Balanced Phono Preamps

Recommendations for fully balanced phono preamps?

I picked up a used Audio Research PH2 which is still in its box.
I saw loads of good reviews and reports on the Ayre P-5XE, and could pick one up to try as well.

Otherwise, I am curious about the Audio Research Reference Phono 2.

What else should I look at?

Perhaps the Accuphase C-47?

How about an EAR Yoshino 868 which also benefits from having a remote control volume.

What cartridge (MM, MC, low output, internal impedance)? What turntable (some are dark some bright)? What preamp and system is it going into? Why balanced? SS or tubes?

Your question is like asking what kind of salt should I use in my dish without telling us what you’re cooking.

Fair enough.

Cartridge currently a low-end Clearaudio MM, will be replaced with a mid-high end Clearaudio MC next year.

Turntable: Clearaudio Innovation/Rega RB300

Preamp: currently will go as 192kHz into my Meridian system.

Balanced: it makes such good engineering sense…

SS or tubes: Don’t care, but must be “neutral” overall.

Ok… I would consider a phono pre in the $3k to $8k range give or take. Balanced is a red herring here - you’d think this reduces the noise but the reality is implementation is much more important. If you’re very picky about noise, what I would suggest is a transimpedance pre (I use the van den Hull “The Grail”). But transimpedance requires a cartridge with low internal impedance and many of the Clearaudio ones won’t fit that bill. If you want a little lyricism in the sound (which I would recommend since Meridian is nice but on the dry side) I would try and use a transformer set-up with a MM phono pre. As you can see from this soup of recommendations, it really depends… :slight_smile:

If you tell me what cartridge you want - specifically - I can be a bit more specific.

I can second the recommendation of the Accuphase C-47. I’ve been using one for a year or two now and love it. If you’re a sucker for good engineering this will be right up your alley.

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions and comments. I think once I’ve tried the Audio Research PH2 I already have, and compared with what my dealer has, I’ll be better oriented. I may ask again then. Thanks!

Ok didn’t realize you already had the PH2. Sounds like a good plan. Vinyl is very much a mix and match, much more than digital.

I had an Audio Research Ref Phono 2SE, and it was truly fantastic. You can find a used one for around $5-6K.

Hello Ludwig, I sold my Ayre P-5XE and purchased a McIntosh MP1100 2-Channel Vacuum Tube Phono Preamplifier. It cost a lot more, but was well worth it!

Hope this helps…