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Thread: Are expensive phono preamps worth it?

  1. #21
    Join Date: Apr 2009

    Location: Near Saffron Walden, Essex

    Posts: 6,658
    I'm Dave.



    You can pay a fortune and get no more than from a well designed, reasonably priced unit but a well designed, properly built and expensive phono stage should give a lot more of everything than a cheaper unit.

  2. #22
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

    Posts: 2,166
    I'm Alex.


    Quote Originally Posted by walpurgis View Post
    The title is "Are expensive phono preamps worth it?" But really, you could substitute the name of any piece of equipment in place of 'phono preamps', like speakers or amplifiers for instance and get very similar debate, with arguments for and against.
    True. Still, certain components get more headlines (turntables, speakers), while other components (preamps, phono stage) get less attention.

    There is very little debate around whether spending more money on a turntable would yield significant improvement. Same goes for speakers. Those are largely mechanical contraptions and it is easy to see how spending more on better engineered parts will determine the improvements. With little boxes, like phono, DACs, etc., it is less obvious what determines the higher price.
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?


  3. #23
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: Warrington

    Posts: 3,444
    I'm Neil.


    I was quite surprised when my Vista Audio Phono 1 mk2 blew away my Trichord Dino / Dino+, LFD Mistral & Hagerman Bugle 2 phono stages. It cost me £225-ish with another £25 for a Mascot 12VAC / 1.5A wall wart PSU. Tranparent, dynamic, loads of slam when the record has it, and fabulously natural top end.
    Mana Acoustics Racks / Bright Star IsoNodes Decoupling >> Allo DigiOne Player >> Pedja Rogic's Audial Model S DAC + Pioneer PL-71 turntable / Vista Audio phono-1 mk II / Denon PCL-5 headshell / Reson Reca >> LFD DLS >> LFD PA2M (SE) >> Royd RR3s.

  4. #24
    Join Date: May 2015

    Location: London

    Posts: 57
    I'm martin.


    I started with the S cards in the 32 back in 1982 modded to 32.5 back at the factory went from a Asak T to Karma had 3 of these over the years. Forward to 2007 and used a Graham Slee Fanfare for a short while then ended up with a Audio Whest 30R which was a chasm in SQ over the Fanfare.

    I kept this 30R and moved on to a Dynavector 20 VL a very good cartridge at the same time I had a call from James Herriot of Whest Audio telling me that he had some exchange units in the pipeline if I was interested. Then 2010 I bought a Micro Benz Wood SL at the same time I had a loan of a Whest Audio 30RDTSE an jump of improvement over the 30R but even with the trade in value of my 30R it was still £3K.

    I then through the forums I noticed the “ Paradise “ thread and people raving about this unit. I contacted Simon Clark who agreed to build me one I think it was in 2015 ? I know it was number 14 and it was a four box phono stage using Naim shoe boxes so completely mono.

    Simon builds a great phono stage sourcing the components matching and rejecting them must be so time consuming but the end product is sublime.

    Therefore to say is an expensive phono stage worth it ? In my case yes it blew my 30 R into the weeds and was much better than the 30RDTSE who’s is £4K. The proof is in the pudding you don’t see Paradise phono stages for sale, secondly where would I go from here. I know Simon has compared it wit a Tom Evans costing £10K and he told me that there wasn’t much between them.

    Whereas the Whest Audio units have switchable dil switches the Paradise has to be removed by its sled to change resistor values. Which one will do a few times till you settle on the value that suit your cartridges.

    The cartridge i’m Using now is a Kiseki Blue NS and using 220 ohm resistors.




  5. #25
    Join Date: Oct 2017

    Location: Kingston

    Posts: 30
    I'm Winston.


    "Are expensive phono preamps worth it?"

    In many cases, yes, I'm sure.

