PDA

View Full Version : My Phono Stage Options. Opinions Anybody?



Mike Reed
12-06-2008, 19:53
Having decided on either a s/s or valved m.c. stage as opposed to the separate transformer route for my Koetsu Black, I have these offers open to me.

ART AUDIO VINYL ONE, specified for 100 ohms, no m.m. switch or vol. control.

LEHMANN AUDIO SILVER CUBE (with beefy power supply), dip-switchable for a (unknown) range of values from 80 ohms, with toggle switches for, I believe, volume matching

Have a home dem of the Naim SUPERLINE, bite the bullet as regards price, and start to look for a used SUPERCAP power supply eventually (as I CAN power it from my PRE.

The first two options are secondhand, but very well priced.

SYSTEM: Michell ORBE with SME5 into (currently PREFIX and) NAIM 552 Pree, 2 x 125 power amps driving very big PROAC Response 4s.

Any advice and recommendations would be well-received.

Sand Dancin Donkey Walker
16-06-2008, 15:00
Hi Mike
What sort of budget range were you looking at spending?
The Koetsu is a really nice cartridge, I have one myself.
Purely from a personal prospective I have used an Audio Note MM phono with a Tx running the Koetsu Black. I have seen the AN's go for very reasonable prices too.
Audio Valve Sunilda phono is excellent, but is actually 2 valve phono's in one box. I used it when I had 2 arms on the TT. Nice touches are you can adjust both cartridge load and capacitance from the front panel on the fly.
I currently use a Modwright SWP 9.0 se with no thoughts on replacement at all.
I have had a reasonable listen to the Lehmann and was quite impressed. Could be a good one to go for.

Hope that helps in some way - or not!! :)

Andy - SDDW

Mike Reed
16-06-2008, 18:21
Appreciate that, Andy.

I must admit that I'm not familiar with the kit you mention, but as you have a Black (with which front end, may I ask?), and have experience of the Lehmann (you DO mean the Silver, not the Black Cube, don't you?), I'm interested in your findings.

The seller of the Silver has offered to send on appro., which is as much as one can ask, really: but I'd still like to be pretty certain beforehand, as there's still hassle on both sides, obviously.

I've also got the offer of the valve option (Art Audio Vinyl 1) at about same price, but can't make my mind up whether to stick to s.s. (with adjustable resistances) or venture into alternative territory.

It may be that I change my Naim amps for valved monos to get a bit of 'musicality' from my CD source, and I feel that valve phono plus valve amps might be over-egging the pudding a bit.

Always a problem when there's more than one aspect of one's system one wants to experiment with!

Thanks.

purite audio
16-06-2008, 18:33
Mike Hi, I would get as many phono's as you can together at the same time and compare them all.

Mike Reed
16-06-2008, 18:50
Thanks, but easier said than done, I feel. I have only my my own yardstick, my PREFIX, to compare to. Received wisdom has it that ANY of my options, calibrated for my cart., would trounce my Prefix.

Therefore, theoretically, ANY of these would satisfy in the short term, but, for example:-

The Superline can be enhanced by better power supplies,; the Lehmann is stuck with its own p/s. Likewise the Vinyl 1 (with built-in p/s).

To me it's a complex set of parameters BEFORE I consider sound quality and harmonious interfacing with my own kit. Or am I not seeing the wood for the trees? Or being overly cautious?

purite audio
16-06-2008, 19:47
Mike Hi, all I mean't was try to borrow as many of your ' possibles' as possible and then compare them to each other and to your current phono, I really do believe that is the only way to reach a considered decision. Keith.

Sand Dancin Donkey Walker
16-06-2008, 20:02
Hi Mike
You can find a photo of my gear here, http://theartofsound.net/forum/showthread.php?t=385

