Apportionment of funds - TT v phono stage

Hi :wave:t2: Naim community - like many thousands of others I’m going to rediscover vinyl and drag out my ‘80s electronica from the loft as a start, before diving in to the world of record shops and online purchases.

I have a budget in mind and have narrowed the contenders down to a Pro-ject X2, Technics 1210GR and possibly a Clearaudio Concept. All very different and I have yet to here them. I’m sure many would offer other suggestions but the list could get a bit silly really.

Anyhow, given the selection all at around the £1k mark, what would people consider an appropriate amount to spend on a phono stage? I have in mind c£200 as a decent starting point. Is it simply a case of ‘how long is a piece of string?’.

As an aside, I’m struggling for rack space also so smaller the better (ideally to hide behind the NAPSC). Clearaudio Nano is an ideal size but is it wasted on a £1k turntable?

Looking forward to be educated!

What’s the rest of the system, ane how likely are to want upgrade again within a few years?

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It’s worth reading Origin Live’s view of budget proportions. They suggest spending more on the phono stage than the main amp, given the low level signals involved. And in vinyl systems about equal sums deck, arm and phono stage. The advice is a bit contradictory, but the main point is the phono stage is very important.

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It’s on his profile. ( 282/hc /200)

I think that second sentence is spot on. As it with all Hifi it’s a sliding scale, so think carefully before deviating from your set budget.

With your budget, I would look at the Schiit Mani 2 and the Cambridge Audio Solo.
If you do decide to up your budget perhaps consider the Lehmann Audio Black Cube or the MoFi StudioPhono, but even then I would see if you can audition the former two against them as well.

Thanks all for the comments - useful.

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Clearly Naim needs a 60K+ phone stage :slight_smile:


A Naim Stageline N, moving magnet phonostage, powered from the 282 would be my choice, in fact I did just that for my second system. It matches a lively sounding cartridge, I used a Decca but an AT VN95EN would be a reasonable starting point and it will take more exotic styli later if desired. Look for a used one but make sure it doesn’t come with BNC connectors (some did, mine included but that’s what I wanted) unless you don’t mind swapping the plugs on your arm leads.


I reread the OL page, it recommended sightly more on the deck (23%) than the tonearm (18%!), but sightly more than the deck alone on the phono stage (25%). They sell decks and nice phono stages, so perhaps there’s something in that. But I suppose the rationale that the phono amp is doing a tough job, and justifies a fair part of the budget, makes some sense.

For the OP, I recently added a £1400 phono stage - though bought second hand - to my venerable Systemdek, there was a significant uplift in SQ vs the inbuilt XS3 stage, or a Stageline N (both of which already made great music!) . Not to recommend any of those stages, but more that spending a significant proportion on the phono stage can bring decent benefits.

Second above, probably the best value you are going to get, plus it will sound nice to boot

Certainly the phono is important, I just question the application of fixed percentages for what to spend, they lead to obviously ridiculous results and it probably depends on too many factors in all cases. Even with a 252/SC alone the SL is just about 20% (and 13% if you factor in the 300), and it does sound mighty fine. (And even with an SL+SC you get only to 23% of 252/SC/300)

Absolutely, I chuckled at the recommendation to spend 18% on the tonearm :slight_smile: It was more the general notion that the phono stage was broadly equivalent to the deck itself that I found interesting

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I guess my question was bounded by the context of what I wanted to spend; acknowledging that my amp is capable of showing the benefits of a more expensive front end.

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Aye, sorry, if I was channeling Origin Live, and assuming your decks with arms are approx 50:50 - I’d suggest spending more than £200 on a phono stage. I was supporting that by saying I have no regrets buying a significant phono stage upgrade recently.

I guess if spending more than £200 isn’t doable (second hand an option?) then maybe think about a slightly cheaper deck and balancing the budget out a bit more in favour of the stage.

I’m not sure if your budget over deck and stage is fixed, and you’re asking if a £200 stage is ok, or if you’re set on one of those decks and asking what a suitable spend on a stage would be?

Anyway, lots of good stages already mentioned. I would try and listen to some for sure, and add Graham Slee to the candidates. There are a range of GS stages at various budget levels.

Good luck choosing, and have fun if you demo any :slight_smile:

Budget is not fixed but the TT will be a secondary source so don’t want to go mad, given I ‘need’ some new speakers also!:moneybag::moneybag::money_with_wings::money_with_wings:

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I’d keep it simple and get a Rega p3 (or a used P6) with an exact and a Rega phono mm… maybe neo power supply and still get change from a grand.

I have a large number of 12’’s - need electric speed control really without having to faff with a belt swap…

You can get an outboard power supply for the above-mentioned Rega decks that has push-button speed change.

My advice and experience, more generally, is that it’s important to get a good match between cartridge and phono stage. So, I’d first figure out what deck, arm, and cartridge you want and then choose a cartridge with those elements in mind. If you go for a Rega package, the Fono would be a good choice. Another deck with a Dynavector cartridge (just for example)? Then a used Dynavector P75 would be a great choice and within budget.

Thanks for the advice - I actually need to go listen and chat to some dealers now.

With 282/200 , if the Rega way is choosed , I would skip the Rega Fono personally. The Rega Aria would be more well matched at that level.