Phono Preamp vs. Integrated amp upgrade?

Brian G

Active member
Jul 22, 2021
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Question: I'm running a Node2I and Rega P2 (newer RB220 arm with bias adjustment model mated to a Goldring E3 cartridge) through an AXA35. I have a Rega Brio on my larger system* and find it to be dynamically superior (especially when listening to the P2) to the Cambridge on both set-ups. My local store doesn't have a demonstrator Io and the Brio is more Amp than I need, and more than I want to spend for a small system. Can I expect a similar upgrade in dynamics from the Io? Is it likely to be worth the $360 more in Canada, or should I look at spending the difference on an MM phono preamp and save the sunk cost of the AXA?

*Thanks to the forum members for the help with that question by the way. The Brio/Oberon 5 setup works a treat!
 

Brian G

Active member
Jul 22, 2021
12
2
25
Can you easily buy a used Brio? We have loads here in the UK, but I appreciate they are probably far scarcer in Canada.
The Brio that I have was a floor demo and that was hard enough to find in my city. They can be found used as private sales online herein the £450 range, but I hesitate to go that route if it's not close enough to audition the thing, as I have been burned before.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
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The Brio that I have was a floor demo and that was hard enough to find in my city. They can be found used as private sales online herein the £450 range, but I hesitate to go that route if it's not close enough to audition the thing, as I have been burned before.
Fair enough. I was simply seeing it as a ‘known quantity’ as long it’s functioning properly, and maybe slightly thriftier too.
 

Brian G

Active member
Jul 22, 2021
12
2
25
Well, to partially answer my own question I snagged a Project Phonobox E for the price of an entry level bottle of Scotch, and was surprised to find that it was an improvement over the Cambridge's phono stage (although it still can't run with the Brio). Although the Phonobox is by no means exceptional, I suspect that we may be approaching the limitations of the AXA (or at least the point of very marginal returns) with this setup.

I guess I'm going to order the Io, and return it in the case that it doesn't perform how I want.
 

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