Imagine my surprise when Alan tells me hes found a unit in asia that he believed could be the entry level Phono Stage to his range.
I thought he'd lost his mind. So after almost four hours of testing and more testing I can confirm he actually has NOT lost his mind.
So the unit, now named the FB-OTP, starts out as a cheap and cheerful unit and Alan promptly rips out about 50% of the gubbins and replaces it with pure magic.
Here are a couple of pictures
CD for scale.
Heres the review.
We tried it with 4 amplifiers today. All of them apart from one was from Alans own collection of Firebottle amps
First up we tried it with the FB27
Straight away the vocals light up the room. The parting of Sarah Jarosz's lips as she start to draw breath for the first words is audible. Im shocked. As the bass kicks in it is nice and deep with excellent extension. The midrange is sweet with such clarity. I am surprised. The highs are very fluid and transparent.
I stop the LP and ask Alan what hes done. He laughs. We try a few more songs and its all the same. Excellent.
So we try it with the Firebottle dM1 (Dual Mono)
We start with the same songs and guess what. It better than it was just. Everything is crisper, deeper. There is fluidity and the delivery is smoother. Vocals are airy and light but there's a punch to it. Very impressive. It's transparent with amazing clarity. Its pure.
Now the bass. Wow, its extension is longer and smoother and the decay seems to take an age. Its so good. Plenty of attack too.
Again the improvements keep coming. I dont need to spell it out. So I wont. All I'll say is
Now I know what youre thinking, "it should get better as the amplification gets better" and yes it should but thats the best bit,
The phono stage NEVER became the weak link in the chain, in fact, it was right at home in the TOTL Monos as it was with the FB27. It just never sounded anything less than wonderful.
Im serious, ive heard a few Phono stages and I can say this is by far the best ive heard in the sub £250 category.
Now the price should surprise you as much as the sound will.
£200. MM/MC switchable. Which is stonkingly good value for money. This FB-OTP is a major piece of kit. The value for money on offer here is rare to find. The FB-OTP is 15% of the price you'd pay for the Vivant but it's performance is very close. Only lacking the ultimate space, and dynamics of the Vivant. Tonally, they are nearly identical.
So the usual test of "would I buy one" applies and the answer ????
Yes. Yes I would and I have. Lol. I have bought the very first unit and as always with Alan, any future upgrades are available for a low cost or sometimes no cost !
Would i recommend it, for sure and without hesitation.
I am happy to try this against any phono stage in this bracket and post my findings. If you're interested, PM me.
Alan tells me there are plans to offer a phono stage with built in passive Preamp with multiple RCA inputs.
I have opted for a second box to put the passive preamp in. Unfortunately, the box cannot be bought separately to match the size of the FB-OTP. BUMMER ! anyway a slightly smaller unit will shortly be made using a Black aluminium chassis, High quality copper wire, RCAs, Alps Blue potentiometer and aluminium control knobs. Pics and a review will be added at a later date.
The price of this is TBC
If youre thinking of a new phono stage, give this a go. Oh, have a tissue ready to wipe the dribble off your chin from having your jaw on the floor.
AVAILABLE NOW !
Alan has decided to add Loading capability in the form of loading plugs. Alan can supply any loading plugs necessary (nominal amount of £££'s) or you can of course make your own.
This low cost/high performer has just got better!!!
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