Luxman has two outstanding phono stages available. The EQ-500 is Luxman’s masterpiece phono equalizer amplifier. All stages of the EQ-500 are vacuum tube. It utilizes a no-feedback CR type amplification circuit. The excellent sound quality of the CR circuit, supported by linear characteristics, is a direct result of the quality and accuracy of the parts used. With the EQ-500, it is easy to optimize the cartridge load adjustment. There are 6 levels of load capacity selection combined with a continuosly variable impedance selection with values from 30 ohms to 100 ohms. In addition, there are 3 gain settings, unbalanced/balanced selection, phase invert, mono mode, low cut and high cut switches. All fine adjustment and switching functions are easily accessible on the front panel which also has stylish pointer type analog VU meters to monitor the output level. The EQ-500 will make it easy for you to optimize the performance of any cartridge so you can achieve the analog playback of your dreams.
The E-250 is the latest phono amplifier from LUXMAN, inheriting the best in design from its predecessor the E-200 that has been the reference model for compact phono equalizer amplifiers since it was released in 2008. The E-250 provides for a full range of switching of load impedance and load capacity according to cartridge requirements. The E-250 features a step-up transformer with a 2 stage gain selection function in which a L/R independent super permalloy core is used, thereby supporting even low impedance MC cartridges. This creates a rich and expressive musicality that is only possible by transformer boosting. The E-250 has also received a new power supply and regulation circuit to optimize the power environment for the phono amplification circuitry. As with the PD-151 turntable, we recommend the E-250 as an outstanding buy for a phono stage in this price category.
While CODA is known mainly for its high-performance amplifiers and preamplifiers, the company also makes an exceptional phono stage that few audio enthusiasts know about. Yet this superb phono stage exists and is known as the 06X Phono Preamplifier. Recently, the 06X has been upgraded to the latest Fourth Generation model resulting in a very significant performance increase to an already stellar phono preamp!
Many of the recent Coda amplifier reviews talk about the new high-performance FETs the company is using in its top amplifier models. Indeed, the new FETs have been a major contributor in moving the Coda sound way ahead in the company’s latest generation of products. While the new FETs have made a big difference to the performance of the amps, and line stages, they have made the BIGGEST difference to the performance of the 06X Phono Preamplifier. The reason for this is simple. The 06X Phono has many times more gain than the voltage gain sections in the amplifiers and line stages. Therefore, the improvement with the new FETs is heard WAY more in the 06X due to the much higher gain — and it makes a striking difference!
The 06X is a very flexible phono stage. It is fully adjustable for impedance loading, capacitance loading and for gain. All types of MM and MC cartridges can be accommodated.
Due to the complementary fully balanced internal design of the 06X, rejection of unwanted noise and modulation from external sources is very high. Rejection from stray RF signals is also very high. The class-A complimentary followers used to drive the preamplifier output are of such speed, linearity and low output impedance that no feedback correction is required or used. The advantage of this is that the circuit’s perfect stability and transient response are preserved into a wide range of difficult and unpredictable loads.
Give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss a Coda product with you.
The Audio Hungary Tubed Qualiton Phono is not so well known in North America but it is an absolutely superb and supremely musical product at an attractive price point! It was designed from the ground up as a premium category vacuum tube phono stage with extremely low noise and distortion levels. It was made to complement the A series of Qualiton products. The Qualiton Phono is easily our first choice in a high-performance tubed phono stage for reasonable money. The Qualiton Phono is available in either an MC or MM version with each version being fully adjustable. And it’s very easy to change from one version to the other just by replacing the phono card. The MC version has 256 set up possibilities and the MM version has 64 so any and all cartridges can be accommodated.
About the design of the Qualiton Phono…
In the signal transmitting circuit the audio processing is done via Tungsram ECC83, as well as Tesla E88CC double triodes. The standard RIAA correction is implemented with the use of a classic passive network between the amplifying stages. No negative feedback is applied with this particular design.
The interior of the device has a unique thermal design for optimal cooling and shortest signal path. In order to achieve the lowest possible noise level, Audio Hungary team have separated the power supply from the main phono chassis. With an outboard, separated power supply, Audio Hungary managed to avoid the negative effects of power supply transformer magnetic field. Along the design process they discovered significant benefits with signal-to-noise ratio and also achieved a better, more involving musical experience when the power supply was further away from the signal circuit.
The dual mono structure of the Qualiton delivers the output level of the left and right channel operation within 0.5dB. Interestingly, both power transformer and the MC transformers are made in Audio Hungary’s own factory. The step up transformer uses unique 30 year old lacquered copper wires, that were left as a stock at the Audio Hungary former company. The MC transformer’s bobbins are made from Bakelite and the core consists of special material alloy with high μ value.
Power and MC transformers are double shielded which lowers the noise due to stray fields of the power transformer. The stabilised power supply is separated not only for the lower noise but also to deliver better thermal operation. Both units are connected with special cable to the military grade power supply connectors.
And the most important part… There are only tubes in a signal path. Audio Hungary has chosen a premium selection of NOS Tungsram ECC83 and Tungsram (or Gold Lion) E88CC valves.
