I have read several posts, both here and on Audio Asylum, about the Rhea being slightly noisy. Tube rolling will solve some, but not all of this.
My friend had the Rhea, and he tried a few different sets of tubes, which did solve some of the noise issues. (Sorry, I can not recall which tubes he used. He has since moved on to a battery powered solid state phono preamp - the ASR Basis Exclusive, I believe.)
I suggest you post over on both the vinyl and tube boards at the Audio Asylum for suggestions as to which tubes to try.
The answer is most-likely lies in integration between cartridge and phono preamp if the unit functions OK. The variable gain settings in many cases cannot be done successfully since it may cause gain stages go out of stability i.e. oscillate. Selecting a best fixed gain and eliminating this flexibility feature could result in vast performance improvement(some small surgery required)
Gathering opinions on this post you may find folks who are more or less tolerant to the noise you're describing, but to be more precise in best gain value you must consult manufacturer who probably has knowlege about the best gain value i.e. with minimal vulnerability to oscillation and maximum stability and performance certainly with no exception to suggest inspecting the unit for possible service.
Try a different brand of tubes. The originals could be noisy.
I had to replace the original tubes on my Rhea for the same reason.
Swapping tubes can be helpful, but the Rhea is noisy compared to the best phono stages available. It is a very good phono stage, but I don't think you will eliminate that problem.
Sometimes you have to take a little bad, along with a lot of good. To get something more quiet that sounds as good, you're going to have to spend a good chunk of cash.
I have not heard every phono stage out there, but I've directly compared the ARC, Herron, and Rhea in my system. Before switching out the original tube set, the Rhea was clearly noisier. After the tubes were replaced, noise levels were close enough to my ear as to be inconsequential. The Rhea is, however, my favorite performer of the bunch by a long shot and is far more flexible/ergonomic, to boot.
One good diagnostic test is to listen for channel specific noise levels and then swap tubes left to right. In my case, the difference was clear (although both channels were always somewhat noisier than I liked). A new tube set reduced overall noise levels and brought the two channels much closer in line with each other.
So, once again, I'd start by switching out the tubes.
I also experienced too much noise from the rhea .I found the Cary ph302 with fixed gain(54) and shielding to be much quieter.I am using it with the benz-micro ruby 3h mc catridge.This is a very musical combo.
Thanks all for your feedback. Refer to the other post for additional info, however I never heard noise with the PH-3. The stock ARC/Rhea both use sovtek 6922.
How can a noisy phonostage be very good?
To me it's an unfinished product where manufacturers had reached a desired performance but haven't reached a desired stability.
To help this post to be developed further, did anyone get satisfaction with Rhea in both performance and stability(i.e. noise)?
I see now you're talking senses!
PH-3 has J-Fet input stage and fixed gain ~54dB
Never compared them neither heard or used Rhea but valuewise and qualitywise AudioResearch is way to go.
More expencive Reference very and very often drives some folks back to PH3 for the same reason as you describe with Rhea.
Hence, if you want more gain than PH3 or let's say >50dB, I would advise you to look arround SS stages such as Pass X-ono...
The company will replace noisy tubes. There has been a problem with some tubes being noisy with Aesthetix.
To clarify, I've gotten great results - including acceptable noise levels- from my Rhea once I switched out the tubes. Note that I use both a Grado (high output) and a Nightingale (low output). At both ends of the Rhea's gain range I'm getting acceptable noise levels. I say "acceptable" because I mean similar to the ARC and the Herron and I don't want to make any statement beyond my direct comparison to these units. Pure SS units at this price point may indeed be quieter, but I don't feel a need for improvement in this area in my system, anyway. Of course, if I ever did demo a quieter unit, who knows?
As to Marakanetz' recommendation of the PH-3, I'd disagree (in my system, anyway). The Rhea provides body in a way that makes the ARC sound thin and dry by comparison. The Herron, too, sounds dry, though not as dramatically so as the PH3. Remember, all 3 units are very good - I still own the Herron and the Rhea (the ARC was a loaner), but I use the Rhea as my primary phono amp.
The remote loading and multiple input/outputs (I use 2 Oracles, an ARC pre, a Sonic Frontier Pre and a Joule Pre) on the Rhea add a level of flexibility and user friendliness that provides real value in my unusual set-up. You may find these features less valuable in your system.
To reiterate, when using quiet tubes, the Rhea is quiet enough in my system.to keep me happy.
