Best phono preamp under $500

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
So I currently have a Bellari VP 129. My biggest gripe is that it has a little bit of hum, which coincidentally, I just found out can be fixed by upgrading the power supply. It is also only mm. None the less, I am still on the hunt for another phono preamp. I have a Denon AU-320 if I must buy a quality MM only pre, but would prefer one that has both.
Cambridge duo seems to be one of the best rated ones in this area, not sure if anyone has experience with this? Or a recommendation for another?
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
I just saw a fairly glowing review for the Vincent PHO-500 (which runs about $650), which makes me wonder if the 2-chassis Vincent PHO-300 at $350 might be a good option to audition. The 500 adds a grounded power connection, USB output, and adjustable loading, but otherwise the S/N is identical between the two and if you can make your own loading resistor networks, you should be fine.

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Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
I just saw a fairly glowing review for the Vincent PHO-500 (which runs about $650), which makes me wonder if the 2-chassis Vincent PHO-300 at $350 might be a good option to audition. The 500 adds a grounded power connection, USB output, and adjustable loading, but otherwise the S/N is identical between the two and if you can make your own loading resistor networks, you should be fine.

View attachment 34696
Thanks, not bad on the eyes, I’ll look those up. I can see the grounded power connection (should be standard on all units) and variable loading option being upgrades but usb?
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
Thanks, not bad on the eyes, I’ll look those up. I can see the grounded power connection (should be standard on all units) and variable loading option being upgrades but usb?
I'm assuming it is for ripping LPs (or perhaps for some preamps that are short on line inputs but have every digital input known to man).
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Has anybody tried the MoFi ultraphono? I haven't but it was well reviewed..there's one for $250 on USAM. The UltraPhono has a (supposedly) nice built in phono preamp. At this price there's also the Graham Slee Gram Amp 2se that a lot of folks seem to like (not as adjustable as the MoFi) and of what I've heard I also like the suggestion of a used Nova Phenomena II. I have an iFi iPhono2 in that price range but feel it needs a different external power supply to really sound its best, which puts it over the price noted here.
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
If you want to DIY I enthusiastically endorse the RJM Emerald. MC designed with jumpers for MM. No SUT needed. Dead quiet and excellent at helping suppress groove noise and clicks/pops. I've run a Soundsmith Pau, Ortofon Per Winfield and a Sumiko Blackbird into it with excellent results!
Easy build and great support from Richard at RJM and on DIY Audio.
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
I really enjoyed my Lounge Audio LCR MkIII. I believe that stock, it is in your budget. If you don't mind the pre owned market, The Musical Surroundings Phonomena II could be found in budget also.
Believe it or not I was quite happy with the lounge when it was in my home. Unfortunately I was looking to buy a big nonaudio item at the time, so could not pull the trigger. That and I made the mistake of reading an ASR review for it, which led me to believe that there was still something better out there.
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
Has anybody tried the MoFi ultraphono? I haven't but it was well reviewed..there's one for $250 on USAM. The UltraPhono has a (supposedly) nice built in phono preamp. At this price there's also the Graham Slee Gram Amp 2se that a lot of folks seem to like (not as adjustable as the MoFi) and of what I've heard I also like the suggestion of a used Nova Phenomena II. I have an iFi iPhono2 in that price range but feel it needs a different external power supply to really sound its best, which puts it over the price noted here.
I have and older (e.g., plastic case) Gram Amp 2 SE (my daughter is using it) that is quite decent.
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
If it helps I have a thorens TD 160 and a Hana SL cartridge. Both worth about $700 each. As such, should I up my amount to match that and probably get into the used under 1K mark?
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
Believe it or not I was quite happy with the lounge when it was in my home. Unfortunately I was looking to buy a big nonaudio item at the time, so could not pull the trigger. That and I made the mistake of reading an ASR review for it, which led me to believe that there was still something better out there.
speaking of ASR, this one got a glowing review; i bought one and can attest that it sounds very nice:
 
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Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
speaking of ASR, this one got a glowing review; i bought one and can attest that is sounds very nice:
Thanks for posting, that’s the front runner for me at the moment. On later reviews such as the rega mk3 and lounge, it places at the very top, and ahead of some very reputable/costly units.
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
I am not opposed to DIY, just as long as the build isn’t too difficult and the value/quality exceeds a similar priced & pre-build unit.
Build is easy-peasy but not a kit that you just assemble. he can supply the boards and those parts but you would need to supply chassis, jacks and follow his build instructions for a power supply. I built this as my second build after a Bob Latino kit which was a solder this wire to this terminal type kit.
 

MrEd

Senior Nobody
I really enjoyed my Lounge Audio LCR MkIII. I believe that stock, it is in your budget. If you don't mind the pre owned market, The Musical Surroundings Phonomena II could be found in budget also.
I totally forgot the Lounge, and yes I enjoy edit in my system also. I could easily recommend it.
 
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