Herron VTPH-2A vs ModWright PH 9.0

Hello, I was wondering if anyone has compared the Herron VTPH-2A to the ModWright PH 9.0? Unfortunately, I am not able to audition the two in person but am very curious how they compare. Their price is similar, Herron - $3650; ModWright - $2900/$3200 (with XLR connections). They also use a different sets of tubes, Herron - two 12AX7, three 12AT7; ModWright - two 6C45, two 6DJ8. I've heard 6C45 tubes are extremely quiet but, again, I haven't heard them in person. Appreciate anyone who can offer their experience with either product and how they compare in sound. Thank you!
Have not compared. Did a lot of due diligence before buying the Herron late 2018. ModWright wasn't even on the list. Did not go looking for it specifically. Was not even on the radar.

Now with a year plus on the Herron, totally unreservedly wholeheartedly recommend it. Search around here, read my review, read everyone's comments. World class performance, real world price. Give Keith a call. Just do it.

I have heard really good things about Herron, in fact I don't think I've heard a single negative. However, I have also seen the same with the ModWright. Truthfully, I am leaning more towards Herron but before pulling any trigger I was hoping to hear a review comparing the sound differences
I have used both of their products, just not the phono stages.  The after purchase service is a big deal for me.  I have had some updates to my amps and preamp by Keith.  Very reasonable and responsive to any questions.  Dan is the same way.  He always answers questions and is very helpful.  From a service perspective, you can't go wrong with these gentleman.
How do you think they compare as far as quality and sound? Do you tend to favor one company over another when looking for new equipment?
While I have a Herron in order, the Mod deserves to be in your radar - I would ignore anyone dismissing the products of this fine small company- I spent considerable time evaluating the seminal power amp they produce and a person I trust deeply has their phono stage with a Well Tempered labs / AT MC - superb sound.
i went with the Herron for a variety of reasons, some unique to requirements/ constraints.
keith has been a joy to work with !
enjoy your search and the music

I was hoping to read more side-by-side comparisons of these phono stages. On paper the Modwright has some advantages but that doesn’t speak to sound quality differences. I like Modwright’s Lundahl step up approach on the MC input vs Herron’s FET-based MC gain stage. I own the Herron and it undeniably sounds much better when paired with a SUT through the MM inputs and tube signal. The fact that the Modwright has all switches on the front panel, a mono switch, and optional transformer coupled balanced XLR outputs - all for slightly less than the Herron makes me very curious to hear it.
Just to push the thread up, I too would be highly interested in such a comparison !
I own the Modwright, and have heard the Herron, but not side by side.  I was leaning towards purchasing the Herron, but after discussions with beta-testers of Dan's PH9.0, I changed my mind.  I've had it now for almost a year.  It's a hard thing to describe, since it's quite neutral IMHO.  My impression of the Herron in my friend's system is that it's a bit more holographic, and a little bigger than life.  It is a joy to listen to.  Could be his system though. 

In my system, the Modwright just gets out of the way and doesn't call attention to itself.  Yet when I play complex orchestral music, it's all there.  I can follow the individual lines of different instruments and the voices of choral groups do not all blend into a hodge-podge.  It's a group of people singing together and I feel their synchrony, or lack thereof as it may be.  Deep bass, clear highs, all there without obtruding.  It's just music!

For what it's worth, my cartridges are the Audio Technica ART-9, an Ortofon mono MM, and a Dynavector DV20xl.  They all seem to find their voices with the Modwright, and come through with their own character.  The Modwright is just one of those quietly competent things that you hardly realize is working so well until you try something else.  Strong recommendation.
Forgot to say, the Modwright phono 9.0 replaced an Aesthetix Rhea that I've been using for the past 10 years.  The Rhea was great and delivered the "breath of life" that makes you feel you are listening to real human beings making music.  It had a midrange to die for, and a bit like the Herron, felt a bit bigger than life.  The Modwright is less fullsome in the midrange (not at all lean), but I think true-er to the actual recording.  HTH.
I have the Herron. Anyone wants to bring a Modwright, or anything else for that matter, over to compare is welcome any time. Just let me know. 

It is by the way not bigger than life, but it is definitely holographic. 
Thank you @dfhaleycko for your helpful answer. It seems that one cannot go wrong with either preamp and it should be down to personal preferences (the reason for my question) and features. In that department ModWright has the edge I think with its mono switch and front panel settings; although for the moment I only have 1 arm/turntable so when it's set..it's set! Best sound reproduction is my priority, not features.

I was also intrigued by comments above about Herron sounding better through a SUT. I actually do have a very nice Rothwell MCL SUT (1:20) with Lundahl transformers which contributed very much in a better sound in my system, so I guess I think highly of transformers (ModWright again, although in another thread was mentioned that the 9.0 does not use one of Lundahl's best models).

