$1,500 phono upgrade worth it?

I'm having the itch to upgrade my phono stage. I currently have a Rega P6,  Ania Pro cart, and Rega Fono MC stage. I find that the stage is generally pretty noisy with a noticeable hiss. The table can't be grounded in stock configuration from Rega, so I don't think it's that. I do have a dedicated line run from my panel to the plug. I don't think it's picking up any interference. The phono is run into a Primaluna Evo 300 integrated; which is dead silent when streaming.

I guess what I'm trying to figure out, is the $1,500 figure going to make a noticeable difference? Do I even need to go that high? Given my current configuration, I can't see stepping up much higher than that. At some point I'm only going to get so much out of the ancillary components to justify going way above them with the stage.

Any advice is greatly appreciated! Cheers and happy holidays!!


Before you consider an upgrade, have you played with the input loading & gain switches on the rear panel of your phono stage. You might be able to lower or eliminate your hiss problem with different settings.

Post removed 
Post removed 

You're new to this, unable to tell the difference between hiss and hum, and think records are supposed to sound like digital. Sorry. Whole point is they don't sound like digital.

Along with totally superior sound quality comes a pretty obvious tradeoff in terms of easy to hear noise. Yes if you are willing to move way up the line in performance and cost you can probably find a lot less noisy phono stage. This however is a lousy way to do it. Because you will never, ever get it dead silent like digital.

Even if somehow you do, groove noise. So what is the point?

Focus on the music. Upgrade to a better phono stage for the music. The rest will take care of itself. Or if you prefer, embrace the suck. Whatever. Just don't try and put legs on a snake.

@dill +1 

@ecrotty Unfortunately this situation isn't so straightforward, as it should be. RFI, including FM signals often find their way into low level analog signals in phono stages. Your hiss could be from unoptimized gain or load setting as Dill mentiioned. But it could also be from your analog system acting as a low level antenna and pulling in RFI or simiilar. Grounding can impact it too.

Then if those issues are eliminated as the cause, yeah, maybe the Rega is noisier than you'd like. Borrowing a better phono stage would go a long way to narrowing things down. OTOH, if you bought from a local dealer or have a friend with a turntable, you could try bringing the Rega to them and seeing if you still hear the same issue. 

I'd suggest those other potential causes first, and consider the upgrade after. Cheers,


I see no reference to digital except in your twisted brain.

A tape deck is dead silent when it’s not running.

OP Try a couple of phono stages on approval before you decide on anything. I would try a Parks Puffin, free returns with Prime.


@dill , I have played with the input and gain on the stage. I have it to where I get the least amount of noise, but it's still very noticeable.


@millercarbon You are correct, I am fairly new to this. I understand that there is going to be some noise associated with vinyl, and I'm totally fine with it. My main source of listening is vinyl, with streaming on a rare occasion. What I can't figure out is the noticeable hum when I turn on the stage with nothing playing. I've heard systems with very little hum, albeit much more expensive than mine, and that's what I'm trying to figure out. Is it worth upgrading the stage, at the price point I can afford, to get closer to what I've heard?



OP; Hum and hiss are two different things. Solve the hum issue first with grounding or better grounding. Hiss is another issue, if you have hiss when you are not playing records, your gain is too high. Do these things and report back.

Depends on the level of hum. If when playing music at whatever level and sitting wherever you usually sit the hum is audible only when the music isn't playing, ie gets drowned out by groove noise, then no worries. Mine has been like that a lot of the time, and I can tell you when the music starts you just won't care! 

But if the hum is there and you can hear it even over the groove noise between tracks then it is probably worth a little effort. 

First make sure the turntable, phono stage, preamp and amp- the whole system really- is all plugged into the same outlet. Not the same exact outlet obviously but all from the same wall outlet, conditioner, power strip or whatever. Anything at all plugged into another AC source connected to your system provides another path to ground and this is where ground loop hum comes from.

One of the main sources anyway. Could also be your turntable or phono stage are stacked right on top of something and picking up hum from that. The phono stage has the most gain of any component by far. 40 to 60 dB or more. Orders of magnitude more gain than anything else. Extremely susceptible to noise. All kinds of little things that would be nothing to a DAC with 3V output can be a nightmare for a cartridge with .3mV output. You see the orders of magnitude there?

Some guys it really bugs them and they will put in whatever it takes to get these things dead quiet. To improve a level of noise already lower than your typical record groove. So it will sound better when not making music. For the same time and effort they could have been doing things to make the thing sound better when playing music.

So make your judgments, and pick your battles.

