Phono stage impact in SQ

I am looking for a phone stage to amplify a Rega P6 with Ania or Exact cartridge (MC/MM). Not sure yet if going for the MM and upgrade it when I will be more used to the Vinyl world. It will be amplified by Hegel H190.

I have seen different options for the phone stage, the ones dedicated to MM or MC or the ones that can do both. As I am not sure about the cartridge that I want to use in the future I think that is a good option to buy a cheap MC/MM like Creek or similar.

What is your recommendation? And what good phono stages should I consider that can do both? Is there a really impact in sound quality?

I listen all types or music, not much into classical.


Budget and are you in the US?

i think that more than 500$ is starting to be expensive for a 1st phono stage. I am not in the US but happy to hear what is your suggestion if i was in the US

Contact Boris at Vista Audio in Upstate NY about the Phono 2 for $399 it is fully adjustable for gain and loading via dip switches on the bottom of the unit. He is from the EU himself so he may in fact make the unit for 220 volts also.

Another option would be the unit from iFi.

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When you consider the quality of the table/arm/cartridge you intend to pair the new phonostage with, the proposed $500 new phonostage will clearly be the sonic bottleneck in your analogue front end @drybass. Phono signals are extremely low level and therefore the most difficult analog signal to amplify whilst maintaining a low noise floor and good transparency to source. To avoid being disappointed and therefore needing to upgrade pretty much immediately, I would raise both my sights and budget. $1-1.5k particularly if spent on a 2nd hand unit buys something more in keeping with what would be in front of it.

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This is really simple because Rega make highly complimentary phono products that are incredible value for money.

So if you go with the Exact, get the Fono MM phono stage and if you get the Ania MC go with the Fono MC. In the USA the Fono MC costs $495 on Amazon.

For reference, the Exact is very high output at 7mV, that really is not a problem for many cheap MM phono stages. The Ania output is 0.35mV, about average for MC, some are as low as 0.15mV, but is designed to work with the Fono MC.


Thanks for the answer. I wanted to avoid those because are not MM and MC. Maybe Rega MM Phono and Exact is a good combination to start. In the future, I will probably upgrade to MC, that’s why I found going directly is probably cheaper

With the P6 decide on MM or MC. Most go MC. Then get the appropriate Fono unit.

Even if you change from MM to MC and buy the Fono MC, it is hard to find a comparable MM/MC for $900 and you could sell the Fono MM.

Don’t assume MC is an upgrade. I have a high output Soundsmith MI cartridge that cost $1,500 and I prefer it to a Dynavector MC that also costs $1,500.


That is the reason why I want to try MM, I’ve heard many good things about today’s MM. Also it’s my first turntable, probably less delicate to operate (my guess)

I picked up a Musical Surroundings Nova Phonomena for around $500. Rechargeable battery powered and is very adjustable for MM or MC. I am quite pleased with it.


You’ve done the best thing starting with Rega, because they are great value, they have a vast range of upgrade options and are easy to sell when you do upgrade. The best thing is that the entire range is sold as a complete deck/arm/cartridge package, with options, so you just don’t have to worry about going to other brands and changing things.

Moreover, there is a whole cottage industry providing upgrades to Rega - mounts, counterbalances, wiring etc.

One dealer I use for speakers has been in business since 1973, is located about 40 miles from the Rega factory and has sold many thousands of Rega turntables and electronics. His opinion is that the Rega P3 is a perfectly good turntable for most people, especially if you are just starting out, and don’t be put off by it being so cheap.

Get the Neo PSU, Fono MM and also the wall bracket if you can use it.

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Have u heard the exact and the ania? What are the differences in sound with phono MM and MC?

There is a brilliant article here.

In fact the whole site is a really good read for budget vinyl advice.

His best MM cart is the Exact and the P2 as best turntable under $1,000, but also praises the P3. All Fono MM and Fono MC top of his lists.

As to your question, move a magnet and conductive coil (i.e. wire) in relation to each other and you get a current. That’s called Electromagnetic Induction. That was discovered almost 200 years ago by a guy called Michael Faraday. Without him we’d still me walking around with fiery torches and reading by candle light.

So take a pencil, pivot towards the end and at the very end attach some magnets. Surround the magnets with wire coils. Move the pencil around and you will get an electric current from the coil wires.

Then shrink the thing down about 1,000 times and you will have a moving magnet cartridge. The magnet moves, hence the name moving magnet. The moving is done by the record groove, which is traced by a small diamond, which will eventually wear out through friction and bouncing off dust and need replacing.

Alternatively, stick the coils on the end of the pencil and the magnets around them .This is called moving coil, but exactly the same thing is going on - electromagnetic induction.

Now, the lighter the pencil device (it’s called a cantilever), the more accurately it will trace the record groove. A few coils of wire are lighter than a magnet, so MC cantilevers tend to be lighter than MM cantilevers and in theory more accurate and detailed, but the limited number of coils produces a very small current, whereas you can surround the magnet in a MM unit with big coils (as they don’t move) and get loads of current.

The problem with heavy things is that they have inertia. The lighter the cantilever, the more it will do what the record tells it to an the less it will do of its own accord. It also has to move at very high frequencies, which is harder to do for heavier things, so they have difficulty with the high treble frequencies.

When amplifying the mini-current from an MC unit, it is vital that the amplifier matches the electrical properties (inductance and capacitance) coming from the coils. That’s why MC phono amps have dip switches. If not, it’s just luck if it sounds any good. That’s really not a problem with the higher current from a MM unit, so there are plenty of good cheap ones about, and they don’t have dip switches.

The pencil/cantilever material is important. Light and rigid is good. Boron is preferred, but expensive. There are now superb ones made from aluminium alloys, and a lot cheaper.

Of course this is just MM/MC 101 and there are millions of theories, and you may wonder why I spent $1,500 on a fixed coil cartridge. There is a lost of mystique, crap and sound science and at the end of the day, if it sounds good then great.

This is a great video showing Rega winding coils. Start at 19:35.


@stevensegal, your post is brilliant, too.

If you manage to find a used Musical Fidelity MX-VYNL you will be set for years to come. Does MM/MC, easy to set up, sounds and measures great. Highly recommended.

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very nice explanation, much appreciated

I use one of these:

It’s made in London, costs $1,750 in the USA, $1,300 new in the UK and I got an almost new one for $800. I’m blown away how good it is.

Phono amplifiers are usually very sensitive to power supplies because they interfere with the very sensitive electronics. Many good phono amplifiers have external power supplies. Even the cheapest Rega phono amps can be powered by an external 24v power supply.

This Vertere takes another approach, enclosing the sensitive electronics in a double skin of stainless steel, with a further steel wall between the PCB and power supply. I keep it well away from other components, place it next to another power supply and I will get quite a lot of noise.

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