What's A Good Upgrade From A Manley Steelhead?

I'm on a mission to improve my vinyl front-end. Starting point is to replace the Graham 2.2 on my Basis Audio Debut Gold Vacuum, followed by a new compatible cartridge, next will be a different phonostage.

I like the Steelhead but I'm sure there's something better out there. I've around $8K  to play with and prefer to buy used. Has anyone stepped up from the Steelhead successfully, if so, what did you buy and how much of an improvement was it?

Appreciate any thoughts/ideas? 


Why not forget about loading and go 

with a Sutherland Phono  Loco current/transimpedence phono stage?

At $8200 it’s right at your budget

i personally went through several voltage type phono stages

until I personally went with the Little Loco

This change was the single largest improvement I have ver experienced in gear changes /upgrades   To my vinyl front end playback.No longer do I need to worry a loading and this unit gives me the most accurate reproduction of the grooves that I have ever experienced. Also forget about hum because this design is dead quiet.

Good luck Willy-T


@willy-t Thanks for the heads up on the Sutherland. I wasn’t aware of this technology, using the current and not the voltage generated in moving coil cartridges. It’s interesting since I’m also looking to change tonearms so I can spec the balanced ungrounded cable requirements.


I wish there were some place I could get to hear this thing.

Otherwise I like the Moon idea, unless something else comes along. I haven’t found much reading on the Moon phono but I’ll have another look around later today.

Please keep any other suggestions coming. I’d like a shortlist of perhaps 3 units before I get my spinning wheel and pointer out :)



I suggest you read up on the current phono stage and if you decide on the Sutherland please let me know

im pretty sure I can hook you up with a discount on a new unit though a retailer 

I know very well  



@whart was the reason I purchased my Allnic H-3000. Will probably be my last phono. It smoked my Allnic 6500 and just had such warmth and encompassing sound. Plus the build quality and tube rolling in the power supply definitely does help unlock more and different aspects of it. You could buy a used allnic and still have $3k leftover for tubes to roll and new records. Oh and I've also read about the old importer discussing upgraded Stillpoint feet and that having an impact on the power supply sound as well. Fun to be had. 

Keep in mind that a current driven phono stage works best only with very low internal resistance LOMC cartridges. Rule of thumb is 10 ohms or less. Certain Benz LOMCs need not apply, for one example. The idea that you never have to think about loading is good marketing but specious.