Pure tube phono preamp

Any excellent sounding, quiet, all tube phono preamps under 10k for low output mc carts?  
Pure tube=rectified,active gain from the tubes(no step up transformers) with enough gain 65db+ for low MC AND quiet? 

I'm curious to see suggestions for your requirements.
I have not heard it before but the Aesthetix Rhea Signature checks your boxes. 

yes, no sut in the signal path, just pure tube gain and quietness.
Look this brand up. It was flavor of the month years ago here, on Agon.

Rare find in the used sections.

Research to find who the US distributor is.  I'd love to own one. A low budget unit that fits the requirements with a 60dbs active gain is the out of production Fosgate. They go for $1500 or so. I use one. Get the 2.0 version. Very organic sounding and more convincing when I lined up a few popular models side by side-subjective, naturally.

All tube is noisier than the popular models here discussed here, which are SUT, SS recitified.
Post removed 
It's possible to do a MC stage with tubes but I wouldn't. Just finding tubes that are quiet enough is going to be a challenge and nothing guarantees that they will stay quiet.
Step up transformers matched to the cartridge is the way to go. Than buy a really good tubed phono stage. You will have all the magic you need. A lot of us go this route.

I've been using a NVO One-se all tubed phono for many years great unit and dead quiet.
Does anyone know if current mode phono preamps use SUTs? 

I believe most phono preamps have them automatically built in.  
Note: can handle low output MC with optional SUT.
Note: This is a MM phono stage which can't  handle low output MC unless you use a SUT.

Gain + 42 dB
With optional step up transformer + 61dB
As far as I know NVO and Aesthetix are the only companies producing tube phono stages capable of providing adequate gain for a low output MC phono cartridge without using a SUT or SS gain stage.

Aesthetix makes two models. Rhea and Io. The Io is not be in your price range new, but it might be if used.
Why would millercarbon mention an MM phono stage that doesn't meet the OP's requirements of handling a LOMC?  He claims he reads well and admonishes others when they don't.  Well of course...so he can shamelessly pump a brand that's on his list of brands to talk about everywhere and at all costs.  There are many all-tube MM-only phono pre's out there.  Dude has no shame....
"All tube" seems to be a tough find. Most have one thing or the other, but not BOTH.

A manufacturer needs to step in and clarify the tube rectified thing. From my understanding, SS(diode/bridge rectifier) is the way to go from a technical standpoint?

Quiet is a personal tolerance thing. With my "all tube" Foz, the volume at 1:00 o’clock or so you hear hiss. Once the needle hits the first groove-no hiss. Hiss between tracks also. I doubt even the "best" tubes would completely eliminate that.

You can hear hiss(VERY little) in THE FINEST tube based setups, so prospective users need to get over it. It’s the same thing as the errant tick/stitch we hear now and then regardless of how great your "stamper" and cleaning regimen is.

I like the Decware piece. I considered it years back, but vetoed against it since it wasn’t a one box solution. You still need a step up for LOMC.

I hope an NVO owner will drop in in to describe their experience. I heard the NVO only once, but I remember what I heard. The entire system was WOW, but I’m certain the NVO is responsible for a good part of that.
The Manley Chinook! which has a JFET front end for MC cartridges

The Herron! which has a FET front end for MC cartridges
What is the bias against using a SUT? If setup properly they are the quietest solution to increasing the gain of a LOMC.
High quality SUT's also have a very high bandwidth so they induce no roll off at either end of the audio spectrum.
Using an all tubed setup for a LOMC just seems like an invitation to frustration as the tubes wear and get noisy. Finding suitable replacement tubes is going to add another level of frustration. I've seen folks complaining about finding good quiet tubes for a MM stage, MC voltages are typically only 10% of that.
To me, using a SUT is a very elegant solution, it doesn't add any components not found in a typical tube system, no solid state components, just simple transformers.

Another Vote for SUT, especially one with MM bypass, and options.

I took Bill’s (and other’s here) SUT advice,

kept my wonderful MM phono stage in my McIntosh mx110z tube preamp, and found a quality SUT to boost my first MC cartridge signal up to MM signal strength.

