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In the Forum: Analog Playback
In the Thread: What Is The Minimum for an "Acceptable" Phono Stage?
Post Subject: What Is The Minimum for an "Acceptable" Phono Stage?Posted by Paul S on: 3/1/2013
For some time I have felt that most audiophile phono stages are over-built, especially those pretending to be thought-out, "no-compromise" designs.  Ironically, it seems to me that few (or none) of the "thought-out" designs I have seen and/or heard are what they pretend to be.  Rather, they are more intellectual excercises than sound reverse engineering, more like second-guessing the Up market than really thinking about in-use requirements.

I understand that a "commercial" phono stage is likely to be "flexible", in order to appeal to as many prospective buyers as possible; one size fits all.  For instance, maybe someone wants to be able to switch the "curve" for different recording techniques.  Too bad these super-flexible designs wind up compromising any given selection by idling "options" in the background, and by all the switches, themselves.  Another compromise, to my way of thinking, is the giant power supplies that wind up costing a ton, yet they cannot protect the signal from bad AC.  Why the hell do we need gigantic power supplies for a phono stage?  Why not skip the AC/DC part altogether and use batteries?

Here is Nagra's recent battery phono stage:

Of course, Nagra wants to make only one version that "everyone can use", so they make switch-able gain, loading, etc.  But I remain interested in something like this, as a minimal solution.

Yes, I know: "battery powered phono stages lack dynamics".  However, I remain convinced that it can be done,  and without undue expense, using modern discrete circuits.  And I see no reason why the unit itself, sans batteries, should be any bigger than the Nagra unit.  I think Musical Surroundings also offers a small-ish battery unit of some sort,, as does Danish Audio Connect (DACT).  I have not yet really looked hard at any of this stuff, because I want to start and stay with only mm gain from the start, so I can use my own SUT, and I am too lazy to even seriously entertain the idea of trying to modify any of this stuff to suit my needs.  That's one big problem with the "minimal" stuff: you can't easily DIY...

By the way, "minimal" used here does NOT mean crappy parts!

Paul S

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