Sutherland Engineering's New Argentum Phono Preamplifier Takes Signal Purity and Adjustability to new Extremes

Ron Sutherland walked me through the new Sutherland Engineering monoblock Argentum MM/MC phono preamplifier.

Use one for a monophonic cartridge, two for stereo and three if you have both and want the ultimate in convenience. Each unit costs $7000 or $14,000 for a stereo pair.

Mr. Sutherland best explains in the video what he’s done that’s definitely unique (in my experience) and should lead to among the cleanest, most direct, yet fully configurable signal paths ever achieved in phono preamplifier design—and that’s not hyperbole.

Watch the video!

Ortofan's picture

...or is it the Argentum?

Is the world ready for resistor rolling?
What to choose? Vishay, Caddock, PRP...

Michael Fremer's picture
Ron is quite soft spoken. I will fix. Thanks.
Hlaudio's picture

Hey Mikey! You really should try one side of a mono cartridge into a single audio channel setup. It really works !!

T-Bone's picture

I love Ron's design philosophy and his products are a successful validation of his philosophy. I own the 20/20 and hopefully can one day afford the Argentum. No one can argue about the merits of silver in low voltage applications. Silver takes a little longer to settle in, but the wait and patience is well worth it. I am certain my Transfiguration Phoenix S, (hopefully one day soon Proteus), would sound phenomenal through the Argentum. Thanks for the info and dream fodder Mike. ;^)

avrcguy's picture

Your sarcastic sense of humor is pretty much lost on Ron. Love his designs though. I've had a ph-2000 and a Ph.D for quite a few years now. Intended to sell one once I decided which I preferred, but never could bring myself to give up either. Might have to give a pair of these a listen. Then maybe I could finally part with the other two. Looking forward to your review Mikey!

Mark UK's picture

If that's the inside where's the 14000 dollars for a pair?

Any half-competent electronic shop, Sony or Toshiba, for example, could do it, silver (not particularly expensive) included for $200, say $1000 retail for a stereo pair in the unlikely event (considering it's all one unit from the stylus to the two RCA or whatever plugs) that putting them in separate cases gives any advantage. And they, with their 'Personnel Departments' and such nonsense, have MUCH higher overheads.

Sutherland gear is ALWAYS good, but sadly it's just another 'HiFi' rip-off pricewise. Little wonder that the HiFi business is becoming a smaller and smaller part of the real world. When I was young, the likes of Quad, SME, Goldring, Leak, Armstrong, Garrard, etc. available on every high street, was quit big. Because the prices were reasonable. Now you have to be 'dedicated' as I assume we are, to even THINK about going into a HiFi outlet.

Ron Sutherland's picture

Sony or Toshiba could make such a product. But that would never happen. Their design would be shaped by committees and market studies. I tell people "I don't make appliances" This is a small artisanal endeavor.

AND when I was young the likes of Quad, SME, Leak was at a luxury price I could only dream of. But, I was (and still am) inspired by the beautiful construction of Leak power amps.

rip off ? I hit many price points. I always suggest that people buy within their comfort zone.

volvic's picture

The reason this gear is priced so high is exactly because back then every block did have a high-fi store, today that sadly isn't the case, and to recoup their investment and smaller market they have to price accordingly. The great thing is that the so called budget products are very good today and I am always surprised how a Moon, Graham Slee, PS Audio phono stage costing $1,800 can compete with the big boys. To my ears and my small Manhattan apartment I don't need anything more.

volvic's picture

I would love to own a Sutherland as I think the man's work is quite well thought out and these days I happen to think anyone who can put something like this together is a genius in my book.

Ron Sutherland's picture

glad you are like minded on the design decisions i make !!!!
re affordability. the INSIGHT is $1400. that is 10% the price of argentum. it also is a proud-to-own product.

Circuitsmith's picture

The component leads are not silver; and of course the insides are not silver either.
Are the large bank of Al can electrolytics really needed to achieve quiet DC supplies?
Moving the AC mains to DC conversion out of the box (and away from the cartridge and signal path) would be more meaningful to me.

Ron Sutherland's picture

i agree with your 'not silver' point. i used as much silver wiring as i reasonably could. the WBT nextgen silver RCAs are certainly a luxury item at $100 each. the 'experiment' was a combination of silver wiring and point-to-point above a copper ground plane. and the component layout was optimized for the very shortest interconnecting lead lengths. so there are several factors at play.

the power supply is most definitely overkill. what you see is not just one big 'bank' of paralleled electrolytics. there are isolation resistors between the capacitor sections. that makes a casode of RC low pass filtering. it is very simple and effective passive filtering. no chance for active device coloration.

if you look carefully at the construction (can see it front top view) the AC to DC conversion is in the right side shielded compartment. the sensitive audio in a separate shielded compartment on the left side. the interconnecting cable is in a machined cavity in the front panel. we get the advantages of 'separate' boxes AND the convenience on unified.