The Bellari VP129 Tube pre at $250. You could go cheaper, but not enough cheaper to justify the difference in sound.
What's your system and your budget?
Nad's entry level offering is passable if the rest of your system is also entry level.
Hope this is helpful. Peter.
Is that the NAD PP-2? Is the TCC TC-750LC any good? What about the Parasound Zphono? Vincent Audio - PHO-111? Yes, you could call the set up entry level.
When you go below a certain price point,say $400-500 for the sake of argument,it all comes down to personal prefference rather than hi-end audio quality.There is no such thing as a perfect,cheap phono stage.No one can direct you to a cheap one.It is which compromises you are willing to take.in plain English,with a cheap phono stage what matters most,is which sonic flaws you are willing to accept and which you don't.Only your ears will tell you.
I am currently using the NAD PP-2 and it's excellent sounding. However, I am currently using a very old, and cheap, Audio Technica 112 cartridge with it so I cannot comment on how it would play with a really good cartridge. My only reference for comparison are my 2 CD playback systems. It sounds better than my California Audio Labs CD deck and only a tiny bit "dull" compared to my Philips DVD player running at 88.2 mhz. Overall, I would rate the sound quality as excellent but keep in mind that I am using it with a Dual 522 playing a really old MM cartridge. Basically my turntable may not be capable of revealing any flaws in the sound of this pre-amp. However, it does sound good with a cheap consumer turntable so if your using a similar setup it's probably a great choice.
My only problem with this unit is that it's, I believe, totally passive for MM cartridges. The result is that the output level is about 12 db lower that the output from my other sources and switching between sources results in very abrupt volume changes. Fortunately, my C372 amplifier is extremely quiet and turning the volume up for LP playback doesn't create a noise issue. However, if you use this type of pre-amp with a somewhat noisy amplifier, the reduced output could be a problem. For me it's an issue when I record an LP to my computer. The output is low enough that my sound card doesn't have enough gain to record at full volume. So I have to boost the volume during post production and live with a slightly noisy CD-R.
Currently I am saving for a totally new LP setup and will probably upgrade my phono stage. The good news is that the PP-2 is only 130 USD and has an excellent sound quality. So it's a good starting point and not so costly that "retiring" it in favor of a more expensive pre-amp in a few years won't be very painful.
They still make this little gem ?I bought one for a friend almost 6 years ago !
Yep, NAD still makes the PP-2. I got mine when I picked up the C372 and it only cost me 129.00 dollars. Glad to hear that you think it's a gem, it means that my dealer knew what he was talking about when he said it was a darn good phono stage. I like the sound quality, I just wish it had a bit more gain. On that subject, could you point me towards a phono stage that would allow me to match the output level of my CD player? Budgets up to about 1000 dollars but I would like a variable gain control so I could match the level of my other sources with any cartridge.
A phono stage with variable output?You mean like manley steelhead?And at $1000 and be good ? Hmmmmmmmm I am not sure there is such a thing.Only one i can think of,is Bellari and still,not sure if it has variable output.
Yes. It was the NAD PP2 - one of the best entry level offerings.
I also reviewed the Project Phono Box SE ($400) with a Rega P3 and Elys carttridge and was very impressed for the $$$.
Very dynamic and musical with good soundstage.
Made a decision yet...heard anything good?
Good luck, Peter.
The Bellari VP129 Tube phono preamp is on sale right now for $200. I'm going to try to audition one fairly soon.
I used a PP-2 for a few months last year. It's competent and a step up from most phono stages in entry level and probably many mid level integrateds. The PP-2 doesn't do anything offensive and on first blush is not all that special. It leans quite a bit on the warm side and is very system friendly. It works well with entry gear for that very reason.
I soon passed it on and picked up a McCormack Micro Phono that I am much happier with.
The NAD is an easy stage to like and a great place to start, but if you find yourself enjoying spinning records then you are going to want to upgrade. There is a lot of music hiding in the phono stage.
The NAD PP2 was a great little bargain that sounded pretty good with MM and MC cartridges.
Lately it has been knocked off it's perch by the Cambridge Audio 640P.
Amazing value for money and not disgraced in more expensive company.
... Project Phono Box SE ($400) with a Rega P3 and Elys carttridge and was very impressed for the $$$.
Very dynamic and musical with good soundstage.
I agree, the Project Phono Box SE has a very high "fun factor" with a dynamic presentation that belies the price.
However it faces very stiff competition in the Jolida JD9 which also has a good energy and bounce. It has (outrageously) high gain making it a shoe-in for an inexpensive low output MC, the Denon DL103 being the natural candidate.
Both the Phono Box SE and the JD9 are a few steps beyond rock bottom entry-level however.
I'll go also for the BELLARI (VP-129) Tube Phono Stage,for it's price it also has a headphone jack for your cans if you have 1.
hey that's a big drop from $249, where did you find one? Is it on-line? Really wish one these but if there's that kind of price I wont hesitate to grab one. Best Regards
I guess I just lost out. LPGear had them for $200 but are now out of them and the price is $250. $210 at B&H Photo.