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Thread: A tale of three phono stages

  1. #1
    Join Date: May 2016

    Location: Gloucestershire

    Posts: 350
    I'm Ian.

    Default A tale of three phono stages

    Having replaced my Leema Pulse including built in phono stage with a Ming Da Piccolo valve amp without I've been trying out some phono stages. For background my cartridge is a low output Zyx 50 Bloom moving coil mounted on a 12" Jelco arm on my rebuilt JVC QL-7



    Although I've listened to several albums with all three stages I'll restrict comments to two, Emiliana Torrini's Fisherman's Woman - mainly acoustic and The XX's Coexist, male and female vocals with lots of electronic effects from Jamie XX.

    First up and taking advantage of their 14 day sale or return policy is the little Tisbury Audio Domino at 139 + p&p. Second Alan's Firebottle OTP Mk2 - in a Mk1 case so a little price reduction but normally 300 and finally Mark Manwaring-White's of Ming Da UK Audio Detail NV-06 at 1000.



    The Tisbury, on the left above is a mm/mc stage and was used on it's highest mc gain setting. In use there was only a faint hiss with ear up to the drivers so that's a good start. :smiley: An AC transormer in a wall wart supplies the power so the small box itself is very light but nicely made. Emiliana's vocals were both clear and delicate with clear diction and good emotion. Acoustic guitar was similarly clear with good body. Soundstage was impressively wide with decent if not exceptional depth as shown by The XX'x album. Bass was good but maybe a little light. For the money this is an absolute bargain, I've heard more expensive stages with less clarity and involvement - very nice indeed.

    http://www.tisburyaudio.co.uk/domino-phono-preamplifier

    Next up the Firebottle OTP Mk2. This is an op-amp affair which Alan has spent a lot of time tweaking and it gets rave reviews and is well known here. It's moving coil only but I think it can be had with either of both MM/MC Alan was kind enough to lend me this stage which would be a bit cheaper than the current model in a more upmarket case. Emiliana's vocals were comparable to the Tisbury's rendition while acoustic guitar had a touch more body. The XX showed that the OTP has more bass being both deeper and stronger and also a more impressive soundstage pushing some ambient information way back. A worthwhile upgrade over the Tisbury then. Oh, once I sorted a bit of RF interference for a SKy Q box, it's virtually silent in operation.

    http://theartofsound.net/forum/showt...bottle-OTP-MK2

    Finally the Audio Detail from Mark.



    Most obvious difference is that this has a separate power supply. Less obvious are the six Nuvistor valves inside - yes the is a valve phono stage. For information this was one of Mark's prototypes, the case coloured to match a rather scary pair of speakers resident in his listening room in Malvern. It is hand-built by Mark and not a Ming Da product. Given the price difference over the other two stages you would hope for a considerable improvement in sound quality. I wasn't disappointed. :grin:. Emiliana's voice retained the delicate quality already noted but now their was even more emotion present. Her guitar sounded wonderful with real body and resonance. Soundstage went even deeper such that ambient effects seemed to be coming from way way behind the speakers - not quite in Painswick a mile across the valley but not far off :grin:. To be honest soundstage was the least of the things that impressed me, good as it is. It was the shear presence of the vocals with minute nuances making the recording seem more real than ever. The XX album showed what a strong grip Mark's stage has on bass - even deeper and stronger than the OTP but without a hint of overhang. A brilliant performance to my ears, the best phonostage I've ever heard. Did I mention, it's exceptionally quiet in operation.

    http://www.mingda.co.uk/audio-detail...ono-stage.html

    So there you have it, no great surprise here, all three are great stages for the money and all could probably embarrass others costing much more. This is by nature a subjective comparison in my listening room with my gear and my ears. I'll be taking the OTP and the Audio Detail to the Kegworth meet if you want to hear for yourself.

    Declaration, just in case some of you think I have a vested interest in any of the above.
    I've owned the Tisbury passive pre in the past and thought it good which is why I thought their Domino worth a try.
    I know Alan Firebottle, he's been to my house for a couple of gatherings and impressed us all with his valve amps.
    I've met Mark on a few occasions when he has checked over my two Ming Da Piccolo amps. I am buying this NV-06 at a considerable discount as although the innards are bang up to date the cases are a little travel worn having been to a few shows.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 5,861
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Nice write up there. Will be interested to see how things pan out at the Kegworth show. I understand the Vivant is going and there may even be an appearance of the Wizard phonostage i have here. Hopefully a wide range of Phonostages can be tested and evaluated!!
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK5 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Wizard Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken & Tesla Valves)
    Digital: NONE
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 & Monarchy Audio SM-70 Class A Amplifier
    Cables: Fisual S-Flex Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  3. #3
    Join Date: May 2016

    Location: Gloucestershire

    Posts: 350
    I'm Ian.