Xagwell, My advice is talk to Jim White at Aesthetix. You will not find a greater gentleman in Hifi audio. There is lots of rumor and innuendo and questionable fact being aired against the Rhea and the Calypso. If you want to bring the noise down on the Rhea you must have very good tube selection by a reputable source, period. I have owned the Aesthetix Rhea and Calypso (preamp) for some time now and can attest to the fact that they are very, very picky. It is not so much the brand of tube as it is the quality of the tube. Brands with give you flavor, quality tested and hand selected tubes with give you peace and quiet and you should find that for the extra attention to tube selection you will get back an extremely detailed and dynamic result. If your not up to chasing down a good tube supplier you may as well go out and trade the Rhea for very possibly a lesser phono amp. I have put this phono amp head to head with many, foremost a world class Aesthetix I/O with a full complement of vintage Telefunken and although the I/O will better it every time in dynamics, air, and scale, it will by a very small margin when you consider the price difference, not to mention the Rhea is far more flexible than most all phono amps on the market at any price including the I/O. IMHO the Rhea is the best overall value and sound out there. Im not saying its easy or cheap, but it is the solution and it is worth it. Best regards.
Just buy a Tom Evans phono stage. My Groove Plus is DEAD quiet.
Dear Xagwell: The all tube Phonopreamps were not designed for low output MC cartridges. As a fact, this technology is not the right one for use in Phono stages.
If you really care about the quality music sound reproduction through analog technology you must to go for and SS active gain Phonopreamp, it is the best choice and is the best choice not only because the reduced noise/distortions and high gain but because only the SS technology can give you an accurate ( +,- 0.05 db from 20 Hz to 20 kHz ) inverse RIAA eq. that is the the most important characteristic on any Phonopreamp and as a fact that inverse RIAA eq. is the reason why we need those high gain active Phonopreamps.
The problem of noise that every all tube Phonopreamp has it has nothing to do with the type of the tubes or the quality of them or good/bad design, the problem is that the tube technology is totally inadequated for use it on Phonopreamps, that's all.
Don't change the tubes on your Phonopreamp, it does not work ( don't loose more time and money ): you have to change your Phonopreamp!!!!!!!!!
Regards and enjoy the music.
Marakanetz the point I wanted to make is that the Rhea is a VERY GOOD phono stage, the problem with it, is that compared to the very best, it is a LITTLE noisy. Most of what the Rhea does, it does very well. The issue of the noise was what prevented me from buying it. It sounds very good, it's just too noisy for me, and appearantly some others too.
Rauliruegas, I'm curious... If vacuum tube phono amps are so inferior for the reproduction of vinyl sourced music than why is it that vacuum tubes were used in most of the finest recordings and mastering processes of all time? Just one modern day example might be the Analogue Productions 45RPM Fantasy jazz series. I have yet to hear a plausible explanation for why tubes stir my emotions greater than transistors. Im really surprised that with that stream of logic you dont prefer digital. Truly, I do not mean to insult you, please dont take it that way but, I just dont understand and I dont agree. Happy Listening!
Dear R f: +++++ " I have yet to hear a plausible explanation for why tubes stir my emotions greater than transistors. " +++++
This " explanation " is almost imposible to have, there is too many issues about: first depends on your live music experience and if this live music is your " reference ", second, your trainy ears in live music againts reproduced music, third, music priorities, fourth, how good SS design you heard it and how well those SS audio devices make good synergy, fifth, how much time do you take to desequalized your " tube " ears and to equalize on SS " ears ".
The fact that many people ( like you ) likes the heavy distorted and colored tube sound does not means that is the right way to go.
You can travel from NY to Madrid: " swiming ", but this does not means that it is the best way to go!!!!!!!!!
Regards and enjoy the music.
The issue here comes down to how much one is sensitive to tube rush. What Xagwell is trying to describe to us sounds like the normal tube rush associated with the Rhea. Since the gain stages are all tube, it is normal to expect some extra tube rush as the gain is increased. Whether or not this is the "ideal" way to apply gain (vs. JFETs) is not really the issue here. There is no question that the Rhea performs extremely well.
Anyone auditioning the Rhea, or any other tube phonostage, is going to have to answer the quesion, how much tube rush does it take to bother you? I came from stages like the EAR 834P which had far more noticeable tube rush than the Rhea. I have used a .25mV denon with the Rhea at a gain setting of about 62dB and still I have to get very close to my speakers to hear any tube rush and it is certainly not audible when the stylus drops. I have swapped out the stock tubes.
Maybe this is semantics, but I don't think of tube rush as noise. If you're hearing more than what I have described then I would tend to think that you are either more sensitive to rush or there is perhaps something amiss with the unit you're listening to.
