Six Acoustic’s Transparent York MM/MC Phono Preamplifier

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.

Six Acoustic launched in the fall of 2019 with a noble goal: to provide the audiophile with the tools to realize the most transparent delivery of their music at reasonable prices. Not only does Steve Meszlenyi have the capacity to do this, he did it years before the company took shape. The product designs aren’t new; they’re years of designs formed whilst in the OEM side of the audio industry. Heavy lifting out of the way, the struggle shifted to choosing a launch product. Originally, he planned to release the X-1200W integrated power amplifier, a 1200 watt two-channel Class D amplifier. However, concerned that customers would hesitate to buy a high-end product from a new company, plans changed. After noticing the vinyl resurgence and the attention it garners, he released the York: a compact phono stage with great flexibility and outstanding performance. What’s the price point? Five-hundred Canadian dollars ($396.46 USD).

You needn’t worry about pairing the York with your phono cartridge. It’s adjustability encourages the use of all. Setting the gain for a moving magnet, moving coil, or moving iron cartridge is straightforward and done via a front panel button, though finetuning is possible with a separate knob. Impedance is adjustable via dip switches at the unit’s underside with a variety of options including 1kΩ, 47kΩ (for moving magnet cartridges), or 17Ω, 20Ω, 91Ω, and 100Ω for moving coil. Capacitance is set in the same manner, now with more options including 0pF, 100pF, 150pF, 220pF, 250pF, 320pF, 370pF, and 470pF. Goodies in the box include an 18V DC power supply, a dip-switch adjustment tool, rubber feet, and a user manual. A remote control’s absence is unattractive (though expected), but the unit itself is anything but that. Measuring 6.5” x 7.2” x 1.2”, the brushed aluminum chassis fits well in modern homes, taking a footprint no larger than a novel. The design is sleek, having only the required adjusters visible. The side panels are a nice touch, with ridges resembling a record’s surface. It’s a piece you want people to see, but is it a piece you want people to hear?

As it went, an AnalogPlanet reader answered that question in an enthusiastic email to Michael Fremer. It read somewhere along the lines of “you’ve got to hear this thing!” Intrigued by the tip, and by the Canadian company he’d never heard of, Michael passed the review over to the also Canadian Nathan Zeller (that’s me if you weren’t sure). I excitedly agreed, thrilled by the idea of writing a new kind of review. A short while later, the unit came into my home. Before I share a month’s findings, let us thank Steve Meszlenyi for allowing a young “newbie” reviewer the opportunity! .

During my listening I used two cartridges: the MoFi StudioTracker and the Ortofon 2M Black LVB 250, both installed on a MoFi StudioDeck. The signal ran through generic interconnects into the York, then to an Onkyo TX-NR626 multi-channel receiver, where the signal eventually met a vintage pair of Technics SB-X700A loudspeakers. It’s an odd combination of components, yet it’s brought me to tears on many occasions, especially with the York.

The Beach Boys - Surfer Girl (APP 060-45)

The double-disc Analogue Productions stereo pressing of Surfer Girl arrived a day before the York. That evening gave me a fresh memory of my under $100 ART DJ Pre II handling the music. When the York found its way into my system, set at 47kΩ and 150pF, I returned to this album. Though before the Ortofon 2M Black LVB 250’s stylus met the record, it first met the stylus cleaner. The sound of the stylus lowering into the melamine foam told plenty about the York’s characteristics. Playing “In My Room” confirms what merely cleaning the stylus suggests. The music tightens right up and detaches a fair amount from the speakers. The song’s outstanding vocals sparkle, extending far beyond the sides of each speaker, thus creating a more convincing recreation of musicians in the room. Dennis Wilson’s drums suddenly possess a height and realism I hadn’t before heard. Rather than the entire drum set being jumbled together, the cymbal now lives above the snare. I know this is how it’s meant to sound.

“The Surfer Moon” proves more impressive than the previous track. A solid image of Brian Wilson appears in the center of the soundstage, soothing my ears with silky vocals. Now with a deeper soundstage than before, the strings also sit closer to the rear, leaving more room for the song's more important instruments.

Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac (MSK 2281)

“Warm Ways” and “Landslide” show that Fleetwood Mac cared about the recording of their music. It’s a no-brainer to use the two in evaluating the sound of a system. The first thing you’ll hear in “Warm Ways” is toms. Timbrally, the Ortofon and York combination present the toms as lush, lifelike, and believable. As the song continues, the combination handles each instrument with ease. The bass drum’s beat hits deep and fast. The electric guitar floats inside the image, divorced from the speakers. The acoustic guitar follows suit, appearing behind the right speaker rather than within. By the entry of Christine McVie’s vocal you needn’t more goodness, but you get it anyway. As with The Beach Boys’ vocals, she now sings above the instruments. The York peels a layer off haze away too, better showcasing the faint rasp in her voice.

“Landslide” impresses equally, if not more so. Stunning guitar work fills the stage, acting as a base for Stevie Nicks’ vocal expression, which is more intimate and detailed than I’ve heard it thus far. Not her singing, but the raw sound of air passing through her vocal cords is now audible alongside the melody. This detail adds to the “you are there” factor. Also, courtesy of the York, other details are revealed in her singing. Her voice periodically swells in volume, especially as she reaches the higher notes. This is an excellent demonstration of small-scale dynamics: the minor volume changes lasting momentarily. Larger scale dynamic shifts exist within the song as well. When Nicks decides to “take it down,” the entire performance shifts to a gentle conversation, evoking more emotion as the volume once more increases.

Charlie Puth - Voicenotes (572341-1)

“The Way I Am” is a wonderful test for transient accuracy, as its verses feature sixteenth note bass strikes. The York excels as per usual, delivering the tune in a shockingly tight manner and retrieving from the low end a pleasing warmth. As Puth sings higher in the frequency range, the York shows no sign of giving up. These vocals neither overtake the bass or hide behind it. It’s all just there. The York represents all areas of the frequency spectrum. It’s not colored, nor is it clinical. Again, it’s all just there.

Conclusion

Across the board, the York shines in the exact way Six Acoustic intended. It brings your records to life through presenting the remainder of the signal chain with a low distortion and low noise output. A tight adherence to the RIAA equalization curve (± 0.01dB) surely assists as well in the unit’s excellent sound. It’s important to admit I never touched the moving coil stage, as I haven’t a moving coil cartridge to use. However, knowing how Six Acoustic’s promises all overlap with my observations, it’s safe to assume the moving coil stage is as good, if not better than the moving magnet stage. Put simply, the York is a joy to use. Gone are the days where Canadian audiophiles pay ludicrous import fees to feed their audio hunger. Six Acoustic allows you to amplify your musical enjoyment without the financial complications. The company has a bright future and certainly a mighty beginning.

(Nathan Zeller is a Beatles fanatic and budding audiophile found in Western Canada. Currently, he’s inhaling the smoke of the British Columbia wildfires. Nothing like summer, right?)

COMMENTS
Jim Hagerman's picture

Something tells me this circuit is essentially a copy of my Bugle (now in it's 3rd evolution) phonostage design. And if it is, well then it should sound as good as the review states!

Take a look at their "reverse RIAA" product. It is an EXACT copy of my circuit! Every single component value. If they are willing to do that (and he's not the only one), maybe he copied my phonostage as well?

I lay down a challenge here: Mr. Meszlenyi, please post a decent photo of that circuit board, proving you came up with your own design, and did not copy mine.

Steve 6Acoustic's picture

Thanks for expressing your thoughts. Glad to see that a fellow audio designer has taken interest in the York! Please contact me through the contact page on our website https://www.sixacoustic.com/contact and I would be happy to address any of your questions directly.

Steve

Jim Hagerman's picture

Post whatever proof you have that you did not copy my circuit here.

https://www.haglabs.com/collections/phono-preamps/products/bugle3-phono-...

powermatic's picture

...to any and all correspondence on this. No question that the RIAA board, and the deflection from 'Steve', doesn't look good.

mraudioguru's picture

...pony up and answer Jim's question. I am willing to bet that this is Jim's design. Is this a "public domain" design or can legal action be made?

liguorid42's picture

I doubt it. It's just a TI monolithic amp IC with a few passive components. There's not much, if anything, new under the sun in analog circuit design. The circuit for the Bugle is right on his Web site. The PCB itself, which is offered for sale separately, *might* qualify as intellectual property. Still, if he bought the board, stuffed it and put it in an enclosure, that is value added. Attribution would have been nice, is all. If he photographically copied the board and had his own etched, minus the Hagerman silkscreening, there *might* be a case, but I doubt it would be monetarily worth pursuing. Like photocopying a book and selling it. For the circuit topology, definitely not. The best he could do is bitch about it in places like this. By the exact same logic, TI could complain Hagerman stole their design.

