Phono pre amp recommendations? - upgrading from ICON AUDIO PS1 MK II

hey everyone, I am kindly asking for your phono pre amp recommendations, especially if you have experience with my current amp (icon audio PS1 MKII).

for the first time in my audio journey right now my system is so close to perfect (to my ears) and im incredibly happy about that. my current set up is Marantz tt15 turntable with dynavector 20x2 cartridge, primaluna prologue premium integrated and elysian 4 speakers. its very transparent, detailed, smooth, open, and in my opinion pretty neutral. when I swapped out my phono pre amp for one that my friend made(also tube design), it was like everything came to life, I couldn’t believe I was listening to the same system as I was 5 minutes ago. everything had more weight, and was more life like, it was darker and yet more lively, the vocals jumped out in front: so detailed and life like yet smooth and warm and not edgy or sharp or fatiguing like I often hear. it is currently the sound I am chasing (my friend will not sell this amp, or make another one like it, some friend huh?).

can anyone recommend a phono pre in the 3-4k range that can accomplish most or at least some of these qualities? my conclusions are that the icon audio is great, tonnes of headroom, detail, smooth, super quiet, big soundstage, but that it is too neutral for my ears and system and not warm enough, or its too polite, it seems to disappear in the system which may be a great quality for some.

does anyone have experience with this amp and can make a recommendation for an amp that has more warmth richness and weight (and forwardness?) in the midrange without giving up the other qualities I mentioned? I’m not looking for that vintage mushy sweet tube sound, more looking for what I have with just a hint more of that magic lol.

a couple of amps I am looking into are the modwright ph9, lab12 melto 2, and Allnic h-5500 (although a bit out of my budget).

I would appreciate and advice you can give me or any experience you can share with me.

thanks so much




palutena, I didn't own a Rhea. 

The noise issue with just about all the competent brands IMO is negligible. The unit I sold was all tube(no transformers) and the PL is all tube. 

If you're one of the "listen for noise/put your ear to the speaker" type, you will hear noise in ANY tube unit. Tube hiss is only heard in between cuts and the volume maxed-who does that?

There's plenty of SS units with "tube like" performance/whisper quiet. I'm not aware of the ones that are in your budget.

I have the same DAK that you have from PS Audio

And for the money they have a phono amp for about $3,000 that punches way above its weight class. Also, the customer service I have received over the years is second to none. I feels great to pick up the phone with a question and have a friendly person who goes out of the way to help you. I first got associated with PS Audio purchased a DAC that had to be 8-10 years out of warranty and was trying to do a software update after spending an hour on the phone with a young man trying to help he said let me send you a memory card so you can do it yourself. Thought to myself if that's the kind of service you get for no cost on a DAC that was old as the hills I should consider buying something new and I purchased a BHK 250 amp and a BHK preamp very happy


I have been auditioning the Allnic H-5500 and the icon audio ps3 signature in my system for the last two weeks, if anyone is interested in a comparison I can report back with my findings.