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Thread: The Aurorasound VIDA MC/MM Phono Preamp

  1. #1
    MartinT Guest

    Default The Aurorasound VIDA MC/MM Phono Preamp

    The Aurorasound VIDA (Vinyl Disc Amplifier) is a Japanese solid state MC/MM phono preamp, presented in two dissimilar cases. The power supply is encased in a long slim metal enclosure while the preamp itself comes in a distinctly retro case with wood sleeve which looks much prettier in the flesh than is conveyed in the photo. The intention is to keep the noisy power supply electronics away from the highly sensitive amplifier circuit and Aurorasound recommend that they be kept at least 10cm apart. A suitably long umbilical DC cable is provided, with locking connectors, that allows for quite distant placement.

    The circuit topology is quite unusual in using a constant impedance LCR (inductor, capacitor, resistor) RIAA equalisation stage with gain stages before and after. The inductors are very high quality Swedish Lundahls custom manufactured for Aurorasound. Presenting a constant impedance RIAA circuit helps to make the VIDA very even-handed in its frequency response, giving it a highly transparent nature and great resolving ability in the bass. Furthermore, there are no capacitors directly in the signal path and a DC servo keeps the output centred around zero, which provides a flat frequency response down to very low frequencies. A switchable subsonic filter can help to remove rumble. The two power supply monitor LEDs are a cute lilac in colour.

    There are two inputs, for MC and MM cartridges, with shorting plugs provided for the disused inputs in order to maintain low noise performance. The MC gain is 64dB and switchable loading provides 0.6 - 10 ohm and 10 - 100 ohm cartridge compatibility. The MM gain is 39dB with a fixed 47k ohm load. There is also a very large mute button with yellow light for use while cueing, and a cartridge degauss facility. All inputs and outputs are single-ended rhodium-plated phono sockets.

    Build quality and finish are excellent.



    In use I decided, after a long familiarisation, that my Shelter 5000 sounds slightly more grounded and powerful in the bass in the low impedance load setting, but with its coil impedance of 10 ohms there is, unsurprisingly, not much in it.

    The VIDA required quite a long burn-in/warm-up time and rewards being left permanently on. First impressions were very good, with extremely low noise effectively always below the record's surface noise and helping to shape the music's wide dynamic range. There is very fine detail here - filigree stuff that meant I really did hear tiny cues for the first time even from very familiar records. Bass is very tight and deep, with no overhang, and helps support the strong impression that this a fast sounding amp. Playing Joan Armatrading S/T, I hear a wider soundstage with more space around her voice. Focus is amazing and the very opposite of the kind of bloated central presentation given by some inexpensive phono amps. Leading edges of guitars again sound fast, almost explosive. Yello - Flag sounds truly metronomic in delivery with vast detail coming through the complexity of the mix. There are moments where the walls disappear and my brain thinks I'm somewhere else, so uncanny are the swirling sounds from this fabulous album. James Newton Howard & Friends has some of the best drum sound that's ever been recorded. Again, the VIDA makes it sound incredibly vivid, lifelike and frankly knockout. At first I thought that the VIDA has a little sibilance, but on further listening and comparison it just seems to be a function of its wide open window on detail retrieval. Sade - Diamond Life has a potent, energetic sound with great drum impact on 'Cherry Pie', making for an exciting overall performance with lots of detail coming through the mix. The VIDA does this time and again, pulling something more from an album I know very well.

    Turning to classical, Mozart Requiem - Fruhbeck de Burgos/Philharmonia/CfP has the most vivid and angry performance of any recording of the Requiem I possess. The massed choral crescendi have peaks of overwhelming power but I have always thought a slight glassy hardening of the voices, losing their detail and focus. Not so any more, which leads me to believe that my step-up transformer was occasionally overloading the preamp in my previous setup. The spaciousness of the presentation and swell from quiet to stupendous remind me of why this record has been on my regular playlist for many years. The VIDA copes with the huge dynamic range very well, delineating the voices and bringing forward the menacing organ pedals. Pergolesi Stabat Mater - Mainzer Kammerorchester/FSM is an altogether smaller performance but every bit as beautiful and compelling. Here the VIDA displays its ultra low noise to great effect, allowing the occasional single voice to be well focussed and the large space clearly audible. Playing Shostakovich Symphony No. 10 - Previn/LSO/EMI (one of my favourite Shossy recordings), I am presented with a huge wide and deep soundstage, about equivalent to 10 rows back at the Festival Hall. The orchestral crescendi are the most thrilling I've ever experienced at home, really quite something. What a performance by Previn, what fantastic sound! Then a severe test: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 - Moscow/Rozhdestvensky/Melodiya (one of a number of records I bought in Russia in 1984). It sounds fantastic, clearly the result of careful Russian engineering and not too bad a pressing either. Lovely orchestral layout in a natural hall acoustic with biting brass and sweeping, sweet violins. Wonderful unstressed peaks. I've never heard my Melodiyas sound like this!

