Vista Audio has introduced an extension of their Phono-1 phono preamplifier. Phono-2 ($399) has no capacitors in the signal path and RIAA compensation is executed with high precision film capacitors and low noise resistors. More »
Audio Hungary got in touch to tell us more about their Qualiton brand, their products, philosophy and their history. “Audio Hungary Ltd., owners of the Qualiton brand, started off in 2012. This essentially came about when they purchased Univox Ltd, a manufacturer of industrial PA equipment. Without wanting to make this a lesson in economic history: the company started back in the 1940’s operating under the names of “Audio” “EAG “and BEAG until the 1990’s. That was when Univox was created from a manufacturing unit of BEAG (Budapest Electro-Acoustics Factory). BEAG used to be one of the largest players in the industry in the Eastern bloc, having also supplied the entire PA system for the Moscow Olympics back in 1980”. More »
High End hifi shop, KJ West One are teaming up with Vertere to bring you the first of their new Vinyl showcase evenings entitled ‘Strictly Vinyl’. More »
In 2013 DS Audio launched the world’s only optical phono cartridge, the DS-W1. A further-advanced flagship model, the Master 1, followed in 2016. Now, the company is launching a new entry level design: the DS 002, drawing on innovations from the Master 1 while offering a more affordable way in to optical cartridge technology.
At the end of 2009, B.M.C. Audio presented the MCCI Phono preamplifier, with a new concept for proceeding MC-cartridge’s signals. More »
Channel Islands Audio, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary, have announced the release of their PEQ 1 MKII MM/MC Phono Preamplifier. More »
The rPhono is the latest addition to Arcam’s Black Box rSeries. Previewed at CES and launching to the public at Bristol’s hifi Show at the end of February, the Arcam rPhono is designed specifically to upgrade an in-built phono stage or to add a turntable input to an existing amplifier. More »
Lancashire based Rothwell Audio Products Ltd have announced the release of their Signature Two discrete transistor moving coil phonostage which is the result of over twenty-five years’ experience in the design of these devices. Within the phonostage itself, there are neither transformers nor op-amps resulting in, say Rothwell, “a stunningly clear aural experience”. More »
Exposure Electronics has launched its new ‘XM’ series of hifi components. Responding directly to the resurgence of vinyl amid a digital age, the series offers a solution for those who seek performance across multiple media but don’t want the size or cost of their system to spiral out of control. Kicking off the series, the XM5 integrated amplifier includes both a phonostage and a DAC in a compact half-width size. More »
Constellation Audio has announced the introduction of the new Revelation Series of components, and their new Centaur II 500 Stereo Amplifier, at CES 2017. CEO Dr. Murali Murugasu challenged his team of designers and engineers to develop a new series of Constellation Audio components that “could deliver the essence of the Performance Series”. More »
McIntosh’s new MP100, the first dedicated phono preamplifier from the legendary US brand and one featuring USB outputs for (24-bit) ‘rips’ from vinyl collections has arrived in the UK . More »
Zesto Audio has announced the debut of their newest product, the Andros Téssera Phonostage. The official launch will take place at the annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, Colorado USA, October 7-9, 2016 in exhibit room 6011 at the Marriott Tech Centre.
Téssera means 4 in Greek. This newest product from Zesto Audio is aptly named as it is designed to work with up to 4 different tonearms or turntables. George Counnas, President and Design Engineer for Zesto Audio says, “There are so many great specialized phono cartridges available today, I wanted to design a phonostage that was easy to use, while providing the necessary inputs to accommodate multiple tonearms and be able to save the settings when you switch between channels.”
The Andros Téssera designed with 100% tube circuitry and no solid state devices anywhere in the signal path and all switching is done with reed relays.
Some of the new features include true transformer balance outputs driven by dedicated output tubes. The Andros Téssera has a new circuit design that is partnered with significantly upgraded larger MC step-up transformers to capture the most delicate signals in the grooves.
The Téssera is designed with 2 completely independent dual mono channels that can accommodate 1 MM and 1 MC per channel. It is easily adjustable “on the fly” 12 position MC load per channel without clicks or pops, so you can hear the changes, as well as save the settings when you switch between tonearms. One of the unique features is the 4 MC ground switches which helps to eliminate those noisy ground loops.
Specialist UK Distributor Sound Design Distribution Ltd has signed a UK distribution deal with Mola-Mola. Mola-Mola is the brainchild of Bruno Putzeys, “he wunderkind of Class-D technology” originator of Universal class-D (UcD) in 2001 while at Phillips and as chief tech guru at Hypex, responsible for the development of its game-changing NCore Class-D amplifier technology.
Presented in strikingly distinctive rippled all-aluminium enclosures the ‘Makua’ Control Amplifier, complete with modular DAC and phono options, and ‘Kaluga’ Monoblock power amplifiers will be the first Mola-Mola designs to be made available to UK audiophiles through Sound Design Distribution Ltd.
