From its maker, google reviews
A used VAS Citation I. This is a knock off of the original HK unit, that often comes up on eBay for about $1000. The VAS is the original design but with all current state of the art components. Its a vinyl lover's dream. I have the unit for about three years now and totally pleased.
Have you thought about searching for a used Herron VTPH-1?
What cartridge are you using?
Thanks for the rec. I'll look into them
Check out the Quicksilver for $1600. I have an older one and I
love tubes with a phono preamp. BTW,what cartridge are you
The Allnic 1201 is really a special phono stage and will work with any cartridge you care to use it with from low output moving coils to moving magnets.
Get this one at closeout price. I had to haggle to get this price 2 years ago. Fosgate tube phono at musicdirect
Under budget with $500 to play with tubes/interconnects/power cord.Discontinued but you will still get full warranty support from distributor in the event anything happens. Best 2k value for a top notch phono stage.
As was brought up in a different thread, the input impedance of the line stage preamp is critical to the performance of some tube phono stages. Do you know what the input impedance is for your line stage? What kind of line stage are you using?
Rogue Audio Ares Phono Stage
I second the Allnic H1201. I love mine and it was a substantial improvement over the JLTI which it replaced (which was quite good and an amazing value, frankly). I've also heard great things about the Herron VTHP-2.
Cartridges Dynavector 20X2L, Benz Micro Woodbody Med output
I confess I have never done the requisite head to head comparisons, but I do know something about circuit design and quality of execution. Unless you MUST have a solid state phono stage, the K&K Audio Maxx phono stage will smoke the ones you've listed, but it does use tubes. The cost is right at or a bit above your upper limit of $2500.
How about the new TRON Convergence at GBP900 for MM or GBP1000 for MC? It's the new entry level phono stage from TRON, which promises much of the vaunted TRON Seven performance at a very reasonable price.
Not sure if you would consider SS, but RCM Sensor is a very good phono stage.
Lot's of choices-I'll need to do more research. thanks to all
Another vote for the K&K, which I have used for nearly 10 years, so it is not maxxed out. Plenty of flexibility, comes in a kit, so you can self build, or Kevin will arrange for a friend to build it for you. He is constantly working to improve performance and makes upgrades available at pretty much cost.
The Bellari VP130 is actually one hell of a good phono stage for MM. Dynamic and warm.
Not to change the subject, curious how you liked your
AcousTech PH-1. I have one but my table is not ready yet.
What cartridge are you using ?
I have a VPI scout and recently upgraded to a Parasound JC3+. I whole heatedly recommend this product at that price point.