Has Anyone Had Experience With Tube Phono Preamps?

I am particularly looking for some with a good soundstage and imaging. There seems to be alot of products to choose from. My budget depends on if the product has everything I’m looking for. I view it like a life-time investment. Whether it is MC or MM doesn’t matter. I just want recommendations. I do have an MM cartridge however.


I am particularly looking at the Phono 3E Phono Preamplifier:


I see a few mentions for the Quicksilver product but not a single mention of the Mapletree phono stage. So if anyone knows about either of these, please share!

I haven’t tried those, but I recently started stacking a xDuoo MT-602(1953 sylvania tubes) with my Schitt mani. It added the soundstage, tube sweetness and tube thickness I was looking for. I also split the signal from my mani between the MT-602 and my Magni 3+ so I can easily switch between tube and SS.

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Thanks for responding! How are you liking the Mani?

Did you listen to it via headphones? Or did you plug them in to speakers?

I love the Mani. I think in this price range you can’t go wrong. Massive improvement over most phono inputs on an integrated amp as well as over the DJ art preII I used a few years back. I listen both over headphones and speakers. It’s nice using the setup like I described as it gives the option to have tubes in the mix or note depending on ones mood and the music.

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The Phono3E looks just fine. I have always gone with Hagerman, as he designs and builds his own, and the products compete with much more expensive offerings. The tubes he supplied with the Cornet3 were perfectly fine in their own right, but it takes very well to experimentation if you pop in some vintage tubes.

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Oh hey, that looks nice! How would you describe its sound? How long have you had it?
How does someone find out about products like this? I’ve known of Tavish Designs, but after all the googling, noone has ever mentioned Hagerman.

(Finding Mapletree was a rarity in its own.)

Thanks for the link by the way.

Have you ever thought about the MT604? Just curious.

I’ve had it for about seven years. For my MM carts, I am perfectly happy. I use a solid-state preamp with adjustable settings for my MC cart. Describe the sound…hm. Essentially, all I really wanted was something a little more tubey and less solid-state, but decidedly neutral. I wasn’t looking for warm and flannel '50s fuzz (BUT, and I stress, you CAN do that if you slap in some 1960 Mullard tubes or 1950’s RCA black plates). When I played around with various makes of tubes, I was looking for all-arounders that played nicely with rock, jazz, classical, hip-hop, etc., and both male and female vocals. So I suppose I would describe the sound as “get-out-of-the-way-of-the-music”. Although anyone with golden ears that I have given recordings to has been able to tell my solid-state preamps from the tube one. The only thing about the Cornet3 is the acrylic case can be sensitive to interference compared to some of the metal-encased amps based on placement, but this is never an issue listening with speakers, just recordings made with it and listened to loudly on resolving headphones.

I found Hagerman when I sold my old 80’s receiver for a 5.1 model in the early 00s (sorry I did) and needed a phono preamp. I think I was on the Steve Hoffman forums and somebody mentioned his under $100 Bugle preamp was bang-for-the-buck great. As my setup got better, I just moved up on his food chain.