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TerryO

Valeb LCR-1 Mk2 RIAA Phono Stage Comparo

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On 21/04/2018 at 9:48 AM, Hensa said:

Worth saving to get the LCR - whole different ball game. Welcome to drop round for a listen. When I ordered mine, I wanted some higher impedance options and the designer started from scratch with a new circuit board to  come up with my version. All at no extra cost and the build quality is excellent. A few other members have since ordered this different version.

Yes, I grabbed one too and it sounds fantastic with my Audio Technica ART9. A big fan of the LCR-1.

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Hi Gents,

 

Based on your enthusiasm for the Valab it swayed me and I ordered one from Kevin this week (actually my Christmas present from the Mrs.) I thought Kevin had mistyped the model # so I asked him to confirm and this was his reply:

eBay7?euid=dea8e9c70b9f42deb226a04c274c137d&

New message from: vintage_audio_lab Top Rated Seller(21,515YellowShooting Star)

 

Dear Sir:
Yes, you will get MK3 version.
MK3 version was ready on Oct.
All LCR-1 shipped after mid Oct will be MK3 version.

Mk3 version improve compatibility to some old high impedance MC cartridges.
And refine RIAA equalization curve to get more clear tight bass.

99% the same to Mk2 version, few parts changes and minor circuit layout revising.

This phono now done 3st revision basis on customer suggestion from worldwide in past 2 years.
I think all 'bugs' in circuit were digged out.

I hope Mk3 version will win your confidence.

Sicerely, Kevin
 
 
I'll let you know my thoughts after I've lived with it for a few days.
 
Cheers,
 
shawnwes
 
 

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I'm still loving my Mk2.... Will be interesting to see how you like yours. From memory there was a fair bit of burn in required. I left it turned on a month or so. 

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My previous pre was the Lounge Audio LCR MkIII. There was something inherently right with it. It’s only fault I found was fine inner detail and top end were missing so wanted to try a more advanced design.

I’ll get to compare the two as the fellow who I sold it to wants to hear the Valab after it arrives.

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Make sure you give it plenty of burn in. The difference between before and after is very noticeable. Until burned in it sounds a bit,  well, meh.... Once burned in its easily the best I've heard or used

Edited by MattyW

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I got a TF1 recently. Keep it on all the time and I'm more then happy with it. Most importantly, has the gain I need to work with "Grace" and the Dyna Karat 23R.

vintage_audio_lab_valab_tf-1.jpg.23214cf8f4a7720709401b3bd03ba793.jpg MC2 is 65db.

Valab.jpg.7bf21d964796babbd3467cb2eeb15a47.jpg

 

 

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Thanks Matty

 

I’ll probably leave it on 24/7 for a month or two to help it along.

Has there been any issue with on/off button? 

Edited by shawnwes

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I wish the LCR-1 had the selectors on the front like the TF-1.... So convenient.

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On 20/04/2018 at 9:43 PM, TerryO said:

An interesting comparison between the affordable Valeb LCR-1 and the not so affordable EAR 912 and VDH Grail phono stages. ..

 http://www.troelsgravesen.dk/LCR-RIAA-shootout.htm

I'm not in a position to comment on the quality, but the EAR 912 certainly has nice retro character...

912.jpg

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All the EAR stuff looks lovely.... Expensive though :(

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2 hours ago, audiofeline said:

I'm not in a position to comment on the quality, but the EAR 912 certainly has nice retro character...

912.jpg

 

The EAR 912 seems to be a preamp ... the Valeb LCR-1 is only a phono stage.

 

So it's not an apples-to-apples comparison.

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr

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Just now, andyr said:

The EAR 912 seems to be a preamp ... the Valeb LCR-1 is only a phono stage.

So it's not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Andy

Point taken, bu it still looks good!

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1 minute ago, audiofeline said:

Point taken, but it still looks good!

 

Agreed!  :thumb:

 

Andy

 

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1 hour ago, andyr said:

 

The EAR 912 seems to be a preamp ... the Valeb LCR-1 is only a phono stage.

 

So it's not an apples-to-apples comparison.

 

Andy

 

The EAR 912 is a preamp with a phono stage. If I remember correctly I think RossB purchased one because how good the phono stage was.

 

http://www.troelsgravesen.dk/EAR-912.htm

 

 

cheers Terry

Edited by TerryO

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On ‎20‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 7:32 AM, MattyW said:

I'm still loving my Mk2.... Will be interesting to see how you like yours. From memory there was a fair bit of burn in required. I left it turned on a month or so. 

I Have to agree with Matty, I`ve had a mk2  for over a year now and it sounds fantastic plus the versatility and great value for money

 

 

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7 minutes ago, myskylab said:

I Have to agree with Matty, I`ve had a mk2  for over a year now and it sounds fantastic plus the versatility and great value for money

 

 

Sounds even better with a Hashimoto HM-7 SUT in front of it. I'm absolutely gobsmacked. SUT and Neotech UPOCC IC's not even burned in. Wow, just wow! :)

 

Thanks so much for helping me acquire the Fidelity Research FR-14 tonearm some time back as well. It's a truly wonderful tonearm :)

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Finally the Valab has made it through customs and is with Canada Post. Should be here in a couple of days! Haven't spun any vinyl in a month but collected a few over the holidays.