The Makua is a fully balanced gain stage and routing matrix, accommodating optional DAC and phono stage modules and programmable via a dedicated App through USB or Bluetooth to access any combination of channel, processing and routing. Via the phono stage option for instance, vinyl-lovers can connect up to five turntables and program the settings individually for each. All five inputs are switchable between XLR and floating RCA connections, and all can be assigned as either phono or line.
All stages in the Makua employ discrete amplifier modules using a little known topology called “single-ended driven differential”, which prevents noise from propagating all the way through to the outputs (paralleled for bi-amping). The relay-based volume control directly controls the gain of the output stage.
- 5 balanced and 5 unbalanced inputs, all routable through optional processor boards like the phono stage and DAC
- 2 parallel outputs for bi-amping
- 4 programmable trigger outputs
- Distortion at maximum signal level (THD, IMD): negligible – estimated around -150dB
- Bandwidth >200 kHz
- Dimensions: 420mm(W) x 110mm (H) x 345mm (D). Depth includes volume knob and connectors
- Weight: 11kg
Based on Bruno Putzeys’ Ncore technology the Kaluga amplifier uses a circuit from Mola-Mola derived from the Hypex NC1200 amplifier, featuring an audiophile layout of short, isolated signal paths and eliminating board-to-board connectors in favour of star-quad cables soldered directly to the circuit board. The input stage on a separate circuit board uses the same discrete buffers as those found in the Makua pre-amplifier. The redesigned output filter uses monolithic capacitors.
- Output power: 400 W/8 ohm; 700W/4 ohm; 1200W/2 ohm
- Unweighted Signal/Noise Ratio: 128 dB
- Distortion (THD, IMD): <0.003 % (all frequencies and power levels)
- Bandwidth: >50 kHz
- Balanced and unbalanced input
- 2 pairs of Furutech binding posts, bi-wired directly to the amplifier PCB using Kubala·Sosna cable
- Dimensions: 200mm (W) x 110mm (H) x 335mm (D). Depth includes speaker terminals
- Weight: 7kg
The DAC from Moma-Mola has been designed from the ground up using circuits and digital algorithms developed entirely in house. The converter is a three board stack that fits in one of the option slots in the MAKUA preamp. On the first board, all incoming digital audio is upsampled to 3.125MHz/32 bits and converted to noise shaped PWM. The two remaining boards are mono DACs, in which a discrete 32-stage FIR DAC and a single-stage 4th order filtering I/V converter convert the PWM into analogue with a 140dB SNR. This is near the theoretical limit for 24-bit files and far beyond that of even quad-speed DSD.
- Inputs: XLR, Optical, USB and Bluetooth (A2DP)
- Supported formats: PCM up to 384 kHz /32 bits (>192 kHz and >24 bits only via USB); DSD up to quad speed (DDSD and up only via USB)
- Performance: Signal to Noise Ratio: 140 dB (standalone version), 130dB (preamp option board); THD, IMD: negligible – estimated around -150dB.
- Bandwidth: Up to 80 kHz. Choice of sharp or slow upsampling filters, minimum or linear phase.
- Integrated jitter: <1 ps from 10 Hz upwards, <300 fs from 1 kHz upwards.
- Jitter rejection: >80 dB at 1 Hz after 20 seconds of lock.
A standalone version of the Mola-Mola DAC is in the final stages of development
The RIAA add-on for the MAKUA Preamp has MC/MM input stages are optimised for current noise and voltage noise respectively.
Unlike the more common arrangement of MC head-amp feeding the MM stage, the two stages are fully independent, realising an equally short signal path for both. Input gain is switchable in 5dB steps over a 40dB range. Input resistance and capacitance are individually switchable. Available EQ settings cover practically all known cutting curves ever used, including most 78RPM.
UK retail price (inc VAT):
Makua – £7,299; Kaluga (each) – £4,999; DAC board for Makua – £3,999; Phono stage for Makua – £1,699
Availability: September 2016
iota-audio-design have been in touch with Hifi Pig to tell us about their phono stage. The name may be new to you but hey have a company history that goes back more than 25 years and many of their products are being revised, upgraded and improved.
Their balanced phono stages have evolved over a very long time, the original was created in 1995, and now with the 2016-Rev II versions the company say that these “reference grade products” have taken another step forward.
iota Signature Reference Phono Stage
2016-Rev II…………..£ 1,495
The iota Signature Reference Balanced phono stage in Rev II 2016 form is now available. These brand new two box units come with a full 3 year parts and labour warranty.
iota Median Phono Stage
2016-Rev II …£ 625
iota are offering an opportunity for all existing owners of iota Signature Reference, and the iota Median balanced phono stages to upgrade any previous version of the products to the recently released REV II-2016 versions. The cost of the upgrade is just £240.00. This includes any service or repair that may be required to the phono stage or power supply, and this will apply whether you are the original owner or you purchased the equipment second hand. Following this significant performance upgrade the re-calibrated item will also then benefit from a full one year guarantee, whatever its age.
