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?

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There are quite a few very good phono stages ad there are a handful of really special ones.

I have one of the first sort that uses tubes in one system (Conrad Johnson Premier 15). It is very good.


I have a solid state phono stage in my other system and it is the best I have ever heard of any type (Vendetta SCP2 -C). But good luck at ever finding one.

For $2,200. the Musical Fidelity M6x Vinyl is a fine phono pre. Balanced, adjustable to ANY cartridge. Sounds fantastic. I am running a VPI Classic with a Sumiko Pearwood. Everyone that hears it thinks it's great. 


Another recommendation for Sutherland Transimpedance designs. Just transcending in all aspects. For me, it was revolutionary in that my poor recordings became amazing! It really gets to the heart of the recordings. Any in the lineup exhibit this behavior, but you of course, get more as you move up to the higher end Little Loco or Big Loco.

For reasons to numerous to go into here you might consider a Black Swan Phono Preamp.