Phono Pre Amp

During these strange times when auditions have not been possible, I’ve contemplated buying a pre phono amp. I narrowed it down to a Hegel V10, I then read a review of the EAR PhonoBox. Ive no experience of either. I dont have the space for a Naim Superline plus power supply, or the cash. My system is a modified Linn, 52 NAC, 300DR NAP. Any thoughts, please.


@frenchrooster is using the internal phono of the ear 912 pre, at least.

I use the same pre, Roksan TMS/Artemiz/modified Shiraz into 52/135s. Sorry to add another option, but I use the Vertere Phono-1 phone amp between the deck and the 52. It’s a discreet box, and (admittedly on the end of a deck from the same designer) I’ve found it excellent into the Naim amp. It’s a similar price point to the Hegel. It’s very configurable which could be a challenge at the moment, I had mine done by Touraj at Vertere when I bought it directly from them, it might be a challenge to find a dealer who could set it up without a visit.

The EAR Phonobox is a well respected tube design, one I considered previously as well. The V10 I wasn’t aware of, looking to be solid state.

I do see that the V10 offers adjustable load capacitance for it’s MM input, which in my opinion is a very desirable feature, as otherwise you have to do it with cables. So definitely worth considering if you’re using MM or MI. But that’s assuming you like its sound to begin with of course.

You have an NAC52…? Why not get it a set of Phono Boards…?
Or look at the Naim Stageline, which I think can be powered by the 52…?

Options… :smirk:


Another vote here for the Vertere here, handles both MM and MC carts and a good match for my Naim set-up, certainly less “polite” than the Rega Aria it replaced. Won an award with “What Hi-Fi” too, if anyone takes that sort of thing seriously…


Have you checked the Graham Slee accession or Reflex. Depending on your location, you could probably try one at home with their loan program.


Yes, the internal 5XX phono cards f/Nac 52, are fine.
Probably the same identically inside Stageline


Exactly, but the OP needs only a dedicated phono. Mine is the same as the standalone Ear 88 pb, however 2/3 times more expensive vs the Phono box.
I haven’t heard the Phono box. But guess it sounds good, as all Ear Yoshino products.
As solid state and not big box, I would suggest Nagra Bps , if still produced, or Tom Evans micro groove. Both excellent for the price.

Yeah, I got that, was just thinking you might be able to give some input on Ear phono stages in general - the large price difference had escaped me!

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I heard the ear 834 once. I found it a bit polite sounding. The Ear phonobox is the substitute, but probably better.
The Ear 88pb would be terrific. But not on the same budget.


I used the EAR Phono stages in the 864 and then the 868, which like @frenchrooster 912 is based upon the 88pb I believe. Both excellent. Ken Kessler is a keen proponent of the Phonobox and his HiFi News review is online.

As I am planning on using a newly refurbished Troika I decided to find a way to use the K cards that I have owned since 1984 when I bought an LP12/Ittock/Karma. I therefore bought an external box + PSU which I am currently using a pair of Naim MM boards with my high output Dyn DV20, and sounds very good. I would think that as well as trying to listen to the Phonobox I would try some Naim cards as suggested by @IanRobertM, you may well find they are all you will need.


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Since we’re all coming up with alternatives, let me add the following:

  • Ampearl RE-2030. MM only, so depending on your cart you might need a step-up. Plus feel a bit adventurous. But this does play on another level, suppesdly @frenchrooster’s 912 or VdH the Grail, but for half your budget.
  • Lehmann Audio Decade
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I have a Graham Slee Reflex, it’s very good and they will loan you one.

The thing I like about Slee products is that they are strictly MM or MC.

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The Superline works very well powered from the NAC52’s PoweredAUX2 socket, which many prefer to a dedicated HICAP. Dedicated windings and rails. It’s streets ahead of the internal phono cards.


N lot, you seem to find the Ampearl fantastic for the price, as you put it on the front since some years now.
I believe you, but have absolutely no idea of its performance and have not found reviews on it. Are there dealers for it or do you have to buy it blindly straight from Russia, if I remember well ?

It’s actually @Don_Camillo who was the first to be a fan (on here). I had read about it elsewhere, but when he was also recommending it I ordered it as well. You indeed need to order straight from Russia, which is why I said you need to be a bit adventurous.

If you want to read more about it, there’s tons of information on the Analog Audio Association forum, but it’s in German so you’ll have to use Google Translate.


I have the Graham Slee Reflex M also. It’s very good with my Linn LP12, Kore, Cirkus, Lingo 1, Dynnavector 10X5, Akito arm upgraded by Audio Origami set up into 82 , Supercap 2, 2 x 135s.

In fairness I haven’t done comparisons with other phonostages apart from comparing my turntable set up with a full Linn Klimax. TBH the difference was incremental rather than mind blowing compared with the Klimax set up.

So it’s a good phonostage and worth the money.

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I went through two phono stages after I sold my Classics , the first was a Rega Fono, it really wasn’t anywhere near as good as my Naim phono stage , then I got a Pro-Ject valve -still not getting the best - finally a Graham Slee , it’s not quite the top of range but it produces a very good sound.
If you are feeling comfortable with a set up like yours , then I think that says it all

BTW, I assumed you’re not really interested as you have a 912, but if I’m wrong feel free to get in touch via Richard.