There are a lot of SUT choices out there, I got help here understanding what’s involved, researched, always fun to learn. here's my SUT search discussion here


I chose Fidelity Research FRT-4, I moved it here/there, I could not hear any hum, it’s well built.
Not finding one for sale now: this sold one shows features/flexibility. 3 tonearm inputs front selectable; MM bypass; 4 optional impedance settings via front switch


This Entree looks well built, has similar features, 3 tonearm inputs front switch, 3 optional impedance settings via front switch, several of them for sale.


Range of options varies, sometimes specific knowledge of values are unknown.

i.e. I just bought this inexpensive phono stage to try for my office


1 input; 4 settings: MM; MC High; MC Low; MC Very Low.

Inside package, some specifics not found online:
MM: greater than 2mV
MC High: less 2mV
MC Low: less than .5mV
MC Very Low: less than .25 mV

I’ll be hooking up this iFi tomorrow in main system, straight to the Cayin, skipping the Mx110z phono stage, comparing it to the Fidelity Research SUT to the mx110z then to the Cayin.

Like it? Up to the office so I can use MC there eventually.

Not, Amazon easy refund.

You need to check out a few products

Art Audio Vinyl One Copper Reference.  Ships with Silver Foil caps, variable gain and you can even add a remote volume control if you don't want a separate preamp.  This is a simple, straight forward preamp that doesn't even offer a rumble filter to ensure the purest possible sound.  Reviews are outstanding and I have run this with a Lyra Kleos and am currently using an Ortofon Cadenza Blue MC.  Lists standard at $5K, $5500 with remote volume control.  

There is also an alternate option which pairs the Vinyl One MM with the Art Audio SUTs.  This is a brilliant but slightly pricier solution.  It runs $5700 without the volume control.  

The AVM Ovation PH8.3 is kind of the exact opposite in that it is tube based but has every setting under the sun to guarantee optimal sound and the comfort of managing it all from a remote.  It even offers 5 equalization curves.  Technologically amazing, it starts at $9995 and has some modules that can be added  to accommodate up to four turntables.

You likely can find a used Allnic H-7000V or potentially a Zesto Andros in that range and both of those are pretty awesome.  Both are aesthetically beautiful and have incredible sound and are both extremely quiet.  They both retail well above $10K so it really comes down to what you can find in the used market.  

Full disclosure, I am the importer for Art Audio, a retailer for AVM and I have no relationship with Zesto or Allnic, merely a fan.  
I’m not an expert and have not auditioned all the options, but check out Tavish Design. I have the Classic and am very satisfied. Being a US/North American sole proprietor, Richard is VERY responsive and helpful in my experience.  Not a lot of money by high end standards.  I have no interest other than being a satisfied customer.
The Ear Yoshino 324 and the Wavac LCR-X2: natural sound!!
Préamps with phono stage: Metronome C6, Ear Yoshino 868 and 912.
Wavac PRT-1: best I ever heard.
Find a used Lamm LP2.1. I've listened to dozens of phono preamps and that fits your budget and is quiet and handles low output MCs. Also sounds better than anything else I've heard.
That’s an easy one!! The Tavish design Adagio can be had @ $1999...in your choice of finishes, as well as available with your choice of improved power supplies. I cannot think of a better equipped all tube phono stage available at the price...plus, you will not have to buy a seperate step up transformer, as Mark has built then into the device. He uses a pair of high quality jensen transformers contained within the preamp chassis. I own and use the lower priced tavish the classic and love it. I use it in conjunction with an outboard jensen step up trans....I am currently tube rolling with a nos GE jan 5751, RCA 7025 black plate (12ax7a), and a GE jan 12au7.

You will need to get on a waiting list, as they are built to order and are currently all sold out of all models. 
in the price range you are looking at, you really should consider the VTL TP 6.5. Used, they go for well under your top budget. They use an FET for the first gain stage at the MC level, but after that all valve. Its the most open, most dynamic phono stage I have heard, and have been through over 30 of them in the last 4 yrs.
The OP determined what the requirements are-

ALL TUBE-rectified, tube gain(NO TRANSFORMERS)for LOMC. The majority of suggestions here do not fit the requirements. Looks like few understand the question.

So far the following meet them-
NVO & Aesthetix? 
My "cheap" used solution of my discontinued Fosgate. 

