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hddao
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Budget Phono Preamps

Hello All. New here and, while I know this question has probably been posted in the past, phono preamps at the "budget" level keep appearing and it is impossible to audition them all. I am using a Music Hall MMF-5 turntable, previously mated with a Creek OBH-8. That little preamp is dying and I don't have a lot of money. I am interested in impressions of the preamps listed below. Even better if there are people who have auditioned any of these side by side.

Bellari VP129
Creek OBH-18
Rega Fono
Pro-Ject Phono Box SE
Pro-Ject Tube Box
Music Hall Phono Pack
NAD PP-2
Parasound Zphono
Cambridge Azur 640P

Thanks in advance for any help.

bobedaone
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Re: Budget Phono Preamps

I only have listening experience with two of the preamps you mentioned. The NAD PP-2 is a good performer, and priced to please. I like it a lot. If I didn't have a phono card in my amplifier, it would be my weapon of choice. I have a Rega Brio, which comes equipped with circuitry similar to the Fono, although understandably not at the same level of performance. I'm thrilled with the quality of this built-in phono stage, and expect that the Fono would offer up even more enjoyment. It's one of the more expensive pieces on your list, but I recommend giving it a listen.

Happy auditioning!

Windzilla
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Re: Budget Phono Preamps

I have listened to the NAD and the Cambridge audio, Both pretty nice little phono stages, I would say the edge goes to the Cambridge Audio for detail more than anything. I didn't listen to them side by each but over a few days of shopping, so take that for what it's worth.

during my quest for a phono-pre I was given the VP-129 by my mom (thanks mom!), and would say I prefer it to either. It works well in my system and is, I believe, more forgiving of some of the less than mint records I have. Not do say it won't retrieve detail.

hope that helps

Are there any good hi-fi shops within driving distance for you?

hddao
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Re: Budget Phono Preamps

Thanks for your replies!

I'm in New York City, so there are plenty of places to go, but few that have anything like my setup (I'm on quite the budget) and nothing like each other's setups, so I was hoping to get some feedback from folks who have heard these preamps in a more controlled setting, i.e. home. The truth is, also, that sales people often lose interest as soon as they find out what budget I'm working with or try to take me far above my spending limit.

59mga
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Re: Budget Phono Preamps

Huy,

I have the Music Hall, plugged into a MH A25.2 amp, and it sounds fine.

Windzilla is correct, about the Bellari being "forgiving". But it , too, is a good buy. It all depends on how much $$$ you want to spend. I, sure you'll enjoy either one.

Mike

Windzilla
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Re: Budget Phono Preamps

Huy, Keep us informed of how your search progresses, what you decide, and how you like it. It's interesting for us, and could be useful to someone in a similar situation as yourself in the future!

Cheers

Jan Vigne
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Re: Budget Phono Preamps

Unless you totally distrust salespeople and reviewers, I would suggest you try entering these pre amps into a search engine. You should find most of these have been reviewed somewhere in the recent past. Though probably not with your cartridge or your speakers. You will have to learn to read reviews and figure out what the reviewer finds interesting or not interesting about a product. You can pretty much count on the fact that no one else has your system and stores do not carry components the other guy sells. We cannot pick a phono pre amp for you.

Asking for someone here who has had experience with a specific system in their home is no more relevant than reading a review. You must understand that each person, reviewer or not, has a set of priorities they work with and their priorities might not match yours. If that's the case, a positive or negative comment by that person will be all but meaningless. You first must establish what your priorities are and then find a reviewer and a store who begins to match those "must have" qualities of sound that you find important. You then cull through those reviewers who don't match your priorities and you pay extra attention when the reviewer you like says something positive about a product. That doesn't mean you pay no attention to the reviewer who has priorities other than you. But you pay extra attention to those who do. But, if you have not established those priorities first for yourself, you will wander for long periods trying to find components which sound "best" when they have been recommended by others. Each of the units you've listed has good and bad points. There is no one perfect unit that suits everyone. Your job is to find which suits you and your system.

At the price range you are limited to, most shops should allow a home audition with return priviledges. You would be far better off asking to hear one or two of the units in your system rather than asking someone else's opinion. If these are the units you have available to audition, I would pick one or two which appear to be the best match for your tastes and go ask to hear them for a night. This is, to be honest, a task you should perform and you cannot expect a salesperson to rearrange a store for a $120 phono pre amp demo. Go ask to take a phono pre amp home on loan. Be prepared to place a deposit in the amount of the unit. If you can't do that and you appear to have little idea what you want, you really cannot expect a salesperson to be highly motivated by a $150 purchase that might, or might not, take place a year from now. Sorry, but that's kind of how things work.

KBK
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Re: Budget Phono Preamps

Buy an older tube preamp with phono capacity and use the tape outputs into your current set-up. That will blow away just about anything you can buy for under $1000.00

Head off to the local used audio goods shops, you'll find one for sure. Pawn shops, etc. Have fun searching! You'll probably get it done for under $100.

rmilewsk
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Re: Budget Phono Preamps

I have the MMF5 and the VP 129. The sound is very good but I have to turn the gain all the way up on the phono preamp and all the way up to maximum on my int. amp to get good volume levels. I've had to do this with my existing int. amp and my previous preamp and amp so it's not the amp. I'm not sure if something is wrong with the 129 or that's just the way it works.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Budget Phono Preamps


Quote:
... previously mated with a Creek OBH-8. That little preamp is dying ...

Huy - Welcome to the forum. Out of curiosity, in what way is the Creek dying?

Buddha
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Re: Budget Phono Preamps


Quote:

Quote:
... previously mated with a Creek OBH-8. That little preamp is dying ...

Huy - Welcome to the forum. Out of curiosity, in what way is the Creek dying?

Starting to sound too dry, I bet.

Creeks are great when they are working up to snuff, but it's tough to live with a crippled creek.

Maybe the levee broke?

Apologies...

p.dow
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Re: Budget Phono Preamps

i like my bellari. no issues at all.
if your adventuresome... KBK's idea is a good one.
some one just had a project tube box on audiogon for $175 (it sold ).
have fun
paul

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