Phono Stage for a VPI Prime Scout


Hi All-
I'm trying to whittle away at the TT?phono stage learning curve. Tried a TT and a few records months ago and really have enjoyed it so much that I am going to get a VPI Prime Scout. The recommendations for the phono stages are so numerous that I thought I could narrow it down by polling the vast experience of this forum. Any suggestions, regrets or thoughts?

Thanks
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How much ya wanna spend, tops?
What can I get in the $1,000 range? I may upgrade to the Prime, or something else at the level in the future, so it would be nice if this was the last phono stage I need.
Try and put as much into the phonostage-at least half the retail cost of the Prime. You'll get something that will get the most of whatever cartridge used.

Consider a used piece to allow you to spend more.
If you can squeeze your budget up just a tad to 1400 you can step into a used manley chinook. pretty darn good until you start spending a ton more.

What cartridge are you planning on? Aural Thrills Audio Serenade might be a contender, mm and mc and runs 4 12AX7 tubes, retails for $1000.00. Check it out. I bought one 6 months ago and love it in my headphone setup. Enjoy the music
The more you spend on upgrading the more sensitive your system becomes in showing how bad new records sound, I hope you have a big collection of clean sounding original records to play on a VPI Prime with a Manley Chinook!
My first thought when I saw this thread was also a used Manley Chinook.  A little over budget, but worth it.  Sounds wonderful with my VPI Classic 2.
I'd say take a look at the Gold Note PH10 retails at $1700 but can get them new for around 1350. It's very versatile so no matter what cartridge you decide on now or down the road you'd be all set.
Seriously though you could look at a Musical Surroundings NOVA for $1200 (new), but if you can find a Manley Chinook for around $1500 its a whole different level as far as detail and air and space also beauty of tone with the Manley Labs :-)


Matt
Thanks everyone for the useful feedback. I went to hear a Prime Scout that had a Zephyr MK3 cartridge. They had it hooked up to a Sutherland phono stage. Sounded great but it has no respect for a budget whatsoever
What cartridge you are going to run seems to be more to the point,  MM, MI, MC? Output voltage and preferred input impedance matter a lot. As well, what speakers. I SAF wouldn't buy any phono preamp that didn't have an infrasonic filter if I had a ported or passive radiator speaker.  Woofer flap anyone?
Right now I'm looking at a Zephyr MK3 ES. The speakers have a port on the front and the bottom
@mattmiller Most of the records I have collected are from pretty good sources. There's one off of ebay that I regret. I'd love to try the Manley Chinook but so far they're all in the mid to upper $2ks so it will have to be an upgrade in the future. I'm going to look into the Nova as well as a few others before committing.
I would suggest a different approach.  Since you are just stepping into the water, I think you might consider purchasing something like a Pro-ject Tube Box2 for $400 and listen to it for a year or so to get a better handle on analog in general.  Then you will be better educated as far as knowing what's better or worse when you hear it later.  It's like buying your first computer - you don't really know what you expect it to do until you play with it for a while and then say - I wish I could do this, that and the other. 
Then you know what to buy on your next computer.  The Tube Box is not a bad piece at all at the level of gear you're buying. And if you want to sell it in a year, you'll lose $200,  
zyphrx-

As mentioned earlier, used will get something more for your money.
SS- https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649617079-vacuum-state-jlti-phono-stage/

If you can up your game, consider tube
https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649619647-rogue-audio-ares-tube-phono-preamplifier/

Ignore the listing price in the adds, and negotiate.

Thank you everyone for your help. I did find a used Manley Chinook so I'm going to try that out.@chayro Funny you recommended the Pro-ject Tube Box. I have the S2 now paired with the Debut Carbon.
Well, you did a smart thing.  Start modestly and establish a baseline for your ears so you can better judge things going forward.  I do remember when I had my tube box, changing the tubes to Black Sables from Tube Depot made a substantial improvement.  Also, on my Music Hall turntable, which is a Pro-ject the Herbie's mat was a great upgrade.  Hope your new phono stage works out well for you.  Be safe. 
Zyp;

How does the chinook sound, now that you found a used oneWhat cartridge are you using ?

jeff 
@frozentundra I expected it to sound better but not this much. Quite a significant change. Some of these records sound like whole new recordings. At the moment I'm listening to the Dead's Ripple and the guitar and mandolin sound beautiful. And I haven't even switched the TT yet. I am still listening to the Ortofon Red 2M on the Project Debut Carbon.