Tube phono rec’s for AT Art9XI - Allnic, Modwright, Luxman…

I’m looking for a tube phono pre to pair with my AT Art9XI (0.5mV MC). Under $5K would be great, could stretch a bit higher if convinced.

It’s unlikely I can audition any of the following in my home, but have read great things about Allnic H-5500, Modwright 9.0x, Luxman eq-500. I think it’s unlikely many have had experience with all of these, but would appreciate any thoughts, and am open to other tube suggestions. I’m open to buying used. Can I go very wrong with any of these? Should I be looking at a lower (Chinook, Allnic 1202, lottery ticket on a Herron, Decware) or higher price range? I would guess future carts will be MC’s in the $1500+ range. 

Fwiw, TT is a SL-1210gae - currently into a Hegel h-390 (has balanced ins) via the to-be-replaced Parasound Zphono XRM. Love the Hegel, but long term main system (for which I want the new phono) will likely move to tube separates, maybe ARC. TIA for any thoughts!


I think it would be difficult to go wrong with any of those phono stages.

Of the phono stages on your list. I have only heard the Luxman, which is an excellent phono stage. IMO a great performer in its price range.

@coys21 I just received my Modwright 9.0x and I'm using it with the AT-ART9XA. It is still breaking in but I can tell you it is stunning. Meticulously Packed, Rock Solid Construction and just a beauty of Art and Engineering. I thought I would need to use the gain for the LO AT, but load set to 100ohm and no gain. It is crystal clear no noise, none. Deep bass, dynamics and very resolving. I was looking at the others mentioned. I initially had the SPL Phonos which I thought was very good. The air in between the instruments and little nuances I'm hearing is telling me I made the right choice. Dan is great to work with and a solid USA company. I did change out the JJ6922 for some Siemens E188CC/7308 gold pins. Good Luck to you in your search!

+1 to the Modwright 9.0X. Dan and company are always a pleasure to deal with.

The unit sounds great out of the box and simply fantastic after proper break in. I put on an LP after the upgrade (+ break in) to the "X" version and was pleasantly surprised how musical it sounded. It really drew me in. I mean it sounded great before, but there was something a more magical to it after the upgrade. Pardon the pun, but it seemed to have that "X" factor going for it. 😉


Allnic is a great choice, i run a H-1202 and it’s a really nice unit for not a lot of money. A step up is the Manley Steelhead RC which might just be in your budget if you’re shopping used.

Lots of flexibility with the Steelhead including a good single line input and remote for volume only.


+1rooze - the Allnic H1202 is a great recomenadation.  Came very cloce to my H3000 in my system.

With a Valve Phon' there are a few designs out there from different Brands that can vary that are very noticeably in the Sonic Traits, SQ and Presentation.

Firstly in my mind there is nothing much wrong with the variations to the presentation on offer,  as from my experiences encountered certain types of music are much more endearing and attractive when encountered through one of the  different presentations that are available.

The only Brand I have received a demonstration of in your shortlist is the Modwright and this took place a few years ago. I do not have a precise recollection, but do recall my thoughts leaning toward the Model I heard as being that the device would be great to listen to Blues Music on, the Blues with a Chicago Origin as its foundation.

It is a shame that a home audition is not available to be arranged, this would be very valuable to your fin al selection process as there are noticeable difference between certain models.

My experiences undertaken of listening to many Valve Phon's over many years, leads myself to describe the delivery from one type of Design/Model as having a Richness in the Presentation and certain designs with this trait can have a perceived Bloom in the Bass Note.

There are the Design/Model that can create a psycho acoustic effect, where there is created a perception that the Listening environment is with much more Volume than is present and the ethereal exquisiteness can really be captivating.

There are then the design/ Models that when compared to the former, will be said to be quite transparent, this is my preferred presentation, and my Phon' is Valve Input/Output bespoke built model, where I was quite fortunate to be invited to take part in selecting/deselecting the components that were producing/not producing  my preferred presentation. 

The Perception of a Valve Input/Output Phon' being Transparent is in my view a misnomer and another psycho acoustic effect, as when a Valve Phon' of this type is demonstrated along side a Few Solid State designs, this is very quickly learned. 

Even though I am at certain times blown away by the capabilities of certain designs of SS Phon', I am always at my happiest with a Valve Phon' at the helm.

I have demoed 2 of your choices WITH an ART9- Chinook & Allnic

Both are solid choices. Purely a subjective "Goldlocks" decision on what you would prefer.

There is an Icon Audio tube unit that looks like a good deal listed


I can't give any comparative observations, but I'm happy with Modwright SWP 9.0SE, precursor to PH9 and x. If I were to upgrade 9x would be on my radar. I also have experience with Modwright digital mods in the past, Dan knows his stuff.