 

 

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Hi all,

While patiently awaiting the customs office to process the Valab I was searching on Aliexpress and found a picture of a Douk Audio pre-amp that had identical case construction so clicked on it and this pic is what the inside looks like. While the Valab definitely has some additional modifications there are alot of similarities as well.

Douk is well know to create knock-offs (they do a quality 834P from what I've heard) I'd be curious to know if anyone knows if the Valab is being knock'ed off in China or if the bones of the unit come from Douk and are modified by Kevin's company in Taiwan. Anyone know?

I also saw another build of this that was alot closer in build internals but can't find the picture now. If I do I'll post it.

 

HTB1LTZyoHsrBKNjSZFpq6AXhFXaN.jpg

Edited by shawnwes

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Yes, the Douk 834P copy is excellent, and thankfully uses a larger case and transformer than the original so is easier to modify. That image above is of Valab's budget phono, the Op-Mini. I own both it and the LCR-1 (2018 version) and it doesn't hold a candle to the LCR-1. Performance reminds me of a Vincent Audio stage. Currently the LCR-1 is the one to beat though in an entirely different price range.

 

Actually, I've a modified Realistic 42-2101A with the transformer moved externally which significantly betters the Op-Mini. To me it's the best budget MM phono stage available though for LOMC's you need a SUT or head amp such as @andyr 's Paris head amp.

 

Presently I run the Valab LCR-1 in my main system and modified Realistic 42-2101A in my second though am interested in upgrading to Andy's on stage at some point. Glowing user reviews and I must say the silver version using rack mount case is beautiful too (aesthetics are important at a certain point). The Realistic though you simply hide away behind the entertainment unit. Plug and forget. :)

 

Modded Realistic: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Realistic-42-2101a-completely-upgraded-audiophile-6/192776426179?hash=item2ce25ed2c3:g:EVUAAOSwq6VcKpfx:rk:3:pf:1&frcectupt=true

240V AC external transformer: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/AMIGO-AC-DC-ADAPTOR-AM-121200AB-12V-1200mA-UK-PLUG/233057857195?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20160908105057%26meid%3D8826250529ee4c97a97838a25a76b9c5%26pid%3D100675%26rk%3D4%26rkt%3D15%26mehot%3Dlo%26sd%3D153334986739%26itm%3D233057857195&_trksid=p2481888.c100675.m4236&_trkparms=pageci%3A1072b433-1791-11e9-bd83-74dbd1801335|parentrq%3A49b3bc3e1680aaa32512e8a2fff2b80f|iid%3A1

 

Other stages I've run include the Yaqin MS23B, Little Bear T10 v2.6, Douk Tube Phonobox (834P circuit), Sheer Audio MM-88 (Marantz M7 based), Valab Op-Mini. a borrowed Vincent PHO-8, Cambridge Azur 651P and possibly a few others I can't remember. So far my two favorites remain the  LCR-1 and Realistic.

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4 hours ago, MattyW said:

Realistic 42-2101A

that is a lot of money for modded realistic

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8 minutes ago, mloutfie said:

that is a lot of money for modded realistic

 

True. If you can do the work yourself then thats the better choice. That said, in terms of sound quality it's still the best sounding, relatively inexpensive phono stage I've come across. The upgraded model with external transformer has a significantly lower noise floor and is still the best sounding unit I've come across after the Valab LCR-1.

 

Considering getting the 4.7uf caps changed for Mundorf Silver Gold to see how far it can go  ;)

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Can't find any decent info on my Valab, the TF1. I know its older, but thats about it.

If anyone has any decent info on it, please post. I have the stuff off Vinyl Engine.

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On 13/01/2019 at 4:24 PM, MattyW said:

Yes, the Douk 834P copy is excellent, and thankfully uses a larger case and transformer than the original so is easier to modify. That image above is of Valab's budget phono, the Op-Mini.

If that's the Valab Op-Mini then perhaps Valab is producing it for Douk as that's being sold as a Douk product on AliExpress. Or Douk is selling a knock-off to bugger Taiwanese competition. Regardless, thanks for the details.

 

The Valab has arrived today. No power cord but the umbilical was there so no issues. Fit n finish is great. Like that the LEDs are light blue to match my Exposure. I'm going to leave it turned on for a couple of weeks to let it burn in and then I'll give my thoughts concerning the sound. Fresh out of the box any quality component is like a freshly opened bottle of wine. It needs to breath a little. 

 

Thanks again for posting your enthusiasm concerning the LCR-1 Matty. It tipped me towards the purchase and first impressions are it was a good one.

 

More to come.

 

Cheers

 

Shawn

On 13/01/2019 at 4:24 PM, MattyW said:

 

 

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@shawnwes it'll need some signal running through it before critical listening. Especially those inductors

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