PS Audio BHK versus Herron VTSP-3A(r02)

I’m currently using a Herron VTSP-3A(r02) pre amp. I purchased a used mint condition BHK on agon; it arrived today.

My first impressions: With the BHK, streaming SQ is noticeably better than with the Herron. I’m using a DSD Sr. Playing vinyl with the BHK, the Herron sounds noticeably better. I’m using a Herron VTPH-2A phono pre.

All things being equal, when playing vinyl with the Herron/Herron combination, the sound is much stronger and fuller than when streaming the same CD quality song using the Herron/DSD combination. With the BHK, its the exact opposite, that is, the BHK/DSD streaming sound is stronger than the BHK/Herron vinyl sound. In both cases, I can increase the volume to achieve about the same sound.

Playing vinyl, I prefer the Herron/Herron vinyl SQ. For streaming, I prefer the BHK/DSD SQ. I am a bit disappointed in the BHK/Herron vinyl sound. Even when I turn up the volume, it lacks the full bodied Herron/Herron sound. Before I get too excited, I’m going to try different loading plugs to see if that helps. Any other ideas are welcomed.

Sounds like an impedance mismatch.

vee, I think you are right.

I was hoping to find some way to make my Herron VTPH-2A phone pre work with the BHK. The SQ with the Herron VTSP-3A and VTPH-2A is wonderful.

The Herron’s output impedance is 400 ohms on PSA’s own phono preamp is over 200 ohms so not that great difference. Biggest difference may be from running a full SE component into a fully balanced one on one input and a balanced source into the other input. They are going to sound different than when you were running both SE into the Herron preamp. I would call PSA on the phone and see what they say about the combo especially Darren.

The loading of the phono pre is only to do with the relationship with the cartridge, nothing to do with the output.

Your description is a bit strange given the Herron phono has two gain settings.

Can you plug your DSD and phono pre into your amplifier at the same time?

I was hoping a change in loading plugs might help with the sound. I plug both the DSD and phono pre into the pre amp using RCA. For gain, I have both the Herron and DSD set to “high.”

Tomorrow I plan to contact Keith Herron to see if he has any suggestions.

The fully tube Herron preamp and the hybrid BHK are just not going to sound the same. I have the BHK and a full tube Supratek and while they are both good and both have there own strong points they do not sound the same with the different source pieces in front of them. Part is due to the topology and part is just plain brand synerg. and the different connection methods. Luckily in my case both units are fully balanced.

@dawkinsj. I just didn’t expect such a big difference. I prefer the BHK/DSD Sr. combination for streaming, especially with XLR cables; and I really don’t want to sell the Herron pieces because I like the sound of vinyl best. I’m in the midst of downsizing so something has to go.

I sold my Parasound JC3jr and bought the Herron. While the JC3jr sounded good, I had no idea of what I was missing until I heard the Herron/Herron combination. I’m leaning towards buying the Sellar phono pre because of the reviews of it against the Parasound JC3+. I’ll be content if the Stellar comes close to the Herron/Herron sound.

I had a long talk with Keith. He suggested I run the 3A into a BHK RCA input (I thought of that, but I didn’t want to deal with two remotes). He also suggested, if I was OK with the sound, to then run the 3A into the BHK HT input, so I wouldn’t have to deal with two remotes. That never occurred to me because I don’t use HT bypass.

After futzing with loading plugs, the 1K plug gives me a sound that I’m quite happy with. I had planned to sell the 3A, but for now I’ll keep it. I’ll try the HT input after the East coast storms go away.

I tried the HT input. The sound is basically the same, but I still have to use the Herron remote for volume control. In any case, I’ve decided to purchase a phono pre around $3K that works directly with the BHK. Suggestions anyone?

Stellar Phono. You won’t find a better sounding phono for anywhere near the price.


I know two people who own the Stellar phone stage. Both with BHK pre amps. Both say the Stellar emits a hum through their speakers. One sent his back, the other kept it. As a result, I hesitate to buy it.


We did a lot of the development and listening tests of the SPP with this exact system. There is no inherent hum with this system. I reckon there is something else going on in those two systems.


The Modwright PH-9 is worth looking into if you are interested in maintaining a phono stage with tubes. Well reviewed piece and Dan’s company is a pleasure to deal with. Transformer coupled balanced outputs are a $300 upcharge so you then have your choice of both types of outputs plus two inputs for a little over $3k list price.

There is a whole thread dedicated to it over on

A friend of mine, who had the stellar, is using a ModWrite PH 9.0 with his BHK and loves it. I’m going to give Dan a call.

I had one of Dan’s preamp’s with the tubed phono stage. I found it to be a very good performer.

You should read Michael Fremer’s review of the Stellar Phono Pre in stereophile. That should change your mind about how great this phone pre is. If anyone would know it would be Mikey

I have read several reviews, and because of them the stellar was my first choice.

I hear a faint hiss from my tweeter with the BHK as I did with the Herron. There is no hum.

I’m going to give the stellar a try. With the in-home trial, I don’t have much to loose.

You won’t be disapointed!

As you know, a “hum” is typically associated with grounding issues, while a slight “hiss” very near the tweeter is pretty normal for tube gear.