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Can you help me find a tube MC Phono Stage?


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Easy to say this, very difficult to challenge. Problem is who's to say what the original recording was supposed to sound like? I care more about whether to my ear it sounds right, I like it and my foo

You can also check out the Line Magnetic LP33 Tube Phono. Its listed at 3k AUD.   

Kind of like the Abbas Esoteric Audio equipment. You simply feel as if you're there. An incredible sense of realness yet no real sonic signature of its own. It simply reveals everything which is in th

17 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

I think it's wrong for a brand to have "a sound".  It should reproduce the recorded material without favour.

 

Easy to say this, very difficult to challenge. Problem is who's to say what the original recording was supposed to sound like? I care more about whether to my ear it sounds right, I like it and my foot taps and I lose myself in the music. I try to find reviewers (ART Dudley for instance) who likes the same music as me and has similar likes and dislikes.

So to rephrase: Can anyone tell me what they like or dislike about the Hagerman products?

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

 

I think it's wrong for a brand to have "a sound".  It should reproduce the recorded material without favour.

Kind of like the Abbas Esoteric Audio equipment. You simply feel as if you're there. An incredible sense of realness yet no real sonic signature of its own. It simply reveals everything which is in the recording. I've never experienced anything else like it  :)

 

Both his DAC's and phono stages have the same sound.  Vinyl remains better though to my ears.

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3 hours ago, aussievintage said:

 

I think it's wrong for a brand to have "a sound".  It should reproduce the recorded material without favour.

 

 

Correct in theory, av - but not in practice.  For instance ... you could never mistake a Hypex (or any other!) Class D amp for a SET!  :lol:

 

3 hours ago, Clarets said:

 

I care more about whether to my ear it sounds right, I like it and my foot taps and I lose myself in the music. I try to find reviewers (ART Dudley for instance) who likes the same music as me and has similar likes and dislikes.

 

 

Correct, Peter.  :thumb:  A 'great' component - by definition - is one that enables you to lose yourself in the music!  :thumb:

 

3 hours ago, Clarets said:

 

So to rephrase: Can anyone tell me what they like or dislike about the Hagerman products?

 

 

I have a Hagerman 'Euphonia' (ss) MM/MC phono stage, as my backup.  (This was a prototype that never made it into full production.)

 

It has a very neutral sound - not as good at sucking you in as my own ss 'Muse' phono stage but enjoyable, all the same.  :)   The only issue with it, AFAIAC, is that Jim (like most mfrs) doesn't provide enough loading options.  He uses switches - so you can choose between several pre-loaded options - but I build the Muse with a parallel pair of input RCA connectors ... so you can basically select whatever you want, for loading (using 'loaded' RCA plugs).

 

I have owned a 'Cornet' - I sold it because I could not get rid of the low-level hum which it brought to the table.  But I would certainly love to hear the 'Trumpet' - although it still only offers a limited range of loading.  You might be able to get him to build you a custom one, though - which has a 2nd pair of input RCAs which you could use when you select the '47K' loading option.

 

Same with Mick (Supratek).

 

Andy

 

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37 minutes ago, andyr said:

Correct in theory, av - but not in practice.  For instance ... you could never mistake a Hypex (or any other!) Class D amp for a SET!  :lol:

 

You need to read more carefully and also be careful of the context - which is phono stages (in thread title).  I try to be careful how I say things these days, because people like you just love to snipe. 😫  To clarify,  I said it was wrong.  I did not say it never happened. 

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I am going to +1 on the Abbas preamps. I recently purchased an Abbas Esoteric Audio EF86 preamp (the little brother as above). Decision was based largely on the very detailed and generous comments from @MattyW. Feeding a pair of Altecs from this preamp certainly gives me a sound that puts a smile on my face and continues to catches me out with how engaging it is. From the sounds you have the budget for the Abbas EL84 SE pre and if what the little brother has to offer that preamp must be something. Definitely worth consideration even though you have more territory to deal with in using an MC cart.    

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4 minutes ago, cccrchairman said:

I am going to +1 on the Abbas preamps. I recently purchased an Abbas Esoteric Audio EF86 preamp (the little brother as above). Decision was based largely on the very detailed and generous comments from @MattyW. Feeding a pair of Altecs from this preamp certainly gives me a sound that puts a smile on my face and continues to catches me out with how engaging it is. From the sounds you have the budget for the Abbas EL84 SE pre and if what the little brother has to offer that preamp must be something. Definitely worth consideration even though you have more territory to deal with in using an MC cart.    