Jim Hagerman's picture

Yes I use opamps in my design. I do not claim to have designed them. Nor did I take an existing opamp design, repackage it, and call it my own. I give full credit and attribution. In fact, I am one of very few high-end audio manufacturer's that actually do publish schematics. I stole nothing from TI. I am not hiding anything.

Analog circuit design is not dead, only a fool would believe otherwise. And no, it's not just a few passive components. You don't just grab parts out of a box and start soldering. Shakespeare was not a monkey at a typewriter, either.

Analog Scott's picture

bad analogy. You can't liken ciruit design aimed at accurately transmitting an audio signal to a producer of original content. Along those lines ironically it is often said that there really are only 5 basic plots in story telling. So my questions are 1. just how original is your design? 2. in what ways does it's originality really differentiate it from other designs? 3. How many truly fundamentally different viable ways are there to skin this cat?

Jim Hagerman's picture

Good analog circuit design is an art form itself. This shit is not easy! We are indeed creating original content.

Look at the number of different phonostages out there today. Must be hundreds of them, and they are not all the same! There are many different ways to do this. I'm sorry if you cannot see that.

Analog Scott's picture

Not sayin you are wrong about this being a copy but you are not quite creating "original content" in the same way as a playwright. That is not to say analog circuit design isn't an art form unto itself. I couldn't say. But the purpose of all phono preamps is essentially the same. Maybe you could elaborate on typical differences between circuit designs and how this one is too similar not to be a knock off of your specific original design? For example, cars, there are all kinds of differences in car designs and there are all kinds of common forms and motifs. If one car designer accused another of plagiarism because both have 4 wheels, a front engine, auto transmission, bucket seats, etc etc we could safely say nope, that is not plagiarism. That is common form already established for most cars. However there are clear design aspects of cars that are novel and original. So maybe you could offer up a little more detail on this issue?

Michael Fremer's picture
Yes the function is simple enough: boost the output, insert the inverse RIAA curve and buffer the output, but there are multitudes of ways to accomplish this and the simple way in which you pose the question is usually a result of not knowing enough to understand all of the variables involved! Seriously.
Analog Scott's picture

what IYO does one one give up without having adjustable capacitance?

Jim Hagerman's picture

Capacitive loading goes back to early days, when MM carts did not have very good bandwidth. The "fix" was to add in a little bit of capacitance to resonate with inductance from the cartridge in order to extend frequency response. Basically a 2nd order peaking circuit, it actually improves measured response! But at what sacrifice? Manufacturers loved this because they could advertise better numbers.

But there was a better solution, just increase the 47k resistive loading. That also shifts the -3dB point, but without adding resonance. This is a well-known trick with old Shure M95 carts.

However, this is no longer needed! Modern MM carts are so much better than what we had in the 60's and 70's that such band-aids are no longer needed.

It may be true that manufacturers still specify a particular capacitive loading, but you will find out through experience that it sounds better without. That is why I have always made my phonostages with absolutely minimal input capacitance. Treble is then free to flow without restriction or resonance. Add in capacitance and now you will start to "hear" the capacitor as well. In extreme cases this manifests as harshness and fatigue. Personally, I believe that is a very bad choice.

Analog Scott's picture

much appreciated.

michaelj's picture

I doubt it was Dennis on the drums. Most of the instruments were played by the wreaking crew.

Nathan Zeller's picture

I suppose it's possible and I actually did try to fact-check that one, but most sources pointed to it being Dennis. I've always thought Brian first used The Wrecking Crew with "Be True To Your School," which was to my knowledge recorded shortly after Surfer Girl. I could be wrong about most of that.

Either way, I'm just happy to hear some three-dimensionality to the recording.

PaulG's picture

I don’t think they smelled that bad….

Ortofan's picture

... review of a $400 phono preamp, played through a 7-year-old $600 home-theater receiver into a 25-year-old $500 set of speakers?

