Looking for alternative phono stage to Stageline N
What are you looking for? Change in tone, more resolution? There’s a myriad of alternatives out there.
Which arm and cartridge are you looking to match with an alternative phonostage?
The Phono preamp Stageline type N for MM is new because I wanted to try the Naim (partial) chain completely (NAP250, NAC282 / Supercap, NDX, CDX2, Linn Akurate 242, LP12).
Unfortunately, I’m not at all satisfied with the Stageline N.
The music lacks space, dynamism and ultimately musicality.
Before that I had the Cyrus aEQ7 phono preamp, but also on a complete Cyrus chain, so with a different basic characteristic …
So back to the question. I’m looking for the Naim musicality of the NAC282 preamp, the details of the LP12, and the clarity of the Cyrus phono preamp - and so I’m grateful for any phono preamp tips.
The Stageline N is Naim’s entry level, and it’s quite a dark and earthy sounding phono stage compared to something like the Cyrus, so needs careful cartridge matching. You don’t mention which cartridge and arm you’re using.
If you have something like an Ekos then perhaps it’s worth moving to a Moving Coil and stepping up to a Superline.
If you were to swap to an MC cartridge, a used Naim Prefix fitted inside the LP12 would be a good value and highly effective choice.
Or, give yourself some flexibility going forward and get a separate phono stage. Perhaps one that allows a PSU upgrade. Slee or Trichord come to mind.
The Trichord Dino or Diablo have loads of settings for gain, load etc. MM and MC are catered for. The NC psu is good too.
I have a Linn Ittok LV II with an Adikt on my LP12.
So basically the Cyrus aEQ7 was around 500,- € used. The Uphorik, I did not buy one for 1.200 € grrrr, as I thought I stay with an Akurate DSM which had a good phoneamp incl…
A switch to MC is currently no option as I was happy with the MM before, so search for an MM phonoamp for max. 1.300,- € ? is my target
The Uphorik is very good. I use it myself. Also it gives flexibility to use various MM or MC cartridges.
A second hand one should come in on budget.
Because I am biased, how about the EAR Phono Box?
Within your budget you can have the MM/MC version so if you decide to change to MC you are ready.
To preempt any valve doubts, try looking up the recording studios that Tim de Paravincini has worked with. He helped in the design of the MoFi phono preamps if you want solid state. I have used the 834P for about 30 years, just one valve needed replacing about 3 or four years ago.
For MM cartridge use I’m a fan of the Pure Sound P10 and you can also have fun trying different ECC83 and ECC88 valves.
The Lejonklu would also be worth checking out as I believe it was designed around the LP12 and Adikt.
Don’t know if Naim can modify Stageline N for S or K…
A good MC would be probably a better way to upgrade, but it needs an MC phono too.
While the Stageline S, K, or E can be changed by Naim, the N (MM) uses a different internal layout and board so cannot be changed to MC.
A friend on the forum tells me that the Gaio was developed with the Adikt and they consequently sound great together.
If you want to stick with an MM stage, I highly recommend Graham Slee. Not very popular around here, but I have used them with great success for over 15 years–the ERA Gold V, Reflex M, and now Accession. all excellent, with Accession the best yet. I would avoid the Accession MC version, however…
As you said tubes I would consider to go with EAR 834p or Ampearl RE-2030.
By the way, the advantage here is on the side of the Ampearl. For around £850 including shipping and tax you can get a full LCR phono stage with an external power supply and two MM inputs build on the Crimea. Since Russian tubes are used, you don’t have to bother with the hopelessly overpriced ECC83 and ECC88 tubes, but can get NOS specimens from the 50s and 60s at a very low price nd originally military production.
However, I know both or better all three (the EAR has many clones from China starting at about £350). The EAR has a very involving way of playing, is neither sharp nor annoying, but always draws you into the music. The clones can do that too.
The Ampearl is sounding fantastic. There´s more imagery, more details, the rhythm grabs and never lets you go. Simply an awesome performance.
To better an Adikts performance with a MC cart you´ll have to invest more as you plan to put into a new external phono stage.
Thanks a lot for your proposals. As I will keep my MM system, I have to decide now for a new phono apm and finally buy and test the solution
Interesting. I was actually considering the Ampearl RE2030 or EAR Phonobox (834P) successor. Both a lot of money for equipment I won’t be able to audition. Have you been able to compare them?
I’m currently running a MoFi StudioPhono (by EAR’s Tim de Paravicini), which I imagine would have a similar signature to the EAR stages. It currently sounds great with Jazz or Pink Floyd, but I might like something which would work with AC/DC as well. I.e. grab you by the scruff of the neck a bit more.
Any advice appreciated.
I bought my EAR834P after a review and speaking to Ken Kessler who writes for Hifi News and Record Review. I’ve not heard the Phonobox, but have heard the Mofi phonos.
Mr Kessler has reviewed all four and those rrviews can be read on line so you have the chance to compare his thoughts.