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The Puffin DSP phono pre-amp

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I remember bookmarking this groundbreaking piece of gear some months ago and finally decided to check out user comments. - the only ones worthwhile. Initial reaction was overwhelmingly - I don't want anything digital in the analogue signal path. However actual use brought completely different and positive responses. 

 

Some years ago I bought a Talk Electronics  MC3 phono stage. It's S/S, loads of settings to cater for virtually any cartridge, the only change of components I can think of - to replace the RIAA  smd 1% resistors with Z foil ones.

 

When I looked carefully at just what it can do and not just for vinyl but for any source it became obvious that  Shannon Parks the creator could if he was minded make a remarkable ADC simply by omitting the final conversion from digital to analogue and replacing RCA outs to a digital out. I have been looking to make a digital library of my LPs and CDs. Nowhere have I seen anything as simple as tweaking a couple of knobs and without introducing any artifacts.

 

I use a Kenwood KD 990/AT 33EV (maybe an ART 9 or Soundsmith Zephyr in the future) into my MC3 phono stage. Most if not all the reviews on the Puffin don't feature this level of vinyl replay. It would be good to hear from anyone that does.

 

Certainly in the near future the Puffin will trigger responses from others that might well result in even better phono/ADC creations. Worth anyone with vinyl checking out the many useful features.

 

 

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Hi been looking at one for awhile now be interesting to hear from anyone that has one.

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I have the puffin and also had the budgie (which I sold). The puffin is quite a versatile unit. It is very easy to configure. I had set it up with a DL-103 which it easily had enough gain for. Easy to adjust the sound for those records that are less than stellar and you can save up to 4 user settings.

 

With the puffin I have also hooked it up to my laptop and phone playing Spotify.

I'm thinking of putting the puffin up for sale, send me a pm if interested.

 

 

IMG_1767.jpg

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I have one. I purchased it for the non RIAA curves for playing my 78s. It’s pretty good as a standard phono and the adjustability on the fly is really useful and fun.

Is it better than an entry level Cambridge or Project, in my experience yes, a lot better. Is a better than an iFi Phono? Maybe not. Is it a hundred times more convenient and tweakable than the iFi Phono? Yes.

 

A @Iain_r mentioned it is convenient, especially for crappy recordings. Lots of loading and tone options to get what you want. It’s a tweaker’s delight.

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Hi John

why up for sale? some comments regarding the Paffin made I've read compare it big dollar phonos so be interesting what a upgrade is.

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I have 3 phono amps at the moment, I was thinking of offering it up for sale as the puffin was part of a second system upstairs, but it never got much use so I dismantled the system and the puffin gets swapped in and out on my main system now and again with the other two phono amps

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How do the other two phonos stack up against the Paffin?

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1 minute ago, Falcon 500 said:

Hi

anyone else own a Paffin?

 

I have owned one for 3 days so far 

But only played one LP so far 

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On 14/08/2019 at 10:48 AM, Falcon 500 said:

Hi

be good to hear your impressions as it gets more use

 

Over 10 LPs now played with the Puffin 

Must admit that it’s overall performance is pretty good across all genres 

 

Played about with the settings and found that in my system the small changes made tiny differences 

 

A nice feature is the onboard volume control 

 

I have started following the Parks Audio Facebook page to keep up with any updates 

As a result I have found that a new software update has been released about 3 weeks ago, so when time allows I will need to do update the Puffin and see how the new software performs against the previous 

 

 

 

 

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I read the technical review and the unit's manual and it seems pretty good. The lack of a digital output seems an odd omission to me

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16 minutes ago, A9X said:

I read the technical review and the unit's manual and it seems pretty good. The lack of a digital output seems an odd omission to me

 

As I noted above 

I follow the Parks Audio Facebook page 

On a recent update a DIY digital output has been released for anyone wanting to do it 

 

So here is the link on how to do it

 

http://www.parksaudiollc.com/spdif/spdif.html?fbclid=IwAR25CELooLmdnrnq3HRRZdqBit_l2vapRMCMNuKYN5fIMyVhzS2nSzz8xKQ

 

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Thanks. I missed your post as I quickly read through. It's an easy enough DIY mod for me, but it would still be nice if it came from the factory that way, even with a small surcharge. Other non-DIY types I'm sure would be happier with this approach. The ability to have 4 user presets won me over as the TT when it's rebuilt will have 3 arms, one with an MM, one MC and a Decca. Saves me building 3 analog phono pres and buying an ADC.