Michael Fremer's picture
Applaud a young vinyl enthusiast's first equipment review and given the price of the phono preamp, consider the system appropriate. You also should applaud that he's hearing the differences between a budget phono pre that's his reference and this no subtle upgrade. When I wrote my first equipment review for The Absolute Sound, my system was hardly "absolute". I'd say Nathan's review is aimed squarely at some of our new, younger readers.
Ortofan's picture

... a bit more specific?

When I was 15, my system - comprised of components that were all bought new - had a purchase price equivalent to about $5,000 in today's money.

Also, it would be interesting to know - from the perspective of a "young" vinyl enthusiast - if Mr. Zeller would consider $5,000 (or $6,300 CAD) to be a reasonable sum for someone his age to spend on an audio system today.

Alastair McClean's picture

Ortofan,if you had been paying attention to Nathan’s writings you would know he’s still at school. My first system bought at age 15 cost well under $1,000 (JVC belt drive turntable,a Hitachi amp and Mordaunt Short Carnival speakers) in today’s money-I couldn’t afford anything more until I qualified in my chosen. profession aged 23.To but that first proper system I saved birthday money,parsed my allowance and worked evenings and weekends in a butchers shop. Every penny I had went on records concert tickets and that wonderful hifi . I never knew anyone who had anything like the sort of money you mention to spend on anything,never mind hi-fi. I guess late 1970’s Manchester,UK was a little less monied than wherever you hail from.
Best regards from London,UK.

Ortofan's picture

... the "younger" authors because they are mainly reviews of music by artists and in genres of which I have no interest. So be it.

As far as the $800 I spent on a new audio system back in the mid-1970s, I'm not under the impression that such an amount was necessarily out of reach for my contemporaries. However, most of them had their sights set on acquiring some sort of a motor vehicle as soon as they had passed their driver's license exam at age 16. I didn't need one, since I traveled to school (and summer jobs) by bus and suffered no issues with being seen riding it.

liguorid42's picture

Per my comment below, I think an audio review should be for people who love music, but be as genre-independent as possible. Focus on how it reproduces vocals, strings, piano, guitar, etc. and not on your love of the Beach Boys, or whatever.

thatguy's picture

And, in some countries, it is much harder for a 15 year old to get a job to make money for things like audio equipment anymore. With a super high minimum wage, why bring in a kid with zero experience to give them a chance. Plus liability fears have largely driven away paying neighbor kids to do yardwork.

Ortofan's picture

... you have to search for and inquire about them, because they won't come find you.
Also, you have to begin looking early in the year - think January, rather than June when your parents tell you to get a summer job.

thatguy's picture

In the US an internship generally means you are working for free to learn and they certainly aren't aimed at 15 year olds. Intern jobs are for graduates or near graduates that are looking at going into that field.
At 15 most people would still be 2-3 years from graduating and seen as a nuisance at most work places. Of course with the exception of getting to be a writer for analogplanet; in which case he has just started his journey so this would be the time to be saving for a new system. To have a higher dollar system at 15 he would have had to start working at 14 or younger to save up. But I guess he could have gone back in time and gotten a paper route to make money.

Jazz listener's picture

that you want to punch in the face two minutes after he starts talking…

Anton D's picture

I suggest you go kick Herb and JA1's asses for using 40 year old speakers in their reviews.

I do applaud you for the fact you forwent your usual screed about what they should have reviewed in that price category.

Ortofan's picture

... it still meets with criticism.
At least I try to discuss the equipment.

One might expect a nascent audio equipment reviewer to have a system assembled from relatively contemporary products, so that a shopper has some realistic chance of going into a store and hearing what the reviewer heard. I have several pairs of speakers that are 40-year-old, but I'm not a professional reviewer of audio equipment.

Both JA1 and HR use the KEF LS50 speakers as part of their line-up of associated equipment. Those speakers - or, perhaps, the Wharfedale Linton or the Revel M16 or M105 - would be a good choice for a young reviewer on a limited budget.
If those are too pricey, then something from the ELAC Debut line, or the PSB Alpha P5 reviewed by JA1 or the JBL Stage A170 reviewed by HR.
https://www.stereophile.com/content/psb-alpha-p5-loudspeaker
https://www.stereophile.com/content/jbl-stage-a170-loudspeaker

If it's screed you want, allow me to oblige.
How about a comparison between this (or other similarly priced) phono preamp and the phono stage built into a complete integrated amp that sells for not much more money, such as - for $450 - either the Denon PMA-600NE or the NAD C316BEEv2.
Is a $400 phono preamp the best upgrade for a system anchored by an old home-theater receiver, or would those funds be better spent on a new integrated amp?

