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Tom Evans Groove 20th Anniversary Edition Phono Stage

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Posted (edited)

Item:  Awesome Tom Evans Groove 20th Anniversary Mark 11 Edition phono stage with adjustable impedance and  with Mark 1 external PSU
Location: PERTH
Price: BARGAIN : $2800  Brilliant English phono stage  new $2400 pounds

http://www.audiodesign-store.co.uk/rapidcart So new $4100 approx Australian.


Item ConditionAlmost Brand new apart from surface scratched on top at the back- visually perfect from front for a rack set up etc The case is perspex and tops marks easily, the are only small spider marks but there none the less. No more than 30 hours use.
Reason for selling:   Changing Direction to digital and already have one phono stage and downsizing system.
Payment Method: Pickup - Cash, Paypal, COD Only Pack and send etc very light so postage very low, comes with very minimal, Tom Evans literature.: Will ship worldwide. .
Extra Info: Unused basically a store demo as not running vinyl system currently.


http://www.sorasound.com/products/tom-evans/

Review

 

Many of our customers use Tom Evans Audio Design phono stages. All sound great. These units are priced fairly, carrying a lot of value to audiophiles. All our customers think highly of Tom’s products. So, I decided to represent Tom and offer his great products to you.

Tom is a very nice man, with two kids. He began his electronics career in defense industry. In 1989 he went back to his first professional love, building high quality and great sounding hi-fi gear. Tom always has time for his representatives and customers, explaining all the details of his products in detail. He takes great pride in his name and the products he produces. Tom’s Hi-Fi gears are so good that he called them Tom Evans Audio Design.

Tom Evans manufactures phono stages, preamps, power amps and speakers. Most information below is copied from Tom Evans Audio Design website by permission.

Review below is by a customer of ours Mr. Paul Folbrecht.

“I’ve been using a Tom Evans Audio Design Microgroove +X for about the last three months. I consider it to be my last phono stage. (I hope I’m serious this time, and three months is a long time to go without having any desire for something better or different – at least for me.)Discovering Tom Evans gear was a bit of a revelation for me, that began last year. I had read of it but never heard it – after all, it’s not very easy to hear (the phono stages are easier to come across than the Vibe/Pulse and the Linear A). I started with a used Linear A, and was very impressed with that piece: it had an uncanny ability to unravel detail (including microdynamics) against an absolutely black background, and was spectacularly “fast” and extended as well. Of course, those things in itself are not too mean a trick – a lot of good (solid-state) gear can do that. But what the Linear A did that did set it apart was being as fast, quiet, and detailed while simultaneously having *full* tonal saturation and *never* sounding the slightest bit edgy, or bright.

I then added a Vibe/Pulse (Lithos 7 version, bought used from the same dealer) – and it made an even bigger difference to the system (over the highly-regarded tube line stage I had been using). It was the Vibe/Pulse that was really a game-changing piece of equipment for me: a blackground blacker than I had ever heard before, with quite stunning macro dynamics, and full and complete tonal saturation with a lovely, perfectly smooth and rich midrange and treble. After using it for several months, any tubed preamp was just too slow and veiled for me. Prior to that point, I had never found a solid-state preamp I preferred to even a mediocre valved unit. I’m not saying they’re not out there – I’m sure very prices MBL and other solid-state gear can pull of proper tonal saturation without being edgy – but I do believe it is generally VERY expensive to do it.

At this point I decided I wanted to go “the full monty” with a Tom Evans phono stage and that I should buy a new piece to support the company. I decided on the middle-of-the-read Microgroove + X after reading reviews. (I have seriously toyed with abandoning vinyl altogether, and done so for short periods, so I didn’t think a greater expense was warranted.)

I placed the order through local dealer SORAsound (great to deal with) and received the unit after only a few weeks.

After being plugged-in for only a few hours, the unit’s potential was evident, but it did seem to take a few days to display what it’s really capable of. Once it had settled down, I was quite thrilled, and amazed – it really exceeded my expectations.