And price-wise, a second-hand Herron is about $ 2800 shipped to Europe (where I live) vs 3400 for a brand new ModWright 9.0 and 3900 for a demo 9.0X upgraded unit. And cost is of course a factor...

To give a bit of a context, currently the SUT is fed by an Ortofon MC Windfeld cartridge mounted on a carbon fibre Pro-ject 9CC Evo tonearm on a Pro-ject Xtension 9 Evolution turntable (current phono stage: Project Phono Box RS).

My setup sounds quite good, it's well balanced and I don't have any real complaints. But, of course, I wonder what may I be missing compared to a higher end phono pre ! My amp and speakers are also quite good, revealing (detailed & transparent), tonally correct and natural-sounding, without being warm or lean/harsh (30 Watt Class A Tube integrated Audiomat Aria amplifier driving 2.5-way JMR Cantabile Suprême transmission line floorstander speakers).
Your system seems to be well thought-out.  I do think you'd find improvement with either of these phono stages.  My Modwright does not have the upgraded transformer and slightly revised circuitry of the 9.0x.  I have heard from others that the new sut represents a pretty significant upgrade. 

FWIW, I actually run two tables through my Modwright, one (monaural) connected to the MM inputs and another connected to the MC inputs.  I can switch between them from the front panel without having to fiddle with patch cords.  I run mostly unbalanced, although for headphone listening, I can connect via balanced XLR to my headphone amp.  It's pretty versatile.  

My Aesthetix Rhea supported three decks, and a remote control for setting loading on the fly.  It was quiet and lovely with good NOS tubes, but tended to get noisier over time.  It had 10 tubes, so re-tubing it was an expensive proposition. 

The Modwright is dead quiet, and it's gain tubes provide a wide un-hyped frequency range.  It seems pretty darned neutral to me, which makes it hard to talk about what it is doing or not doing to help the music.
@vitamin_z given your location and already have excellent SUT, you should possibly also consider Croft RIAA-RS

i have the single chassis RS and a Herron. The former rewards tube rolling, the later no so much. Both are excellent values, well supported by the one person shop builders. the Croft is point to point, the Herron on a well thought out PCB. 

have fun, enjoy the music

I’m sad I only came across this thread now. I compared the Herron VTPH-2A to an older Modwright SWP 9.0 SE and thought the Modwright kicked the living daylights out of the Herron. The Herron was very polite and reserved in comparison, and the SWP had more soul and excitement. I also found it to be more holographic than the Herron. 

I moved on from the SWP onto the PH9.0 and now to the PH9.0X, and each upgrade was a substantial improvement from the prior. I have no doubt I would recommend the PH9.0 or PH9.0X well above the Herron, any day. The 9.0X especially is dead quiet, and lack of caps in the signal path do an incredible job of bringing out the most life. It is an endgame unit for me, even after comparing it with other phono stages from other manufacturers. 


That PH9.0X does sound interesting and in the $4K range seems priced well against its features and design.  The more phono's I gain experience with the more I realize that the Herron is perhaps the most over-hyped phono of all time - developing nearly cult-like status thanks in part to a contributor on this board.  I owned the Herron and it was fine - priced about right.  It's sound is not refined at all, it's a bit noisy, the FET-based MC stage leaves quite a bit to be desired, and overall it sounds SS, not tube.  The lack of controls on the front made it a bear to dial in and I was only happy with it while using the MM tethered to a nice SUT.

My current Luxman EQ-500 is everything the Herron wasn't and simply a joy to use in every respect with a wonderfully refined, quiet, tube sound.  It's packed with features, a 7-tube compliment including tube rectification and all front panel controls, balanced options, multiple inputs etc.

In a second system I picked up a used Tavish Classic tube phono for $500 and paired it with a used $275 Rothwell MCX SUT.  Together they outperform the Herron!  Love that little combo. 

Enjoy your 9.0X!  Would like to hear one someday.

@three_easy_payments Thanks for your thoughts on the Herron and the Luxman. I’ve always itched to try the Luxman myself and likely will one day. Have you rolled tubes in it? If so what are your preferences?

I may have misspoke with the Herron. What I meant by refined is polite… restrained. I agree it was noisier than any Modwright unit I owned, which resulted in a lack of resolution. And it was just more… boring. Sometimes a component can be very high quality and refined and land in the same boring territory, even if it performs at a higher fidelity. The Herron was for sure noisier and further obscuring the music. 

