Simaudio Moon LP3 or Lehmann could be options too. As for the cartridge, you may want to try something like Dynavector or Shelter, but I am not certain how well they would match the tonearm. You could talk to needledoctor.com or hwdsound.com especially if you are prepared to pay retail or close to it. My guess is that Dynavector would match better, but it's a guess. Benz might not be dynamic enough and do bass well enough; depends on your taste.
I have a PS Audio GCPH that's been modified by Parts Connexion and it is a world class piece of gear.
It's the best deal in audio I have ever gotten, it sounds absolutely stellar.
Thanks for the recommendations thus far, I'll definitely be looking into them. Mac, I have a Parts Connexion modded amp that I'm really happy with as well but I don't think I can dedicate that kind of cash to the phono stage at this point. Looking to keep it closer to the Phonomena range of $600 if possible, I suppose. Going stock with a potential future upgrade could be a way to go..
The GCPH, stock, is a great piece of gear and worth much more than its cost in my opinion - especially if you can find one used. You can always have it upgraded in the future.
I'm sure if I heard a mod'd version I would think differently, but, I've never had the desire to have my stock GCPH mod'd in any way. It just sounds spectacular as it is and its flexibility (nice adjustments for loading and gain plus mono and phase switches) is a real stong point.
Vinyladdict, I agree whole heartedly that the PS Audio is a stellar piece of gear unmodded. Maybe the best value I have ever seen in audio.
I had budgeted $4500 for a new phono stage, coming to the conclusion after trying differnt phono stages, that it was the key ingredient, IMO, in analog playback.
I bought a modded GCPH as a stop gap while I tried many other phono stages that I auditioned from dealers, or buying used. The price of the GCPH was low enough that I knew I could resell it with very little, if any loss.
Well, every other more expensive phono stage I tried, was not any better, or as good as the GCPH. I love this thing.
On the other hand, I have tried 3 new GCPH's and all of them were objectionably noisy and had too much hum with my 0.26mV output Benz MC cartridge. So world-class, I think not, in my view, far from it.
I've had better luck with the Musical Surroundings Nova Phonomena, the Ray Samuels F-117 Blackhawk, and the Vacuum State JLTi although I admit the PS has nice features and works well with cartridges that are not very low output models.
Agree with Plato , stock GCPH has nice features, nice build but if you plan to use LOMC ( < 0.3 mV ) and the system lacks gain, then one could do better these days. I had the same issue as Plato and found it underwhelming in SQ even when gain was not an issue. Now what I said does not apply to the modded one as I have not heard them.
I have a few phono at the moment including MS Supernova, RSA Nighthawk, Allnic H1500SE and latest K&K Maxxed out. For less money than stock GCPH, the Nighthawk F117 is the best value, low noise, high gain, good dynamic and nice mid.
The Sutherland Ph3D could be another candidate in this price range. Mark
Thanks for pointing out the issue with low output cartridges and for all the other recommendations. While it's not a factor for me right now I don't like the idea of having that limitation in the future. One thing I wasn't sure of was if phono stages in this price range were up to the task of really working with LO MC cartridges in general or if it was better to stick to medium and high output MCs. For me personally, I'd rather have to ability to quietly amplify a smaller signal than have extra gadgets like a front gain control. This is getting complicated.
As always. It's about synergy. One mans giant slayer is another mans piece of $#!+.
I like both the Phenomena and the GCPH but prefer the GCPH in my system. I will admit "world class" is overstating anything in this price point I guess.
I have the Dynavector and my GCPH is in a whole 'nother league. The bottom is much stronger but still tight.
I did not know about the mod(s), will have to look into that.
Oh, and my GCPH is sitting under a Digi III.
I've never heard hum on the GCPH with LO cartridges, unless there was a related cartridge/motor issue (such as anyone who owns the VPI Classic can happen with an unshielded cartridge). As I said, it's a great value as is.
