Tube Phono Stage with balls, and slam!!

Hello friends
I have a Well tempered TT, classic made in the 90's, with a Zu Denon 103 Catrtridge , and a Vacume Tube, phono stage, wich is solid state,  with a tube push and pull intergrated amp, with Zu speaker's
It seems to me that the set up, might be bright, on 60% or recordings, with the piano on the up, and femails, on volcals, seem a bit bright!!
Should I go for the Decaware, phono stage, which is tube based!!, or would this be to much, on the soft side??
I like my music, with deep bass, with slam!!(I do get this with some recordings) , but sometime some recordings are a  bit bright!!, I have a solid state phono stage, with RCA plug's, that fit in the rear of the unit, to excite, or tame the above, my tast in music, is Rock,Punk, new wave, power jazz etc!!, I have used 100ohms, plugs, and 275 ohms, but can't seem to get it right, I'm almost there!!
Any thoughts
David Spry
Dfc1b742 2146 4dcb bc58 f88d04cbafe0daveyonthecoast
TW Acustic has a wonderful phono stage with plenty of slam and dynamics.
Manley Steelhead.
Second the Manley Steelhead.  I have had mine for about 7 years with no problems and definitely dynamic as all heck.  It was way superior to my previous Aesthetix Rhea.  If you want to improve on this, get some NOS 6DJ8/6922/7308 tubes for the gain and 5687/7119/6900 tubes for the white followers.  I currently run some Telefunken 6922s and Mu/Bendix 6900. There are probably some better phono stages out there but considerably more expensive.
Not enough ideas from your original post in "analog"?

Regardless of your choice, you probably will need a step up transformer. The Decware  looks like a nice unit for the money. Not enough gain to use your Denon. Know that ANY all tube unit will have a degree of noise if you listen LOUD.
I use an all tube piece, and when the volume nears 11:00-12:00(rarely) some hiss, though not annoying, is present in quiet passages.The "realness" of a good tube phono stage simply can’t be duplicated unless you’re prepared to shell out considerable amounts of cash for a SS unit.

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Hello Friends
Thanks for your input!!
I just wan't to know, if feeding a tube phono stage, to a tube push pull intergrated, would be to much of a good thing
I like my music fast with good bass and plenty of slam!!
The system at the moment, is a solid state, phono stage, that I can with RCA resistors!!, the bass seems fine, it just depends on the recording, and some times will shock me how deep it gets, but 60?%, I't seems a touch bright, would pairing my tube intergrated, with the decaware, phono stage, be to soft, or maybe play around with the loading of the Zu Denpn 103 Cartridge??
Forgive me, I'm new to this, I'm 90% there, but wish to go the whole way
Many Thanks
David Spry
David:  Since the sweet spot of tubes is voltage amplification, tubed phono stages/preamps that use small signal tubes for gain are probably the best bet for this application.  Yes, a SS preamp might give a little more speed and bass extension, but there are many tubed phono stages and preamps for a reason:  they are sonically superior in many ways.  You should get your music fast with good bass and plenty of slam using tubed phono stages.  For power amps, however, tubes do not work as well for current amplification due to higher output impedances and you get more mixed results.  As someone else mentioned, getting enough voltage gain overall in your system is paramount in obtaining optimal sonics, and I personally like tubed phono stages like my Manley Steelhead phono stage and my tubed Essence preamp.  I use a SS Essence power amp.  Many top phono stages such as the Steelhead use a step-up transformer for moving coil cartridge gain and 6922 or other small-signal tubes for moving magnet gain.
rlawry - Your statement only applies to components that don't take into consideration using solid state amplification with tube preamps.  Good designers make their amps with sufficient input impedance to work with the higher output impedance of tube preamps.  Good designers make their tube preamps capable of driving lower impedance amps.

op - Get a cartridge.  A REAL cartridge. 
Herron. It will be your last phono stage. 
As much as I hate to be a shill for anything I will say my 15 year old BAT VKP10 SE with 80 db gain definitely has slam. Yeah I can hear the tubes when I listen loud but the output leaves no question as to anything being left behind. 
See them on here for 3.5K-4.5K. Music Direct had a new one/closeout for $4995 and I almost bought it again, just to renew the same model. Came really close. Step up is Lundahls internally integrated. Will say that I run balanced through the preamp and can't say what drop off you would see single ended. 

