Reciever Phono Stage

I sent my preamp in to have some work done to the phono stage and while it is off being worked on I thought I would just suffer through all digital through the reciever (Denon 3808ci) while the preamp was gone.

Well, I had a particularly good vinyl hunting session this week (1st pressing of Physical Graffiti, SRV Can't Stand the Weather, The Pretenders Greatist hits, both Linda Ronstadts Greatest Hits, all like new) and really needed to listen to the new vinyl. Plus I had some MusicDirect deliveries of things I had been waiting for since Xmas. So I plugged my vinyl rig into the reciever, and it sounded like crap. Harsh and very bright on the highs, and muddy on the lows, even though the lower end wasn't that bad. Well at first, and that's what I expected.

I kept listening because I wanted to test what shape the vinyl was in that I had found, and as the time passed, it began to improve. After about 20 hours of play time, I am shocked to say that the phono stage is breaking in, and is surprisingly good. The highs have mellowed out considerably, and the lower end has tightened up, all in all it sounds pretty darn good. I'm pretty floored actually, and now I'm really wondering how it's going to sound after it is completely broken in. My audio-snob predetermination that the reciever would suck has been blown away. It has also changed my opinion on not suggesting vinyl to anyone who wasn't going to have a dedicated 2 channel rig. I'm wondering how a nice Project Debut III or the entry level Rega would sound with this reciever?

Anyway, thought I would share. The digital, even through my DAC still sound like crap through the reciever, but the phono sounds great.
Both of those tables are good but I lean towards the Project because it is fuller sounding.

The arm is better on the Rega but who puts a $1000 cartridge on a table like that. LOL