    Default

    Yep, Alan's already told me he fancies a shootout to include the Vivant - certainly a fairer comparison but I hope I haven't given the impression that the OTL isn't well worth the money - it certainly is a good stage for the money and probably a lot more. I'll only be there on the Saturday in the Lenco Heaven room and I'm hoping Alan will be there at the same time.

  4. #4
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 5,861
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ianlenco View Post
    Yep, Alan's already told me he fancies a shootout to include the Vivant - certainly a fairer comparison but I hope I haven't given the impression that the OTL isn't well worth the money - it certainly is a good stage for the money and probably a lot more. I'll only be there on the Saturday in the Lenco Heaven room and I'm hoping Alan will be there at the same time.
    Not at all!, The OTP isnt designed to rival 1k Phonostages. It's a very good phonostage for the money. Absolutely agree.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK5 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Wizard Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken & Tesla Valves)
    Digital: NONE
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 & Monarchy Audio SM-70 Class A Amplifier
    Cables: Fisual S-Flex Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  5. #5
    Join Date: Nov 2010

    Location: Yorkshire

    Posts: 7,232
    I'm AnDreW.

    Default

    I'd love you try out my Firebottle modded EAR 834p clone, it's fantastic but gets even better with a head amp.
    SS CD Teac VRDS25X(Audiotuned) DAC Caiman SEG+15V PSU DECK 1210 Mat Analog Studio Crystal Mods MN Base/Bearing/Platter+Ebony arm Board Feet Isonoe PSU Paul Hynes SR7EHD-27XL/DCSXL Ag DC lead/Jaeger(low-impedance) connector/3 StageRegs/Recapped PCB+No Pitch/Strobe/Light ARM SME V(Kondo Ag Rewire&Tags) MC Cadenza Black CABLES Arm Yannis SPD-4 IC Yannis 222 Litz+Ag bullets Power WAR PRE ATC SCA2 SPEAKERS ATC 50ASL STANDS Atacama PHONO Sugden Masterclass PA4 SUT Ortofon ST80SE POWER PSAudio P10

    Valve PRECroft Epoch(Mega Modded) AMP Sondex S100 SPEAKERS Tannoy 15"MG+RFC Warwick cabs+ Reference XO DECK Garrard301 Mat Teunto Bearing 401 Plinth Moldovan Arms 3009/3012(Ikeda Ag wired) PSUEagle+Tachometer MCAg Meister SPU v2 CABLES Arm Yannis 420.5 Litz+ Speaker VdH 6mm Blue IC Oyaide FTVS-510 AgWBT 0110Ag Phonostage Paradise (4 Box)


  6. #6
    Join Date: May 2016

    Location: Gloucestershire

    Posts: 350
    I'm Ian.

    Default

    Well, as I'm Yorkshire born and bred I still get up there from time to time to see relatives - but then it's a big place! Old North Riding by any chance?

  7. #7
    Join Date: Nov 2010

    Location: Yorkshire

    Posts: 7,232
    I'm AnDreW.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ianlenco View Post
    Well, as I'm Yorkshire born and bred I still get up there from time to time to see relatives - but then it's a big place! Old North Riding by any chance?
    OOOOOHHHHHH the posh bit!!!! No, I'm afraid I'm in the slumlands of West Yorkshire.
    SS CD Teac VRDS25X(Audiotuned) DAC Caiman SEG+15V PSU DECK 1210 Mat Analog Studio Crystal Mods MN Base/Bearing/Platter+Ebony arm Board Feet Isonoe PSU Paul Hynes SR7EHD-27XL/DCSXL Ag DC lead/Jaeger(low-impedance) connector/3 StageRegs/Recapped PCB+No Pitch/Strobe/Light ARM SME V(Kondo Ag Rewire&Tags) MC Cadenza Black CABLES Arm Yannis SPD-4 IC Yannis 222 Litz+Ag bullets Power WAR PRE ATC SCA2 SPEAKERS ATC 50ASL STANDS Atacama PHONO Sugden Masterclass PA4 SUT Ortofon ST80SE POWER PSAudio P10

    Valve PRECroft Epoch(Mega Modded) AMP Sondex S100 SPEAKERS Tannoy 15"MG+RFC Warwick cabs+ Reference XO DECK Garrard301 Mat Teunto Bearing 401 Plinth Moldovan Arms 3009/3012(Ikeda Ag wired) PSUEagle+Tachometer MCAg Meister SPU v2 CABLES Arm Yannis 420.5 Litz+ Speaker VdH 6mm Blue IC Oyaide FTVS-510 AgWBT 0110Ag Phonostage Paradise (4 Box)