    The overall feel of the VIDA is of a fast, low noise, highly resolving phono stage that takes the speed of my Shelter cartridge to a level I didn't think it possessed. Bass is particularly well detailed with real texture. Hum is non-existent. When I operated my PS Audio P10's Cleanwave degaussing function, the VIDA made no sound at all through the speakers, indicating a very well designed power supply with high rejection ratio. The VIDA has the very wide dynamic range of the Hashimoto HM-7 step-up transformer, something I had never previously heard in any phono gain stage. Soundstaging also proves that valves don't always have it their way, with instrument placement precisely focussed and space and air conveying the size of the venue. In terms of value for money, no phono preamp the wrong side of £2000 can be called great value, and yet it sounds far better than several more expensive preamps I've heard, and gives me a considerable performance hike over the HM-7 and Whest PS.30R combination that it has replaced. Highly recommended.

    Review system: see footer.

    Price: £2700 as purchased.
    Aurorasound website
    Distributor: puresound
    Last edited by MartinT; 13-01-2014 at 21:22.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 70,459
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

    Thumbs up

    Excellent write-up, Martin. Thanks for taking the time to do it

    Marco.
    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do". - Milan Kundera.

    "Your validity or worth are not defined or determined by the views of others with their own superimposed agendas". - Pharos (on AoS)

    My system:

    Modified Technics SL-1210MK5G/Mike New high-precision bearing & baseplate/Mike New ETP platter/Bruil record weight/Nagaoka GL602 crystal T/T mat. Paul Hynes SR7EHD PSU (plus regulator modules)/DCSXL pure-silver DC lead. Ortofon RS-212D tonearm/'Speedy Steve' custom-made Ebony armboard. Yannis Tome 423.5 Phono Silver-Litz tonearm cable, with Furutech CF-DIN(R) and Eichmann silver Bullet Plugs. Cartridges: Denon DL-S1 in AT MG-10 headshell with AT-6106 Quattro Hybrid lead-wire. Denon DL-103C1 in '103U' headshell with AT-609 silver lead-wire. Vintage Denon DL-103AU in AT-Ti15ANV Titanium Headshell. Shure M55E in Denon PCL-300 headshell with 6N silver lead-wire. Shure original USA SC35C. Audiocom-modified Sony X-777ES/DAS-R1 transport/DAC. Raspberry Pi-3 Model B and IQaudio Pi-DAC+/Paul Hynes SR3DR-05 linear PSU/Williams Audio NAS linear PSU. Heavily-modified Croft Charisma-X preamp. Stereo Coffee LDR. Head-amp: Paul Hynes design/SR5 PSU. Also modified Lentek. Tube Distinctions 50W Class A P/P Copper amp with cryo-treated Tung Sol KT150s. Speakers: 'Lockwood Majors', using 15" Tannoy Monitor Golds, modified with bespoke crossovers. Also Celestion Ditton 15XRs. Stands: Mana Acoustics (non-magnetic stainless steel 'clones’). Hi-Fi Racks Podium T/T wall shelf. Sony ST-5055L tuner. Cables: Furukawa EE/F-S 2mm & 2.6mm solid-core mains leads, fitted with Furutech FI-50 IECs and FI-1363Rs. Stereo interconnects: Sommer Carbokab 225 (with silver-plated MS Audio non-metallic POM RCAs). Speaker cable: VDH 'The Wind' Hybrid II. Digital coaxial cable: 1m Trompeter Electronics Triax TRC-75-2, with MS Audio ‘Starline' silver-plated RCAs. Mains block: Mark Grant 6-way, modded with Furutech FP-1363R sockets and Furukawa cable. Tube Distinctions digital noise filter. VPI HW 16.5 record cleaner.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: Banbury, Oxfordshire/Panteg is where my late father was born

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    I'm Chris.

