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Thread: Phono stage recommendations

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    Default Phono stage recommendations

    I see this Post has been visited before, but there are so many companies making phono stages now that I thought I would see what your views were. I was thinking of a Tom Evans model as my pre-power is TE but on the other hand quite a few vinyl users prefer valve phono stages. Let me know what you think, I am keeping an open mind. My current phono stage is the Ayre CX 5 E, which if I'm honest, is a very fine unit that I could live with for a long time, but life is too short !

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    Tom's stuff is some of the best I have heard, if you like his amps, you'll like his phono stages. The only drawback is because of your carts low output you'll need 60 ish dB of gain, meaning noise might be a problem at higher volumes, but that's the same no matter what stage you are using, with the Ayre you are not getting the best of the Orpheus.

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    If I tell you my budget was 2k and I don't mind buying used then what would your recommendations be, mindful that it has to be significantly better than the Ayre?

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Professor View Post
    Tom's stuff is some of the best I have heard, if you like his amps, you'll like his phono stages. The only drawback is because of your carts low output you'll need 60 ish dB of gain, meaning noise might be a problem at higher volumes, but that's the same no matter what stage you are using, with the Ayre you are not getting the best of the Orpheus.
    Yes Professor, I think you are correct, I have not been getting the best from my Orpheus, I demoed an NVO SPA 1 and an Allnic 1201. Both stages performed better than the Ayre, which makes me realise Noel Keywood knew something when he said it had to be a tube phono stage every time! Am I really going to end up with more valves in my hi-fi ?
    Last edited by southroad3; 24th May 2014 at 00:27.

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    See if you can source an Aesthetix Rhea, mine sounded great with the Orph

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Professor View Post
    See if you can source an Aesthetix Rhea, mine sounded great with the Orph
    Or a used Nagra VPS (although they seem rather rarer than even the Rhea), as mine outperformed my Allnic, which at the time outperformed my Ayre with my Orpheus.

    I now have the Proteus (like Paul) and have no regrets in purchasing the Nagra...

    I don't think you'd be disappointed with either if you could find one.
    You can only be young once, but you can be immature for ever.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by WullieD20 View Post
    Or a used Nagra VPS (although they seem rather rarer than even the Rhea), as mine outperformed my Allnic, which at the time outperformed my Ayre with my Orpheus.

    I now have the Proteus (like Paul) and have no regrets in purchasing the Nagra...

    I don't think you'd be disappointed with either if you could find one.
    I woulda suggested the Nagra too, but finding one around 2k even if you can find one....

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Professor View Post
    I woulda suggested the Nagra too, but finding one around 2k even if you can find one....
    Agree entirely. Finding either is a bit like looking for 'rocking horse manure'.....

    But if one were available at even close to the two grand, a wee bit more saving could satisfy hi-fi heaven!!
    You can only be young once, but you can be immature for ever.....

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    Thanks once again for your sound advice. Whatever I end up with this time it is going to be my Final Upgrade, I have two teenagers about to go into further education so I have to set Priorities. I have been mucking about with various hi fi bits for 30 years so it's about time I called time on it. It will be difficult but I may spend more time listening to music rather than the equipment. I consider myself very lucky to have the system I have, thanks to the great work done by the likes of Dick Shahinian, Tom Evans, William Firebaugh and Seiji Yoshioka. I will be able to enjoy my favorite pastime of listening to music for years to come.

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    So nearly one year on from my last post on phono stages I finally opted for an Allnic 1500 . An ex demo, it was hardly run-in and it certainly gets the best out of the Orpheus cartridge. It was a lot more than my original budget but I am more than happy with the result. The system sounds wonderfully musical, a joy to listen to for hours on end. Apart from the obvious addition of Stillpoints footers and a sparing application of Walker's Extreme Silver contact enhancer on all conections, that should be that on the analogue front !

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    Excellent news m8. I also had an Orpheus into the Allnic for some time and enjoyed it tremendously.

    I hope it gives you hour and hours of pleasure.

    G.
    You can only be young once, but you can be immature for ever.....

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    Happy as a pig in s**t.

    Just replaced my cart with an Audio Technica AT-ART9 after searching for a couple of months. Damn fine sounding it is too.
    Looks like it gonna be an afternoon of vinyl bliss.::
    Anthony.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenh1 View Post
    Happy as a pig in s**t.

    Just replaced my cart with an Audio Technica AT-ART9 after searching for a couple of months. Damn fine sounding it is too.
    Looks like it gonna be an afternoon of vinyl bliss.::
    considering what you were considering and the prices, I think you made the wise choice.

