recommendations of phono preamps

Been obsessing over trying to select a new phono pre .... could use some insights / experience  etc. and then some dealers to contact.

At this point I think I have the list down to either a Sutherland 20/20 or the Parasound JC3+.... was looking hard at the Whest 30RDT SE but it seems to be a little out of my price range and none on the used market. 

I am currently using a well modified Jolida JD9, and have rolled quite a few tubes through it.  

I want a phono pre that is more detailed / articulate, images better... don't care if it is tube or electronic.
Thanks for your thoughts and opinions    Jim
want to keep the price <$3000. 
A used Herron VTPH2 may be in your price range. Great phono stage.
I would go with the Sutherland. Cable Company is a dealer. I'm sure they can send you a demo.
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.   
Second the Herron. My last stage....
Third the Herron, always a good value in this price range.
Might also consider an Allnic H1201.

If desiring SS, keep an eye out for a used Klyne 7 series phono stage.
Allnic, which ever one you can afford also consider the Herron, everyone who owns one of these two brands have nothing but good things to say. I personally own the Allnic.

Check out the Manley Chinook ,it would be on my list if I were looking for a phono preamp! Take look!
Audia Flight, you may be able to find a good used one in your price range.
There are a lot of Herron fanboys on this forum, and I am glad of it.  I bought one and it is great.  I would have considered the Parasound as well, but not available in Canada.
Thank you all.... using a ClearAudio Talisman V2 gold cartridge, so yes loading is important.  

Have also heard good things about Avid.... but like Sutherland/ Whest not many US dealers
Do you have the Manley Chinook on the list?

I have seen used units in the $1500 zone.

Maybe a little more organic sound(tubes) over the SS suggestions. 

I am selling a Klyne System 7 preamp with in-built MC/MM phono here on Agon but it is 240v unit.

You could also look at Plinius Koru or a used Pass XP-15.
The Herron's start at  $3650,  more than I want / am willing to spend....    Let's look at: Avid, Parasound, Sutherland ......  Unless I can find a Herron or Whest used....  thoughts and experience please.

"Have also heard good things about Avid.... but like Sutherland/ Whest not many US dealers"

Cable Company sells Sutherland, so as long as you are in the US getting a demo won't be a problem. I'm not sure if they sell Whest.

Love my Parasound JC3+.  Tough to beat at its prices point

I too have the Parasound JC3+, I have nothing but good things to say about it. Very well built as well. Highs are smooth, midrange is liquid and lows are solid, deep and controlled. 
Had both the JC3+ and Audia Flight in my system previously.  For their price points in the used market, either one is very hard to beat.  You can find the JC3+ at attractive used prices - I saw one recently at a retailer in nearly new condition for $2200.
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 have a plinius Koru i am not using. In silver. First owner all the original packing. Excellent phono.
Let's not forget the Ayre P5XE, you can pick one up in the used market for less than $2k.  Dead silent, full sounding and neutral.  
Allnic phone stage and excellent option. 
I have a Parasound JC-3+ that takes input from a Dynavector XX2 MkII. Heaven. 

I also have an Ayre QB-9 DSD which I absolutely love, so you might want to look at the P5XE as nycjlee suggests. (I have not heard it)
Take a look at the Aesthetix Rhea. Plenty of loading options and you can use the remote control to select them.
I use and recommend the AYRE P-5xe, particularly if you have a balanced system in which case you should go to the trouble to use a balanced phono cable.
very helpful... thanks     but current state of my system is not balanced... although my new Krell S 1500 is... so it will be a consideration in the future. 
Nobody suggested and Audio Research?  I love the ph3 or ph5.  The Manley can't be argued with but is it worth that much more than a PH3?
I have the Ayre P5XE.  Love, love, love it.  
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.
jimpittsburgh OP
20 posts
01-23-2017 3:18pm
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
Ran into a super deal on a Pass Labs XP-15 that I can take on a 10 day trial.... and within budget....I'll give it a shot... and let you know. Will continue looking at the Tron etc 
I've heard great things about that piece.  Look forward to your impressions.
Here's another one for your consideration

From its maker

Good Listening


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. 
Ron Sutherland is a super guy and very responsive to his customers. You can't go wrong with one of his products.


"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.

Thanks, will research this!
Have you considered an audio research ph5?  It is very transparent and neutral.  

Post removed 
A used Manley Steelhead...extremely versatile

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:

Something to consider if you don’t like the Pass Labs...
Bought the Manley chinook a couple of months ago. Highly recommended with the cheap stock tubes they voiced it with. Detailed and smooth . More versatile than the allnic imho
Recommend the Zesto Andros 1.2 over the parasound, manley, etc.   You can likely get one used for around your max budget.   The Zesto has a lot more loading options, a very refined and musical sound... just has a "rightness" to it when you listen to it.  

are you currently in Pittsburgh?  if so, i'm also in the burgh.   I have the Zesto Andros 1.2 maybe we can demo in your system.  I may put it up for sale as well.  just a thought if you were local.  PM me if you want to discuss.  Good luck!
The best two phono preamps that I've ever heard at any price (and I've heard a lot) are:

1.) Micromega MyGroov
2.) Jolida JD9 II Standard
I'll second the Aesthetix Rhea.  The good part about Aesthetix is you can upgrade the same unit over time...Signature and Eclipse versions.  I can't say enough about  he Eclipse version but the base model is very good out of the gate.