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In the Forum: Analog Playback
In the Thread: Orion Phono Preamplifier
Post Subject: A 'brass balls' phonostagesPosted by Romy the Cat on: 1/11/2013

 Paul S wrote:
Well, they got John Curl's name on it, and it's "machined from a billit", 2-chasses, yadda, yadda.  It also features the "new wave" balanced/presumed- differential topology and a "mystery"/proprietary (presumed discrete) first stage.  Likely, it will not be long before lots of other offerings will be similarly described.  Nice noise specs, anyway.  Some pro gear mfgs. have touted this general topology for some time now.

In fairness to the blurb writers, what can/does one say about something that should be judged primarily by ear, and then by convenience, and then by durability/lifespan?  It takes deep pockets and brass balls to make/market something like this.  I suppose they might have said it was designed through countless hours of listening to Bruckner...

I do like the brass balls metaphor and I disagree with anything else. Of cause it is pure marketing blur but any statement in the website, particularly for the company proud that they recognized by Robb Report would be just a marketing haze. What audio practitioners shall do it looking behind the marketing and see what the subject is.

The park of good quality SS phonostage is not large. Most of good phonostage are tube but we do see some ridicules SS phonostages that in contrast of all rules do sound ridiculously good. Boulder 2008 come to my mind that had no typical SS thinness and had surprisingly rich sound.

Back in time John Curl had Vendetta SCP-2 phonostage that was reportedly interesting. I never had it and the people who did have it were not the people whose judgment I value but from what I remember it had very interesting design and innovative construction. Some of the design was a bit controversial, like DC-servo for each stage and use of a potentiometer for cartridge loading but the proof in the pudding and the Vendetta reportedly sounded acceptable. It had very low noise, somewhere around 90dB, but not too high gain, of I am not mistaken then it was somewhere around 68dB. My “End of the Life Phonostage” has 88dB noise with 85dB gain, which is good but it has 26dB transformer in it. The Vendetta was all active, the different animal all together. The new phonostage output 2V at -100dB noise but what signal it was driven? It is was 0.1mV then the noise number is phenomenal but if it was with 100mV at input then it is what absolutely nothing special. The gain number shall be published and the facts that they did not published made me to wonder if any stink is going on. I do anticipate that it will have high gain, let say 75 and up. Otherwise it would not be interesting or noble attempt.

I do not think that anybody designed this new corrector countless hours of listening to Bruckner. As far as I know that people from Curl’s circles they are dead musically. From what I remember about John Curl when I dealt with him last time he had no interest in any listening or any “fine” materials of human awareness but he was heavy on cocaine and the only challenge he had was to wake up next morning. From another perspective I have no idea how much involvement John Curl had with this phonostage. They dropped his name but this is meaningless. He could draw for them a circuit on the napkin and it does not mean that the final product has any integrity to what Curl was trying to express in his design, if he ever intender or even able to express anything meaningful.

I do not think that this phonostage will be able to see a light of objective and independent review, at least from beginning. Vendetta phonostage was distributed within a close circuit of people who proved themselves by years of dick sucking to the clan that produce it. You can’t expect any impartiality, independence or integrity from those types of people.

Saying all of it I do think that Vendetta might be a worthy phonostage and I do think that the new Constellation Orion might be a worthy phonostage. Which some subjects where I have expertise I can with high degree of accuracy to predict result or at least to express my doubt. In the case of SS phonostage of unknown design and unknown implementation I would not risk to make any guesses, neither I need to. I am not in market for any phonostages but I think the attention to this newcomer phonostage has to be given as it was made to be not just another internet fart but to be a “brass balls” phonostages.

Romy the Cat

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