Phonostage Recommendations for my PS Audio + Thiel setup


Hello Everyone,

I am in the market for a phonostage. My setup is a PS Audio BHK 250 Amp, BHK Signature Preamp, Direct Stream Jr DAC, MoFi Ultradeck w/mastertracker cart(MM) and Thiel 3.7 speakers. I live in a pretty rural state and I don't have any practical options for auditioning gear. I am open to any options and recommendations. PS Audio just released a new phono stage at about $2500 so that would be the absolute max I would be willing to spend.

Any recommendations out there? Anyone with PS Audio, Thiel or MoFi experience have an opinion? I appreciate the help. Thanks
Previewbighempin
I have not heard the new PS Audio phono stage but it is making big claims. As you already have their other amps, it would be remiss not to entertain a look. They do a trade-in on gear and a no quibble 30 day free shipping trial for US customers.  Plus they are nice people.
I agree. Given all the PS Audio gear, which you presumably enjoy, why not stick with them?
I'm not necessarily opposed to the new PS Audio Phonostage. I was actually talking to the people at PS Audio about beta testing the new phonostage. I decided to pass and now I am rethinking that decision. Part of the reason I passed is that I was hoping to buy something used, which won't be possible with the new PS Audio Stellar Phono. I also had a dealer suggest to me that with my Thiel Speakers I would want more tubes in my setup and he said the phono would be a good place to do that. Im not opposed to tubes either, in fact I think it might be fun to play with if it makes sense and sounds good.

Here is a little background on how I picked and got my system, especially being from somewhere that provides no opportunity to demo hifi gear. This is my first high end system. Prior to purchasing my PS Audio gear, I did a lot of traveling and listening. I toured their factory and did a listening session in their listening room. I drooled over their equipment but was very aware that it was out of my price range.  I also demoed equipment at 3 or 4 retail audio shops in Colorado. I settled on a pair of Thiel 3.7 speakers and a friend I met here on Audiogon who owned the same speakers let me hear his PS Audio system in Raleigh, NC. I thought they paired well together very nicely and started looking for used PS Audio gear. I ultimately found a dealer selling new PS Audio gear at 40% off of MSRP(is this normal in the hifi world? i get the sense that it is not unusual) which put it very much in the price range I was willing to spend. PS Audio has recently announced that they are going factory direct with their sales (probably bc their dealers kept selling at such steep discounts?) I love my PS Audio gear and I love the people over at PS Audio. They are amazing and friendly people. That being said I am by no means a blindly loyal fan boy. I am happy to entertain other suggestions if they make sense and I absolutely think I will be doing an in house demo with the new Stellar phono.

It is difficult for me to travel at the moment with 3 kids at home between 6 months and 6 years so I am relying heavily on reviews and recommendations for a phono. I have called a few dealers to pick their brains and educate myself and now I am turning to the forums. Like I said before I'm not opposed to buying the PS Audio Stellar new but that would be the absolute high limit on what I could spend, and I would prefer to spend less. 
Its too bad $2500 is your absolute max. Because the Herron VTPH-2A, one of the best phono stages around regardless of price, is not a lot more. Oh well.
Did the PSA phonostages ever make it out to the dealer network?  If so, the dealers are all liquidating their PSA stock over the next month.  I was getting very good deals (~60% of retail) from https://www.highperformancestereo.com/ before the liquidation, and suspect they're selling stuff even cheaper now that The Purge is happening.

That said, I did try PSA's old gcph phono stage a number of years back and hope that they did not use it to voice the new one.  It was very disappointing and was handily outperformed by a Jasmine unit. 

Still enjoying my PS Audio PerfectWave DAC MKII, btw.  
I've been quite happy with a Gold Note PH10 at half the budge your looking at. I've heard it up against some very good and more expensive phono stages and it was not behind either of them. 

here is the thread from here. 

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/a-night-with-three-phono-stages-allnic-1202-ank-and-goldnote-...



Luxman E-250. Has a built in step up w/selectable loading & impedance, mono switch and a cart demagnetizer. Just under $2300.
@cal3713 "Did the PSA phonostages ever make it out to the dealer network? If so, the dealers are all liquidating their PSA stock over the next month. I was getting very good deals (~60% of retail) from https://www.highperformancestereo.com/ before the liquidation, and suspect they’re selling stuff even cheaper now that The Purge is happening."

