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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@thiefoflight I got the name wrong and the system wouldn't let me edit. I have the VIDA MKII and I'm very pleased. It's dead quiet but still extremely engaging.  

@jeff1225 Thanks for the clarification. While I likely won’t purchase it anytime soon, I am still curious about it. What phono stage did you own prior, and what were the notable differences that the Vida brought?

@thiefoflight the VIDA replaced a Lamm LP2.1 Deluxe. The VIDA matches the Lamm in terms of resolution but is much more quiet. 

I have on regular occasions been in in a position to experience two phonostages.

I have had the option to use different Tonearms and Cartridges, but experiencing these does not in my experiences, impact on the presentation in the same manner as changing the signal path via the Phonostage.

To work with the impressions that can be made, I have a few resident SUT's but have had the loans of other SUT's and Head Amp's.

There is something about the differences a Phonostage can have on a replay, and the want to learn much about this has led me to be party to numerous demonstrations of devices.

I have come to learn there is a small selection of Phonostages I would be happy to be with, would I like to have them all at home and select one that supersedes all.  No I would not, I like the memory, the recollection and the want to get out and encounter such wonderment once more.

It is very satisfying to be in the company of a device that makes such a positive impression and creates a real feel good factor, but for all these strengths, is not enough to tempt one of their much enjoyed owned devices. The experience of being able to gauge where a system is and know that any alterations will be a change only, but mot a change for the better is a comfortable place to be.

The differences recognised between the devices, and the alternate usage of each device, is almost a selection to suit a mood, and ones mood is usually dictating the Genre selected to be replayed, the alternate usage is certainly not an attempt to improve the system. I am suspecting this is where the OP is finding they have arrived at with their options for the two devices available at present.


Thanks for the update.  Honestly, your experience with both phono stages is a classic audiophile conundrum - what do I like better on any given day with any given recording?  Apples and oranges as they say.  Good luck!