In your budget I would recommend looking for an integrated phono stage. Either a full function preamp w/ phono stage or an integrated amp with a phono stage built in.
My preamp has a phono stage built in that adds $500 to the cost of the preamp. This built in phono stage outperforms any inexpensive separate phono stage that I have heard. I wouldn't consider going with a separate phono stage unless I had a budget of over $2000 MSRP.
BTW, nice little turntable combination, it should sound very good.
Thanks for the recommendation! This is a second table for my office, and I've got a Peachtree Decco hybrid tube integrated amp already, so that's why I'm looking for a separate phono stage. Ones I've been considering:
Clearaudio Basic (though a little more than budget)
Musical Surroundings Phonomena II
Simaudio Moon LP110
Any thoughts on these models with my combo or any other suggestions?
A tube phono preamp will take the "edge" of the ZYX and relax it. I would investigate the YS Audio-Concerto Plus(mc-tse)$1100(new) as a possible better sounding option over the Jolida. I'm using an Allnic H-1200/AT OC9 mk2/P9 and it tames the ruthless AT! A used Allnic H-1200 can be had for under $1k. I realize these are a little over budget but don't scrimp on the phono stage especially with a $1k cartridge.
Hey, thanks for your suggestions. I had not considered those but will do some research now!
I have been using a PS Audio GCPH with my Rega 25 + Denon 301MKII combo ... sounds great!
I use and like the Musical Surroundings Phonomena Nova, similar to the Phonomena II you have in your list.
Other people mention the iFi as being quite good and at a good price.
And the Ray Samuels Audio Nighthawk
Wow, just read some reviews on the Audio Nighthawk and they are quite overwhelmingly positive. This is definitely a contender now ...
I think I'm down to the Audio Nighthawk vs the Clearaudio Basic Plus, but now I'm having a hard time deciding which one to go for. Both have been reviewed well. Clearaudio has won TAS awards, but I'm not sure how much stock to put into that. Nighthawk has had multiple glowing reviews. Any experience here?
I have a friend who owned both. He loved the sonic presentation of the Nighthawk better, but it presented some noise issues. So he switched to the Clearaudio Basic Plus. While he said the Clearaudio was dead quiet, he said it was rather sterile sounding when compared to the Nighthawk. In the end, he sold them both and wound up with a Manley Chinook which he is very happy with. Sorry, this may not have been what you wanted to hear.
Hahaha -- I appreciate the reply. I had also wondered about the Chinook which is quite a bit more than either unit. I've read some on the forum about the Chinook but haven't seen a lot of pro reviews. What do you think about the CHinook?
What about Jolida JD9 vs Nighthawk?
Sorry, I can't help from personal experience. I have never actually listened to any of these phono stages. I do own a Music Hall PA 1.2 phono preamp, which I keep as a back-up. It is a surprisingly nice inexpensive phono stage, though I do not use it often. Most of my phono preamp experiences are with much more expensive stages that are out of your price range. I have heard the Manley Steelhead, but I have yet to hear the Chinook. My friend who went through this lives a couple thousand miles away from me. We only exchange e-mails, so I never heard any of the units personally. Happy hunting.
Thanks! I think finding the right amp under $1000 is not so easy. This is for a second system. My main home system has a Parasound JC3, which I really like. I ended up going for a new Jolida JD9 II, which I got for a good deal from an online dealer with cyber week specials!
Two more options I hadn't noticed mentioned. Heed Quasar- I use it in a second system. The Heed is quiet, and tonality veers on the warm side . It's high gain setting would likely work well for the ZYX, as their specs run conservative. The other is a new version of the Lehman Black cube w/ outboard PS. I just saw a review of this one on Analog Planet. These both retail for just over a grand, $1100 and $1200 US.
Enjoy your new Jolida JD II!!
Thank you very much for all your suggestions!
If you can stretch a little I suggest highly from personal experience (I owned two of these) the EAR 834P.
The Jolida unfortunately had to go back to the dealer. I was getting far too much RFI. Switched power cords, used RFI blockers, changed interconnects, changed position, no improvement. I'm back to square one, sadly.
That sucks! From my experiences, tubes can be the fussiest in the phono stage because they are amplifying a very small (weak) signal. I love tubes, but my favorite phono preamp of all was a solid state design, a Klyne 7PX5.0. Maybe you would be better off looking for a solid state phono preamp.
