He said: The standard Rhea deserves the accolades it has received over the years, and continues to prove a value leader at $4000. That it now marks the beginning of an upgrade path makes it a fantastic musical investment.
The gist: Perhaps one of the best phono stages for under $5000.
He said: The Rhea Signature built on the strengths of its namesake while minimizing or even eliminating the few compromises evident in the original. Without any remaining evidence of deviation from neutrality, the Signature’s suitability as a reviewer’s tool was obvious . . .
The gist: A Rhea realizing what it’s truly capable of: SOTA sound.
He said: I’d say, in general, that the Artemis Labs SA-1 would be a turntable for discerning music lovers rather than for audiophiles questing for a component that would reveal utter details like the smack of lipstick on a wet pair of lips.
The gist: Musical, aesthetically refined, and unfussy.
He said: Having cartridges like the AT33EV around will make life difficult for makers of high-priced MM cartridges -- there’s now reason to question how much more improvement you’ll hear for all those extra dollars.
The gist: The natural step up from an entry-level MC.
He said: I found that its articulate and tuneful bass brought life to recordings of small-ensemble jazz, its sweet midrange captivatingly reproduced voices, and its depth of soundstage imbued many classical recordings with a concert-like feel.
The gist: Right on the money for the price.
He said: But those willing to get past the Fon Lo Thingee’s no-frills looks to just hear how good it sounds might be rewarded: the performance of their systems might be taken to the next level for very little money.
The gist: Not a pipe bomb, but a good phono stage.
He said: Don’t let [its] longevity lull you into overlooking the LP2 Deluxe if you’re on the hunt for a truly state-of-the-art phono stage. “New” doesn’t always mean “improved.”
The gist: Expensive but ultimately satisfying.
Prices: $1500 (LP5.3), $1250 (PSX5.3)
He said: I was mighty impressed by the pairing of Simaudio’s Moon LP5.3 and Moon PSX5.3. The stock LP5.3 is a great phono stage, and a bit of a steal at $1500. But add the PSX5.3 for another $1250 and you have a very serious high-end phono stage that competes with options way up the price ladder.
The gist: You can shoot for the Moons while staying firmly grounded.