 

I hope they'll publish updates elsewhere as I won't have anything to do with f___book.

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17 minutes ago, A9X said:

It's an easy enough DIY mod for me, but it would still be nice if it came from the factory that way, even with a small surcharge. Other non-DIY types I'm sure would be happier with this approach.

I agree - It seems that Mr Parks is proactive and may include it in new builds or as an added extra ?

But for owners now that want a digital out - the only option is the DIY method 

 

20 minutes ago, A9X said:

The ability to have 4 user presets won me over as the TT when it's rebuilt will have 3 arms, one with an MM, one MC and a Decca. Saves me building 3 analog phono pres and buying an ADC.

 

Same with me 

The presets are great as I have several carts and one is also a Decca 

 

Overall the Puffin is a great little unit and performs well with plenty of tweaks to suit one’s preference 

It punches well above its price point 

 

Just need to do the software update as time permits 

 

27 minutes ago, A9X said:

I hope they'll publish updates elsewhere as I won't have anything to do with f___book.

The updates are first published on the Parks website then repeated on Facebook with links back to Parks Audio 

Hope that helps 

So all updates are there 

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4 minutes ago, Full Range said:

The updates are first published on the Parks website then repeated on Facebook with links back to Parks Audio 

Hope that helps 

So all updates are there 

Thank you.

 

It really does look like an impressive unit, and I was very sceptical until I read the tech reports and manual. Analog is not my priority at the moment, but will definitely get one next year.

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I have updated the Puffin with the latest firmware V1.11 today 

 

Tested it out on a couple of the Puffins onboard settings 

Tube 2H and the MC cart for a couple of records 

Still impressed 

Now I need to reset or test and change the saved user settings 

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Posted (edited)

Just a quick update for any Puffin owners

A new Beta firmware version is now available with some amazing features

Mr Parks has indicated that its just about finished and you can confidently download the firmware to try it out

Only a few tweaks here and there before release

 

I have just updated the new firmware now but have not tested it as yet

My update is to follow as time allows

 

I will paste some of the new features and link the download page

 

Puffin Firmware *BETA V1.20*

Changes:

  • Added Magic pop and click minimizer
  • Added Grade which is a record grading function
  • Added new clip alerts with asterisk * at Volume (output/DAC clip) & Gain (input/ADC clip)
  • Changed TF to fx. Think like "effects" or f(x)
  • Lowered 2H Tube distortion (7%THD at full signal)
  • Fixed 3H Tape distortion (3.5%THD at full signal)
  • Removed 2H&3H from fx
  • Moved Noise to fx (PinkNoise)
  • Added Out function & merged SPDIF code, though Out:SPDIF is disabled on non-modded Puffins
  • Added 25Hz to Low filter and made default

 

  • Magic: Removes a lot of crud from your vinyl. But doesn't whack it over the head with processing either. The goal is a simple control that is On or Off. I've tried to make it very gentle and non-digital sounding, and actually used an analogue-like technique. This is intended to be used all the time and makes your best LPs sound better. Like they're extra clean. Scratched up records will receive some help, but don't demo Magic using them - use the good stuff.
  • Grade: Use this to grade your records - either to sort out dupes or find which records may need to be upgraded. Turn Grade on after the music fades in and turn off just as the music fades out. This cuts out all the noise in the beginning and run out grooves which affect the grade. Uses the American Grading System: A+, A, A-, ... D-, F. So you grade each side.