McIntosh has just announced three new products: the C2600 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier, the MP100 Phono Preamplifier and the MVP901 Audio Video Player.
C2600 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
Building upon the C2300 and C2500, the C2600 incorporates the best of the previous models while adding McIntosh’s advanced digital audio section and upgraded tube circuitry design. The C2600 is a versatile preamplifier with 16 inputs to connect virtually all analogue or digital music sources. Analogue inputs include 3 balanced, 4 unbalanced plus 1 each dedicated Moving Magnet and Moving Coil phono inputs. Digital inputs consist of 3 optical, 2 coax, 1 USB and 1 McIntosh exclusive MCT connection. Three sets of balanced and unbalanced analogue outputs connect the C2600 to the rest of the system. The C2600 features a 32-bit/384kHz, DSD digital-to-analog-converter (DAC) and is capable of decoding and playing DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 plus DXD 352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz. For headphone listening, there is the addition of Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®). Home Theater Pass Thru allows for seamless integration into a multi-channel home theatre system.
MP100 Phono Preamplifier
The MP100 is the first dedicated phono preamplifier from McIntosh and is designed to help both new and experienced vinyl lovers get the most fidelity, performance and – most importantly – enjoyment from their albums. Like all McIntosh products, the MP100 is packed with features including: Moving Coil and Moving Magnet inputs; Moving Coil and Moving Magnet adjustable loading (6 settings each); balanced and unbalanced analogue outputs; optical, coax and USB digital outputs; and a Mono switch for when playing mono records to decrease noise and play the signal correctly. There are many ways to integrate the MP100 into an audio system. If someone is just building their system, it can become the main part of the setup. For someone who already has a system with an older but working preamp, the MP100 is a way to add modern phono features. For home theatre systems where a turntable is desired, the MP100 is an easy way to add full phono preamp capabilities without having to get a full-sized stereo preamp that would undoubtedly duplicate many of the home theatre processor’s features. When used with a properly configured conversion program, the MP100 can “rip” the records to a computer via USB to produce high quality digital files. The digital outputs are fixed at 24-bit/96kHz to capture the full dynamic range of a record while optimising digital file size. If an album has a very loud section, the digital output clipping protection prevents harsh sounding and speaker damaging distortion from being recorded to the file. Compact in size at just 3” tall, it shares the same 11.5” narrow chassis design as the MXA70 Integrated Audio System, MHA100 Headphone Amp and MB50 Streaming Audio Player to help build a cohesive system. It can also easily be added to a system comprised of standard, wider width chassis.
MVP901 Audio Video Player
With its ability to upsample 1080P and lower resolutions to 4K Ultra HD, McIntosh MVP901 can breathe new life into a vast movie library and is a perfect complement to the 4K compatible McIntosh MX122 or MX160 home theatre processor. Built in decoding of Dolby® True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio™ plus the MVP901 can also pass the latest object-based 3D audio formats such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X™ and Auro-3D® to the compatible processor, it fully supports 3D Blu-ray discs while state of the art processing power allows for ultra-fast playback start speeds. A variety of advanced adjustments can be made to colour, image detail and video performance to improve picture quality. Not limited to just movies, the MVP901 can be also used for listening to music. CDs, SACDs and DVD-Audio discs can be enjoyed via an 8-channel, 32-bit/192kHz DAC that’s used in stereo quad balanced mode to produce high fidelity audio. The HDMI output can be used for multi-channel music playback. A triple laser optical pickup uses one objective lens for the different wavelengths and is optimised for various disc types. Three USB ports allow playback of audio and video files from flash drives. Network streaming and BD-Live is available through the ethernet connection.
Pricing* and Availability
Orders will be accepted soon for all three products with shipping anticipated in August. Target retail price for each (VAT, shipping and any customs duties related to current standards of individual countries are excluded):
C2600: $7,000 USD
MP100: $2,000 USD
MVP901: $5,500 USD
*Pricing subject to change.
Dominic Marsh and Ian Ringstead take the very well specced £699 Pro-Ject MaiA DS integrated amplifier for a ride and rather enjoy it. More »
Mytek Digital has announced the release of the MQA™ firmware update which enables the new Brooklyn DAC/ Headphone/Phono Preamplifier to decode all MQA files — in addition to all other formats, including PCM 384k/32bit and DSD256. After Meridian, Mytek is the second MQA licensee to release the firmware update with the MQA technology.
MQA is an end-to-end technology that captures and delivers master quality audio in a file that’s small enough to stream or download. And because it’s fully authenticated, the listener can be sure they are hearing exactly what the artist recorded and approved in the studio.
