Solid State Phono Stages

I used to be an all-tube guy, but I’ve now ventured into the realm of high-end solid state with T+A and no longer have any itch to go back heavily into tubes. Now, the only tubes I have left in my system are in my Modwright PH9.0X phono, and from what I’ve demoed against it, it seems to be a giant killer. I do love it, but I’m curious to try a higher end solid state phono stage to see what more noise and more music might sound like. Unfortunately T+A does not have a standalone phono stage, so I’m looking at other manufacturers and open to other opinions.

I currently have a Clearaudio Innovation Wood table and Air Tight PC-1s cartridge. i listen to a wide range of music, from Zeppelin to Vivaldi to Beck to Coltrane to Yello. The stage would ideally have between 65-74db of gain, maybe adjustable to 60db at minimum, and have variable impedance values. A balanced output stage would be ideal. I don’t ever really plan to have a second arm, but most stages that retail over $7K tend to have multiple inputs anyways.

My budget would be at tops ~$8K for a used unit. The unit that is sticking out to me from what I’m reading about is the Simaudio Moon 810LP. Another high on the list is the Esoteric E-02. I’ve also come across the Pass XP-27, the Gold Note PH-1000.

I’m looking for a stage with some personality in its character, not one that is overly refined. I’d love for it to be dynamic and bold when it should be, and also gentle and refined when it should be.

The only solid state stages I’ve ever owned and tried were the Pass Labs Xono, which was clean sounding but a little noisy and brittle sounding compared to a PS Audio Stellar Phono. I’ve liked all my tube phono stages better than both of those units.

I’ve also considered going further up the tube stage route, looking at Doshi 3.0, Aesthetix IO Eclipse, but I’m hesitant unless I can hear those in place. 

What solid stage phono stages have you loved, and what have you compared them to?

128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xblisshifi

@lohanimal Not offended and agree with you that written communications on forums can be misconstrued given lack of supporting tone at times. I, too, was just further stating my case in my response. Good to hear your recommendations, they are appreciated. 

Two sleepers from me: I run a Zyx Universe CU24 on a Dynavector arm through a Bobsdevices Altec TBB103 SUT to a Zyx Artisan, which is not a universal tool but through its battery supply very quiet and with the Zyx cartridge beautifully neutral and musical

I also run a Scheu MC (Benz modification) on a Mørch arm through a balanced connection to an Aqvox 2ci. This combo is punchier but less musical than the Zyx, more for rock music whereas the Zyx shines on classical. The Aqvox in balanced mode is very impressive but doesn’t match the Zyx as well as the Artisan.

musical surroundings phenomena II plus with linear charging power supply.

This combo sounds much better than it's price would suggest.

See Herbs report in stereophile


hi. I can only say the Tom Evans for solid state are really fantastic. Groove SR used or a regular groove new easily 5-8k or less. I have heard them and two fantastic ears (big time reviewers)  in the industry have them in their systems. VTL tp 6.5 series 1 used or a new VTL tp 2.5 is 5k. I think VTL wastes AR not only in their phono (which is their specialty) but also their amps. Bea Lamm only listens to vinyl and she is the ears behind VTL. My  S-400 series 2 amplifier by VTL is absolutely incredible. World class. I think there is a used mastergroove SR for sale on the web.


You’re probably right about me keeping the PH9.0X. Even if I did buy a solid state stage, I’m not sure I would let go of it. As a tube unit it has bested some Allnics, the Herron VTPH-2A, the Rogue Ares Magnum, and Fosgate Signature Phono.

The ModWright PH9.0X bested the Herron VTPH-2A? Not trying to start a fight just gob smacked curious? Can anyone else testify? Thanks