17 responses Add your response
I used the Simaudio LP5.3 with and without the PSX5.3 power supply with the XX2 MKII for over two years. Tried several others during that time but seemed to always keep (prefer) the Sim. Lots of detail with slight warmth. Big soundstage Lots of options, quiet, XLR & RCA outputs. Used you should be able to get both the phonostage and upgraded power supply in your budget.
I see some Sims and Rheas out there and they're tempting. Heard my rig for a few days w/a Sutherland Hubble and it was outstanding, but just a little more than I'm willing to spend at this point. Rest of my system is ARC tubes btw -- Ref 5/210 monos. Wish I could audition several in my system, but that's difficult these days.
Appreciate the suggestions so far, thx.
My system is similar to yours. Audio research Ref 3, Audio research VM220 Mono's, Wilson Audio Sophias.
My table is the TW Acustic Raven One and I use the Dynavector XX2MkII.
My phono pre is the Modwright SWP 9.0 se. It's a terrific piece. Dynamic, touch of warmth with good frequency extremes. Great soundstage. Quiet.
They appear occasionally for slightly less than 2K depending on tubes and upgrades.
I use the Ayre P-5xe with this cartridge balanced-in-and-out, and the combo outperforms my Berkeley Alpha DAC with the same recordings, in an otherwise all-Spectral system. So far, this phono stage holds very well its own within the much more expensive electronics. Although the manual says that for this cartridge's output voltage I should use the high gain, I opted for medium gain which sounds much more linear and quieter, plus the balanced operation helps to reduce noise a little further.
The only other phono preamps I tried were the Simaudio and Narga BPS.
I didn't like the BPS - warm balance, not adequate macro dynamics due to inadequate power supply, soft micro dynamics, rendering choruses too far into the hall so as to not to be challenged - overall, tube simulation using solid state. I suspect if I were to measure its frequency response I would see wild variations.
The Simaudio was dynamic, but I just didn't find it very musical and wasn't tapping my foot.
The Ayre is very neutral, dynamic, with an incredibly palpable presentation - live, with great rhythm, which makes you want to tap your feet; just a tad noisier than the BPS, but nothing I worry about; full of premium parts. A bit congested with choruses, but this could partly be the cartridge (did not put the other phono stages through these tests).
In the end, I picked the one that outperformed the Alpha with the same recordings (of which I have at least 10 or 12). But the Alpha kills my analog with HDCD Reference Recordings CDs, because of the superior technology and recordings.
Make sure you listen for yourself.
Tom, I think they are both excellent phono stages; in my case, I really wanted XLR-in which does reduce noise by a small but easily audible 4-5 dB margin. Although I have some hiss, I no longer have hum. Eliminating hum was a bear for me, and had to also replace the power cable and others around it with shielded type. The results have been extremely rewarding.