Phono Preamplifiers

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Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2011
Though celebrated for digital products, Esoteric cares more about analogue than you’d expect – the company’s E-03 phono stage joins the ranks of the greats. We’ve come so far down the digital path that we’re at a stage where there’s been a near-complete volte face in expectations: where once we awaited digital products from companies with their roots in analogue, we now entertain analogue products from companies with their roots in digital.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 16, 2011
A no-compromise design for those seeking the ultimate in vinyl replay. The Io Eclipse is for audiophiles seeking the ultimate in vinyl replay. Its two chassis are the size of most manufacturers’ power amplifiers, one the phono stage itself, the other the power supply. The Io Eclipse costs £14,000, or £16,700 with independent L/R volume controls – as reviewed here. (With this option you get a ‘bonus’ line level input.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 16, 2011
Matching clever technology with exacting build, the Trilogy is an engaging performer. Superbly put together, the Trilogy 907 is machined out of a solid billet of aluminium. Its made-tohide- away outboard supply shares the same footprint and needs to be separated by at least 250mm, with allowance for ventilation. It elicited sighs of admiration from audiophiles to whom we was showed it.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Oct 02, 2011
Active/passive - not behavioural therapy, but two of Air Tight's options for cartridge amplification: the ATH-2A step-up transformer and ATE-2005 phono equaliser . With at least three turntables active in my system at any time, I’ve learned to appreciate options. All of my preferred phono amplifiers accept at least two decks and can cope with both MM and MC cartridges of varying output levels.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Aug 16, 2010
When someone as determined and perfectionist as Conrad Mas of Avid decides to enter a new product area, the result is likely to be something special. With the Pulsare Phono, the aim was to produce a phono stage that could do the same things for music that an Avid turntable did. It had to have ‘that certain something that makes the music sound and feel real. ’ Even a first glance tells you that this an overkill design in specification, construction and features.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Jul 16, 2010
For the Leicester-based company Icon Audio, the PS3 is a development prompted by its successful PS1 phono stage, now in MkII form. Both feature – as do its MP3 Mini Amp and HP8 headphone amp – the distinctive ‘peephole’ through which its complement of tubes may be glimpsed. For the PS3 phono stage, designer David Shaw has specified no fewer than seven triode valves including ECC88s and one 6SN7 for the output. The separate power supply unit has another six (EZ80, ECC83 and 5687 types) used for voltage rectification and regulation.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Apr 16, 2010
We first reviewed this German two-box phono stage as part of a group test [see HFN Apr ’10]. The Lehmann Black Cube Decade (available with silver fascia or black) sits between the company’s Black Cube SE and reference Silver Cube phono stages. It features Lehmann’s flagship PWX II power supply (also available as an upgrade to other Lehmann audio products), its frontal aspect uniform with the phono stage itself except for a lack of any controls, and notably well-built. You can hide it away if you want, as the shielded power cable that joins the boxes via Neutrik connectors is 2m long.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Nov 17, 2009
While there’s little that’s grand looking about RCM Audio’s Sensor Prelude phono amplifier, despite it costing considerably in excess of a grand, close inspection reveals that it has been purposefully designed. A substantial brushed alloy fascia disguises what is otherwise a rather utilitarian metal case. But there’s little to complain about its construction quality, other than the cheapness of the stuck-on rubber feet. A separate power supply box connects via an umbilical cable of fixed length and locking DIN connector while the cable is generous in length to allow remote placement.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Aug 06, 2009
It’s been almost two years since Hi-Fi News had the pleasure of auditioning a CD player and integrated amplifier from the Italian Audia company [see HFN September 2007]. With just a select range of amplifiers and a couple of CD players in its product portfolio, Audia may barely register as a blip on the radar of British audiophiles. On the European specialist audio scene, on the other hand, Audia has carved out a name for itself as a manufacturer to be taken most seriously in the high-end arena, its products regularly garnering accolades in French and German magazines as well as on its home turf in Italy, naturally. Talking of carving out a name, you just know that Audia’s products aren’t going to come without a fairly substantial price ticket attached to them when you see the build quality.
John Bamford  |  Jul 17, 2009
Kevin Edwards, founder and managing director of Talk Electronics in Surrey, is introducing a new range of ‘budget’ products under the brand name Edwards Audio. Unusually for such an enterprise the intention is to manufacture everything locally in the UK rather than design it here and have it made overseas. The manufacturer says this ensures better control of manufacturing quality. But as discussed before in the pages of HFN, the cost benefit of manufacturing in places such as China is fast reducing anyway due to increasing labour costs and the diminished value of the pound.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Apr 06, 2009
Hailing from Budapest, Hungary, Heed Audio first made a name for itself with its Orbit range of turntable power supplies, designed as add-on upgrades to turntables such as Rega and Linn. Subsequently Heed has brought to market a range of components designed to offer high performance at not-too-high prices, keeping costs down by utilising utilitarian metal boxes rather than fancily styled casework. This is a philosophy that has proved popular with audio enthusiasts for decades; some HFN readers may remember UK brands of yore such as Nytech and Ion Systems. There’s a family tie-up here, in that Heed Audio’s UK importer and distributor is Tsource Ltd of Cheltenham, run by one Robert Hay, and Robert’s father is Richard Hay who was the designer of Nytech and Ion Systems products way back when.
Christopher Breunig & Paul Miller  |  Jan 06, 2009
It was something of a surprise to open NAD’s substantially sized packing box to find the PP 2 is only 135 x 35 x 70mm (whd). The review sample came in a dark grey metal enclosure but a lighter ‘Titanium’ finish is available too (see picture). All you have to do is connect tonearm leads either to the MM or MC pair of labelled rear RCA phono input sockets, and switch accordingly, attach the arm earth lead to a screw terminal and plug in the ‘wall-wart’ mains transformer. Mains-on is indicated by a small green front-panel LED.

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