Man I would be all over a P15 if I could get it for 60% off. I called high performance as you suggested and lowest they would go was about 40% off. Im surprised to hear you find new gear at 60% off. I would’ve thought 50% would be the lowest they could go as that would be what I assume PS Audio charges them. A P15 is $7500 MSRP and $4700 is what they quoted me, which is a few hundred dollars over 40% off.

Did you have to press them or ask them for the 60% off? Any tips on how I can get that?
Thanks

Oh I forgot to mention. I ordered the PS Audio Stellar phono for an in home demo. I want to find a few more to demo as well. I was researching the PS Audio Stellar and watching the designer talk about the phonostage. As he was talking they cut to some "B Roll" of him digging through vinyl in a store and he pulled out a John Prine record. As silly as this sounds, I am a huge John Prine fan and seeing that designer pick up a John Prine album made me think maybe we share similar taste. So I figured I would give it a go.


Glennewdick

Thank you for the advice. Is there a domestic dealer you recommend for Gold Note? Do they let customers have in home demos?
luxmancl38

Thank you for the tip. I will dig in on that model and do some research.

I appreciate the recommendations from everyone. Keep them coming.
Luxman E1 used, if you can find one. I love mine.
@bighempin Sorry to mislead you... I was getting gear at 60% *of* retail, so 40% off.  HPS implied that the discount was going up now that they were liquidating, but I never checked.
@cal3713 you did not mislead, I misread! I appreciate the help.
@bighempin looking forward to your impressions. I have a MS Nova II which I really enjoy but wondering how much more I may get with the PSA Steller phono. My only issue is the gain seems on the high end for MC with 60db being lowest. Currently I run about 57db with my Delos on the Nova II, anything more I tend to hear less dynamics and resolution.....
Check out the Ayre P5xe.  Nice unit at $2295 and will do well with your fully balanced system.  Like all Ayre gear, it is super quiet.  

You can get one new over at Superphonica.  The unit was $2295 years ago.  They raised the price to $3250 in like 2015 or 2016.  A couple years later they discontinued it and they are blowing out all their discontinued products consumer direct. 

It’s a good value at that price. 
MoFi Ultradeck w/mastertracker cart (MM) and Thiel 3.7 speakers............ ..... phono stage at about $2500 so that would be the absolute max I would be willing to spend.

Hello, what other member ignored in their recommendations is that you're using (MM) Moving Magnet cartridge. Honestly you don't have to spend that must on a decent MM phono stage as you may need to spend on MC phono stage. I assume you don't have a LOMC cartridge ? Then why do you think you will have to spend that much ($2500) on a phono stage ? 

Actually you can buy absolutely amazing MM phono stage for much less money if you don't need high gain or built-in step up transformers in this phono stage designed for MC only. 

In my opinion with $2500 budget you can not only buy a decent MM phono stage like JLTi (US$ 1020), but you can also buy a much better MM phono cartridge and not exceeded your estimate budget for both!

Actually JLTi is MM/MC phono stage with long history. Absolutely the best at this price, i have huge collection of MM cartridges and this phono stage is what i am using for them. Asked the manufacturer to change internal load resistors to higher value, so i can use plug-in in RCA load resistors to change the loading for MM. This is a great feature, because most of MM cartridges are better with 100k Ohm loading (not just 47k Ohm). The capacitance can be change by cable only. 

I have different phono stages in my arsenal including the Gold Note PH-10 with external power supply, but most of the manufacturers does not provide optional load for MM, just default 47k Ohm, they are mostly concern about MC input than MM input. 

Again: If you're using MM cartridge you don't need super expensive phono stage, you need more option for MM and this is important. 

I like MM cartridges pretty much even in comparison to very expensive LOMC. But a MoFi is not so experienced in cartridge manufacturing like some other respected brands with much longer history. The best MM cartridges are from the 80's and MoFi can't beat them in direct comparison. 

For my MM cartridge i like JLTi much better than more expensive Gold Note PH-10 (which i use for MC).