It was the signature Tom Evans sound – fast, neutral, completely extended, but tonally pure and harmonically complete, with perfect balance – to an even higher degree. (After all, the line stage is providing something like 12 dB of gain while the phono stage is at around 70 dB! I guess it’s hard to argue that the phono stage is not the most important part of a vinyl amplification chain.)

My analog setup is a Basis Ovation table, early TriPlanar arm, and Ortofon Rondo Red cartridge. (Yes, the cart is the bottleneck there in terms of cost, but it doesn’t really sound like it!) I had on-hand with the Microgroove +X a well-regarded tubed phono stage (with SUTs for the MC gain stage) that retails for about $6000 (almost three times the TE’s price). The tubed unit was also *very* good, and they were surprisingly close not only in overall performance but in sonics, but I did end up preferring the Microgroove. It had a substantially lower noise floor and was audibly more extended, although the tubed unit was very good in both regards too. The tubed unit was more “lush” in the midrange but I came to see that as a coloration and preferred good recordings without it.

That’s about it. Like most Tom Evans gear, it doesn’t really look like it’s worth the asking price and it’s so light that thick interconnects can lift it, but, well, who cares. Tom is, I think, proud of the fact that he refused to market “audio jewelry”, and isn’t it more sensible to put the money where it counts? (I’ve come to like the understated but purposeful aesthetic of the Vibe, but the Microgroove is so tiny I hide it behind the platform the line stage is on anyway.)”

Phono Stages

Tom Evans Audio Design phono stages include:

The Microgroove ($1,050) uses high grade silicon. The signal path is DC coupled. Built as a steereo amp powered by by standard industry voltage regulators. Like all Tom Evans phono stages, Microgroove can be configured to suit any moving coil or moving magnet cartridge. Great entry level phono stage upgradable to The Plus.

The Microgroove x ($1,192).

The Microgroove plus ($2,100) is a stereo phono-amp that has one of Tom Evans’ Lithos 7 Class A regulators in place of the standard industry regulators. This improves the sound significantly, lowers the hoise floor, faster risting and falling edges of notes highlighting the spaces between them. John Cage would have had a hay day.

The Groove ($4,000). This dual mono phono-amp uses one Lithos 7 regulator per side to supply power to each mono signal path p.c.b. All resistors are Holco precision metal film. All silicon is premium grade. The regulators are powered by a dual mono mains power supply. Since its launch in the UK, it has become the industry standard. The Groove can be upgraded to the Plus spec.

The Groove x ($4,725).

The Groove plus ($7,600). In this design the mains pcb has been replaced by the Lithos 6, a complex class A regulator (as used in the pulse power supply). Its outputs then feed the dual mono Lithos 7’s on the signal pcb’s. The external mains supply box contains a 70 watt transformer designed and manufactured in house. This transformer has an electrostatic screen to remove any R.F. noise, then rectified, smoothed, and regulated before leaving the box and heading for Lithos 6. The ultra low noise and distortion of this product provide audiophiles with the greatest possible dynamic range and resolution available.

The Groove+ SRX ($8,900) has adjustable load and gain. The Groove+ SRX,in addition to the loading pcb has a front end gain stage that has 50% less noise and distortion than the Groove and Groove+.

Upgrade of Microgroove to Groove Plus ($4,600).

 

Tom Evans has been making his Groove phono stages for some time now, the anniversary in this particular model’s name refers to 20 years of them and that occurred in 2010. Having been there at the start with the Michell Iso, which was effectively the first Groove and shared the black acrylic case that continues today, it doesn’t seem like 25 years but you can’t argue with a calendar. Tom’s shtick is that the best way to achieve true high resolution with vinyl is to lower the noise floor on the phono stage, the quieter this crucial part of the amplification chain is the wider the bandwidth and the more you will be able to hear. He advocates spending more, a lot more on the phono stage than the cartridge because no matter how good a cartridge is if the amplifier is noisy you won’t be able to hear what it’s doing. I have to agree, in fact I once took an Audio Note Japan stage (about £2.5k at the time) to a friends house who had a £60 moving magnet on his Thorens turntable, the improvement was staggering, the extra resolution revealed more music than you would imagine a modest front end could produce.

