Phono pre comparison

Bruce B

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At the last meeting of the Pacific NW Audio Society, we had a few members bring in their phono pre's for comparison.
I had loaned my Doshi to Sean A. so he could get a feel for it and dial it in before the meeting. Also on hand were the Allnic H3000, Lamm 2.1 and the Z-Infinity.

The source was a Rega P5 with AT-OC9 cart. Integrated amp used was the Genesis I-60 powering the Genesis 7.2f speakers.
We first listened to about 3min. of 2 album tracks selected though each pre. Afterwards we just played albums using our choice of pre that fit the mood. I can't remember the tracks, though I know they were by Jack Johnson and Cyndee Peterson. Maybe Sean can chime in here and give you the particulars.

It was one of our better meetings with each pre actually having a very distinct sound. Sean did a lot of work putting this meeting together which was much appreciated by the membership!


Meeting.JPG
 

audioarcher

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May 7, 2012
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Thanks Bruce. Glad you enjoyed it.

The second track was the first song off of Phoebe Snow's self titled album. 45 rpm pressed at QRP. The first track was off the Jack Johnson album, In Between Dreams.

Some of the other albums played were, Duke Ellington Jazz Party-CR test pressing, Led Zeppelin 1-CR 33rpm, For Duke-D2D, and Holly Cole Temptation-CR test pressing. I brought a few more but forgot what they were.
 

JackD201

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I've not heard the new LP2.1 yet. Your impressions would be greatly appreciated. :)
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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Could someone describe the sonic differences between the phono stages? Bruce, how did your Doshi compare to the others?
 

DonH50

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Jun 23, 2010
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How would using different cartridges influence the results? Or TT's, for that matter, but I suspect the cartridge/preamp interaction swamps the TT unless the TT is very good or very bad. Cartridge/preamp selection has always struck me as similar to amp/speaker selection since the source/load interaction can be critical.
 

garylkoh

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Sep 6, 2010
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How would using different cartridges influence the results? Or TT's, for that matter, but I suspect the cartridge/preamp interaction swamps the TT unless the TT is very good or very bad. Cartridge/preamp selection has always struck me as similar to amp/speaker selection since the source/load interaction can be critical.

You would be right, and I would add the tonearm cable into the mix. Since the impedance of the cartridge is very low, the inductance and capacitance of the tonearm cable is of the same order of magnitude.
 

DonH50

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Good call. One of the few times I felt a cable really mattered was when a friend got a new set of Litz wires for his tonearm and interconnect to the preamp. He noted how it "smoothed out" the sound and even reduced tics and pops. I measured the cables and FR; as you might guess, capacitance was through the roof and the -3 dB point was down around 4 - 6 kHz. No wonder it reduced tics and pops... :rolleyes:
 

Bruce B

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Could someone describe the sonic differences between the phono stages? Bruce, how did your Doshi compare to the others?

I'm too biased to make an definitive diagnosis, but to my ears, I liked the Doshi better. The Lamm, I thought was very close to the Doshi and could live with that in my system as well. They both had correct instrument timbre's and top end air, but I thought the Doshi had a more solid foundation. Like I said above, I felt the Allnic was too blah.... not very much life/dynamics and it just seemed too homogenized.
The Z-Infinity really didn't have enough gain to make an accurate assessment. Felt everything seemed thin with no body.
 

garylkoh

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Sep 6, 2010
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Good call. One of the few times I felt a cable really mattered was when a friend got a new set of Litz wires for his tonearm and interconnect to the preamp. He noted how it "smoothed out" the sound and even reduced tics and pops. I measured the cables and FR; as you might guess, capacitance was through the roof and the -3 dB point was down around 4 - 6 kHz. No wonder it reduced tics and pops... :rolleyes:

Yep! Capacitance on tonearm cables seem to be all over the place. In general, I do find most of the ones I've had to be much too high. On another well-regarded name-brand tonearm cable I measured, the inductance was through the roof even though it was well-recognized as low capacitance.

