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Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 25 Dec 2018 01:22
by Chuck Glider
Merry Christmas all!

Recently, I "discovered" that the phono (MM) inputs of my Arcam Diva A65+ integrated sounded superior my MF X-LPS. I didn't know this before because I was using a MC cartridge. See my kit list below. The Lynwood is out of service at the moment - if anyone knows how to contact David Rusby, I'd be very grateful, because I'd like a chat with him.

Currently, I'm experimenting with MM cartridges, but in the future will be entering again into the MC world.

With that in mind, can anyone recommend a phono stage/preamp (what's the difference in those terms anyway?)?

It's got to have MC input. MM is nice to have, but not necessary (as the Arcam's phono stage is fine). How's the Creek OBH-15Mk2? Is there something better? I guess my budget is £100-£400 ish. If it looks cool, is British and quirky, so much the better!

Thanks for your thoughts!

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 25 Dec 2018 02:10
by Dr_Wu
Aren't Graham Slee's phono stages (phone preamp works, too) very highly regarded over there?

I went with the MoFi StudioPhono, adjustable gain and impedance. In your budget range. My vinyl has never sounded better.

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 25 Dec 2018 05:23
by audiopile
iFi iPhono II -dead quiet-very adjustable -even a few different variations on EQ settings.
Lounge Audio LCR III -when you're ready for MC -add the Copla MC stage.

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 25 Dec 2018 09:13
by Tonybro
Second shout for ifi iPhono.

I have first gen one and it is amazing quality.

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 25 Dec 2018 09:26
by Chuck Glider
Wow, those are great suggestions! I'd heard of Graham Slee, but not the others. My vinyl collection and turntable have been in storage for >15y and I took them out and set up only a month ago. There's so much great kit available today.

The iFi EQ settings - pretty amazing, I've always wondered about that.

Audiopile and Tonybro, how would you describe the sound of the iFi micro iPhono2?

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 25 Dec 2018 09:50
by DeepEnd
As a limited risk option then by joining the Slee forum (free) they have a loan service where you can try units in your own system for a few weeks for just the cost of postage.

The Slee units are only MM or MC not both.

I was concentrating on MM performance and found that until you got to the £400 level there was no appreciable improvement over the internal stage of my A3.2 amp, I suspect your Arcam may be similar.

I ended up with a Rothwell Rialto as it performed as well as a slightly more expensive Slee unit but it’s not going to win any styling awards nor appeal to someone who wants lots of settings to play with.

How does it sound? I haven’t found out yet!! It’s the hardest thing to describe how it performs as it just seems to disappear and present the music in a way the performer/engineer wanted. Easily shows styli and deck differences. I don’t have the ability to test it in MC mode but it might be worth adding to your short list (you could always hide it!!)
08A01BFF-C836-4BD9-9A43-1AA745CB231E.jpeg
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Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 25 Dec 2018 16:01
by technome
If you’re happy with what your in-built phono stage is doing for MM, then all you probably need to run a MC cartridge is a step up transformer. Rothwell make the MC1 for around £280, well inside your budget.

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 25 Dec 2018 21:23
by bra10n
Local to you is the Croft... very well regarded but maybe just beyond your budget? Maybe keep a look out for a traded or used one.

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 26 Dec 2018 10:06
by Chuck Glider
Thank you all. After having searched online, read reviews looked at prices, my shortlist of a British MC phono 'solution' is now down to:

-- Rothwell MC1 ~£280, very intriguing same price a a Graham Slee MC stage, but probably better. I've never used a step up transformer and that's attractive, as is the price

-- Creek OBH-15mk2, ~£300, but hasn't had as good reviews the as the Rialto. I somehow like the look of it though

-- Rothwell Rialto ~£380, very well thought of. I'm a bit scared of forgetting to switch it. What would happen if you use a MM cart while it's set to MC?

-- Trichord Dino mk3 ~£490, over budget

-- ifi micro iphono 2, way over budget, well thought of, but a bit too twiddly for my taste perhaps. What's with the leads at each end?

Hmm lots to think over...

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 26 Dec 2018 13:06
by DeepEnd
Might be worth a phonecall to Rothwell for their comments re SUT plus Arcam vs Rialto.

Using MM into Rialto set as MC then it would sound rather odd/muffled as the 100R loading would mean 90% of the signal would be lost internally which would avoid overloading and clipping but not much else (switches are internal and case has to be opened up to move).

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 26 Dec 2018 16:09
by Boltman92124
Mine is the Emotiva XPS-1. It has adjustable loading for Moving Coil and MM of course as well. Very well made.
https://emotiva.com/products/xps-1

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 26 Dec 2018 17:19
by audiopile
I will freely admit I probably need treatment for some sort of cartridge swapping OCD issue -for me the iFi iPhono's are just plain convenient -most owners probably set the switches once per whatever cartridge they are using and haven't thought about it since. The iPhono deals with being both MM/MC by having completely different inputs at one end of the case -you can still confuse the two (ask me how I know )-: - but it's pretty obvious when you do. The ifi iPhono is dead quiet - if you hear hiss or hum - it's your fault from something else in your system. BTW- I think the guy who runs Rothwell is both knowledgeable and routinely helpful - that's a pretty big plus IMO.

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 26 Dec 2018 18:14
by technome
Chuck Glider wrote:
26 Dec 2018 10:06
*snip*

What would happen if you use a MM cart while it's set to MC?

*snip*
It would certainly let you know about it!

You’d be applying an additional 20dB gain to the MM signal and things might get loud. The Arcam’s got 30 dB overload margin on the phono input, though. So it should be OK.

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 27 Dec 2018 14:16
by vintagevinyllover
you could use a step-up transformer from mc cart to mm input. Alternatively or try phono stages that are mm and mc for extra flexibility, with either separate inputs or dip switches. Try these, all great value:
Musical Fidelity LX2-LPS
Tisbury Audio phono stage
Schitt Mani phono stage

Re: Please recommend a Phono preamp

Posted: 27 Dec 2018 15:25
by Chuck Glider
I will get in touch with Rothwell to discuss the SUT versus Rialto option. If the Arcam's in-built phono sounded better than my Musical Fidelity X-LPS (both with Goldring E3 mm) then I find it hard to believe that the Tisbury Audio Domino would provide a significant audible improvement - nice as it is to look at.

Any views on Trichord Dino mk3 v. Rothwell Rialto?