Later this year, availability of high-resolution music streaming services using MQA format is expected.
In a move that is rather unusual in a $2,000 DAC, Mytek has engineered the very Brooklyn DAC to also include a Phono Preamplifier and Headphone Amplifier.
The Remton 383 Mk 2 Phonostage is made in Prague, uses a trio of ECC83s valves and costs a smidgen over £1000, Janine Elliot tries it in her system for Hifi Pig. More »
Graham Slee has just released a new flagship phono stage (we’ve been using their Elevator EXP MC Step-up Amplifier and Reflex XM phono stage to excellent effect for some time). Called the Accession, it’s a moving magnet sensitivity device with a new take on equalisation and many useful features for the serious vinyl enthusiast.
Firstly it doesn’t do RIAA equalisation like any other phono stage – it does it quite differently. It recognises that magnetic cartridges have what’s called a constant velocity output. In other words their output isn’t flat like most people think – it rises at 6db per octave – and so the cartridge plays its own frequency response as well as playing the record’s frequency response.
The Accession does the RIAA EQ by first equalising the cartridge, then equalising the record, which makes sense seeing these two things came about at different times. Part of the EQ is being caused at the very moment the record is in play (by the cartridge). The other part of the EQ happened at the cutting lathe (many years before??).
Over 99% of phono stages work by equalising the combination of both curves as if the record was recorded with that. No matter how it’s achieved it leads to some interaction of filter slopes requiring “empirical tuning”. With the Accession there is no interaction – calculated values result in the correct response.
It also means that the records own EQ can be switched off using its “Flat/CA” switch to give a constant amplitude response, and so the user can use software EQ reconstruction when digitising via a digital to analogue converter. It also means that acoustic records will be reproduced as flat as they were cut.
Not only that, but as well as having RIAA record equalisation, it also has two other EQ settings: “British” for FFRR LPs and EPs; and “American” for NAB equalised records – great for older mono vinyls. Two front panel switches provide these functions and a third front panel switch selects stereo or mono (left-right sum).
Volume Control & Two Outputs
There are two outputs, one which is fixed level and the other which is via the Accession’s volume (or level) control.
This gives the user the ability to record or digitise (via an ADC) from one output whilst listening on the other. The volume control can be used to set just the right level for an ADC to prevent clipping, or to adjust the signal on quiet records.
But its other use could be for a frugal vinyl only system where the Accession will oblige by driving a power amp straight from its volume controlled output. The fixed level output can be used to supply a headphone amplifier. Graham Slee HiFi System Components can also supply suitable power amps: the Proprius monoblocks; and has a choice of headphone amplifiers.
But this isn’t all. Four capacitive load settings allow for fine tuning so you can extract the best quality sound from your cartridge.
Combine the Accession with Graham Slee’s Elevator EXP step up amplifier and all of its features are available to moving coil cartridges. The Accession is only supplied with Graham Slee’s best power supply, the PSU1, so it automatically performs to the maximum.
The Accession costs £800 and is available with either black or silver casing from Graham Slee whose ads you will find on this site.
|Input and output connectors||360° shielded RCA/phono sockets, hard gold plated|
|Input sensitivity range||1.6mV to 7.2mV (recommended)|
|Output range (for above inputs)||190mV to 857mV|
|Maximum input||35mV rms|
|Maximum output||5.2V rms|
|Gain||41.5dB (119) at 1kHz|
|Input impedance||47k Ohms plus: 100pF / 220pf / 320pf / out|
|Output impedance (driving impedance)||750 Ohm fixed / 470 Ohm variable (will drive 10k Ohms and above)|
|Noise at output||-66dB Quasi-peak 20Hz to 20kHz|
|Distortion||typically 0.01% 20Hz to 20kHz|
|RIAA accuracy||± 0.3dB|
|Frequency response||<20Hz – 45kHz (-3dB corrected to RIAA)|
|Power supply||remotely powered using PSU1 linear power supply|
|Size (approx.)||W: 107 x H: 50 x D: 195 (mm) inc. jacks|
Mytek Digital’s “Brooklyn,” Digital-to-Analogue Converter (DAC), linestage, and headphone amplifier is now shipping. (US MSRP $1,995)
Says Michał Jurewicz, Founder and President of Mytek Digital: “The Brooklyn DAC is one of the world’s first stand-alone, high-performance DAC with MQA® technology. It’s a new design from the ground up, with a brand new 32bit/384k USB Class2, driverless on Mac and all Linux streamers, and offers superior sound thanks to the new generation Sabre chipset. It’s ready for upcoming hi-res MQA streaming (up to 384kHz), and it plays all digital formats including DSD256, with a theoretical dynamic range of 130dB. The Brooklyn also offers high-quality analoue input stages (both line-level and MM/MC phono), and balanced headphone outputs”.
