Thinking to replace my phono


Hi All,

I was wondering, what are the benefits I can get by replacing the phono stage with a more expensive one, say -  8K$-11K$?
My current analog setup made from Brinkmann Bardo turntable & 10.5 arm, Miyajima-Laboratory Kansui cartridge, Zesto Andros PS phono. The above setup connects to Luxman C\M900u pre+amp and Magico S3mk2 speakers.

Any thought or knowledge is welcome.
Thanks
exupgh12
Only if its your weakest component. Are you sure this is your weakest component? I'm gonna take a wild guess and say not even.
@exupgh12 - what cables are you using from the phono stage to the amp?

I agree with millercarbon with respect to the weakest "component",

But then I consider cables to be equally as important as components.

For the caliber of your components I would take a look at In-akustik brand of cables.

https://www.in-akustik.de/en/cables-and-accessories/reference-selection/audio-cable/

In-akustik uses advanced cable geometry and top quality wire to provide the very best in signal transmission.

Good Luck - Steve
millercarbon  in your opinion what is the weakest component in my setup?
williewonka all my cables (speaker, interconnects, power, phono) are cardas clear.

millercarbon  in your opinion what is the weakest component in my setup?

Uh oh...
Wow the system you have outlined above is one the majority of us would call an end game setup, certainly in that league. What is it you are hoping to gain in upgrading your phono? Sometimes more money doesn't equate to better sound, just different sound. Good luck on your quest and enjoy your already fine setup in the mean time. Enjoy the music
I had a Bardo a long time ago and it was ok, it did have speed control issues. Try seeing if using the Timeline device your unit is fine. 
millercarbon  in your opinion what is the weakest component in my setup?

Well, that depends on your definition of component. In terms of big box name recognition components you are as tooblue said end game. In terms of what I call a component though you got a few MIA. 

The phono stage you are considering is gonna be, well I don't know but let's just say a couple grand more money net. Unless you get lucky and find you like the Herron and it is less. But let's assume you already tried one and are beyond that now. Which could well be. In fact I went and checked out your whole system  https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/7974    and will assume for the sake of argument everything including the rack and right down to the spikes cannot be beat anywhere at any price and so with that as a given what "component" am I talking about? 

What "weak link" could be upgraded for say $3k for the same or greater improvement than a better phono stage? That was my meaning. 

And my answer:

You have stuff still on factory feet. BDR Cones, or any cones, or anything for that matter, will be a big upgrade. 

I see one grounding plug on one unused RCA, and several others sitting there open. Depending on what you use here this one thing alone could be bigger than any phono stage anyone makes and at a fraction the cost. 

Acoustics, you got a beautiful home and I love wood as much as the next guy, more actually, but that big flat cabinet is a killer. When doing my system https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367 I learned something much smaller than that between the speakers ruined the image. You don't have to use an ugly panel but if that thing is drawers even something as simple as pulling them out partway open will help to break up the large flat surface. A wood diffusor might be another way to go. Or for sure Synergistic Research HFT stuck on there, hardly noticeable, huge improvement. Any or all of these are certain to improve the sound and for a lot less than the cost of another component.

Can't tell from your system page if you have upgraded fuses, or are using quality contact enhancement, or a power conditioner. If there's any power cords I missed em. There's wires dangling down under the cabinet. If that means what I think it means you could probably improve your cable routing. 

Ballpark estimate you could do BDR Cones under the stuff with factory feet, SR Orange Fuses in everything with a fuse, and a couple sets of HFT and ECT, and all for less than a new phono stage. If you do all this and then upgrade to an amazing stage I think you will be saying well I'll be, that miller guy was right after all.
If your arm is Brinkmann 10.5 then effective mass is 12g ? 
Miyajima Kansui compliance is 9cu @ 10Hz and this is a very low compliance for 12g tonearm which is designed for mid compliance cartridges. At least you have to use special heavy mounting screws to add mass, this is all you can do with this tonearm.

I have the same Kansui cartridge and i think you can improve its performance with much heavier tonearm like IKEDA if a tonearm/cartridge resonance matching is important for you. 