 

Yes, the EL84 SE is spectacular. I find a good MM/MI through it will sound better than a more expensive cart through another phono stage....  Course invest in a great SUT or headamp and it's even better again.  :)

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4 hours ago, MattyW said:

Kind of like the Abbas Esoteric Audio equipment. You simply feel as if you're there. An incredible sense of realness yet no real sonic signature of its own. It simply reveals everything which is in the recording. I've never experienced anything else like it  :)

 

Both his DAC's and phono stages have the same sound.  Vinyl remains better though to my ears.

I view the realness of the Abbas sound like with your DAC for instance, to be due to It's sonic signature.

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23 minutes ago, muon* said:

I view the realness of the Abbas sound like with your DAC for instance, to be due to It's sonic signature.

I daresay you're right. To me it's that perfect component neither sounding tubey nor solid state....  It simply sounds like the music rendered in an incredibly lifelike way. With Abbas, the only real limitations lie after the source components and the better that is, the better it sounds.  Basically they're components which will only shine brighter as the rest of the sound chain improves.  :)

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Impressive stuff @MattyW, it's

a thermionic dream in there for rolling the EF86, EL84 and EZ80 positions. I have all the valves ready to go. 👍👍👍

 

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Edited by xlr8or
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3 minutes ago, MattyW said:

I daresay you're right. To me it's that perfect component neither sounding tubey nor solid state....  It simply sounds like the music rendered in an incredibly lifelike way. With Abbas, the only real limitations lie after the source components and the better that is, the better it sounds.  Basically they're components which will only shine brighter as the rest of the sound chain improves.  :)

They are very, very good!

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2 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

Impressive stuff @MattyW, it's

a thermionic dream in there for rolling the EF86, EL84 and EZ80 positions. I have all the valves ready to go. 👍👍👍

 

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20201230_210104.jpg

 

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His attention to detail is pretty amazing and the lengths he goes to to get what he sees as the right sound, even goes to the extent of winding iron with a mix of different strands of wire from different vintage wire, same done with his hook up wiring.

 

Also using a mix of different plates from different vintage iron in the stacks and so on.

 

Lots of interesting info in his posts on his forums, once translated.

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12 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

Impressive stuff @MattyW, it's

a thermionic dream in there for rolling the EF86, EL84 and EZ80 positions. I have all the valves ready to go. 👍👍👍

 

Screenshot_20201230-210014_eBay.jpg

 

20201230_210104.jpg

 

Screenshot_20201230-210143_eBay.jpg

 

20201230_205943.jpg

 

Screenshot_20201230-205815_eBay.jpg

 

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I actually just left the NOS tubes in mine came with. I just can't imagine it sounding any better than it already does.

 

I'm always amazed that it sounds spectacular within 15 seconds of powering on but still improves over the next 30 minutes.

 

I've actually ordered a pair of his RCA interconnects recently too. I can't imagine it bettering the Aurealis Audio 50:50 Neotech / Duelund RCA's though you just never know.  Considering just how good his DAC/phono is I figured it's worth a try despite a fairly high cost.

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19 minutes ago, MattyW said:

I actually just left the NOS tubes in mine came with. I just can't imagine it sounding any better than it already does.

 

I'm always amazed that it sounds spectacular within 15 seconds of powering on but still improves over the next 30 minutes.

 

I've actually ordered a pair of his RCA interconnects recently too. I can't imagine it bettering the Aurealis Audio 50:50 Neotech / Duelund RCA's though you just never know.  Considering just how good his DAC/phono is I figured it's worth a try despite a fairly high cost.

No doubt he has selected different individual strands of various different vintage wire for their construction :)

 

I expect they will have that realness to their sound that he strives to impart in all of his work :thumb:

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20 minutes ago, muon* said:

No doubt he has selected different individual strands of various different vintage wire for their construction :)

 

I expect they will have that realness to their sound that he strives to impart in all of his work :thumb:

If that's the case there's a fair chance I'll get a second pair and the 50:50 Neotech / Duelund will displace my Aurealis copper / silver Litz RCA's....