Analog Scott's picture

there is little to no realistic chance of walking into a hifi shop and hearing what the reviewer heard regardless of what the reviewer used

Crazyhorse11's picture

What's wrong with that? The hobby should be open to all, with varying budgets. Should I not be able to review equipment with my 30+ year old Klipsch Heresy speakers? Or my 6 year old Rega amp? Why does it matter. Hifi shouldn't be an elitist hobby and its comments like yours that unfortunately disuade people from speaking out. Shameful. Get over yourself.

thatguy's picture

well said.

Ortofan's picture

... pair of 30-year-old Klipsch speakers and a 6-year-old Rega amp on hand so that I could use them to audition whichever piece of equipment you might review in order to determine if I can discern whatever aspects of sound quality you might ascribe to that unit?

Anton D's picture

Take from the reviews what you like, or not.

Try finding store to audition almost any new gear mentioned here, as well.

This is all kind of an audio conversation, not catalog updates.

Ortofan's picture

... PSB Alpha P5 or the JBL Stage A170 - or a $450 integrated amp - were considered to be elitist?

Jazz listener's picture

again, you friendless annoying freak. You’re the type of guy that begs to be punched in the face as soon as you open your friggin cake hole. Get lost.

Analog Scott's picture

Total harmonic distortion plus noise <0.001%. RIAA accuracy +/- 0.01db. SNR @ 40db > 100 db. SNR @ 60 db > 80 db. " Setting the gain for a moving magnet, moving coil, or moving iron cartridge is straightforward and done via a front panel button, though finetuning is possible with a separate knob. Impedance is adjustable via dip switches at the unit’s underside with a variety of options including 1kΩ, 47kΩ (for moving magnet cartridges), or 17Ω, 20Ω, 91Ω, and 100Ω for moving coil. Capacitance is set in the same manner, now with more options including 0pF, 100pF, 150pF, 220pF, 250pF, 320pF, 370pF, and 470pF. Goodies in the box include an 18V DC power supply, a dip-switch adjustment tool, rubber feet, and a user manual." That's all I needed to know. It's audibly transparent, remarkably flexible in areas that matter most, looks nice, seems to be well built and is ridiculously inexpensive. Nathan did a great job of giving me the info I need. Strongly considering this unit after this review.

Ortofan's picture

... parrot the specs provided by the manufacturer, or were any measurements made to verify the manufacturer's claims?

If this unit, at about $400, is "ridiculously inexpensive" and "seems to be well built", then how does it compare with the $150 iFi Zen Phono?
Is the parts and construction quality of the York more than twice as good as that of the Zen Phono?
To which other phono preamps did the reviewer compare the York?

Michael Fremer's picture
Your comments under this review incredibly offense and pathetic.
Ortofan's picture

... essentially states 'I hooked this phono preamp up to my old home-theater receiver and ancient speakers and thought it sounded great'?

Do you accept the claim of a tolerance of +/-0.01 dB for the RIAA equalization?
Same for the SNR spec of >100 dB.

Wymax's picture

If the review was published in the Stereophile magazine I would indeed be disappointed... But AnalogPlanet has chosen to also contain reviews done by mere customers, and they cannot be expected to deliver the same level of reviewing than the Stereophile staff. I think that MF also considers AP to be more of a playing ground compared to Stereophile.

However, while Stereophile regularly contains measurements for loudspeakers and amplifiers, I don't recall phono stages being measured to see if the manufacturer specifications are correct. And I certainly wouldn't expect a peer review here on AP to contain it either, just as I wouldn't expect it in a forum.

Ortofan's picture

... being missed - especially for the premier analog-oriented website.

One might have a reasonable expectation (or hope) that a $400 external phono preamp would outperform whatever circuit is built into a home-theater receiver. So, does subjective confirmation really tell us much?

IMO, it would be more useful to determine whether or not that $400 external phono preamp would outperform whatever circuit is built into a complete integrated amp selling for about $450. If so, then would it be better to upgrade the entry-level integrated amp with an external phono preamp, or to spend that $400 upgrading to a better integrated amp.