Let's see some gear that follows the OP's thread. I'm curious to see what's recommended.
Post removed 

Consider putting pictures of the products the company is manufacturing.
Update the site.
I love my Atma-Sphere MP-3. Clean, pure, musical and accurate.
It has an excellent phono stage. No need for a separate PS.
An all tube, no transformer, unprohibitively priced, phonostage seems to be a unicorn.   Nothing against SUTs, it just seems like a shortcut and another thing in the signal path that could affect the sound.  Doing my homework on this subject, I'm starting to see how most tube designs use transformers for LOMCs. 
"An all tube, no transformer, unprohibitively priced, phonostage seems to be a unicorn.  Nothing against SUTs, it just seems like a shortcut and another thing in the signal path that could affect the sound."

The "affect the sound" thing with an SUT is totally subjective. I'd be more concerned with having onboard SUT instead of adding one to an MM only phonostage. Why have more stuff-(SUT/IC's)?

There are likely other choices, but it's going to be a off the radar, small "boutique$" unit. 

Seems the used NVO gets listed from an owner who either $teps up the food chain or gets out of analog. If you want something "reasonably priced" consider keeping  on eye on the listings and be ready to jump on one.
Otherwise, all those suggestions of everything but your requirements are solid.
Aural Thrills Audio ’The Beast’ has only tubes used and is similar in design to the TRL DUDE preamp in build--huge chassis, huge power supply, 9 tubes used vs. 5 in the DUDE. Will quietly do LOMC down to .4 mv. He built this unit using the best sounding parts after testing for many years. Like the DUDE, it is a big chassis.  $2500 new.

From a marketing standpoint, that Aural Thrills guy always reminds me of the My Pillow guy...just sayin'.
Full disclosure: I'm the importer of the NVO tubed phono stages.
For clarification:  

The NVO’s use solid state rectification.

The SPA II (22 tubes total) has two high voltage and four heater bridge rectifiers, the SPA-One (13 tubes total) has one high voltage and two heater bridge rectifiers.

There are more than 40 units in the States and they do come up on the used market from time to time, maybe once or twice a year. Current orders are taking several months to come in due to the pandemic.

A Happy & Healthy New Year to all and please be SAFE!.




Not to be against your original idea which I have no recommendation for, just to clarify:

You seem to be both tempted by and concerned about separate SUT. I was too. I avoided MC for many years, because of noise of early pre-pre transformers. That problem's gone.

SUT's have no power, they simply have internal transformers, some with optional resistances. Well built ones have no hum. I put mine next to this and that, just to see, I cannot get any hum out of it.
OP, that's not what you really want; what you want is a SUT feeding into a tube phono amp, that will give you the silence you want plus the musical tube amplification you desire.
I had Zesto Andros PS1 for a couple of years connected Brinkman Bardo with miyajima kansui cartridge, the sound was love on first sound, dynamic, quiet on the background and you can hear all detailes.

a couple of months ago I change the Zesto with Brinkman Edison MKII and the Bardo with Balance, I got improved in all aspects but I can tell you that my previous combinations although not the same level wasn't a slouch either and gave me wonderful results that most of the people would be more than satisfied to have on their systems.
If you are talking about a phono preamp for genuinely low LOMCs, it is not really possible to get the high gain/low noise needed with just tubes.  Hence the need to use opamps, FETs, SUTs, etc., to do so.  Even the ARC Reference Phono 10 uses FETs in addition to tubes.

Of all the options available to get the high gain/low noise needed for LOMCs, many prefer using an SUT because it is a passive device (no active circuitry or power needed).  If the SUT is properly designed and mates well with your cart, they can not only be no/low noise, but also provide more dynamics, liveliness, and texture.  YMMV. 
If you are talking about a phono preamp for genuinely low LOMCs, it is not really possible to get the high gain/low noise needed with just tubes.
This statement is false. The trick is to set of the phono preamp design to be fully differential (which is what of ICs do) *and* to use an effective constant current source to really get the tubes to operate differentially.

A differential gain stage has theoretically 6dB less noise than the same thing operating single-ended. Now if you need more than one stage of gain (which you will) then if both are differential, now you have two stages of gain, each with a theoretical 6dB lower noise floor. Even if you are only getting 5dB per stage, this sort of thing adds up- to less noise.

