LATEST ADDITIONS

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 17, 2017  |  16 comments
First let's all agree that these short clip tests are useful and fun but must be taken as "for entertainment purposes only."

For those joining late, we twice asked the question "Should You Buy a MM-Only Phono Preamp If You Own a MM Cartridge"?, each time offering "blind listening" and voting. The first time was way back in May of 2017 where you could listen and vote for one of eight phono preamps, some MM-only and some MM/MC running in MM.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 16, 2017  |  7 comments
Swedish Analog Technologies today announced two new pickup arms to be introduced "...in the first quarter of 2018". The photo accompanying this news item is of the original SAT Pickup Arm because no photos of the new arms were provided at this time. In fact, this photo taken from the company's website is of an earlier version than the one currently in production.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 15, 2017  |  11 comments
Musical cults in the rock world can't compare to what goes on in classical music—as anyone who's perused some of the used record prices on popsike.com surely knows. That's certainly true of the late, legendary cellist Jacqueline Du Pré.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 14, 2017  |  1 comments
The 20th annual "Blues Masters at the Crossroads" blues festival happens Friday night October 27th and Saturday night October 28th in Salina, Kansas. It's much more than just a music festival, though with talent like Charlie Musselwhite, Doug MacLeod, Marquise Knox, Lucky Peterson and William Bell among others, that would be enough!

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 09, 2017  |  7 comments
The turbulent and tragic Judee Sill story provides the ingredients from which musical cult followings are made: two critically acclaimed Asylum albums (she was the first artist David Geffen signed to the label) that despite great expectations sold poorly, a fight with Geffen over lack of support after which the label dropped her, a return to heroin addiction, and a drug overdose death in 1979 at age 35.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 08, 2017  |  21 comments
Way back in May AnalogPlanet published a feature titled Should You Buy a MM-Only Phono Preamplifier if You Are Using a MM cartridge. There you could listen to each and "blind" vote for your favorite.

Some were MM only, others were MM/MC. The point was, should you buy a MM/MC phono preamp now for your MM cartridge with an ear towards the future, or should you maximize performance with a high quality MM-only phono preamp, and perhaps later add a step-up transformer or head amp?

Some were MM only, others were MM/MC. They were compared here, and the results of the voting published here.

Finally it's time to fully answer the original question using a MC cartridge. However, there are a few changes (remember this is not a scientific test, but rather an informative and useful one that's also entertaining for some of us).

So here's what we have: we are using the Hana SL low output moving coil cartridge (.5mV output) mounted on a Graham Phantom III mounted on an Air Force 3 turntable. And again we have the following phono preamplifiers:

Music Hall pa 2.2
AVM P 1.2
Lejonklou Gaio
Lehmann Silver Cube
Graham Slee Era Gold V
ifi phono2
Musical Fidelity MX-VYNL

Missing is the Jasmine 2.5DU. Why? It had to be returned to the importer but of equal importance is that despite the online "noise" about how great it is, I thought (and most of you thought) it sounded mediocre and not at all competitive at its price compared to some of the others.

So instead, add the Ciaudio PEQ-1 (formerly known as Channel Island Audio). This is a $999 MM/MC unit that's made in America and is of uncommonly high build quality for the price point. It will shortly receive a full review. In the meantime other phono preamps have also arrived including the Graham Slee Accession and a few others. These will have to be separately reviewed or this "vote" will get totally out of control!

Added to the mix are two step-up devices: the original Hagerman Audio Piccolo, which is an electronic "head amp" that's been replaced more recently with the $279 PIccolo2 and the Bob's Devices Cinemag 1131 an $1195 step up transformer. Both units are shown in the photo at the top of this story.

So what you will be listening to are the Music Hall, AVM, Lehmann, Musical Fidelity, ifi and Ciaudio in moving coil mode loaded at 100 ohms and the Graham Slee Era Gold used with the Bob's step up transformer and the Lejonklou used with both the Hagerman head amp and the Bob's Devices step up transformer. The files are 96/24 aiff digitized via a Lynx HiLo A/D converter.

The music has been changed too. Instead of the Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet we're using a excerpt from an extraordinary Reference Recordings double 45rpm issue, Fiona Boyes' Professin' the Blues (Reference RM 2517).

Boyes is a well respected Australian blues veteran who I'm sure you'll enjoy even if for less than two minutes. This record needs and will get a full review. It was chosen because it is a fine Keith O. Johnson recording that will tell you about each phono preamp's transient response, bass extension and control and delivery of spatial information. The differences will in some cases be obvious, while in others more subtle.

Please keep in mind that the levels are not matched due to the differing gain and outputs among the participants so adjust accordingly and each track is not of the same length but they are close. Again, this is not a "scientific" test!

So here we go:

File "1"

File "2"

File "3"

File "4"

File "5"

File "6"

File "7"

File "8"

File "9"

By the way, the interconnect used between the head amp and step-up transformer and MM phono preamp was a very inexpensive cable (as in under $20).

So please listen and vote! And sorry about all of the hyperlinks but they should be useful!

Well Then, Should You Buy a MM-Only Phono Preamp If You Are Using a MM Cartridge?
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 07, 2017  |  12 comments
My Bloody Valentine albums Isn't Anything and Loveless, originally released in 1988 and 1991 on Creation Records, are being reissued all-analog under the supervision of founding member/producer Kevin Shields through his own label.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 06, 2017  |  6 comments
Phono specialist/electronics designer Jim Hagerman of Hagerman Audio Labs recently published a PDF file containing really useful tips for reducing and hopefully removing from your system hum and other forms of phono playback noise pollution.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 06, 2017  |  3 comments
Sometimes the press release says it all. This is one of those times:

"Music meets the mob in this biographical documentary, narrated by Steven Van Zandt, about the life and and career of Bert Berns, "the most important songwriter and record producer from the ‘60s that you’ve never heard of."

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 05, 2017  |  2 comments
Mack Avenue Records will re-issue the 3 CD set Oscar With Love on November 17th—shortly before the 10th anniversary of Peterson's passing. A deluxe 5 LP edition will follow some time in 2018.

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