To get it to another level, and I believe as good as any stage I have heard, the Underwood/Parts Connexion Mod is required.
I have just went through this same comparison on my own system. IMO, both of the mentioned units, Phonomena and GCPH, are equally as good. I feel that sound quality, depth, staging, over dynamics are great on both, these are both a great upgrade from my Creek 15.
As far as hum or hiss on the GCPH, I did have a slight hiss problem in my unit, not hum. I would say in my system it was more of a gain issue on the GCPH. The secondary gain on front of unit had to be turned up to much for proper gain, this is due to a 2W per ch amp and passive volume control. I called PS Audio and I did perform a transformer tuning, per their instructions. This did help my hiss slightly but I think this would be more of a solution for transformer hum instead. Based off of this, I have kept the Phonomena and problem solved. I feel that with an active pre-amp, this would not have been an issue on the GCPH. Both units have a ton of adjustment and sound awesome for their price range. One more quick note, the battery operated power supply is a bit more transparent on the Phonomena with a better noise floor. IMO, in a larger room than mine with a little less efficient speakers (100db, full range, single point source are what I'm using)with multi-drivers and passive crossovers, both units should perform very close. Considering what you can buy either unit for used here on Agon, try them both and re-sale what you don't use.
I use the GCPH on a low gain cart (AT33PTG, 0.5MV), with no hum, and plenty of gain with my active preamp.
Sounds good - but not comments on GCPH vs Phonomena. I doubt you can go wrong with either
Just to follow up on this, I went ahead with the GCPH. It hasn't gotten close to breaking in yet but definitely sounds great compared to my old Pro-ject Tube Box II and the Phonomena as well. It's presentation is different but comparable and to me it seems a toss up between extremely quiet operation with a Nova Phonomena and maybe a little more frequency extension and natural imaging with the GCPH. Depends on your priorities and which features you'd like to have more. The front gain knob has thus far spent most of its time at around 3/4 of the way up when using a MI and HO MC cartridge at their typical rear gain and loading settings. I'll update if things change remarkably throughout break-in.
Not to completely hijack the thread, but could you offer a bit of comparison between the four phono stages that you preferred to the PS Audio?
I run a Dynavector 20L with the Phonomena and feel no need to upgrade, it loads everything and sound great for the price.
hi all,newb here.. just bit the bullet & replaced long serving DENON DP30L.MK2/M.F.A3 AMP, w/ NAD M3..THORENS TD700 T/T w.ORTOFON 2M BLUE.& using a NAD PP2, vinyl replay was distinctly underwhelming.....the weak link obviously.....hmmmm, now how far up the slippery pole of diminishing returns do i go for a M.M. CART.Looked thru' heaps of forums for a heads up & ps audio,graham slee kept coming up, but sheesh! 60% of T.T.outlay for a phono stage dunno 'bout that? quick call to Mike at local south oz PS AUDIO dealer steadied the wallet trigger finger,& ever so reassuringly talked me thru. what to expect on hookup.. & jeez...the bloke had UNDERSOLD the damned thing!! 30 hrs. into the burn-in period[nothing like spending wads of cash & having to be patient for results] i needn't have dithered... ABSOLUTE SONIC HEAVEN..no hum/RF.problems/deathly quiet/bass to die for.... it's going to take a very good salesman to talk me up to the M.C. stage of things.. my DYNAUDIO 72'S are singing like never before ... CD'S can take a well deseved rest. Thank's for listening & would love to hear any feedback on this topic...cheers.. BUSMEAD.
The main advantage to me for the GCPH is that I can use it directly into my amplifier with no preamp in between. And this is using my Dynavector 17d2. I would assume that if I ran it into a line preamp, I would have much more headroom and therefore much less noise when using a very low output cartridge. When I have run the GCPH into a preamp, I find it sounds best with the GCPH volume at less than 2 o'clock and setting the preamp volume at my desired listening level. I think any higher on the GCPH may overload the preamp input.