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catman

Your list of the 'world's greatest' phono stages and why?

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G'day all, yes I know that I have a 'thing' about phono stages and it just occurred to me that a list of the 'world's greatest' phono stages (ok....your favourites), and why, might make for an interesting thread! 

 

Ok I'll start with three, all for 'typical' moving magnet cartridges.  Two are DIY with firstly my Elliott Sound Products P06.  A very nice phono stage with impressive (extended) bass and superb dynamic/transient performance. 

 

My Bruce Heran designed simple OPA2134 single op amp full feedback design.  This ultra simple design has no right to sound as good/musical as it does!  A true joy to listen to, and very low noise as well.  Just made for the OPA2134 dual op amp! 

 

The Lounge Audio MKIII LCR phono stage.  A remarkable phono stage using the LCR approach to RIAA equalisation.  A musically impressive sounding phono stage that proves that ultra low distortion isn't necessarily a needed thing for great sound quality (.15 % according to the official specifications).  Regards, Felix.   

Edited by catman

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Guest Muon

The number of ones I have had are limited to only a few, and I have my doubts that those I have had and currently have rank in worlds greatest.

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G'day mate, well my subtitle was 'ok....your favourites'.  A bit of a 'tongue in cheek' thread title!  Regards, Felix. 

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Guest Muon

Sorry Felix, I can tend to take things literal at times.

 

I'm still not sure as I have had so few, I'm not sure if anything I say would have meaning.

 

Edit: typo

Edited by ortofun

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They don't build them like they used to— I use a Nakamichi CA-5 II If you are setting up a system that includes a turntable double Tape decks and CD player then this is for you

But we are wanting to know about the CA-5 II s phono stage

Nakamichi commissioned John Curl and Nelson Pass the industry’s best circuit designers to design this phono stage and it has stood the test of time

Currently have the refurbished Garrard 401 connected to it and It's music to my

ears

The CA-5 II has separate (MM) moving magnet and (MC) moving coil selection with the flip of a switch, and with another switch to select 3 different capacitance and inductive loads.

It is beautifully built and constructed - the internal set out is superb

I have read that CA-5 II s phono stage remains one of the best around, and easily matching many more expensive stand-alone phono preamps. Made in Japan at the pinnacle of Nakamichi’s dominance in Hi End HiFi and cost about $5500 in 1989/1990

I have also read that it shares a history with the Parasound Halo

Edited by Full Range

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I have to admit to a limited history in listening to top line phonos but surely the Ypsilon VPS-100 phonostage partnered with the Ypsilon MC16 step-up transformer has to be right up there.

Heard these at both the last 2 HiFi shows, they give out a holographic soundstage..

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These are not the world's greatest, but I had the luxury of having them in my system time to time.

 

So the following are my favourite. (in the order of price - not the quality)

 

1. Yaqin MS-12b (moded) - if you are looking for a valve MM stage below $500 - this is it, period...!

 

2. E.A.R. 834P - Tim de Paravicini's cult phono stage - Great MM section but not so great MC section.  Tube rolling and modification will make it even better

 

3. GA Reference - Made in Melbourne...! great MM phonostage and beat Tim de P's 834p by a country mile. Great 3D holographic image and mid range. 

 

4. Bakoon EQR-11R - if you are fed up with playing with MC loading, this is it.! Battery operated, quiet as a church mouse with great dynamics.

 

5. Audia Flight - Very good SS phono with great dynamics and neutrality.

 

End of my Sunday rant.......... :)

Edited by pulinap

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I have to admit to a limited history in listening to top line phonos but surely the Ypsilon VPS-100 phonostage partnered with the Ypsilon MC16 step-up transformer has to be right up there.

Heard these at both the last 2 HiFi shows, they give out a holographic soundstage..

 

 

You can add Naim's Superline/Supercap DR to this list.

