrific, but frankly if you're planning on using it with a non dyna cart, i'd suggest looking at somehing else. as many others including myself have said here and other places in the past, the pe mode for the 75 is it's strength. with a dyna 20 xl cart, it's magical. with another dyna, it's very good. with any other cart, it's hit or miss. the jlti is much more flexible, and much more refined. i have never used a stage this good, so it's hard to compare, but i would say it provides a deeper soundstage, much greater separation, and just an overall better sense of the music. yeah, it's higher quality. but remmeber, it's almost 3x the cost. hope that helps.
Davt, did you end up getting the new hotrodded Nottingham Spacedeck turntable with improved Ace Space version II?
As for phonostage: As you know I am considering pretty much the same setup down the road. I have been considering the Wright WPP200C, Fi Yph, K and K and using a step-up. All these should be worth looking into.
How do you like your new Spacedeck?
All the best,
I got the standard spacedeck but with the new arm. I wanted the arm the most. All things being equal I would have liked the newer AceSpace turntable with the new bearing and higher mass motor but I had set a budget and was getting darn close to it. I had to consider a nicer phono stage in the future and some isolation and decided that since I could get the new arm on the Spacedeck and the track record on the spacedeck was so good I would go that direction. I am very, very pleased. I hope to post the system soon. Overall, breathtaking. Highly recommend the spacedeck with new acespace arm.
Well, after a great deal of research I ordered a MiniMax phono stage. Not because it is the best phono stage available at the price but because the consensus of it's attributes will probably work with my system the best. I am a little hesitant because I was very please with the dynaudio P75 and recommend it highly but feel that I could perhaps get a little more out of my system with an upgrade. I will post my review once I get it broken in. Thanks to all for your input.