The Audio Beatnik, Jack Roberts, says…
“ I think the best thing I can say about the Qualiton Phono is that It’s all about experiencing the sounds and emotions of music. It has a way of playing vinyl that allowed me to transcend the electronic listening experience. The Qualiton Phono is an easy recommendation to those looking for a great phono preamp. “
Matej Isak of Mono and Stereo says…
“ Tube-based phono preamplifiers are always associated with unique three-dimensionally and Qualiton Phono embodies this quality with ease, expanding from the basic attributes to the level of performance, that is usually reserved for higher priced phono stages. “
“ I’m more than positively surprised and inspired by what Audio Hungary Qualiton Phono could deliver in terms of music’s flow. This double boxed phono preamplifier certainly deserves the recognition and that’s why I’m happily giving out the Mono and Stereo Highly Recommended Award! “
One of the products that Thöress has become famous for is its Parametric Phono Enhancer. The Phono Enhancer has received critical acclaim from analogue enthusiasts and experts from around the world. As with other Thöress products, the Phono Enhancer is hand built by Reinhard Thoress himself. That means each unit is meticulously constructed with point-to-point wiring throughout and is built to last a lifetime.
In Europe in particular, Reinhard Thoress is regarded as one of the very top designers building analog electronics. In our own evaluations, we have found the Phono Enhancer to elevate vinyl to an absolutely stunning level.
The Phono Enhancer will allow you to hear much more deeply into the grooves of any kind of record than a common phono preamplifier restricted to RIAA deemphasis, and optimum tonal balance and “good sound” may be restored even to poorly mastered or manufactured discs. The Enhancer features specialized tone controls to shape the playback deemphasis curve itself, within wide limits, and without conventional tone control circuitry. These tone control facilities have a much stronger impact to the sonic reproduction than the simple phono deemphasis curve options provided in other phono stages. Of course, another outstanding benefit they provide is that you can absolutely optimize any phono cartridge to achieve its best playback capability.
Thanks to an outstanding circuit topology, amplification of the phono signal is purely active without the aid of a step-up transformer on any input of any version. Nonetheless, the Enhancer offers an extraordinary signal-to-noise ratio, despite the built-in power transformer which is produced in-house to the highest possible standard. Even the slightest residual transformer vibrations are prevented from reaching sensitive parts of the amplifier due to the mechanical decoupling of the unit from the case.
The Phono Enhancer is available in a number of different versions and will optimize the playback of any cartridge and analog system to the highest level.
Gold Note of Italy has been making superbly musical transistorized phono stages for years. The sound is Big, Bold, Vivid and Smooth. We love Gold Note phono stages!
The company offers two outstanding phono stages. The ultimate reference PH 1000 and the superb Ph-10 which has received more rave reviews than any other phono stage we know of.
And for good reason!
The PH-10 is an ultra-versatile phono preamplifier that offers unique features, including EQ CURVES, LOAD, and GAIN adjustments: a fully analogue design, engineered exclusively with the best components to recreate the musical event in the most natural way possible. 9 different LOAD options [10Ω, 22Ω, 47Ω, 100Ω, 220Ω, 470Ω, 1000Ω, 22kΩ, 47kΩ] and 4 different selectable GAIN options [0dB, ± 3dB, +6dB] will let you adjust the preamplifier accurately to achieve the best sound experience with any kind of MM and MC cartridges. To maximize the performance of the PH-10 we recommend the PSU-10, a dedicated external super inductive power supply that allows the phono stage to achieve its fullest potential, reaching an even higher degree of musical realism, better dynamics, and greater three-dimensional sound.
The PH-1000 is simply the best phono stage Gold Note have ever created, a unique piece of audio engineering designed to be innovative in every possible way and 100% made in Italy. Featuring class A exclusive discrete components like a class A headphone output, +40 EQ curves preset, 4 custom EQ curves manually adjustable, and a high-quality class A line preamp which comes as optional. With 14 Gain levels and 12 Load levels, as well as 7 Capacitance options dedicated to MM cartridges, it is the ideal phono stage for high-performance analogue systems, capable of driving even the most exotic cartridges with perfect synergy, making the PH-1000 a professional instrument for analog playback at the very highest level possible. As the reviewer from Australian Hi Fi said, “ Gold Note’s new PH-1000 is everything you’ve been waiting for and more. It is a truly incredible phono stage. I can still barely believe such an achievement was possible. “
Brinkmann‘s phono stage is called The Edison which is now in its Mk II version. It is a top reference level device that Helmut Brinkmann worked on and refined for years to bring to its current Mark II status. The Edison is a perfect choice for all discerning audiophiles who want to extract the maximum sound quality from their vinyl and / or want to use more than one tonearm. The Edison Mk II offers three balanced RCA inputs, two of these are also available in XLR. Each input can be individually optimized for gain and load to accommodate any phono cartridge.
The Edison Mk II uses highly innovative hybrid circuitry consisting of NOS Telefunken tubes and bipolar transistors. In addition, an input transformer of superb quality manufactured by the famous component company Pikatron can be switched in or out for each input. As you can see, the Edison provides superb flexibility for the vinyl enthusiast. As far as the sound goes, the Hifi & Records reviewer, Stefan Gawlik, says it best: “The Edison sounds pure. And he is addictive. He lets the music shine so relaxed and at the same time involving, so colourful but also precise, an experience that I only had in rare moments before…“