What phono pre would you buy under $600?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by jruser, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. jruser

    jruser Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I'm using a Rega Exact 2 for now, but plan to swap to MC at some point but don't know which one.

    With a budget of $600, what currently manufactured phono pre would you buy? I want something versatile enough that will work Ok with most carts to handle whatever I upgrade to.
  2. slcaudiophile

    slcaudiophile Forum Resident

    Salt Lake City
    i would buy $600 in records. sorry, may not be what you want to hear ...
    shutdown66 and beverett like this.
  3. Jvalvano

    Jvalvano Forum Resident

    Ive been using the Parks Audio puffin in my second system. I was pretty amazed at the sound. It’s extremely versatile and very easy to use. You can change the gain to match just about any cartridge out there. Don’t let the DSP aspect of it put you off it really does sound great. I was going to buy the Budgie (tube) then found out he wasn’t making it any more in favor of the DSP Puffin. I was very skeptical, read just about everything I could find on the Puffin and decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. It’s worth checking out. When I got mine I believe it was $400 it might be a little more now.

    brn, Bill Why Man and ScottRiqui like this.
  4. jruser

    jruser Forum Resident Thread Starter

    My existing preamp died, so I have to spend some amount on a new one.
    Twinsfan007 and fried like this.
  5. GyroT

    GyroT Forum Resident

    Used Rega Aria, updated cosmetically last year, so 2,3 year old units to be found. Quality sound and internals are the same as new model.
  6. IllinoisCheesehead

    IllinoisCheesehead Well-Known Member

    Check out the Vincent PHO 701.
  7. Sweetspot

    Sweetspot Member

    For MM Shiit Mani all the way
    ampguy likes this.
  8. brubacca

    brubacca Active Member

    Lehman Audio Black Cube Statement. $500 and sounds great. Use it with my Rega P2 w/ Hana EL.
  9. jloweinmo

    jloweinmo Well-Known Member

    Kansas City
    I've been happy with the Rega Fono MC with my RP8/Apheta 2...I recently purchased a Rogue RP5 Pre amp which is supposed to have a REALLY nice phono stage and after A/B the onboard stage with the Rega I like the Fono better
  10. Ontheone

    Ontheone Drifting Towards the Dead Wax

    Yep, Schiit Mani and save the remaining $475 on records. Honestly in this budget range there just isn't that much difference, so preserve you funds for music.
    ampguy likes this.
  11. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Milwaukee, WI
    I'd consider a SUT appropriate to the MC cartridge if I was otherwise happy with the stage I already had.
    JackG likes this.
  12. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    I'd inquire with Lounge Audio if they can make a tube unit for me. If not - I'd happily go for an LCR III Silver (and I did!)
  13. Davey

    Davey I carry the moon inside a silver bag

    SF Bay Area, USA
    In that range, there's quite a few nice ones, especially if you don't mind getting a mildly used one, I'd look for a used Phasemation EA-200. All discrete, no opamps, no feedback, self-contained analog power supply, nice Japanese unit, available new for around $700 from Japan, or a bit more via ebay sources. Sometimes below $500 used on hifido, no digital switching wall wart, not really much in the way of adjustments but comes with a nice 470 ohm MC input load, which allows a bit of flexibilty with load plugs too.

  14. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    I would make a short list, and not buy anything that I can't test out at home first.

    Anything poorly engineered doesn't make the short list in the first place.
  15. Martin Takamine

    Martin Takamine spinning black and silver

    Simaudio Moon 110LP MM or MC cartridges can be used, has adjustable impedance and capacitance with gain from 40dB to 66dB.

    MoFi Studiophono MM or MC cartridges can be used, has adjustable impedance and capacitance with gain from 40dB to 66dB.

    Parks Audio Puffin MM or MC cartridges can be used, has adjustable impedance and gain. You can even play a CD Player through the Puffin.
    bluemooze and slcaudiophile like this.
  16. mirrorball82

    mirrorball82 Well-Known Member

    Munich, Germany
    Pro-Ject TubeBox S2 with NOS Sylvania 6189 tubes. Really, really wonderful.
    MikeM. and bootbox like this.
  17. Bricklayer

    Bricklayer Well-Known Member

    If you only need MM you could do what I did and buy a used Marantz 1060, which I then had re-capped for a total of around $600. They are supposed to have a really good sounding phono stage, I have it feeding a decent pair of speakers, and I really like the way my system sounds.
  18. IRG

    IRG Well-Known Member

    Ithaca, NY
    I have the Moon 110LPv2, and am quite happy with it, for $400 new. Very versatile too, for both MM and MC carts, so you won't outgrow it if you decide to try something a bit different. Moon, for whatever reason, doesn't have anything between this preamp, and it's next offering, which I think is close to $2k or so. Unless the rest of your system is very high end, I think this could work for you. It does have a long break in time, and it stays on all of the time, but otherwise no downsides. And I didn't think the break in was anything obvious either.
    bluemooze likes this.
  19. bootbox

    bootbox Forum Resident

    Austin, TX
    I've had a handful of budget phono preamps, honestly they all sounded pretty good, but a little dead and boring. Clinical. Then I got a MM tube pre and a step up transformer (to be able to use MC carts with the MM pre). It's hard to put into words how much better this combo is, to my ears. Look into the Jolida JD9 or the Pro-Ject Tube box S2 or the Yaqin MS-23, a nice set of tubes (I'm using Westinghouse 12DX7 tubes with my modded Yaqin 22b) then pair one of them with a step up like this. If you decide to go this route and choose one of the pres with an MC input, I'd still get the step up if you buy and MC cart in the future and just run it into the MM input on your pre. It seems like the step up / tube pre combo opens up a whole new level of awesomeness. Everything sounds so real and natural, it's crazy.
  20. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
  21. slovell

    slovell Retired Mudshark

    Chesnee, SC, USA
    Jolida JD9 tubed, AVA Vision Q solid state.
  22. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    Those are 12AU7 tubes, which are not a direct replacement for 12AX7's. The gain of 12AX7 is 100, that of 12AU7 is 20 - way lower. It may work for MM, but forget MC, period. Also, 12AU7 provides a lot more current than 12AX7, and, depending on the circuit, may fry it.

    I'm not sharing my own wisdom here, but rather quoting some info I found on audio forums, having been intrigued by your post, since I have P-J S2 in my system. Seems it's not a good idea.
  23. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Lexington, NC
  24. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Lexington, NC
  25. FalseMetal666

    FalseMetal666 Forum Resident

    San Francisco, CA
    Have a look at a Tavish Design Classic or Vintage. Haven’t got one myself but I intend to remedy that if society survives.

    Bricklayer, recstar24 and heyMo like this.

Share This Page