Phono's $2100 to $2600

Dear all I would be interested in hearing your thoughts for a phono upgrade.  What is driving this is that I recently got a Lyra Delos and a Nordost Heimdall phono cable as presents- the sound is simply in another league than before (prior cartidge was Benz low output glider).  So now hooked- all I want to do is spin vinyl all day and all night!

The rig is VPI Aries 1 with upgraded footers, separate flywheel, and synchronose drive- the phono stage is a Trigon Vanguard II and this in turn is hooked into Prima Luna Dialogue premium (using nos 12au7's).  The amps are Pass labs xa60.5 mono's driving Thiel 3.7's.

For a long time I was looking to upgrade the preamp but now I think I will got for the phono 1st and consider a new line preamp later on unless I find a full function preamp to do it all in one shot- obviously I would have to up my budget.

Anyway, assuming I just look at the phono I think I have narrowed my choices to the following with my budget:
1. Zesto Andros (about $2.1k used)
2. Sutherland 20/20 ($2.2k new)
3. Allnic 1202 ($2.6k used)

Potentially I could also look at the PS Audio Stellas phono (the advantage here is that I can trade in my trigon for full retails $500).  And lastly, completely out of left field I have to say I have this urge to try a Sutherland PHD which just sounds like a wonderful phono that made a mark (and would be about $1k or so).

I should also add the Herron that seems to have quite a following but they simply do not show up used so I have put that one aside for the time being.,

I realize I should listen to these in my system but if buying used I can't always do that so I would very much like to get your opinions.   The system sound good but I would like better soundstage depth and texture/detail- but without going overboard on the latter.


I misread your original post. I see you use a PL into the Pass amps. I initially read it as you had a PL amp. Oops. Did you do the tube rolling/power cord stuff?

Comparing what you get for your money, the PL raises the bar. An American made unit with identical build quality is going to cost a bit more?

I wouldn't be worried about the Southerland not delivering the goods. They always get good reviews. You just won't hear the tube "orgainc" vibe, which only a tube unit offers.

I would think you can expect very quiet, precise performance. Maybe it may have some the tube virtues that really nice SS units offer?
I like the Zesto very nice sounding  unit well built as well.Good luck enjoy!!
The PL is really a wonderful preamp- and yes I do switch out NOS tubes a lot...I'v been going between Brimar's, Amperex, and Telefunken's- and they do all sound different.  The first sound more lush and full, the Amperex more defined in the reproducing the sound stage, and the Telefunken's somewhere in between. I cannot say which sounds better vs the other as it really depends on the source material ; I would probably say the 1st two are my favorite.  I have yet to try Mullard's.  What I can say is that I just love the whole experience.

I would like to try to upgrade from the PL just to see what a preamp with an upgraded volume control could do vs alps pot.  If I where to identify where my system falls short is soundstage depth- it is there but I think it could be significantly deeper-  and slightly better soundstage placement.  I think this may indeed be related tin part to the volume control and other better internals.

That said, right now I am focusing more on the phono.  

After doing a little more research I think the PS Audio for SS is a worthy alternative- with my current phono as a trade in it would be $2k.

As for tube option I am not quite sure which way to go.

And then between the two- SS or tube- I am still pondering.  A lot of other members are suggesting the Allnic is the way to go.


I know that feeling of "what to buy?"  Glad i'm done with the madness, and just buy records. Been on the wagon few a couple of years now. Just buy consumables-phono cart and tubes.

I tried the Allnic, it's a very nice piece. The latest model is revised, so you can find the previous model at decent prices. 

If you can find one of these-grab it
This was a flavor of the month, a few years ago.
Out of your choices, I would go Allnic.  But, in your price range, I would investigate the Modwright PH9.0.  There are too many good reviews and user feedback to not consider it.