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2 hours ago, MattyW said:

I actually just left the NOS tubes in mine came with. I just can't imagine it sounding any better than it already does.

 

If you ever open her up please take some photos of the 5 tubes in there. I think he uses 1960's stock from the Valvo white print label on the EL84's. I would be interested to know what your unit came with as he no longer offers the option of vintage tubes from the west. There is a thermoionic ticket available to take you even further back to the early 1950's when these 9-pin minis made their first appearance. I can feel the Mullards and Brimars coming on strongly here - they're chatting to me already in their strong cockney accent. 😁

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From my reading about Hagerman products Jim is an innovative designer who successfully breaks the "rules"

Given the new Trumpet MC phono stage is based on his 2014 Trumpet Reference which spent many years in Stereophile's Class A Recommended components I trust his pedigree.

The new Trumpet has a small digital power supply.

My question is: can you point me to other successful tube amps that incorporate a small power supply?

.

 

Hagerman TrumpetmcFront.jpg

Hagerman Trumpet MC.jpg

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13 minutes ago, Clarets said:

From my reading about Hagerman products Jim is an innovative designer who successfully breaks the "rules"

 

I wouldn't say he breaks the rules (I do note your use of quotes).  His basic valve phono circuit is very standard, and comparing it to the example circuit in RCA's tube manuals will show surprising similarity.  He has just refined and improved.

15 minutes ago, Clarets said:

The new Trumpet has a small digital power supply.

 

Digital? as in switching?  That will put some off unnecessarily.    I'll bet it works well however.

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41 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

Digital? as in switching?  That will put some off unnecessarily.    I'll bet it works well however.

It is not switching but rectification. To quote Jim "Heaters are DC and a highly specialized internal low-noise boost converter generates B+ and B- rails (after a 40-second delay)."

Don't think anyone else is doing this.

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1 hour ago, Clarets said:

It is not switching but rectification. To quote Jim "Heaters are DC and a highly specialized internal low-noise boost converter generates B+ and B- rails (after a 40-second delay)."

Don't think anyone else is doing this.

 

Well the circuit in the manual shows a 555 circuit deriving high voltage from 15V.  That's using a switching waveform on FETs with inductive loads.   That's what he means by "highly specialized internal low-noise boost converter "

image.png.42dd74b0dd25f531a3bcb616e0df32e3.png

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

 

Well the circuit in the manual shows a 555 circuit deriving high voltage from 15V.  That's using a switching waveform on FETs with inductive loads.   That's what he means by "highly specialized internal low-noise boost converter "

 

 

Thank you for the info.  Unfortunately this tech is above my pay grade!

Couple of layman questions:

Is this an effective way of driving these tubes?

Anyone else doing this?

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32 minutes ago, Clarets said:

 

Thank you for the info.  Unfortunately this tech is above my pay grade!

Couple of layman questions:

Is this an effective way of driving these tubes?

Anyone else doing this?

 

 

I think "driving" is the wrong word.  It is just supplying the high voltage.    As long as it can handle the current, and sufficient filtering is in place - and this is easier at the higher frequencies being used, compared to 50 or 60Hz mains power - to produce the required DC voltage, then the tubes will do the job they need to.  So, yes, effective from that point of view.   Probably saves some weight and maybe even cost, over the more traditional tube power supply.

 

I have seen other devices use similar circuits, yes.      Even some old tube equipment that needed to run from 12 volt batteries used equivalent ideas to generate the high voltages needed for the tubes.  Some were a bit crude, but they worked.  Car radios commonly used an electro- mechanical device called a vibrator (don't laugh) to chop up the DC so it could be converted to a higher voltage.https://www.vintagecarradio.com/blog/radio-vibrators/

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Funny! I kinda knew that "driving" was the wrong word but was too deep into a great Pinot to Google something sensible. Enjoying the education so thank you for your patience and well crafted responses.

As they say over here "this ain't your first rodeo" :)

I guess I'm at the stage where the 30 day trial period may have to be exercised (worry face).

 

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6 minutes ago, Clarets said:

Funny! I kinda knew that "driving" was the wrong word but was too deep into a great Pinot to Google something sensible. Enjoying the education so thank you for your patience and well crafted responses.

