Has anyone compared the EMT 139st phonostage to others ?

I am currently using the EMT HSD-006 cartridge. I am looking for a good tube phonostage to go with it. The first choice is of course their own EMT 139st phonostage. The EMT engineers Dusch and J.P Vanvliet have launched a "remanufactured" version of this phonostage. It is an exact replica with modern parts. Costs around Euro 5k. Before I spend that kind of money I want to get some feedback about this phonostage. Has anyone heard it or compared it to other phonostages ? How is it ?

I have not heard that EMT phono stage, but have heard many EMT cartridges and currently own a EMT JSD S75. Depending on your current phono stage you may want to consider an Auditorium 23 Hommage transformer, instead of a phono stage change. The A23 transformer made a great improvement in my analog system. Also of note EMT introduced their own SUT, but I have not heard it. 

Hello Jperry,
I already have a nicely matched SUT for my  EMT cartridge. But my phonostage is quite basic. I am particularly looking for a good tube stage. Apart from the EMT phono I may consider a good Conrad Johnson phonostage because my amplification is all CJ. Any suggestions ?

Given that I haven't heard your system all I can really tell you is:

I like to use matched amplification as well, so I think the CJ phono is a good idea. I am currently using Luxman preamp and amps.

It would be hard to go wrong with an EMT phono stage.

The EMT I have sounds great through my Luxman preamp, so think it might be worthwhile to audition a Luxman phono stage. Not sure of the pricing for this in Europe.

Good luck with your search,

Best Regards,

Jim Perry
I also have the Luxman EQ-500 on my radar. But the EMT 139st is the first choice if I could get some feedback about it. Some times it just has a vintage charm for which people know and talk about a product. But I don't want to spend Euro 5k on a product for its vintage charm. It must sound like a $5k product too. Many of the EMT guys simply vouch for anything EMT. Even when there is a clear sonic compromise, it gets justified by these fanboys. I am no fanboy. I liked EMT cartridge for what it sounds like. It is indeed a super $2k cartridge. Is the phonostage also worth its asking value ?

Someone ?
I was curious so I looked at the information on their website and it appears you will need to own an EMT turntable or have a power supply built to use this phono preamp. See the notes quoted from the link below.


Note 1: The 139st b can only be used in earlier EMT 927 and EMT 930 turntables with serial no's before 14725 with the necessary power supplies for the EMT 139st and EMT 139st b.

Note 2: Turntables with serial no's higher than 14725 can be upgraded with the new 139st b power supply upgrade kit to fulfil the possibility of using the 139st b in young EMT 927's and EMT 930's.
No, I already spoke to them. They do sell an additional PSU for Euro 1000 which makes this phonostage work with any turntable
Great news! You are a step ahead of me. I would be interested to hear your comments if you get the EMT phono stage.
The 139st is incredible.  I restored an EMT 927, and wanted to get the 139st for it but couldn’t find one.  I’ve heard it many times and it’s hypnotic it’s so good.

Even without the 139st, the EMT 927 was the best turntable I’ve ever heard.  I miss it.

Iif you can get a 139st, don’t ever part with it.  

There are remanufactured ones available (EMT 139St) plus more, i am sure will be good but no experience. i found like the link a bit by accident.

The EMT phonostages are rarely seen outside of the EMT turntables,  so that may be a challenge getting a true unbiased answer from a owner of these pieces.  I am in the process of having a original restored along with the 927.  So maybe I  can report back in a couple of months. 

I am a vintage guy, initially I used a mark levinson 25L phono stage.  In the late 80's I became a mark levinson fan, but eventually abandoned the brand and went back to vintage gear from the 60's & 70's.

The levinson is very very good.  I had a little noise in the left channel and sent it out for service, then just using my preamps built in phono stage, which I hadn't done in years.  At the time I was switching between my marantz 7 / Phase Linear 400 combo and my Sansui 9090DB.  The phono in the Sansui is remarkable its so good.

I have a client who has a EMT 930 with the 139st, and that preamp has a sonic character that is nuanced, dynamic, & smooth.  No matter what cartridge you're using, those traits come through in spades.  I wanted one, still kinda do.

I haven't heard any 139st clones or re-manufactured ones, so I can't comment on those.  I would imagine that if you can get one re-manufactured by EMT, then you should be golden.  It's a superb choice. 

Keep in mind, that the 139st when compared to my levinson 25L, is more laid back.  Initially you will think that you are missing something, until you realize everything is THERE... it's just that the presentation is so wonderfully smooth and articulate that it takes you back a little.  Hence my reference to it being hypnotic. 

