Phono Preamp Reviews

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Alex Halberstadt  |  Jun 22, 2022  |  11 comments
Sometime around 483 BCE, in Kushinagar, the capital of the Malla Republic in what today is the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, an aristocrat named Siddhãrtha Gautama—known better to us as the Buddha, or the Awakened One—passed away. For 45 years, he had wandered the North Indian River Plain teaching a method of overcoming ignorance, craving, and the cycle of death and rebirth to a growing community of followers.
John Atkinson  |  Jun 20, 2022  |  0 comments
Three high-performance products were subjected to second opinions and/or measurements in recent issues: Channel D's Lino C 3.3 phono preamplifier, Mola Mola's Tambaqui D/A processor, and Pass Labs' XP-32 line preamplifier.
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."
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 19, 2022  |  10 comments
In 2018, Micha Huber's HiFiction AG, manufacturer of Thales tonearms and turntables, assumed control of EMT Tontechnik, taking over EMT's cartridge business including development, production, repair, and international distribution—with the exception of the EMT broadcast cartridge line for the EU market, which is still distributed by EMT Studiotechnik out of the company's original Black Forest home in Mahlberg, Germany.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 11, 2022  |  0 comments
Michael Fremer wrote about the Paradox phono preamplifier in the March 2022 Analog Corner, Jim Austin reviewed the CH Precision D1.5 CD/SACD player/transport in March 2022, and Herb Reichert included the EJ Jordan Marlow standmount speaker in his April 2022 Gramophone Dreams column. All three products get further coverage in Stereophile's May 2022 issue.
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.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 21, 2022  |  0 comments
One reason Stereophile publishes a FollowUp is when the original review leaves an issue unresolved or where further thoughts would be useful. Such was the case with the magazine's March 2022 issue, which had followup reviews on the iFi ZEN CAN headphone amplifier and ZEN DAC Signature V2 D/A processor ($599/pair). the Pro-Ject Phono Box RS2 phono preamplifier ($1999), and the Canton Reference 7K loudspeaker ($6995/pair).
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 18, 2022  |  43 comments
Gold Note's $11,999 PH-1000 is by a considerable margin the most sophisticated, most configurable phono preamplifier that any audio manufacturer has ever produced, at least that I know of. Remarkably, considering all that flexibility and sophistication, using and adjusting the PH-1000 is straightforward.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 03, 2022  |  0 comments
The January and February 2022 issues of Stereophile feature followup reviews of three products: the darTZeel NHB-18NS Mk.2 preamplifier; the Sutherland Little Loco Mk.2 phono preamplifier; and the Mola Mola Tambaqui D/A processor.
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  |  Oct 12, 2021  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2018  |  4 comments
Among the electrically connected, the phrase short circuit induces panic and horrific images of tripped breakers, blown fuses, acrid blue smoke, and melted circuit boards. Nonetheless, near short circuits are becoming popular among the analog set. Moving-coil cartridges of an inductance and impedance so low they're nearly short circuits are now more common, thanks to powerful neodymium magnets that help produce more and more electrical output from fewer and fewer turns of coil wire. Perhaps the most extreme example of this is the Haniwa HCTR01 Mk.II cartridge, which has an internal impedance of 0.4 ohm and an inductance of 0.3µH.
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.
Julie Mullins  |  Aug 25, 2021  |  6 comments
Phono preamplifiers could be compared to children as viewed by a previous generation of adults: They are expected to be small in stature, and they should stay out of the way, seen but not heard and maybe not even seen. With the simpler models typically encountered at lower price points, there's little to do except "set it and forget it."
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 30, 2021  |  19 comments
In my world, the quiet ritual of choosing a record and placing it carefully on the platter is always followed by a sequence of three rough sounds.

With the volume at listening level, I hear the bristle-by-bristle rasping of my stylus brush as it drags across the exposed tip of the cartridge cantilever. Next, as I dip the diamond in Onzow gel, I hear a little suction cup pop and feel the compliance of the cantilever's rubber-tire suspension. Finally, my brain registers that sizzle sound as the stylus contacts the grooved surface. These sounds are tattooed on my brain. They "cue up" my consciousness, preparing it for attentive listening.

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.

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