    But perhaps a bit of comparative listening is prudent. I was once shocked to find that a DJ mixer (and the phono-stage in a small 70s receiver) matched my $2k phono-stage.
    Main system: Lenco L75, Thorens TD-125, Technics SL1700, ReVox A77 two-track 15 ips, Sony PS-1, Dell laptop, mxr, eq, Audio-Research LS-3, UREI 6150, DIY two-way speakers with Altec 802/811 & Goodmans 18” midwoofers.
    Author of; “HIGH-END AUDIO on a BUDGET”

  6. #26
    Join Date: Jun 2018

    Location: Mildenhall, Suffolk

    Posts: 383
    I'm John.


    A selection of a Phonostage is a very personal choice. Each individual will have something in their mind, that must be satisfied.
    Experiencing multiple Devices in use, will help a individual create a perception of what is a Detractor or Attractor, in a support to the stimulus they are in search of.
    Other idividuals perceptions are irrelivant, as they are not knowing of another individuals stimulus, if a individual can clearly describe what they wish to percieve when auditioning a device, then I am sure others can gauge this and suggest a few items worthy of a audition.
    The Cost of the Phonostage is a general guideline to how much a individual gauges the purchase value of a device to be included into their system.
    Good Marketing and Market Place pressure, automatically entices a individual to believe that a larger outlay, will offer signicantly more.
    Experience will reveal that the 'law of diminshing returns' Prevail, and time taken to investigate will be prudent, as a lot can be had for less.
    Every now and again, a device can be stumbled on that will intergrate into a system seamlessly and the end product as a whole, surpasses all before. If such a device is found at any price, it would be money well spent. If such a device was stretching a budget to the point of not affordable, then I say move on, there is a worthy and affordable alternative to be discovered.
    From personal experiences over many years, in relation to Phonostages, I have auditioned and enjoyed many, as well as not be so impressed . As a result I have only owned a few, and these are ones most would be happy to own in relation to purchase price.
    My personal preferance for a Phonostage is it must make me smile, I tend to like to feel, I am in the right place, I have ended the search.
    This is not a technical approach but a approach formed from interaction, perception and stimulation.
    It is also a personal thing that is almost impossible to describe. So looking for support in
    being directed to devices is not readily available.
    There are very cheap as well as very expensive Phonostages that have failed to achieve this, as well as the ones that proved be totally fulfilling.
    To answer the question of the Thread Directly,
    If a phonostage that is expensive, and affordable, meets the absolute needs of the end user, offering a experience that surpasses previous experiences. Then yes it is worth it.
    Last edited by JohnG; 02-02-2019 at 09:07.

  7. #27
    Join Date: May 2012

    Location: Toulouse, France

    Posts: 5,154
    I'm Kevin.


    I have also found that expensive Phonostages may not be better, but just different.
    It is a personal choice, and a bit of a mission to find one that works well in your system that you like.

    Too busy enjoying the music....

    European loan coordinator for Graham Slee HiFi system components..

  8. #28
    Join Date: Nov 2010

    Location: Chorley, Lancs

    Posts: 2,247
    I'm Mike.


    I've read this thread with interest, like Grant I'm happy with mm cartridges and personally feel that if the same amount of development was done to mm as is and has been done to mc then the very best you can get may not be mc.

    I've never used a separate phono pre amp, but am very tempted to give them a go, in my opinion this whole topic is subjective, as what I like someone else will hate, one of my "things to do" this year is to attend more bake offs and listen to more phono pre amps

    As the late Colonel Sanders once said
    "I'm too drunk to taste this chicken!!"

  9. #29
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

    Posts: 71,790
    I'm Grant.


    Interesting that there are very few mm only stages made other than cheap ones. Especially in the 400/600 range.. Not much flexibility with them either. Its really a poor show
    Grant .... ؠ

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply-doesn't-work
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  10. #30
    Join Date: Nov 2010

    Location: Chorley, Lancs

    Posts: 2,247
    I'm Mike.


    It's all about what you can sell it for, I read somewhere that one of the reasons there isn't as much development done on mm is that if you spend the same on R&D on a mc cart you will recoup your investment quicker due to the higher sale value of mc, good business sense really, it's a shame though and obviously this will have the knock on effect with things like phono stages

    As the late Colonel Sanders once said
    "I'm too drunk to taste this chicken!!"

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