Prime among the Brooklyn’s features is hardware-based decoding for MQA® (Master Quality Authenticated) with no need to increase bandwidth beyond what is needed for CD-Quality streaming. Says MQA creator Bob Stuart, “You can take an MQA-encoded file, play it anywhere, and it will sound better than CD.”
MQA files are backwards compatible; they can be played back without decoding, and the “result is better than CD-Quality”. However, when properly decoded, MQA files deliver the sound of the original master recording that the artist approved in the studio.
Mytek’s Brooklyn also offers:
- Digital Inputs: AES/EBU, S/PDIF x 2, USB2 Class 2 (32 bit integer, no driver for Mac nor Linux Streamers), and Toslink/ADAT; also SDIF3 DSD, up to DSD256, on 2x S/PDIF.
- Built-in analogue preamplifier with stereo analogue RCA inputs selectable among Line Level, Moving Magnet, or Moving Coil phono.
- Stereo analogue outputs on RCA and XLR jacks (simultaneous).
- Word Clock (In and Out) on BNC jacks.
- Mytek’s proprietary Femtoclock GeneratorTMminimizes internal jitter, to below 1 picosecond.
- Dual-mono headphone playback, with high-current amplifier (500mA, 6 Watts) designed for hard-to-drive headphones. Optional adapter (2 x ¼-inch phone plugs to 4-pin XLR) enables balanced headphone operation.
- Volume control is selectable, either by an analogue attenuator with separate settings for headphone and main outputs, or by a 32-bit based digital attenuator with 1dB steps.
The Brooklyn comes with a worldwide power supply and infrared remote control. The Brooklyn is universal-remote-control capable, and can accept external 12V DC power or battery. The Brooklyn’s warranty is two years.
Mytek’s Brooklyn is available now at a US MSRP of $1,995.
Pass Labs’ Xs Phono Preamplifier costs $45 000 and is a dual-chassis, completely dual-mono phono stage (even the outboard power supply is entirely dual-mono, after the single power cord from the wall outlet).
Xs Phono was an in-house design exercise, developed over the course of over two years with the Pass Labs design team aiming at creating a new reference. Lead designer Wayne Colburn commented, “We tend to do well with products that we want for ourselves. Some of it is purely for us to have a reference.” The XsPhono improves upon Pass Labs’ XP-25 phono stage (US MSRP $10,600) in nearly every way.
Improved shielding (resulting in lower noise), more accurate RIAA compensation, and the use of custom-made capacitors and shock-mounted, gold-clad custom ceramic circuit boards designed for RF applications all contribute to moving the Xs Phono up “into a different league—lower noise, better dynamics, all those things” says Colburn.
The Xs Phono Has three pairs of inputs with each having its own separate, directly connected stereo phono stage with no switches or relays in the signal paths to the first amplification stages. The result is that the Xs Phono (including its dual-mono power supply) contains 13 circuit boards. The Xs Phono is, in effect, three separate phono stages housed in one chassis.
Pass Labs’ Xs Phono Dual-Chassis Phonostage is powered by its dual-mono outboard power supply, the chassis of which has a form factor identical to the XsPhono’s control chassis. The power-cord inlet connects to two totally independent left and right power supplies, each with its own transformer, filtering, and regulation. The control section has its own regulated power supply as well. The power-supply chassis connects to the Xs Phono’s control chassis by means of two power cables fitted with PowerCON locking connectors. The power supply has no on-off or Standby switch, in that the Xs Phono is designed to remain powered-up at all times.
On the front three large knobs control resistive loading, capacitive loading, and gain. Four small buttons provide for input selection, memory recall of settings for all three inputs, high-pass filter (rumble filter), and phono muting.
The Xs Phono allows selection of resistive loading between 30 Ohms and 47k-Ohms; capacitive loading between 100pF and 750pF; and gain between 56dB and 76dB. The active value will always be indicated by an illuminated LED.
The selectable/defeatable high-pass filter or rumble filter imposes a -3dB roll off from 20Hz and below, to remove unwanted sub-sonic frequencies. When the high-pass filter is not engaged, the Xs Phono’s low frequency extension is to below 5Hz.
Xs Phono can output a single-ended (RCA) signal, a balanced (XLR) signal, or both at the same time. This permits, for example, providing a signal to an analogue-to-digital converter or a digital-audio recorder at the same time as to a line stage or preamplifier.
Each of the Xs Phono three pairs of stereo inputs is served by a memory-recall function that saves the settings for resistance, capacitance, and gain. Once the optimal settings for a particular cartridge have been determined, pressing the “Save” button makes those settings the defaults for that input, always engaged upon the selection of that input.