The reason for this is the level of gain that a phono stage has to apply to the signal in order to bring it up to a level that a regular amplifier can work with, in the case of a moving coil cartridge it’s in the range of 600 times. Which means that any noise in the gain stage is amplified by this amount as well, so a good phono stage needs to be somewhat quieter than the apocryphal mouse. For the latest range of Groove phono stages Tom has upgraded the silicon that achieves this amplification to what he calls Lithos 7.4, this has prompted a MkII series across the five Groove stages in the range.

What Lithos 7.4 has achieved in measurement terms is to reduce distortion and increase dynamic range compared to earlier models (existing Grooves can be upgraded to MkII). Tom likes to point out that dynamic range doubles and distortion halves as you move from one model to the next in the range, which would suggest that the entry level Micro Groove X is pretty noisy and distorted but I doubt that is the case. Not if the midrange Groove Anniversary is anything to go by at least, it is I suspect the quietest phono stage I have ever used but it’s far from the most expensive.

 

The other change brought about by the move to MkII is the introduction of adjustable impedance, previous Grooves have been factory set at one impedance and while you could specify what this was it was a bit limiting if you changed cartridge. Now there are dipswitches on the back panel that are relatively easy to access; some stages have them inside, others underneath. Here there are eight switches in parallel that have an inverse logic to their operation, the more you turn on the lower the impedance, so switching them all on gives 112 Ohms, all off 1kOhm, with seven steps in between. Once you have grasped the basic tenet of the approach it’s easy to experiment with loading, and surprisingly easy to figure out which gives the best result once you start listening to the timing and the interplay of musicians.

With the Rega Apheta 2 (on a Rega RP10) which specifies 100 Ohm loading experimentation revealed that the Groove Anniversary’s 250 Ohm setting initially gave the best leading edge definition, power and cohesion of the various instruments on Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones (Asylum). The track ‘Underground’ has some superb musicianship and this stage makes each player’s contribution easy to follow whilst presenting the ensemble as a perfectly integrated whole. You can appreciate the timbre of the heavy tympani and the tiny sound of a plucked ukulele, not forgetting the glorious vibe playing of Victor Feldman. The space created by reverb on the following track ‘Shore Leave’ is massively evocative as is the percussion and terrific guitar break, all of which is presented in a full width image that breaks the outer bounds of the loudspeakers.

I put on Burnt Friedmann and Jaki Leibzeit’s Just Landed (Nonplace) for a bit of low end action and found myself enjoying the tune rather than the sensation of having my internal organs vibrated. Here the emphasis was on the sound of the instruments and the melody rather than the crunch, which made me wonder whether the higher than recommended loading might be affecting the balance. This turned out to be the case, the higher the load (on this cartridge at least) the less low end power it delivers but the faster the transient edges. Experimentation with a few other bass strong records made a case for bringing it down to the 200 Ohm setting. It’s nice to have such close alternatives.

With the finesse of Jocelyn B Smith’s direct to disc cut Honest Song (Berliner Meister Schallplatten) the quietness of the Groove is made obvious by the way finger clicks are so clear in the background of piano and voice. The ‘air’ around the cymbals and the singer’s breath on the mic coalesce with the music to present a degree of realism that’s rare. Cymbal work is notable on a number of pieces and reveals an unusual degree of transparency but don’t get the impression that this is a lightweight filigree specialist. When the rhythm section on Patricia Barber’s ‘Company’ (Modern Cool, Premonition) gets going you know all about the power and pace. The double bass has a physical presence that is palpable but does not smear the voice and the acoustic it’s recorded in.

 reviewed a valve powered phono stage from a well regarded brand during the Groove’s tenure and made the mistake of comparing them. The result did not favour the valve stage one bit, making it sound noisy, smeared in timing terms and lacking in transparency. Valves cannot hope to be as quiet as transistors but people value the tonal richness they bring, I prefer to hear what’s on the record, the actual sound of the voices and instruments rather than what in photographic terms sounds like saturation. I also like the natural way that the Groove presents imaging, every record you play has a slightly different character which seems to be a logical result of the variations in recording venue and technique.

