Tried a used Nova Phonomena. Good Luck.
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I think you are skimping on the phono preamp. I don't think $500 gets you nearly the fidelity equivalent to your other equipment, regardless of your power requirements. Maybe skimp somewhere else, unless you primarily listen to vinyl. People here seem to like the Ray Samuels Nighthawk which is close to your budget but I would rethink it because you can spend less on an amp and more on a phono preamp and get much more for your money.
Thank you for the input. I am 99% vinyl, in fact I do not own a CDP any longer. I had a beautiful Arcam Alpha 9 that was as close to analog as I have heard in a CDP for less than $5k.
As for music, I listen mainly to jazz, singer/songwriters and blues. I have a chance to buy an older B&K SP-120 amplifier (I like the mosfet sound) and rebuild it with new electronics. The amp is $150 from a friend at work and I think about $500 in new parts should net the results I am looking for in an amplifier, and for less than I was going to spend.
So, if I up the price to $1k or less, what would you suggest?
I also noticed my grammar/spelling in my original post was atrocious! Never type while tired!
I really like my Pro-ject phono tube box II and you could go the SE route if you needed the extra settings. I've put it against the Vincent Pho-8 and the Pro-ject was much more musical with a wide and deep sound stage. Sounds like people like the Jolida tube phono preamp for similar reasons and you can tube roll either. I have never had any phono / ground loop hum with the Pro-ject phono and is very quiet except for some tube rush at an extremely volume knob setting that I would never actually listen to music at. My analog dealer really likes the Benz (Ace) / Pro-ject combination on Xpression III tables with the phono tube box II.
I owned the Phono Tube Box II before and loved it. I forgot about it until you mentioned it! It was a GREAT preamp with my Rega P3, Rogue Cronus and Paradigm Studio 20's v3.
I decided on a battery powered Ray Samuels Nighthawk preamp and found one on eBay for $625. Expensive for a used piece of kit, but less than the $800 new.
Thank you for the advice - the Pro-Ject is one helluva preamp for the price.