@normansizemore how did you know the sound of 139st ? It must be integrated inside the 930 TT. Were you able to make any direct comparisons with external phonostages ?
The issue is, is it worth Euro 5k ? This includes an external PSU so that it can be used with other turntables outside EMT.
"The 139s are very sought after and fetch high prices, but sonically they do not compete with good modern tube designs. The EMT-133 / V-83 is the best, if the curve is modified to RIAA. A pair of mono 139As come second, then the 139st. Forget the 155s! The 153s and the Swiss Eymann are better, but still not worth the money. If you find a 927 or 930 with the tube EQ, then sell the EQ. If you find one with a 155 or 153, use the chassis to build your own phono preamp inside. I often used a simple Neumann design with modern parts and first-class Neumann MC transformers (which outperform all transformers I know of) or our own Phonogen design. With the EMT preamps, you can not even get close to how these tables perform."

Heiner Jakobi, "The EMT 927 and EMT 930 Turntables", in the now missing US magazine "Sound Practices", Volume 4, Issue 16, pages 17-22 (no date, may be in the second half of the 90s published).

Thanks @lbelchev , I have read that review already. The thing is, I have heard the EMT 938 and 950 with TSD-15 cartridge, EMT SUT and EMT 155st phonostage. One thing I can tell you, even the 155 phonostage, which is considered "basic" by EMT standards does a marvelous job of creating a very alive and dynamic presentation. It doesn't sound slow, veiled, low resolution or less dynamic in any manner compared to a good $5k phonostage. In fact it presents music with a lot of authority and grandeur. So I have some confidence that 139st can't be bad.   
From what has been said online, it's a very mixed bag.  Some owners love it and think it competes with some of the best out there and then the other side of the coin say it's not so good.   There are some opinions of the 139st in the big EMT 927 thread within this Audiogon analog forum. 
The 139st can be had as an out board phono stage, which is the case with my clients system.   I have seen photos of the 139st integrated with the EMT 927, but not in person.

Tom (my client), also has a small Bellari phono and a Rega, but I don’t recall the model.  So I have heard it against those as well as my recollection of my own Levinson phono preamp, which I did not compare on the same system.


Thanks @normansizemore .Those Rega and Bellari are of course not the best comparisons but still...thanks :-). I have written to some 927 and 930 owners asking for their feedback


I use an EMT930st and I had the EMT R80 which is the early version of the 927.

I know the EMT V83 very well, I had a pair of those, it is fantastic. I also had the Neumann WV2a (stereo) which uses the legendary Neumann BV33 stereo inputtransformers.

Both are in general much better than the EMT 139st but again, there are the early EMT-139 mono versions as well. The monos are much better than the stereos, but to use two of them in stereo you need a dedicated powersupply because any 139 was built to be used within the EMT927 or early version EMT930st. The late (mostly Barco) EMT930s can only drive the 155st or 153st or the Suisse Eymann (but you can use the 155st in the early 930st)
The crictical part of the 155st is that the complete circuit was fed via the 6.3V filament PS part from the EMT 930 or 927 internal PS and that isn’t a perfect solution. Never the less the 155st isn‘t bad at all, due to excellent input- and output transformers it still will outperform many other RIAA preamps and it has other options which some need.

The Eymann is RIAA only and bettered the EMT 155st with RIAA this because it has its own Sanken-PS. One must remember though that the standard Eymand was MM 47kohms only, very few had MC inputtransformers!

A rare exception of the EMT 930st was sold in Switzerland as well with a Neumann SMB-2 tube phonopreamp. This preamp used a very clever balanced design with just 2 x 12AX7/ECC83 tubes. Not very typical for the old tube designs using EF804s pentodes but it’s sound quality was excellent. Maybe due to the small lower ratio Neumann BV33a inputtransformers which were very different to the high ratio 1:40/50 BV33 stereo-transformers used in the WV2a.

The SMB2 is quite well described here:
but with a mistake, the SMB-2 does not use the 1:40 BV33’s but lower ratio!

and here:
I never saw the mentioned SEV-2 though.

The super rare Neumann WV1 mono equalizers used BV27 or BV33 mono with lower ratio as well, I liked those much more, I am not so keen on high ratio but this is a matter of taste, the BV33 stereo is great in its way indeed and for many a high ratio is what is needed. For a high ration input MC tranny those BV33’s are for sure the very best and unsurpassed, no matter if mono or stereo. There is a difference between „modern“ BV33’s or vintage though, although the modern still are great but the vintage versions are far superior.