The Stratos combines USB DAC with A/D converter, preamplifier, MC/MM phonostage and headphone amp in one surprisingly small, portable box. Built with the audiophile in mind, it supports PCM playback up to an impressive 32bit / 384kHz and DSD up to 11.2M.
If you’re looking to convert your vinyl or other analogue sources to digital, or to record web-streamed audio, the Stratos offers a range of options to help you obtain the best sonic results.
At the same time, if it’s a powerful headphone amplifier you’re after – one that can drive any pair of headphones on the market, again the Stratos delivers. Whether you use the latest generation of earbuds or the most dynamic audiophile headphones available, the Stratos will reveal the true character of your music.
The Stratos may be small, but it contains an amazing amount of technology…
ADL Stratos key features at a glance
- XMOS high speed USB 2.0 input.
- Audiophile-grade DAC which supports PCM playback up to 32bit / 384kHz and DSD up to 4x (11.2M).
- High performance A/D converter for recordings via analogue inputs, enabling conversion of analogue sources into high resolution 24bit / 192kHz digital audio files over a choice of USB, optical and coaxial digital outputs.
- In the case of vinyl recording, no need to worry about a phonostage: the Stratos includes the requisite input, with simple switching between moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) or line input.
- Electronic volume control allows use as a multi-functional digital and analogue preamplifier that can be connected direct to a power amp or active speakers. Volume control has a memory function, so volume can be set at different levels for each input (phono, line, USB).
- Headphone amplifier with ample drive for good headphones and its own volume control.
- Three two-channel headphone amplifiers, two of which power the XLR (4-pin) balanced output, while a third powers the 6.3mm stereo phone jack output. All three deliver superb drive capabilities, being able to drive headphones from 12 to 600 ohms at >120dB dynamic range.
- Convenient gain switch for recording attenuation: Adjust the recording attenuation to avoid overload distortion during recording: -6dB, 0dB or +6dB (Rec/db signal light comes on when input level exceeds circuit gain).
- External power supply; while a USB-powered device might be convenient, it won’t develop the power required for high resolution playback, so the Stratos features a dual power supply system: the 5V USB bus powers the input circuit only, while all other circuits are powered by an external 15V power adaptor.
The ADL Stratos is available now priced at £995 (including VAT).
Janine Elliot takes a listen to the £2200 Signature One transformer coupled Moving Coil Phono-Stage from well known British manufacturer Rothwell. More »
Bryston has announced the introduction of four compact analogue solutions for vinyl enthusiasts—three phono stage preamplifiers and a matching outboard power supply. These new small form factor devices join the BUC-1 (a digital to digital converter outputting asynchronous USB) and the BOT-1 (CD ripper and player for the Bryston digital music players) also constructed in the same compact chassis. The new phono preamplifiers all feature Bryston’s 20-year warranty and are expected to become available from authorized Bryston dealers in December, 2015.
In addition to a sustained interest in analogue records and related gear, consumer feedback on the look and practicality of Bryston’s first two compact devices was highly positive. “We have spoken to so many consumers out there who bought a quality A/V receiver and would now like to start playing records—but they have no phono stage,” explained Bryston VP James Tanner. “This lineup of analogue solutions addresses every possible need, delivering audiophile performance designed to fit on just about any A/V rack or shelf,” added Tanner. Bryston is also considering a DAC, power amplifier and preamplifier to complete the small chassis product line.
Completed prototypes of the new phono preamplifiers will be on display at 2015 CEDIA, Booth 7018.
The Bryston small enclosure phono preamplifiers include the model BP-2 MM (for moving magnet cartridges), the BP-2 MM/MC (for moving coil and moving magnet cartridges) and the TF-2 step-up transformer (for low-output moving coil cartridges). Both the MM and the MM/MC units require an outboard power supply called the PS-3, also constructed in a matching small chassis. Bryston customers who currently own a BP-26 preamplifier with the MPS-2 power supply can use the MPS-2 (instead of the PS-3) with either compact phono stage. The TF-2 requires no outboard power supply. The BP-2 MM has four settings (100-400 pF) to match the output of any moving magnet cartridge, and the TF-2 can be ordered with either 20dB of gain (for cartridges less than 45Ω) or 31dB of gain (for cartridges less than 5Ω).
Target MSRP Pricing: BP-2 MM $800, BP-2 MM/MC $1750, TF-2 $1500, PS-3 $1000
Janine Elliot takes a listen to the distinctly art-deco looking (and named) phono-preamplifier from Zontek in Poland costing €8990 and having three inputs, allowing for three arms on your turntable. More »
French company Devialet have taken the audio world by storm since they launched and Stuart Smith now takes a listen to their £5590 Ensemble package. More »
Schiit Audio goes vinyl with the release of the all-new Mani phono preamplifier, a flexible and inexpensive phono preamp, that really does look like it’s going to shake things up a little. The Mani phonostage has 4 different gain levels to accommodate virtually any cartridge from moving coil to Decca, plus selectable loading, for $129.
