Phono Preamplifier Redux .. Damn This is Getting Expensive

I posted previously in search of a phono preamplifier, but as I put together a system I refined what I was looking for.

My current Analog food chain consists of Technics 1200G turntable, Hana ML cartridge, unknown phono preamplifier, McIntosh MA12000 integrated, Sabrina X, pair of REL S/812 subs.  Also, Shunyata Everest 8000 power conditioner and a mix of Alpha V2 NR and Venom V10NR power cables.  Other cables: AQ Earth balanced interconnects, William Tell full range speaker cables.  Also, had to make some room acoustic modifications.

So, here is the problem.  I just got a Holo May DAC DTE and have been streaming by Roon, mostly purchased and ripped files on a Synology NAS.  The problem is that my digital side sounds much more musical than my analog.  Part of the remedy is on the way with 3" Tiger Maple equipment rack, but digital and analog are not close.  My Sutherland 20/20 LPT is going back.  It has limited front/back sound stage and the upper mids and treble are a bit shrill.  I say this because the Holo is just beautifully musical throughout.

Music Direct will be taking Sutherland back and has suggested the Esoteric E-02 Balanced as a solution.  So this post I'm raising my budget to 9-10K new, or used and prefer balanced out.  Looking for detail, dynamics and silent background.  I just can't have the digital so much more enjoyable... of course there is always selling all analog and staying digital, but that doesn't feel right.  

So, where do I go for balanced out and more musical, but retaining micro detail and dynamics?


I don't know if the Townsend podiums will solve all life's problems but they sure solve a lot of the audio problems especially room problems. LOL

I’ll say I’ve rarely seen such consistently glowing reviews from both customers and reviewers of a tweak product as I see with Townshend Podium, Platform, etc.  One of the few products I’d buy with confidence that it’d make a significant positive difference in my system, and I very likely will when budget allows.  I’m thinking of buying a cheaper audio rack with posts that are sand fillable and putting a Podium underneath that to benefit all my electronics in one shot. 

i keep my tubed dac and tubed phono pre inside a credenza without issue. can't say i'd do this with my SET amp. the little tubes do not generate heat like an output tube. tubed sources are great!


I believe you, but I want to see where I’m at after the equipment stand before I spend $4000 on $5500 worth of subwoofers. It is good to know that there is a solution should all else fail. It may be the only way.. We will see.

@vonhelmholtz If you are willing to spend that level of money on a phono stage, and looking at the rest of your vinyl rig, I would suggest looking into a Modwright PH9.0X, which is a tubed yet completely non-microphonic stage, and the best one I’ve tried with a retail value south of $10K. I’ve advocated for this stage multiple times on this forum, and any time someone chooses it, they are always amazed with how well it performs. I can even give you references to those threads and users but a simple search on this forum will do. we have also debated most of the other stages mentioned above across these threads as well. With the rest of your money, I would suggest you invest the $3-4K into a better, used turntable and tonearm that will get you more out of your Hana.

Should you truly want to rather invest that kind of money all on a phono stage, well I will contact you direct over PM next.