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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    New phono pre-amp for Benz MC Gold

    I mentioned in another thread that I find my analog system lacking in dynamics. I currently have two budget pre-amps the Rotel RQ 970BX and the Cambridge Audio 640P. The CA is smoother and with better highs and the Rotel has better depth. I would like a phono pre-amp with smooth extended highs, better soundstaging and depth and of course greater dynamics. Any suggestions in the $500-$1,000 range? Thanks.
    JohnMichael
    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.
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  2. #2
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    I would be very curious to hear what modified Jolida would sound like.
    Do you prefer to go SS or tubes?
    Looks like Musical Fidelity has a brand new phono-pre, and you know they make great products. I suspect they learned a thing or two from building kW Phono.

    JRA

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    I would be very curious to hear what modified Jolida would sound like.
    Do you prefer to go SS or tubes?
    Looks like Musical Fidelity has a brand new phono-pre, and you know they make great products. I suspect they learned a thing or two from building kW Phono.

    JRA


    Sadly I am too neurotic for tubes. I have been looking at the Musical Fidelity and the Simaudio LP3 which are both about $500 and the Musical Surroundings Phonomena for $600. I also have been thinking about the Sutherland Ph3D with it's battery power. The MF and the Simaudio do not have the adjustments of the latter two.
    JohnMichael
    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.
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speaker
    Monitor Audio RS6
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  4. #4
    Forum Regular Chas Underhay's Avatar
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    Hi JohnMichael

    Try auditioning a Trichord Dino. I have a Trichord Delphini MkII with the separate NC power supply and it's excellent, I'm totally happy with it. I gather that the Dino is very close and from memory is about £300 ($600) with a starter power supply and £500 ($1000) with the full power supply. It always seems to do well in the magazine reviews.

    It's also easily user adjustable for gain and loading.

    Cheers

    Chas

  5. #5
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    how about a Graham slee?

    a gram amp 3 fanfare comes in at $495, and is MC only.

    you can also get a Era gold V, and use a stepup... (it would get you slightly over $1000 though, depending on what stepup you'd use...)

    or a clearaudio phonostage a Basic plus or so
    and I like the Primare R20 too...

    Keep them spinning,
    Bert.
    Life is music!

    Mcintosh MA6400 Integrated
    Double Advent speakers
    Thiel CS2.3's
    *DIY Lenco L75 TT
    * SME 3012 S2
    * Rega RB-301
    *Denon DL-103 in midas body
    *Denon DL-304
    *Graham slee elevator EXP & revelation
    *Lehmann audio black cube SE
    Marantz CD5001 OSE
    MIT AVt 2 IC's
    Sonic link Black earth IC's
    Siltech MXT New york IC's
    Kimber 4VS speakercable
    Furutech powercord and plugs.

    I'm a happy 20 year old...

  6. #6
    Aging Smartass
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    One of these days I'll take the plunge into the world of costly moving coil cartridges and their required additional preamplification. As I'm retired, and on a fixed income (with an unsold house in Colorado, where I no longer live, draining my finances constantly), spending a few grand on audio equipment is something I must put on indefinite hold.

    In the meantime, I'll be interested to hear your comments on whatever you wind up doing with your setup.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    One of these days I'll take the plunge into the world of costly moving coil cartridges and their required additional preamplification. As I'm retired, and on a fixed income (with an unsold house in Colorado, where I no longer live, draining my finances constantly), spending a few grand on audio equipment is something I must put on indefinite hold.

    In the meantime, I'll be interested to hear your comments on whatever you wind up doing with your setup.


    I have not taken the plunge into costly moving coils yet. The Benz Gold was $250 with an old cartridge for trade-in. The CA640P pre-amp was only $169. The combination sounds good I am just looking for more. I have inherited a third of my mother's condo and we have not put it up for sale yet but I can understand how unsold property can be a drain. Utilities and monthly condo fees and now property taxes, oh my. I wish us both luck in the real estate market.
    JohnMichael
    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.
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
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  8. #8
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    how about a Graham slee?

    a gram amp 3 fanfare comes in at $495, and is MC only.

    Keep them spinning,
    Bert.


    Bert I read a review comparing the CA 640P and the Gram Amp 3 and the reviewer found them very similar to each other in sound quality. He felt the CA the better value since it is designed in England but built in China and the Graham Slee products made in England. I do want to keep my analog system in balance. I do not plan on replacing ttable or cartridge any time soon but did not want a phono pre-amp to be the most expensive component in my system.