Likewise, if you're a first time buyer (or replacing older equipment) would you better off buying a $450 integrated amp plus a $400 external phono preamp or spending the entire sum on an integrated amp?

For that matter, at that price level, you could buy a Yamaha receiver (with built-in phono stage) that incorporates a room acoustics correction system. Might the results of room correction far outweigh whatever improvement accrues from adding a modestly priced external phono preamp?

Regarding measurements, while a young reviewer may not be set up to perform them, why doesn't MF have the necessary equipment? He already makes speed measurements of turntables, so why not electrical measurements of phono preamps? Considering the amount he seems to have spent on his reference system, the acquisition cost of some test equipment wouldn't seem to present an impediment. Perhaps he could even arrange for the loan of such devices. While the subjective portion of a review could be farmed out to others as he sees fit, measurements of the review sample could be done by MF.

Wymax's picture

You are setting demands for what I assume is an unpaid review... If you would like such a detailed review, you could set an example by doing it yourself, but I don't think you can demand this and that from others. Wanting something will not always make it happen.

A manufacturer will also not be following your demands but his own. So just like you choose to not purchase a product because you don't agree with its design or specifications, just skip reviews when you discover that they don't meet your expectations.

Measurements in Stereophile are always performed by John Atkinson, I think this job requires a lot of curiosity and diligence, while a reviewer trusts his/her ears, like MF does, I don't think he cares much about measurements. Here again you may choose to not read Stereophile (or AP for that matter) if you disagree with their way of doing things.

Michael Fremer's picture
When a product in Stereophile gets full review treatment it gets measured and that includes phono preamps, though most I cover are in my Analog Corner column. In my Stereophile column that's not done either. In fact, no other American magazine or website produces any measured results. It's just the way it is.
Ortofan's picture

... American website?

Following, for example, is a link to their measurements of the iFi Audio iPhono3 Black Label Phono Preamplifier:

https://soundstagenetwork.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&...

John Atkinson's picture
Ortofan wrote:
Is SoundStage HiFi/SoundStage Network an American website?

Canadian, based in Ottawa.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Ortofan's picture

... "American", per the NAFTA/USMCA.

Analog Scott's picture

"Do you accept the claim of a tolerance of +/-0.01 dB for the RIAA equalization?
Same for the SNR spec of >100 dB."

yes. do you see a reason not to accept those claims?

Ortofan's picture

... the same (or better) specifications for RIAA EQ deviation and signal to noise ratio?

Analog Scott's picture

But I am sure I could find one easily enough if I looked. Do you see any reason to doubt the specs?

Ortofan's picture

it can be done easily enough, see if you can find one - and also note the price of whichever unit it is, should you find one.

That might give you some indication as to whether or not the specifications for this product are credible.

Analog Scott's picture

price points and specs on electronics in audio often have little correlation. If you have an actual valid reason to doubt these specs please feel free to fill us in. I'm not going on an Easter Egg hunt to confirm or refute your assumptions.

Ortofan's picture

... with the same or better specs "easily enough".
If, as you assert, it's so easy to do, then either find one or admit that you can't.

Analog Scott's picture

dude, this is not some dumb ass pissing contest. Here's an idea, checkout the phono preamp that is apparently essentially the same design from Hagerman Audiolabs. Essentially the same SNR at around 60db gain. You can literally ask the guy who apparently designed this circuit whether or not he gets the same specs across the board. He's active on this thread! By the way his unit is less than half the price. If you have a legitimate reason to doubt the specs in the review please for the third time show us! Show us any legitimate evidence that the stated specs are inaccurate. Here is a hint, the accuracy of those specs do not depend on anything I can or can not find online about other units. It has nothing to do with me. Use facts about the actual unit and logic and make your case. Stop acting like a typical audiophile.

Ortofan's picture

... one other phono preamp whose specifications meet or exceed those of the York - especially when such a task could be accomplished "easily enough".

Analog Scott's picture

Of course I can but I am not going to jump through hoops to engage in a dumb ass irrelevant pissing contest. Once again like a typical audiophile who suffers from toxic fandom syndrom you keep trying to turn it into a personal contest. Back to the actual subject, the actual specs in the review. For the fourth time, do you have any objective evidence and logical argument that the specs in the review are in anyway inaccurate? My prediction, you don't and once again you will try to make this about me. Audiophiles are such pathetic creatures. Even when I call you on it in advance you won't be able to help yourself. Go ahead, enjoy the last word, try to make it about me again and ignore the actual subject.