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    Certainly was the right choice. it reminds me of the OC9, but souped up and with bags of finesse. Happy days!
    Anthony.

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    Running an OC9/III on my Rock and an OC5 on the Luxman.
    I have a Rock and I'm not afraid to use it.

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    I've been dragging my heels on a phono stage project--a kit put out by Audio Note, but it arrived with bits and pieces missing. I'd repeatedly emailed them, always got a prompt reply but never the missing caps and diodes.

    So it's sat on my bench for 3 years now, gathering up dust.

    I'm partly posting this to make myself accountable. I've ordered the missing bits at my own expense, and hope to have them this week, so I can finish the job. Next weekend maybe?

    I'll plan to report back here on the big question: will the sweet tubey s.e.t. Sounds of the Audio Note L3 over shaddow the bitter taste their customer "dis-service" has left in my mouth?

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    I doubt it.

    I enjoyed building my Maxxed out K&K a few years ago. A few tear your hair out moments but I got there in the end.

    Euan
    20 years ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please God, don't take Kevin Bacon

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    Well the Audio Note Kits L3 Phono is now complete, hip hip hooray!

    This was meant to be an improvement on the previous phono, also a kit, put out by Transcendent Sound.

    The improvement over the TS is, in a word, stunning.

    The build was straight forward, after I obtained capacitors and a few things that were supposed to come with the kit, but didn't. Some $300+ it cost me, thought the caps I bought are better than the stock ones that should have been sent in the first place.

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    Pics or it didn't happen

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    Quite right, Paul! That deserves a lash or two.

    Sorry I didn't get any pix of the building process.

    So this had been sitting on the kitchen table for years. It arrived promptly, after it was ordered, then a week or so later came an email from the company that there were a few capacitors missing, and they'd be sent. But they didn't arrive. So I sent a reminder, and a few months later another, and another. I always received a courteous and immediate email reply, but never the capacitors. I was disappointed, and fair to say, a bit more than irritated. As far as kits go, this one was pricey. Can't remember exactly what I paid. Maybe $1600 Canadian dollars?

    Finally I decided I'd just order the missing parts myself. Turned out to be the 6 critical caps that are at the heart and soul of the thing. Additionally, there were 5 diodes missing, a few bits of hard ware, and one of the tube sockets was defective (missing a pin). Given how slick and professional their website, I remain pretty surprised at this bad performance from a company that prides itself on a good name in the audio business.

    I ordered up the caps -- upgraded versions, actually, to help curtail my resentment. I'm not sure what level the stock Mundorfs are supposed to be, but I went for the silver-gold-oil iterations, which are two notches above those in AudioNoteKits' own upgrade package for this L3. It was something over $300 for these caps.

    From there, the build was easy. The documentation was excellent, I must confess. Materials are all very high quality. I suppose it would have been too much to hope for NOS Telefunkens.. . It came stock with modern Electro Harmonix 12AY7's on the phono board.

    I wondered if the thing could be good enough to overcome the bitter taste the company's left in my mouth.

    I'm not yet ready to give a careful comparison from repeated switching back and forth between phonos while repeating the same familiar song.

    But I think my very first listen actually will prove the most revealing and compelling.

    I put on Diana Krall's rendition of Joni Mitchell's A Case of You from her Live in Paris album. I know this song well, I've listened to it often.

    I have to say that, without being able to put my finger on what this phono is doing that the other isn't (or vice versa) this time, the song really was emotionally stirring. I was moved by it to the point, at the end, I thought to say something to my partner, as I got up to lift the needle off -- but I was quite choked up. To the point I knew I'd cry if I said anything. Then I looked back at Michelle, and tears were running down her cheeks! (What a cry baby!).

    Michelle, who, until yesterday, would tell you she's sure she can't hear what we audio fools think we're hearing . . . she just said "I've never heard it like that before" -- so she CAN hear a difference, or feel it, and feel it from memory.

    Revisiting it today, she was commenting on how, during most of the song, it was hard to breath and she felt a big lump in her throat.

    So, I suppose I can devote some time to comparative listening to be able to comment on the image and the sound stage, and how much better the detail, and things like that, but really I think this pre amp proved itself with one song in the way it reached out and grabbed us with such emotion--more than that song ever did before, more than any upgrade to the stereo has delivered before.

    Just as well I didn't get a better phono than this one -- if it got more emotional than that, I might have had to kill myself over it.
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    Last edited by Tube Nube; 1st May 2016 at 00:35.

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