best "simple disign / "money no object"" phono design


I am a audio and music lover. I am interested in building a phono stage. In the past 10 years I read a lot about audio and audio components. I would like to build a hpono stage to learn more about audio and audio components. (Jensen, mundorf, bent audio, Hashimoto, lundahl, etc).
The idea is to build a simple design phono stage witch can compete with the best out there and tweak and tune till satisfaction. But I don't want to waste money.It has to be dawn good design so I don't regret buying a factory build phono stage/preamplifier. Money is ?"no issue"?, but don't want to waste it. (say 5000 euro/dollar??)

I already bought a soldering station :) but don't know where to start :(

I like the idea of a MM phono stage (easier?)
and a separate step up transformer (less hum)
point to point wired! No PCB (I am a romantic)
But I am not an expert. maybe this is not the way

my system:
transrotor fat bob (TMD)
sme 4
lyra titan I
Music first audio silver wired TVC
Esoteric DA03
DIY silver wired pass labs XA100,5 (not my diy project)
Kharma exquisite reference speakers

Any recommendations?
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Nothing that costs $5K is going to be simple, and for
that sort of money you would want the sort of exemplary
fit, finish and build quality that TBH is way beyond most
DIYers, and certainly will be for a first timer.

TBH if you want to learn DIY, build a high value second
system, perhaps with some-one else in mind. Don't
try diving straight into the "ultimate esoteric high-end".

rgds, sreten.
That sounds like a honest answere. Look as it IS my second hifi set. I also play digital. But in this set I will be able to hear the difference.

1000 euro is ok too! I just wanted to prevent a 100 000 dollar discussion on 10 000 dollar transformers etc. by giving a maximum. It should be about the design. And no, I don't need the finish and build quality. I'll put him completely out of sight in a cabinet. I's about the sound. If I spend a amount on a diy project I don't like the idea of spending it to a pre, power, phono AND speakers. I would like to start with only only one divice.
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thank you. The phono dude is already on my list. The pacific design is new for me. I will take a look. The thing is. other then just buying factory build equipement. I can't listen to them, I need advise.

others are audionote kit l3 phono
Cole lcr PHONO
Vacuum state RTP would be my dream (but not realy a simple design I'm afraid...)

thank you
Either PH-14 or PH-16 from tubes4hifi... what could you ask for more ???

I had fun building PH-14, paired with Harbeth, it is quality, a good design and perfectly balance the pleasure to build vs the challenge, the result is very beautiful and it is sounding full and authoritative :)

vs solid state HIFI phono, sounds is on par.

Mods that I have done which reached "nirvana like sound" : favorite resistors, all caps are from TRT (dynamicap most expensive) output caps 1uf pure Copper in oil

Grid bias of first tube is a Battery (simple mod.)

Tubes are very special "audio" bugle boy, paid around 250 $ for matched section from a tube collector , expect to pay 350 $ now

Note that on the design the heather wires are done PTP separated from the PCB which is excellent.

The tubes4hifi kits have the possibility to switch the loadings and use MM or MC, I use MM Ortofon Bronze and best of Audio Technica, might upgrade one day to a 2k MC cart hehe.

I know my stuff and this is the real thing if you want to go diy, my 2 cents.
I have build a lot of phono stages. Everyone was different in sound. So you will get a lot of different advice. My advice just build a easy one with good reviews like the phono dude and if you like what you have build. Build a view more designs. Compare and mod them until you have the one you like best. Nobody can tell you witch one you like best.

Here in the Netherlands we have meetings where we listen to each others designs and builds.
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You can ad schematic below to every MM phono stage, so you can adjust input impedance and capacity from the phono stage to the cartridge and cable.


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I agree with sreten.
When You are at a level of just having learned where the hot end of the iron is, don't try to build complicated circuits that may require tuning, matching of devices, or a minimum level of knowledge to get them working properly.
I'd suggest rather simple circuits, or at least simple subassemblies/building blocks, with easy to source parts of sufficient quality and tolerance levels.
Make sensible design choices -excluding PCB mounting certainly isn't!
If You begin with such requirements be prepared that Your budget will never fit to buy as much snake oil as needed to finish the project.
Design specs should rather orientate at the input signal specs and output signal requirements in first place, followed by other requirements like cost, flexibility, manufacturing skills, size, etc.
As Your Pickup is a MC cart don't omit with a active stage as one of the possible solutions.
A transformer coupled MM stage is not a superior solution in general ... why should it??
If there are no noise issues -the dominant design factor with MC-stages- then an all active preamplification may well offer more pros and less cons than a transformer based solution.

