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?

128x128blisshifi

Here's another option. Very flexible, but unfortunately far lower than your $8k budget:

Archiver Phono

If you haven't considered the Rega Aura that's my current phono preamp and "end game" for me at least. I owned the PS Audio Stellar Phono Pre and traded for the Rega. The Aura is super refined, detailed without being strident and very musical. I have it paired with a Rega RP-10 / Aphelion 2 so all Rega may have some bearing on "synergy". 

I highly recommend the Accuphase C-47. It’s a very good sounding phono stage. Solidly built and very quiet. 

I had a Modwright ph 9.0 and had it upgraded to a 9.0x. I also had the Parasound JC3+ at the same time. The jc3+ and the 9.0 are very comparable in sound but with a slightly different sound signature. Any difference preference was purely subjective. The 9.0x was objectively better. Deeper,more authoritative bass and deeper soundstage and that’s with the stock tubes! With the right nos tubes (Philips miniwatt, Bel India, and Valvo 6922, Matsushita 7dj8, Valvo and Philips miniwatt PCC88 tubes) I can’t imagine a better sounding phono preamp.