Try the Cambridge 640p. It's worked well with both a Goldring and now a Dynavector cartridge. Retail is around $180. You can also have it modded down the road, if you so desire.
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I tried the Bellari, way too tubey for me.
I went with a Graham Slee SE2 which does MM and high output MC, retails at $400, but you can probably get a deal on one....it's a TAS Recommended component in their latest rag...if it doesn't beat anything up to $1k I'd be real surprised.
My first pick would be the Eastern Electric MiniMax tube pre, it sounds absolutely amazing!! But comes in at $1200 I think it is (less used)...now that's a giant killer!
Another vote for the Cambridge 640P. They're not even $180 unless you're talking about shipping. They're $169 pretty much anywhere, including Audio Advisor and MusicDirect.
This thing is incredible. It has a lot of the performance you don't usually get until you pay some serious money, such as a very high s/n ratio (the noise floor is LOW!), linearity, speed, and frequency extension at both ends. You will hear a significant improvement over your NAD, and may not hear much more improvement beyond the 640P until you get to a Graham Slee Era Gold Reflex at $925.
I was playing my analog rig into a vintage but highly respected Amber Model 17 preamp. The Cambridge created such a jump in dynamics, resolution, speed, and extension that I ended up upgrading the cartridge, line stage/amp, and speakers to exploit the 640P's potential.
You've been warned. :)
My system is as follows:
Kimber PBJ from NAD to Primare
Kimber Hero from Primare I21 to CD21
Monster MSeries 2.2
Music Hall MMF5 (i love vinyl so much that this piece will be upgraded at some point in the future)
Thats why the budget is low because I know the NAD is not the best and I know I can improve my sound from the MMF5 but I dont know how for under $400.00.
I will do some poking around for the 640p and see what I come up with, thank you.
thegoldenear...u shoulda probably listed the cartridge u use. if you're using a MC or HOMC, the cambridge 640p has its limitations gain and loading wise (ie, unless u have techy/mod abilities) i went from the 640p to the musical surroundings phonomena just for this reason. the phonomena usually can be had here for around $300 used. i still have the cambridge and i'd be willing to let it go for $120 plus $10 ship. if u have any interest let me know and i'll put it up in the classifieds.
I agree with the idea of a tube phono pre. I presently use a AES PH1 made by the same company as Cary audio. The sound is excellent and it has enough gain for a HO moving coil or MM cartridge. There is one for sale in the classified (no relation) in the price range you are looking at with extra tubes to roll.
ok since money is a factor at the current time but i really wanna improve my sound, pick another phone pre amp where i am not paying for MC tech included in the price.
I need something better than my current NAD, which only supports MM, i have noticed there are a few, which one is recommended?
Sorry to be a pain but i really want to improve my sound. with out breakin the bank. I know 160 isnt bad for the 640p but if thats the case its the same tech as the 540 whihc is only MM and that would make more sense for me but I would rather spend 200 and change on a creek OBH 15 then waste 80 on the 540p.
Thanks for your suggestions and I did purchase the 640p and the p must stand for Piece. The build quality is terrible and had nothing but hum after i hooked it up.
anyway it is on its way back from where it came from.
back to that drawing board and thats what i get for being cheap and trying to hide it from the wife. LOL
and again thank you!
If you can stretch your budget a bit, might I suggest checking into the PS Audio GCPH($999 new, $600-700 used and can be modded to good effect latter) It seems to have fallen out of favor here for some reason(not the latest thing maybe?) but it's extremely flexible, priced right, and is dead quiet with great sound quality(at least in my set up) I bought it with the intention of upgrading to a more expensive(BAT,EAR,Ayre)unit but every time I look into this I reach the same conclusion, Nothing's wrong so why spend all that money.
Try Yaqin MS-12B. You can get it at somewhere between $250 and $400. ;-) It worked better than my friend's Bellari with Chinese stock tubes.
I changed the stock 12AX7s to old used mullards and 12AU7s to old RCAs (paid $80 for both), and the sound got much better. It now sounds quite close to my friend's Audio Electronics ae-3 mkii.