 

Been in my system now for a year and its been utterly superb. SQ is phenomenal, what's on your vinyl with a phono stage of this caliber is astonishing. It's noise floor is extremely low.The amount of detail exhumed and presentation is of first rate regardless of what musical gender, Rock,Pop,Blues, Classical........Dynamics are just sensational.

 

It is idiosyncratic in the Naim way and TBH I wouldn't recommend it unless your used to DIN interconnects and some serious attention to cable dressing especially the Burndy between the Superline and the SC.  The Superline electronics sit on a brass subchassis which certainly moves around a lot  when changing the resistance and/or capacitance plugs not to mention the phono cables themselves, and it is very sensitive to where its placed as is the SC. That said what you read in the reviews of this unit are correct let Me tell ya!!! Also of note is even modest MC cartridges will shine through this phono stage, I ran an ATOC9ML11 for a while with great results....

 

Can't see Me upgrading this for a long time................in fact the next upgrade will be the Cartridge!!!

 

ATBTase.

Edited by Tasebass

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+1 for the Naim if you like that sound

 

The ARC REF 2 would have to be right up there

 

Also l liked the Sutherland Phd I had a chance to listen to once, no longer available unfortuntely

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G'day all, yes I know that I have a 'thing' about phono stages and it just occurred to me that a list of the 'world's greatest' phono stages (ok....your favourites), and why, might make for an interesting thread! 

 

Ok I'll start with three, all for 'typical' moving magnet cartridges.  Two are DIY ....

 

 

The Lounge Audio LCR phono looks interesting.

 

As long as it's OK to talk non-commercial designs, Diego Nardi's Phi-42 tube design is excellent, well regarded in various circles. No obvious downsides that I can discern as yet. Description here...

 

Previous phono preamp in use was an Audio Research SP8, another tube job.

 

Cheers, Owen

Dark Lantern blog - http://darklanternforowen.wordpress.com/

Edited by Owen Y

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It is a little embarrassing to big-note yourself, but the most lifelike and involving phono preamp I have heard to date, I think**, is my (currently unique) JLTi-modified Eastern Electric MiniMax phono preamp. Eastern Electric did a huge amount right in this relatively modest-priced tube phono stage. Hard-wired, 12AX7-based, using permalloy transformers for the MC stage, it ticks a lot of boxes. Nevertheless, in its stock form, it suffers from intermittent hum, a few dB too much noise, and a few minor negatives beside those major ones. Still it was good enough to sell me on first audition (I have had many phono stages over time, and had become quite jaded about ever getting a phono preamp which was totally satisfying).

 

Big improvements are available with the right NOS tubes too.

 

BUT when Joe Rasmussen spent a day with me, nutting out the circuit, we discovered that there was a way to improve it radically. By splitting the RIAA circuitry between gain stages, he was able to eliminate the output stage capacitor, and replace the 1st stage 12AX7 by a 12AT7. He used Jantzen Superior-Z caps as bypass caps in the signal path, and high quality Philips caps in the power supply. The result:

  • absolutely zero hum
  • at least 10dB lower noise floor, barely audible even wide open
  • spectacularly improved bass, mid-bass and midrange
  • staggering realism, especially after upgrading to my current tubes (Raytheon 12AT7WA / Mullard ECC83 / Mullard Military 6X4)

Including all enhancements and replacement tubes, this phono stage has cost me less than $2000. I would be happy to put it up against ANY competition.

 

**there is no way to say conclusively that this is the best I have ever heard, as I have heard some very expensive phono stages, but this is the best that I have heard in environments where I could compare it to others or my recollection of others. 

 

Cheers

Warren  

Edited by Warren M.

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You can add Naim's Superline/Supercap DR to this list.

 

Can't see Me upgrading this for a long time................in fact the next upgrade will be the Cartridge!!!

 

ATBTase.

 

Nono, Tase ... you have to expand your horizons. :P

 

Let me let you put your money where your mouth is.  :D  I will pay the postage for my 'Muse' phono stage up to Sydney, if you promise to pay the postage back ... if you don't like it. :)

 

Is your current cart MM or MC?

