Small form factor, SS phono preamp recommendation.

Hello all.... I've been using the very capable iFi Zen Phono as a place-holder for quite some time now. Using it's balanced output and upgraded power-supply I think it's a fantastic little unit. My 'table is a Luxman PD171A with a Jelco 850 10" arm and right now it's mounted with my Hana Umami Red. I also have an Accuphase E-5000 and will soon be taking delivery of a pair of Borresen Z5 Cryos. With my cabinet (which my wife calls "the Ark of the Covenant"), and the overall aesthetics of the room, I'm looking for a small, solid state, very high performing phono preamp. Since I just spent crazy money on the Accuphase and Borresens my budget is limited to $3,000 or so. I've been considering a Nova III with the upgraded power supply, a graham Slee Accession with upgraded power supply, an Accuphase AD-40 phono card, or a Whest. What am I missing? I'm to the point that I want to settle into years of stability with my stereo, and just enjoy mining my record collection and the many great record stores in Chicagoland. Thank you for reading,



How about the Gold Note PH-10? It's very versatile can accept 2 arms either MM or MC and sounds fantastic IMO. Just a thought.

Even as a phono guy, I’d be more than tempted to go the AD-50 Analog Record Input Board route. 1st - it’s Accuphase, 2nd - you could utilize full functionality of your E-5000, 3rd - it eliminates a set of cables & 4th - it so simple and elegant 

@rsf507 Good thought, I'll look into it again.. and @boothroyd good point, I have one in my Accuphase E-470 (secondary system)  and I should move it to my new E-5000 and really give it a good audition. @solypsa Intriguing option; are they available in the US? 

My new speakers will by the Borresen Z3's NOT the Z5's !



I know you asked questions, but I see on your (amazing, fun) photos: Rega Fono MM and Cambridge Audio Alva Duo. Do you have any advice, which one is better?


thanks @oranfoster 

For a Rega P3, is it better than the Rega phono stage?

PS I am addicted to pastry and bake all the time 

@grislybutter I should have mentioned that I used to own a Rega Aria, a more pricey unit than the Fono MM and found that it had way too much self-generated noise. With a good MM cart, your phono-stage may be a little less critical so you really have many good options. The CA Alva Duo was great and I probably shouldn't have sold the one I had. The iFi Zen Phono with it's upgraded power supply is super great too. Well, we just sold Village Baker and I should take down that system.... thanks for checking it out! I bet your pastries are wonderful. I usually find that people who bake at home bring real passion and care to baking and often make sublime pastries and breads. 


I have been baking since I the age of 6. Twice a week at least. Lots of Central European recipes. My grandmother ran a company that invented baking for the masses - before them it was mostly an upper class event - the maid baked for riches.

I tried the phono stage in my MF A3.2 and now a Musical Surroundings phonomena ii+. I need a little more details a clarity and sweetness if that's possible

I had the Nova III with the LPS and I felt like, both for the money and the size, it was unbelievable. It was dead quiet and there was lots of detail. I moved to a tube phono pre which has it's own great attributes sometimes I miss my the quiet simplicity of the Nova. Downside was all the dip switches were on the back but unless you switch cartridges a lot it shouldn't matter


Check out the Black Label iPhono 3 - superb, punches well above its price.

Can run with phonos up to $5k.

Even though I have no personal experience with the product, I would recommend the Accuphase analog option board. A couple to choose from. They make one that is two slots wide, which could be cool if you have 2 arms or TTs...assuming you would not want the other slot for an Accuphase DAC card.  @boothroyd , above, makes solid points.


Either the very best available phono card for your Accuphase, or the iFi iPhono 3 black label, like Dover says.

Another vote for the AD-50 card from Accuphase. Have one in my E-470 integrated.

Prefer the AD-50 over some standalone units I’ve auditioned: Gold note PH-10, PS Audio Stellar Phono, Wyred4Sound PH-1, and Parasound JC3+

Accuphase + Accuphase synergy is hard to beat.

@robelvick @lewm @gemoody and others.... Thanks for the insights. It probably does make the most sense to stick with the Accuphase phono card. It would be easy to spend a lot more and end up with more cords, more complexity, more chance for extraneous noise to get picked up, and with my cost restraints, no guarantee of better sound.


I am also user of Luxman PD171A and Jelco 850s. My Phono Preamp is Whest PS.30RDTSE (Pro). As a second Phono Preamp I use Octave EQ.2. A very small unit. Highly recommended. 

@jorgjean , What do you like about the whest? What cart are you using it with? Music Direct has an open box PS.40RDT SE for sale right now and I’m intrigued by it.

+1 for the Goldnote PS-10 (and optionally the PSU-10 but that could be added later). Dead quiet, super flexible, looks really cool too.