There is an EAT E-GLOW phono preamp available now on Agon from seller alfa_lover for $995 + $40 shipping from Nashville. It is a tube (12AX7) phono stage with excellent specs. Check it out!
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What is your budget? If it’s kind of mid level, I love my EAR 834p. Take into consideration the one with the attenuator / volume knob. I like it so much that I scratch built one with upgraded components and more options like adjustable resistance and capacitance, etc., etc.
K&K audio have some very interesting phono stages that are worth checking out too.
Thank you all for your suggestions. Thinking of my particular set up, does anyone have a Miyajima ETR-Mono SUT and if so what phono preamp do they pair it with? Or does anyone have experience of how any of the suggested units would pair with the Miyajima? How would the sonics and sound stage be effected?
I have had 4 different phono stages in my system over the past 6 months, so I have done a lot of side by side comparisons. Here is my list:
Clearaudio Smart V2, very nice budget level unit. Very well made, excellent sound stage and imaging, but not overly detailed; $700.
Gold Note PH10, nice case work, very fancy with a lot of 'gadgetry', but definitely quirky due to the internal microprocessor/relays which operate the settings and I found it to be very noisy with a lot of ground loop issues. The mid range is excellent, but lacks in the sound stage/imaging department and not terribly dynamic bass. But its a decent unit at around $1600.
Musical Surroundings Nova III with the optional Linear Power Supply. I was not overly impressed with the very basic zip cord power line from the LPS with the cheap low voltage barrel plug on the end for the main power source. Plus the LPS only weighed in at a pound or less, so what in the world is the main transformer? The performance on the low end is huge, lots of powerful bass and the upper end has a very expansive soundstage/imaging thing going on, a lot of this may be due to the 100K impedance offering which works well with my MM AT20ss cartridge. But the mids were not as pronounced as I would like to have heard. Cost with the LPS is around $2150.
Now using a Whest Three Signature Edition. Build quality is superb; excellent circuit board layout, top of the line components and I understand that they use Clarity Capacitors which are top notch. It only comes with an external high voltage dual mono power supply which is like a chunk of cement, it must weigh 5 pounds (it has a massive toroid multi-tapped transformer). The main power lines from the power supply to the preamp are a high end pair of 5 conductor XLR cables, one for each mono channel in the preamp. This unit is a dual mono phono stage.
Performance is mind blowing; best bass I have heard yet. It's not only dynamic and very powerful, it's extremely detailed and resolving. The same with the upper end with amazing spaciousness and imaging. But the best part of the Whest is the mids! It has the mids which the others I used don't. This thing makes me want to pony up the dough to get one of their super units at the mega buck level.....
For MM, there is only a 47K impedance setting and no capacitance loading changes available, however Whest told me that they 'trim' the input at 91pf and use no output capacitors. I was told there is no need to offer any other settings, only that I should make adjustments via very low capacitance phono cables which I plan on trying. There are multiple gain setting from 43db up to 72db. I am using 46db. Based on what I hear in my system, I have to agree that nothing needs to be played with.
Cost for the preamp with power supply $4K.
As good as the others are, I think you do end up getting what you pay for; that is a very good barometer.
Since you don't need that much gain on account of the SUT, a MM phono section will do the job.
We make a little preamp called the UV-1; with a phono section its about 2300.00 and its phono section has been preferred over more expensive phono sections like the Whest mentioned above. It comes with a line section- but something you might want to keep in mind is that when you run an outboard phono section, the cables you use to connect to a line stage have an artifact of their own; this is avoided when the phono section is built-in. So you might consider not just a phono section, but getting a full function preamp as an option.
One more thing to consider- design of a good phono section is not just enough gain and proper equalization, but also stability against RFI generated by the cartridge itself. Usually though this is not much of an issue if you are using an SUT, but if you consider that transformers often rob the signal of detail, the idea that a phono section with LOMC capability might become attractive. If that is the case, then the RFI stability issue comes into play. If the preamp is RFI stable, cartridge loading ceases to be an issue (with LOMC cartridges) and you get less ticks and pops, since many of the latter are often generated by the phono section if it has stability problems.
Good Luck with the hunt!