 

 

Regards,

 

Andy

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Nono, Tase ... you have to expand your horizons. :P

 

Let me let you put your money where your mouth is.  :D  I will pay the postage for my 'Muse' phono stage up to Sydney, if you promise to pay the postage back ... if you don't like it. :)

 

Is your current cart MM or MC?

 

 

Regards,

 

Andy

@@Tasebass,

Take up this offer, Andy knows what he's on about.

I built a AEM 6010 full stock diy that was a discrete circuit using a National low noise dual matched transistors for the input stage back in the late 80s, no hi cap costing $k, just basic discrete crap from Jaycar......:P. :D..... I then sold all my Naim gear.

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Nono, Tase ... you have to expand your horizons. :P

 

 

 

Regards,

 

Andy

 

Well that"s a real....how shall I put this.....RADIKAL statement @@andyr :P  :P

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@@Tasebass,

Take up this offer, Andy knows what he's on about.

I built a AEM 6010 full stock diy that was a discrete circuit using a National low noise dual matched transistors for the input stage back in the late 80s, no hi cap costing $k, just basic discrete crap from Jaycar...... :P. :D..... I then sold all my Naim gear.

 

 

Why??

 

 

http://www.innerearmag.com/reviews/preamps/NAIM_Superline.shtml

 

http://www.tonepublications.com/analogaholic/naim-superline/

 

Naim Engineers know what they are on about too..... :)  :)

 

Interesting both the reviewers are Tube lovers.....

Edited by Tasebass

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]

Naim Engineers know what they are on about too..... :):)

If so I wonder why their power amplifiers blow up when used with very low inductance speaker cable?

Low inductance in speaker cables is an important criteria, arguably the most important.

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If so I wonder why their power amplifiers blow up when used with very low inductance speaker cable?

Low inductance in speaker cables is an important criteria, arguably the most important.

 

off topic statement...........my reference was to the Superline.

 

They are designed not to be used with them.

Naim have their own speaker cable NAC A5

 

All part of their Power amp ownership which I am not one of........ ;)

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It is a little embarrassing to big-note yourself, but the most lifelike and involving phono preamp I have heard to date, I think**, is my (currently unique) JLTi-modified Eastern Electric MiniMax phono preamp. Eastern Electric did a huge amount right in this relatively modest-priced tube phono stage. Hard-wired, 12AX7-based, using permalloy transformers for the MC stage, it ticks a lot of boxes. Nevertheless, in its stock form, it suffers from intermittent hum, a few dB too much noise, and a few minor negatives beside those major ones. Still it was good enough to sell me on first audition (I have had many phono stages over time, and had become quite jaded about ever getting a phono preamp which was totally satisfying).

 

Big improvements are available with the right NOS tubes too.

 

BUT when Joe Rasmussen spent a day with me, nutting out the circuit, we discovered that there was a way to improve it radically. By splitting the RIAA circuitry between gain stages, he was able to eliminate the output stage capacitor, and replace the 1st stage 12AX7 by a 12AT7. He used Jantzen Superior-Z caps as bypass caps in the signal path, and high quality Philips caps in the power supply. The result:

  • absolutely zero hum
  • at least 10dB lower noise floor, barely audible even wide open
  • spectacularly improved bass, mid-bass and midrange
  • staggering realism, especially after upgrading to my current tubes (Raytheon 12AT7WA / Mullard ECC83 / Mullard Military 6X4)

Including all enhancements and replacement tubes, this phono stage has cost me less than $2000. I would be happy to put it up against ANY competition.

 

**there is no way to say conclusively that this is the best I have ever heard, as I have heard some very expensive phono stages, but this is the best that I have heard in environments where I could compare it to others or my recollection of others. 

 

Cheers

Warren  

Hi Warren,

I just noticed this post and am very interested in the Eastern Electric Minimax phono stage. Do you know if there is a distributor in Australia?

Thank you, George.

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