Looking for recommendations for a phono preamp under $2k

I took my Thorens TD145 out of the closet, cleaned it changed belt and installed a new Ortofon Red.  I'm going to buy a phono preamp and would like some direction....$2k is the most I want to invest..Currently using a Schiit phono preamp.





Of course, you will get many responses from folks with their own personal choices, and in this case, I’m no different 😁

I bought a Hagerman Trumpet which I think is a wonderful phono pre for the money. I believe about $1,200~$1,300 new now (recent price increase, but shipping is free). Nice tube amp that will handle about any cart you can throw at it. Of course, tube rolling, as I have done, can take it to another level. I bought some nice old tubes and a linear power supply for it, and still a tick under $2,000.

It replaced a Mani for me BTW, and the difference is pretty big. The Mani is pretty darn good for its price though.

I don't have any complaints with the Schiit, but I don't have anything to compare it to.    I hadn't used that turntable in 20 years until recently. It sounded very good with the ortofon, so my audio compulsive thinking took me right to throwing more money at it!

Yeah let me second the Hagerman Trumpet MC. I’ve had many much more expensive stages, but this one will stick around because it’s so versatile and has such a pleasing analog sound. Works equally well with MM or MC of all output levels (until you get below say 0.2mV) and price points. It actually works amazingly well with an Ortofon 2M Blue, which benefits greatly from the warmth and body the Trumpet provides. You’ll definitely want to upgrade from the Red if you’re getting a phono stage of this quality. Even at a Blue you’re well beyond maxing it out with this stage, but I can verify it does work quite nicely. I assume you meant 2M Red? A Cadenza Red would probably make a killer price/performance match here. I haven't tried this exact combo yet, but I have heard both separately and I think it would be a great combo. 

It’s also amazingly responsive to tube rolling, and seems amicable to a wide range of makes and vintages. I have quite an odd mix in there right now:

  • GE TM BP "silver clips" 5751
  • Tung-Sol (Russia) Gold 12AX7
  • GE TM GP 5-Star 5814

I suggest you look into phono preamps made by SoundSmith. Our customers who have purchased them (not from us) have been very satisfied. Peter L. not only designs excellent cartridges but excellent electronics, too.

Solid State-Bel Canto e.One $1495 Pros-Quiet/Dynamic/XLR/USA Made. Cons-Only 60db gain for MC.

Tube-Allnic H-1200/01 1200 $800-$1k used, 1201 $1200+ used.  Pros-Top level tonality. Cons-lacks bass and treble extension. 

If I was using a MM cartridge the Bel Canto(new) is a no brainer.

If you are content with the Mani I say stick with it. Michael Fremer - who is a fanatic about LP playback - gave it a thumbs up as an outstanding product for an affordable price. I think spending 10X the price of the Mani is a waste of money, though the moneyphiles here will disagree! For $275 you can get the Bellari VP130mk2  tube phono stage - which will give you the option of tube-rolling to alter the sound.

I don’t have any complaints with the Schiit, but I don’t have anything to compare it to. I hadn’t used that turntable in 20 years until recently. It sounded very good with the ortofon, so my audio compulsive thinking took me right to throwing more money at it!

Just get it going… and flow with it.
(you can always get 20 LPs and spend about the same (or maybe 1/3-1/2 of that 2k)

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I'm a huge fan of the Gold Note PH-10 do a quick search and you'll find at least a dozen reviews. It's extremely versatile and sounds wonderful IMHO. It had a price increase and now sells for 2k but I'm sure you can get a small discount. 😉 They just released a scaled down version called the PH-5 for 1k but I haven't heard it.

I suggest looking into the new offering from SOTA, the Pixy.  I know one of the designers and have one of the earlier prototypes.  We compared the Pixy to mine and could not tell a difference.  In my case it replaced a very popular tube based phono stage that is about ten times the price.  

I have been trying a few in the budget range and I read up on it and browsed the used market for weeks.

In your price range: Southerland and Manley are superb