    My Onkyo integrated amp is great for the money and if I was going to spend a over a $1,000 dollars I might be looking at the Parasound Halo P3 pre-amp and the Parasound Halo A 23 power amp or maybe a used McIntosh int. amp.
    JohnMichael
    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.
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speaker
    Monitor Audio RS6
    Cables
    AQ SPKR and AQ XLR and IC

  9. #9
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Sadly I am too neurotic for tubes.
    And an all tube high gain stage would be costly indeed. Years ago, I replaced an 80's vintage Audio Research SP-6 with a used SP-9 MKIII for its higher gain to adequately drive a MC cartridge. It is a hybrid design, with most of the gain coming from FETs using a pair of 6922 tubes as followers.

    rw

  10. #10
    Forum Regular Chas Underhay's Avatar
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    I certianly wouldn't claim to be an equipment expert but I've never heard of a tube phono pre-amp with sufficient gain for MCs that doesn't either use a matching transformer or a solid state first stage. Does such a beast exist?

  11. #11
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    My VTL does not use SS-step up Transformer. I could be wrong.
    I have heard Trichord Dino with HOMC (Dynevector 10X5) and thought it sounded superb. I can only image how great LOMC would sound, but loved what I heard.
    Very transparent and honest sounding unit.
    Optional Power Supply is tempting as well down the road.

    JRA

  12. #12
    If you can't run-walk. Bernd's Avatar
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    Audio Analogue - Aria

    JM, knowing something of your musical taste. I thought that this Italien beauty would fit the bill. A friend of mine has an all AA set up and it sounds superb. Anyway here is a review of the Audio Analogue Aria:

    At first this £500 phono stage appears predicable enough. As you'd expect there's MM/MC switching, good quality internal components and a solid and well finished aluminium casing. Yet the Aria has two further surprises.
    The first is a ‘virtual battery’ power supply - the outboard power supply unit supplies banks of power supply capacitors in a double reservoir system. One bank feeds power to the amplifier circuit whilst the other is charged up, and vice versa. This means that the supplying capacitors are never directly connected to the mains, so should reduce mains borne noise and instability. The six Kendeil capacitors offer up 39000uf storage apiece, so should be up to providing the current without undue concern. The second surprise is its ‘tweakability’. As well as adjustments for MM/MC, there are three other sources of adjustment for perfect cartridge matching. MC gain is set at 27dB but can be adjusted from 22.5 to 33dB. One word of warning here though - changing the gain does involve soldiering resistors so, if you're uncertain of your ability, it's worth consulting your dealer first. The other adjustments are easier to manage. Both the capacitance and resistance can be altered to match your cartridge of choice, done via the simple expedient of plugging different RCA plugs into the rear of the unit. Capacitors values range from 100pf to 330pf and resistors from 100R to 470R. So there's a great deal of scope for those keen to get exactly the right match with their pickup.

    Most striking about its sound was the depth and power of the bass - it really is in another league from the Pro-ject Phono Box SE, Musical Fidelity X-LPSv3 or the Trichord Dino. It was the sheer depth of sound that impressed. Vocals were extremely well projected, and there was excellent staging and separation of various musicians. Percussion was smoothly portrayed though perhaps a little too much so – at times it felt as though some of the finer detail had been glossed over to achieve first rate refinement. The acoustic strains of Richard Thompson's ‘Fast Food’ showed an appealingly musical side. Even though both violin and electric guitar were too refined for my liking they did show excellent timbre, as did the subtly portrayed mandolin. Once again, thanks to the depth of stage, Thompson's vocals were brought well forward from the backing vocals, and each given their proper authority within the song. The strong, powerful bass came to the fore with The Cranberries ‘Linger’. ‘Rhapsody In Blue’ by George Gershwin provided a superb piano timbre that was sympathetic to the key strokes and willing to follow the change in tempo and resonance. When the full orchestra kicked in there was plenty of weight to the sound if not quite the attack. Detail ambience, though, was first rate, with subtle decays and strokes audible even when the music was at it's densest. Best of all, the sound had an organic and effortless nature to it –in other words, it sounded most un-hi- fi-like, which often is no bad thing at all. Anyone seeking refinement will delight in the Aria's culture and polish. Add the superb build and tweakability and it looks as though Audio Analogue have got another winner on their hands.

    Good luck.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    "Let The Earth Bear Witness."

  13. #13
    Forum Regular Chas Underhay's Avatar
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    Hi JRA

    I didn't know VTL did a phono stage or is it built into one of their pre-amps?

    Cheers

    Chas

  14. #14
    Forum Regular Chas Underhay's Avatar
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    Hello Bernd, long time no speak.

    How you doing?

  15. #15
    If you can't run-walk. Bernd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chas Underhay
    Hello Bernd, long time no speak.

    How you doing?
    Yes, it has been awhile. I am surviving. Thanks for asking. How about you? I noticed your posts a couple of times. Good to hear from you.
    "Let The Earth Bear Witness."

  16. #16
    Forum Regular Chas Underhay's Avatar
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    Alright Bernd just busy. We will have to get some fishing and shooting organised.

    How's your good lady by the way and the fine dogs?

    Cheers and all the best

    Chas

  17. #17
    If you can't run-walk. Bernd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chas Underhay
    Alright Bernd just busy. We will have to get some fishing and shooting organised.

