Best Phono Stage

Hi all,

I need some advise on a really good sounding phono stage to go with MC turntable set up in the $5k or so bracket. I am completely new to vinyl and realise there a lot here in terms of arm/cart matching MC,MM and I think moving iron but if you could point me in the direction of some good sounding units I can investigate compatibility etc. I don’t own a table or cart yet. I was looking at the Zesto Audio 1.2.

My goal is a liquid engaging sound with deep tight bass and air and separation on top.

Thanks in advance.



As a newbie I went through a few phonostages from $1200-$2000 and am glad I did for the experience. My phono upgrades have been my favorite upgrade. I landed on a Allnic H-3000 and am at my endgame phono unless I hit the lottery. Buy used and do lots of research. 

Spending $2k-$3k is jus money down the drain. You’ll need to spend $15k, minimum, on a phono pre just to get into the minimum required performance from any cart/arm. Spending less is just a leap into the rabbit hole.

I run a Herron, I believe it's the ph2 or something like that but it is the best tube phono stage I've heard and I've tried many. The sound I have could be attributed to the vintage telefunkens but this Herron really does something special. 


The post for the aesthetix rhea is correct.  Great liquid sound.  Even though it has high gain I don’t recommend it for lomc as the gain is all tube.  I replaced the critical last three tubes with nos Hammond organ 12ax7 from a vendor.  If you use high gain, it requires great tubes to avoid tube rush.   Sold mine when I downsized.  Recently restarted with qhw the vinyl for 800 dollars.   Totally satisfied and you get 3 week free trial 


You should post photos of your system under your ID. It is very helpful in understanding where your opinion is coming from.