Ortofan's picture

... another phono preamp with specifications that are equal to or better than the York, that might answer your question as to why I doubt the specs for the York.

Analog Scott's picture

you couldn't help yourself. I will give you a little hint. Scroll down and you will see links to 16 different phono preamps on this page. Click on them and read the specs. ;-)

Ortofan's picture

... "easily enough", why don't you check the specs for those 16 different phono preamps. Then you can tell us which of them has specs that meet or exceed those for the York.

Jazz listener's picture

he is obviously either oblivious to how fucking annoying he is, or has nothing better to do with his time. Ortofan - the only problem with this review is YOU. I have no doubt you regularly hear this from your co-workers, family, women, small children, etc… but let me repeat it again, get lost.

Analog Scott's picture

And you can check them too. Do you need someone to chew your food and wipe your ass for you as well?

Jim Hagerman's picture

Some of the claims are a bit beyond extraordinary. The Bugle3 circuit comes in at 82dBA for MM carts and probably around 70dBA (I forget) for MC. Such superlative performance of >100dB is not possible (yet) for a passive equalization topology, as you drop roughly 30dB gain in the process.

Similarly, while the opamps may be capable of 0.001% THD+noise by themselves, you can't achieve such with three of them in a row. SNR of 100dB all by itself would equal 0.001% THD+noise, nevermind any contribution from distortion.

Equalization accuracy of +/-0.01dB is wholly made up. Even with 1% component tolerances this circuit only goes to +/-0.1dB. In real life I use 5% tolerance capacitors, which ends up with a maximum of +/-0.4dB error. That was a study I did 19 years ago (and had put into this web page):

http://www.hagtech.com/equalization.html

Analog Scott's picture

a fact based logical argument. Thank you.

Ortofan's picture

... you not resisted checking the specifications of other phono preamps.

The expectation was that, by not finding any other products with the same or superior specs, you would come to your own realization that the specs for the York are, as Mr. Hagerman phrased it, "a bit beyond extraordinary" and "wholly made up."

I tried that approach since you had said that you were "someone who doesn't know much about analog circuit design."

In any event, Mr. Hagerman handed you the answer and, in so doing, explained the basis for my doubts regarding the specs for the York.

Analog Scott's picture

Except for the fact that I did find other preamps with equal or better specs. And I knew damned well it didn't matter.

"In any event, Mr. Hagerman handed you the answer and, in so doing, explained the basis for my doubts regarding the specs for the York"

I suggest you let him do all your talking from now on. He seems to know how to make his points using facts and logic.

Ortofan's picture

... with equal or better specs than those of the York?

Analog Scott's picture

But you didn't look.

Analog Scott's picture

look again at the adjustability. Much more flexible loading and capacitance settings. Essential IMO for a SOTA phono preamp.

xtcfan80's picture

Take it outside, please!!!

Steelhead's picture

Read this for general interest as I am set with my gear and setup.

If Surfer Girl on AP doesn't wow you give up on vinyl and go digital. It is full of life and air on my system and just a fantastic spin. I would listen to this on ANY component including young Mr. Zeller's and suspect it would sound great

Know Mr. Hagerman by his excellent reputation and will be interested in the outcome of this dustup.

Happy listening

clarkie's picture

Well folks...I'm the Canadian guy who emailed Mickey about the York Phono. Here's what I wrote...

Hi Mikey: I recently replaced my phono stage with a Canadian design from Six Acoustics in Ajax, Toronto. The York retails for 499.00 CAD and offers MM and MC compatibility. I am very impressed by this 'little thing'. One of it's really useful functions is variable gain. -4dB +12dB on top of the usual gain structure. I know you are busy but maybe you could ask for one for review, I'm sure they would be gobsmacked. Alternatively you could point Herb in their general direction.

Here is the URL https://www.sixacoustic.com/yorkoverview

Regards Geoff Clarke (in Guelph Canada)

This 'little thing' still surprises me on well known records I have owned for decades. I have owned many phono stages in my (50 years of audio) time...some exotic AND expensive...but this one really shows that great sound quality CAN be obtained for a little outlay.

Regards Geoff Clarke.

rschryer's picture

...or something else?