Take Leo Kottke’s Great Big Boy (Private Music) as an example, this is an acoustic guitar led band with voice that has an awful lot going on on tracks like ‘Jumps Up Running’. I’ve played this many times but had not been previously aware of the keyboard line, the Groove cleans up the background and brings a coherence to dense mixes that lets you hear right into them. It prompted me to listen longer and louder than I have for some time with this particular record, remember just what a great musician Kottke is thanks to the Groove’s its remarkably light touch.

Forget your Vendetta Research and Audio Research preamps, they may have legendary status but technology moves on and today’s silicon is infinitely quieter than it was only five years ago, which means you can hear more music and less electronic intrusion through it. The latest Groove Anniversary is a goalpost moving phono stage that digs deeper into the signal and reveals so much detail across the board that you can hear right into the layers of multitrack recordings. It still doesn’t help the musically inept like myself establish the time signature of Steely Dan’s ‘Show Biz Kids’ (Countdown to Ecstasy, ABC) but it lets you hear how each of the instruments in the mix was played and the irony of the lyrics.

Calm is the good word when describing the Groove, it takes everything in its stride and no matter how dense the material never seems to struggle. It’s a very low distortion conduit to the musical joy that vinyl offers. It won’t turn mediocre recordings into amazing ones but it will let you hear more of what has gone on in the studio or on the stage when they were made. It gets you closer to that place in time and space where the magic happened. The only disconcerting thing is that there are several better stages in the Tom Evans Audio Design range, you have to wonder if there are enough superlatives to go round?

SPECIFICATIONS: 

Resistance settings: 112, 126, 144, 168, 200, 250, 333, 500, 1000 OhmCapacitor settings: 100, 200, 300, 400, 500pFGain to suit cartridges with between 0.2mV to 0.6mV output (or custom to order)Dual mono layout, dual Lithos 7.4 local regulatorsAcrylic caseworkSize HxWxD: 88 x 330 x 185mmWeight: 2kg + power supply

PRICE: 

£2,400

MANUFACTURER DETAILS: 

Tom Evans Audio DesignT 01443 833570 www.audiodesign.co.uk

 

http://www.audiodesign-store.co.uk/rapidcart


 

 

 

 

 

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Edited by Eagleeyes
Pics fell off

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Lovely phono stage. Is this the MKII edition of The Groove ?

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Sure is.

 

Not sure, its the 20th Anniversary edition, did they do a Mark 11 option or is that the Mark 11 option.  Any ideas how I can tell. As Tom does not even give you a booklet on it. I think it came with a sheet of paper with notes on settings but it was pretty basic. 😂

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I see in one of your photos (I assume it's stock given the watermark), it identifies the model on the back plate of the PSU. So maybe check there. Cheers.

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Posted (edited)

Yes it is reading the article the Mk2 comes with adjustable impedances

however the power supply has only the Groove anniversary written on so will read up a bit more. Still selling as Mark 1 at this stage

 thanks Adam

 

Confused?? from article... I think I may have a Mark 11 unit and a Mark 1 power supply. Anyone have any confirmation either way?

 

The other change brought about by the move to MkII is the introduction of adjustable impedance, previous Grooves have been factory set at one impedance and while you could specify what this was it was a bit limiting if you changed cartridge. Now there are dipswitches on the back panel that are relatively easy to access; some stages have them inside, others underneath. Here there are eight switches in parallel that have an inverse logic to their operation, the more you turn on the lower the impedance, so switching them all on gives 112 Ohms, all off 1kOhm, with seven steps in between. Once you have grasped the basic tenet of the approach it’s easy to experiment with loading, and surprisingly easy to figure out which gives the best result once you start listening to the timing and the interplay of musicians.

Edited by Eagleeyes
Query

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Relist

Edited by Eagleeyes

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