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    Yes, very good! I quite like the retro looks too.
    Chris

    We've gone on holiday by mistake !

  4. #4
    Join Date: Apr 2011

    Location: Surrey

    Posts: 3,852
    I'm Mike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MartinT View Post
    gives me a considerable performance hike over the HM-7 and Whest PS.30R combination
    Considerable ....hmm
    That was already superb and a hard act to beat

    Thanks Martin
    Technics 1210, MCRU Linear PSU, Mike New Bearing & Platter, Stillpoints LP1 weight, Speedy Steve Ebony armboard, Fidelity Research FR64FX arm, Ortofon SPU. LP12/Aro/Lyra Dorian, Aurorasound VIDA Phono Pre Amp, Ortofon ST80SE SUT, Rega Isis CD, Marigo Labs Clear Transformation CD mat, Belles VT-01 MK II Pre Amp, Belles MB200 Mono Power Amps, TAD E1 speakers. Creaktiv racks, Mains Cables: Coherent, MCRU Ultimate, Interconnects : Coherent and Yannis 223.5 Connect Litz, TQ. Coherent speaker cable. Audio Magic Transcendence Conditioner. Coherent socket

    Mike

  5. #5
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: South West England

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    I'm Guy.

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    Nice write up Martin. Many thanks.

    There is a demo unit that does the rounds should anyone want to try it.

  6. #6
    Join Date: Apr 2011

    Location: Surrey

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    I'm Mike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pure sound View Post
    Nice write up Martin. Many thanks.

    There is a demo unit that does the rounds should anyone want to try it.
    <Thinks>
    Dare I ?
    Technics 1210, MCRU Linear PSU, Mike New Bearing & Platter, Stillpoints LP1 weight, Speedy Steve Ebony armboard, Fidelity Research FR64FX arm, Ortofon SPU. LP12/Aro/Lyra Dorian, Aurorasound VIDA Phono Pre Amp, Ortofon ST80SE SUT, Rega Isis CD, Marigo Labs Clear Transformation CD mat, Belles VT-01 MK II Pre Amp, Belles MB200 Mono Power Amps, TAD E1 speakers. Creaktiv racks, Mains Cables: Coherent, MCRU Ultimate, Interconnects : Coherent and Yannis 223.5 Connect Litz, TQ. Coherent speaker cable. Audio Magic Transcendence Conditioner. Coherent socket

    Mike

  7. #7
    MartinT Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeMusic View Post
    Dare I ?
    You know you want to

  8. #8
    Join Date: Apr 2011

    Location: Surrey

    Posts: 3,852
    I'm Mike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MartinT View Post
    You know you want to
    I've already got so much kit to sell !

    Is it really, really that good ?
    Would the Isos be happy ?
    Technics 1210, MCRU Linear PSU, Mike New Bearing & Platter, Stillpoints LP1 weight, Speedy Steve Ebony armboard, Fidelity Research FR64FX arm, Ortofon SPU. LP12/Aro/Lyra Dorian, Aurorasound VIDA Phono Pre Amp, Ortofon ST80SE SUT, Rega Isis CD, Marigo Labs Clear Transformation CD mat, Belles VT-01 MK II Pre Amp, Belles MB200 Mono Power Amps, TAD E1 speakers. Creaktiv racks, Mains Cables: Coherent, MCRU Ultimate, Interconnects : Coherent and Yannis 223.5 Connect Litz, TQ. Coherent speaker cable. Audio Magic Transcendence Conditioner. Coherent socket

    Mike

  9. #9
    MartinT Guest

    Default

    I think so, but I don't know that your SPU will work as well as my Shelter into it. Guy should be able to tell you.

  10. #10
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Cricklewood

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    I'm ILOB.

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    Hope to hear it sometime in the future Martin
    What I love about vinyl is how you describe the leading edge of the notes from guitar are like explosions of music That's what makes vinyl so addictive
    Loves anything from Pain of Salvation to Jeff Buckley to Django to Sarasate to Surinder Sandhu to Shawn Lane to Nick Drake to Rush to Beth Hart to Kate Bush to Rodrigo Y Gabriela to The Hellecasters to Dark Sanctury to Ben Harper to Karicus to Dream Theater to Zero Hour to Al DiMeola to Larry Carlton to Derek Trucks to Govt Mule to?

    Humour: One of the few things worth taking seriously

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