Dan_ed, I'm in agreement with the comments on tube rush. I find the same true with my Rhea.
For me though when someone denounces tubes totally for use in phono amplification as Rauliruegas did, I have a problem understanding it.
Rauliruegas, my point was that if some of the most beautiful (source) material for music of all time comes though tube equipment in its recording, production, cutter heads, etc how can one argue so vehemently against using tube equipment for the (re)production in ones home? And to that question, you did not answer. For the moment lets not confuse the issue by including all the ancillary components, room acoustics, or even wall current. And yes, I do use live acoustic music as my reference.
"The all tube Phonopreamps were not designed for low output MC cartridges. As a fact, this technology is not the right one for use in Phono stages."
I'm sure Jim White of Aesthetix would have a different opinion here. And there are a number of Aesthetix Io users here who have reported excellent success with low output MCs, in particular, the 0.25mv output Koetsus.
I understand the "pain" people have with the Calypso and Rhea. These units seem to be very sensitive to less-than-optimal tubes. All you had to do is read the Calypso review here by Jadem6 and you understand the effort it takes to get these units to perform to impressive levels of musicality.
I run with the 80db gain Aesthetix Io for both Koetsu Rosewood Signature and Clearaudio Accurate. These are both 0.6mv output which work mighty fine with the gain settings at 62db or 68db. I try to set the gain so that I have maximum loudness (mid-high 90 db levels) with the volume control (Aesthetix Callisto Sig) at 2 o'clock or so. In between tracks, at such a high level, I can just barely hear any kind of noise from the seating position. However, as I have reported on other Aesthetix threads here, I have only been able to find 12ax7 tubes from Ei for the first input stage which gives me this very low level of noise. I would love to find an ultra quiet pair of Telefunken or Mullards for this stage. The Sovteks are very quiet in the Io but they simply are far too fatiguing than these other brands. Perhaps you can try the Ei tubes here. They are only $10 so it's worth a try.
Once again Thanks for your feedback.. I recently spoke with Mike from Aesthetix. After some tube "gyrations" he concluded the tubes were bad at V 1/2 on both channels. He is burning in a new set for me as I write this. Since I mounted the Shelter 90x, I had to set the gain at 565db using the balance out which increases gain to 62db. The "tube rush" was not typical. This sounded like a LOUD constant wind. It was loud enough that non stereo listeners asked me "what is that noise" Anyway I compliment the tech support from Aesthetix, and we'll see if these different tubes are quieter. Once again thanks for your feedback. I learn so much from the posts.
Like most Rhea owners in this forum I too have had tube issues since the day I purchased it; however, I recently purchased a VTV tube characterizer that solved my problems. I have been able to go through old tubes and find nice matched pairs that work in V1/V2. The VTV immediately screens out noisy or microphonic tubes.
I also learned some things from the good folks at Aesthetix that can save you money.
V1/V2 require longplates which are expensive if you want NOS matched, balanced, quiet non microphonic. But it was explained to me that V1R/V2R work as a pair that needs to be matched to V1L/V2L. For example assume that V1R is 100/100 and V2R is 90/90. These two tubes could be matched with V1L at 98/92 and V2L at 92/98. If you add the gain you get 95 for each of the four triodes which is what you want. Remember V1R + V2R = V1L + V2L
I've also found you don't need to match the gain perfectly as in my example but just get it as close as your ear can tell. The tubes don't need to be perfectly balanced either but probably should be within 10%. They key is that they not be noisy. Nosiy tubes sound like wind and it's not tube rush because it varies in volume intensity. I have found that tubes that sounded slightly microphonic can work well too. More microphonic ones can sometimes be helped with a Herbies damper but really microphonic tubes ring when I touch the chassis.
Having said all that the Sovtek LPS are the quietest tubes I've tested so far. I got lucky with NOS tubes. I found some NOS early 50's Philips longplates that tested absolutely perfect as well as a few pairs of perfect Mullard 10M's, one pair of which is in V3 and the other in my Calypso. None of these NOS tubes were more quiet than the Sovteks but they were just about equal. I have some matched Brimar CV4004's in V4 and Philips 7308 SQ in V5.
I've had this setup for about a week now and I'm still pinching myself. After six months of one tube hassle after another some of which were of my own doing, I'm now in audio nirvana. The Philips tubes are 3D like. This is not the same Rhea I purchased. It sounds awesome now as opposed to great when it was working before. The noise is not an issue and I'm using an .24mv Airy at 68db balanced. It also works at 75db rca but it pops at 75db balanced. I'm not sure whether it's supposed to work at 75db balanced or not.
