Phono Preamp Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  May 25, 2021  |  1 comments
Almost exactly a year ago to the day that I'm writing this—March 11, 2020—the WHO officially declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. If you weren't paying attention, maybe you didn't see it coming (incredibly, some still deny the pandemic's existence), but I had already canceled a March 14, 2020, flight to Atlanta to speak to the local audiophile society. I'd made the plans for that visit at the Florida Audio Expo a few weeks earlier. Remember hi-fi shows?
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 28, 2021  |  3 comments
First, a power update: The generator and transfer switch bypass plan has been solidified, the town permit has arrived, and the work will commence soon. I'm pretty sure what I've learned through this debacle will help other audiophiles improve both their power and their system's sound.

Now, on to this month's column: Revisiting an updated product from a small company can be a rewarding experience. For startups in our competitive, niche marketplace, just remaining in business is a challenge. Many under-capitalized startups founded by well-meaning idealists/hobbyists disappear in just a few years if not faster.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2021  |  7 comments
I don't like being pigeonholed as a reviewer of exclusively expensive audio components—because I'm not, as anyone who regularly peruses Analog Planet knows. So, to ease the pain of reviewing the half-million-dollar Air Force Zero turntable—you'll find that review elsehere in this issue—I figured I'd cover some more reasonably priced analog gear here in Analog Corner.
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 30, 2021  |  0 comments
So glad to be back in business with superclean electricity! Especially having spent the last few weeks listening to the remarkably pure-sounding Analog Relax EX1000 cartridge ($16,000).

The brochure asks, "Have you heard of YAKUSUGI Cedar?" No. I had never heard of Analog Relax, either. If you have heard of it, you're at least one step ahead of me.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 22, 2022  |  15 comments
One privilege of being a Stereophile columnist is the opportunity to cover products from smaller, less well-known manufacturers, including those that don't have wide enough distribution to qualify for a full review. One such company is Victorville, California–based Paradox. I'd never heard of them until I received an email from Terence Robinson, the company's owner. The email included a description of a phono preamplifier that so intrigued me that I asked for a review sample.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 29, 2008  |  First Published: Jul 30, 2008  |  0 comments
The German company AQVOX Audio Devices has produced an innovative moving-coil/moving-magnet solid-state phono preamplifier, the Phono 2Ci, that's as intriguing for its technology and performance as it is for its relatively low price: $1400. The zero-feedback, op-amp–free circuit uses a compact switch-mode power supply that's built into the chassis and features conventional voltage gain for moving-magnet cartridges via its RCA jacks, and current gain for moving-coil cartridges through the balanced XLR inputs. Rear-panel switches select between RCA or XLR inputs and offer a convenient ground lift. Either the single-ended or the balanced outputs can be used with either input. Unfortunately, the tight spacing of the RCA input and output jacks, which are mounted on the circuit board, will somewhat limit your choice of cables: Pairs of thick-barreled plugs will have difficulty fitting.
Art Dudley  |  Nov 19, 2006  |  0 comments
Anyone who knows me will be happy to tell you: I'm very bad at letting go of anger. I hold grudges. I'm unforgiving.
Michael Fremer  |  Jan 05, 2007  |  First Published: Oct 05, 2003  |  0 comments
"Everybody's gotta get into the act!" Jimmy Durante used to say. That's what's happening with phono preamplifiers—they just keep being built, and I keep getting them for review. Up for evaluation in next month's column are new models from Perreaux, Musical Fidelity, Graham Slee, and a Chinese one, Ming Da. You can bet there'll be more.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2009  |  First Published: May 31, 2009  |  0 comments
I first spotted Audia Flight's exquisite-looking two-box phono preamplifier ($6100) at last year's Hi-End show in Munich, and now that Musical Sounds is importing Audia Flight gear, a review of the Phono seemed a good idea. I know nothing about Audia Flight or the designer, or what Italian audiophiles think of them, but the more time I spent with the versatile, exquisitely built Phono, the more I liked everything about it.
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 03, 2005  |  First Published: Feb 03, 2000  |  0 comments
Audio Research's long-promised "final statement" phono preamplifier has finally arrived, and its price is $3500 less than the originally rumored $10,000. That's a pleasant deviation from the audiophile norm, but at $6495, the Reference phono still boasts a steep ticket. That's more than twice the price of the $2495 PH3 SE, AR's previous best—a class sonic act itself.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 26, 2013  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2013  |  1 comments
In July 2008 I reviewed the intriguing Phono 2Ci moving-magnet/moving-coil phono preamplifier from Aqvox Audio Devices. Though it then cost only $1400, the Phono 2Ci's current-input circuitry represented a high-tech departure from the typical voltage-gain circuits used by almost everyone else. Although keeping its retail price so low resulted in some sonic compromises, it sounded remarkable, and tough to beat at the price.
Jonathan Scull  |  Jun 29, 1997  |  0 comments
Some of the most innovative thinking on hybrid circuit design these days seems to come from Russian designers. As a group, they are technically very well educated, pragmatic, and unfettered by American high-end didacticism.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 14, 2002  |  0 comments
It's not every Consumer Electronics Show that someone introduces a $29,000 solid-state phono preamplifier—and I miss it. The 2002 CES was one. My show report in the April issue made it seem as if I'd found out about it there, but the fact is, someone clued me in after I'd returned home. I needed to come clean on that.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 06, 2010  |  0 comments
Why bother with three phono preamps most of us can't afford? For the same reason the enthusiast automobile magazines cover the newest Ferraris and Lamborghinis: just reading about them is fun.
Michael Fremer  |  May 26, 2022  |  3 comments
Years ago, at a San Francisco Audiophile Society gathering, I was lucky enough to spend time with the late, brilliant electrical engineer Roger Modjeski, whose Music Reference RM-200 Mk.II hybrid stereo tube amp is among my most prized hi-fi treasures. I asked him what he knew about transimpedance phono preamplifiers. He grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil and drew a detailed transimpedance phono preamp circuit, quipping, "These have been around forever, but until recently no one has paid much attention to them."

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