A Night with three phono stages Allnic 1202, ANK and GoldNote PH10

I had the opportunity to listen to three good phono stages this week. The Audio Note Kit ($2200), GoldNote PH10 ($2000), and the new Allnic Audio 1202 ($3800) this was a demo unit from the distributor. We listened in one long evening to all three with the same three records. All were played on an Oracle Delphi table through the phono stage then to an Auto former (passive) and to some very nice custom made 45 tube based mono blocks (2wpc) finally to some custom le Scala speakers (102db). Over all my friends system is very reveling of small changes to the system (not to mention noise and hum). I have to say every one of the phono stages are excellent the two tube units and the one SS unit defiantly had the typical differences from SS and tube. Also all were hum free.


 The records of choice for this listening were; a UK first pressing of Pink Floyds Wish you were here out of a collection that had only about 6 plays since new (wow wonderful recording best I’ve heard of that record ever), Santana Abraxas half speed mastered addition another very good recording, and a mix of some Brazilian jazz can’t recall the band but great and some Mark Knofler few random cuts but we used the first three mostly for eval.  


 We started with the AudioNote phono stage then the GoldNote and finally the Allnic. Have to say every one of them is top notch and really between the ANK and the Gold Note it was basically boiled down to tube or SS both were comparable. I’d give the GoldNote more in the Bass, slightly better detail with more extension, instrument attack and separation of instruments.  The ANK was slightly more musical and had a really nice midrange it was also very involving.  Both had great PRAT as well.


 After those two we stuck the Allnic in. we expected the Allnic to blow away the first two being twice the price but really it wasn’t that much better. I said to my friend after “is that all you get” I didn’t hear the hyp to be honest. This is a bit deceiving as you don’t really hear the difference right off it sort of comes to you after a few records. The Allnic brought more detail, better decay of notes, separation of notes and instruments and a nice warm I’d almost say laid back presentation maybe lush. I think the ANK and GoldNote both had better PRAT and the GoldNote specifically had better Attack. But the Allnic is a pleasant phono stage if that makes sense it’s a pleasure to listen to but IMO not $2k more than either the ANK or GoldNote just a bit different but in a good way.


The evening was a great chance to listen to some excellent for the money phono stages I know my friend is wrestling with the idea of selling his ANK and buying the Allnic. I’d keep the money and buy more records if it was my money.



 I own the GoldNote PH10 bought it on a whim and after that evening I’m very happy with what it can do. also being the least expensive of the three I would not put it at the bottom for sound quality its defiantly equal to or better then the ANK and I’d say gives the Allnic a run for its money in many areas (PRAT for example).  I’d like to hear what the separate power supply does for the sound maybe in the future.


Note all phono stages were broken in, the Allnic was just from a reviewer who lent it to my friend for eval in his system before it goes back to the distributor.  


I’d like to hear what the separate power supply does for the sound maybe in the future.



Thanks for the info, interesting, i think without power supply the PH-10 is not $2k, but much cheaper? Never heard the other two phono stages, but the PH-10 has so many features for the MC cartridges, it can work as two independent MC phono stages (or MM and MC) which is simply amazing for systems with two tonearms (two cartridges). 

 I bought the PH10 because of its flexibility, two tone arms are in my near future. last I checked the PH10 was $2k list and the power supply was $1200 list (mind you I'm in Canada and i'm quoting list usd prices). I'm betting the power supply is worth every penny if its half again as good as the PH10. 

Really I would recommend any one the three phono stages to someone, all of them do a wonderful job just depends on what your looking for more then anything IMO well funds I suppose as well. 
Anyone in the price range of the Allnic would be well served to consider the Herron VTPH-2A. Or, for that matter, any of the earlier versions. If you can find one used that is. They are so good people hardly ever sell. 

I know just how they feel. Mine is so much better my wife noticed- through the listening room door.
Been in love with my ph10 ever since I bought it last year sometime.
Have two tables connected right now,one MC and one mm.
I really cannot fault it in terms of SQ or user friendliness and flexibility.

However $1000 for the power supply is a bit much imho
Great review Glenn.
Nice to know that even a near $4000 phono stage does not leave the ph10 behind.
I bought my PH10 new for under $1300. Soon will buy the power supply.
Love my PH10.

@glennewdick Buy from Italian shops online and do not pay VAT, i paid about 970 Euro for PH-10 and 700 Euro or PSU including registered shipping, i am not in EU. I think this is amazing prices for such high quality phono stage!

However, i am not sure about import tax in Canada, i did not paid any import tax, so those prices were final for me, so happy about it.

So the other two phono stages are much more expensive compared to the Gold Note

But as always i have to mention JLTi, it's even cheaper than Gold Note, but so nice! 
Can anyone enlighten me?  I found this sentence in the Gold Note ad copy on AA:
"PH-10 can be set with 4 different GAIN levels [-3dB, 0dB, +3dB, 6dB] to match precisely the output level of any MM or MC cartridge."  That would leave a 9db spread between the lowest gain (-3db) and the highest gain (6db).  That's really not enough spread to accommodate both a typical MM (~5mV output) and an LOMC with less than 0.4 mV output.  So, what do those db numbers mean? Thanks.
I believe they are relative to each different baseline gain of mm and mc.
However having trouble finding the exact baseline but I thought I read somewhere it was 40 and 60 respectively.

I know it works ... Lol
I have one set up was mm at +3 and one at mc at 0. And they are both pretty matched in volume at same settings on my amp.
From Gold Note’s website:

" Gain: 65dB MC - 45dB MM with 4 options [-3dB, 0dB, +3dB, +6dB] "

So, your options appear to be:


Thx, Ketchup.  If 71 db is available, that would handle even an Ortofon MC2000 with .05mV output at the standard stylus velocity.  (Ask me how I know.)  My Steelhead maxes out at 65db and the MC2000 is marginal with that much gain. At those levels, you really do have to consider solid state (or an SUT), although I am a tube-o-phile at heart.

