I am confused by Michael Fremer's review of the Liberty Audio B2B-1 phono preamp. He enthuses that it is like a mini Boulder 1008 and a tremendous value. Side by side against the Soundsmith MCP2, he says it can't compare. Yet, in the Recommended Components, the Soundsmith is given a B class rating, while the supposedly far superior Liberty Audio unit gets a C class rating. Perhaps there is an error in Stereophile's listing or did I miss something in the review? I was considering a purchase of the Liberty Audio unit to replace my Musical Fidelity X-LPSv3 (used with a VPI Scout and Shelter 501 MKII cartridge), but have decided to hold off pending some commentary on this seeming discrepency. Thanks in advance for your comments. JCR
I am confused by Michael Fremer's review of the Liberty Audio B2B-1 phono preamp. He enthuses that it is like a mini Boulder 1008 and a tremendous value. Side by side against the Soundsmith MCP2, he says it can't compare. Yet, in the Recommended Components, the Soundsmith is given a B class rating, while the supposedly far superior Liberty Audio unit gets a C class rating. Perhaps there is an error in Stereophile's listing or did I miss something in the review?
There was indeed an error in the listing. Michael's recommended ratings were Class B for the Liberty and Soundsmith MCP2 and C for the Soundsmith MMP3. I must therefore have made a mistake when compiling the listing. We will adjust the Liberty's rating in the April 2012 issue. Aplogies for my confusion.
John, thanks so much for promptly clarifying. Perhaps I now will ask the obvious. I find in my system that I have a lovely mid and high range, but poor bass using my analog setup (described above). Does anyone (including Michael Fremer, who I certainly would enjoy hearing from) have a view as to whether upgrading from my Musical Fidelity to the Liberty (or the Soundsmith MCP2) can improve my low end response, or am I really not going to hear any difference unless I substantially upgrade from my VPI turntable and Shelter phono cartridge combination? I've just never played around with phono preamps in the past, so I have no real point of comparison. Thanks much in advance. JCR
there are so many variables that it is difficult to say which one. one clue for a starting point would be if you find yourself turning up the volume to get more bass (at the same time getting more treble) if so, i would start by checking the things you already have such as the cartridge adjustment. the vta can affect the perception of bass. does your current unit allow for any impedence loading? that can make a great difference. for example, if the unit is running open at 47K and the loading recommendation from the mfr. is 100 ohms, then the treble will seem over emphasised. by adding the loading, it will put more emphasis on the bass. if you have a great digital front end, it might make your analog sound bass shy if any of the above factors are not correct. will you get perfect bass from the setup you described, probably not the very deepest, not because you don't have good gear, but that table may not be able to produce the very bottom. you may have to upgrade eventually.
Tom -- I totally get that I may not get the very bottom with my analog gear, especially as compared to the quality of my digital componentry. I do turn the volume up to get more bass as you describe. But, I am hoping that an upgrade in phono preamp might have a beneficial sound effect.
The Musical Fidelity X-LPSv3 phono preamp I have comes with only two choices:
Sensitivity 3mV for 350mV output at 1kHz
Input impedance 47K Ohms
Sensitivity 350μV for 350mV output at 1kHz
Input impedance 100 Ohms
My Shelter cartridge has an output Voltage of 0.5 mV at 1kHz 5cm/sec, so I've always used the MC input setting. Reviews of the cartridge consistently reference using a 100 ohms loading, so that would be consistent with the MC input setting. I don't know how to check vta myself, but I can certainly take my table into my local dealer for a checkup.
I should also mention that I have the JMW Memorial 9 arm with the anti-skating option installed on my VPI Scout table.
Further thoughts? JCR
i have heard only good comments about the gear you are using, except I don't know anything about the phono pre. yes, they can make an important difference. i like your idea about having the dealer check out your setup if you don't feel up to it. once that is right, then you can be pretty sure that an upgraded phonopre will give you some benefits, whether they are what you are looking for is up to you. do they have a return policy? also keep in mind that it takes a while for electrical componants to break in and the sound might not be all it can be for the first 100 hours or so.
let me know how it goes.
I made a right turn and took advantage of an opportunity to buy a pre-owned Sutherland PhD phono preamp -- for considerably less than the Liberty unit new. So, I hope I've made a good decision. I will report back after it arrives and I try it out. JCR