Music Hall Introduces $90 Mini MM Phono Preamplifier

Yes, there really was affordable analog gear at CES 2015, including this $90 Mini MM phono preamplifier from Music Hall.

The Mini includes a 3.5" mini-jack output as well as standard RCA jacks. The 3.5" mini-jack allows you to connect the Mini's output directly to an analog input of powered speakers or to wherever else it might work best in your system.

Ortofan's picture

...a switch to provide several different settings for load capacitance?

Is this a discrete transistor or IC based design - or a combination of both?
Active or passive RIAA EQ - or a combination of both?

vinyl listener's picture

... or arguably at higher price points.

Michael Fremer's picture
Adding a capacitive loading switch would put the cost well above the attractive $100 price point and is not really necessary. No doubt the unit's capacitive load is set at 50 or 100pF just as its resistive loading is set to 47kOhms. Neither can be precisely correct for every moving magnet cartridge but both are close enough for the vast majority of cartridges. Add cable capacitance for the grand total. Passive or active is also not important at this price point, nor is discrete or IC based. There are great examples of both at various price points. The ASR line from Germany are all IC-based. They are expensive and superb-sounding.
Ortofan's picture

If you look at the schematic for the Rolls VP29, on which the Mini is allegedly based, there is no load capacitor at all - just the 47K resistor.

Checking the specs for cartridges from A-T and Ortofon, the recommended load capacitance varies from 100pF to 600pF. Given that range of values, are you still sure that one value would fit all?

While adjusting the load capacitance can always be done with a Y cable and some extra phono plugs with capacitors soldered into them, building that feature into the preamp would give Music Hall a USP compared with all the other low cost phono preamps on the market.

Ortofan's picture

A webpage for the mini is now up on the music hall site.
Input impedance is quoted in one location as 47kΩ and as 50kΩ in another. Stated input capacitance is (only) 5pF.
There's a link to the manual, which is the same as for the Rolls/Bellari VP-29.

Michael Fremer's picture
for the update.
Logansport Berry's picture

Mikey - awhile back you started a thread about the Hagerman Bugle 2 phono stage funded by a Kickstarter campaign. I don't think you ever posted a review about it - what's the possibility that you could do a shootout of inexpensive phono stages like the Bugle 2 and the Music Hall stage in this thread?

Michael Fremer's picture
I have to find time to build the one I bought as a kit.....
Logansport Berry's picture

My birthday's coming up soon, and the missus asked what I'd like. I got the go-ahead to order a built-up Bugle 2; placed the order and Jim H. emailed back that he's out of boards and has some due in next week. Perhaps the race should be on - who's Bugle 2 will make it to built-up status first???

jsm59's picture

...or a re-badged Rolls/Bellari VP-29 (which MH already distributes)? Funny, back panel layout looks the same.

Michael Fremer's picture
Music Hall says the new Mini is based on the VP-29 circuit but uses higher quality parts.
Frenchvintagehifi's picture

Hi Michael,

Do you know how it would compare to a NAD PP3i, which is obviously more expensive and that I intend to keep in any case?
Cheers from Oz


Michael Fremer's picture
I'd have to directly compare to provide an answer.