One of the reasons it is better to run just one dedicated line and not multiple like some recommend.

A well chosen phono stage at the price point you are thinking about will be significantly better… very noticeable. Big gains in sound quality are to be easily made by doubling your investment to well over $10K. -hono stages are really important in the ultimate sound of your system.

That would rightly piss me off. I've no hum.

If when playing music at whatever level and sitting wherever you usually sit the hum is audible only when the music isn't playing, ie gets drowned out by groove noise, then no worries. 

Groove noise… that is a problem. Well, this is the benefit of moving up in analog rigs. A good TT / phono stage will have no groove noise or hum.


I remember at being shocked with my first good turntable that all the groove noise and ticks disappeared… and if there were a few ticks using a cleaning machine and they disappeared. Now, my collection’s background noise is completely absent. 


Please advise on what phono cable you are currently using from the tonearm to the phono stage. If it isn't a "dedicated" phono cable, that could easily be part (if not all) of the excessive noise issue you're experiencing. 



What I can't figure out is the noticeable hum when I turn on the stage with nothing playing

I agree with @ghdprentice. The phono pre is very important and one at 3 times the cost of the present one will be a big upgrade IMO. However, if you have a ground loop problem which I suspect is the problem, the problem will still exist with a different phono pre.

As usual, @millercarbon  has given good advice on how to go about tracking and eliminating the problem. This should be your 1st priority. Then the new phono stage

Then there is the hiss you say is present. If you have the gain set too high and have high sensitivity speakers, you are more likely to have hiss. This is a good reason to list your system so that others can help troubleshoot the problems.

You can get a solid upgrade in sound for less.  The Lehmann Black Cube SE II is an excellent value at ~ $1200 or so.  Outboard power supply for low noise and excellent dynamics.  

I'd be exasperated, and suspect of that unit as you are.

Phono, even without a problem, it's a quest and luck, I believe in return option.

I would select a phono stage I could return, on the expectation that the noise will disappear. If noise is still there, return it, figure it out first, then upgrade after listening to existing without noise for a while.

best of luck with it,


Post removed 
Post removed 

A couple of things. If you have really efficient speakers, Hiss will be more noticeable with some tube amps if the the gain is on the higher side. 

Does the hum go away when you touch the tone arm? Also check your cartridge wires and make sure they are snug. 

Tweeter hiss is common for high eff speaks. 

 Tone controls? Turn down 2 notches treble. 

 Unplug wires, wipe off,  reconnect, make sure all connections are snug, 

check for touching cables as well.

clean the records well.

It is possible to have a system with high efficiency speakers with no hiss or hum. I have a tube pre-amp, tube amps, and horn speakers. I have no hum or hiss when using my system. It is dead quiet. I cannot hear anything when my turntable is running before placing the needle on the vinyl. I do have everything plugged into one power conditioner. I did replace the stock turntable power supply with an SBooster Linear power supply. 

femoore1 and I agree,

tube system, highly efficient horn speakers, tweeters just juiced up, SUT, phono, no hiss or hum, dead quiet until the needle drops. My tonearm wire needed replacing, it was causing problems because of a design flaw, insulation wore off, wire got bare. Fixed, back to zero noise. I've had poor connections to cartridge pins, tighten, noise gone.

I just listened to Sgt. Pepper's, reel to reel, there a slight bit of tape hiss between tracks, but that's from the tape, S/N ratio of tape, not from the system. OMG was it awesome, 1st time I have played it since I made upgrades hither and thither this past year.

my friend has always accepted a slight bit of hum from his tube amps, far less efficient speakers than my horns. I thought it might have been a problem with the cartridge/tonearm we just worked on, but it is 'just there' on other inputs. I just asked him if he wants to go thru the whole system, contact cleaner, tube tester, fresh connections everywhere, including cleaning, perhaps tightening tube socket pins if needed.

He did have to send his custom tube amps to the maker, someone has messed about with them before he bought them used, and the maker had a few changes of his own. Hum was gone, for a while. 


but it does seem OP's phono stage is suspect, his system is quiet on other inputs.

The only time I had hum was when I had a speaker cable that failed at the connection. It got bent when I moved my amp and the solder failed at the speaker connector. I noticed the hum immediately since it was so unusual. 

Perhaps it’s a cable from the turntable to the MC stage or to the integrated amp? Is it possible to use a different set of cables between these components? Also, that MC stage does show a ground connection for the turntable. If the MC stage uses a wall-wart for power that could be causing the noise. Those are notoriously noisy.