Looking for a "tubey" phono pre under $2k

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ron325, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. ron325

    ron325 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn
    As the title says, I'm looking for a very tube-sounding (as opposed to "accurate") phono preamp... holographic is what I'm going for. I know my speakers are capable because I've had this sound before (Ohm Walsh 3's, slightly modded). The last time I had a 3-dimensional soundstage was when I owned a Rogue Audio Tempest II and a Jolida JD9. Now I have a SS integrated amp (Denon PMA-2500NE) and I'm currently using the internal phonostage (I foolishly thought it would be sufficient, but it isn't).
    My turntable is nothing special but should be easy to match an amp - Music Hall MMF-7.1 with a Goldring G2400 MM cartridge (47 kΩ).
    I don't need any fancy features... I don't anticipate using a better (i.e., LOMC) cart, and I'll never have 2 tables, so I don;t need multiple inputs. As for tube rolling... I have done it before, but don't really feel like spending hundreds on tubes. I like to find one sound I like and stick with it.
    I have no problem buying used, and I'm leaning towards a Fosgate Signature v2, if I can find one. I've never heard one, though. I try not to read pro reviews, but I like to hear what real users have to say.
    I'm actually hoping to get the price closer to $1500, but I guess I could stretch to 2k, if necessary.
    Any suggestions?
     
  2. Mmmark

    Mmmark Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    First time I've ever heard someone with experience and a big budget specifically looking to obtain a distorted sound out of a piece of playback equipment :)
     
  3. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    The EAR 834P comes to mind.
     
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  4. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    There's a Fosgate V1 right now for sale in Denver listed at $1200, been listed for almost 2 weeks so may be ready to deal, I haven't heard it either ... Fosgate signature phonostage v1, great condition

    Lots of options out there, if a fancy chassis isn't a priority, you can get the PH16 from Vacuum Tube Audio for under $1000 assembled, or go kit if inclined, and maybe get some capacitor upgrades, talk to them and customize it to the sound you want, that might be a fun way to go. I think someone here started a build thread on it, but haven't seen any action on it lately, no wasted circuits for LOMC, just use transformers if the need ever arises, and they even have good prices on Lundahl SUTs ... http://tubes4hifi.com/PH16.htm
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
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  5. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest USA
    I had a Fosgate Signature V2. It had a wonderful, luscious, tubey sound, but mine had some reliability issues. Eventually, it couldn't be repaired properly and the dealer credited my purchase price. I got my Herron VTPH-2 instead (which is a bit out of the OPs' budget).

    Nevertheless, the Fosgate sounded great.
     
  6. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    That's always good to know, ya almost never hear those stories in the reviews. Kind of an odd looking piece of gear, at least the V1 in the link above looks a bit unusual, but sometimes that's a good thing, we audiophiles tend to collect a lot of shiny black and silver boxes :)
     
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  7. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest USA
    The V2 looks similar. My wife said it looked like a city at night, with the towers of glowing tubes. She misses "The City" for the looks, but the Herron I have now is in a whole 'nother league altogether in SQ and the ability to resolve detail and soundstage. I noticed from the V1 ad the seller said he moved on to a Herron as well. My Herron is probably the last piece of gear I would want to upgrade now (and I would likely need to spend over $10K to make it worthwhile).
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
  8. Slippers-on

    Slippers-on Forum Resident

    Location:
    St.Louis Mo.
    Hmmmm, if you get the guy to throw in the Solid Tech feet, that would be a heck of a deal.
     
  9. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    I had the VTPH-2 but had to let it go as it was just sitting, and I wasn't using it over the summer (new hobbyitus kicked in for several months). I don't necessarily regret it as I'm truly enjoying discovery in other directions, but while it doesn't sound tubey, it is an excellent piece of gear. I can only imagine how it sounds on your setup :D
     
  10. ron325

    ron325 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn
    From what I read, the v2 is worth the extra cash if it can be found. And, yes, people rave about the Herron, but that's out of my league.
     
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  11. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    FWIW, I found one used for $2150. And when it came time to sell it, it sold in a day at that same price. That said, I understand the used route isn't for everyone. If I recall correctly, talking to Keith directly for an order results in a pretty significant discount off the MSRP but that would still unfortunately be 50% over your budget.

    I am sure you'll find something you truly enjoy, and look forward to hearing what you end up with!
     
