MM Phono Stages With Greater Than 40 dB of Gain?

One of my favorite phono cartridges is the Ortofon MC 2000, I have it with the T2000 SUT. Even so the combined output is still low, and going into my Esoteric E-03 phono stage I have to add a lot of additional gain from the pre amp.

Since I no longer use the Esoteric for direct input of moving coil cartridges I thought I might see if there is a better choice for a MM style phono stage that offers greater gain.

I have looked a bit, but not seen anything jump out. Anyone have run across an excellent MM only phono stage with higher than 40dB of gain?


My Sutherland KC Vibe has 40, 45, 50,  55,  60 dB settings.  Some of their other offerings have even higher gain on the top of the setting 

If you have the bucks, do not ignore Raul’s mention of the new 3180. I own the 3160, and it is superb (and all solid state, in a tube guy’s system).

As to the Manley phono stages, the gain stage is a hybrid cascode (transistor on the bottom/tube on top), not purely tube devices, if you want solid state.

Mulveling’s suggestion of using a 1:10 SUT into an MC stage, in order to derive enough gain for the MC2000, is interesting. I don’t know of anyone who has ever tried that. The MC2000 has an internal R of 2 ohms and so could theoretically drive a 20 ohm load in voltage mode. To achieve that minimum acceptable load on the cartridge, you would have to use an MC stage with at least a 2000 ohm input resistor. (square of the turns ratio of a 1:10 SUT is 100. 2000 ohms/100 = 20 ohms.)

40dB of gain was the standard back in the pre-moving coil days, and very few phono stages DON'T provide that amount of gain for moving magnet and moving iron pickups.

The Herron VTPH phono amps (both the VTPH-1mm and VTPH-2) provide 42 or 44dB of gain (depending on the use of 12AX7 vs. 12AT7 tubes), but are no longer in production. They come up for sale occasionally, and are real nice phono stages, priced below the sound quality they produce.

The Passlabs XP-27 starts at 56db of gain (selectable in three 10db increments)  and is has adjustable resistance and capacitance from the front panel.

I use the Parasound JC 3 jr. with adjustable gains of
40 dB / 50 dB / 60 dB (unbalanced output) and 46 dB / 56 dB / 66 dB (balanced output).