Follow-Up, June 2012
In the April "Letters," reader Lenni B labeled me "prince of price no limit." But in 2011 I reviewed some reasonably priced phono preamplifiers, including, in my October column, the PTE MMMC ($1600). I said that it sounded "flat, cardboardy, and glary" in moving-magnet mode, but had to cut short my review when, on deadline day, I received an e-mail from designer Jim Rush. He said he'd made numerous changes in the moving-magnet section, including switching from passive to active RIAA equalization, upping the power-supply voltage to increase overload margins, going to film coupling capacitors, and using low-tolerance film caps throughout.
I returned the first sample and received an updated one, which has sat here way too long. The MMMC-R is one of the few MM/MC phono preamps that lets you conveniently vary MM loading from the standard 47k ohms, and Rush provides excellent evidence of why that's sometimes desirable and necessary, particularly with low-inductance moving-iron designs.
So I installed, in a Graham Engineering tonearm wand, the same Shure V15VxMR cartridge I'd used to review the original MMMC, and listened again (at 47k ohms, per Shure's recommendation)&3151;but this time on my Prince of Price No Limit review sample of the OneDoF turntable ($150,000).
The revised PTE sounded neither flat, cardboardy, nor glary, but pleasingly smooth and rich. The only way it could be said to sound relatively "flat" was in terms of overall frequency response&3151;a good thing. Transparency, transient attack, and image three-dimensionality were not its strong suits, but in terms of long-term listening pleasure, the MMMC produced the tube-like richness and warmth that many vinylphiles crave. It comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee; if you don't love it, send it back.Michael Fremer