Pure tube phono preamp

Any excellent sounding, quiet, all tube phono preamps under 10k for low output mc carts?  

Showing 3 responses by stuogawa

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.  
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.


Hi Don.

Thank you.


Tube Rush

Funny, I never ran this experiment so I ran this experiment just for you! I became curious as well.

7AM = volume full off
11AM = low tube rush
12 noon = moderate tube rush

I never turn the volume pass 9:30...it is just too loud. This system serves as my daily system. Above the music room is my office. There is a staircase across from the music room and the first room on the second floor landing area is my office. I turn the line amp between 8:30AM to 9, and this is more than loud enough to work at my computer workstation and listen to music. Hope this provides a little bit of reference on volume levels for this system. Hence ... I never turn line amp past 10AM...and never heard the tube rush on this unit...it is just way too loud inside my house, and I used to go to Van Halen concerts.


The speakers are Siegfried Linkwitz’s LX Mini’s + 2’s:


I have been mostly a bipolar speaker person most of my life (Maggie IIs, Maggie Tympanies, and Acoustat 1 +1s). Stringed instruments (which I play piano and my wife playing the violin) just seemed to do a better job reproducing those instruments. I short lived with Acoustats because I liked how these just "soared" into infinity and beyond, but the cost was too high not hearing the lower octaves of piano...I screwed around with trying to match subs...never liking the outcome....to my ears. Fast forward 25 years....

I attended the San Francisco Burning Amp and heard these LX Minis speakers....I was sold. The holographic "disappearing" act that everyone talks about with these speakers, my opinion, is twofold: (1) the forward / back firing mid/tweeter on top throws an incredible soaring high enabling instruments such as chimes, triangles, finger cymbals to fall gracefully in position. If you play this Sheffield Labs’ album


and listen to the West Side Story...just listen to the triangles...unbelievable on any playback speaker system but very special on the LX Mini’s. My son, who plays percussion (including had to play triangles with the marimba, xylophone)....was pretty blown away with this as well. The brass, piano, etc. are very natural sounding that you would expect to hear in a live setting.

(2) The upward firing mid lower Seas woofer dispersing that 360 sounds contributes to that holographic disappearing act.

The LX Mini stage front to back instrument position and not just side to side... very well. That’s all I can say about that relative to the Mags.  Not ideal for all listening music genres, but now that I play classical and jazz piano...this is really ideal setup...and the last in my lifetime.

The active analog crossover for this is the Nelson Pass / Linkwitz collaboration piece, here:


The LX Magic crossover, further down, on that page, is what I am using now. I previously had the Nelson Pass ASP, which did not have the subwoofer. I built that one and then decided to add the woofer crossover and Seas woofer because I felt the lowest two octaves on the piano didn’t have the "growl" I wanted to hear. In piano, many pianists like the Steinway growl (lowest octave)..my Yamaha is no Steinway, but it does have a tiny bit of growl...I wanted to hear more of that growl...the sub woofer (with Pass / Linkwitz specifically matching all the speakers to this active analog crossover)...presents this piano growl very nicely. George Winston, who plays a Steinway, and just hammers the keys (his style as seen in YouTube videos)...presents this growl... a lot of Sergei Rachmaninoff solo pieces surface this as well..very aggressive playing.

Sheffield Labs has a special place in my heart...I didn’t realize when I was in college and doing some computer work at Sheffield Labs how seminal Mayorga’s work was to high end direct to disk recording and how talented his chops were. Sheffield gave me the James Newton Howard and Friends CD (awesome percussion btw) and Dave Grusin’s Discovered Again! CDs...that led to my interest in audio.