@thiefoflight  Yes, I've tried rolling tubes in the Luxman after reading several pro reviewers report great results.  I started with the rectifier and am using a 1960 Mullard with nice improvement, particularly to bottom end grip and bass heft.  I then tried a quad of used Tele ECC83's and they completely degraded the sound so I went back to the stock JJ's which actually sound excellent.  I'm wondering if I just got a bad batch of ECC83's.  I rolled the two ECC82's with a pair of mid-50s Tele's for a slight improvement over the stock JJ's so they currently remain in place.

It's interesting with the noise issue on the Herron.  I know that Keith was very meticulous selecting the best EH tubes for the unit and I'm now realizing he probably had to because only the quietest tubes would yield an acceptable sound with his circuit design. I don't know why he didn't use the 6922/6DJ8 in his phonostage which is what he uses in his linestage. All this talk of noise wouldn't be an issue because the EH 6922 is one of the quietest tubes there is for this purpose with ample gain.  

I just posted in the Analog section wondering about Modwright, Luxman and Allnic phono pre’s for use with an AT Art9XI. Anyone have any experience with Allnic’s newish H-5500? Or care to project based on experience with a 1202? Thanks. 

@three_easy_payments Thanks for your thoughts on the Luxman. You might have gotten bad or fake Tele’s, but I’ve heard them sound hot rides to the point that they almost distort. In full transparency, I love the Psvane 12AX7-s above any other 12AX7 tube I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard a lot of them), and I would probably try those if I ever got the Luxman. I wouldn’t expect anyone to agree with me as audio is personal and we all have different ears. 

@coys21 I’ve never heard the H-5500 but I did have a shootout with an older Modwright phono and a few other stages (mentioned this above), and the H-1201 was one of them (I didn’t mention that previously). I also owned an L-3000 Mk II preamp for a short while. I would say that Allnic overall is very colored and bloomy, and with both units the top end was recessed regardless of tube rolling and recapping. They were very pleasing to listen to but cut into the amount of air and space that should have been projected by the music. I bet they would work more for higher efficiency speaker systems, which I have also played much with, but I would never consider them for anything else  


@thiefoflight Thanks for the suggestion on the Psvane 12AX7's....I've never tried them but really like all the other Psvane tubes I've used in other gear - ACME 300B and 274B.  I may buy a quad and see how it goes.

Absolutely love the ACME line myself. But the first Psvane I ever bought were the 12AX7 T-II, which got replaced by the S series, and that’s how I got into them in the first place. Psvane does make some subpar tubes in some variants and lines, but the 12AX7-S, the CV-181 T-II, the 6CA7 T-II and ACME 300B and 845 were the best of theirs that I tried. 


Oh yes I forgot, I also have a pair of the CV-181 T-II and the 6CA7 T-II - both excellent.  Just ordered a matched quad of the Psvane 12AX7-S ECC83 Art Series Gold Pins.

@three_easy_payments Let me know what you think of the 12AX7-S as they break in since I’m itching to hear the EQ-500 with them at some point. 

I have the utmost respect for Keith Herron and his products and I wish him well in his retirement. Maybe in another 20 years, I will be doing the same!

I have not compared the Herron to the ModWright, so I won't comment. The Herron is a well respected design.

I will however, comment on the PH 9.0X vs. the original PH 9.0! I knew that the PH 150, which the PH 9.0 design is based upon, still had qualities that the PH 9.0 did not, albeit at $5K more money! I spent some time looking at the design changes and cost cutting that I did to reach the PH 9.0's price point and I put the 150SE circuits back into the PH 9.0 at each point and evaluated them. I then found the key to the difference and that was the Lundahl output (gapped) transformers, that not only eliminated a pair of coupling caps, but also significantly increased the inductive load on the final stage that improved low and mid bass response, improved detail and resolution overall and added +6dB overall gain. This raised the cost of the PH 9.0X over the PH 9.0 of course, but still left it far less expensive than the PH 150. All PH 9.0 units can be upgraded to 'X' status for the difference in price between the PH 9.0 and PH 9.0X. I am VERY happy with the performance of the PH 9.0X!

And as for service and support, ModWright's reputation speaks for itself, over the last 22+ years.


Dan Wright
President, ModWright Instruments Inc.

@modwright  Thanks Dan for the great contribution to thread! Sounds like a nice cost-effective upgrade you have there in the 9.0X.  Tough to believe that anyone could claim to do a lot of due diligence in this cost range for a phono and completely ignore your products!  I have yet to hear one but the features are extremely compelling as I noted back in April 2020.  I'd definitely be considering the 9.0X if I were in the market at this price point.


+1 on the Luxman EQ500! I am using NOS medical grade European Amperex tubes and it sounds so good! Even with stock tubes, it beat the Tavish Adagio and the Herron. Also the most quiet phono stage I have ever owned...tube or solid state!