Get an Aesthetix Rhea. You can also get rid of your transformer unless you want that sound in your system
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Pass Labs XP-25 has two relay-switched inputs and relay-switched active gain options of 53db, 68db, and 76db. That gets it all done without a SUT. The unit has a wide range of selectable load options for MC, but is limited to 47K for MM. I solved that issue by installing a socket for plug-in resistors in the 47K position.
Your lucky day. Purchase a VAS Citation Sound I, it is a knock off of the HK unit, but with all updated parts. I have one, great sound, great value. It has a separate MM and MC. Glorious sound. Used HK units go on eBay for over $1,000. Used VS unit go for about $2,500. The VAS is a safer bet. Enjoy.
Many thanks for all recommendations. I did not know that this many phono preamps exits with two inputs that can support either MM/MM or MM/MC. Most of them cost over $4000.
Finding a perfect phono preamp for my system would be a long journey.
My current system: Plinius SA102/CD-LAD, Apogee Diva, Garrard 301 with two arms (Ortofon RMG309 with SPU Gold, and AS212 with SPU mono), and Clearaudio Bluemotion with Ortofon MC20, SL15E, SL20Q, Denon 103R, ...).
Phono pres are Whest PS.20 and Yaqin MS-12B.
An SUT is Hashimoto HM3 based Live! MC-10.
Most cartridges I have are low MCs (below 0.1mV for Ortofon cartridges except SPU Gold which is 0.2mV, and 103R), the SUT works pretty good with them. That is why I want to keep the SUT. All phono pres with MC input mentioned above do not have gains high enough for sub 0.1mV output MC cartridges.
My plan is to purchase a phono pre that is noticeably better than Whest PS.20 and Yaqin. Whest and Yaqin sound different, and for some music I prefer Yaqin to Whest on my system. Belived or not, my Yaqin performs as good as a few $1000 phono pres that I've had a chance to listen to.
I'll keep looking for some of the suggested models. My budget is $1500 (well, that makes me very hard to find one that would work for my system.)
"All phono pres with MC input mentioned above do not have gains high enough for sub 0.1mV output MC cartridges"
I use a .05mV Ortofon MC2000 at 76db through Pass XP-25. It's above your stated budget, but works very well without a SUT. I agree that you'll need to keep that SUT if limited to $1500 for a phono stage.
Well, my posting was more like why there are only a few (or even close to none) phono preamps that support two MMs with no MC support. Why not let people use their favorite SUTs for their MC cartridges with MM only phono pre?
Supporting both MM and MC will make it much more expensive than just two MMs.
I may be wrong, but I think Bob's device SUT or Live! 10-MC (both cost a bit over $1000) with MM phono preamps (at around $1000) would perform better than phono preamps with both MM and MC inputs that cost around $2000.
Adding one more MM input and a selector for two MMs would not add much cost.
That was my question. Why isn't there much demand for two (or even three) MM inputs only? There should be many users who own SUTs, and they would rather like to have phono preamps with multiple MM inputs at much less price than those with MM+MC, unless those with MM+MC perform better and cost less than MM only preamps with SUTs.
IMO, and this is ONLY my opinion (not stating as fact), is that there is not any advantage to a SUT in the better phono stages. My preference is the MC input rather than an SUT into a MM input. As far as I'm concerned, SUT / MM input combo is only for those phono stages with deficient low-level MC input sections.
I cannot say I've made a direct comparison of a MC through a SUT into the MM input against the direct MC input in my system. But I find the MC input in my phono stage quite excellent and better than anything else I've heard.
RGR (Robert Grodinsky Research) made a very nice preamp back in the 70s & 80s that had 2 MM inputs with independently adjustable loading specifically to address a broad variety of situations. The first version was Model 4 and the second (improved) was Model 4-1. Both were very well reviewed and you can find some of that information online. I bought a 4-1 second-hand in 1982 and used it with two tables until 2012. Had to retire it due to a couple of circuit failures and haven't decided if I'm going to fix it yet.
When it was operating properly, I thought it sounded terrific. They sell for $500 or so in very good condition and were made both silver and black face, with and without rack ears. Also features stereo, left only, right only, reverse and mono selector, low filter, 2 tape loops, an external processor loop with bypass switch, tuner and auxiliary inputs. Something to check into if your interested.
Good luck and happy listening!
THere are probably fewer than 100 of these phono preamps because they're handmade by one person, Mark Voigt, but he makes an all-tube handwired phono stage called the MAGI Phonomenal. I have one of the older models with one stereo pair of phono inputs, but his newer version has two pairs, switchable from the front panel. There's no MC high-gain input. This preamp does, however, have a gain attenuator to bring out the best in MI, MM, and HOMC. There are also two configuration knobs on the front, one with six impedance values ranging from 47 ohms to 100K ohms. The other selector offers capacitance loads from 0 pF to 300 pF. My older model doesn't have the 0 pF selection.
Here's a picture of one.
If you Google "Mark Voigt MAGI Phonomenal" you'll find plenty of threads discussing this unit as well as contact information.
BTW, the sound of this is truly "phonomenal." It's about $1K and has been favorably compared to the Manley Steelhead, which is around $6500.