Vintage turntable with a modern phono stage, is it worth it?

Hello all. I am considering swapping out my 12 year old Rega RP3 for a new turntable. I am looking at a beautifully restored Thorens 125 MII with a Sorane TA-1 tone arm and I would be putting my Hana SL cart onto it. My question is, would it be worth it to upgrade my phono stage as well? Or is going vintage not really an "upgrade" in the usual sense? I currently have a Schiit Mani and feeling perhaps I should consider upgrading alongside the turntable. The rest of my system is a Leben 300xs Integrated Amp / Zu Soul 6 loudspeakers.



A Vintage TT of a certain type with a certain type of Phonostage, either modern or a older design can prove to be a superb method to replay a Vinyl LP.  

I moved on to Vintage TT's as my main source more than 20 years ago, and even though most owned are with modifications, they have proved to be ideals tools and fit for their role in the system. 

Yes, the phono stage is a critical component in the chain. As you're looking to use a low output MC, you are somewhat precluded from the many MM only tube phono stages. 

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I definitely it think it could be worth it. Do some careful research, and see what might be the best fit for your rig within budget, and that will best your Mani. 


Absolutely worth it.

I bought an older mid-80’s SOTA Sapphire, and still had a Mani as well. Great phono stage for the money. But, then purchased a new Hagerman Trumpet tube phono pre, and it took vinyl play to another level…..especially after some tube swapping…..and a separate power supply.

Yes, definitely. Phonostages are critical and without a good one you are missing out on your turntable / cartridge. My rule of thumb is to invest as much in your Phonostage as your TT/cartridge. 

my experience: my budget was 50% of my TT. I tried 4 different ones, based on reviews and synergy and there was a huge spread, in the same price range and also tried a step up Phono stage. A higher end and phono stage IMHO is a waste for a midfi TT. A $600 phono stage proved to be the best match for my new Rega 3.

@avgonzalez77 I would recommend a tube phono stage. I have gotten excellent play back on my Thoren TT with  Audio Research PH3 and PH5, both are tube phono preamps. Yes, you will see a noticeable improvements. You can also swap stock tubes with NOS tubes for additional improvements. Both use 6922/7308 tubes. And there is a wide variety/range of tubes in this family to choose from.

Thanks for the feedback friends, all encouraging. I suppose I'll look for a phono stage then, one appropriate for this particular TT. I suppose high end may be overkill as you warn @grislybutter, open to any recommendations. 

Can’t speak to the level of upgrade the Rega to Thorens would be, but an upgraded phono would definitely be a worthwhile move regardless. I also have the Leben 300xs, went from a Schiit Mani to a Darlington Labs MP7 phono and was thrilled with the move. For the Hana just add their SU-7 active head amp or an SUT and you’ll be set.

The Gold Note PH-10 seems to show up on the used listings at least one a week for decent price.

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Cartridge and phono stage should work well with each orher make sure important feelings is compatible as well as the amount of gain

Off course : look at Thorens td  124 , Garrard. , Denon 101., (old ones off Technics)… still one of the best in the world !!

Absolutely, I have two vintage turntables, both that I’ve restored and modified, a Thorens TD 160 and an ARXA. Any turntable table can benefit from a a good pre whether new, old, modified etc. 

When it comes to phono stages, I have a history of SS designs used. 

Today I have a Valve Input/Output and a Valve Hybrid. 

More recently I have been demonstrated two SS designs, on a familiar system, and even though not home auditioned, there was enough on offer to suggest these  SS  designs are serious  contenders.

Keeping an open mind on this subject pays good dividends. 




I'd say yes, in principle. Not everyone likes Thorens turntables, though I liked the one my father-in-law had just as much as his Linn LP12. There are an awful lot of excellent Garrard and Lenco tables out there too.

There are lots of Jolinda tube phono stages on the used market. I don’t know why. They are definitely not entry level.