Mike (shain7) has seen and heard my setup so might give an opinion
I use a Feickert Twin TT with an Audiocraft AC3000 tonearm with either the Koetsu Black or a My Sonic Eminent cartridges, connected to the Modwright SWP 9.0se phono.
When I got the listen to the Silver Cube it was in a fairly known system to me (though not my own), the previous phono stage was the on board one from an Alberry pre, when the Silver Cube was put in place, though it took a while to settle down the sound, a purely personal view point became very much more open I think from greater detail, but most certainly a far greater sound stage, though never harsh. The bass deeper and sort of played the tune better. I much preferred it to the original. I really dislike describing sounds as it sounds so false but I hope it helps you.
My thoughts would be to go for the valve phono first and see if it takes your music in the direction you want it to take first before progressing.
Have you had a word with Mike and see how his phono stage is getting along. I will make the offer of, if you wish get a lone of the Silver Cube and get up to see me and compare the phono stages, Mike may also be able to get his up and running as a good comparison and get over at the same time. He only lives a few minutes away from me at best.
I have used the TE Groove phono. Though at first loved the sound it produced, it took an age to run in. Ultimately after 9 months or so I grew tired of it. Not too sure why as it's quite good. Maybe I just prefer the valve phono's ?
Does that help - I hope so :)

Andy - SDDW

Mike
16-06-2008, 20:33
Hi,

I can certainly vouch for Andy's analogue set-up, it's top notch!

It's very difficult if not impossible for me to try and give a meaningful comparison, so I'm not going to try. It's been 18 months since I was last able to play my vinyl, so my memory is probably not that reliable THB, suffice to say my old LP12/Ittok/Klyde into the built in stage of a Linn LK1/Dirak pre has been well and truly show for what it was. Shit! ;)

The Modwirght looks like an intriguing thing, I've also read glowing reviews. I couldn't believe the size of it either. Huge!!! :)

As for my own phono stage, well, erm. It's still not finished. I keep dithering about stuff and then ordering more bits n' pieces for it, not 15mins ago I ordered some Shinkoh tantalum resistors!
Once they arrive I'll finally have all the bits (for now! ;)) and just need a rocket up my arse to get on with it.

Cheers,
Mike.

Neil McCauley
18-06-2008, 09:55
One fresh option that might not have occurred to you. The LFD MCT.

When, in conjunction with the Funk Saffire (their spelling, not mine) and the Arthur K modified Ittok (CF arm tube, and more) and the very cheapest Denon MC we could find, I used this LFD into the Harbeth 40.1 loudspeakers at the recent Heathrow Show, many people commented that it was the most musically credible vinyl reproduction they had heard at the show and in some cases, ever.

Moving on, a fortnight ago I did a home demo of the self same LFD into one of the most revealing systems I’ve yet heard. A fully updated Linn with top of the line Linn arm and cartridge via the expensive Audio Research phono stage into an ARC linestage via a quite wonderful (yes, even though I don’t sell it) Audio research power amp into the QUAD 2905 loudspeakers.

The LFD, totally bereft of any loading/gain controls whatsoever, being MC only, was substituted for the ARC phono stage. One side of one record was all that was necessary to convince the customer. I took his very recent ARC in p/ex and he bought the LFD.

The happy story continues. One of my PS Audio customers traded in his PS Audio GGPH phono stage against the ARC phonostage that was traded in with me. And so it goes.

From my own listening perspective, the LFD MCT is the most musically satisfying phono stage I have ever used or owned. For 3k retail, that’s how it should be. I only sell the LFD on a no-obligation home demonstration basis.

My curiosity having been aroused now by these very positive experiences, I'm now seriously thinking of purchasing a Manley Steelhead (http://www.manleylabs.com/containerpages/STEELHEAD.html ) for comparative demo here and in people homes within a reasonable radius of North London.

Regards

HP

PS.

It’s not all about hifi here. I do listen to a helluva lot of music, just for the selfish pleasure. On the stacked JBL L100a Century loudspeakers (blocking most of the daylight in my front room), I'm listening to this CD, over and over. Details here: http://blog.listencarefully.co.uk/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=2938



---//---

Sand Dancin Donkey Walker
18-06-2008, 13:42
Hi Howard
Just a quick personal note with regard to the Manley Steelhead, I have had one at home for a while and was in the position to buy one. Initial feelings were how good it was, but after a few days or so started to find I was being disappointed with the results, couldn't quite put my finger on why and it was starting to become inconsistant in the sound. I was really expecting great things from it, maybe too great. I now currently use the Modwright noted in the post above and feel it is a far better phono than the manley, or I will qualify that in I much prefer the Modwright for my purposes. Could be worth getting a listen and is a reasonable amount cheaper, on new prices anyways. I dislike trying to describe sounds as I can't quite get across my thoughts, and my written english is not really that good. But sufice to say I found my current phono just plays the music to my liking without trying too hard that could be where the Steelhead is going wrong for me, trying too hard - does that make sence, not too sure but I hope it helps.

