Which Phono Preamp for my combination?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by zeitlos, Oct 1, 2017.

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  1. zeitlos

    zeitlos Music was my first love Thread Starter

    Thank you all very much for your comments. I highly appreciate it!

    A lot of positive feedback concerning the EAR 834P. So this is my no. 1 on the list.
    I also read a lot about the Gold Note PH-10. I found a lot of positive resonance. However, it's not a tube amplifier and I'm not sure if it is comparable to the EAR 834P in terms of sound quality. Is there anyone who got the chance to listen to both of them?

    And: Does the Gold Note PH-10 only fully enfold its capability when using the additional power adaptor? If yes, it's out since I'm not willing to pay about 1250 (Euro) for a power adaptor...
  2. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Tavish Designs, makes several excellently reviewed tube amplifier's.

    Here is their Vintage 6SL7 Phono Stage, starting at $599.


    The Ear 384P's are top shelf and their pricing reflects that.

    Here is a high end model, the Adagio, which starts at $1,600. I might opt for this model instead.


    Both tube pre-amps will handle both MM and MC cartridges.

    The tube phono-pre that I use, is between these other two amps pricewise.

    It is the Decware, ZP3 Zen Triode Vacuum Tube Phono Stage and it's pricing starts at $1,295.


    There is a feeling, that going all tube, in you signal path might cause a loss of detail and a resulting softer sound, that is lacking in dynamics.

    I don't feel that way at all.

    What is the point in having a nice tube powered system chain, only to feed your beautiful analog signal direct from your 2M Black cartridge into a SS phono-pre and then back to tubes again?

    I say, keep it sweet, all the way.

    I have tube amplification exclusively on one system that powers a pair of Altec Lansing horn loaded A7 speakers.

    I go from my 2M bronze/Black cartridge to the Decware ZP3, to a tube preamp and to various tube power amplifier's that I have.

    The sound is marvelous!
    Dax_Frost, Dominick, heyMo and 3 others like this.
  3. MikeJedi

    MikeJedi Forum Resident

    Las Vegas
    I would agree the Ortofons are a great match with phono tubed Pre,s... My 2M blue sounds perfect with my Vincent pho 700 IMO
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  4. zeitlos

    zeitlos Music was my first love Thread Starter

    Thanks a lot for your feedback! I haven't come across Tavish Design yet. Great pictures! :)

    I will try to get more information on it!

    Someone in a German Forum also recommended this pre-amp: Heed Quasar III
    It's said to feature the characteristics I'm looking for...
    SandAndGlass and displayname like this.
  5. Otlset

    Otlset under western skies

    Temecula, CA
    I second the recommendation for the Tavish Design phono pre, in particular the Adagio which is what I have. It's a tube-roller's delight! I have now in the three 5751 positions some vintage Telefunken 12ax7 tubes, in the two EF86 positions I now have some '60s Tesla EF806s tubes, and in the one 12au7 position I have a very revealing Pinnacle 13D5A tube.

    The sound is astonishing now, and details and textures and timbres I've truly not heard before in familiar recordings are now apparent. It's like I can't wait to get home from work now to play familiar records and be amazed! This hobby is just so much fun, especially if you have tube equipment.
    bluemooze and SandAndGlass like this.
  6. Drew769

    Drew769 Forum Resident


    The Tavish products are way underpriced and overbuilt. They provide a great combination of pace and impact, yet have the clarity and smoothness of tubes. I auditioned their Adagio against my Rogue Ares (which was upgraded to Magnum spec with Cinemag Blues) in my home system, and I really wish I hadn't done that. They are easily the match of equipment costing multiples of their asking prices.
  7. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I was considering the Tavish vintage, as my tube preamp utilizes 6NS7 tubes, very similar.

    I went for the Decware phono-pre, because it came available on the used market (here) and I have two other Decware tube power amps.

    Listen to @Otlset 's recommendations on the Adagio, he has some really nice supporting electronics and high end efficient speakers, with his system, you can really discern the details that other systems perhaps would not be able to resolve.
    Otlset likes this.
  8. amgradmd

    amgradmd Forum Resident

    Richmond, VA
    The Gold Note PH-10 does not have the optional power supply out quite yet. It should be available by the end of the year, according to Maurizio Anterini of Gold Note. So all of the great reviews are to date done with the stock PS. I honestly wonder how any other phono preamp can be competitive with this unit at it's price point, although I've heard great things about the Tavish units. It's incredibly versatile, has amazing sound, and is upgradeable. Here is the latest review:
    The Gold Note PH-10 Phonostage – Analogaholic, Phonostages | TONEAudio MAGAZINE
    Diskhound likes this.
  9. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    The Tavish products are almost all sold-out so the OP will likely need something else.
  10. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    That's because they are selling them as fast as they can manufacture them.