As they say over here "this ain't you first rodeo" :)

I guess I'm at the stage where the 30 day trial period may have to be exercised (worry face).

 

 

Hey, just realised you are across the pond.  Getting ready to celebrate the New Year here. Nearly time to start mixing the Margaritas.

 

Good luck with it...

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3 minutes ago, Clarets said:

Funny! I kinda knew that "driving" was the wrong word but was too deep into a great Pinot to Google something sensible.

 

Hah - 'great' and 'pinot' in the same sentence ... is an oxymoron, IMO.  :lol:  (I'm a shiraz man, myself!  :) )

 

3 minutes ago, Clarets said:

 

I guess I'm at the stage where the 30 day trial period may have to be exercised (worry face).

 

 

That's a great advantage of the Hagerman brand, I would've thought.  :)

 

4 hours ago, Clarets said:

 

The new Trumpet has a small digital power supply.

My question is: can you point me to other successful tube amps that incorporate a small power supply?

 

 

Jim used the same concept for his 'Cornet 3' phono stage.  The 'Cornet 2' - which is the one I used to own - had a multi-tapped EI power transformer on top of the case ... whereas the 'Cornet 3' (tube MM phono stage) was driven by a 9v wall wart.  The friend who owned the Cornet 3 and I compared the two - and there was no down-side that we could hear, in terms of the sound, with the power coming from a wall wart.  In fact, this gave a big up-side - as his Cornet 3 didn't produce the slight hum that my Cornet 2 did, in my system.

 

That being said, I would suspect that while the standard 15v wall wart that comes with the Trumpet will do a good-enough job ... you will gain an increase in SQ by using a good linear PS.

 

Andy

 

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4 minutes ago, andyr said:

im used the same concept for his 'Cornet 3' phono stage.  The 'Cornet 2' - which is the one I used to own - had a multi-tapped EI power transformer on top of the case ... whereas the 'Cornet 3' (tube MM phono stage) was driven by a 9v wall wart.  The friend who owned the Cornet 3 and I compared the two - and there was no down-side that we could hear, in terms of the sound, with the power coming from a wall wart.

 

That's what I would expect.  Good confirmation.

 

4 minutes ago, andyr said:

In fact, this gave a big up-side - as his Cornet 3 didn't produce the slight hum that my Cornet 2 did, in my system.

 

It is odd that he would supply anything that hummed.   I am sure he would have been happy to try to remedy it.

 

5 minutes ago, andyr said:

That being said, I would suspect that while the standard 15v wall wart that comes with the Trumpet will do a good-enough job ... you will gain an increase in SQ by using a good linear PS.

 

I doubt it.  Just look at the circuit I posted.   You aren't going to hear any difference coming through all that "conversion".  

 

It also kinda contradicts your own experience above with the Cornets.

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20 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

It is odd that he would supply anything that hummed.   I am sure he would have been happy to try to remedy it.

 

The Cornet 2 was a DIY job, av - so I doubt it - whereas the Cornet 3 is a fully made-up product.

 

(I was given the Cornet 2 - I didn't build it.  And it doesn't produce a hum in the system it lives in now.)

 

Quote

 

I doubt it.  Just look at the circuit I posted.   You aren't going to hear any difference coming through all that "conversion".

 

Possibly.  But always good to experiment, IMO - just in case an improvement is gained.  (I said "suspect you will " - not "will "!)

 

Quote

 

It also kinda contradicts your own experience above with the Cornets.

 

 

True!  :)  But we never tried a 9v LPS on the Cornet 3.  @mloutfie ... have you tried a LPS on your Cornet 3?

 

Andy

 

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17 minutes ago, andyr said:

True!  :)  But we never tried a 9v LPS on the Cornet 3.  @mloutfie ... have you tried a LPS on your Cornet 3?

When we tried it in your place it was using a teddy Pardo LPS. And it's a great match with it.

 

The power supply is actually the same price as the phono itself but for the amount you spend for both phono and lps it will hold its own against other 1-2k phono and I've compared with a few on that price range. The phono I ended up upgrading to has RRP 4 times the cornet plus the lps only on then I can clearly tell the difference. 

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42 minutes ago, andyr said:

The Cornet 2 was a DIY job, av - so I doubt it - whereas the Cornet 3 is a fully made-up product.

