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I really like my Rogue Audio RP-1. I think the 1 and 5 are both based on their RP-X platform. It help take the edge off my old Rotel class D amp and create some space. I called them up prior to purchase and they answered the phone and answered my questions enthusiastically. I think the RP-X is what all their new stuff will be based on.
There are reviews about the RP-5 that talk more detail about the phono stage. It appears they did put some effort into it.
Not having an on/off remote is annoying. The remote also has a cheap feel to it but has survived my repeatedly dropping it onto a hardwood floor. :(
@elrod, OK- just so you know, although the MP-3 is a fully balanced preamp, it can be operated with a single-ended output. We usually have to set it up to do that, since balanced and single-ended are basically incompatible. We set it up with a switch so either RCAs or XLRs can be used.
Your phono is of course a balanced source, so the MP-3 can take advantage of that while still having the single ended output.
I have a Rogue Audio RP-5 tube preamp. The phono stage is excellent and has many internal adjustments for various mm and mc cartridges. Previously I had an AI Modulus 3B tube preamp and the phono stage was also excellent. The Audible Illusions has the click type volume controls (2 of them) and I could never get the listening level I wanted, it was either too low or too loud. In addition, because the AI has a lot of gain, I could only use the first quarter of the volume control. That was my main reason for going with the Rogue, plus the Rogue also has remote control which the AI does not.
I would say the phono sections in both preamps are pretty equal but the Rogue does offer many adjustments for the phono section to tailor it to your cartridge.
I've been running a Rogue Audio Magnum 99 with their onboard tubed phono stage for about six years now and I love it. Early on I rolled the stock tubes out to NOS Sylvania 6SN7s in the line and RCA Clear Top 12AU7s in the phono. While perhaps not whisper quiet, it's plenty quiet enough (I have to be much less than a foot away to hear anything) and it plays, IMO, well along the lines of what you said were your preferences. In the last few years I've auditioned three phono preamps in the $2000-25000 range and not kept any of them, ultimately preferring the sound of what I gotten to with the onboard. New with stock tubes should come in at your budget, but you should be able to find one used well under your budget with room to spare for rolling out the stock tubes. I've not heard the RP-5 to make a comparison, but if you were to call the super helpful folks at Rogue I'm sure they can give you their opinion on the two relative to each other. Happy hunting.
Too bad you couldn't pay a wee bit more. There is a Shindo Monbrison listed here on Audiogon. They are asking $6500.
This is an incredible pre and the phono section is outstanding. i do not know the seller. Maybe they would take a reasonable offer. But for my money, at the selling price, this is a great deal.
Not a 3k pre, but a great one. competes way above it's price.
I've got an in-depth write-up coming on this very subject:
6) audible illusions M3B- the Voshkod 6h23n's make it overly harsh
5) coincident statement phono stage- not enough gain by itself w/o a line stage
4) and 3) tie 1993 CAT SL-1 with Amperex 6922's in the phono stage/ Doge 8 LP with sylvania 5751's 3 mica black plate in the phono stage- CAT a little warm, Doge a touch linear
2) CAT SL-1 phono "hot-rodded" to the Doge 8 line stage (with GE 12at7's)- close to perfect
1) Coincident statement phono stage (sylvania 5751's black 3 mica) to the Doge 8 LP line stage. For me, as good as it gets.
benz micro LPS, VPI TNT JR., inspire fire bottle top, ARC 100.2 bottom, VSA VR-4 sr mkiii.