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Phono stages up to £2K.


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18 hours ago, Beobloke said:

I don;t think you can automatically assume that going from an integrated amplifier to an pre/power setup to a pre/power with separate phono stage will automatically bring about guaranteed improvements. It's all down to the quality of the integrated amplifier and also the internal phono stage fitted to it, or the preamp in question. I have an integrated amp at home that I've heard show a clean pair of heels to several pre/power combos and its internal phono stage is also absolutely superb.

Again, as with so many things in hi-fi, it's about how well it's done, not how it's done.

Would love to know what that amp is as I need an amp with a phonostage. 

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I used to own an Audion Premier phonostage that the U.K. Distributor Deco Audio did a £500 custom mod to. It was already a good phono but modded I found it better than the top Leema stage, Linn Uphorik, Tom Evans, etc and the Trilogy 907 that I now own in its place (as I wanted something smaller).

I spoke to Graham Tricker about coming to demo my Audion against his products and when I told him about the mods he said don’t bother as it’s all about the quality of parts used (I am paraphrasing).

There are plenty of good stages out there but my feeling is that a valve stage with excellent parts will be very hard to beat. 

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9 minutes ago, DomT said:

I spoke to Graham Tricker about coming to demo my Audion against his products and when I told him about the mods he said don’t bother as it’s all about the quality of parts used (I am paraphrasing).

That doesn't surprise me and it's about a lot more than just the quality of the parts. Circuit implementation is key.

11 minutes ago, DomT said:

a valve stage with excellent parts will be very hard to beat. 

Providing it's not just based on standard 'cookbook' circuitry.

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Would love to know what that amp is as I need an amp with a phonostage. 

Yamaha A960 MkII
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17 hours ago, Juancho said:

Not sure what you mean by incompatible Jack? My standard design is solid state rectified choke power supplies, but as I do a la carte, clients can have valve rectification if it floats their boat. Again, different budgets get a different standard of coupling and decoupling capacitors. That's the beauty of non production line bespoke manufacture!

Though the unit you built for Westlower came in at £2750, it is clearly the case from the above quote that you can build a Satchmo that gets close to that one and which conforms to the £2K ceiling...

I should add that the Satchmo is more than just a phono stage, its a pre amp with phono stage (yes?), so there's more bang for your buck, n'est ce pas?

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50 minutes ago, Firebottle said:

That doesn't surprise me and it's about a lot more than just the quality of the parts. Circuit implementation is key.

Providing it's not just based on standard 'cookbook' circuitry.

In layman's terms what are the different kinds of circuitry? And what's the inside 'lowdown' on them?

Jack

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5 minutes ago, Non-Smoking Man said:

Though the unit you built for Westlower came in at £2750, it is clearly the case from the above quote that you can build a Satchmo that gets close to that one and which conforms to the £2K ceiling...

I should add that the Satchmo is more than just a phono stage, its a pre amp with phono stage (yes?), so there's more bang for your buck, n'est ce pas?

My LCR and pseudo LCR (my personal favourite) as stand alone units come in at less than £1500. Exact price depends on physical spec. Eg two box with umbilical cord plain black no graphics on front is cheaper than one box full graphics

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42 minutes ago, Firebottle said:

That doesn't surprise me and it's about a lot more than just the quality of the parts. Circuit implementation is key.

Providing it's not just based on standard 'cookbook' circuitry.

The best audio electronics is synergy of design, layout, and quality of parts. Using the old adage you cannot make a purse out of a sows ear. Dressing up a poor design with expensive parts, having a good design and poorly implement its layout, and having a great design, good layout but poor part selection will not get you a good product. Good commercial products can do the first two well but price point usually limits the last with component costs along with all the manufacture to punter costs eating into the build. This is where home modifications can improve the product. And if everything is crammed into a single package (intergrated amp) then quality mods are not really an option. The dedicated phono stage give the space to improve on the original design or build if desired.

Also note the tendency now to go to SMD designs, this makes modifications much more difficult unless you have the right tools and skills

Jessica

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A standard (cookbook) common cathode valve stage has an inherent level of non-linearity, other designers worth their salt will know this.

As stated before using a hybrid circuit can reduce this considerably, it can be done with an all valve approach but is more complicated.

Also using the 'standard' cathode biasing arrangement of resistor decoupled with an electrolytic capacitor introduces distortions due to the characteristics of said electrolytic capacitor.

Using innovative circuitry also gives many benefits but that's restricted.

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9 minutes ago, Non-Smoking Man said:

In layman's terms what are the different kinds of circuitry? And what's the inside 'lowdown' on them?

Jack

Alan has described it, but to say for a triode, FET or any other transistor there limited ways the 3 pins can be wired, using these and combining either hybrid, stacking valves/FET's, and/or using innovative current paths makes the difference between mundane and superb designs.  The use of opamps in designs, mostly used in cheap phonos, pre's with phonos and integrated amps limits the designer and the quality is dictated primarily by the IC (I do note that there are some products that use unique designs that get more from the IC than expected)

Jessica

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5 minutes ago, Jessica_k said:

Alan has described it, but to say for a triode, FET or any other transistor there limited ways the 3 pins can be wired, using these and combining either hybrid, stacking valves/FET's, and/or using innovative current paths makes the difference between mundane and superb designs.  The use of opamps in designs, mostly used in cheap phonos, pre's with phonos and integrated amps limits the designer and the quality is dictated primarily by the IC (I do note that there are some products that use unique designs that get more from the IC than expected)

Jessica

Have to say, i love opamps :x.

When the circuit is designed to get the best from them, the results can be very surprising and really destroy the myth that opamps are the devils work. 

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1 hour ago, Jessica_k said:

The best audio electronics is synergy of design, layout, and quality of parts. Using the old adage you cannot make a purse out of a sows ear. Dressing up a poor design with expensive parts, having a good design and poorly implement its layout, and having a great design, good layout but poor part selection will not get you a good product. Good commercial products can do the first two well but price point usually limits the last with component costs along with all the manufacture to punter costs eating into the build. This is where home modifications can improve the product.

Jessica

This makes sense.

I wonder how good the Audion Premier phonostage circuit is then as I tried at least five phonostages up to £3,000 and none of them were better and even doing a straight swap for. 

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1 hour ago, Jessica_k said:

..using these and combining either hybrid, stacking valves/FET's, and/or using innovative current paths makes the difference between mundane and superb designs.

We're definitely on the same page.

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I have one of these, well pleased with it.

Used accuphase phono for Sale | HifiShark.com

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20 minutes ago, DomT said:

I wonder how good the Audion Premier phonostage circuit is then as I tried at least five phonostages up to £3,000 and none of them were better and even doing a straight swap for. 

It looks like simple circuitry to me. Perhaps you haven't chosen wisely to find a better stage. The marketing isn't great when 'not including' wound components (transformers) is seen as a plus point, more a case of saving expense IMO.

I also don't like the upgrade approach of offering better wire and/or connectors, capacitors and resistors and hiking the price considerably for each 'step'. Why not fit the best parts to start with and offer a reasonable design in the first place?  

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