Phono Preamplifiers

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Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
An immensely flexible design but somewhat sterile in use. Whether you’re an audiophile on a budget or you have deep pockets to fund a seriously high-end system, it’s likely that Musical Fidelity has a range of products to suit. MF’s ever expanding M1 series sits above the entry level V series and offers a choice of half-width separates in well made cases, based on its more expensive M3 and M6 models.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
An ultra- sophisticated interface is paired with strong sonics to good effect. With over 15 years’ experience in stand-alone phono stage design, Creek Audio needs little introduction: its £185 OBH-18 model is a stalwart at entry level. The Wyndsor, a completely different beast, contains a level of user sophistication rarely seen in a phono stage.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
This dimunitive design produces a very pleasing sonic performance. A quick glance at Clearaudio’s product range shows that the company prides itself on using quality materials to house its audio electronics, and the Nano Phono certainly continues in this vein. Its case is formed from a solid CNC-machined aluminium block which makes the Nano feel surprisingly heavy, despite its diminutive size.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
A product with performance that is hard to beat at the price. Founded in 1988, Germany’s Lehmann Audio offers an extensive series of phono stages which employ technology drawn from its pro-audio range of mixing consoles and the like. All Lehmann phono stages are based around passive RIAA filter designs and, according to Lehmann, the differences between models can be found ‘in the quality of the parts and/or in the grade of sophistication of the circuit design.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
The full sized casework is matched by the large and lively sound. Uncomplicated Scandinavian design’ is how Primare defines its ethos and a quick glance at the R32’s front panel tells you that this phono stage is truly living Primare’s ‘brand values’. Since it measures 430x95x380mm (whd) and weighs a substantial 8. 5kg, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve been sold a power amp in the wrong box. Of course much of this weight can be attributed to the R32’s case, with its 8mm-thick front plate and solid feet.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
Some clever ideas but a little too laid back sonically. Established in 2003, Astin Trew is a British hi-fi company with a product portfolio that includes amps, CD players, cables and its first phono stage: the AT8000. Astin Trew’s philosophy is simple: ‘create very high quality mid-priced home audio products that convey the emotion and passion of real music as naturally as possible.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2011
Though celebrated for digital products, Esoteric cares more about analogue than you’d expect – the company’s E-03 phono stage joins the ranks of the greats. We’ve come so far down the digital path that we’re at a stage where there’s been a near-complete volte face in expectations: where once we awaited digital products from companies with their roots in analogue, we now entertain analogue products from companies with their roots in digital.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 16, 2011
A no-compromise design for those seeking the ultimate in vinyl replay. The Io Eclipse is for audiophiles seeking the ultimate in vinyl replay. Its two chassis are the size of most manufacturers’ power amplifiers, one the phono stage itself, the other the power supply. The Io Eclipse costs £14,000, or £16,700 with independent L/R volume controls – as reviewed here. (With this option you get a ‘bonus’ line level input.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 16, 2011
Matching clever technology with exacting build, the Trilogy is an engaging performer. Superbly put together, the Trilogy 907 is machined out of a solid billet of aluminium. Its made-tohide- away outboard supply shares the same footprint and needs to be separated by at least 250mm, with allowance for ventilation. It elicited sighs of admiration from audiophiles to whom we was showed it.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Oct 02, 2011
Active/passive - not behavioural therapy, but two of Air Tight's options for cartridge amplification: the ATH-2A step-up transformer and ATE-2005 phono equaliser . With at least three turntables active in my system at any time, I’ve learned to appreciate options. All of my preferred phono amplifiers accept at least two decks and can cope with both MM and MC cartridges of varying output levels.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Aug 16, 2010
When someone as determined and perfectionist as Conrad Mas of Avid decides to enter a new product area, the result is likely to be something special. With the Pulsare Phono, the aim was to produce a phono stage that could do the same things for music that an Avid turntable did. It had to have ‘that certain something that makes the music sound and feel real. ’ Even a first glance tells you that this an overkill design in specification, construction and features.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Jul 16, 2010
For the Leicester-based company Icon Audio, the PS3 is a development prompted by its successful PS1 phono stage, now in MkII form. Both feature – as do its MP3 Mini Amp and HP8 headphone amp – the distinctive ‘peephole’ through which its complement of tubes may be glimpsed. For the PS3 phono stage, designer David Shaw has specified no fewer than seven triode valves including ECC88s and one 6SN7 for the output. The separate power supply unit has another six (EZ80, ECC83 and 5687 types) used for voltage rectification and regulation.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Apr 16, 2010
We first reviewed this German two-box phono stage as part of a group test [see HFN Apr ’10]. The Lehmann Black Cube Decade (available with silver fascia or black) sits between the company’s Black Cube SE and reference Silver Cube phono stages. It features Lehmann’s flagship PWX II power supply (also available as an upgrade to other Lehmann audio products), its frontal aspect uniform with the phono stage itself except for a lack of any controls, and notably well-built. You can hide it away if you want, as the shielded power cable that joins the boxes via Neutrik connectors is 2m long.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Nov 17, 2009
While there’s little that’s grand looking about RCM Audio’s Sensor Prelude phono amplifier, despite it costing considerably in excess of a grand, close inspection reveals that it has been purposefully designed. A substantial brushed alloy fascia disguises what is otherwise a rather utilitarian metal case. But there’s little to complain about its construction quality, other than the cheapness of the stuck-on rubber feet. A separate power supply box connects via an umbilical cable of fixed length and locking DIN connector while the cable is generous in length to allow remote placement.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Aug 06, 2009
It’s been almost two years since Hi-Fi News had the pleasure of auditioning a CD player and integrated amplifier from the Italian Audia company [see HFN September 2007]. With just a select range of amplifiers and a couple of CD players in its product portfolio, Audia may barely register as a blip on the radar of British audiophiles. On the European specialist audio scene, on the other hand, Audia has carved out a name for itself as a manufacturer to be taken most seriously in the high-end arena, its products regularly garnering accolades in French and German magazines as well as on its home turf in Italy, naturally. Talking of carving out a name, you just know that Audia’s products aren’t going to come without a fairly substantial price ticket attached to them when you see the build quality.

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