My rule of thumb is the phono section should be quieter than a silent groove on a good LP. That's easily doable. BTW, finding quiet tubes for this is not hard; three tips: First, avoid Russian-made signal tubes. 2nd, avoid NOS tubes, as people have been scouring the countryside looking for low noise NOS signal tubes for decades- most of the really quiet ones were sold off a long time ago. Sure, you *might* be able to find some that are quiet still but seriously finding them will be a real pain or a whole lotta dollars buying 100 tubes to find 5 that are really silent. You're better off just buying new tubes. We buy 12AT7s 100 at a time and we reject about 10% of them. But if we buy Russian tubes of the same type we reject 90% of them. So the third tip is probably buy the tubes from someone that is grading them for LOMC use.
Dear @tyan42 : This is what I posted in other forum on the same thread subject:

""" For me the functions of a phonolinepreamp first than all is that can achieve an accurated inverse RIAA eq with zero frequency deviation at each phono stage channels ( both channels should have evenly frequency about. ), other main target is to have active high gain to handle any output level cartridge ( LOMC or MM). As a fact phono stages exist because these two main targets/functions.

We need that high gain but we need it along very low noise. These 3 targets are the heart of any phonolinepreamp and the true challenges to any manufacturer because it’s really a hard task to achieve those targets at the same time ( even for SS electronics. ).

I like many phonolinepreamp in the market some of them already mentioned here: FM Acoustics, Gryphon, Spectral, CH, D’angostino, etc, etc.
Yes only SS because tubes in this specific function can’t do it and I owned from humble ( Jolida. ) to top design tubes electronics by around 10 years so I’m not speaking of my preferences but audio devices that its technology can in true be nearest to those targets..

This is only an opinion and I think is valid as any of your opinions.

I don’t like very much to talk about tubes in phono stages but I will put an example through Aesthetix IO ( I listened the first time at A.Porter house and latter on 3 more times in other systems. ) where they say the unit has active high gain with low noise and yes it has 80db of gain that’s a tribute for an all tube design but unfortunatelly failed on noise level that was measured a poor A-weigthed 57db and where the RIAA eq. deviation has ( by manufacturer spec. ) a high 0.5db swing deviation.
That frequency response goes even worst because it depends of the control volumen that at different volume position different frequency response.

RIAA eq. frequency deviation levels is critical because in theory must be to mimic in inverse way the recording RIAA eq. to we can have a flat frequency response.
Not an easy task even for SS designs because that eq. is not a " delicated/tiny " one but goes from around -20db to +20db, this is a huge equalization with several problems not only about frequency response but phase and other issues.

Look, graphic equalizers in the audio market as Accuphase, Soundcraftsmen, Crown, Klark-Teknic, etc, etc. ( I owned all and other ones been parametrics. ) in the best case its control levels by octave or 1/3 octaves can give you a range between: -15db to +15db and the RIAA demands -,+ 20dbs ! ! """

Here an all, 35K+ dollars, tube design by Lamm and you can see that is not really accurated on the RIAA inverse eq.:


but the Aesthetix I/O is over 16K dollars and can't do it.

So, it does not matters an all tube can’t mate those 3 phonolinepreamp targets. Today the best you can do for 10K is to go with SS.
Today SS electronics are really good designs and way different to the 20-30 years ago designs, even for less than 10K you can meet everything any one can desires about with any cartridge.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Luxman EQ500...dead quiet!
I am glad Atma-sphere spoke up about his MP1 and MP3. I am a happy owner of an MP1 for about 25 years.

up the thread, someone asked about the mating of a SUT to a current drive phono stage. That can’t be done. It’s almost an oxymoron. SUTs step up voltage at the expense of current. At the input of a current driven phono stage, current is needed and voltage is not relevant. 

So, it does not matters an all tube can’t mate those 3 phonolinepreamp targets. Today the best you can do for 10K is to go with SS.
This statement is based on three anecdotal examples. This is a logical fallacy called 'Guilt by Association', wherein because the particular phono stages didn't have accurate RIAA curves and were tube, therefore all preamps with tubes have inaccurate RIAA curves. Like any logical fallacy, this idea is false due to a flaw in the logic.

