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?


Folks are now recommending general-purpose MM/MC phono stages. OP’s specific cartridge is NOT a normal MC. It’s a 0.05mV mega-ultra-extreme LOW output and needs something more specific. He already has a matching 50x SUT (35dB gain), which ideally would be paired to a ~ 45dB - 50dB voltage gain stage at 47K (or higher) load to hit the electrical "sweet spot". Any lower than 47K load will not work well. 40dB gain is probably not enough (without a lot of downstream line gain available).

That configuration should work well; lots of nice options for that. I’ve been proposing an alternative, in the form of a 10x SUT plus an active voltage gain stage in the range of 60 - 64dB, with load of 2K or higher (as @lewm pointed out). It is very unusual to feed a SUT into a full MC stage, but I think that might work nicely here due to the very unusual circumstances. Loading is very crucial here!

No active MC stage on earth of going to amplify that 0.05mV on its own, without the help of a SUT and without rendering a MASSIVE noise floor!

@bdp24 the Herron VTPH-2A specs 43dB or 48dB gain MM mode and 64dB or 69dB MC mode (depending on tube configuration). Were earlier iterations lower in gain? The 48dB MM model would be absolutely ideal for OP with his 50x SUT and a 2K (or higher) loading plug (or no loading plug!). However, I was under the impression that you cannot simply swap tubes (pair of 12AX7 vs 12AX7) to go from one configuration to the other - I thought the RIAA EQ was tuned at the factory for one or the other, so it would have to go back to Keith (or take instruction from him) to properly change config - because the 2 tubes in question are part of the RIAA eq circuit? My VTPH-2A is the lower gain config, 3x 12AT7 and 2x 12AX7. This config was Keith’s typical recommendation. It would be great if I could just swap tubes to change config (if 12AX7's were food I'd be set for life). And I’ve definitely come to appreciate the VTPH-2A’s virtues more with time!

Dear @mulveling : " No active MC stage on earth of going to amplify that 0.05mV on its own, without the help of a SUT and without rendering a MASSIVE noise floor."


Not exactly the 3180 can do it and even that you don’t own the MC2000 that phonolinepreamp can do that your cartridges will glow/shines as never before along your lovely Tannoy's that I like it ( I own a Tannoy ST and incredible quality build quality. ) ). If you wish we can start a private dialogue. I posted contact in this thread.


Thank’s @lewm .



In addition, there are a slew of current drive phono stages that easily handle the MC2000 with no SUT. (Of course, you can’t use a SUT with current drive.) For only one example my BMC MCCI set at +11db gain. In further addition there is the Sutherland outboard current drive pure gain stage that in essence subs for a SUT into an MM stage. Because the MC2000 makes a fair amount of current owing to its very low internal resistance.

mulveling: The Herron VTPH-1mm produces 44dB of gain when fitted with four 12AX7’s (plus one 12AT7 for non-gain functions), and 42dB with two 12AT7’s substituted for two of the 12AX7’s. The 12AX7’s and 12AT7’s are user interchangeable; Keith sent me enough of each to configure it either way.

A VTPH-1mm sold this past July on USAM for $500! The seller said the unit was a pre-production sample, hence the low price.

The VTPH-2 (in three iterations I believe) I’m not sure about. The bulk of the improvements incorporated into the VTPH-2 over the VTPH-1 were in it’s mc section, which was (and is) of no consequence to me, so the VTPH-1mm met (and meets) my needs.


Moon 110LPv2

Up to 66db gain both mc and mm. I have the same circuit in a Moon 390 and I like it. Worth a look.