    When you have a phono pre-amp, that has a starting price of $1,600, that IS saying a LOT!

    The OP doesn't need to do something else, he just has to wait his turn in line for a short bit.

    A lot of manufacture's who survive in cottage industries, manufacture the products to fill orders and they often don't have things sitting on wearhouse shelves, particularly when they have a hot item, like the Adigio.

    Rogue Audio and Decware are examples of companies who build to order. You place your order and the product gets built and shipped to either you or their dealers.
    bluemooze likes this.
  11. amgradmd

    amgradmd Forum Resident

    Richmond, VA
    Speaking of Rogues, I had a Rogue Ares for a short bit. I couldn't find a happy place for gain and loading for my 0.4 mV cart. I'll chalk it up to being incompatible with the Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Star cart I use, I guess. Nonetheless, I found there way too much noise for my taste. I know it's a tube preamp, but still. It was distracting, IMO.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  12. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    I know it's a matter of taste, but why would someone want a pre-amp that adds "warmth", (or any sound) to vinyl playback?
    The best thing a pre-amp can do (imo) is deliver the sound of the record in the most direct, transparent way, with no noise added.
    I use a Hagerman Bugle. It is so simple and ugly, but the design can't be beat. It works so well, you don't know it's there.
    Benzion likes this.
  13. StuJM84

    StuJM84 Forum Resident

    Kent, UK
    I recently purchased a Trichord Dino mk 3 for my set up and its excellent for me and a massive step up from the cheaper phono stage I had before. It has both MM & MC options on there with loading options.

    I cant tell you if it is better then other phono's at what your asking for in sound as im not too knowledgeable on that sort of thing (I just know what I like), but a review I read on it before said it has a bit of a "forward sound", if that help :confused:. But since your the same side of the Atlantic as I am, it should be well within budget for you, and there is a few upgrades you can buy later if you choose to.
  14. advanced101

    advanced101 Forum Resident

    Good question. I suppose when building a system that produces the desired end result it is added somewhere. Some people alter the sound with the cartridge, cables, preamps, tubes, etc...
  15. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    When it comes to reproducing records, I believe you want as much as possible from the vinyl, without influence.
  16. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Folks, EVERYTHING in ANY system is going to alter the sound signature of the original material.

    People change out components for better synergy with the other components in the system.

    Synergy can mean different things to different people. With some people synergy can mean, how the system looks. Does everything match? Does everything have blue lights on the front panels?

    There is no perfect way to capture the complete and original sound of a live performance, and how that performance is ultimately captured on a medium, is always the subjective decisions made by people involved in various aspects of the capture process.

    Every single time that you listen to music, being played on any system, it has been altered in one way or another. It's more like that it has been altered in many, many different ways, by the time the you hear the music being played back.

    I would think that, with those who have an audiophile interest, it is to achieve an accurate and more realistic playback, that is truer to the actual live performance.

    Even then, the sound from the first row orchestra center, would likely be different that what is heard up in the mezzanine.

    I can see and understand the use of a specific cable that purposely alters the SS, to better match two components together, that otherwise, might not be a great match.

    I see and understand purchasing better overall quality components, because they will pass a signal better and without unwelcome coloration. Buying a better made interconnect, is a good solid choice. But there is a price point in the manufacturing process, where the quality tops out. Meaning you don't have to spend a fortune to buy a well made interconnect's.

    Since I readily accept the fact that all of my components will have a specific and unique SS to them, I prefer to use standard, ordinary wire to connect my system together. My goal is to match components together, without adding the complexity of the extra variables that exotic cables bring into the equation. My speaker wire is RCA Speaker Wire from Amazon, about $18 a spool.

    I think the audiophile process is something that is highly individualized and that people should always put together their listening systems to match their own listening preferences, rather than try to create a sonic environment that is cold and sterile. Warm and inviting sound does a lot for certain music. Some music does sound "cold" by nature, most rock concerts fall into that category (but not all).

    It is about recreating music that is more natural to the individual that is listening to it.