  12. ron325

    ron325 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brooklyn
    At least I'm honest about it! :D Yes, I know tubes color the sound. One of the reasons I sold the Tempest was that I wanted tone controls (in retrospect, I should have just added a preamp with them). My next integrated amp was a hybrid (Vincent SV-237, which I also liked a lot).
    My Denon can play very accurately (in my opinion), and it even has an analog mode which disables some of the digital circuitry. However, I still use the bass and treble knobs for everything I listen to.
     
  13. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest USA
    The Herron represents just ~5% of the retail cost of my system, yet it is every bit a solid and worthy performer. There is a reason they are rare on the used market. No one wants to get rid of theirs (well, except you...and you still might rue the day).
     
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  14. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Oh I'll have another at some point. Right now's just not the time for that. But it's my endgame phono stage, and was when I got it. But, life... Fortunately, I am making up for its absence in other ways.

    OP, there's nothing wrong with wanting tube "coloration." This hobby is about what you want, not about what others think you should want, regardless of the budget you want to put down for any particular piece of gear. I only have tubes in my linestage at this point and simply won't do without them. Last I checked, the Audio Police don't show up randomly to my house to check my overall THD performance, and demerit me or take my gear away if I stray :D
     
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  15. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    Seems like the Tavish Adagio would suit if you can wait out the wait list.
     
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  16. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Yeah, the Herron really is sort of an end game phonostage. I could even see upgrading my setup to a Naim 252/SC/300 and still the Herron would be able to keep pace. I'm upgrading my phono cartridge later this year and I'm sure the Herron will present every improvement it has to offer.

    BTW: Keith lives 10 miles down the road from me. He hand delivered my phonostage when I bought it four years ago and hung out for a while to hear my system, and has been over several times since. He has my VTPH-2a now and I have one of his on loan. I thought I had a very intermittent buzz in it. Now we think it has just a halogen lamp I have causing it, but he took mine anyway to put on the bench, and is swapping out the transformer with a new one, "just in case." That's just how he rolls. Nicest person you'll ever meet and goes out of his way to provide rock solid support. Answers emails quickly too.

    To the OP: good luck finding a nice Fosgate. If you want tubey sound it does that in spades. It's very luscious and fun to listen to. You can tube roll, but you won't need to. I mostly listen to acoustic classical and jazz and for that it has what I would call a delicious presentation, although it might lack in resolution and soundstage. It's still the second favorite phonostage I ever had, but for orchestral music I really want having something that resolves details and throws an accurate soundstage. That is not the Fosgate's strength, IMO.
     
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  17. Scott in DC

    Scott in DC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    See if you can pick up a used Cary Audio PH-301. I had the EAR 834P and then had a chance to purchase a PH-301 and I bought. It was a big improvement over the 834P.

    There are a few versions of this phono stage, I have the 5 tube version which uses 12AX7s and 12AU7s.

    Scott
     
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  18. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Can you swap those 3 12AU7s for 12AX7s to get more gain for low output MCs? That's how my Herron works (i.e. two 12AX7 + three 12AT7 for 60db gain, or five 12AX7 for 68db gain).
     
  19. Scott in DC

    Scott in DC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I honestly don't know if my Cary is designed that way. I have enough gain with this phono stage using my Dynavector cartridges, I had a Dynavector XX-1 prior to my current DRT XV-1.

    Scott
     
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  20. John Moschella

    John Moschella Forum Resident

    Location:
    Christiansburg, VA
    Something is not right here. You can buy the V2 new for $2500 Fosgate - Signature v2 Phono Preamp | Shop Music Direct
    So a used unit should be in the 12-1500 range.
     
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  21. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Look closer. You cannot order it since it's out of production, and has been for years.
     
  22. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
  23. John Moschella

    John Moschella Forum Resident

    Location:
    Christiansburg, VA
    Doesn't matter it was still $2500 when it was new. Are you telling me that it is a collectors item?
     
  24. John Moschella

    John Moschella Forum Resident

    Location:
    Christiansburg, VA
    Well then that is the somethings not right part, thanks.
     
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  25. Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest USA
    A good Fosgate v2 is hard to find and they probably hold value pretty well.

    Herron's are $3650 new and also rare on the used market. Nabbing one for $2100 would be a good deal.
     

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