Hi Guys Want to upgrade my Phono Stage. Currentky I have 2 TTs, a Project Debut Carbon with a Denon DL 103R paired to a Project Tube Box DS. My second TT is a Clearaudio Preformence DC with a Dynavector Karat D17 paired to an Avid Pellar. Rest of my equipment is B&W 800d, Classe CTM 600, Ayre KX-R. As most of my system I would like a tube phono if possible and 2 Inputs if at all doable.
I like tubes but for $3k you should try the Parasound JC3+ . It is the considered by many to be the class of the field in that price range. I have heard many and tried several in my system and really like my JC3+.
It is both full and detailed with no harshness assuming the cart/wires are not harsh.
Look for a used C-J phone stage right here on the Gon! You will not be disappointed with their sound quality. But remember, gain and loading settings are very important. Ask for recommendations and experiment.
If you have tubes in your front end, Pass Labs XP15 phonostage sounds great, and has been replaced by the XP17, so there are some floating around at very good deals. Mark at Reno HiFi is the best, and he's a true gentleman.
The only thing I think you will be giving up is a second input, but you will be getting unbelievable sound, with a noise floor that is SILENT. And, the unit has nearly limitless adjustment settings for load, etc.
I have a Dynavector 17D3 and found a step up transformer made a big difference with a Rogue Stealth Magnum and my new BAT phono stage. I do highly recommend the BAT. I am using an old Denon SUT so it could be better. Good luck in your hunt.
I concur with what Liamowen posted. I purchased a Pass Labs XP-15 from Mark at Reno HIFI. Great experience. You can have an XP-15 for less than $3k and have a few hundred left over for vinyl.
@rsf507 mentions a sterile sound. I’m using a Rogue Cronus Magnum for line and amp (tube) and it’s sounding pretty sweet.
Note of caution, you may find yourself tweaking gain and or loading for quite some time after purchase especially with an MC. I just put a Lyra Delos on my TT and saw recommendations for 100 ohm loading. After speaking directly with someone at Pass Labs, he ran a similar setup at loading anywhere from 250-330 and he said the dynamics come alive and he couldn’t be more right. He suggested 66 gain however I have 99 dB speakers so I prefer 56 gain.
Good luck on your search and please do revert back with any questions.
Had the Parasound JC3, Manley Chinook and the Allnic 1201 all at the same time and in my system the 1201 Allnic was on a higher level. Had the Herron on loan for a night and really liked it but could not compare with the Allnic at the time because the owner of the Herron had it but will revisit later.
You will hardly find anyone here with a serious rig who has solid state phono stage. Go with tubes, just make sure it is electrically matched with your preamp. I don't know what's available with two inputs within your price range, including used. But if you decide on solid state, check Sutherland 20/20 for $2400 new. But one input, I think. You never see Sutherland phono used. Why is that ? They sell enough.
Not to fuel the tube/SS argument, but Inna did not say solid state preamps aren't good. He said that that the people HERE with serious systems rarely have a SS phono stage. I think the implication is that tube preamps are superior, but that's another issue. Anyway...
Rather than limiting your range of choices by looking for a phono stage providing two LOMC inputs, you might consider choosing a phono stage providing one LOMC input and one MM input, and using the MM input in conjunction with a SUT.
The combination of a Herron VTPH-2 and a Bob’s Devices SUT would provide that functionality, with a rear panel switch allowing you to select the desired input. Although if purchased new the two items would total about 60% more than your budget.
What Almarg said. I do it with a fidelity research SUT that has three inputs of its own. I plug it into the MM stage so in total I have four inputs. And my vote is for the Herron. I highly doubt that in ahead to head competition the Parasound would equal the Herron.
Srafi, i also recommend the Herron . In my system it is absolutely a music making machine. I have a complete Herron system. Preamp, mono amps and phono stage. Over the years I have had other systems but nothing that is as musical as the Herrons. Plus, Keith Herron is a great person to deal with. Try it. Carter
I’ll give a shout out for the Ayre P5xe as well since I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the dead quiet silence. How about a used Asthestix Rhea, if you can find one? It sounded amazing last time I heard one and it’s tube. Plus, you can connect both your tables since it supports two inputs.
Thanks again guys. Now I am torn between the the Herron and the JC3. I am not based in the US so for me its one or the other. Have to decide and order. Parasound has a dealer local to me while for the Herron I would have to arrange on my own. The Herron and the SUT option sounds very good. Could get just the Herron for now and use my Clearaudio MM cart with it until next year and then get the SUT. If I can arrange I may go with the Herron. Again thanks a lot for the input and advice.
I also suggest the Herron VTPH-2. I have NOS Telefunkens in mine and it sounds wonderful. Plus Keith will let you try it in your system for 30 days only had to pay shipping if I decided to return it; obviously I didn't.
Everything is so system dependent but please read my preamp shootout. After 40 years of listening and a lot of gear passing through my system I would strongly recommend going the used route for either a CAT SL-1 (either an ultimate, which I picked up for $3k or a signature MKll which I sold for $2k). Use in hot-rod mode (only using phono) unless you also like the sound of the line stage. Replace two phono 6dj8 tubes with Amperex 6922 pq white label tubes. Simply one of the best sounding phono sections ever in my system (along with coincident phono with 5751 sylvania tubes but $4k used) The break-point for needing a SUT is around .4mv output. I primarily listen to a Benz micro LP-S or a Monster Alpha 2 cartridge through an EAR MC-4 SUT. However, I also have a clearaudio maestro and it sounds good going straight into the CAT, The Maestro is not equal to the Benz or the Monster in my kit, but it is pretty darn musical. Once again, Please read the preamp shootout and good luck.
Also consider an EAR 324 MM/MC phono preamp. Retail is around $6k but there is a used one available on Audiogon now for sale within your budget. Very versatile and though a solid state phono preamp, it doesn't sound solid state. After speaking with the USA EAR distributor, there is not much different sound in the 324 solid state vs 868 tube phono stage they make. I would prefer the EAR over Herron and the Parasound personally. If I were in the market for a phono stage, it would either be the EAR 324 or a Zesto Andros. I had the Zesto before and sold it for the EAR 324 which I currently own (though I will also be putting it up for sale as I recently sold my turntable). Best of luck!
I would very highly recommend the Perreaux
Audiant VP3 Phono Stage
of which I bought a brand new one back in Oct of 2016. I did compare it to the Parasound JC3 and to me the Perreaux was better in every way, plus it cost less and made in New Zealand. It was for my new Pro-Ject RPM 10 Carbon Turntable and oh man what a turntable it is.
I compared my RPM 10 against the vpi prime and liked the Pro-Ject better. You can't go wrong with the Perreaux phono Stage. All the best.
Hi, I've tried several phono stages. Including Pass, Audio Research. I finally found one that I will never give up. Quicksilver Audio phono stage. Lush, Gorgeous, satisfying sound, IMHO. Came with 3 nos 12ax7. Sounded great stock, but even better when I rolled in 3 Telefunken smooth plates. $1595 new. I have no affiliation with the company, but have owned several Quicksilver tube amps, and now the stand alone phono stage. Mike Sanders is a great designer, with a great ear for reproducing music. Again, just my opinion. Mg16