 

Fair enough.  Although I am told he was always very helpful.

 

42 minutes ago, andyr said:

it doesn't produce a hum in the system it lives in now.

 

That happens :)  

 

37 minutes ago, andyr said:

True!  :)  But we never tried a 9v LPS on the Cornet 3.  @mloutfie ... have you tried a LPS on your Cornet 3?

 

 

My "Cornet 3" equivalents are derived from the RCA circuit by myself, and so turned out similar to Jim's but not the same, however...   The power supply I use  has always been linear.  In my main preamp it is a very straightforward design with a valve rectifier fed from a high voltage transformer, typical of valve power supplies,  with CLC filtering and DC heater supply. In the  standalone preamps units I use back to back 12/240 volt transformers running from an AC wall wart (so nothing but a transformer in it), to derive the HT and DC heater supplies.

 

 

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On 30/12/2020 at 11:39 AM, andyr said:

It's now USD999 - a few years ago, Jim was charging several thousand dollars!  :o

 

It is not the same phono as the previous trumpet or trumpet reference however. the new trumpet uses 15V DC input where the older one uses a really complex power supply with like 5 transformer inside way overkill design but I think the old trumpet reference is more than $5k USD

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On 27/12/2020 at 11:55 AM, Clarets said:

I'm hankering for a tube phono stage to replace my Linn Linto. Linn Akurate DSM is my preamp so I don't need a line stage. I have a VPI Scout TT with a Benz L2 wood-bodied cart and fully active Linn AV5140 (Espeks) driven by three Linn AV5105 power amps. Only need MC phono stage.

 

Disappointed with MC phono card in DSM which is too clinical and flat. In comparison Linn Linto is a more "live" presentation with more air around the instruments and more breath in voices. Think I can get more from a tube phono stage? Weirdly I have a strong hankering to see the tubes and Linnies seem to feel Supratek is a good match. Struggling to find others that might fit the bill. Ideas anyone?

My Joe Rasmussen-modified Eastern Electric MiniMax Phono is, to my ears, the best phono stage I've heard, despite its relatively modest price. Not sure what the price of the EE MiniMax Phono is now but I assume it is around AU$1500. Joe would charge about $1000 for the radical rebuild which retains and improves on the great pluses of the MiniMax but removes its quirky issues such as intermittent hum. 

Once modified, it is a truly astonishing phono preamp.

I have auditioned many solid state and a few valve phono preamps, and this one remains my favourite by a wide margin. Among others, I've compared it to Andyr's Muse, to the late Duc's phono preamp at his home, to Joe Rasmussen's 1-box JLTi Diamond phono preamp (but NOT his 2-box version which apparently sounds considerably better than the 1-box version), a highly modded Jasmine 2.0SE, and to the phono preamp in my tube Doge 8 Clarity 2019 which itself is pretty wonderful and totally insane value for money as a MM/MC/Line tube preamp with several inputs and multiple outputs.

In each case I came away convinced that the modded EE MiniMax sounded significantly better. In most cases it was no contest to my ears. Duc was surprised and extremely impressed given the price, but he said later that he was not suggesting that he thought mine was better. To me though, mine sounded starkly more realistic than his very expensive phono preamp, playing the same records on his otherwise identical system.

One of the very neat ideas in the EE MiniMax is that the MC stage is actually an inbuilt pair of permalloy SUTs on top of the MM stage.

Joe's mods split the RIAA between the input and output stages, and raised the gain on the 2nd stage (dual 12AX7 tubes) allowing him to replace the critical first stage 12AX7 by a 12AT7, lowering the noise floor considerably and improving the musicality.

I replaced the Chinese tubes by NOS tubes to great effect. Probably the most critical was the rectifier tube. I'm still a bit shocked by how dramatic the improvement was replacing the stock Chinese 6X4 rectifier tube by a good NOS tube.

Cheers and have a happy and safe new year
Warren in Sydney

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On 30/12/2020 at 9:03 PM, andyr said:

That being said, I would suspect that while the standard 15v wall wart that comes with the Trumpet will do a good-enough job ... you will gain an increase in SQ by using a good linear PS.

 

So I've taken the plunge and will trial the Trumpet MC at the end of this month.

Can you explain how a linear Power Supply potentially makes a difference. My first thought is that if it were that simple Jim Hagerman would incorporate it into the design or offer it as an upgrade.