“With the recent resurgence of interest in vinyl, it makes sense to offer an affordable phono preamp that can handle pretty much any source,” said Mike Moffat, Co-Founder of Schiit Audio, and Mani’s designer.
Mani features a fully passive RIAA network with two separately switchable gain blocks, for 30, 42, 48, and 59dB settings. Schiit’s pre’ss release says that “Separate, low-noise and low-distortion amplifier stages mean low noise floor” and that “High-output cartridges, even the renowned Deccas, are easily accommodated, as are other moving magnet, moving coil, and low-output moving coil cartridges. This allows someone to experiment with a wide range of cartridges to fit their needs”.
“A lot of people ask me ‘why is the father of audiophile digital moving into analog now?'” Mike continued. “The truth is, I never really left. People forget there was a Theta Electronics before Theta Digital, and I did a lot of work on tubes, and on phono preamps. Now, it makes sense to come back to it with a really affordable, flexible, and great-sounding product.”
Like all Schiit products, Mani is made in the USA, with the vast majority of its total production cost going to companies manufacturing in the USA, and local assembly, testing, and support through Schiit’s Valencia, CA offices.
Mani is Norse for the personification of the moon, and is available now on the schiit.com website for $129.
The PS3 MkII is built onto two chassis, one for the power supply and another for the phonostage itself.The power supply features a very large power transformer, an EZ80 rectifier valve and two large chokes whilst two more valves: an EL84 controlled by an ECC83, regulate the supply to feed the phonostage.
The phonostage chassis features four ECC88 valves arranged in a no-feedback double cascade circuit designed to offer high gain and low noise with high resolution.Two inputs are provided, one for moving magnet (MM) cartridges and one configurable for either moving magnet or moving coil (MC) cartridges.The MC input uses Icon Audio’s own hand-wound moving coil transformers with mu-metal screening. The PS3 MkII’s output is driven by a 6SN7 valve. Wiring is point to point with silver plated copper wire.
The PS3 MkII’s front panel controls include a mono switch to reduce noise levels when listening to mono recordings and a volume control to allow direct connection to a power amplifier.
Every Icon Audio amplifier is finished and tested by the company’s own team of engineers in Leicester, UK.
Price is £1899.95 for the Moving Magnet version and £2099.95 for the Moving Magnet and Moving Coil version.
Exposure Electronics have announced the release of the 3010s2 phonostage. This all-new phonostage features a dual regulated power supply with regulation optimized for the different sections of the circuit. The input stage is based around interchangeable circuit boards, each being specifically tailored for either MM or MC cartridges to provide “uncompromised performance with both types of cartridge”.The input is fully configurable to ensure that the cartridge loading and gain is optimally set.
Key features a
- Fully discrete RIAA gain and equalisation derived from Exposure’s flagship MCX series.
- Advanced power supply featuring large custom made transformer and high capacity smoothing.
- Dual regulation for each power supply rail combines IC regulators on the main board and hybrid regulators on the phono board.
- MM or MC selected by plug-in board.
- Adjustable for gain and loading by jumper links.
Exposure 3010s2 Phonostage (MM or MC) £900
Exposure 3010s2 plug-in MM board £220
Exposure 3010s2 plug-in MC board £220
Aurorasounds’ is a high-end audio company from Yokohama, Japan. Designer and director Shinobu Karaki has 28 years experience working for Texas Instruments Japan Inc and is also a passionate musician, music teacher and an audiophile.
Aurorasounds’ latest development is a phono-stage called VIDA (Vinyl Disk Amplifier). The two box VIDA uses an LCR network for RIAA equalisation via Lundahl transformers combined with old-world craftsmanship offering “outstanding performance” and fully adjustable loading for both moving coil and moving magnet phono cartridges. The phonostage has no capacitors in its signal path and comes as standard with RCA inputs/outputs which can be upgraded to XLR connectors.
The VIDA also features a stereo/mono switch, a built in cartridge demagnetizer and a rumble filter.
Price is £3199.95
Timestep are not your average hi-fi manufacturer, they are also internationally renowned designers and manufacturers of state-of-the-art weather satellite systems of all things and now Timestep have announced the launch of the new T-01MC moving coil phono stage.
The T-01MC is a minimalist design, avoiding any unnecessary switching that would “introduce extra contacts and therefore noise and distortion” and should offer great performance with 95% of moving coil cartridges. It has been developed and tested with a wide spectrum of cartridges ranging from the Denon DL-103 to the Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement and overall design has been by the renowned Dave Cawley. The phono stage can be ordered in custom configuration to suit specific cartridges, and subsequently reconfigured to perfectly match any moving coil cartridge.
The design of the T-01MC avoids the use of integrated circuits and instead FETs (field effect transistors) are used in a fully discrete dual-mono zero negative feedback design.
