BAT P5 or P10 phono preamp

I'm currently using an Audio Research PH3SE with VPI Aries (Series 1) with JMW10 and Benz Ruby. Rest of system is BAT VK51SE with Nagra VPA tube amps running Verity Parsifals, soon to change to JM Lab/Focal Alto Utopias. Want to upgrade phono preamp as I find the Audio Research delicate, but thin, especially on vocals. Have been told that BAT P10Se would be overkill with my table and arm, but wonder if P5 would be up the quality of the rest of the system. Would appreciate opinions from people who may have used both, or have experience that would help. Thanks.
I would not pay too much attention as to what could be labeled as overkill for a phono stage. I have seen recommended systems where phono is the primary source, the TT/TA/Cartridge is often upwards of 40-50% of the system cost with the phono stage being 10% or less. And such a recomendation is silly.

Your phono setup with a handful of $3-4k phono stages on the used market will easily outperform ANY phono setup driving a $1k phono stage.

I owned the P10 phono stage for a couple years. This was a very low noise model, plenty of gain for cartridges in the 0.5mv output without the need to use the built-in SU xfrmrs. The P10 had great great coverage at the frequency extremes and excellent tonal coherency. For me it simply lacked the strengths that we often associate with a well implemented tube product. A change to the Aesthetix Io brought on a greater degree of the dimensionality and decays from the LPs that I had not heard before in my system. How the P10SE would compare here might be addressed by another post to this thread.

My suspicion is that the PH3SE to P10 will be more a lateral move than any significant benefit overall. What about the tonearm cable? And the IC from the phono stage to the 51SE? And the power cables used on these components? And maybe tube rolling in the PH3SE might bring on a little more dimensionality. Lots to try here before you put out great expense to change out your phono stage.

The Lamm LP2 recommendation is popular. Many users of this and the Manley Steelhead have tried the Io and preferred these to the Io and vice versa. With a little experimentation, changing stock Sovtek tubes to other brands can often bring line stages and phono stages to life like never imagined.

The best thing to do is try some of these in your system if you feel the PH3SE is indeed the weakest link.


A couple of points, I am a Manley dealer, and I can't sell one to you, but it is really terrific, both musical and flexible. The BAT VK series stuff is more dynamic with great bass control but the BAT stuff in general is a little dry. The Steelhead is wonderfully musical.

Before you buy the JM Labs find a pair of Usher BE 20, they cost only $16,400.00 and will outperform the NOVA Utopia, They are one of the only speakers on the market with a pure Beryillium concave midrange to match the superb Beryillim tweeter that Usher makes. ALso the speaker uses two 10inch Eton woofers. So if you look at the configuration and quality of parts used, the BE 20 is directly comparable to $50k speakers like Kharma or Martens.

The BE 20 is a remarkable loudspeaker for a very reasonable price.