    How's your good lady by the way and the fine dogs?

    Cheers and all the best

    Chas
    That be great. All are well. And all the best to you and yours.

    Cheers

    Bernd
    "Let The Earth Bear Witness."

  18. #18
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chas Underhay
    Hi JRA

    I didn't know VTL did a phono stage or is it built into one of their pre-amps?

    Cheers

    Chas
    It's a stand alone phono pre TP-2.5. I just love it.

    http://gallery.audioreview.com/showp...&ppuser=243898


    Hey JM,
    60db gain has been enough gain for my 0.4mV carts. Not sure if it's enough for carts such as Dynevector 20XL (0.25mV). Bernd's suggestion looks very promising as well. As you know, adjustability is a great thing for phono-pre.

    JRA

  19. #19
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the suggestions I am looking at all of them. I will be in Minneapolis from 8/6-8/11 and I am going to the Needle Doctor. I plan on looking, touching, listening and being annoying. I will have cash and plastic so watch out.
    JohnMichael
    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.
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
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  20. #20
    Suspended
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    I have not used many phono stages but have a couple thoughts. The AcousTech were designed and built by Sutherland and I've been very happy with mine. I haven't looked on Audiogon but you may be able to find an original Ph-1 or if your lucky a Ph-1 Premier in your price used. I thought the Sutherland battery powered was about $3k unless there's another version out.

    Also, in my search for a phono stage I auditioned a Primare in my system and I thought for $800.00 it sucked. If it was in competition with the NAD for under $100.00 it might be alright but I much preferred my Creek OBH-8 over the Primare. It don't sound nothing like it looks.

  21. #21
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Hey John,

    There is Trichord Dino + PSU on Audiogon right now.
    Not sure if it'll meet your spec, but it's really rare to see one on Audiogon.
    Just wanted to let you know if you were interested.



    Cartridge loading resistance:


    33 ohms



    100 ohms



    1k ohms



    47K ohms

    Cartridge loading


    MC 1.1nF
    Capacitance:


    MM 100pF

    Switch selectable gain:
    MC Very Low Output
    0.1 - 0.25mV 74dB

    MC
    Low Output
    0.25 - 0.4mV 70dB

    MC
    Normal Output
    0.4 - 0.6mV 63dB

    MM
    Low Output
    2 - 3mV 52dB

    MM
    High Output
    3 - 5mV 48dB

    Can be powered from either AC or DC power supply:

    AC Supply requirements:

    0 - 17 Volts, 0 - 17 Volts
    DC Supply requirements:

    0 - 22 Volts, 0 - 22 Volts

    Two ultra high performance 'Super Regulators'

    RIAA reproduction characteristics:
    20Hz - 20KHz
    +/-0.25dB

    Dimensions:
    185mm x 58mm x 112mm (D x H x W)

  22. #22
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Thanks JRA I checked it out. I am trying to find a pre-amp with 200 ohm loading resistance as specified by Benz. I also looked at the Graham Slee and it too was 100 ohms. My Rotel and Cambridge Audio 640P again are 100 ohms. The Musical Surroundings Phonomena II has the adjustments I would like and would match the Benz. Of course since you read my other thread you know that my unhappiness with the CA 640P was when the subsonic filter was in use.

    The search continues. Since I do not have unlimited funds I would like to stay in the $600 range or less. Used may be the way to go but the Phonomena is $600 new. The Pro-ject Tube Box SE has the adjustments. What was you ropinion of that pre-amp?

    Thanks
    JohnMichael
    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.
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speaker
    Monitor Audio RS6
    Cables
    AQ SPKR and AQ XLR and IC

  23. #23
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    The Pro-ject Tube Box SE has the adjustments. What was you ropinion of that pre-amp?

    Thanks
    I have no idea how newer PJ Tube Box sounds, but the original one I had was very fun but not very neutral. It offered typcial Tube-Like sound with OEM tubes. Everything got better once I installed a Pair of Tung-Sol 12AX7.

    I have no idea how PJ measures their gear, but newer Mk2 SE seems to be noiser than the original. I thought the original's output was pretty noisy itself, but I never got to try LOMC with it so I can't really offer what you may want to know.

    Here is a link to both models:

    Original:
    http://sumikoaudio.net/project/products/tubebox.htm

    Mk 2 SE:
    http://sumikoaudio.net/project/products/tubebox_se2.htm

    But, Phenomena II is probably the most flexible phono-pre out there. If I was to doing it over again, I would go with Phenomena II.

    JRA

  24. #24
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Thanks JRA for your input on the Pro-ject tube boxes. I do want to avoid noise. I think the Phonomena is the way to go. It has the features I want at a price I can justify for my system. After all I still have my eye on the Exposure 2010S.
    JohnMichael
    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.
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speaker
    Monitor Audio RS6
    Cables
    AQ SPKR and AQ XLR and IC

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