We are getting into preference here but I tried both the Kansui cartridge and the Zesto phono and didn’t love either one. I found them both to be very relaxed sounding, too much imho. 
Replace the 4 JJs in your Zesto with Shanghung 12AX7LPS black from Grant Fidelity. Give them 20 hours to burn in. Different league from the bright and fizzy JJs.
Damn Agon upload error deleted long post.
If you don't like black tubes, NOS Telefunken ECC83/12AX7 (smooth plates) will bring refinement with more detail, transparency and air and spaciousness and remove the chromy glare of those 803S JJs.
+1 noromance
Those JJ tubes have to go!
We are getting into preference here 


Right. Which if you notice I avoided.
I took a peek at your system.

Nice gear in a living space, which also does "home theater" duties.If that were my space. I would leave it as is, and enjoy it.The entire cabinet/TV thing is an audio buzzkill.

I’ve had the Zesto in my system for a demo. Great unit


I’m sure it still sounds nice. You’re just not hearing what the gear is capable of, without a dedicated space. Speakers positioned to sound their best and treated room.


If you have cash to burn, the Luxman phonostage will compliment your amp/pre.https://www.stereophile.com/content/luxman-eq-500-phono-preamplifierYour ears will determine if it was worth the expense.


I would just crack open a beer and prop my feet up, hit play on the video.
tooblue let's say i'm not missing anything critical but always concern my phono is not at the same league as other components in my setup

noromance replacing the tubes is an interesting path, thanks for the advice.
millercarbon 
many thanks for your deep replay, everything you wrote is so true, however, some of the photos are older once like the one showing the RCA plugs (it's on actually taken from the previous system, on the C900 every plug is closed) or the speakers close to the cabint - today the speakers are about 50 cm in front of the cabinet and 100cm fro the wall behind it.

i'll try some of your advice before auditing new phono.

Thanks.
chakster

Many thanks for your opinion, love it when someone can see things i didn't

Thank you so much.
tablejockey

Thank you so much for your words
lol! Yeah its hard to keep system photos up to date. Mine are outdated and its barely been one month.
I would audition the PS Audio Stellar Phono. Retail for just 2500 USD, but supposedly a giant killer.
Michael Fremer recommended hearing it for anyone looking for a phono, at any price point. Coming from him, I think that says a lot.

And of course, I also agree the Luxman phono stage is the obvious choice. 
I believe PS Audio just came out with a new phono preamp. There is almost no risk to you and they have a dollar for dollar trade in on your old preamp. You do not even have to return the old one right away so you can compare the two. I would love to hear from you how it did in your system. I have a modest phono setup so it would be lost on my phono setup. Audio technica LT3, with a nagoka 110 cart, pioneer head shell and a Schiit mani preamp. 
Sorry to piggyback Ziggi, I just wanted to let them know the options. 
Nothing wrong with that hshifi... the more people chiming in the better!
I believe OP doesn't live in the US, so PS Audio trade in offering is irrelevant for him. besides, the trade in program is limited to 30% of retail price. 
hshifi  that maybe PSAudio policy in US, however, i don't live in the US, here the local distributor would not act the same
zigggi PS Audio is a respectable alternative, however, i think it will be a move to the side not a move upword\forwared
I get that.
Have you considered  Nagra VPS? With or without  ACPS III?


zigggi i prefer to stay away from swiss audio equipment, usually expensive if compared to others.
Regarding Negra equipment, i didn't find their power amp to do pair with the requested price, but i didn't hear the phono yest.
a friend of mine has this phono and he is happy with it - maybe i can borrow his phono for checking 
For the money you are willing to spend I would Call Dave at Intact audio or Kevin at K+K  audio.  They can listen to what you are looking for and maybe even build  it from scratch.  These guys know what music sounds like and are no BS gentlemen. 

Enjoy the ride
Tom
tomwh

Thanks for the replay, i guess you missed the part i'm not a US resident

Cheers
Guy
While the most people on audiogon will recommend only US MADE gear for some reason, i must admit, there are amazing gear made in Japan, Europe and Australia. 
@exupgh12 - 
all my cables (speaker, interconnects, power, phono) are cardas clear
.It would be hard to justify uprading Cardas Clear cables, but the In-akustic cables are something very special.Their geometry is exceptional and I believe better than Cardas, but until I hears them.....

They are becoming more popular, so perhaps - keep an eye out for a possible audition :-)

Regards