Dear all,
I'm currently in the market for a turntable - phono stage combo. This is the first turntable I'll ever own, hence I'm trying to keep it simple till I get accustomed to the analog world. I'll be most probably going for a Rega RP1 or RP3 if budget allows. Question is what would be a good phono stage for either of the two turntables. I'm looking into spending around 1500 USD or Euros.
Rest of the system consists of a KRELL KAV 400xi integrated amp and a pair of Martin Logan Clarities.
Your help would be much appreciated.
You should tell us what cartridge you anticipate using? $1500 Euros is a nice amount of money for a simple beginner's first Phono stage. Do you want to buy only new or is used OK?
spend less on a phono stage and get a better table. you're only going to get so far with a Rega table...
I'm assuming you mean 1500 euros for the turntable and phono stage, not 1500 euros for the phono stage alone, correct? (I'm basing this on the fact that one of your TT choices is the RP1, which only runs about $4-500 U.S., so you probably wouldn't run that through a 1500 euro phono stage.)

I just ordered the Rega Fono MM Mk2 to pair with my RP3. I figured it would be a good match with TT, and it's quite reasonably priced at $400. I'll post a review when I've broken it in a bit.

I was running the RP3 through the phono stage in an Emotiva USP-1, and it actually sounded really damn good. However, I've recently upgraded my preamp to a Decware CSP2+ which doesn't have a phono stage.

By the way, I would definitely go for the RP3 if you can. I heard the RP1 and RP3 side-by-side at my audio dealer, and the difference in SQ is quite noticeable.

Good luck, have fun,
A very nice Rega RP3 with a good cartridge (I use an Ortofon 2M Bronze) would cost around 950 euro. If you buy the TTPSU for a more stable speed control (and the ease of switching to 45 RPM) that is an extra 250 euro, which leaves you 300 for phono preamp. You can get great products for that price. A cambridge audio 651p is great for less than 200. A good carbon brush and some other accessories and you are good to go.

You could also opt for spending less money and see if you like the vinyl track. An RP1 with an Ortofon 2M Red and a used Cambridge audio 540p can be had for less than 500 euro and than you have a set you do not have to be ashamed for. Remember that you will have to invest in some vinyl as well.

If you are like me and like tweaking the Rega gives your a lot of opportunities.
the RP3, if I go for that after all, comes with a factory mounted Elys 2 cartridge - MM if I am not mistaken. Given my limited knowledge in analog, such a solution would be the safest one as a first step. In every case, I'd rather go for a MM & MC phono stage, only to be able to experiment with both designs. I'm looking into purchasing a new phono stage.
The RP-3 appears to have an optional factory mounted Elys2 which is an MM cartridge. The RP1 requires you to have a cartridge installed on our own.
I was going to suggest my usual giant killer phono stage , the Graham Slee Gram Amp 2 SE but it is MM or HOMC only. They can be found for as little as $410 new. If you can live with an MM cart this is a great choice. I use it with a HOMC and really like what I hear. I think you can buy an upgraded power supply which would probably make it better.
The EAR 834p is within your budget if you buy the plain version (no chrome face- all black) but once again only suites MM/HOMC. This is a wideley recommended phono pre-amp.
Sorry someone else will have to chime in with MM and MC phono stages.
Spend a little more and get a real one, the Liberty Audio B2B-1 :-)

From its maker



Say Peter, when did $1300 become "a little more"? I would suggest my phono stage as a little more- TTVJ Hybrid for $550.

I currently use this little gem called a Heed Quasar (MM and MC) with my Rega RP3 / Ortofon 2m Black rig. I'll be replacing the RP3 with a considerably more expensive Nottingham Hyperspace / Lyra combination next week and the Heed will remain as my phono stage. I believe the Heed to be your best bet for under 1.5k Euro. Don't take my word for it though, do a google search and read what others are saying about it.

Best of luck.
First of all a phono stage is all about the cartridge one is planning to use and has little to do with the turntable one is using. The Regas you mention are considered budget tables (very nice ones I might add) so if you are planning to stay in this neighborhood with your equipment then you should consider Regas own phono stage the Fono. It is available in both MM and MC versions and runs about $400 USD.
Thank you all for the information and sharing your experiences.
Rischa, you assume correct. I'm looking into spending $1500 for both turntable and phono (ok, lets say plus or minus $150, to allow for some flexibility). Looking forward to your impressions of the Rega Fono. Nanbil, you seem to agree with Rischa on that issue.
Mechans, I have read excellent reviews on the Graham Slee Gram Amp 2 SE myself. I noted that this is the phono stage that is suggested in the Origin Live turntables web page - an alternative maybe to the Rega?
Coinman63nl, I will certainly look into your suggestions. They are definitely within my context.
Svkelleher, I admit I have never of Heed Quasar. I shall do some research on it.
Pbnaudio, B2B-1 makes for a very desirable option but, unfortunately, it is currently out of my reach.
I've also come across the Belari VP130 for 250$. This again is usually recommended as a pair to Music Hall turntables. Would that make for yet another alternative?
Vortrex, your comment was the most intriguing one! Please share your thoughts.
Again, thank you all for your interest.
Have a look at the Ray Samuels Audio F-117 Nighthawk MC/MM phono stage.

It's an amazing sounding battery-operated phono stage that provides the ability to change settings on-the-fly, via front mounted knobs (no need to open up the unit).
Pro-ject tube box II or Jasmine.