Solid State Phono Stages

I used to be an all-tube guy, but I’ve now ventured into the realm of high-end solid state with T+A and no longer have any itch to go back heavily into tubes. Now, the only tubes I have left in my system are in my Modwright PH9.0X phono, and from what I’ve demoed against it, it seems to be a giant killer. I do love it, but I’m curious to try a higher end solid state phono stage to see what more noise and more music might sound like. Unfortunately T+A does not have a standalone phono stage, so I’m looking at other manufacturers and open to other opinions.

I currently have a Clearaudio Innovation Wood table and Air Tight PC-1s cartridge. i listen to a wide range of music, from Zeppelin to Vivaldi to Beck to Coltrane to Yello. The stage would ideally have between 65-74db of gain, maybe adjustable to 60db at minimum, and have variable impedance values. A balanced output stage would be ideal. I don’t ever really plan to have a second arm, but most stages that retail over $7K tend to have multiple inputs anyways.

My budget would be at tops ~$8K for a used unit. The unit that is sticking out to me from what I’m reading about is the Simaudio Moon 810LP. Another high on the list is the Esoteric E-02. I’ve also come across the Pass XP-27, the Gold Note PH-1000.

I’m looking for a stage with some personality in its character, not one that is overly refined. I’d love for it to be dynamic and bold when it should be, and also gentle and refined when it should be.

The only solid state stages I’ve ever owned and tried were the Pass Labs Xono, which was clean sounding but a little noisy and brittle sounding compared to a PS Audio Stellar Phono. I’ve liked all my tube phono stages better than both of those units.

I’ve also considered going further up the tube stage route, looking at Doshi 3.0, Aesthetix IO Eclipse, but I’m hesitant unless I can hear those in place. 

What solid stage phono stages have you loved, and what have you compared them to?


@herman many thanks for having me revisit I tried before from laptops and the site wouldn’t load for me, but today it worked on my phone. I’ve sent an email to the distributor to inquire. 

For others commenting on Whest, Music Direct has the PS 40 SE for $7500, which is a good deal for open box but still doesn’t have me convinced. It would still fall a little beyond my stated budget. 

I picked up the Rega mini phono recently for use on digitizing vinyl as well and gotta say for less than $200 it is pretty darn good.  Also very well reviewed which is why I tried it first before sinking more $$$$$s into a new phono setup.  Recommend trying the Inexpensive Rega phono preamps to start.  Nothing to lose.  Available from many vendors with very good return policies which is very important when trying out new gear. 

I own several turntables and cartridges, which I alternate with different phono stages and step-up; I have been using both a Pass Xono as my main phono preamp for many years and I have not noticed the characteristics exhibited by the opener both a Camtech Phono and an Audio Analogue Aria rev. and I must say that both the Xono and the Camtech have slightly different sonic characteristics and that I appreciate both, I do not feel the need to change for now because I am satisfied.

I might suggest that the opener try listening to FM Acoustics if he gets the chance.

So just to update this thread, I’ve made a few decisions and settling on two phono stages actually.

The first is on the Audionet PAM G2 with outboard EPC power supply. Should go perfectly with my cartridge, and the engineering of the unit fascinates me. 260,000uF of capacitance reservoir is more than my power amp’s separate power supply. 

The second one will be the BMC MCCI Signature ULN, which will be coming from Germany likely in mid-to-late May. This is a “transimpedance” / current injection stage as some have pointed me to in this thread. 

The Sim Audio MOON 610LP and 810LP are still on my “itch list”.

I likely won’t be able to post impressions on the Audionet for another week or so, but excited to compare against the Modwright PH 9.0X.

Thanks all, for being a great community to enrichen my audio journey. And stay tuned!

I used to have an Xono before moving to the XP-15. I currently have the XP-17. While I loved the Xono, the later Pass phono stages are head and shoulders above it.

I don't think you can get an XP-27 for $8K, but if you can find it at that price I would jump all over it.

An alternative would be to get the XP-17 and put the rest of your dollars into a good/better interconnect and power cord. (And/or upgrade your phono cable.) Those improvements will yield a significant improvement as well.