Creek Wyndsor (£1500)

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.

Accessed via the multifunctional dial to the right of the screen are six sets of standard parameters for low/med/high output MM and MC cartridges. Each setting within your selected paramater can then be individually tweaked to suit your cartridge; and you can save these settings as a ‘profile’ by manually inputting a name of your choice (eg, your cartridge model). Up to 99 of these can be stored.

Overall the Wyndsor offers five gain settings [see Lab Report], five load resistance settings (from 90ohm-47kohm) and five capacitance settings. It also offers IEC low frequency roll-off and an option for balanced arm wiring. Equalisation is part passive, part active and is achieved in three stages. Multiple power supplies are kept separate for the analogue and digital sections and there’s also a DC sensor on the output stages.

As soon as Respighi’s masterpiece came through my speakers, I knew I was in for a thrilling ride with the Wyndsor. The soundstage pushed out in all directions and was firmly populated, with trumpets up front and percussion at the back. The Creek’s sense of scale was impressive during the Respighi, horns towering over my speakers before falling back at almost the same pace as they had with MF’s ViNL, although the Creek seemed less insistent, allowing their different tones to be fully enjoyed.

  Meanwhile, instruments had real body and were delivered precisely. The hi-hats on Young’s ‘Out On The Weekend’ were well defined and enjoyed an edge missing when rendered via some of the other models here. Treble and midrange integrated seamlessly, although the former lacked the sweetness of the Primare and the bass didn’t have the punch of the MF ViNL or Primare models. The Wyndsor presented a detailed and vibrant sound, finely balanced across all areas in the mix.

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Originally published in the January 2012 issue