Phono Preamp Reviews

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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.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 19, 2000  |  0 comments
This is an era in which products and websites are "launched," but in the past two years Herron Audio has sort of oozed its way into the public ear. With little visible promotion or splashy advertising, Herron is now spoken of within an ever-widening audiophile circle.
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  |  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.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 18, 2009  |  0 comments
In an ideal world, I'd have every phono section I've reviewed in the past 16 years on hand to compare with these three and with all that arrive in the future. But because I have a life, I don't, and I wouldn't even if I could, though some readers (and one retailer) have insisted that that's the only way that I could possibly be of any use to them. Ha! And for those who are concerned that I've neglected the Manley Steelhead, not so! It's still my reference.
Michael Fremer  |  Dec 03, 2013  |  12 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.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 04, 2018  |  12 comments
The Lejonklou Gaio MM phono preamplifier is as simple to use as Swedish designer Fredrik Lejonklou’s name can be difficult to spell or pronounce until you get the hang of it. The Gaio has been referenced in various AnalogPlanet moving magnet phono preamp shoot-outs but it’s never been given a stand-alone review.

Michael Fremer  |  May 24, 2012  |  3 comments
The all-FET, class-A, B2B-1 phono preamplifier ($1749), made in the US by Liberty Audio, is beautifully built inside and out, and comes in a heavy-duty aluminum chassis with a baked-on crackle finish and a 3/8"-thick, black-anodized faceplate. The overall build quality and physical appearance suggest something that costs more than $3000, which is probably what it would cost were it sold through retailers and not factory direct. It comes with a two-week return policy.
Malachi Lui  |  Jan 30, 2020  |  5 comments
Last year Peter Noerbaek offered me a review sample of the Liberty Audio B2B-1 phono preamp. “I’m happy with my MoFi UltraPhono,” I told MF, “but I’ll try the B2B-1.” Not necessarily thinking it would at first make a significant difference in my system, I soon instead found that in terms of imaging, punch, dynamics, and sonic cleanliness, it greatly enhanced my hi-fi’s performance.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 28, 2014  |  6 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.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 11, 2015  |  10 comments
Much to the probable consternation of Luminous Audio Technology, I’ve sat on this MM/MC preamplifier review for more than six months. I probably could have literally sat on the Luminous Audio Arion too, so solidly is in constructed, but I didn’t.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 05, 2001  |  12 comments
The Manley Steelhead tube MM/MC phono preamplifier was first demonstrated at the 2001 Consumer Electronics Show. Nine months later, my long-promised review sample of Eveanna Manley's new baby was delivered. While Ms. Manley may have given birth to the audacious product, it was conceived by the company's chief hi-fi designer, Mitch Margolis.
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. . .

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. . .

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