So a pair of EMT 139 monos with a dedicated PS will outperform the 139st quite easely and is a fantastic investment because they don’t lose value at all.

A lowcost bargain solution is the Eymann, but solid-state isn’t tube though.

As much as Neumann tube-microphones and Telefunken/TAB/Maihak microphone tube preamps define the real state of art, so do EMT 139 mono, EMT V83 (133) monos, Neumann WV1 monos and WV2a and SMB-2 stereo equalizers.

Of quite some importance of course is which MC cartridge is used.

The EMT 139’s all are designed for the EMT TSD15 and similar with a 2 x 24 ohms coil impedance, quite close to the Denon DL130. So those EMT inputtransformers are an perfect match for the TSD15!

But if you want to use the Ortofon SPU’s or other lower impendance Moving Coils you need the Neumans because their input transoformers are designed for such cartridges!

This doesn’t mean you can’t use the 139’s (or V83’s) with SPU’s but it isn’t the perfect match.

At the same time I have found that the TSD15 sounds very good with the BV33 or BV33a inputs.

To make things more complicated:
I always have liked the ZYX cartridges and used them on my modified Ortofon tonearm with standard headshell connection (as well as on a FR64s and other great tonearms).

I had tried the ZYX TPM100 inputtransformers which I think used amazing transformers possibly made by Tango or Tamura. But the I got the TMP1000’s which used 2 transformers per channel. This was an eye-opener, no, of course, this was an ear-opener!
As if a curtain which veiled everything was taken away in front of the speakers.

My immediate thought was to try this design with EMT and Neumann transformers and the result was fantastic. Since then I never ever used just one transformer per channel but two.
I know, this is more expensive but worthwhile. One has to connect the trannies the right way and understand about orientation of the core (90 degrees one core to the other), because then one has eliminated any possible hum to zero as well.

Cheers to the listing of „good music“

Hans of  ing. J.P. (Hans) van Vliet the Netherlands EMT specialist has built his "own" version of the Neumann WV2 phono for use in the EMT 927 and 930 with the proper power supply.

I am quite interested in one for my 927.  Anyone have a chance to listen to his version?


I haven’t heard it but just saw it on his webside. It looks very well made, I am sure it will be a very interesting design.

Yet there are differences to the WV2a design:
The WV2a uses the EF804s in the inputstage, here it is similar.

The 2nd stage in the orig. WV2a uses another EF804s, before there is the passive RIAA network and in the original the switch for other different curves (not really necessary though if RIAA is all that is needed). Again similar.

The inbuilt PS of the EMT 927 and 930 won’t deliver enough to drive the E80CC
which is used in the WV2a, a very strong and steep triode, so he uses 12AX7’s instead, possibly just as cathode-follower to gain a lower impedance.

I have done the same but used ECC808’s instead of the 12AX7.

The ECC808 is quite similar to the 12AX7 but I prefer NOS Telefunkens here.

I had built a few complete preamps with this Neumann design (including line-stage with a Western Electric triode (417A) and dedicated outputtransformers.

So I know something about the design and can say that it sounds wonderful, I am sure Mr. van Vliets design will sound fantastic.


Wow! What a wealth of information from Good Music. I will never own an EMT anything (not because I don’t like the company but just due to my own old age and set preferences), but the historical perspective GM conveyed is very interesting. I am left with one question and one opinion.

Question: Why and how do you use two SUTs per channel?

Opinion: A 12AX7 or any tube that closely resembles the 12AX7 in its parameters (very high mu, very high plate resistance, very low current capacity) is a bad choice for a cathode follower. Because such a CF will have a relatively high output impedance and a low current carrying capacity, and it is after all the job of a CF to convert a voltage to current in the process of lowering output Z. In other words, the 12AX7 is not a good driver tube. I do realize it has been done by companies other than EMT, or the various persons that make their built in phono stages, and it may sound great.

There is an Audiogon listing of the TPM-1000 transformers.

One one picture the explanation is given.

I can't upload pictures here a simple explanation:

- both 100% identical transformers are connected in series. (which means input impedance is doubled but this has no effect on soundquality at all)

- the core of both transformers are oriented 90 degrees to each other (hum elimination, once can even do it by ear and hear the difference)


So if they’re in series, then the net voltage gain is a multiple of the individual voltage gain of each SUT? For example, a 1:10 ratio will increase gain 10X at the secondary of the first SUT. Then that voltage would be again increased by 10X across the second SUT, for a total V gain of 100X? Why would that ever be needed? I must misunderstand the hookup.

What would that result in an increase gain of 10x ?

It is a normal series connection, it increases the input impedance!