What cartridge(s) are you planning on using with it? Gain and loading options are an important part of your decision. If you want an extremely low output cartridge, then you will need more gain or to add a step up transformer (aka SUT). If you have a cartridge that requires 500ohms loading and your phono stage is fixed at 100ohms you'll be disappointed with the sound quality.
I have a Manley Chinook SE I'll let go for 1700.00. Taking a loss and have quite a few tubes but they are a little extra???? I replaced it with the Allnic 1201H and it is a little better in my opinion. The Chinook took some tube rolling to get to where I was very happy. Of course something else came along, gradual steps for me.
I started with a Jolida JD9 -> upgraded tubes to NOS Mullards, tube dampers, etc and it was well rounded, had some good flexibility with loading etc. However I wanted more articulation and got an Avid Pellar. Here I did find the articulation, very controlled bass, again flexibility with loading and gain, but much quieter than the Jolida. Yet I still wanted something that combined the attributes I liked from the Jolida and Avid but take it to another level. Then came the Herron. This was it. There is a balance of warmth, detail without being over analytical, with just the right amount of instrument separation, yet a musical coherent sound. It was one of those purchases for me, that says at the price point and what I got, I am happy and not left wondering about other choices. I am not one to say this beats everything, or is worth more than you pay, and is your last stop, Reading what you are looking for, I certainly would keep Herron on your list other than it being higher than you wanted to spend. I like it so much I now am looking at the Herron Line Stage.
You might want to consider the new baby TRON Convergence. Given the collapse of Pound Sterling compared to USD, a new TRON Convergence MC is only USD1300. I reviewed this about a year ago.
very cool stuff, I've never heard or nor seen before. But not a good match for my cartridge.
Jim, these are made to order in either a MM or MC version. As they are bespoke, you can specify which cartridge and it can be built to match. Compared to a TRON Seven phono, which would be almost USD10k, the baby Convergence is a veritable bargain. The price is low, as it is sold direct by the designer, with no middle man cut
"I'm thinking of trying to build the K and K Trio. I have a Dynavector 20XL on my WT Amadeus. Rest of system is Ultraverve Premap, Bryston 4BSST, Vandersteen 3A Sigs. Currently using the Van Alstine phono stage which is actually very good. "
I'm very familiar with your equipment. If you would be willing to consider an alternate approach, I would start off with an Aesthetix Janus. Its the Calypso line stage and the Rhea phono pre in one box. I have a 20xl myself and can confirm that its a good match with Aesthetix. After that, swap the Bryston for an Ayre V-5. It will be a huge upgrade from your current system, and can easily be your last. Most Vandersteen dealers sell Ayre and Aesthetix, so you shouldn't have a problem finding a demo.
Octave Eq.? Can't remember if its .2 or .5. A great phono stage for $1750 new. I had it for a while, but ended up wanting more. Had to go to Simaudio 610lp at $7500 retail to beat it. Can't guarantee it will work with everything but most definitely worth a try. A true bargain at the price and competitive with much larger and expensive phono pre's.
Its not heavily reviewed but there is at least one review out there and may two. In my experience, they understate the Octave's performance.
There’s an Allnic H-1201 listed for $2,200 that might be a good match in your system?
Here's a review: http://www.dagogo.com/allnic-h-1201-phono-stage-review
Something to consider if you don’t like the Pass Labs...