Phono Preamp Reviews

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Ken Micallef  |  Jun 24, 2024  |  2 comments

The veneer wrap of products from the Japanese manufacturer Aurorasound greatly resembles that of a 1975 Lafayette integrated amp — but that’s certainly no reason to discount this fabulous machine of theirs we see here before us today, the MkII phono preamp. Read on to see how well the Aurorasound VIDA MkII fared when our ace reviewer Ken Micallef cued up a number of his favorite LPs in order to hear just what it could do. . .

Ken Micallef  |  Dec 27, 2023  |  10 comments

Built and manufactured by Dr. Phil Marchand of Rochester, New York, the Marchand Electronics LN112 moving coil (MC) tube phono preamp is a compact unit with a big, tube-generated sound. Read Ken Micallef’s review to find out just how musical sounding the LN112 is, and how it stacks up in its price class. . .

Ken Micallef  |  Jul 31, 2023  |  9 comments

The Gold Note PH-5 phono preamp comes ready to do the job at hand with nine impedance inputs, four gain options, and a choice of using either an MM or MC cartridge with it — plus, the PH-5 offers three separate EQ curves, something we’ve yet to see at this price point. Read Ken Micallef’s review to find out if the PH-5 was indeed able to deliver clean, smooth, and well-balanced sound and a deep soundstage. . .

Ken Micallef  |  Jun 06, 2023  |  5 comments

After previewing Vincent Audio’s PHO-701 MM/MC hybrid phono preamp earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before we got one in hand for a proper review, and our man Ken Micallef was eagerly up to the task. Read on to see if the PHO-701’s big sound, wide stage, and generous character make it a prime contender in the $800 phono preamp price range. . .

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 21, 2023  |  13 comments

We’re always on the lookout for good — if not certainly great — phono preamps to get our hands on to review here for the AnalogPlanet faithful, and Pathos’ In The Groove MM/MC phono preamp certainly fits the bill. Read Ken Micallef’s detailed review to see if this well-crafted solid-state phono stage is right for you. . .

Ken Micallef  |  Aug 22, 2022  |  19 comments

The Manley Chinook MC/MM phono preamplifier is one of the most highly regarded, favorably reviewed phono stages on the market. A true hi-fi bargain in audiophile terms — a veritable giant killer, you might even say — we think it’s a perfect candidate for an AnalogPlanet review. So, just how good is the Chinook? Read on to find out. . .

Michael Fremer  |  May 14, 2022  |  31 comments
If the audio industry handed out awards, the winner for “The most improved analog product of the decade” would be Schiit’s Mani 2 MM/MC phono preamplifier. Okay, that’s “click bait” so how about “Schiit’s Mani 2 might be the winner”? Yes, let’s stick with that.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 19, 2022  |  28 comments
When in the late 1980s Bent Holter started Hegel—named after The Hegel Band, a rock band in which he played, which itself must have been named for the philosopher—designing a phono preamplifier would have been the last thing on his mind, if a phono preamplifier would have been at all on his mind—at least one to manufacture. He’d built one for personal use, I recall him telling me a few years ago at an EISA convention.

Nathan Zeller  |  Aug 16, 2021  |  99 comments
The term oversaturated adequately describes most of the entry-level phono preamplifier market, no thanks to those selling functionally identical electronics distinguishable only by brand logos. For a multitude of reasons, mainly their unremarkable sound, seasoned audiophiles steer clear of these products. Their avoidance may also be caused by an allergy to inexpensive items, but that’s mere speculation. Unfortunately, new audiophiles know no better and often fall victim to the sub-par offerings. It’s up to talented engineers like Six Acoustic founder Steve Meszlenyi to show newbies what they’re missing.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 12, 2021  |  18 comments
What’s “surprising” about QHW Audio’s “The Vinyl” phono preamplifier? More than a few things, starting with its Made In Spain origin. Perhaps I’m just ignorant but other than the highest tech WADAX brand of digital electronics, an older piece of which I reviewed for Stereophile, I’m not aware of a burgeoning Spanish audio manufacturing scene. Perhaps I’m mistaken. If so, I’d be happy to stand corrected.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 10, 2021  |  20 comments
Hagerman Audio Lab’s 3rd generation fully balanced from input to output 3 pound Trumpet MC combines a differential JFET input front-end with a more conventional 6 dual-triode vacuum tube (4X 12AX7, 2X 12AU7) gain/ phase-splitter/driver/output (if I misread the schematic, which is possible, Hagerman will correct me!). Each tube came fitted with a damping ring.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 08, 2021  |  16 comments
iFi’s Zen Phono preamplifier replaces the busy, but super-adjustable dip-switch laden operating system found on the company’s far more costly ($999), feature-rich iPhono 3 for a much simpler one, yet the Zen offers an impressive feature set, and high build and parts quality, all for $149.99.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2020  |  45 comments
The recently introduced iPhono 3 is the third iteration of the remarkably compact, full-featured phono preamp iFi first introduced in 2012 that AnalogPlanet most positively reviewed. The original unit sold for $399.

iFi introduced in 2016 the seriously upgraded iPhono2 more positively reviewed on this website. The company made significant upgrades to both parts and features. Despite the many improvements, the price increased a scant $100 to $499.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 29, 2020  |  23 comments
ELAC Alchemy designer Peter Madnick is well-known to veteran audiophiles as the man behind, among other companies, Audio Alchemy, the “high end” brand that during the 1990s made high performance affordable. With Madnick designing and the business side run by Mark Shifter—a guy who could sell ham to a Hasid—Audio Alchemy had a formidable, decade long run before it folded.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 27, 2020  |  11 comments
Parasound’s $595 ZPhono XRM is a compact, versatile MM/MC phono preamplifier that offers flexibility and features not usually found at this price point including gold-plated balanced XLR outputs (and gold-plated single-ended RCA outputs), a mono switch, an 18dB/octave rumble filter and for its MC input, continuously variable loading from 50ohms to 1050ohms.