Phono Preamp Reviews

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 20, 2014 1 comments
First off, to clarify: I am a big Mel Tormé fan. If I describe a product as producing a "velvet fog" (Mel's nickname), it's meant as a compliment! Some readers emailed wondering how I meant the expression. I meant it as a compliment and I used it because the VK-P6's sonics reminded me of Mel's smooth, sonorous voice. If you want a phono preamp more in the Axl Rose camp, there are some. And there are some that manage neutrality or close to it.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 07, 2014 Published: Aug 06, 2014 7 comments
Last year's purchase of Balanced Audio Technology by Jim Davis, who also owns Music Direct and Mobile Fidelity has resulted in major product upgrades and lower prices. This new VK-P6 phono preamplifier is an example of what the newly revitalized company can do given an adequate infusion of resources.

The new $3495 VK-P6 is the company’s entry level phono preamplifier, yet in terms of build and parts quality it shares a great deal with the top of the line $12,495 VK-P12SE, though trust me, you’d have little trouble hearing the differences between the two.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 01, 2014 Published: Jul 31, 2014 8 comments
I reviewed Dynamic Sound Associate's $12,000 solid-state phono preamp in Stereophile's "Analog Corner" October, 2013. It was a "Class A" product all the way other than a few "burps".

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 31, 2014 Published: Jul 30, 2014 18 comments
Reite Audio is a relatively new company created by electronics designer Bob Reite and musician Ed Sheftel. Sheftel first imported to America and distributed the Welsh-made Tom Evans Audio Design line of electronics. One of its products, The Groove phono preamp had, at the turn of the century, what could fairly be described as a “cult following”.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 24, 2014 Published: Jun 23, 2014 50 comments
Swan Song Audio (www.swansongaudio.com), newly arrived in the audiophile electronics market will make its show debut at October’s Rocky Mountain Audio Festival 2014. Earlier this year Anthony Crocker (who I think at this time is Swan Song Audio), emailed and offered for review his Cygnet Phono Preamplifier.

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Michael Fremer Posted: May 28, 2014 Published: May 27, 2014 12 comments
While in excess of 6000 people read the story and many thousands downloaded the files, for some reason fewer than 100 analogplanet.com readers chose to vote for which phono preamp sounded best reproducing a short segment of Mehmet Ali Sanlikol's big band album what's next.

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Michael Fremer Posted: May 28, 2014 Published: May 27, 2014 1 comments
You've had the files to listen to, compare and vote on for some time now so here are the capsule reviews.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 17, 2014 18 comments
Parasound's new $2995 JC3+ is a significantly upgraded version of the already high performance original JC3 phono preamplifier, though outwardly it looks identical to the handsome original.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Mar 01, 2014 4 comments
Made in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, USA, using where possible American parts, designer Bill Hutchins’ LKV Research Phono 2-SB has the kind of Japanese corporate name that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Jan 18, 2014 7 comments
A second NuWave Phono Converter sample arrived the other day and after swapping the two back and forth a few things became sonically obvious. One is that the second sample was not as hard, bright and mechanical-sounding as the first one. And the other was that like the first sample, the second NuWave's lower midrange and bass were less than fully fleshed out.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Jan 16, 2014 38 comments
On January 2nd analogplanet.com posted five 96/24 bit files, each containing the same minute’s worth of John Williams’ “Liberty Fanfare” performed by the National Symphonic Winds conducted by Lowell Graham excerpted from the album Winds of War and Peace originally issued in 1988 on Wilson Audio Specialties Records (W-8823) and used with permission.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 30, 2013 5 comments
This is a review of the NuWave Phono Converter's phono preamp section only. A review of the double DSD based A/D converter will follow soon.

Multipurpose products like PS Audio’s snazzy new NuWave Phono Converter offer a mix of great possibilities and possible compromises. In one sleek box you have a capable and versatile MM/MC phono preamplifier and an analog to digital converter through which you can conveniently digitize your vinyl—as well as any analog input you feed it— at up to double DSD resolution. All for $1895.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 04, 2013 8 comments
Norbert Lehmann’s Black Cube phono preamplifiers have surprised and at times amazed for their superior sonic performance at near bargain-basement prices. He’s been designing, building and upgrading his phono preamplifiers for nearly two decades beginning in 1995 with the original Black Cube.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 02, 2013 11 comments
Rega’s versatile $1500 Aria phono stage combines high build quality, flexibility and dynamic capabilities more commonly found in more expensive phono preamplifiers.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 28, 2012 13 comments
The $399 iFi iPhono phono preamp first spotted at the 2012 Rocky Mountain Audio Festival is the result of a joint venture between ifi micro (ifi-audio.com) and U.K. based Abbington Music Research, also known as AMR. ifi micro also manufactures a fits-in-the-palm-of-your-hand 192/24 bit USB DAC, a headphone amp and a USB power supply but the phono preamp is of the greatest interest around here.

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