Good phono pre with Ortofon 2m Bronze

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by jtpal25, Sep 1, 2018.

  1. jtpal25

    jtpal25 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Chicago, IL
    I’m looking to make some improvements. I have a Rega P3 with Ortofon 2m Bronze. Currently running that into either Marantz 2252b, Marantz 2230, Marantz 1070.

    Although preamp pairing is going to be subjective, I’d like to know if anyone has been really happy with particular phono preamps with Ortofon Bronze. I’ll buy new or used, but I’d like to keep it around $300.

  2. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    There is not that much available in that price range. The amp I see that seems to garneer praise in almost any review that you read is the Shiit Mani can be had for only $129. buying direct from Shiit.


    Rear view.


    There is really no reason to even spend $300.?
  3. Old Zorki II

    Old Zorki II Storm Watcher

    Tampa, FL
    I use Orto 2M bronze, and recently purchased Lounge Audio LCR MK3 (it is exactly 300 bucks directly) and absolutely love it. It sounds to my ears as a perfect match, but YMMV.
  4. xfilian

    xfilian Forum Resident

    Essex, UK
    Exactly the same here. Project Debut Carbon Esprit, Bronze 2M, Lounge Audio LCR MK3. Sounds lovely to these ears.
    Bananas&blow, bluemooze and irender like this.
  5. sturgus

    sturgus Forum Resident

    St. Louis Mo
    I really like the sound of the Vista Audio. Not bad for $299, very flexible when it comes to cartridge matching and gain.
    Vista Audio - one step ahead
    jupiterboy likes this.
  6. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Forum Resident

    bluemooze and irender like this.
  7. irender

    irender Forum Resident

    The Lounge MKIII is a perfect fit with my Ortofon OM 30 Super. I recommend you buy one today. :edthumbs:
    bluemooze likes this.
  8. MusicNBeer

    MusicNBeer Forum Resident

    Mofi studio is another great alternative. I run it with 2m black into Technics 1200gr. I have no plans to upgrade. It was a big improvement over integrated phone stage I was using. $250.
    dbsea, bluemooze and johnny q like this.
  9. Davey

    Davey made a machine by describing the landscape

    SF Bay Area, USA
    Douk is selling a Jasmine LP2.5DU clone for a pretty amazing price on ebay, right around $300 USD, funny the Chinese are now cloning themselves, but the Jasmine did get some notoriety a few years ago at a significantly higher price. Full discrete MM/MC design with no feedback, two inputs, separate power supply chassis, potential to sound really good but who knows, all depends on how it's assembled and the consistency and quality control. The gain is set pretty high so may not work for some cartridges and some systems ...


    I haven't heard it, but as mentioned above, the Lounge does get a lot of praise, and he is active here too. I prefer discrete designs versus opamps, so I'd go for the Rothwell Simplex if I was just planning to use MM cartridges, but being made in the UK, it is a few dollars more, something like $350 in the US. If planning to try out LOMC cartridges, they have the Rialto too, no frills but good sound. Not really a ton of choices down at that price if good sound is a priority, but some nice units do dip down around $500 in the used market, the Musical Surroundings Phonomena II+ is a popular one for MM/MC with full set of adjustments, lot of people use it as a stepping stone to the phono preamp high end, so shows up pretty often used. Example that just showed up on Audiogon and will likely be gone fast ... Musical Surroundings Nova II battery powered phono preamp | Phono | Madison, Alabama 35758 | Audiogon
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  10. PoeRaider

    PoeRaider Forum Resident

    Agree with the Lounge LCR MKIII. One of my carts is a Super OM30, the predecessor to the 2M Bronze, and it mates perfectly with the MKIII.

    If you decide you want to upgrade later, you can send the MKIII back to Lounge for some upgrades. I prefer my upgraded MKIII to my Phonomena II.
    bluemooze likes this.
  11. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    You've got some good options listed, but I'd look at the gain of that cartridge and look for an option that would match. Since this one has a strong 5 mV output, you are going to find fewer options.

    In fact, even a 36 db gain phono stage is going to be a little too much. Too much gain will flatten out the sound and rob the presentation of some nuance.

    Reduction Phono Preamplifier Kit | Bottlehead

    micro iPhono2 by iFi audio | MM/MC Phono Stage and Pre-Amplifier

    I've heard the iFi has had some issues, so I'd proceed with some caution. Good luck! Also, there are many that will not agree with me on this, so listen to them as well.
  12. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    That's a good price for a unit that has a separate power supply chassis. This feature alone usually adds a minimum of $150 to the overall price.
  13. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    It gets great reviews, but that is 55 db gain (huge for a MM phono stage) with a 5 mV coming from the cartridge. That is one of the worst matches you could put together. You have aprox. 21 db too much gain!
    Wounded Land and SandAndGlass like this.
  14. Davey

    Davey made a machine by describing the landscape

    SF Bay Area, USA
    Well, depends on the line stage preamp, but would work well with a passive, or some of the newer integrated amps with their low/no gain preamp sections. But in general, sure, I agree and mentioned that. If it doesn't overload on hot records (shows it with a 24VDC power source), then the gain isn't really a problem, just makes it more like a digital source. If it was easy to pick a phono stage for all the different systems around here, there wouldn't be so many threads here :)
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
  15. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    My preamp is 390 mV input sensitivity and I've learned that you really do get better sound if you respect that. I mean, nothing will fix distortion that is in the recording, but the more you overshoot on gain the flatter and less informative the presentation in my experience.
  16. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    You are absolutely correct. My comments were about the external power supply only.