One valuable bit of test equipment is an inverse RIAA curve which quickly and easily allows one to test and see that the curve in a phono section is accurate. One valuable bit of math are the formulae presented to the AES by Dr. Stanley Lipshitz regarding how to generate RIAA equalization networks. If the latter is used in design, and the former used when testing that design, you can create a phono section with accurate RIAA equalization and it will be seen that whether its tube or solid state is completely irrelevant.
Pure tube phono stage
Icon Audio PS1 MK II

and PS3 MKII
Dear @lewm  : you posted:

"  . I am a happy owner of an MP1 for about 25 years. "

Between other things is not what the OP asked for but never mind the issue is that you don't tell the complete " history " on your unit but only a part of it.

Why did not tell in your post that you made it a heavy modification at the SS input gain stage in your unit and latter on ( years latter. ) you bougth a second hand fully SS Phonolinepreamp that twice in this forum you posted ( one of them to mijostyn ) about its superiority/quality against what you were accustomed for all your audio life because you are a tube lover but even that you still own that SS.

Maybe today you don't like it any more and if it's this way then why not share the complete history, makes no sense to me but obviously that you have a precise and specific reasons for not do it that way.

I am using an all tube phono preamp...Scott Frankland's Wavestream Kinetics (the F in MFA) tube phone preamp, which then drives WaveStream Kinetics line stage tube preamp...to MFA 200Cs tube class A mono amps. 

This phono preamp uses 6DJ8 tubes, and these are very quiet...no microphonics....tubes easy to get.  I am currently using GEs tubes. The phono preamp also has different resistors packs so you can adjust load; I have not played with that...but it's there if you want to really dial in your cartridge.  

I use a low MC cartridge (Shelter 901 mark 3) and do not use a SUT.

Beautiful presentation with the Wavestream Kinetics phono.   To put this into perspective... I play 1 to 2 hours/day piano; one son practices tenor tax and the other son practices xylophone and marimba; wife plays violin...so we get to hear all these instruments in the same room as the aforementioned stereo gear.  I have had this gear for about 6 years now, and I no longer search...I spend time trying to be a better piano player instead.  
Dear @stuogawa : I don’t remember before about your unit till you mentioned in your post.

Many years ago when I owned tube electronics I listened the MFA that I never had enough money to buy it.
Latter on and after I switched to SS electronics I had the opportunity to listen to your Wavestreams Kinectics in the place of a gentleman that hosted me for a few days ( California. ) and there we were listenibng it and comapring against two top fully SS phonolinepreams that were the Dartzeel and Essential 3150 and I have to say that the WSK is truly competitive and with no detected distortion anomalies very often found out with tubes electronics.

Good that you are a proud owner of that all tube unit that according the @tyan42 needs yours is the best advice over the thread.


Thank you @rauliruegas 

Link to our family music room here:


* Rack is DIY that I fabbed in the garage.
* Very bottom row are the MFA 200Cs
* Next row up is Wavestream Kinetics tube phono on the left. Wavestream tube line on the right

Photo is an older photo and doesn't show the relatively new to me:

* Siegfried Linkwitz LX Mini + 2 subs; built those myself
* Nelson Pass / Linkwitz active analog crossover from DIYAudio; built that one as well. 

Both projects were very enjoyable; a time machine back for me when I built a lot more electronic projects and ham radio projects.

My listening sofa, in the picture, on the left is gone and now has a 4.5 octave Yamaha marimba that my son plays....room gets a little crowed now, and we have to take turns practicing instruments / listening to music in that room.  My son graduates high school this year...so the marimba goes back to the high school (Covid19 has percussion students using school instruments at home....pretty cool hearing that marimba at home) ..and back comes my sofa!

I purchased most of this gear over the past 25 years...to your point re. cost.  It takes time, and I have been blessed and appreciated the long  journey.

I just had Donna at Sota completely restore my original Sota Saphire with their new mag lev bearing / Eclipse package / sub platter / chassis...basically ground up restore.  I was  the original buyer back in 1985-sh with the ET2 air bearing arm....still using that as well.

My gear upgrades have come to an end...except  I never purchased a DAC and have been using the Sony CDP X779ES CD player I purchased back in 1991 for my CDs.  I will probably buy an R2R DAC, and that will be the last purchase.  Moving my sights onto a grand piano these days...enjoy playing more than listening.