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I had an EAR phono stage in my system until I upgraded to a preamp with phono. I found it to be an excellent product with enought gain to push even a low output MC. It is not bright sounding at all and may had add some of that warm tube sound to your solid state system. You can go to www.soundstage.com/revequip/tony02.htm for an online review. Good luck.
I'd recommend auditioning the Audiomat Phono 1 (priced just under $1000, I think). It is a French SS unit, but has a lot of tube-like qualities and is very detailed (there is a review on Soundstage, and their distributor is at mutine.com). Some people also love the Benz phono pre...also in the same price range. If you're considering a new preamp, you might also want to check on built-in phono units.
The EAR I had didn't have a volume control, I read a review in Stereophile that recommended the unit without one because of the possible associtated noise it puts in the path. I have no expereinced so I really can't say. By the way, I understand the Ayre is an exceptional unit, I believe it is or was Michael Fremer's(Stereophile's analog man) reference preamp with phono. The preamp I upgraded to was a CAT with phono and in my system it's the best I have heard. Good luck.
If you think about it, old equipment was designed with phono stages when records where the only true hi-fi source.
My guess is that even a stock Dynaco PAS-3X tube preamp would give you great sound from the tape output.
I personally have an old PAS that was re-done (many of these around)which has a well-known tube designed phono stage which I still use in conjunction with newer line stages.
I wouldn't think of using anything but a tube phono stage.
As for moving coils. The only thing that has and still makes any sense is a low-output moving coil with a passive transformer like a Verion.
If all this sounds too problematic even though cost cutting, you could seek out a Counterpoint 2A, which are still going for a lot of money.
I am not knocking your equipment, certainly when I use a modified Adcom 5800 as my main amp, but I believe you have to ask yourself if that Adcom preamp will have enough resolution to make the expense of a high-priced phono section worth it. For example, I just saw an Sumo Electra preamp with MM and MC phono section going for $200.
I would try something like that first.
If I were going all out I would go for an all-triode Melos 333 linestage and separate phono stage, which is in the $3,000 range.
Since I am an older audiophile, I have gone to MM cartridges and no longer have the MC headaches.
If I do dabble back in, I would probably get a reasonably price hi-output MC that mates with a MM phono stage.
I hope this missive is more helpful than mysifying.
Try and find an Audio Research PH 3 hybrid phono preamp. This puppy will bring the ANALOG out of your records with aplomb! I am using one and am very pleased with the resultant musical bliss that it can produce. This unit can later be upgraded to SE status by ARC to bring it much closer to the multi-kilobuck ARC Reference phono preamp. You should be able to snatch one of these babies for around $1000-$1200 on the net.
You won't be sorry!
Considering your system is solid-state, I would heartily agree with either the AR PH3 or the EAR. These would give your system a boost of warmth and three-dimensionality. Haven't heard the EAR nor the upgraded PH3, but the original PH3 is a great-sounding and VERY flexible phono stage. Also, it's a bit off-topic, but I would advise investigating the Origin Live updates available to the LP-12, as the sound characteristics you describe may not be just the phono stage. I won't drone on here, so contact me directly if'n you're interested in knowing more (or go to www.originlive.com). Enjoy!
I add in my big recommendation for the ph-3 too! Especially the part about it bringing out the ANALOG in your records. I heard my ph-3 head to head against several solid state and tube phono stages. My favorite because of the combination of warmth and smoothness that it gives records. My next favorite is actually very inexpensive - the lehman black cube. FYI I know someone who is selling a used black cube for 475 if you are looking. Send me an email and I'll put you in touch.
i used to use an electrocompaniet ec-1a preamp, & its fono-stage was excellent, so ya may like the current ecp-1. after that, i used a linn kairn, & its built-in fono-stage was better than the gnu musical-surroundings phonomena i tried w/a later kairn w/o fono, so the linto may also be a good choice. also, when i was looking for fono-stages, more than one person told me that the acurus p10 was much nicer than the lehmann black cube that has also gotten raves. as mondial's bigger brother, the aragon 47k retails for only $600, this may also be worthwhile inwestigating.
however, since ya use a solid-state pre, i'd recommend a toobed fono-stage. no experience w/these... *i* am wery happy w/a pentagon ps-3, a ~$1800 fono-stage that i got at an almost give-away price, cuz no one in the usa has ever heard of it. discovery cable used to carry them, dunno if they still do. while it's solid-state, w/my toobed melos preamp, it's fantastic! the musical surroundings was positively mid-fi in comparison.
all the above said, for ~$1k, ditch the adcom, buy a melos sha-gold reference or maestro, & yule be in fat-city for *all* yer sources - even the fono-stage yure currently using, i'd wager... ;~)
good luck, doug s.
Tweek the EAR 834P: replace the ECC83 tubes with a matched and tested pair of E83CCs. EAR has very rigorous tube selection policies, but the E83CCs are better. Some early model 834Ps actually came with them stock. Whoever uses the 834P equipped with a potentiometer directly hooked up to the power amp should observe two things: the power amp should have the highest possible input resistance, at least above 10Kohm; the NF connector should be fairly short and extremely low capacity. You may also want to upgrade the potentiometer: the existing one is a cheap carbon potentiometer. Also, you may also want to remove the passive, unregulated power supply and put it in another, separate box, and regulate it somehow. Unfortunately, the ring transformer is directly attached to the right-hand side of the chassis and imperfectly shielded from the tubes and the rest of the circuits.