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In the Forum: Analog Playback
In the Thread: AMR PH-77: just another phonostage or more?
Post Subject: AMR PH-77: just another phonostage or more?Posted by Romy the Cat on: 7/5/2009

The news just come in

Thorsten use to tell me that his ambitions phonostage project will be coming through in fall of 2008. Well, it is late but it is there: the AMR announced their new PH-77 Phono Equalizer.

I think it shall be a very interesting phonostage and I feel kind of sad that I am off the phonostage market.  The PH-77 has provision for 3 arms, adjustable setting for each arm, 72dB gain, tunable impedance for each arm – exactly what a doctor ordered! I presume that this thing shall also sound good – Thorsten was the person who was very close to my EAR-834PT project and the letter “T” in my “End of the Life phonostage” stands from his name. He also run for a while 7788-7721 two-stages phonostage (not the Dima’s design but his own) – so he knew something how good phonostage might be.

Reading the specifications AMR PH-77 there are a few moments that I would criticize. The presence of 24 bit/96kHz Analogue to Digital converter on-board is wonderful but why the 96kHz? Only God in his intimate wisdom knows why people still use that idiotic 48x sampling rate. Like we or not but 44kHz is still the standard digital format and I presume it will be foe many years. Want higher sampling rate and more bits depth – wonderful – go 88kHz or 176kHz but do not introduce the 48kHz base. It is imposable to properly convert stream from 44X base clock to 49X base clock. Even with Pacific – the best rate converter ever was built - it is very auditable if you down-convert from 88K vs. from 96K. Also, when you get 44K you can play it on CDs (cars, work, give to friends that you hate, etc….) however, what the hell people do with 48kHz? Play is from DAWs? Sure, but why they do not do it at 96kHz. Anyhow, if people desire a higher rate then 16/44 than it must be 88kHz or 176kHz. Read my leaps – no 48X clock, ever!

Another subject of my criticism is presence of 22 different EQ curves. It is not a mistake to do it and AMR did it almost right – with real-time change via a remote control. However, I question the practical usability of this thing in dally use. If the objective is to get the best sound from each LP then I would say that the 22 different EQ curves is God sent. However, in dally life if you want to spin a few records in a row then I find that mingling with curve for each record is kind of too much for me. I am for instance do not fine-adjust VTA for each vinyl thinness. Sure, it affects sound but I would like me to driver records not the records to drive me. It is not to mention that having 22 different EQ curves do not help you to get right response but help you to get the response that you like in context of you playback.   How many people use wrong VTA just because they have bad TT and ported speakers and what to compensate the bad bass from TT by “tight-sounding” VTA. So, I would consider do not use 22 different EQ curves but to call it “EQ curves real-time adjuster” and I do not care how fun my current seething from Decca FFSS of from Columbia EQ.

Ok, do I disagree with the naming? Nope, I disagree with application. Let me to expanding. Using my EAT 834PT with variable air capacitors I did experimented with turning the caps and shaping the custom curves for some records. It worked wonderfully and I even bought the 10:1 transmissions for the turning axis to be able to fine-set the exact capacitance and to calibrate the scale. The problem was that I was forgetting to put the caps in the default EQ setting after I was playing the “off the wall” records. I found that it was more annoying that the play the “off the wall” records with the default EQ curve….

Anyhow, here is the solution that I would like AMR to go and it will be the right way to do. The PH-77 shall have a provision for an “active” AMR turntable mat, let call it eMat. The eMat would optically scan the record label and send info to PH-77. The PH-77 would automatically select a different EQ curves for given label or to pull from own memory a custom setting that you specified the last time (you would need to do some marks on label). The eMat might be driven from 2 or 4 watch-size re-chargeable batteries and the PH-77 might act as a changing base, there are other solutions to power the eMat. The point is that with the contemporary technologies it is very simple to automate the process of label recognition. The PH-77 costs around $8.5K – very sensible price if you ask me. If I was at phonostage market, like how the PH-77 sound then would I consider paying extra let say $1k-$2K for an option to have automated labels recognition. I would pay more….

The Cat

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