    I have a Rega X-LPS phono pre, which has about 37 dB gain. I couldn't see a MM cart with over 39 dB of gain to be practical.

    I still think that the OP would be completely pleased with the Mani or the Lounge LCR MK III, and call it a day.
  17. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    You either have a Rega Fono or a Musical Fidelity X-LPS. :)

    Both are nice sounding phono preamps. The Rega has somewhere around 36 - 40db of gain depending upon the version and has low capacitance. It offers a very clean and slightly warm sound with just enough gain to allow such higher output cartridges as the Ortofon and the Rega to drive it full tilt. It's also about $395.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  18. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Bill, you are quite right, I have the Rega X-LPS. It has the standard wall wart power supply. I want to locate the separate PSU for it, which will make happier, I'm sure. They have aftermarket PSU's available but they are all made for newer Rega units, which are 24-Volt systems, where my older X-LPS is a 12-Volt model.

    This is for my Rega RP6 TT and Exact MM cart. It has the Groovetracer U/G and the $59 "white rubber band". The external PSU is a very nice unit. One thing that I will say for the benefit of Rega. Somehow, they have a very nice synergy going in their products. :)

  19. GyroSE

    GyroSE Forum Resident

    Which one do you have- Rega Fono or Musical Fidelity X-LPS?
    Fishoutofwater likes this.
  20. Old Zorki II

    Old Zorki II Storm Watcher

    Tampa, FL
    I used to own Vincent PHO 8 with external power supply and it was, to my ears, not nearly as nice sounding as LCR MK3. I tried then more expensive Vincent 701 and it was even muddier (albeit, as I read later, tube rolling could help it a lot, but it was not mine device to roll). So external PS not necessary would result in better sound, at least not for all devices and configurations.
    bluemooze and SandAndGlass like this.
  21. Fishoutofwater

    Fishoutofwater Forum Resident

    Good question. I am slightly lost. For what its worth, i have the MF X LPs with its PSU and i see no need to upgrade it. I would like to hear the Tisbury phono. It has great reviews and is very cheap.
    GyroSE likes this.
  22. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Sunshine State
    In your price range, OP, there is no better phono stage than the MOFI StudioPhono IMO.
    johnny q and jtpal25 like this.
  23. Echoes Myron

    Echoes Myron Forum Resident

    To the OP, go used.
    jtpal25 likes this.
  24. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    The Musical Fidelity X-LPS.

    jtpal25 and GyroSE like this.
  25. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I completely agree with you. There are several reasons behind my decision about entertaining adding on the external PSU.

    First off, I positively detest wall warts, period. It is enough that we deal with them as cell phone wall chargers, it is another thing to use them in a audio device. Consider that we have a quality TT, arm, cart, TTPSU. Then we have "X phono preamp in the audio circuit. Then, assume we have a other quality pieces of gear further down stream, in this pure analog chain, pre amp, power amp and speakers.

    Consider the importance that the phono pre plays in this roll. No matter the quality of the components before the phono pre, if the phono pre is not up to preforming the task, what does it matter, how good the TT is. At the same time, after the phono pre, the signal is now at line level, making the phono pre the final part of the source (excluding interconnects).

    If the down stream components are not fed by the best source, than the sound that emerges from the speakers, will not be the SQ that it has the potential to be.

    With regard to the Musical Fidelity (Sorry, I keep calling it a Rega, my bad :hide:) X-LPS, it is as good as it is ever going to be. Which is quite decent, given its original price of <$300.

    From product reviews I have red, all that did the U/G to the separate power supply, indicated they had well increased performance.

    How true this is, I don't know, will I be able to discern any difference, let alone any distinct improvements, I don't know that either?

    What I do know is that I already own the X-LPS and all of the other system component's, so an additional $200 upgrade that has the potential to increase the performance of the entire system, is not out of line.

    There are no negative downsides to this, other than my outlay of $200 bucks. Of that, I would gladly allocate $100 just to get rid of the wall wart.

    Although I find the X-LPS very pleasant sounding, it is below the potential of the RP3 system. I have tried it with the tube Decware ZP3 and the ZP3 took everything to another level. Not to be unexpected, as the ZP3 is over 4X the price of the X-LPS.

    I do comment, even though, as specially as a tube user, that having large power supplies or not can make or break an amplifier's or pre amp's performance, SQ wise, I wonder what it would/could bring to the table, given that the current needs of SS phono pre are very small and that a wall wart should easily be able to supply far more that the actual current that would be needed.

    There is a current thread on upgrades to the Lounge LCR. One recent up-grader received a complimentary external power supply U/G from the owner, who strongly felt that the PSU was far superior as an U/G, than the standard supplied wall wart.

    Who know's for sure? I don't.
    jtpal25 and Old Zorki II like this.

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