Unfortunately, while I have found cartridge spec sheets with internal resistance, listing the inductance is extremely rare. I have found cartridge output impedance as low as 2 ohms for moving coil. With one of those cartridges, a few Z's would make a big difference. Luckily, the OC9 that the club uses has a fairly high output impedance (IIRC 15ohms) and the standard tonearm cable on the Rega tonearm isn't too bad in combination.
 

audioarcher

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May 7, 2012
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I'm too biased to make an definitive diagnosis, but to my ears, I liked the Doshi better. The Lamm, I thought was very close to the Doshi and could live with that in my system as well. They both had correct instrument timbre's and top end air, but I thought the Doshi had a more solid foundation. Like I said above, I felt the Allnic was too blah.... not very much life/dynamics and it just seemed too homogenized.
The Z-Infinity really didn't have enough gain to make an accurate assessment. Felt everything seemed thin with no body.

I am biased as well, since I own the Allnic. I agree with Don's post above, matching your cart with your phono stage is important. For this meeting we used the club's Rega P5 TT, with an Audio Technica OC9 mkII cartridge. I used to have the same cartridge at home and did not like it at all with the H3000.

I agree with Bruce for the most part. In that setting, the Allnic did not sound great. I did have the Doshi at home for a few days to compare directly to the H3000, and I still preferred the Doshi in most ways. The difference was not as large as it was at the club though. Both the Lamm and the Z-Infinity did not have as much gain as the other two. I'm not sure how much total gain the club's integrated has, but I doubt it is much over 36 db's. As a result we had to turn the volume control almost all the way up for the Lamm and the Z-Infinity. Even so I thought the Lamm sounded nice but not real exciting. The Z-Infinity had it's moments at the end when we played some jazz. It was very transparent and detailed. Before the meeting started, we noticed that the Z-Infinity sounded better with the bass control on the speakers turned up a little more, than with the other phono stages. We did not make that adjustment during the meeting. It gave the Z-Infinity more body.
 
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audioarcher

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May 7, 2012
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Ok, to add some more perspective, I will list the stated gain for each phono stage. The Doshi is specified at 72 db, Allnic specified at 74(in reallity it was about 4 db less than the Doshi), Z-Infinity 65 db, and Lamm 58 db.

The club's Genesis I60 integrated has a total of 26 db. It does not have a built in phono stage.
 

rockitman

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Sep 20, 2011
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Sean,

You should try the head amp (HA-3000) with your H-3000. On my H-5000 DHT, I use the transformer input for my mono setup table for jazz and classical record playback. I prefer the increase in dynamics, soundstaging and grip on the bass using the MM inputs via the HA-3000 head amp for stereo playback on my AF1. The Doshi is an active stage and the Allnic is passive (some signal loss ) when using the transformers as you know. Transformers give a more relaxed and some say a more musical presentation compared to active gain. The nice thing about the Allnic is that you can have both options if you have the head amp.
 

audioarcher

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May 7, 2012
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Sean,

You should try the head amp (HA-3000) with your H-3000. On my H-5000 DHT, I use the transformer input for my mono setup table for jazz and classical record playback. I prefer the increase in dynamics, soundstaging and grip on the bass using the MM inputs via the HA-3000 head amp for stereo playback on my AF1. The Doshi is an active stage and the Allnic is passive (some signal loss ) when using the transformers as you know. Transformers give a more relaxed and some say a more musical presentation compared to active gain. The nice thing about the Allnic is that you can have both options if you have the head amp.

Yeah, I would like to try it out at some point. I'm learning that I prefer all active gain, SUT's seem to color the sound more.
 

Lotus

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Jun 22, 2013
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Yes, take the built in suts out of the equation and the H3000 becomes a beast of a completely different order ... adding in the strengths of the best transistor designs; speed, purity, immediacy and precision.

Some do prefer the relaxed, everflowing, softer and warmer presentation of the bare H3000 though. As ever, listen and decide for yourself.
 

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