For a lot less money, try a BottleHead Seduction.
There is a QuickSilver listed here for $400.00,I own one and you can roll the tubes till you get the sound you want,I use nos GE 12at7 in place of the 12ax7,this will warm up the sound.
There is a Bottlehead Seduction on this site now..Better grab it before its gone.......
EAR 834P for $900-$1000 more or less, used, is wonderful. A little on the juicy side (particularly in stock form), with very good PRAT. Will definitely warm things up.
I also recommend the EAR 834P. They occasionally show up for less than $1,000 which is a tremendous bargain. Mine matches up with my ModWright SWP9.0SE line stage preamp beautifully.
I second the Seduction, it is a sweet sounding stage
With all due respect to Bottlehead, wouldn't you guys expect the Whest to be superior to the Seduction? The Bottlehead Eros might be a better alternative, I would think. And to the OP, what system is giving you a lean sound? You say you are trying out the Whest and you own a Spectron amp, but in your last sentence you say you have a Cary preamp and amplifier. Compared to those latter two, the Spectron would surely be lean sounding. Perhaps the dominant sonic signature, if you've switched from the Cary amp to the Spectron amp. Or maybe you have not yet received the Spectron. By all accounts, the Whest is a very good piece.
The Jolida can be a good and less expensive alternative.
A 2nd vote for the Jolida!
Third for the Jolida JD9. After upgrading the opamps to 637s, it's pretty stunning. You can roll the tubes to regulate the warmth level.
To clarify, I now am using the Cary Cinema SS amp until the recently ordered Spectron arrives. I suspect it is more the nature of the recordings that give a lean sound rather than the phonostage. And of course I am very curious how a tube unit would sound. I suspect the Whest is rather forward as well.
To sort this out, if you think the sound is "lean" with the Cary/Whest combo, the "problem" probably won't be cured by introduction of the Spectron, but I could be very wrong. I used to think based on listening experiences that Class D amps were by definition "lean", but recent reports suggest that maybe the latest circuits (which I have not heard) have been designed to sound more like tubes than do conventional solid state devices. Ergo you might be pleasantly surprised by the change when you introduce the Spectron. I would not make a move until you get the Spectron and have had a chance to live with it and the Whest in the same system.
4th vote for the Jolida. I use GE 5751 Triple Mica Blackplates with silver clips instead of the stock 12AX7's that come with it. Wonderful, clear, detailed sound with lots of gain. Highly recommended!
I had the Jolida and felt it was very nice phono stage. Then I moved to the EAR 834p and felt this was a noticeable improvement, albeit for more $.
Thanks for the responses. I purchased the Jolida for 15% off the $450 price, so I couldnt resist. I see that it can be modded so there is an upgrade path for the future.
I did a full on Jolida Mod replacing 90% or so of the parts in all circuits etc
You can see it on the link.
I got rid of the Jolida since it never settled in. My Whest blew it away easily. Thinking about the Fosgate and Parasound JC3 though....