Phono stages around $1000?

Discussion in 'All Things Analog' started by JohnVF, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    Hello. I'm contemplating moving, as an alternative to my tube phono stage which I love and will keep, to a solid state phono stage this year. The reason being, I just want an option with a more quiet background that's less susceptible to hum, which has been a problem in my environment with my current phono stage. And since I don't plan on leaving my current stage, a Juicy Music Tercel II, because otherwise I love everything about it, I think going a solid state route would be a nice option. Just something totally different.

    The current leader in my head is a used Primare R32. That comes from me having had a Primare preamp and absolutely loving it, top notch build quality and competence of design, and punched WAY above it's price class into the best gear around. Word on the European forums is good on this one, though it's less common in the US.

    But, what else is out there?

    2nd up is the Project RS, with perhaps adding the battery power supply later. Depending on the availability of the Primare, this might actually be 1st.

    This is an area of gear that I haven't looked at in a loooong time, as I've been so happy with the Tercel II.

    Any suggestions? Musical Surroundings? I had borrowed a original Nova years ago and didn't fall in love with it. I tried a Blue Circle 27pi and my Tercel pretty well embarrassed it. Not sure what else?
  2. guiller

    guiller Active Member

    Please give some thought to the Sonneteer Sedley (I think it may fit within your budget limit).
  3. opa1

    opa1 Moderator Staff Member

    This is way out of my league but, I do want to see what you come up with. :cool:
  4. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    The Sonneteer certainly looks interesting, I wasn't even aware of it. Another option that goes significantly over my budget (but maybe I could sell some things) is the Liberty Audio B2B-1.

    I have a lot of reading to do... this is one of the most personal choices in audio, it's such a subjective choice. One thing I like about the Pro-Ject RS is it's extremely user friendly adjustability. It's also their first stab at a "high end" electronics product (as opposed to their turntables) and it seems they really wanted to impress. My tubed phone stage doesn't have easily accessible options to tailor to particular carts, and its MM only...and I'm not the biggest fan of trying to find a place where my SUTs don't pick up hum.
  5. Prime Minister

    Prime Minister Site Owner Staff Member

    You know my thoughts on the Pro-Ject. I've certainly posted about it a bit in the past. I think it is a heck of a fine piece of gear. I greatly enjoyed it in my system, and it certainly held it's own (other then some technical challenges) in Billforts system also. It's also beautifully built, in an unassuming kind of way. Just a really nice piece of equipment. It does have a warmer, lusher kind of sound, without seeming to try to sound like tubes.
  6. David

    David Moderator

    See if you can get another secondhand Klyne ;)
  7. Ernie

    Ernie Activated

    A couple that spring to mind are the Lehmann Black Cube SE II, or the iFi micro iPhono2. Both have a great deal of configurability, and garner excellent reviews. I currently run a Black Cube, and have an iPhono2 waiting for me to get ambitious and change my cartridge, at which time the iPhono2 will get its chance.
  8. JP

    JP Junior Member

    Want an Aleph Ono?
  9. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member


    The Aleph Ono was actually what I was looking for when I came across the Juicy Music Tercel that I've been using (happily) for many years. This was based merely on what I'd read about it, and my opinion of my Pass Aleph 30 amp. Maybe a family reunion between the two?
  10. TubeHiFiNut

    TubeHiFiNut Administrator Staff Member

    "When the Audiophile is ready, the phono stage will appear." :)
  11. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    Is that how it works?

    From what I've been reading, I'm not sure the Ono will match up well with my system. I might need something on the fuller/warmer side of things? Such is the sad case of trying to base a purchase on subjective reviews from people you don't know on gear you've never heard. It's a pretty consistent feedback, however, that its on the leaner side of things. That would have worked great in my old setup...this one likes to be filled out a bit. It's the TVC... extremely revealing, transparent, and detailed to the point that it can get too much of a good thing really quickly.
  12. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    Seems I'm getting a Primare R32 after throwing out an offer I didn't think would be accepted. It's well regarded in Europe, we shall see if the colonies like it!
  13. Redboy

    Redboy Knobophobe

    I had a Ray Samuels F-117 Nighthawk for a little while, and would kind of like to have another... quiet, configurable and really tiny. Might be worth a look.
  14. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    This is all your fault, you know. That transformer volume control was such a complete revelation that it's having me chase down the best of the best of what I can afford to put in front of it. The Nighthawk was also on my list of things to look for and I've read a lot about it. Being as I bought the Primare, I'll have to see how that goes but I got it at a price where I can unload it at pretty easily if I don't like it. I haven't read a bad comment about it.

    I still need to do a writeup on the TVC. I've never had anything that so immediately and dramatically shifted everything in such a positive direction. EVERYTHING sounds better now, ahead of and behind it.
  15. Redboy

    Redboy Knobophobe

    Yeah, well, I warned ye...

    or something.
  16. Redboy

    Redboy Knobophobe

    Truth be told, my phonostage is my weak point at the moment, and needs quite a bit of attention. I should be shopping, too.
  17. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    I'm quite curious about combining a Schiit Mani with Swagman Labs linear power supply. Seems like fun.
    BobA likes this.
  18. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    Here is what the Primare looks like. It's quite large, as that's the same size case as the preamp I had from them. Internally it's not packed but the space is used wisely to separate things. It'll be interesting to adjust to a non tubed phono stage after so long.

    Attached Files:

  19. JohnVF

    JohnVF Administrator Staff Member

    The Primare has arrived. And it's really really really big! Like integrated amp big. It's made to match their preamp/integrated amps in a rack so that makes sense but dang. At least the power supply will be about a mile from the rest of the stuff inside. And it sounds like it...very very quiet. Very poised and refined. I haven't had much of a chance to listen to it, but first impression is that I'm going to really like it. It sits in that sort of sounds solid state sort of sounds tubey but doesn't really sound like either camp that I like. It's definitely a Goldilocks product... not too much of any one way of being. It's just right. I'll have more to say after I spent some quality time with it.
  20. Try1256

    Try1256 Very Special Member


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