I wish I'd bought the VTV right away. It's expensive but it will pay for itself in the long.
My Rhea is extremely quiet and sounds wonderful with a 0.5 mV cartridge. It is hard for me to understand why there is so much negative comment on this thread about this fine phono stage. Are some of you guys trying to run sub 0.1 mV carts on your Rheas? Why? What advantages do they provide that 0.1 to 0.5 mV carts don't provide? This super low ouput stuff makes me wonder a bit only because then the limiting factor has to be the arm/table and phono pre. I mean I understand the pursuit of excellence here but I have never been convinced that a super low output cart is advantageous.
Something that everyone here needs to understand is that whenever you use a pure tube signal path as a gain source for low output MC cartridges, there will be noise compared to either a fet/tube hybrid gain stage or a pure SS gain stage. The tradeoff for some added noise IMO is a much more live sounding phono stage that doesn't sound flat and two dimensional like its SS brethern. It is imperative that you buy tubes that are graded for noise by a competent dealer such as RAM labs or Kevin Deal or in my case, Michael Elliott of Alta Vista. I use the Counterpoint SA-2 MC pre-preamp and it is pure tube including the rectifier and voltage regulation. I buy the highest grade 6922 tubes that Michael Elliot sells for the SA-2. Only 2 out of 100 tubes makes this cut which is why you pay a premium for them. Buying expensive "super" tubes such as Amperex, Telefunken, etc. which are not graded for noise is a pig-in-a-poke purchase. It doesen't matter how "great" they are if they are noisey.
For what it is worth I would not trade my Rhea for anything.....well maybe a Manley since I have their mono-blocks but other than that nothing. My noise issues have been completely managed since my original post. Once again I salute their tech support.
Dear amigo Raul,
You unfortunately wrote, "The fact that many people ( like you ) likes the heavy distorted and colored tube sound does not means that is the right way to go."
Come on, man. That is way over the top. The argument against this notion is too old even for me to bother to reiterate it. In this day and age, transistors and tubes can both be used to build fabulous gear. For very low voltage input signals, like those emanating from LOMC phono cartridges, a transistor circuit has some advantages in terms of noise. Period.
Why criticize a four year-old comment? FWIW, Raul has since heard at least one tube phono/line preamp that rivals his SS one, even to his ears. Today he might agree with you.
Glad you resolved the noise issues. You say you wouldn't trade your Rhea for anything and we should all be happy with our gear, else why own it? Still, it might be prudent to say you wouldn't trade for anything you've heard.
I've been a powerful and apparently convincing advocate of a particular tonearm for five years. A fair number of people have bought one based partly on that advocacy and it does perform superbly when used to the fullest.
Still, I just A/B'd a new arm in my system which just blew it away. I've never said I wouldn't trade it for anything and now I'm glad I didn't, all I need is the funds. The same could happen with your Rhea, so be careful what you listen to!
Mr. Doug Deacon your point is well taken. We live, we learn, and we grow.......but the following may give you some idea of my propensity or lack there of for change in this hobby:
Pre Amp 12 yrs
Phono 4 yrs
CD 12 yrs although I did add a DAC
Monoblocks 5 yrs
Turntable 12 yrs
Spkr cable 17 yrs
Spkrs 5 yrs
Sub 16 yrs
Power Cond 8 yrs
No audiophilia nervosa here! Glad to see someone enjoying their system and the music, instead of changing gear faster than I change socks. ;-)
Xagwell, I guess the Rhea didn't work out for you.
Dear everyone including Raul, I am so sorry. I had no idea how old that post was, until I actually looked at the date as a result of Doug's comment.
Dan ed on the contrary, I love my Rhea. See 3/4/10 comments.
Well just to add some perspective... I still have the Rhea and I still find it most satisfying. Soon the Rhea will be back from Jim White and friends as a Signature upgraded version. It has been a long wait and a lot of pennies banked in the cookie jar to make it happen, but it is a good investment in gear that proven itself so clearly.
And as fate would have it, my pal, Andy of Vintage tube Services just sent me for consideration the most beautiful quad of Amperex 12AX7's I have ever experienced in my first gain stage. They are true NOS, perfectly matched, and DEAD quiet, as (almost) no one but Andy seems to come up with! These should last a life time of excellent musical enjoyment. So one might ask when evaluating a cost/pleasure consideration, are vintage tubes worth it... just go ahead and guess whether or not I returned these old dusty valves?!
and consider a semi-conductor phono stage?...in my house?...not so much.
Has anyone here compared the Rhea in the likes of EAR, Tron, Fosgate, or the more expensive Lamm LPs ?