Look on Hi Fi Shark, there is one listed for $3495.
I second the BAT, either VK-P10se or P10 will give the OP what he's wanting. Plus as quiet or quieter than most SS phonostages.
EZ, current, and reasonably priced: Rogue Ares. 
Found a demo one here a few months back -- KILLER.
Thanks, everyone, for your time, in responding!!
It seems, to me that the harshness, maybe something different, I don't know much about cartridge loading, I have listen to my favorite recording's, some sound great, some sound with a slight shimmering, on the top, mostly at high listening levels, I have listen to loading's of 100 ohm and 275 ohm, but really could not hear any difference!!, although it is the best setup that I have owned!!, because I 'm hearing, slight thing's that I did not know were there, I'm sure they were there, but where "colored in the mix"
I will open a can of worms, different cartridge??, or maybe loading plugs, are not right, I just want to tame the above a little!!
Please help
David Spry

Get a Tavish Design phono. Separate power supply, no need for SUT and your Denon will sing. Sounds as good as my Shindo Aurieges MM with an Auditorium SUT (any of them as a matter of fact). cant beat the $1500 price. Superb review in Stereophile.
On the cheap I would try adding some weight to your arm.  It has ben said by many people that denon 103 family love really heavy tonearms.  I have been building lots of tonearms lately and the heavy 12.5 wood ones are magic with 103 and 103r.  If you want music to sound real, tubes are the way to go across the board.  If you want your upright sting bass to sound like a over driven electric bass things are easier.

I am also a big lover of sut's make sure you make or buy one where you can adjust the load to match your system.

Enjoy the ride

I have the new Audio Research Ref Phono 3. I've been amazed at the punch, slam, speed it delivers. By far the best phono preamp that they have made- (I haven't heard the Ref 10) which is saying something. 
Hello daveyonthecoast, I believe the 100 ohm setting will yield the most balanced result with that cartridge. Secondly, I don't think a new phono stage is in order here. Careful, precise setup of the tonearm and its interface with the phono cartridge is critical. Without a proper alignment nothing else you do will matter one iota. If you get that part right all else will fall into place. You'll find that setting the tracking angle properly once all is right can change the tonal balance of the presentation. Each LP is different. Find a happy medium or make adjustments for each LP, it's up to you.
Herron VTPH-2.  IMO, the best available regardless of price or any other factors.  I have never heard better. 

But I agree that there are a lot of factors, like careful set-up, exact VTA and VTF.  A good arm, cartridge and table are critical. 

I know there are a lot of people that think the 103 is a great cartridge.  I just think it's OK for the money.  But the price point a couple of hundred dollars more is loaded with cartridges that shame a 103.  
Vincent pho-700 solid-state/tube hybrid two boxes mc/mc phono pre-amp 😎
Another vote for Herron here. Especially if your cartridge sounds better with non-standard loading. My Soundsmith Paua likes 2k ohms which is difficult to find in phono preamps. Keith Herron can supply just about any loading resistor you would ever need. It is also great for tube rolling. Keith is also very responsive and an interesting guy to talk audio with.

+1 for the Vincent pair,
it has the tube input for your "tube" sound, but from what I can see on the net, a solid state output to be able to give you drive and dynamics. It is very versatile, with different gain options and it looks well made.

Another good one is the Schiit, no tube though, but very cheap.

Cheers George
Fremer described the sound of the Liberty B2B-1 phono amp as being what you may be looking for. It has an extremely high overload figure, a very good thing.
As someone else mentioned, getting enough voltage gain overall in your system is paramount in obtaining optimal sonics, and I personally like tubed phono stages like my Manley Steelhead phono stage
Just for the record, the Steelhead is a hybrid phono section, employing a solid state input.
davyonthecoast ...

