Phono Preamplifiers

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Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 16, 2019
hfnoutstandingEuropean Audio Team's (EAT) third E-Glo phono preamplifier is half the price and size of the second – can the E-Glo Petit redefine the entry-level/high-end phono stage?

As the most affordable of EAT's three MM/MC phono stages, the new E-Glo Petit has its work cut out, as there are plenty of killer phono stages at this £1249 price point. Nevertheless you should still prepare to revel in a transistor/tube hybrid phono stage bursting with facilities, in a package – not counting the 18V wall-wart power supply – with a footprint of only 226mm wide by 250mm deep, plus sockets and wooden cheeks.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngCompact yet comprehensively-equipped, beautifully-made, with balanced outputs, MM/MC capability and a sane price, what’s not to like in Bel Canto’s e.One Phono?

Awash as we are with terrific phono stages, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. From sub-£50 units to £30,000-plus fantasy hardware, there are probably as many standalone phono stages on offer today as during the Original Vinyl Era. What Bel Canto offers with its e.One Phono, in its more cost-effective range, is a way to enjoy the adjustability demanded by perfectionists, at a sane price.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 01, 2018
hfncommended.png‘Junior’ in name and certainly less substantial in build than its flagship stablemate, this latest take on the JC3 theme turns out to be an even more flexible MM/MC phono stage

Does the world really need another phono stage? Back in the late 1980s the Michell ISO was a rare standalone product, but since then there has been a steady stream of the things, multiplying in numbers like Tribbles on Star Trek’s USS Enterprise. We’re now at the point where it feels as though there are as many designs on sale as there are people to buy them – so any new entry has to have a compelling raison d’être.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 13, 2015
Rothwell Audio has been going for a quarter of a century, mostly making guitar effects pedals. Its hi-fi range encompasses three moving-coil step-up transformers, two MM-only phono stages, a valve preamplifier, interconnects and attenuators. Rothwell’s first phono stage was launched at the 1990 London Hi-Fi Show. The Rialto MM/MC phono stage is tiny and perhaps no oil painting in aesthetic terms.
Richard Holliss  |  Nov 03, 2014
Despite using a tube that has been around since Methuselah was in short trousers, there’s nothing old hat about Audio Research’s new LP1 phono stage. It is a hybrid designed to mix the low noise of solid-state with the musicality that comes from glowing bottles. JFETs were chosen for their combination of low noise and excellent sonic performance, the company says. They provide a decent (claimed) 47dB of gain, enough for all MM and some higher output MC phono cartridges – and then comes the 6H30 tube buffer.
Richard Holliss  |  Nov 03, 2014
You can’t help but be impressed by Canor’s house styling, distinctive yet unfussy with its black acrylic panel set into the fascia, within which various indicator lights and displays appear. And you can choose between the pleasingly sober charcoal finish seen here or go for the contrasting effect of a black band on brushed aluminium. Naturally, the TP306 VR+ has the simplest fascia, as the only front-panel control is the on/standby button in the centre. When connected to mains power, LEDs show standby mode, muting while warming up, then unmuting.
Richard Holliss  |  Nov 03, 2014
The GT version of the Tron Seven phono preamplifier marks the ultimate evolution of the series design. The range starts with a MM base model, with the MC variant next. The Reference model adds high quality resistors and capacitors; the Ultimate adds silver-wired MC transformers and ‘four nines’ silver internal wiring. It also has twin switched inputs, with MM/MC, or MC/MC options.
Richard Holliss  |  Nov 03, 2014
After 28 years at Texas Instruments Shinobu Karaki is now designing phono stages. His new Vinyl Disk Amplifier (VIDA) joins a thriving market for analogue-related products in his homeland. Its late ’60s styling isn’t out of place next to, say, a similarly ‘period’ looking Leben tube amp. Yet peer inside its case and you’ll see circuitry that’s as modern as the latest Mitsubishi motor car.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
Some clever ideas but a little too laid back sonically. Established in 2003, Astin Trew is a British hi-fi company with a product portfolio that includes amps, CD players, cables and its first phono stage: the AT8000. Astin Trew’s philosophy is simple: ‘create very high quality mid-priced home audio products that convey the emotion and passion of real music as naturally as possible.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
This dimunitive design produces a very pleasing sonic performance. A quick glance at Clearaudio’s product range shows that the company prides itself on using quality materials to house its audio electronics, and the Nano Phono certainly continues in this vein. Its case is formed from a solid CNC-machined aluminium block which makes the Nano feel surprisingly heavy, despite its diminutive size.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
An immensely flexible design but somewhat sterile in use. Whether you’re an audiophile on a budget or you have deep pockets to fund a seriously high-end system, it’s likely that Musical Fidelity has a range of products to suit. MF’s ever expanding M1 series sits above the entry level V series and offers a choice of half-width separates in well made cases, based on its more expensive M3 and M6 models.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
A product with performance that is hard to beat at the price. Founded in 1988, Germany’s Lehmann Audio offers an extensive series of phono stages which employ technology drawn from its pro-audio range of mixing consoles and the like. All Lehmann phono stages are based around passive RIAA filter designs and, according to Lehmann, the differences between models can be found ‘in the quality of the parts and/or in the grade of sophistication of the circuit design.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
An ultra- sophisticated interface is paired with strong sonics to good effect. With over 15 years’ experience in stand-alone phono stage design, Creek Audio needs little introduction: its £185 OBH-18 model is a stalwart at entry level. The Wyndsor, a completely different beast, contains a level of user sophistication rarely seen in a phono stage.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 12, 2012
The full sized casework is matched by the large and lively sound. Uncomplicated Scandinavian design’ is how Primare defines its ethos and a quick glance at the R32’s front panel tells you that this phono stage is truly living Primare’s ‘brand values’. Since it measures 430x95x380mm (whd) and weighs a substantial 8. 5kg, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve been sold a power amp in the wrong box. Of course much of this weight can be attributed to the R32’s case, with its 8mm-thick front plate and solid feet.
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.

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