I’m considering to upgrade my MoFi Ultraphono with a top-level dedicated MM phono preamp (I’ve only used MM carts so far and can get a step-up transformer later if I decide to try MC).
Obvious contenders would be Graham Slee Era Gold and Lejonklou Gaio 2 (if I can find one). But since I also have a benefit of using NAC 152 24v out (?) as an ultra-quiet power source (without adding a new power supply in the mix), I’m curious if I should also consider the Stageline. Would it be on the same level acoustically with either Era Gold or Gaio?
PS. my current cart is MoFi Ultratracker which is a tad on bright side (not much, but certainly more “analytical” and less “soulful and warm”). I don’t mind staying with this cart, especially if I can find the stage that plays into its strengths. Also, if I was to change the cart later on, which one pairs well with Stageline?
There isn’t much love here for the stageline but I like mine. I had a look at a few options (Rega aria, heed quasar etc) when I got mine but the stageline via the aux2 sounded just as good to me and was half the price of the other two despite the supposed impedance mismatch with the Ania which if you believed the internet would sound like nails on a blackboard. It’s also an elegant solution re cabling….
Naim MM stages and boards sound great with the Linn Adikt cart…
I think the Stageline is good value if you already have a PS. With other brands it’s part of what you pay for.
But, one thing to consider is that it’s very inflexible. It offers an extremely high (470pF) input capacitance where most current MM/MI carts are designed for a low (100-200pF) one. Loading is really important with MM.
As mentioned, it’s good value, but only if you can audition with the exact cart you’re considering.
If you want something more flexible, either get a stage that’s configurable or just had 100pF or less (99% of those available).
I can recommend Lehmann Audio, but if you want a real bargain (and feel adventurous), Ampearl RE-2030.
AFAIK, 470pF (or 47kOhm?) is right for MM carts I’ve used or considered using before (Nagaokas, Gold Rings, AT, etc.) So yeah, I’m on board with this as long as the Stageline sounds on the same level with the two preamps I’ve mentioned here.
I also considered Lehmann Black Cube SE 2, but staying within Naim family is certainly tempting…
I have an N with a Decca feeding it and like the result. The gain is on the low side but there’s plenty of headroom.
The low gain would have an impact when it comes to using a SUT and a low output MC, depending on the required turns ratio of the SUT and the loading requirements of the cartridge. An EMT and a 1:10 SUT might be a good mix.
@n-lot do you have experience with a Stageline N or do you know from the specs it’s no good?
A good point - I didn’t realize the output is 35dB. My current stage is set at 40dB gain setting (its lowest) and it’s a bit quieter then my other sources. At 35dB I’d have to crank it up more. There is definitely plenty of headroom, just a pain to fiddle with the volume control all the time (this is my home office system and I switch from analog to digital often).
I never said it’s “no good”, on the contrary, I said it’s probably very good value (certainly if you already have the PS). And to answer the first bit of your question, unfortunately I haven’t, but it being a Naim product, I’m sure it’s very good.
What I did say is that its high capacitance makes it inflexible, as you can’t lower it. If the amp provides a low value, like most do, you can raise what the cart sees by using higher capacitance cables. A phono stage that allows you to adjust it is of course the most flexible in that regard, you can very easily play around to see what capacitance suites you best, and adjust for different carts.
With the Stageline you need to be careful about choosing a cart as high capacitance can push the treble roll-off (and preceding peak) into the audible range. Whether that’s the case will depend on both your cart, your hearing (the audible range reduces as we get older) and preference. After all, humans don’t necessarily think a flat freq. response sounds best.
FWIW, (and perhaps I’m now repeating myself here) 470pf and 47kohm has been traditionally and repeatedly favoured by Naim for MM (and not just Naim either). This from their listening tests. The capacitance will not just have an effect on the FR but will also have an effect on other things too.
As an aside, most phono stage designers will concede that there’s no such thing as a black and white “right” or “wrong” here, as there are trade offs one way or the other; it will always depend on all the combined factors giving the the end result and what you favour.
Hi, I have been using a Stageline N for a couple of years with a Flatcap XS and a Grado Reference Sonata 2 and It sounded excellent.
In this case capacitance is not an issues and the output of the Grado is 4.8 mV so headroom is good.
Stageline is often reported to be a bit dark sounding but I never had that impression in my system. Sound Is refined, dynamic and never tiring. Musical and with that Naim boogie so intriguing.
Then I tried another phono stage to practice with MCs, I sold it after one year and bought a Hicap (arrived this week). Hence I am back to Stageline N and my beloved Grado.
In case you would be more inclined to a sound a bit more sparkling you can look to Clearaudio MM range.
Enjoy the search