Andy - SDDW

John
20-06-2008, 09:38
I remember when I was on a similar quest the options were huge and advice quite varied Tend to agree with Keith on these the best way is to hear as many options as you can in your home there are so many out there and its best to trust your own ears I tried many including the PS audio the phononote the Alinic but in the end settled for the Whest PS30r. You have a really good cartridge so worth getting this right

Mike Reed
20-06-2008, 22:05
Thanks, John.

I do agree, but the point I was making is that (for me, anyway) this is quite difficult. I can audition a new Superline; I can chance my arm by buying others secondhand (and possibly have the real hassle of selling them on, not least at the outset of a probable recession).

However, am gathering info. before diving in. This alone has been an informative and steep learning curve.

Interesting that you have a dedicated radial circuit AND use a conditioner. Does it really improve on the spur as is?

John
23-06-2008, 07:25
Well It will depend on your area. For me yes the reginrator still improves things further but then again I can be bit over the top. The P500 adds more bass inpact and allows the music to flow better but must try it without the reginrator again Its been awhile since i heard the difference.; I get back to you on this as perhaps my views may change.
Most decent delears will allow you to either sale or return or may even offer a home demo its worth taking you time and yes the idea of having a list helps. There a lot of good phono stages out there

Marco
23-06-2008, 07:57
Mike,

You know you want a Superline, so stop buggering about and just buy one ;)

Seriously though, it is a very good phono stage but you should also listen to the Whest PS.30 since you've chickened out of getting the Koetsu step-up tranny :ner:

The PS.30 exhibits many of the attributes you like about the Naim sound and would be a very viable alternative to the Superline.

Marco.

Mike Reed
24-06-2008, 21:28
Mike,

You know you want a Superline, so stop buggering about and just buy one ;)

Seriously though, it is a very good phono stage but you should also listen to the Whest PS.30 since you've chickened out of getting the Koetsu step-up tranny :ner:

The PS.30 exhibits many of the attributes you like about the Naim sound and would be a very viable alternative to the Superline.

Marco.

Whad'ya mean, 'chickened out?' TGW recommended a couple of transformers on E-bay, but by the time this advice came, the B.I.N. had been activated. So there! Can't say I didn't try.

Marco, there are a few possible (minor) issues with the SL, gleaned from the Naim Forum and users' experience.

I still favour the Vinyl 1, but you have a point with the Whest (if one came along, I'd seriously consider). There are just TOO many decent phono stages out there. Very positive but confusing.

Am seriously toying with experimenting with valve amplification (E.A.R.?), which muddies the waters somewhat re. phono stage.

I didn't get where I am today by being decisive!

John
25-06-2008, 11:58
Hi Mike
I had exactly the same issue so many to hear but worth checking out the Whest I really liked it I am sure if you speak to James at Whest he help you out. Must admit I perfer the Whest over the EAR myself but should work well.
Here my thoughts around the P500
I used to have a gamut d200 and the reginarator using the ultimate outlet made a big difference in Bass and infomation retrival.
I unplugged everything and then took the P500 out of the system More perceived bass but a touch of bloom the music quite detailed but had a edgy quality to it. Re-connected everything a better sense of musical flow lost the edginess and bass tighter/more controlled. The difference is not huge and today if I was to go through it again probarly would not get the P500 but very happy with it in my system.

Mike Reed
25-06-2008, 15:24
JOHN,

minor confusion here, I feel. I meant E.A.R. FULL amplification, not the little phono amp.

Only slight misgiving of mine is to add a valve phono stage, then change to valved amplification (not pre.) after two and a half decades of solid state everything.

Where's the problem I hear it said? I shall, however, investigate the Whest, as it's Marco's recommendation/suggestion also.

John
27-06-2008, 07:08
I also just moved to tube on the power amp and really enjoy the difference for years I thought tubes meant wolly listening but it does not have to be this way thank goodness.

Neil McCauley
01-07-2008, 15:10
Hi Mike
Here my thoughts around the P500
I used to have a gamut d200 and the reginarator using the ultimate outlet made a big difference in Bass and infomation retrival.
I unplugged everything and then took the P500 out of the system More perceived bass but a touch of bloom the music quite detailed but had a edgy quality to it. Re-connected everything a better sense of musical flow lost the edginess and bass tighter/more controlled.