I'd like to hint You to the PlatINa/RP1, shown on my website and dealt with in a couple of threads here at DIY and other forums.
It is a fully active preamplifier, utilizing OPAmps and a split RIAA equalization.
It has been playing with the Lyra Titan i and prooved to be more than capable of preserving the Titan's character and qualities.
It offers a balanced input and a high degree of flexibility regarding pickup matching impedance and gain.
Its easy to build and doesn't even require a multimeter -though recommended as minimal measurement equipment.
Due to the split equalization and useage of tightly tolerated, yet easy to source parts, it achieves a very high RIAA precision (no matching of parts required).
Sound is extremely neutral, rather a tool to evaluate the pickup than a sound machine, but may be tuned after fashion.
PCB files are available also.
The very high chance of building success, the low knowhow- and measurement equipment requirements, the high parts quality yet easy to source parts, and its proven excellent sonics make it a top candidate for the DIY starter aiming for a top notch amplifier.

you are right. I am not a experienced electric engineer. Therefor a diy kit would probebly be the best choice. But i can become one with practice. I think starting a diy project should help. I am a diy audio member since 2009. just for fun reading about phi filters to reduce high frequenty noice in a PSU, and single ended power amps and bias setting. etcetera. The folowing diy kit witch i think are availeble for diyers are:

silvercore phono
Vacuum state RTP

Bases on reading. Thats al i have done. these are some of the top of the line diy kits on the market. But both have very different design aproaches. I wouldn't know what to choose. I never heard them and don't know what the dissign does to the sound. They are also "out of my leage" i think. If there is no good instruction this is probeble not for me. Second a lot of money is spend on parts and designs are not simple. (i don't need XLR, RCA and a thirt input like the RTP has. 1 phono input and 1 line for digital would be enough. If i have XLR input, why should i need RCA as well.)

I do know a simple hiraga power amp and my current pass design power amp outperformed a 15000 dollar factory amp. I think i can make these myself. (with good instructions and manual and maybe i need to see a experienced electronic engineer 1 time. Who cares?)

If there are simple designs out there (like sladge emnia phono box? never heard it, but easely tweakeble and simple. Sadly not in diy kit. Or a japanese style air tight design ??) witch are in diy form and easy to build, i would like to try building it.

I think i have severall options now in different difficulties. (not allways quality)

1 vacuum state / silvercore (witch one?? i dont know. like to hear them)
2 phono dude / audio note L3 phono
3 some designs from this forum
witch i will check out on google. (thanks)

if i choose a "building level"(depending on disign but perhaps more on building manual). I would also need to choose a design aproach. step up? LCR RIA?

I like many options. And before choosing i would like to hear the difference between 2 aproaches (both build the right way). Where are these listening sessions in Holland koifarm? I am intrested.

Thanks for the suggestions guys!
You can ad schematic below to every MM phono stage, so you can adjust input impedance and capacity from the phono stage to the cartridge and cable.

Thanks. To contribute in the discussion. Is THIS SCHEMETIC the reason a phono stage would not match a cardridge? I believe not. But i am not the expert. This is where i need you. I would like to hear some of your diy projects!
Yes, you can. But still, each phono preamp has its own sound, and may or may not suit the cart.
If the simple resistance and capacitance on the mm input is cure for everything, why did you built many phono preamps Koifarm? :)
It is just a simple circuit for finetuning every MM phono stage. Overall sound signature is set by phono stage circuit design and build.
Thanks. To contribute in the discussion. Is THIS SCHEMETIC the reason a phono stage would not match a cardridge? I believe not. But i am not the expert. This is where i need you. I would like to hear some of your diy projects!

Some of my projects, no kits and need some buildingskills.

If you want complete kit and top phono preamp just look at the link below,

PhonoDude Phono Amplifier - Audio Creative Shop