    I have and operate with both SS systems and a separate tube only system, I try to get both sounding the best that I am able to, sometimes by playing both systems together.

    The SS system is detailed but not harsh. The equipment that I use matches well and the result is music that you can listen to 24/7, without encountering listening fatigue. The tube system produces greater dynamics, has a real live feel to it, vocals are uncanny, but it goes through efficient, horn loaded speakers. I never run SS amplification through these speakers, tubes only.
  17. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Yeah, I would love to hear my Heresys with a nice tube amp, but it's a slippery slope and next thing you have be "rolling tubes" etc...
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  18. Davey

    Davey like smoke from a lithium dream

    SF Bay Area, USA
    Well, I think a lot of people probably roll opamps in your Bugle too, they just aren't using expensive 70s NOS Russian opamps :)
  19. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Yeah, I don't know how to do any of that. If it improves the sound by making it more efficient, that's cool. I just don't want to be faced with a lot of options to distract me.
    My system is well matched.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  20. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Klipsch speakers, and more so with the vintage designs, will greatly benefit from quality tube amplification.

    With their 99dB efficiency rating, they can be driven nicely by most any tube amplifier.
    I would speak with Rogue directly about your concerns. They are a customer oriented company.

    But, when you are speaking about a $2k phono-stage, it shouldn't have any tube noise PERIOD!

    My Decware ZP3 phono-pre is dead quiet and is $800 less than the Aries.
  21. royzak2000

    royzak2000 Senior Member

    EAR 834p has changed over god knows how many years; it now has Tims latest ideas, he dos not go with mark one, two etc. It still uses reasonably priced tubes that can be easily changed to suit.
    Not that he thinks this important.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  22. Shiver

    Shiver Forum Resident

    Have a tube phono stage (AN RIAA Zero) into a hybrid integrated and no noise issues at all. It's not fair to compare it to previous SS stages as it's more expensive, but I love what it does - especially body and treble refinement. Not warm or syrupy either.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  23. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    With your highly, 99dB efficient Heresy's you can drive them with just about any tube amp.

    Klipsch speakers, as specially the horn loaded vintage series, benefit greatly from quality tube amplification.

    It doesn't have to be a slippery or even expensive slope. You can always find deals on quality equipment.

    PrimaLuna has discontinued two of their tube power amplifier's, their 35-watt EL34 based Prologue Four and their 36-watt Prologue Five.

    Upscale Audio is closing out their remaining stock for $999 for the Four and $1,099 for the Five.

    I have eight tube amplifiers (which counts the Rogue M-150's as a single stereo amplifier).

    All around, I think that the Prologue Five that I bought, may be the best all around tube amplifier that I have. The amplifier is dead quiet, and that is with my highly efficient A7's. Has more power than I ever need with the efficient A7's, and sounds fantastic with them. What else can I ask for or expect out of an amplifier?

    It is a modern day tube design, clean and tight. I have heard people slam KT88 tubes for their sloppy bass. That is simply not true. Older amplifiers had power supplies and other components that muddied up the base, where most of the modern day quality tube amplifier's do not. KT88 tubes are beautiful sounding, and they have a perfectly natural sounding bass.

    With current day tube manufacturer's, modern EL34 tubes have a nice midrange sound but no "magical" midrange sound like 50-60 year old Mullard's. Their bass is natural and tight, but not overly present.

    While both of these amplifier's would be a good match for your Heresy's, if you want a stronger, fuller sound, deeper, more controlled bass, then go with the KT88 based Five for only $200 more.

    The Polk speakers that I use as front mains for HT and stereo, sound excellent and detailed, but not at all harsh, powered by my first generation Emotiva XPA-2 (2250-WPC), I never power them with tubes, they may be of some benefit, then again, they may not.

    Many modern speakers are voiced with SS amps, and sound good with them, rendering tube amplification unnecessary. Putting tube amplification on these speakers can result in a loss of dynamics and sometimes less detail.

    If you think that your Heresy's have the ideal SS, then, leave them as they are. Klipsch speakers can have a lot of dynamics and "slam" when powered by SS amps. But, they can also lead to early hearing fatigue.

    I have owned Klipsch speakers in the past on my ProLogic HT system, years back. I have a pair of WF-35 towers, which I use as my rears for both HT and 2-channel stereo listening. I have a pair of custom cabinetry La Scala's (every internal component is original) and I have one of them hooked in parallel with the left rear WF-35, for some additional volume in that corner of the room.