  •  

     

    Clip detection: this is an asterisk that shows up at Volume and Gain. Definitely adjust Gain down if clipping as you are over-driving the input. Occasional clips at the DAC (Volume) are less of an issue as they are software handled.

    TF fixes: Wow - I really screwed up the harmonic functions in the previous release. I had a semi-bad bug in the harmonic code with versions 1.04 and earlier, but the fix in V1.11 I caused the 2H code to be much more aggressive and the 3H code to not work properly at all. Should be good now.

    The code is unified now, so this will work with either a regular Puffin or a SPDIF modded Puffin.

  •  

     

    My general thoughts: Magic is fantastic but reminds me of anti-lock brakes. You turn it on and forget about it. It's only when you turn it off that you cringe and turn it back on. Grading, on the other hand, is an active feature - even a game of sorts - that you interact with. I really, really, love grading my records. When it tells me that my copy of Led Zep III is an F (and I kind of assumed it was), it gives me permission to get a new copy. And you can use it to test your cleaning methods, too.

    This could very well be buggy, but I wanted to get V1.20 out there. You'll love the new functionality: Magic click minimizer, record grading, and enhanced clip monitoring. Using the supplied allen key and USB cable, the Puffin can be updated via an internal micro USB header with either a Windows or Mac OS system. 

Download page

http://www.parksaudiollc.com/betafirmware.html

 

Edited by Full Range

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On 27/09/2019 at 9:15 AM, Full Range said:

...On a recent update a DIY digital output has been released for anyone wanting to do it 

So here is the link on how to do it http://www.parksaudiollc.com/spdif/spdif.html?fbclid=IwAR25CELooLmdnrnq3HRRZdqBit_l2vapRMCMNuKYN5fIMyVhzS2nSzz8xKQ

I've just had a look at this and I'm impressed.  It's a simple and cheap process for a DIY upgrade.  The detailed guide to the mod is excellently put together so someone with basic skills should be able to do it.  And a lesser company wouldn't have published this as a DIY, they would have just incorporated it into a new version of the product and expected anyone who wanted it to upgrade from the previous version.  Gives me confidence to buy from this company (mayb e in the future).

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37 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

I've just had a look at this and I'm impressed.  It's a simple and cheap process for a DIY upgrade.  The detailed guide to the mod is excellently put together so someone with basic skills should be able to do it.  And a lesser company wouldn't have published this as a DIY, they would have just incorporated it into a new version of the product and expected anyone who wanted it to upgrade from the previous version.  Gives me confidence to buy from this company (mayb e in the future).


Both versions are now available direct from Parks Audio at different price points 


But for people that have the first version and have the need for a digital output later on - then it’s easy to do for a DIYer 

 

 

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I haven’t updated the firmware since I bought mine last year. It will be a nice Easter holiday treat.

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55 minutes ago, Bell Ringer said:

I haven’t updated the firmware since I bought mine last year. It will be a nice Easter holiday treat.


You are a good candidate for the almost completed Beta firmware 

I am going to test out the Magic and Record Grading feature in the coming days 

 

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I am spinning a beautiful Space Prog album by Jon Anderson 

 

Testing the main new firmware features of the Puffin phono amp 

 

Lets start with 
Grade - it is a vinyl grading system while playing the record 

So the software takes in all variables and displays the result in real time 

 

This album was rated at A but on occasion it fluctuated from B+ to A 

On Discogs I rated it as VG+ — so I was pretty good on a visual and playback check 

** Although you may get a lower rating on albums - it may just mean that the record needs a good deep clean 
 

Magic - this is a pop and crackle minimiser that only activates when a pop is detected and reverts back to normal 
This means that turning on the feature does not mute the record in it’s entirety 

 

On this record I have very few pops and then only in between tracks 

In my listening - the magic feature reduces the loudness of pops so it’s not distracting to the ear 

So in that context - I found that it works as described by Parks Audio 

 


34-DA22-A3-98-D6-41-C9-A1-A0-2-A1-F296-F

 

 

572675-C5-841-D-478-B-B96-E-F917-B679398

 

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