I was thinking just that. I guess I'm in no rush, because I do have a Musical Fidelity V-LPS II for the moment. I'm still considering the Clearaudio Basic Plus, Ray Samuels Nighthawk, and now also the Simaudio LP3 or 110LP. Hard to justify spending a ton of money on an office system, since I have my better home system. I may just end up keeping what I have and saving the cash unless I find a super deal.
Jasmine LP 2 mkII. My system link goes into detail and love my phono setup with my rega rp6
Jawks-I had a strong feeling the Jolida would not cut it with a $1000 cartridge. Do yourself a favor and look into a used Allnic H-1200!
Haha -- yes, you were right. There is a used Allnic on Ebay when I last checked. With the Jolida serving as a radio antennae, I've become (and perhaps irrationally) discouraged with using a tube stage. I don't know if other tube equipment would be like that, or if the problem was one specific to the Jolida.
I was not a huge fan of the Simaudio LP5.3 with the optional external power supply. Possibly because I was not running a balanced set-up.
But it was easily bettered by an Avid Pulsus (not just a matter of different flavors for different tastes). There is a lower price Avid phono stage under $1000 now, and a used Avid Pulsus can be found for a bit over $1000.
These were both used with a ZYX 4D.
FWIW-I've had zero issues with the H-1200. I would contact Hammertone Audio about acquiring/locating a used H-1200 before dealing with Fleabay! My favorite "budget" ss phono-pre is the Linn Linto. i've heard it several times and was impressed, should be able to find a minty one <$1k. Another used option is the Plinius-Jarrah/Koru. I have not heard these but there is near unanimous acclaim regarding these models. Might be a little over budget but they have the cartridge matching flexibility the Linn Linto lacks.
Hope this helps!
Thanks again for all your suggestions. I am finding it to be harder and harder to make a decision here .. too many good choices!
The Avid Pulsus looks pretty sweet but is overbudget for me. I just got a Parasound JC3 a couple months ago for my VPI Aries/Lyra Delos at home, so I don't think I can justify another top end phono stage for my office!
What about the Clearaudio Basic Plus?
There is a one box Avid sold now. The Pellar is under $1000, and Music Direct sells them so you would have their great return policy.
I saw that, but I haven't heard much about the Pellar. Anyone with experience with this?
Why not try it out yourself? If none locally available for audition, then go thru Music Direct. Chris at Music Direct I believe is pretty familiar with the whole line. He was the one who put the Pulsus on my radar.
And here are the reviews listed for it on Avid's webpage:
Thanks! I will look into it!
I've decided to hold off and perhaps save up for a higher end phono stage, perhaps in the $1000-2000 range. Lots of competitors here in a tough field ...
In that price range, wait for a used Klyne to come along. They very rarely do, so if you see one, don't mess around, grab it. They rarely come up for sale, but disappear quickly when they do.
Assuming you will not find a Klyne, I'd recommend a Herron VTPH-1 MC.
Have you had experience with the Herron? I've been doing some reading and hear lots of good things about it. Part of me is still not sure about tube vs solid-state.
Yes, I actually owned a Herron VTPH-1 MC about a decade ago. I had no noise issues at all in my system, and it was a very good sounding unit, especially for the price. I can understand your trepidation regarding tubes, and as I mentioned previously, especially in the phono stage. That is were tubes are the most vulnerable to display their weakness': noise, channel imbalances, etc. I've actually owned tube phono stages much more expensive than the Herron that exhibited more tube anomalies. I believe the Herron is regarded as a hybrid design, not a pure tube design though, as it uses tubes and FET's in it's gain stages.
Still, as stated earlier, the Klyne 7PX5.0 was the best phono stage that I've ever owned. Now while it is extremely doubtful that you will find a 7PX5.0 for under $2000, you may find an older 7 series or a 6 series phono stage in your price range. Klyne is solid state, but it doesn't sound like solid state. That is why they are so hard to find on the used market.
Landed a used Herron right here on Audiogon and should get it by Thursday. Thanks for the suggestion! I did some research and decided that it was worth the plunge.
Congrats! Let us know how you enjoy it.
Just wanted to give a brief report on the Herron ... I've had it for less than a week and am really enjoying its sound. I actually decided to bring it home and try it out on my home system with a VPI Aries/Lyra Delos. Huge soundstage. Really excellent, tangible midrange. Bass is tight. Treble is smooth. Need to do more listening, but what I've heard so far, I really like! Thanks for the suggestion!
Congrats!! Keith Herron makes some very fine products...enjoy!!