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Phono stages up to £2K.


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1 minute ago, Speedracer said:

Not sure if it is a nationwide thing but in God's own county it is considered an insult if you call someone a "dip switch".

Dipstick, possibly. To me, it's more of an insult to use a dipswitch than be called one :D

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We use that one too Richard, too few descriptors & too many idiots!

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12 minutes ago, Speedracer said:

We use that one too Richard, too few descriptors & too many idiots!

Never a truer word...

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Agreed about dipswitches. None on the Sugden. This is probably the quietest stage I’ve used. I’ve always found dip switches add noise 

93B7B744-FE6D-49E0-ABD2-20E8AF64687A.jpeg

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My Exposure uses the jumper method. Much better than dip switches but it does mean opening up the case to change the load.

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29 minutes ago, bigfool1956 said:

My Exposure uses the jumper method. Much better than dip switches but it does mean opening up the case to change the load.

This is the same with my Simaudio Moon phono stage, jumpers that you need to do a little work on to get to. It sounds good so is worth the extra 5-10 minutes.

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As ringing in sut's on a square wave test been mentioned a few times I thought it might help if described what it is.

The observed ringing is caused by the leakage inductance/interwinding capacitance ratio usual in this size and type of transformer. This forms a low pass filter with a high Q which looks like a resonance peak. This can be as much as +25db but its almost always well above 100khz so its inaudible and not worth worrying about. But as has been mentioned its easy to damp with something like a zobel if you dont like it. It is possible to design it out but that in turn introduces other complications so usually not worth it

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1 hour ago, zeta4 said:

As ringing in sut's on a square wave test been mentioned a few times I thought it might help if described what it is.

The observed ringing is caused by the leakage inductance/interwinding capacitance ratio usual in this size and type of transformer. This forms a low pass filter with a high Q which looks like a resonance peak. This can be as much as +25db but its almost always well above 100khz so its inaudible and not worth worrying about. But as has been mentioned its easy to damp with something like a zobel if you dont like it. It is possible to design it out but that in turn introduces other complications so usually not worth it

Andrew from Rothwell Audio products has done a nice research on Step up Transformers ,  he wrote following 

" Sometimes the ringing occurs at very high frequencies and is reasonably well damped and therefore quite benign, but often it occurs at a much lower frequency or rings for such a long period that it can cause quite audible effects."

To read bit more http://www.rothwellaudioproducts.co.uk/html/mc_step-up_transformers_explai.html#:~:text=In truth%2C a step-up,display ringing on its output.

Once I'm done with what's on the bench I'm planning to buy couple SUT's and do some more thorough testing 

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Posted (edited)

I dont quite understand the second comment though I basically agree with the first. As I said ringing on a square wave test is a resonance at high frequency. If the resonance is occuring at too low a freq then there is something wrong with the transformer or its design ie either the leakage inductance or the winding capacitances would have to be excessively large.  I wouldnt worry about it as I dont think its likely to happen with a reasonable quality product.

Hope you get on well with the ones you try.

Edited by zeta4
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I usually build the paradise with plug in loading plugs via additional rca sockets, but some clients prefer them soldered straight to the board for shortest signal path. I wouldn't do dip switches, though I would do 24 step  elma switches for a custom smt option if the client had multiple arms or carts and didn't mind the cost.

Re soundstage depth I can't say I've ever noticed a deficit of it with the paradise, there's as much or as little as is on the vinyl. I certainly never notice a difference going between vinyl and digital, nor has anyone else ever mentioned it other than Alan, out of 40 builds, and there's paradises in some 'very' well equipped systems,  50k plus systems. You'd think those guys would be extra discerning.

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8 hours ago, sq225917 said:

Re soundstage depth ... nor has anyone else ever mentioned it other than Alan, out of 40 builds, and there's paradises in some 'very' well equipped systems,  

Of course it depends on what has been used by way of comparison, plus the ultimate resolution of said well equipped systems. High price does not = perfection.

Bigman80, Oli has also noticed the lack of depth.

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I see no-one has mentioned the Chord Electronics Huei. Doesn't seem to have gotten anywhere near the same buzz/ praise as their DACs, in particular the Qutest?

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Posted (edited)

@Firebottle

Paradise Depth

Well....yes, i did say it didn't seem to have as much depth in the soundstage as other phonostages we have heard, but those were valve based ones, and i have said for the longest time that i don't feel Valve phonostages should be directly compared to any other topology. 

There is something about valve phonostages that give a very different presentation to LCR, Opamp or transistor based phono's and whilst in my experience the LCR, Opamp and Transistor based ones can sound like each other, i dont think any of them replicate what a quality valve phonostage will do. Not saying valves are better than any of the others, just that they don't sound like a valve phonostage. 

The Paradise had superb channel separation, superb noise performance, the soundstage was enviably wide and had scale. The Paradise was the first phonostage i heard that really made the sound seem to come out of nowhere, as if it was appearing in free space. That was a pivotal moment for me and along with the positives of the Paradise, the criteria became part of the yard stick i hold everything to account with.

@sq225917

I have heard some systems in a domestic setup where the speaker cables have cost £20k, and the system as a whole cost more than a small country's GDP.

The cost of the system is irrelevant as a barrometer of the sound quality, as you know. You have proved this with the discovery of the 686! 

The correlation of the owners ability to spend money Vs the performance of the owners hearing or ability to discern differences in performance is likeley to be adrift of "equal measure" too. 

Personally speaking, Yes i prefer other phonostages to the Paradise, but i understand why it's an end game phonostage for a lot of people. I once thought it was quite expensive and wouldn't have dreamt of dropping £2k on one, but having seen the utter tripe people are throwing out at £5-8k, i have a new appreciation for something that can be very accurate in the RIAA, have seriously low noise and offer a very good VFM ratio. Not to mention that it would probably wipe the floor with most of the aforementioned crap being churned out by "elite level"charlatans and chancers alike.  

Edited by Bigman80
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I defo think there's a difference overall between the best valve and best SS designs in their general interpretation of the music, each type has inherent traits that are unique to valve or transistor, but the best of them all share an accuracy of timbre, low distortion and effortless scale that forms the foundation of great record reproduction.

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4 minutes ago, sq225917 said:

I defo think there's a difference overall between the best valve and best SS designs in their general interpretation of the music, each type has inherent traits that are unique to valve or transistor, but the best of them all share an accuracy of timbre, low distortion and effortless scale that forms the foundation of great record reproduction.

I do not disagree. :)

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