I have read that the Rogue phono section is almost as good as the $900 EAR phono section. I have the Rogue and it sounds good to me. The phono is one of the reasons I bought it because the price was only $400 extra.
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A used Sonic Frontiers Phono 1 comes to mind. You might even find the signature version at a good price, but I would get the standard and spend the extra $ on some really good NOS tubes. Also, be sure to match the impedance correctly with the cartridge--most people just use the nominal value, which is not the OPTIMAL value. It's a trial and error process, but one that pays off--possibly the cheapest and most effective turntable tweak in existance.
I can't comment on the Rogue internal phono preamp, never having heard it. But in your price range you can get the new Grado phono preamp (which should be available in a month or so), or a used Plinius Jarrah phono stage. Both are better than the Black Cube, and both can embarrass much pricier phono preamps.
Try a TACT preamp module, you add the RCA's and power supply. Very flexible and awesome sound for a lot less.
Mikey Fremmer braggs on the Chamelot Phono section, and ya know what, its a TACT with a power supply and RCA in one box. If you can solder, save a bundle, or build your own battery pack.
just my 2 cents worth.
I have a have had a black cube, an EAR, a wavelength cotangent, Cary, Etc. I have ended up with 2 Naim stagelines. Find a used naim Hi-cap power supply and get the Stageline new for $350.00 you will not be disappointed. This thing gets at the soul of the music better than anything I have tried under $2000.00 You have to buy a Chord DIN to RCA to connect it to a non naim preamp but when it plays music you will find it so rhythmic, so organic you may just throw out your CD player.
PS you can get the stageline configured for MM, MC, with high or lower impedance matching.
All of the comments above fail to consider what cartridge
you plan on using.
If you looking for a cartridge/preamp combo, I'd wait and listen to the Grado with one of their low out cartridges.
Otherwise, I'd stick with tubes. Try to find an octal tube MFA preamp.
Also, you'll need a TT/Arm, check out the Space Deck/Arm.
Re 'The Groove'. Its one of the finest audio components i've heard. Brings out the presence and 3d imagery/solidity of vinyl better than anything else i've heard. Pure magic. I have the microgroove plus, and it is very good as well. after 10 days run in I was frankly gobsmacked. Definetely going for the groove though this year.
Rives, I would like to know how to determine the optimum impedence match for my rig. Groovedancer mc+ cartridge 2.5mv,120 ohm. Sonic Frontiers SFP-1 Signature phono. Sonic Frontiers Line 3SE. Sonic Frontiers Power 2SE. Kimber 8tc (double run).Klipsch Lascallas w/Alk cross overs.
The only thing I understand about impedance matching is, to achieve maximum power transfer from source to load the two must be "matched". I haven't been able to find any info on doing this other than Smiths chart, and that seems to deal with RF speeds. Any help you could send my way would be greatly received. Frank