Herron VTPH2 new in system

I just bought a Herron VTPH2 in part just to see what all the fuss is about. My question has to do with system synergy.

Upstream I'm running a Phasemation MC cartridge into a SUT into the Herron. Downstream the Herron's connected to the tape input of the Precision Fidelity C7A Revised that it may be replacing. That unit is a passive pre with a tube phono stage that's now bypassed. Downstream, is a Rogue Atlas Magnum amp driving One Thing rebuilt Quad ESL57's.

There's nothing really wrong with the system as it was- very enjoyable, given the known limitations of the Quads, which I accept as a trade-off for their incredible strengths. The Herron's an experiment.

I've only spun a few records so far. Here's the good- the Herron's very revealing and musical. I'm not a soundstage nut, but the Herron spreads instruments out on the L-R spectrum amazingly. I get a strong sense of why people rave about it.

The bad- where'd the bass go? There's much less flesh on the bones of the music. I know my system tends to favor midrange/treble as it is, but I didn't expect such a further push in this direction. The big test was Beck's Morning Phase LP- its bass has overwhelmed me in previous system iterations- a lot of the choices I've made have used this disc as a guide to bring such bass energy under control. But with the Herron inserted, while I can hear it as an instrument, just about all the lower fundamental frequencies are gone. Also, I keep turning the volume up to hear what I think I should be hearing- the music just feels "held back" somehow.

I infer there's a serious mismatch between the Herron and the passive stage of the PF. Before I test this with a spare old Belles preamp I've got laying around, any wisdom out there? There's an old, slightly banged up Herron line stage hanging around out there for $850 that looks tempting . . . after splurging on the VTPH2 I'm not up for going all out on a line stage.



Precision Fidelity C7A Revised that it may be replacing. That unit is a passive pre

I've got both a Herron phono preamp and a Herron line-stage preamp and have been delighted with both of them for the several years I've had them now, with a variety of speakers. I use a Clearaudio Charisma MM cartridge into the preamp into its designated input, and the line-stage preamp goes into an MSB S200 SS power amp... I agree about contacting Keith; he's pretty much retired, but is still very helpful with questions about his gear. 

I have a 2A and have run it 8 ways to Sunday including  passive into essentially a Modjeski “ pot in a box “ I find that even tho the Herron has a LOT of drive, it benefits from an active linestage ( like most but not all systems do ). I’m getting excellent sonics using a Belles 20A…. iF i were you I would:

as @noromance  suggested Try without the SUT , the FET front end is quite good

Try your Belles

Call Keith, he is a real Gem

Thanks so much for your thoughtful replies. I experimented- again!- with adding a decent Velodyne sub I have laying around into the equation, to check what my reference LP's might sound like with reasonable bass levels back in the system. Yes, that helped, but it wasn't a solution, as it got boomy as soon as a contemporary bass heavy LP (Beck) was tested. So . . . it occurred to me that the issue I was hearing was like phase inversion with speaker cables. Which led me to wonder if, given Herron's rep, he hadn't design a simple solution to a problem like this into this unit. And indeed, there's a mains phase inversion switch on the rear panel!. Click, and voila- instruments advance, and bass reappears, tightly integrated, not bloated, like I'd expect given everything I know about my system. Just for kicks I'll leave the Velodyne in there cut off at 60hz to see if it annoys or enhances. The gain issue continues, but for my low-volume habits, that's not much of a problem.

It's a testament to the PF7AR that the legendary Herron isn't a complete revelation. I'm now pretty far up the curve of diminishing returns- the Herron's nowhere near 3X better. It's a match tone-wise, and to its credit its reveal of the stereo spread across the x-axis is steps beyond. On certain recordings- Leonard Cohen's The Guests for example- the difference is magical. Otherwise so far it's not far from an even exchange. I'm not going to re-engineer my life for the sake of perfection, but taking everything into account, the Herron's a net positive. If I want to lean forward and be analytical, it gets me there, if I want lean back and hear the music as a whole, super cool that it's already doing that. This is all pretty new- I'm sure more insights will arise . . .