Has anything been done from the standpoint of room treatment? If so, what?  If you've done nothing, then some of the "brightness" at loud volumes could be certain frequencies exciting (causing resonances) in various areas of your room (even the ceiling)  and therefore smearing your sound at those frequencies and being interpreted as "brightness."

Try a ten-pack of these HFT's and install as directed. This is NOT a subtle tweak:

I have owned the original Well Tempered TT since it was new. Its exactly like the one you are using. When set up properly, and using certain tweaks, it is one of the finest sounding turntables out there under $50,000. No joke. 

Have you done anything to dampen the tonearm well on your Well Tempered turntable?

Here's some images of the brass Margio Well Tempered tonearm well dampener. The Margio clamp really gets the resonances caused by that thin-walled well under control. Without the clamp, the micro vibrations of the thin walls of the well are smearing your sound and contributing to that "brightness" you're hearing.

I don't know if the Margio clamp is still available, but you could research that. This is a major improvement for the Well Tempered turntable and the improvement is heard immediately. Night and day, really.

A huge improvement can be had by replacing your turntable belt with a custom belt from  This is NOT a subtle tweak at all. Its major.  Its like upgrading a piece of electronics, like a better amp, or preamp. You say you like "slam" and "dynamics?" Well installing this belt is the way to get it. 

Also, consider getting your tonearm rewired with Cardas copper wire and use the Cardas junction box for your turntable's RCA inputs.  This is another tweak that will get that brightness under control ... and improve everything else in the process. 

One layer of shrink wrap on the tonearm is another good tweak for the Well Tempered arm. 

Another area to consider before spending huge amounts on a new phono stage, cartridge or other expensive equipment is to pay attention to, and eliminate as much as possible, micro vibrations throughout your entire system.

For example, what is your equipment sitting on? Glass shelves, for example, are a death knell. Are your speakers spiked to the floor? Have you tightened every screw on your speaker cones? Are you using cable elevators of some type for your speaker cables?  These are just a few examples, but there are tons more.

 Keep in mind that everything vibrates ... and the only thing we want vibrating is that thin wire with the diamond on the end that glides through the record grooves. 

I've seen some very expensive systems where the owner has paid no attention to micro vibrations at all ... and the system sounds like crappola. On the other hand, I've seen some moderately priced systems where the owner has paid attention to all of these fine details and the sound knocks your socks off. 

Before throwing tons of money at your system, take care of the small things first. In this crazy audio hobby, the devil is in the details. 

Hope this helps. 



The hardest and most important thing to learn in this hobby and always seemed to be overlooked by many: vibration control, power/grounding issues, room acoustics and proper source/speaker setup. Component upgrade last!
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The Manley Steelhead is a hybrid. Oh the humanity; solid state and tubes in a single unit, what is the world coming to?
2 great phono stages TW Acustic and Zanden 1200 Mk 2.
Uniformity in the recording process since the advent of the stereo LP and later on by the use of compression varies greatly. Without knowing your taste in music and the amount of reissued vinyl in your library your roughly "60%" of dissatisfaction is understandable to me. 

At the California Audio Show I listened briefly to your brand of speakers (can't say which model) and cartridge. I can't quite remember the brand of component electronics, Pass Labs? I do recall they used a subwoofer.

A subwoofer with modern equalization audition would be my first suggestion. The second would be the cartridge. The cartridge IS the transducer, the heart of LP playback. Unfortunately auditioning a cartridge is almost impossible. If your dissatisfaction continues after an improved sounding cartridge...well that's one less thing. IMO, aside from the minor azimuth issues with the concave platter its difficult to out class the Well Tempered turntable with a high end cartridge.  
Check out the latest reference offering of Luxman, the EQ-500. Art Dudley seems to be mighty impressed by this one:
davyonthecoast ...

So, what do you think of the multitude of suggestions so far?

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The Manley Steelhead is a hybrid. Oh the humanity; solid state and tubes in a single unit, what is the world coming to?
Yeah- stuff doesn't have to be all tube or all solid state to work.