VAC Signature Mk IIa Preamplifier with phono?

I have just ordered the Signature Mk IIa Preamplifier line stage. I currently own a Aesthetix Rhea signature. My question is this. Should I add the phono section to the VAC in order to improve upon my current Rhea phono preamp?
Yes. We did a shoot out of a VAC Ren Mk2 phono vs a Rhea Signature. All 5 agreed that the Rhea was not in the same league as the inboard VAC phono stage.
The phono board in my prior Renaissance III was awesome (though bypassing the internal MC SUT with a Bob's Devices 1131 was a big upgrade). Very quiet, with a beautifully balanced and detailed sound, slightly on the warm side of neutral. I'm not surprised the Sig IIa's phono reportedly kicks ass. Getting the MM stage in these units seems like a very good idea.
Thanks for the replies. Given the reputation and reviews of the Rhea sig it surprises me that you all felt it was such a weak performer. I think Robert Harley of TAS uses it in his reference system?
Well, if RH uses it as his reference, he clearly has never heard Nick Doshi's phono stages, which are a step up even from the VAC. Maybe it's a synergy or rather lack thereof w ZYX carts, but even the owner of the Rhea was amazed at the difference. We compared the Rhea, VAC, a ZYX Artisan, Doshi, and Manley Steelhead. This was several years ago so I can't say what the specific differences were, but there was no question that the Doshi was the best, the VAC just a touch behind, and the Manley and ZYX a touch behind the VAC. It might not be fair to say the Rhea was embarrassed, but it was definitely outclassed.
As an owner of the VAC Signature 2a with phono I'd give a thumbs up to adding the phono. I had an Audio Research PH-7 and the VAC phono outclassed it in every way; detail, extension, musicality, naturalness, etc. I have gotten to know Kevin Hayes better over the last several years and know he favors LP playback to digital (although his first DAC still sounds better than many new DACs today) and he designed the phono stage inside the Signature 2a to please his ear! You won't be disappointed. To be sure, hang onto the Rhea, give the Signature a few hundred hours of break in and then decide for yourself. You can tube roll the phono stage too if you want to someday experiment with different presentation.
Yes, well worth the investment - Kevin is a huge analog fan and builds great phono stages. i have owned several preamps of his and enjoyed the phono stage. you will eliminate cost of cables and have better resale too.
These have been extremely useful comments (thanks guys!) and I almost decided to add the phono section until I thought about my Grado Statement 1 that I love. It is a MM with .5MV output at 47K load. I have my Rhea set at 56dB gain thus I fear the VAC 44db won’t work.
Skinzy, the Signature has a setting for MM so you'll be fine. Add the phono stage, you won't regret it.
Hifimaniac, I am desperate to add the phono as it's not really a cost issue but the MM Load only goes to 480 ohms which will kill the treble. Any way to solve this?
Skinzy - FYI, according to the product brochure on VAC's website the MC loading ranges from 100 to 470 ohms, and the MM ranges from 10k to 47k ohms.
My Grado is unusual as it is a low output MM design thus requires 47K load with high DB gain. The VAC only has high gain low ohm combination typical of MC. Kevin’s pre has the reverse which is more typical. He pointed this out to me when I sent him the question.
Sorry for my misunderstanding, Skinzy. It was due to your previous post stating that the MM load goes to 480 ohms, while you would actually use the 'MC' gain setting with your low output MI Grado cartridge.
Skinzy, If you don't think VAC phono works in your situation, why ask for opinions in making a purchase?
Hifimaniac, I am desperate to add the phono as it's not really a cost issue but the MM Load only goes to 480 ohms which will kill the treble. Any way to solve this?
Skinzy, since you have a low output MM, you would select the MC input selector on the phono Kevin installs and play with the ohms setting once you have it connected. Call Kevin Hayes at VAC and discuss my suggestion, but I think you will be fine. You will use the MC option so you will have a boost in output. If you ever buy a higher output cartridge, then the MM input. Good luck and happy listening.
Yes! Absolutely. You are going to be over the moon with this new preamp.

I own the Renaissance with phono. The Sig iia is fabulous. Congrats.