Phono pre amp recommendations? - upgrading from ICON AUDIO PS1 MK II

hey everyone, I am kindly asking for your phono pre amp recommendations, especially if you have experience with my current amp (icon audio PS1 MKII).

for the first time in my audio journey right now my system is so close to perfect (to my ears) and im incredibly happy about that. my current set up is Marantz tt15 turntable with dynavector 20x2 cartridge, primaluna prologue premium integrated and elysian 4 speakers. its very transparent, detailed, smooth, open, and in my opinion pretty neutral. when I swapped out my phono pre amp for one that my friend made(also tube design), it was like everything came to life, I couldn’t believe I was listening to the same system as I was 5 minutes ago. everything had more weight, and was more life like, it was darker and yet more lively, the vocals jumped out in front: so detailed and life like yet smooth and warm and not edgy or sharp or fatiguing like I often hear. it is currently the sound I am chasing (my friend will not sell this amp, or make another one like it, some friend huh?).

can anyone recommend a phono pre in the 3-4k range that can accomplish most or at least some of these qualities? my conclusions are that the icon audio is great, tonnes of headroom, detail, smooth, super quiet, big soundstage, but that it is too neutral for my ears and system and not warm enough, or its too polite, it seems to disappear in the system which may be a great quality for some.

does anyone have experience with this amp and can make a recommendation for an amp that has more warmth richness and weight (and forwardness?) in the midrange without giving up the other qualities I mentioned? I’m not looking for that vintage mushy sweet tube sound, more looking for what I have with just a hint more of that magic lol.

a couple of amps I am looking into are the modwright ph9, lab12 melto 2, and Allnic h-5500 (although a bit out of my budget).

I would appreciate and advice you can give me or any experience you can share with me.

thanks so much




A web search for “ Abbas Audio RIAA Tube Preamplifier EF86/EL84 “ will explain a very particular hand made build philosophy that may fit your bill:


I compared this device last week to a friend’s Luxman RIAA (7000 GBP !) . I heard notably greater dynamic force, beauty of tone and open, magical atmosphere with the Abbas. I hear this character with his tube DAC 2.4SE+, also. I own the DAC and the RIAA and they are special.

You definitely need to check out Audio Research. As a current owner you will be equally amazed. 

check out Decware - they make great tube amps and pre-amps in Illinois. All pt-to-pt hand soldered wiring. I have had a couple of their amps and their phono preamp. 

I'm an Allnic fan, so anything Allnic produces in a fan of. I went from the H5500 to the H3000 and I couldn't be happier. I just picked up the Van Den Hul The Grail and am adjusting to the solid state sound and how that compares to tubes. Definitely some give and some take, but I can recommend Allnic and VDH as viable options. 


OP is looking for phono with a warm sound…would you say Allnic phono’s especially H-5500 has a warm sound and not neutral sounding like ARC. Did you do any tube rolling or stock tubes are good enough. I got my eye on H-5500, hopefully a used bargain shows up soon.