Gazza’s phono preamp conundrum…

December 6, 2010
2 mins read

I love my vinyl rig, but owning a turntable with two tonearms does present some complications – especially as my integrated amplifier lacks any sort of in-built phono stage.

You see I have two external phono stages which means twice the number of interconnects, two more power plugs to find homes for, and two of my five RCA inputs on the amplifier appropriated by them.

Phono stage #1 is my luscious Trichord Dino/Dino + PSU – this I bought when I lived in the UK  few years back and it is an exceptional performer for the dollars, the mids and highs are open and detailed while the bass is nimble yet extended.

So that’s one arm sorted, and running the renowned yet venerable Denon DL103R it makes sweet music indeed.

The other tonearm has a Sumiko Blue Point Special Evo3 attached, and that’s where I use Firestone Audio’s delightful little Korora phono stage. It’s a tiny little device that can also run on  its own internal 9v batteries for complete isolation from mains-powered hum and other nasties. Sound quality is once again very good, different from the DL103R (more impactful/dynamic) but missing the smoothness and warmth of the Denon/Trichord combo.

The problem is one of complexity – there are too many cables and too many boxes, so I decided to look for a phono preamp with two inputs. Simple eh?

Problem is they’re as rare as rocking horse sh*t: I had a good look at the superbly reviewed Korean-made Allnic H1200, this tubed slab of goodness does have the required number of inputs (1 x MM/1 x MC) and is very well reviewed but at a cool $1kUSD it was slightly over my modest budget.

Next on the (small) list of 2 input phono pre’s was the 8000PPA from Audiolab. This conventional enough solid state rectangular black box has a whole heap of flexibility and good build quality, but since the takeover of Audiolab from TAG McLaren to IAG there have been no reviews of it – not that one should buy only based on reviews of course. A quick phone call to the local distributor (Monaco Corp) here in NZ dashed my hopes of a listening trial – they sold out of them  in NZ a few months back and to make matters even worse, are now not being produced by Audiolab. Deleted. Extinct. Kaput.

So imagine my surprise the other day whilst trolling the internet, I found an overseas retailer with a brand new 8000PPA for sale for a very reasonable price – in fact the sale of my Trichord alone should just about cover it.

So that’s what I’ve done, ordered it sight unseen. Although I don’t espouse the buying of HiFi gear without a trial, it seemed a reasonable enough risk knowing I wouldn’t be throwing the GDP of a small country down the tubes if it all went pear-shaped.

I even have a thought of somehow modding it with a tube output stage, a la the Modwright Transporter. Oh what unadulterated fun this could be!

I’ll let you all know how it goes, the funds transfer was made today (cross fingers) and the new phono stage should arrive sometime within the next two weeks.

Oh yeah 😉

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