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  1. #1
    AR Newbie Registered Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Best Phono Preamp for $400.00?

    Hopefully I have this posted in the best area for phono preamp questions as I am new to the forum. Although my old Pioneer SX-1980 has a built in phono amp, I am interested in getting more out of my old vinyl as well as the new vinyl I have gotten recently. I have done a bit of research and the prices vary from 50 bucks (prolly DJ gear) to several thousand. Since my budget is not unlimited, I thought I would go as high as $400.00. I like the Graham Slee 2 SE and the NAD PP-2 as well as the Bellari VP129 Tube Phono Preamp. I am hoping to get some input from the members here as to what you use and ow you like it. I do not hav a high end table yet and when I upgrade, it will likely be capped at $700 or so with as much as $500 for a cartridge. I am trying to keep the whole set-up at this point under $2000.00 and then I will see about upgrading my other components. My current tables are a Pioneer PL-600 (the direct drive unit not the belt drive PL-600 KUC) and a Technics SL-1200 MKII. Yeah I know, I shoulda used the Technics cash for a more audiophile table but at the time really knew nothing about what I should have bought! I forgot to add that I have a Shure V15V cart on the Technics and a Stanton 681EEE on the Pioneer table.

    Thanks for any help and input you can provide,

    Last edited by randy9700; 07-21-2006 at 09:50 AM.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Central Ohio
    My phono preamp is a stand alone Rotel RQ970BX. It retails for $200 new. I have seen it on for much less. It is a smooth detailed pre amp and has been trouble free and low noise for a number of years.
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Monitor Audio RS6
    AQ SPKR and AQ XLR and IC

  3. #3
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    You gotta give Pro-Ject Tube Box Mk II a consideration if you are interested in Bellari VP129. Project can offer much more options since the Bellari will only accept MM cartridge at only 30db gain. TubeBox on the other hand boosts MM w/ 40db gain, and can handle lower output MC cartridges. If you decide to play with MC in future, you would have to buy a new phono-pre. Optimal gain for 2.5mv cartridge is at 42db, w/ Bellari you would have to crank up yor system.

    I love my phono pre since I can play with different sound by switching tubes. For the price of around $30 for two tubes, fun doesnt stop for me. Also, 12AX7 tubes on these phono-pre should last around 10,000 hours. Chances are, you will play with different tubes before they burn up.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    I now use an AcousTech Ph1-P but prior to that I used a Creek OBH-8. This unit is under $200.00 and is a real giant killer. When I got the bug to upgrade I had to spend quite a bit of money to reach a marked improvement. This unit sounded better to me, by far, than the NAD or a Primare preamp costing $900.00. The OBH-8 is pure Class A and small in size but don't let the size fool you, it is a great piece. I'm not familiar with the other preamps you mentioned except the NAD. The Creek is light years better than the NAD.

    I'm not sure how much synergy played in my listening experience but I used my Rega table and cartridge during all of the above.

  5. #5
    AR Newbie Registered Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Thanks for the advice and your experience. Since my budget is not unlimited, it is nice to know that I can find something for around $200 that should enhance my vinyl experience.


  6. #6
    I'll second the review of the Creek OBH-8. The NAD and Belari, while low in price really don't compare. I use a Phonomena preamp which I bought on Audiogon for $350 and it has been a joy to use. The only problem is that the gain, voltage etc. has to be set by jumpers after removing the cover (this cover is held down by 6 tiny hex screws which is also a pain in the rear). Another preamp that I would consider is the Jolida JD-9A, which is selling for around $400 as well. It's jumpers are on the outside and it is tube-based as well which is a plus for me. PS Audio also has a very nice phono preamp that I like but it's a bit out of your price range. If there is one coment I can make: try to find onw with easily adjustable settings, especially if you will be trying different cartridges, mats, platforms and other tweaks.

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