What's the best Phono preamp under $1000??

What should I expect to pay to get something decent?

Thanks in advance. Dave Taylor, chicago
New? Used? MM or MC? Tube or SS? Is a remote important? How many line inputs are needed at minimum? What are the partnering components? A preamp is a tool for a job - so to get the right one, you have to define what the job requires.

Cheers, Mark
Used is fine. MC. Either tube or SS. Remote unnecessary (why would I need one?)
One input is enough. Surrounding equipment: Michelle Gyrodek with AT OC9 MC cartridge. Audio Research LS16 Mk 2 preamp with Parasound Amp. Dac is Goldmund Memisis 12.
A used Sim Audio LP5.3 would be an option. I have had great success with the one I am using.
A used Plinius Koru, if you can find one. Does it all and is a real sleeper that most audiophiles are unaware of.
EAR 834P s/h.
AR PH3SE, there are others, but this AR outperforms the EAR834 by a long short. I know, I tried the EAR and PH3 concurrently in my system and the PH3 beat the EAR in every way.
The Clearaudio "Basic" is just so musical (and versatile).
Indeed, a few ARC PH3SE on sale here. Can not be beat at the used asking price ($1200.00) and you can roll tubes easily. 6922, 7308.
Good luck in your search. Sly
I'm really blown away by my battery powered Musical Surroundings Nova Phonomena. Very dark blacks, super quiet and most importantly very musical. $1000 new and a good bit less when found used. I am also using the Mitchell Gyro SEMK2 and have chosen the Dynavector 20L as the cart and with my Cary SLI80 and Gallo Ref 3.1's it's a good match.
In my opinion the Plinius Koru out performed my Audio Research PH7. I know different strokes for different folks and other equipment can make a difference.
Many people look down upon the small Clearaudio Basic. But is a real bargain. The Bluenote phono 1 and 2 are also very good.
The Sutherland battery-powered PhD might be a good low-noise alternative to mate with your ARC. I've seen a few, used, at $1100-$1200, but you might get lucky and find one within your $1000 budget...or convince yourself that 'just a little extra' is warranted. I gave up the struggle to keep exactly within budget years ago!
I really like my Graham Slee Era Gold Mk.V. You can get it used for about $700. The only downside is that you are really limited to MM or high output MC cartridges. Then there is the cost of cables running to your preamp. You just might be better off getting a phono board for your preamp. I have the Elevator as well which adds yet another layer of cabling. No regrets though. The sound is awesome. Good luck and have fun sampling the options.
My recommendation would be a Threshold FET 10. They offer silent background, musical presentation, and extended response. Versatility includes gain selection (40/60 dB) and loading (MC) and capacitance (MM) options. A former Threshold employee now runs a service center and can perform upgrades if desired down the road. I believe they sell for $750 to $850 so fall within the required budget.

I attended a shoot out with local audio enthusiasts where a FET 10 held its own against several current favorites retailing from $2,000 to $7,300 (meaning some present preferred the Threshold).
I am wondering what you ended up with. I was going to start the same exact thread but thought to do a search first. I am also in Chicago and am thinking of getting back into vinyl with my "new" vintage system. Bob
Dodd Audio also makes a phono pre in the $1000 range. I have the battery powered pre-amp (not the phono) and its excellent.
Dodd phono is $1200 so it's over your budget.

Nevertheless, I had it up against EAR834p and Eastern Electric Minimax in my system and those two couldn't hold a candle to the Dodd. The Eastern Electric sounded diffused and soft, the EAR834p collapsed the entire soundstage (in relative terms).

While I haven't did a direct comparison, I have been to people's home to listen some of their more costly TT rigs. One guy has a BAT VK-P10SE with Lyra Scala cartridge, another has a Messenger with Graham Nittingale cartridge, another has a ARC PH7SE with Koetsu Rosewood Platinum cartridge. If you ask me, I wouldn't replace my Dodd phono+Dyna20XH with any of those setups based on what I heard.

Honestly, I still don't believe Dodd phono can beat the heavy-weight bad boys like BAT, ARC or Messenger until I can hear these preamp in my system. But my experience told me that spending yourself to bankruptcy is no guarantee of good sound.

It is important to know what kind of sound you're after before you make the decision. If you have no idea what you want, my recommendation is to pick a SS design like a Graham Slee or Dynavector P75 and then just be happy with what you have. I am not against tube, but SS is more reliable in the long run, and less headache for newbies.
Have been seriously considering Dodd phono.....however , until I can justify the move in that direction - Consonance Ref. 40 is still my reference. Owning Dodd preamp and the concept of running on batteries is very appealing though. Those with Dodd phono - I assume it is very quiet......
Does any one have pictures with the cover off ???

Mrjstark, shoot me an email and I'll send you some pictures. Dodd only have 50dB gain and a fixed 47kOhm load. But I have made some suggestions to Gary how to make the unit more flexible, I wanted him to add some kind of a binding posts so I can swap resistors on the fly, he seemed to be excited about it and would probably do so when he builds his next one.

For a picture of how the Dodd phono looks like from outside, see here:
I'm with Dcroft, the Graham Slee Era Gold V. Detail, warmth, soundstage, depth, easy to listen to. I am using a MMF-7 with the standard tonearm and Eroica cartridge. It is all about the synergy of turntable-tonearm-cartridge-cable-phono stage. Wow! That's a lot of trial and error! But, it works for me. It's also about your ears and what kind of sound they like.
new marchand tube phono stage. i own it. it uses 12 volt tubes--either 12ax7, 12at7, 12au7 or 12ay7.
Thanks Viper_z - cool pics.

I spoke to Gary earlier today about possibility of building phonostage for my specific requirements. He gladly agreed.....you must admire his willingness to take the extra mile to satisfy his customers and progressive approach to develope new exciting products.

As you know, my main concerns were the limited gain of stock Dodd phonostage and ability to handle my Denon 103r and Ortofon MC2000MK II cartridges without the need of third party step-up transformers.

Due to limited space inside the phonostage there is possibility that custom up-T will have to be enclosed in seperate box. It will still be powered by the same batteries that are the phonostage's main power supply.....Cool.



I know Gary will hate me for this but hey.......

Those that were thinking about Dodd battery powered linestage that was on special for limited time for $2495 from original $3300........Hurry.
That special ended a month and a half ago. Underwood got few last pieces and Gary has to honor that special price due to slow upgrade and redesign of his new website.....it won't less forever .....so act fast.

lasts not less. Due to latest shake-down by Grammar Police correction must be made. :)

Hard to respond since it's always a question of synergy. I just bought a Jasmine LP2.0MKII.

Not perfect, but it's quite an animal. I compared it to a Creek OBH-15 I had before. More details can be found on my music blog here:


Jasmine LP2.0SE/MK 2 is surly a contender.