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Looking to upgrade my phono stage (just using a crappy Behringer PP400 at the moment as the phono stage in my Yamaha CR-440 receiver is not working correctly). These were the options slinch listed in the beginners' thread (with updated/current prices):

 

Parasound Zphono ($200)

Musical Fidelity V90-LPS ($230)

Cambridge Audio Azur 651P ($230)

Pro-Ject Phono Box DS ($200) 

 

Are there any others that should be considered/are better than the above? Would I be better off just having the phono stage in the CR-440 fixed?

 

I prefer a warmer sound over more sterile/clinical. The rest of my setup is a Music Hall MMF2.2 table (with the stock MH Tracker cart), some older/vintage Dynaco speakers (I think they're A-10s but not sure, picked them up at a garage sale for $5), and Grado SR125e headphones.

 

Thanks in advance for the help/advice!

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You would almost definitely be better with a phono stage rather than fixing your receiver.

 

If you are looking for a warmer sound, what about a tube phono preamp? There's a popular Bellari one though I can't remember which at the moment. I can't speak to any in your list, but I had a NAD PP3i (pretty much the same as the PP2 and PP3), and it definitely did the trick with no frills. Upgraded to a Hagerman Bugle 2 and was quite impressed with how much more revealing and clear it sounded.

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If you are looking for a warmer sound, what about a tube phono preamp? There's a popular Bellari one though I can't remember which at the moment. 

 

You're probably thinking of the Bellari VP130, but:

1. It's $275 which is more than I was looking to spend

2. I've heard the stock tubes it comes with aren't great, so replacing those would add to the cost as well.

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I've heard really good things about this preamp, and despite it's weird look have wanted to hear it. I'm not sure how much of an upgrade it'll be over my Schiit Mani though.

 

I've also heard really good things about the Little Bear tube preamps, which could be a good low cost solution for a tube amp.

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https://emotiva.com/products/pres-and-pros/xps-1

 

Good sound, lots of options.  Won't break your bank.

 

I've got one that I bought from a member on here to try it as I'd never heard any Emotiva kit. It is very versatile setup wise, very good value and I like the build quality but sound wise I found it generally quite lifeless and a bit bass heavy.

 

I have a phono stage which is my standard when it comes to auditioning them at any price that is a late 90's Musical Fidelity X-LPS and it takes some beating.

 

I haven't heard that Parasound but have heard good things about it and I haven't heard the MF V90 for that matter, I do quite like the Cambridge 651 and I don't like the Project but if the V90 is anywhere near as good as it's predecessor I would expect it to be the stand out winner.

 

That said if I was in the market for a phono stage now I'd just search out a used X-LPS and be done with it.

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I've got one that I bought from a member on here to try it as I'd never heard any Emotiva kit. It is very versatile setup wise, very good value and I like the build quality but sound wise I found it generally quite lifeless and a bit bass heavy.

 

I think the one you bought was the one I sold here.  Of all the phono preamps I've owned (it, the Rogue Triton, Ray Samuel's Nighthawk, Sutherland PH3D, and Parasound ZPhono USB), it was the warmest of them, which is why I suggested it.  

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I think the one you bought was the one I sold here.  Of all the phono preamps I've owned (it, the Rogue Triton, Ray Samuel's Nighthawk, Sutherland PH3D, and Parasound ZPhono USB), it was the warmest of them, which is why I suggested it.  

 

That's interesting because here it isn't sounding of it's best and if it shone in good company over there then there can only be two reasons it isn't doing so here which are power supply or input matching.

 

My money is on power supply as it has a little universal wall wart type PSU that is intended to work across wide supply range which they don't tend to do very well. I might have a look at building it a decent power supply and giving it another go then.

 

The other option input matching is possible as it won't drive the inputs in the valve pre amp I tried it into but will a solid state or passive pre so I could try a buffer stage after it and see what that does but I suspect the reason it wouldn't drive the valve pre is due to the power supply.

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I personally recommend Cambridge Audio Azur series. When I was in the market for a pre-amp a few years ago, I tested out quite a few of them and ultimately decided to go with the Azur 551P because of the price/quality ratio. You've got the 651P listed here, which the way I understand it has a couple of minor difference with the 551p. It has RIAA passive EQ vs. the active EQ of the 551p and the 651p supports MC as well as MM carts. Since you have MM cart, and unless you can REALLY tell the difference in the sound quality between the 551p and 651p, I'd recommend you look into the 551p for around $150. I have been very happy with mine.

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That's interesting because here it isn't sounding of it's best and if it shone in good company over there then there can only be two reasons it isn't doing so here which are power supply or input matching.

 

My money is on power supply as it has a little universal wall wart type PSU that is intended to work across wide supply range which they don't tend to do very well. I might have a look at building it a decent power supply and giving it another go then.

 

The other option input matching is possible as it won't drive the inputs in the valve pre amp I tried it into but will a solid state or passive pre so I could try a buffer stage after it and see what that does but I suspect the reason it wouldn't drive the valve pre is due to the power supply.

 

To be fair, of the phono preamps I've owned, the Emotiva was the cheapest by about half the cost of the next cheapest (the Parasound).  The Parasound sounded more analytical and thin compared to the Emotiva, which I would describe as warm sounding.  
 
In terms of amplification; at the time I would have been using either a Rogue Cronus or a Bewitch 6550 (I believe the latter).  I believe I tried a Denon DL160, DL103, and a Grado Gold with it.  There are any number of synergistic things that would make it sound less good for you and better for me.  

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To be fair, of the phono preamps I've owned, the Emotiva was the cheapest by about half the cost of the next cheapest (the Parasound).  The Parasound sounded more analytical and thin compared to the Emotiva, which I would describe as warm sounding.  
 
In terms of amplification; at the time I would have been using either a Rogue Cronus or a Bewitch 6550 (I believe the latter).  I believe I tried a Denon DL160, DL103, and a Grado Gold with it.  There are any number of synergistic things that would make it sound less good for you and better for me.  

 

 

All very true, I tried it with a AT OC-F5, a Grado 8MZ and a Nagaoka MP15 which are all quite lively carts. It sounds like it's been in good company equipment wise and I trust your opinion so it's about time I gave it another go. I still feel the problem will be in the PSU and I've got the know how to build a good one for it so that's another project I've got now.

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