Very well described. This reflects my own observations with the PS Audio Power Plant Premier in my own systems, and more importantly those of my customers. I did two home demos yesterday in Surrey. Both gentlemen bought one. That's 7 in June at 1,799 inc vat. Best month for me selling PS Audio gear so far.

The extent of the improvement is unpredictable. In Petersfield last month it was marginal and in Caterham and Windlesham yesterday it was powerfully positive and immediate. This is why I now only sell with a home demo and even then, with a 30 days full refund if not satisfied.


---//---

steved
11-07-2008, 14:08
Don't know if you've bitten the bullet & invested already.........

I use Art Audio Concerto & Conductor valve amps (recommended by Mark @ The Missing Link. A sound engineer & cable manufacturer, he knows his stuff)

My cartridge is a Koetsu Red (modified by Len Gregory - The Cartridge Man)
The upshot is - I find the Koetsu/Art Audio combo gives a very musical result through my very revealing Quad 989's.

Personally I think Art Audio amps are massively underrated & therefore cheap 2nd hand.
Use the money saved for some NOS Mullard valves & you will have an audio marriage made in heaven.
Plus Tom (Art Audio designer) will service them if you ask nicley!

Steve

sastusbulbas
12-07-2008, 06:31
Hi Mike,

Personally if it was me in your shoes and I was happy with the Naim kit driving those lovely speakers of yours, I would go with the Naim Superline route, I think synergy will be better balanced and that long term satisfaction may well balance out nicely.

It will also leave you more time to enjoy music, and save money long term... If..you dont keep pondering..what if?

I do think that once one plays with various brands it can end up leading up the garden path so to speak, ending up with one change then another until again you find that synergy and that the excersise has left you with little gain for a lot of expense and a different set of boxes, if not carefull.

Steve

Mike Reed
12-07-2008, 11:58
Wise words, Sastu., and yes! I am fearful of losing the plot by chopping and changing or interfering with system synergy.

However, after researching the Superline through many forums, e-mails and kind advice from owners/experimenters, it's become apparent that my Koetsu Black, with its 6 microvolt output, would push the SL, possibly beyond its limit.

Thus I either change my cart. (AGAIN!) to one with a lower output, or get a phono stage which can cope. Art Audio vinyl 1 still on the radar.

Marco
12-07-2008, 17:14
However, after researching the Superline through many forums, e-mails and kind advice from owners/experimenters, it's become apparent that my Koetsu Black, with its 6 microvolt output, would push the SL, possibly beyond its limit.


Mike, I think you need to phone your local friendly Naim dealer (Signals?) and arrange a home audition of a Superline to find out if the above is actually a problem or not.

If I were you I would definitely not be changing your cartridge again.

Have you tried the Whest yet?

Marco.

RobHolt
12-07-2008, 20:48
I suggest a World Design Phono III.

You can buy it with separate PSU ready built for about 800 and it sounds superb.
I have the older PII which is essentially the same circuit and can't fault it.
Very quiet and neutral for a tube stage so you might find that the Koetsu will run straight in without a transformer. Silly amounts of headroom - I mean actual volts not millivolts!
You can order it with transformers fitted or fit your own if you wish. I put some nice Sowter trannies in mine.

Mike
12-07-2008, 21:58
Funny you should say that Rob.

I'm in the middle of building one! :)

http://theartofsound.net/forum/showthread.php?t=360

Mike Reed
14-07-2008, 17:09
Thanks, all, for suggestions.

MARCO, I' ve already chatted to my local Naim dealer (Basically Sound) and, in fact, Dave Wren in Saffron Walden. And yes, I may listen to the SL in my system. However, THe SL is designed for gain (Naim's words), and by my reckoning, if I push in more signal than it's designed for, not only will it not be operating within its design envelope, but the chances are I'll have to turn down the volume control relative to my Prefix.

This I will nor entertain, from a sonic or user-friendly perspective. The SL is the only ph.stage I'd consider buying new, for the simple reason that it's not available secondhand.

I don't begrudge manufacturers and dealers their mark-up. I DO, though, resent the VAT element. Apart from anything else I consider that part of any new purchase to be the instant depreciation constituent.

Marco
14-07-2008, 17:19
No worries. I think you should try it and see. What about the Whest?

Marco.

Mike
14-07-2008, 17:49
There's a review of the Superline in the August issue of Hi-Fi World. It gets a pretty glowing report, but there may be issues with headroom. It seems to be best suited to low output MC's.