The gain and input loading are fixed as in most situations this feature is a set-once process. The settings chosen should be great for the vast majority of moving coil cartridges on the market however, custom input loading can be specified and can be altered by Timestep at any time. The company say that this method saves “considerable cost over switchable units, as well as providing the shortest, cleanest signal path ensuring the highest performance”.
The unit comes in at £995 and has a whopping 6 year guarantee.
Offering both Moving Magnet and Moving Coil stages The Violin allows for fine tuning of gain, eq, polarity and operates in Class A with no feedback.
The front-end MC gain uses low-noise matched JFETs to boost up to MM levels, where the vacuum tubes take over providing all gain, equalization and output buffering.
– Gain: 44dB (MM) / 54dB, 60dB, 63dB, 65dB (MC)
– Input Impedance: 50k (MM) / 955, 305, 170, 122, 84, 70, 59, 52 (MC)
– Output Impedance: 600 ohms
– RIAA Response: +/-0.5dB from 20Hz to 20kHz
– Bandwidth: 6Hz to 500kHz
– Distortion: <0.5% @1kHz
– Noise: 82dBA (MM) / 74dBA (MC)
– Size: 17″ x 8″ x 6.5″
– Weight: 12 lbs.
– Power: 120Vac/240Vac 35W
– Tube Compliment: 12AX7 x 2, 12AU7 x 2, 5AR4 x 1
The name Avid will be familiar to many of our readers and now the company have launched an additional two phonostages to their range. The first is the Pellere which bridges the gap between the Pulsare and Pulsus and is said to offer a new level of performance at this market price point.
The Pellere closely follows the design of the Pulsare, using the same internal high specification components, being fully balanced and offering both RCA and XLR connections. The same loading options as the Pulsare are offered but using external DIP switches similar to the Pulsus, conveniently located on the underside of the casework. Similar to the Pulsare an external purpose-designed regulated power supply is used.
Pellere is finished in the same distinctive casework as other Avid products and in keeping with all their products, all manufacturing and testing is done within the company’s new factory based near Huntingdon, UK. The Pellere is available now with a UK retail price of £2,500
In addition to the Pellere Avid have also launched the Pellar phono stage which becomes their entry-level phonostage. Designed from the knowledge gained with the Pulsus and sharing many components the Pellar incorporates an internal power supply and boasts rear mounted connections allowing for RCA input with RCA output.
The default resistance value is set to 47k, making it ideal for MM cartridge types. An additional set of RCA connectors allows the resistance values to be tailored to any desired value; so all MC cartridge types are accommodated too.
On the underside of the unit, unusual in this price region, gain settings are available for all MM, low output and high output MC types. Price is £600
The Antelope Audio Rubicon Atomic is the world’s first 384 kHz converter, phonostage preamp and headphone amplifier with an integrated atomic clock, which is said to be 100,000 times more stable than traditional crystal oscillators.
“I find the idea of an audio enthusiast being able to hear his/her favorite recordings clocked by the world’s most stable clock very exciting. I believe this will bring the music appreciation in the home environment to a completely new level compared only to the precision and sonic detail representation available at the finest professional listening rooms,” shared Igor Levin, CEO and founder of Antelope Audio.
The Dac also boasts Antelope’s “64-bit Acoustically Focused Clocking” technology and the Rubidium is said to achieve never before seen performance with regards jitter. The technology used in the Rubicon is the same as used in the company’s master clocks used in film scores and mastering studios.
The Preamp has an on-board transformer based discrete JFET phonostage and ultra-high sample rate A/D conversion. – these features, along with USB recording will allow users to digitize their analogue music.
DLNA streaming gives users the opportunity to wirelessly push audio files from their smart phone, PC or NAS (Network-attached storage) server and play the content through the DAC.
Rubicon will be presented for the first time to the public during the Munich High End Show, in hall 3, booth A 04, at 2 pm, on May 3rd.
Blue Horizon has unveiled its new phono preamplifier, the Profono. The Profono has been in development for the past two years and is the result of “painstaking design and engineering to deliver a high-quality yet affordable solution for anyone wanting to make the most of their record collection”.
The Profono is said to be a “great step-up option to replace budget phono preamps that “simply don’t cut the sonic mustard.”
Blue Horizon say that the Profono is “designed and built to be a genuinely high-end phono preamplifier delivered at a highly competitive price point, able to compete with – and even outperform – models at twice the cost”.
An interesting feature of the Profono is that, Instead of the the cheap ‘dip switches’ found in many phono stages, they are replaced by a series of shunt resistors to set cartridge impedance.
The Profono is compact in size and looks sturdily built. Casework looks of good quality for this price point and claims to serve to reject sonically deleterious RFI and keep the unit solidly in position when heavy cables are connected – something that cannot be said of all phonostages! More »