  8. #8
    Join Date: May 2016

    Location: Gloucestershire

    Posts: 350
    I'm Ian.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by REXTON View Post
    OOOOOHHHHHH the posh bit!!!! No, I'm afraid I'm in the slumlands of West Yorkshire.
    Yeah, I'm dead posh

  9. #9
    Join Date: Aug 2013

    Location: London

    Posts: 96
    I'm Ked.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ianlenco View Post
    Having replaced my Leema Pulse including built in phono stage with a Ming Da Piccolo valve amp without I've been trying out some phono stages. For background my cartridge is a low output Zyx 50 Bloom moving coil mounted on a 12" Jelco arm on my rebuilt JVC QL-7



    Although I've listened to several albums with all three stages I'll restrict comments to two, Emiliana Torrini's Fisherman's Woman - mainly acoustic and The XX's Coexist, male and female vocals with lots of electronic effects from Jamie XX.

    First up and taking advantage of their 14 day sale or return policy is the little Tisbury Audio Domino at 139 + p&p. Second Alan's Firebottle OTP Mk2 - in a Mk1 case so a little price reduction but normally 300 and finally Mark Manwaring-White's of Ming Da UK Audio Detail NV-06 at 1000.



    The Tisbury, on the left above is a mm/mc stage and was used on it's highest mc gain setting. In use there was only a faint hiss with ear up to the drivers so that's a good start. :smiley: An AC transormer in a wall wart supplies the power so the small box itself is very light but nicely made. Emiliana's vocals were both clear and delicate with clear diction and good emotion. Acoustic guitar was similarly clear with good body. Soundstage was impressively wide with decent if not exceptional depth as shown by The XX'x album. Bass was good but maybe a little light. For the money this is an absolute bargain, I've heard more expensive stages with less clarity and involvement - very nice indeed.

    http://www.tisburyaudio.co.uk/domino-phono-preamplifier

    Next up the Firebottle OTP Mk2. This is an op-amp affair which Alan has spent a lot of time tweaking and it gets rave reviews and is well known here. It's moving coil only but I think it can be had with either of both MM/MC Alan was kind enough to lend me this stage which would be a bit cheaper than the current model in a more upmarket case. Emiliana's vocals were comparable to the Tisbury's rendition while acoustic guitar had a touch more body. The XX showed that the OTP has more bass being both deeper and stronger and also a more impressive soundstage pushing some ambient information way back. A worthwhile upgrade over the Tisbury then. Oh, once I sorted a bit of RF interference for a SKy Q box, it's virtually silent in operation.

    http://theartofsound.net/forum/showt...bottle-OTP-MK2

    Finally the Audio Detail from Mark.



    Most obvious difference is that this has a separate power supply. Less obvious are the six Nuvistor valves inside - yes the is a valve phono stage. For information this was one of Mark's prototypes, the case coloured to match a rather scary pair of speakers resident in his listening room in Malvern. It is hand-built by Mark and not a Ming Da product. Given the price difference over the other two stages you would hope for a considerable improvement in sound quality. I wasn't disappointed. :grin:. Emiliana's voice retained the delicate quality already noted but now their was even more emotion present. Her guitar sounded wonderful with real body and resonance. Soundstage went even deeper such that ambient effects seemed to be coming from way way behind the speakers - not quite in Painswick a mile across the valley but not far off :grin:. To be honest soundstage was the least of the things that impressed me, good as it is. It was the shear presence of the vocals with minute nuances making the recording seem more real than ever. The XX album showed what a strong grip Mark's stage has on bass - even deeper and stronger than the OTP but without a hint of overhang. A brilliant performance to my ears, the best phonostage I've ever heard. Did I mention, it's exceptionally quiet in operation.

    http://www.mingda.co.uk/audio-detail...ono-stage.html

    So there you have it, no great surprise here, all three are great stages for the money and all could probably embarrass others costing much more. This is by nature a subjective comparison in my listening room with my gear and my ears. I'll be taking the OTP and the Audio Detail to the Kegworth meet if you want to hear for yourself.

    Declaration, just in case some of you think I have a vested interest in any of the above.
    I've owned the Tisbury passive pre in the past and thought it good which is why I thought their Domino worth a try.
    I know Alan Firebottle, he's been to my house for a couple of gatherings and impressed us all with his valve amps.
    I've met Mark on a few occasions when he has checked over my two Ming Da Piccolo amps. I am buying this NV-06 at a considerable discount as although the innards are bang up to date the cases are a little travel worn having been to a few shows.
    I have spend numerous sessions with Mark listening to his horns, ming Da, and audiodetail. His audio detail is a very nice phono.

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