Looking for a new phono preamp


Long time lurker, first time poster.

Here's the deal. I'd like to find a new phono preamp. I'd prefer solid state, tubes get noisy too fast. My latest cartridge is an AT-ART9XA. I'm currently running thru a sut into a cj pv10a with phono stage, but I have just got my hands on a Bel Canto pre5 that the new phono pre will be paired with.

I've got a hard upper limit of $2.5k, less is OK for the right unit. I'm looking to buy new. Dealers around me aren't really set up to demo vinyl, so I'm hoping the collective experience in here can at least point me in the right direction. Hopefully, it would have a one month return policy so I can try out the preamp.


Haven't read thru entire chain but curious has anyone in this thread considered a Strain Gauge cartridge thereby forgoing a phono preamp? It is something I'm contemplating myself.

 I owned one and it is easy to use and sounded very good, although I did sell it after about two years and moved up to a Luxman EQ500. BTW - I also owned a Herron VTPH 2A and I thought that it sounded great on classical and jazz, but not so much on rock.

I purchased a new VTPH-2A from Keith directly and received it about 2 weeks ago. I’ve been using it all day every day since (I work from home and my listening room is my home office). I’m guessing I have about 160 hours on it now. I did not want to comment until I felt it was broken in.

 In regard to using it with rock, I listen probably 60% to rock and blues, various genres. I find it excellent for rock.

 Timing and pace is everything I want from my analog system, especially considering I’m using an average preamp for the line stage. It’s very dynamic, both macro and micro, and I’m definitely hearing great results. Also, my records somehow seem quieter, maybe it’s from a blacker background, but also I think I’m hearing less ticks and pops.

 I’m going to be looking for a new preamp in the near future that I hope will bring out even more.

 Maybe something in your system didn’t interact well with the Herron, or maybe it’s just personal taste. I’m thrilled with it so far with all genres.

Hi psychoticreation

Take a look at the PS Audio Stellar phono preamp. Stereophile did a nice review and Michael Fremer loved it. I believe he gave it a analog product of the year award. It’s solid state. Has plenty of gain (72db) does both mm & mc cartridges. Retails for $2500.00. They sell direct to consumer and I believe they offer a 30 day trial period with a full money back return policy. Fremer said the midrange clarity and transparency was as good as any of his cost no object phono preamps. I would give it a try. Good luck.