Mike, it may be worth picking up a copy and having a read.


Cheers...

Mike Reed
14-07-2008, 20:00
Thanks, MARCO I've googled and read much of the Whest 2 + p/s, and the reviews are very positive. If one came along I'd interested. It also has a 50 and 100 ohm imp. option, which is nice, and a bit unusual. However, no other info. I'll 'phone for a brochure.

MIKE Yes, I read it last week; good review and it gave me the first inkling that it may not suit; confirmed (more or less) by Naim a few days later.

By the way, their brochures, price list, etc. arrived in one day, first class at a cost of 99p.

Compare Henley Designs. Their Lehmann brochures took over a week, were sent second class and included everything EXCEPT the phono stage I had enquired about !

I know one's a manufacturer and t'other an importer but what a difference in service level and efficiency !

purite audio
14-07-2008, 20:38
You are more than welcome to borrow an Allnic stage if you would like to hear some valves! Keith.

John
15-07-2008, 07:30
Also if u have the money check out Keith AlWith the Whest you can alter gain to adjust to Cart. Speak to James at Whest he is very helpful and will either put u in touch with a dealer or do a home demo himself. The ps30r is a lot better than the 30r I took it over to Vic who makes the Terminator tracking arm and he reckons its the best solid state he heard and he did not like the ps20
Ps I have no connection with the company
pps
Also worth checking out Keith offer to hear the Allinic its one of those u either love or hate

John
18-07-2008, 19:15
Just anthoter thought the thought this little phono stage has been getting rave reviews everywhers but only worth it if you can go fully balanced
http://www.aqvox.de/phono.html
Think Walrus maybe able to demo I remember talking to Gary of Acoustic Perfection and he was planning in getting one so maybe worth contacting him as well
John

Mike Reed
18-07-2008, 21:04
Thanks, John, but I've always been a bit unbalanced !

Yes; the Whest has a good reputation, but I'm not quite sure what you're saying about the '30'. Oddly, there's a brand new one advertised on HiFi4Sale. Marco recommends the '20', and reviews are good, too.

Trouble is, there are SO many phono stages around nowadays; didn't realise the vinyl revival was THAT great!

John
20-07-2008, 10:29
Listen to the 30r its the updated version of the 20 a lot cleaner http://www.whestaudio.co.uk/s-product.asp?ProductID=13

gjm
18-06-2013, 21:50
Aww, Mike! 12 months ago I would have popped 'round with my JLTi. It is a stunning piece of kit. One of the least assuming and anonymous items to go on a rack, but it really does deliver the goods.
Clive has heard it, but I don't know if he'll remember. Perhaps have a word with him and see what he says?

Marco
19-06-2013, 06:33
Hi "gjm",

I'm not sure why you're resurrecting this ancient thread, but since you were last on AoS, we now ask that all members provide their real first name and approximate geographical location, and include those in their profile. Therefore, I'd be obliged if you complied with this request on you next visit. Cheers! :cool:

Marco.

The Grand Wazoo
19-06-2013, 07:05
....Also a quick visit to post something in the Welcome section is about 5 years overdue!

Marco
19-06-2013, 07:09
Indeed :)

Marco.

Oldpinkman
19-06-2013, 13:53
Since this ancient thread has been resurrected I find my breath a little taken away, and a need to persuade my mate OJ to lift his head and think about a PIP workover. 2000 for a phone stage, 5000 for a line preamp. Is there a market at that price? And has anybody lured to this thread heard this sort of kit and a Pip 2 ? Just so I know whether its worth wandering out to listen to it. And not even bottles.

gjm
19-06-2013, 20:46
Hi "gjm",

I'm not sure why you're resurrecting this ancient thread, but since you were last on AoS, we now ask that all members provide their real first name and approximate geographical location, and include those in their profile. Therefore, I'd be obliged if you complied with this request on you next visit. Cheers! :cool:

Marco.
Sorry Marco - completely inadvertent, I assure you! I'd neglected to note the date of the last post.

How embarrassing... :doh:

I'll update my profile shortly.

Marco
20-06-2013, 15:41
No problem. While you're at it, as Chris mentioned, please pop into the Welcome area and introduce yourself to our community, telling what system you use and what music you like, as that is also now expected of all our members. Cheers! :cool:

Marco.

Marco
21-06-2013, 06:53
:popcorn: :popcorn:

Marco.