    Klipsch speakers have always been on the bright side.

    When you combine that, with efficient horn loaded speakers, they will easily become overly bright sounding.

    If you are listening to music like Rock, Hip-Hop, Dubstep, Heavy Metal, etc., than tubes will not further your cause.

    If your tastes run more with R&B, Jazz, Country, Gospel, Soul, Acoustic, Vocals..., then tubes will improve your listening experience greatly with your Heresy's. Where they will not be beneficial to your Boston Acoustic's. I have a pair of their former flagship M-350's and their M-340's and find them to be top shelf tower speakers. These speakers like a lot of power and sound nice with SS amplification for both stereo and HT.

    BTW... The former $2,500/pr. BA M-350's were discontinued and are being closed out. One seller on eBay, who has ten new pairs left is offering them for $799/pr. and free shipping in the US mainland. (These are a most excellent speaker deal, I paid $1,250 for mine, on sale, when they were in current production, some years back.)

    As to the subject of tube rolling, it is something optional to address, but it is not a mandatory requirement.

    Even then, it is no more complicated than changing out a light bulb and really not much more intimidating.

    A tube amplifier manufacturer has to bring their products at a certain price point so they rarely use NOS exotic tubes. They typically use Electro-Harmonic, tubes because of their reasonable pricing, good supply stream and a general level of quality control.

    People wanting more exotic tubes can ask companies like Rogue and other's, to order their products built to the customer's specifications, upgraded tubes, caps... Others, after listening to their system's for a while and discerning areas where the SQ might be better improved in a certain area, can sometimes effect that by a quick tube change out.

    In that case, a resourceful telephone conversation with the many reputable tube sellers, will likely yield the satisfactory results, that you were listening for.

    Having the ability to adjust to your "optimum" SS by changing out tubes is more of a benefit than a hindrance.

    The KT88 based version can use EL34 tubes and other electrically compatible tube types. While you can do this with other tube amplifier's, it is sometimes not such a good idea to do so. A Rogue Stereo 90, with four KT88's, will put out 90-WPS. Where the Prologue Five, with the same number of KT88 tubes, will only put out 36-WPC.

    In the Rogue, the tubes are pushed hard, resulting in a more linear and SS sounding tube amp.

    With the Prologue's Four and Five, the tubes are not pushed so hard and sound better and last longer. EL34 tubes in Rogue amplifier's are pushed hard, because the amp was not designed for their use. Ultimately, more tube power, equates to more current flowing and higher plate voltages.

    Upscale Audio, is well versed in both audio equipment and tube selection options, you can speak to them anytime, regarding replacement tubes for the PrimaLuna's, without having to ask tube resellers who may not have as much familiarity with the specific PrimaLuna product's.

    The original Rogue M-120's used cathode bias, which meant no adjustments for tubes, you just put them in and your good to go. It has the disadvantage of running tubes really hot. You can hold your hand above the amplifier and there is enough heat coming off of the tubes to fry an egg.

    I upgraded the older M-120's to my current M-150's. The M-150's utilize a manually adjustable bias, that allows the bias to be individually set for each tube individually, instead of using a fixed bias for all four of the tubes. This results in the tubes receiving the precise bias current for each individual tube, resulting in a cooler operating temperature and better tube longevity.

    The PrimaLuna's take this up a notch with their adaptive auto bias feature. You can pull out the KT88's from the Prologue Five and replace them with EL-34's and not have to worry about the bias. It is done for you automatically. It monitors and makes bias adjustments on a continuing basis, automatically, with no input on your behalf.

    It is somewhat difficult to see what potentially a system upgrade, as specially if you are happy and satisfied with your current system and don't possess the "urgent need to upgrade", just remember this post for possible upgrades in the future. :)
    royzak2000 likes this.

    DOUBTINGTHOMAS29 Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    I use a Manley Chinook with my Unison Unico integrated amp. It's pure audio bliss.
    SandAndGlass and sturgus like this.
  25. heyMo

    heyMo Forum Resident

    LKN west, NC
    I recently replaced my phono pre with the Tavish Vintage 6SL7 with the Tung Sol reissues. I have been extremely pleased and echo the other comments about Tavish products.

    In a nod to Strat-Mangler, when I ordered, there was a wait list. Fortunately, the wait wasn't very long and was well worth it. Not sure how long a wait there is currently, but their products are definitely worth checking into.
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