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Rethinking the Phonostage? New from Clearaudio.



Clearaudio Absolute Phono

Clearaudio Absolute Phono Inside


Introducing the Absolute Phono and Absolute Phono Inside… could this little duo be a pair of world firsts? Another ground-breaker from German analogue innovators Clearaudio: two ways to solve the problem of a small signal making a long journey.

Consider your standard phonostage set-up. The delicate musical output signal generated within the cartridge has to travel down the internal tonearm wiring and along the external arm lead before it reaches the phonostage, at which point it is amplified and then equalized before being fed out to the preamplifier. This signal is both very small and very sensitive, hence susceptible to electrical interference at all stages of its journey from the cartridge to, and through, the phonostage.

The solution? A radical review of the fundamentals of phonostage design. Clearaudio’s engineers have been working on precisely that and, after much rethinking, reworking and refining, they are poised to advance the state of the art with not one, but two new phonostages.

Introducing the Absolute Phono: the world’s first active headshell moving coil phonostage

130901-Anz Fidelity 06|13-2.indd

How to solve the problem of a small signal making a long journey? Let’s start with the radical approach: shorten the journey. Enter the Absolute Phono, the world’s first active headshell moving coil phonostage, in which the input to the phonostage is mounted within a specially modified tonearm headshell. A tiny amplifier fitted within the headshell boosts the output signal from the cartridge at source. Now the vulnerable signal only has to travel 1-2 centimetres rather than along the usual 1-2 metres of internal and external arm wiring before being amplified to a more resilient level.

This amplified signal then passes to the specially designed main RIAA phonostage, along a signal path free of the usual relays and coupling capacitors, which again enables a more clean, pure and accurate sound. The signal is then equalized and fed to both unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR outputs, each with its own output driver to ensure the utmost fidelity.

The result? The signal to noise ratio is improved by approximately ten decibels across the entire audio spectrum!

Designed for the devoted audiophile, the Absolute Phono is compatible with any tonearm in the current Clearaudio range. Customers who already own a Clearaudio tonearm can simply send it to Clearaudio for customisation on purchase of the Absolute Phono.

Extending the technology: the Absolute Phono Inside

Having kicked off a revolution, how do you ensure that its benefits filter out widely? Clearaudio’s engineers fully appreciated that not everyone has, or is currently ready to invest in, a Clearaudio tonearm. Which then raised a second question: how to solve the problem of a small signal making a long journey without shortening the journey? By fine-tuning the innovations developed for the shorter journey and applying them to a more conventional phonostage design.

The Absolute Phono Inside uses the Absolute Phono’s innovative circuit design but incorporates it within the phonostage’s main body. The secret weapon? Current amplification. While most phonostages rely on voltage amplification, this is, to Clearaudio’s knowledge, the only duo of phonostages to use true current amplification throughout. Current amplification alleviates the need for cartridge loading at the input stage and also eliminates the usually required capacitors and resistors at various points through the signal path. The signal to noise ratio is significantly enhanced, almost matching the headshell-mounted Absolute Phono’s ten decibel improvement and enabling a freer and more natural sound.

Both unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR inputs are provided for connection to any tonearm on the market.

Built without compromise

As you would expect from Clearaudio, the Absolute Phono and Absolute Phono Inside are built to the highest standards, incorporating an anti-resonance sandwich construction machined from solid blocks of aluminium and panzerholz wood.  The sophisticated power supply, located in a separate matching chassis, keeps mains interference to a minimum.  Resistors and capacitors, which thanks to the aforementioned current amplification are required only in the RIAA equalisation stage, are Clearaudio Silver Glimmer capacitors and non-magnetic Dale resistors, hand selected to further ensure excellent clarity and purity of sound.

For ease of use and a sleek finish, the Absolute Phono and Absolute Phono Inside are equipped with a bright blue single multi-function switch for ‘On’, ‘Off’, ‘Mute’ and ‘Standby’ modes. Standby power consumption follows the latest EU directive and is below 0.5 Watts.

The circuitry of both the Absolute Phono and Absolute Phono Inside is designed to work perfectly with any moving coil cartridge from any manufacturer with no need to set the correct load resistance or capacitance, again thanks to of use of current amplification which effectively eliminates this step.


Technical specifications

Absolute Phono

Absolute Phono Inside

Power supply

Switching power supply
Input: 50 – 60 Hz / 100 – 265 V AC

Signal to noise ratio

90 dB (A-weighted)

Channel separation

100 dB

Gain (@ 1kHz)

60 dB


< 0.001 %

Output impedance

64 Ohm (balanced XLR)
32 Ohm (unbalanced RCA)

64 Ohm (balanced XLR)


RIAA standard, deviation less than 0.1 dB

Frequency response

DC – 100 kHz

Input connections

Absolute Phono tonearm connection (this is a special connection to the modified Clearaudio tonearm)

Balanced XLR

Unbalanced RCA

Output connections

Unbalanced RCA phono
Balanced XLR

Balanced XLR

Power consumption

Consumption in operation: 3.2 Watt
Off mode: 0.0 Watt

Consumption in operation:

6.5 Watt
Off mode: 0.0 Watt

Total weight

3.25 kg (phonostage)
3.20 kg (power supply)


Absolute Phono

Absolute Phono Inside

Dimensions (W/D/H)

Headshell amplifier:

0.37” x 0.81” x 0.13”

9.5 x 20.6 x 3.2 mm


9.5” x 5.7” x 2.2”

240 x 145 x 56 mm

Power Supply:

9.5” x 5.7” x 2.2”

240 x 145 x 56 mm


9.5” x 5.7” x 2.2”
240 x 145 x 56 mm

Power Supply:

9.5” x 5.7” x 2.2”

240 x 145 x 56 mm

Warranty 5 years (provided manufacturer’s guarantee is completed and returned to Clearaudio within 2 weeks)


Pricing and availability

Both the Absolute Phono and Absolute Phono Inside are:

  • Available now in black or silver.
  • Priced at £8,995.


UK distributor: Sound Fowndationswww.soundfowndations.co.ukT: 0118 981 4238E: info@soundfowndations.co.uk

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