Nathan Zeller's picture

I ought to thank you for mentioning this to Michael. It allowed me to write my first phono preamplifier review, even if the product itself is becoming more controversial than the rest.

Analog Scott's picture

But I am sure you are learning the downside of reviewing audio. Audiophiles are your audience.

Anton D's picture

...and he is us!

Great post, Scott.

thatguy's picture

I enjoyed the review and really liked the take on the item connected to normal sort of equipment, the kind that everyday people might be using.

I see so many writeups about 'how do we get more people into hifi?'. The first step is welcoming those that have regular systems and encouraging them to upgrade the items that will make a noticeable difference like this. Reading that it sounds great hooked up to a $10,000 amp and $15,000 speakers does very little good for a lot of people.

liguorid42's picture

Since I'm unfamiliar with most of the records alluded to, they are unhelpful to me. Just tell us, generically, how it sounds with music, and compare it to the sound produced by other examples from the "oversaturated" market, and why we should buy this pre over another.

This is a common vice, in my opinion, with many "subjective" reviews today. How you feel about your music is too subjective to be of use to me. Gordon Holt used to use descriptors like "warm", "grainy", "liquid", etc. to try and convey how things actually sounded (though he did open up that Pandora's Box with his "goosebump test").

dial's picture

I think it's a good product for the price (hey ! Less than 400 bucks !)it could be interesting to get one with a crackle-eliminator like on izotope;

Anton D's picture

Is this unit merely a counterfeit copy copped from the capacious catalog of Jim Hagerman's constant creativity, or is it an actual authentic analog amplifier of original design?

mraudioguru's picture

"Persnickety problem of the plagiarized pre?"

Sounds like a Hardy Boy's mystery :-)

I'm curious to the outcome also.

Jim Hagerman's picture

I can confirm that this is indeed a blatant ripoff of my Bugle circuit (with the addition of capacitive loading and a variable gain control).

It is so obvious that they intentionally cover the circuit with goop in an attempt to hide what lies beneath. Nice try Steve, nice try...

Anton D's picture

I appreciate your input, I admire your work/efforts and the relationship you have maintained with our hobby.

Ortofan's picture

another seems so - as MF might phrase it - incredibly offensive and pathetic.

Analog Scott's picture

what is this about "goop?"

CHARLES F PORT's picture

@Jim -- I trust your honesty and work ethic, and superior designs, so when you say that this "Six Acoustic’s Transparent York MM/MC Phono Preamplifier" is a clone/copy of your Bugle3, I believe you, and find that “a sad state of affairs”. I will make sure to disseminate this commentary. Still love my JFET Archiver.

Analog Scott's picture

My first question would be how many different ways can one design an RIAA EQ gain stage circuit? How do different designs really differ?

Ortofan's picture

... Stanley Lipschitz, published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, might be a good place to start.

Analog Scott's picture

As much as I could follow it he seems to indicate that there really isn't a lot of room for "creative design" of a phono preamp. He cites 4 basic approaches and indicates that the specific designs have pretty much no room for deviation.

Ortofan's picture

... the RIAA network in an active or passive circuit configuration - or possibly some combination of the two.

Analog Scott's picture

But as it relates to this conversation about plagiarism of circuit designs the article seems to be saying that once you pick your path as a designer the choices in circuit design are quite minimal if one want's an accurate RIAA inversion curve. Am I misunderstanding the Lipshitz paper?

Ortofan's picture

... necessarily cover all possible circuit configurations.

But it's a good starting point for someone who said they don't know much about analog circuit design and specifically a phono preamp.

Michael Fremer's picture
Has also opined that DSD "doesn't work". He's a piece of work.
Don Lab's picture

Before becoming an IP attorney, I was a tech journalist, publishing nearly 1000 reviews & tech articles over several decades, some of which had to do with (gulp!) "mainstream" computer audio. So although I'm not in a class with Mikey from a technical standpoint, I do know tech journalism.

I'm appalled that some of the bigger a-holes posting here have taken such delight in picking apart your review. Take it from somebody who understands what you were trying to accomplish: Your writing is terrific.

You have an impressive command of the English language, especially given your age and level of experience, your tone was a perfect fit for the subject matter, and you wrote more clearly than some "professional" reviewers. You're a natural talent and I look forward to reading your next review.

"Don't let the mean girls bring you down."

mraudioguru's picture
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