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48 minutes ago, Clarets said:

So I've taken the plunge and will trial the Trumpet MC at the end of this month.

Can you explain how a linear Power Supply potentially makes a difference. My first thought is that if it were that simple Jim Hagerman would incorporate it into the design or offer it as an upgrade.

 

The funny thing is, wall warts used to be all linear power supplies.  Now they have changed to using the switching power supplies in them because it gives much better voltage regulation, and the wall wart does not need to be a big heavy thing any more.

 

I agree,  why would Jim use what he does on this premium design, if it did not work properly?

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58 minutes ago, Clarets said:

So I've taken the plunge and will trial the Trumpet MC at the end of this month.

 

Excellent, Peter!  :thumb:

 

I am sure it will sound great (though it's possible the Supratek would sound even better - but then it does cost a lot more!  :) ).

 

58 minutes ago, Clarets said:

Can you explain how a linear Power Supply potentially makes a difference. My first thought is that if it were that simple Jim Hagerman would incorporate it into the design or offer it as an upgrade.

 

Don't forget Jim needs to supply his products at an attractive price - a linear PS would cost several times what a SMPS would cost him.

 

All I can tell you about are my own experiments with different DC PSes.

 

The miniDSP 10x10HD which is at the heart of my system came with a 12v Meanwell - which is a well-regarded SMPS.  It sounded great ... then I tried a 12v Sbooster linear PS - and this made my system sound better.

 

I tried that same 12v Meanwell SMPS on the AKSA 'Paris' head amp that I build - it produced an unacceptably high level of noise.  With a 12v Sbooster - it is dead silent.

 

Andy

 

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On 30/12/2020 at 9:58 PM, mloutfie said:

When we tried it in your place it was using a teddy Pardo LPS. And it's a great match with it.

Can you describe the difference in sound when you replaced the wall wart(?) with the Teddy Pardo LPS.

Anyone know anything about SBooster linear power supplies?

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36 minutes ago, andyr said:

 

Excellent, Peter!  :thumb:

 

I am sure it will sound great (though it's possible the Supratek would sound even better - but then it does cost a lot more!  :) ).

 

 

Don't forget Jim needs to supply his products at an attractive price - a linear PS would cost several times what a SMPS would cost him.

 

All I can tell you about are my own experiments with different DC PSes.

 

The miniDSP 10x10HD which is at the heart of my system came with a 12v Meanwell - which is a well-regarded SMPS.  It sounded great ... then I tried a 12v Sbooster linear PS - and this made my system sound better.

 

I tried that same 12v Meanwell SMPS on the AKSA 'Paris' head amp that I build - it produced an unacceptably high level of noise.  With a 12v Sbooster - it is dead silent.

 

Andy

 

 

Andys Aksa Paris has absolutely spectacular performance. Mines paired with a generic Talema power supply and it's absolutely dead silent. Pairs with my Grado Statement Master 1 beautifully. I'm a fan of Andys work though as all know I also like SUT. I've always use each wherever each tech sounds best. If a cart has fantastic sound on it's own then the Aksa Paris is the best choice, however if it needs a bit of added colour then some SUT's may be better. Then there's LOMI's which absolutely must be used with a head amp for best performance.

 

That said I'm slowly retiring any interconnects which have mixed strands Litz copper and silver presently as they don't get along with my Abbas phono stage. I may even retire the pure silver Litz tonearm interconnect if I can't tame the highs. This is nothing to do the the Paris though rather due to the way the Abbas components are built as the whole philosophy of the builder is against having silver in the sound chain. Waiting on my first pair of Abbas interconnects to try  :)

Edited by MattyW
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18 minutes ago, Clarets said:

Can you describe the difference in sound when you replaced the wall wart(?) with the Teddy Pardo LPS.

Anyone know anything about SBooster linear power supplies?

I never tried it with the walwart but as per usual walwart is not the best choice for audio let alone something that massively amplify signal like phono preamp

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4 minutes ago, mloutfie said:

I never tried it with the walwart

I'm confused. Are you referring to a Cornet 3 you owned? Surely if anyone introduced a different PS to the one supplied by the designer they would make a comparison to original. Otherwise one is simply  assuming the new PS is better.

Am I missing something here?

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