I guess the way it works to adjust gain would be obvious to a user.  From the 45 db setting, which must be MM, you could get to 42, 48 and 51 with the +/- options they mention.  Then, from 65db, which must be the MC setting, you could get to 62, 68 and 71.  Clever.
If 71 db is available, that would handle even an Ortofon MC2000 with .05mV output at the standard stylus velocity. @lewm

I’m using Ortofon MC2000 with Gold Note PH-10 not only at +6db setting which is mazimum (71dB), but also at +3db (68dB) as i have tremendous amount of power with First Watt amp and sup[er high efficient speakers.

The only problem is that MC2000 with its 0.05mV output still produce some sort of background hiss which is like a tape hiss when the music is off.

However, this is a nature of this cartridge with such a low output, even with its own specially made SUT the reviewers noticed the same problem: " Even with Ortofon’s own transformer, background hiss was a consideration, though not actually a problem. It was below, but not very much below, the surface-noise level of the quietest disc, and was clearly audible at "normal" listening levels when the arm was on its rest post." (on page 2).

The Gold Note is dead quiet with any other cartridge, except for the 0.05mV Ortofon MC-2000

Correct Lewm
The baseline of each mm and mc setting is 0db which equates to 45db and 65db.
Then when you select say mm for that input cartridge type it sets the gain at 0db for the mm cart which is 45db and just with push of button you can go down 3db to 42 or up 3 db to 48 or up 6db to 51.
When you select mc as the cart type in the menu it now resets the baseline to 65db where you can perform same up 6db and down 3 db steps.

Very nice to have two completely independent inputs which again are switchable instantly from the front panel.

All from the front panel without messing with jumpers or dipswitches.

It is definitely the future!

And as a huge bonus it is dead quiet and sounds fantastic to boot.

One of my better purchases for sure.
A small update to the PH-10 was announced to me as follows:

“A much-improved solution we will introduce in all PH10 productions beginning 1st of February 2019 that will reduce the noise by 12dB in the MC set-up to be as quiet as the MM set-up”!

Unfortunately this will not be retrofittable. 

And yes a small price increase has also been announced.

(Dealer disclaimer)

Chakster, The Steelhead and its max 65db of gain "works" with my MC2000, but it depends upon the LP.  Some LPs are encoded with more gain than others.  LPs with higher gain work fine, and I have no hiss problem.  (I do have hiss problem when trying to use the MC2000 with my Atma-sphere MP1 in my other system.  Yet the MP1 has MORE phono gain than the Steelhead, because I have modified it, and because it has a linestage that adds gain to the phono output.  I think the hiss is the fault of my modifications, not inherent to the stock MP1.)  With LPs that have a lower signal level into the Steelhead, the sound gets thin and loses dynamics, although hiss does not occur.  Like you, I am getting away with 65db because the Beveridge amplifiers that I drive with the Steelhead seem to require only very low signal voltage for nearly full output.  (The Beveridge direct-drive amplifiers and speakers have to be considered as a unit; you cannot separate them.) So, the whole chain is marginal but magic with the right LPs.  On the other hand, the MC2000 with the right LP can be very emotionally moving, as it seems to bring out the heart of music.  As a Russian, you know what I mean. (My grandparents emigrated from Russia to US.)  Sorry, this is so OT.

Yes, I would imagine that 68db would work fine with the MC2000.  I'd like just about 3db more gain with the Steelhead. 71db would be a no-brainer.
@lewm well, i still have a hiss when the music is off and tonearm lifted up (all other carts are dead quiet,except for the MC2000). I am enjoying it on low level at night, but on high level i prefer different cartridges. 

Anyway, i have tryed my NOS MC2000 on Sony PUA-7 tonearm with relatively long silver phono cable to the Gold Note PH-10. Maybe i have to minimize the cable length (then i will need to use this cart on another tonearm closer to the phono stage). 

I am surprised that you accepted Axel's refurbished MC2000, the original cantilever and diamond are very special. I wish to lean more abot next models in this series such as MC3000, MC5000 and MC7500 in comparison to the MC2000

P.S. Also surprised that your grandparents are originally from Russia, amazing.   

Chakster, Why would it amaze you that my grandparents originated from Russia? Actually, grandpa was from Rumania; grandma from Russia although she was living in Alexandria, Egypt, when she got on the boat to the US at age 17, after having been born to a Russian family then living in Salonika under the Turks. (Or that my paternal grandparents, whom I never knew, emigrated from Poland to the US?)  All of us in the USA, except the true native Americans, came here from somewhere else.  This is why our current president could be regarded as a turd.

Maybe our good friend Nandric will intervene here to tell you about Axel's rebuild of the MC2000.

The MC2000 is not only problematic because of low output. It is also problematic because it weighs a hefty 11 grams to begin with and is high in compliance (as you know).  Thus, ideally, it requires a very low effective mass tonearm to partially compensate for its relatively high mass, if one is taking the math seriously as regards resonant frequency.  From what I can find on VE, the PUA7 has an effective mass of 25g.  That's not optimum for the resonant frequency, but I am not a slave to the math, myself. If yours sounds good, it is good. Yes, by all means try a shorter phono cable, because your present cable may be acting as an antenna for RFI, which is maybe why you hear the hiss. And make sure it's shielded.
Chakster, Why would it amaze you that my grandparents originated from Russia?

Interesting, i think we are talking about that generation who could not live here after 1917 under communists regime. 

This is why our current president could be regarded as a turd.

Same here, because we're slowly going back to the Soviets under ex KGB management. And people escape from here just like in 1917.