Any recommendations for a fully balanced tube preamp with phono?
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"I would love to run fully balanced and have tube rectification, as I love the tube sound and staging, but it needs phono stage too. It would sweeten the SS amp and help with my digital setup
Any suggestions. I'm trying to stay around $500 or less. "
That's very unrealistic. Tube rectification is almost unheard of with anything other than vintage gear. Its not something I would worry about.
There's no guarantee that tubes will sweeten your SS amp and help with your digital setup. (Help how?) If you are having issues with those 2 pieces, fix them first. If you don't, you'll just spend more money some time in the future when you do fix them.
Balanced is not realistic given your price range. Given your setup, I don't see it making a huge difference anyway. You can get good sound with single ended gear.
I think your best shot at trying to get something that sounds OK given your budget, would be to get a good, entry level SS phono stage and mate it with a simple passive preamp/volume control. And don't use a low output cart. Use either a HOMC or a MM. I also think you should stay away from tubes for now. To do tubes right, you'll need to have a bigger budget, especially when dealing with vinyl.
I think the idea of injecting some tubes into the mix with the Consonance (especially at a great price...?) is worth a shot. Stick with a decent SS phono for now given your budget restraints. Recently saw a $450 PS Audio GCPH
Phono on audiogon, great deal! Or, have heard very good things about the Ifi Phono for even less (long break-in I've also heard).
As ZD so wisely counseled, you are asking far too much of a $500 preamp. I would recommend you find a good used preamp containing a good phono stage for that price - Agon has a ton of them for sale. But it probably will not be balanced. However, balanced is not really important in your setup, single ended is way more than good enough...
It's going to be tough, if not impossible to find a tube preamp with a phonostage in the $500 ballpark.
The Consonance is a nice unit, but is old enough to possibly need some maintenance. If you know the history of the Consonance or if you can see under the hood, then go for it.
My advice is to get the best line stage tube preamp you can; the phonostages included in preamps are often not as good as a stand-alone phono-pre.
Thanks for input, fellas.
So for $500, which preamp would offer a decent phono stage here on Agon?
Or should I just get a decent phono stage separate and run it with the Consonance Cyber 222?
Any further advice is much appreciated?
In order to recommend a phono stage, you need to list your whole system. Not every phono stage works with every cartridge. Include things like cables and tweaks as well.
Something to consider before you buy a preamp are the specs of the pre in relation to the amp. The output impedance of the preamp must be in a range that matches the input impedance of the amp (Parasound is 33 kohms). This amp will match well with any SS preamp, but many tube pre outputs will be higher than SS.
It's important to check the specs of the preamp. One more thing to remember.
The consonance will match the Parasound halo a23 well, so I'm now looking at affordable phono pre options.
Considering the zphono by parasound or possibly something by Pro-ject.
My system is:
Gallo Strada speakers
Parasound Halo A23 amp
Consonance Cyber 222 preamp
Ross Martin DAC & MacBook Pro for digital w/ M2tech SPDIFconverter & coax
Clear Day Audio double shotgun spkr cables & ICs
Garrard Zero 100c table
Hope this helps. I'll most likely upgrade to better TT soon.